Chain of Command: Testing the Tanks

In the following game we decided to give the vehicle rules a try, so we set up a game in which the regular forces are swapped for mostly vehicles to play an engagements which didn’t only look very probable for the theatre but which also was highly symptomatic for some things in its outcome!

The Forces

I (British) basically had all of my vehicles at my disposal (one Morris CS9 armoured car, two Matilda IIs, an A13, a 2pdr portée, one Bren Carrier, two Carriers with anti-tank rifles) plus one section of infantry led by a junior leader and a team with a Boys anti-tank rifle.

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

The Germans had a section of Grenadiers, a Panzer III, two armoured cars, two Pak36 anti-tank guns, three teams with anti-tank rifles, an infantry gun and another armoured car for the senior officer to drive around in.

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

Scenario and Patrol Phase

The mission we chose was just two patrols meeting in the desert (scenario 1 from the CoC rulebook). The patrol phase was unremarkable, the Germans had the inintiative and stormed forth as usual, my patrols crept up on them to lock their patrols down. After the patrol phase the situation was as such:

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

The objective of the scenario was to get the enemy force morale down to less than three. In Chain of Command you have to roll on a “Bad Things Happen” table each time you lose a team, support choice, officer or section (routed or killed), when you lose a Jump-Off point and so on. Based on the result you may lose more or less force morale.

How It Went Down

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

Well, the whole thing went about as well as could be expected. Remember, British tanks at the time didn’t carry any HE grenades for their main guns and for 90% of the game I was up against enemy anti-tank guns, lobbing anti tank rounds at them or firing the surprisingly low number of MGs in British tanks of the time. Both our infantry units were tied down in a stare-down death match.

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

In the back you can see my infantry sitting in the bushes, not really having a chance to do much at this point. Earlier on they were just up against one enemy team (with an LMG but still not too bad) so I might have broken through but what then? My infantry would have been sitting in front of the enemy supply route (and we didn’t really rule any cut off options for that even though it would be cool as we discussed after the end of the game) and within the firing arc of the German infantry gun.

So the Germans basically were free to put their guys into Overwatch and bring on supports with my lads only looking on…

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

At one point in time the three carriers arrived. One was quickly shot up by the enemy Infantry gun but the other two pressed on.

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

A little uselessly to be honest, as the one that was killed obviously was the only Bren Carrier, the other two only brought anti-tank rifles. I basically had 80% anti-tank weapons because that’s what British Vehicles did carry. My force was painfully unblanced without infantry support and the Germans brought an unhealthy mix of mainly anti-tank guns with some support so perfectly suited against my bunch. A recipe for disaster.

Activation Dice

Activation dice were about equally odd between both players. Of course activation is a bit askew with non-regular, vehicle-heavy games but not as much as you’d think. It actually worked really well, The clever (and again – sensible) thing Chain of Command does is treating the single members of a vehicle crew as such. The tank is not an entity in itself, it’s a group effort.

I rather quickly accumulated two Chain of Command dice (over the run of the game you acquire Chain of Command points, once you got six you get a weirdly-named Chain of Command die which basically is just a token you can use for all kinds of cool things. I used mine really unwise, only getting slight and basically useless extra turns of shooting while my opponent used both his CoC dice (the second one he got way later in the game) very well.

With the first he moved his furthest Jump-Off point to the front which allowed him to deploy a Pak36 way to the front, being a major pain in the hind regions for my vehicles (vehicles all deploy at the table edge rather than a Jump-Off point).

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish

This thing hit my first Matilda in the front, of course doing no damage but the driver panicked and retreated off the board. This was a point of discussion because we were not quite sure how to deal with such a situation. The table edge is a very artificial boundary so just because a unit retreats to the edge plus 1″ doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle just drives home, especially as a LOT of combat results concerning vehicles include retiring a bunch of inches but otherwise being a-okay.

Run Away!

They’re handled like many systems handle the reaction of cavalry to failed morale saves, depicting how cavalry is less likely to stand and fight on because that’s not their job and they are much more prone to quick retreat, reform and attack again rather than going for prolonged combat.

Later on in the game the very same anti-tank gun knocked over the shoddy armoured car my senior officer showed up in as soon as it entered the table.

Chain of Command WW2 skirmish
Stiff upper lip, what! A cuppa and the world is well again. Next time we’ll show Jerry what his Majesty’s Armoured Divisions are capable of: Bring along some stout-hearted infantry lads and artillery with them that is!


Yeah, next time it’s regular organizations again. It was very interesting though focusing on the vehicle rules for once. There are some really nice mechanics in the rules and again, Chain of Command gave us a highly credible result to our scenario, pretty much exactly along the lines of what both of us had read about the time.

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