Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Chain of Command: Maltot Church (3) - Death Stalketh and Pays No Respect to Rank

The previous turn's Command Dice gave the Germans another go (damn the the non-determinism of this system, it makes it so addictive). The centrally placed German MG42 picked out one of 16 Platoon's two inch mortar teams for special attention and felled the loader (a rather unlucky position to hold in 16 Platoon as this is the second time the mortar loader has been taken out). Lt Pringle knew he was being out gunned but 16 Platoon had just got to grin and bare it through gritted teeth (see below):

Worse was to follow as the darkest fears of the British Commander (me) came to pass. The woods to the British left opened up with the combined fire of two full strength MG42 teams, pumping out death into "Red House". McCoy was the only valid target and was hideously cut down, effectively decapitating the British Command Structure in the center. Lt Pringle was now hopelessly placed to take control of the battlefield, a basic set-up mistake that was bearing rotten fruit of disastrous consequences (see below):

Next followed the worse Command Dice permutation to date for the British. Four activation dice for senior commanders ("the 4's") and a Chain of Command dice ("the 5") leaving me less than bugger all to do (see below):

That meant no reinforcements from off-table were available. With McCoy down no activation by NCO commands were possible, particularly brutal for the Bren team in the center with lots of targets. All Pringle could do was bring in some more covering smoke and start making his way slowly towards then center, hindered by the very protective 'hard cover' of the ruined houses he had so carefully placed himself in. The Germans took advantage of this British 'stasis' by advancing on "Red House" with the intent of storming it under a hail of hand grenades (a special German NCO lead tactic) and claiming a valued British "jump off" point - potentially shattering British morale. .

However the best made plans of mice and men can go astray. No more so than in the realm of warfare. The game winning German move suddenly seemed to be a double edged sword as no sooner had the Germans left the protective soft cover (where  they could have gone tactical) and before they had reached the much sought after 'hard cover' of a ruined house, some Tommies appear on their flank (hankfully the British Commander had rolled better dice this time). A whole squad! That is a Bren team and a rifle team, eleven combat dice all told. The Germans caught in the open should have been devastated, if they had somebody capable of giving the order to fire! (see below):

However with McCoy down, there was nobody left to tell them to do so. Such is the "Fog of War" and a truly golden opportunity went begging as the nearest officer, Lt Pringle, hobbling on a twisted ankle, hopped through the rubble and debris created by the British preliminary bombardment. The battle seemed to be ebbing out of control of the British player. Pringle just needed one turn to stabilize things, but the Germans were not being very obliging.

Not believing their own good luck as the Tommies simply stared at them, "Was it Sarge McCoy ahead?". Not only had the Tommies missed their chance but the British Infantry was idling about in the open in direct line of sight of a veteran MG42 gunner who took careful aim and pressed the trigger. Eight British lives were now in the palm of his hand ... "click", the gun jammed (or rather the German player threw incredibly bad dice). Action number two for the MG42 was simple, "run back to cover as fast as you can" which they promptly did with I may say understandably outrageously fast movement dice.

However it was not all good news for the British. What the first MG42 team could not do by firing itself had opened up the second MG42's opportunity by moving, getting out of their line of sight. Telling fire soon struck the line of advancing British infantry, killing one and placing a fair amount of shock on the others. Still it could have been far, far worse! (see below):  

The British seemed to be getting embroiled in a deeper and deeper in a crisis of their own making. The British Second Squad reinforcements were now left "hanging on the wire". A panting Lt Pringle was desperately running across no-mans land to get into the battle, cursing himself for looking so much like a buffoon to both his troops and the Germans.

Next: Trading blows with the devil!

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