One extra added bit of spice to the UK Connections Conference was that it allowed me to visit my old London wargames club "The Exiles" situated just round the corner from KCL near Waterloo, my wargaming "Alma Mater". This is where "I won my spurs and "came of age" as a wargamer. It was my delight to host a simple Chain of Command WW2 Skirmish Game, scenario one "The Patrol in No-man's Land", to some old faces and some new. I hope the pictures are not too confusing, a large hex based play mat with smaller mini-hexagonal terrain pieces inside them representing Line Of Sight (LOS) obstacles. The houses are 15mm FOW and trees from the terrain collection of "The Exiles" than spans nearly thirty years of wargaming history [from spikey Xmas tree decorations to state of the art vignettes] (see below, the empty CoC game board waiting for the troops to appear):
Note/confession: I was responsible for many times misinterpreting various Chain of Command dice rolls during the night (alas my memory for the rules blurs, CoC does not yet have one of those nice quick reference sheets [Hint: A pointer to one would be appreciated]), but the players were blissfully unaware and carried on in great spirit. I think it was the "strong London beer" at work, coupled with advancing age so I will term it, alcohol induced "Fog of War" (see below, this should have been 'End of Turn" but I interpreted it as a 'Random Event' which meant that there were probably one too many random events on the night - aka Heavy Rain fell twice when in reality it should not have appeared, but it made for an interesting game):
Much fun was had figuring out the Patrol Phase and the placement of "Jump-Off" markers. The sides (Brits/Germans) came at off-set ends which meant through game play that the Germans were clustered to the bottom-left of the picture (central wood and the rough above and below on the LHS) while the British had three points spread to bottom (top-right, central house and bottom-middle-right). The British got on first and tried a dash from the central house with covering Bren team, to the (at the time) unoccupied central wood. As they did so the first Germans appeared at the wood line and hosed them down with MG42 fire. The resulting fire-fight saw the British "shocked but not routed" desperately seeking to make it back to the relative safety of the central house. Meanwhile the other British squads were slinking round to the South in a "cunning plan" sort of way (see bottom of the board/photo) while others were massing in the North (see below):
The Germans stabilised their position in the south by bringing on a second squad up to strategically defend their jump-off point. They were also making it very uncomfortable for the Brits trapped just outside the "safe" house in the centre. Uncomfortable but not killing them (see below):
Can you spot the difference (from the above to below)? Answer: It is the chilling effect of the second British Bren team opening up and taking out two Germans in the central wood. Just when the British troops stuck in the open seemed to have their "goose cooked" some good shooting put the jitters up the Germans and the British began to rally (see below):
This wave of British optimism was instantly washed away on the next German turn as the Germans deployed their final third squad south (to disrupt on the dangerous flanking move) and sent in their senior commander to the wood to take charge. He quickly straightened things out, reduced/removed all the accumulated shock and let forth a devastating fire killing (KIA) three Tommies and thus pinning the rifle team, i.e. more shock  than remaining men . Worse still the British rifle team down south was also caught in the open with their pants down, losing two men but just avoiding the same deadly "pin" result (see below):
From the initial thoughts of a 'bloodless' quick win, the British commander was facing two thirds of his "rifles" being subjected to one way traffic
. The open bright spot seemed to be that the Germans seemed to have left the garden gate open to his squad situated at the top of the board. If only he could get them in the game, but they seemed to be a long, long way away and woudl everything be over by the time they showed up?
Can the British regroup or will the Germans get a "quick win" instead.