Thursday, September 05, 2013

Chain of Command

We pressed our Bolt Action armies into service to try out the new Two Fat Lardies WWII platoon scale rules.

Steve & Chris's German Panzergrenadiers v. Barrie's British Regulars
We played the Scout Mission which is pretty much a free for all.
The battle started with a scouting phase where counters are pushed around to define each sides' deployment zones.   This an interesting little game within the game that looks like it will provide a lot of extra variety as each of the 6 standard missions could have many variations depending on how this phase goes, and I expect, a bit of scope for skill to gain an advantage in terrain.

Both sides have 3 infantry squads with some support - the Brits have a bit more support as their core force is rated lower.  The Germans are in the foreground.  Their 3rd squad is off camera moving through the wood on the left.  The halftrack carries a small recon  team.

The Brits also have 3 infantry squads plus an HMG (in the field on the left) & a Piat (in the field on the right).
The Germans had some initial set backs.  Their half track was immobilised by the Piat and the squad in the centre was pulled back to rally after taking effective fire from the Brit HMG.  But their squads had greater firepower  than the Brit's and they gained the upper hand in the firefights on both flanks. The centre squad was rallied and advanced again to the rear of the village.  With their flanks melting away, the Brits made a desperate close assault in the centre,  When it failed, they conceded the battle.

The rules are available as a pdf download or hard copy - I have the tablet pdf & Barrie has a hard copy.  The game has obvious similarities with Bolt Action.  It's the same scale of game and the force lists are very similar, but it is significantly more complex.  Both eschew IGOYGO - BA by a drawing coloured dice from a bag to allow units to be actioned 1 at a time, but not strictly each side alternately - COC by a much more complex system of command dice that divide the turns into a variable number of phases each with limited options for activation of units.  Both make movement unpredictable - BA by requiring a command test before an action, COC both by limiting command options & by having a dice roll limit move distance.   The combat systems in COC are generally more complex and sometimes clumsy compared with BA.

We spent a lot of time looking for rules & it seems a lot harder to find what you're looking for & to learn to play than BA.  We often had to give up looking for stuff, just did what seemed reasonable & get on with it.  For example, I'm still quite mystified as to how the morale system works.  The summary sheets (available as free pdf) lack much of the data you want to look up.  I'm not convinced that the extra complexity adds enough depth & interest to compensate for the extra work involved in learning and playing the game.  The command system seemed unduly complex and gamey to me - I don't see how it is any better a simulation of command issues than the simpler BA system - it may well provide much scope for skilful play, but it looks more like game skill than war skill.   The rules do get a tick for actually having an index, but it's brief and it often failed to point me to an answer to a question.

I think my old brain's only got space for one of BA & COC and at this stage I think I'm going to prefer the simplicity of BA.  But one game isn't enough to judge fairly & we'll give it another go.  Barrie's going to run another game on Sunday - I'll see how I like playing it. 

1 comment:

Itinerant said...

Nice review. I like that you compared it to another existing system. It helped me to understand where you were coming from.

Someone has loaded me their copy and I'm working through then now. It may be a month or so before I get a game in.