So JP and I tried out yet another skirmish rules set: Chain of Command. JP had bought this recently for his b’day and wanted to try it out. I failed in an assignment to pop round and pick it up, so other than a two page concoction from JP, and a barely understood viewing of a you tube video of the two fat lardies explaining it (the words were all English but made little sense to me) I turned up to engage in battle.
The hard copy is a decent sized glossy affair as is rapidly becoming standard for most mainstream genre rule sets. Sadly AVBCW being very much niche can’t afford to pay for the high production values and extra taxes that come with this level of publication (I’ve asked about this before and had it explained, so no disrespect to niche publishers !).
Ok, so its a glossy book, but how do the rules play ?
We only did the Patrol scenario (the basic engagement encounter), but it turned out to be a quite innovative affair.
After working our your Forces, their skill level, and Force Morale, you work out where you start on your side of the board, and then start deploying patrol markers up to 12 inches away from each other in a chain. You can’t get within 12 inches of the enemy, and if you do you are “locked down” so this represents patrols randomly encountering each other. So there is no hard and fast “deploy 12 inches from the board edge” type rules ! This can radically alter the tactical set up of the board and deployment.
The force with the higher morale goes first and rolls a number of dice dependent upon their morale – between 4 and 6. This is for a Phase. This can determine which/how many units may be “activated”, whether you get to go on another phase, whether you accumulate Command points and so on. I won’t re-write the rules here ! In our games, JP had a knack for going two phases one after the other which did leave me standing idle and it is a bit more of an IGoUGo (heavily modified !) system. By accummulating Command points you can end the Turn if you want, which removes lots of makers and effects such as smoke. However, in the two games we played, we only ended one turn, so I anticipate players reducing the number of Command points needed to end a Turn.
Different leaders have different numbers of Initiative points, so having leaders in the right place and getting the right dice rolls is important.
We also both found that we would have to radically alter our tactics for this rules system. Weapons ranges in this game are LONG. Pretty much Line Of Sight (LOS). So unlike other rules sets, getting up close and personal is a suicidal act with lots of casualties, huge amounts of Shock, and a good way to rout. Shock represents troops going to ground and generally being demoralised. Actual deaths are low, but a hail of bullets is just as effective in driving off the enemy – again a built in aim for the rules. Its similar to duckback rules, and also influences being Pinned. Firepower is awesome, with LMGs on 6 dice to hit, HMGs on 10 dice to hit. As in real life getting caught in the open by an HMG leads to a short life expectancy.
With a “To Hit” roll, followed by a “To wound” roll it seems old school, but what they’ve done is to modify the “To Hit” rolls by using both firers’ skill level and the targets’ skill, and also on the “To Wound” roll making it much better IMHO. So Regular troops utilise cover more effectively than Greens.
Key Question: Did we have Fun ?
Yes ! The deployment/Patrol phase I found very innovative. The Activation rolls innovative – even if I think I got the sticky end of the stick. As commented I’d reduce the number of Command points needed to end the Turn.
- Comprehensive text and examples
- The Authors’ intentions are plainly spelt out and understood
- Innovative command and control system
- Easy to understand, JP & I picked it up in the first game and within an hour were fairly confident we know the rules
- Seems flexible to cope with varied “army lists”
- It has an Index !
- There are only a few “army lists” currently covered – JP made a few up for AVBCW
- Lots of counters and trivia on the table…shock, jump off points etc…
- A 6×4′ table really is a must given the long ranges of weapons so this will limit people unless they use smaller scale figures
- Turns are open ended, and seem quite long
- A key rule – Force Morale – is not explained very well IMHO. Its an excellent mechanism but could do with a revised section on it as the overall mechanism is scattered throughout the rule book.
Looks like I’m buying yet another rulest – the copy in the pictures is borrowed from JP.
Obviously designed for WW2, this can easily be adapted for AVBCW, and probably also RCW where morale was very important.