Friday, 5 December 2014

Recent AARs: Chain of Command and Pulp Alley

Happily, I  can report that regular gaming continues. At the last Wyvern Wargamers club night a fortnight ago, Ade put on another well-researched game of Big Chain of Command using his extensive collection, this time representing the second British assault at Rauray in June 1944. I took on a British infantry platoon supported by Bob's Shermans on a worryingly open board. We were tasked with seizing the crossroads, opposed by Ian and Matt with two reduced Germans panzergrenadier platoons and a Big Cat: Ade assured us this was evenly matched!

The ever-fun patrol phase left it something like this:

A last minute shuffle of a marker to the right came up trumps: giving the Geramns no options for a Jump Off Point on our right and forcing them back to the village crossroads. I opted to move in force against the  the right flank where they'd be covered by the roods ahead, using a JOP on the right board edge.

Turn one and the first double-6: half the platoon emerged from the field and started the advance.

The Germans brought out their Panther early to seize the crossroads while a section took up residence in the town.

Bob's armour moves up, the outgunned and out-armoured Shermans looking to avoid the sights of the Panther

My two infantry sections make their move: trading fire with a panzergrenadier section across a road.

In the nick of time, the British mortars opened up, bang on target over the crossroads. Through some terrible luck on the German side and a series of double-6's by Bob and I, the mortar barrage fell again and again, pinning the majority of the Germans defenders and all but one of their Jump-Off Points. This game Bob and I free reign to maneuver and brig firepower to bear where needed.

This was a fine example of a well-orchestrated assault by infantry and armour with mortar support. But unfortunately, it didn't give a good game for either side: the German inability to lift the barrage meant I could rout the Germans outside of the barrage through weight of numbers, while Bob maneuvered his Sherman Fireflies to get both in sight of the Panther for when the barrage lifted. Once it did, the Germans were in no state to repel the assault and their dangerous Panther quickly took a battering (more double-6's and double-phases by Bob) and bailed out.

What should have been a great game ended up being too one-sided from a well-timed barrage and devilish luck from then on. So apologies to Matt and Ian. While I enjoy Chain of Command for the friction that it offers, but unfortunately, if a system builds in friction, sometimes the dice lead to unfortunate, overly one-sided situations. Which is why I think playing it a linked campaign works really well - the dice even out over the course of the campaign  Sorry Ade - but thanks for hosting and umpiring!

Also at the Club, Carl put on a Black Powder American War of Independence game with an impressive collection on the table. The British battalions looked very fine indeed marching through the verdant terrain.

Last weekend brought an impromptu game of Pulp Alley with my brother Gharak. We've not gamed anything beyond miniature board games for a while, but the beauty of Pulp Alley is the speed and ease of getting minis onto the table.

We threw together a fairly simple 'search for the temple' scenario, with two competing leagues of heroes looking to open up its mysteries and explore the interior in a second game. All of the minis and terrain are from Gharak's fine Pulp collection. 

My dastardly League of Nasty People, led by man of mystery 'The Suit'

The heroic Butch O'Sullivan's with today's companions

The two leagues face off in the foreground, with the temple entrance to the North. The kapok represents mist rolling up and down the river, which blocked line-of sight.

Butch O'Sullivan's men, made the Temple outskirts first, taking up good positions to fell the my League of Nasty People as they approached.

With his mercenary allies out of the fight, a dash by 'The Suit' ends in a scrap by the last plot point', equipment left by the last expedition. O'Sullivan takes the prize and enters the temple

Cue eerie music

In true Pulpy fashion, there are traps and puzzles, as well a temple guardians. I used the 'weird' Pulp Alley supplement to make up some rather hard to kill mummies,

The Mexican extuinguishes the first brazier of Flames That Need to be Extinguished Before our Heroes can Advance Further.

O'Sullivan's street kid charges up to face the mummies on their platform, but is quickly felled.

Around this point, we realised that I'd made the mummies rather too tough - they could essentially shrug off most hits and each had as many hit points as a hero. And as they were graded 'sidekicks', they hit pretty hard too (not helped that I couldn't see an obvious way of removing their ranged attack without using more skills slots, so for the sake of argument they 'had magic' and could fire back against the heroes' guns!).

The temple guardians chewed through the heroes, until they cornered Butch O'Sullivan himself. H did manage to take one out, but the other two wore him down - this temple remains un-looted for now!

Phew! Sunday brings the next game in Bob and I's '29 Lets Go!' CoC campaign - here's hoping my American can keep their push up!


  1. There is a great problem with "Chain of Command" that is this one, when the dice are not with you or they are totally with your opponent. Then, the better is to finish the game quickly!
    Great games and AARs!

    1. Yes, finish up and play again! ;-)

  2. Lets hope my Soviets do better this week Phil.

  3. As with most rule systems the bigger the game, and longer the campaign, the anomalies work themselves out. Great AAR and with super kit and scenery, guys.


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