Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TOI's Chain of Command session

Mark and I continued our mini-TOI marathon with a match of Chain of Command, the second "bonus" scenario from the Tide of Iron Designer's Series Vol. 1.

Like its twin, Breaking the Line, Chain of Command turned to to be a well-balanced, taut scenario that could go either way, although this time I happened to win both times.

An American infantry force with three half tracks is attempting to fight its way through a smaller German force and off the board, but faces a choke point at a bridge and limited time. Adding to the time pressure, the Germans have a reinforcement deck and can look forward to getting some help right at the end of the scenario, when it will do the most good.

I had thought we might play this game first, so I had a German set-up already in place. Perhaps unduly influenced by my set up, Mark left what may have been its most controversial aspect in place, two elite-heavy anti-tank squads ready to occupy the command-point providing building on the German left. He did adjust some other aspects of the setup, though, but to his detriment. He moved up one machine gun squad to a position that proved exposed and only covered the bridge with one squad, which meant the Germans had to choose between getting a victory point for occupying the bridge and occupying a second command point source.

Given the concentration of officer-led, anti-tank equipped elite guys on the German left I decided it would be prudent to go the other way. I pushed through a few squads into the woods to provide interdicting fire to keep the elites in place. With some fortunate shooting that detachment also chased away the exposed machine gun squad. Meanwhile the half tracks and a couple of squads attacked along the narrow avenue of approach leading to the German right, eliminating the other machine gun squad,

The half tracks and squads continued their sweep, closing on the bridge. A heartbreakingly successful suppressive fire attack from the Germans routed an elite squad of Americans, but generally the firefights tended to favor the US side due to the concentrated fire of the half tracks.

The US troops based in the woods were able to hinder the attempts by the elites to react to the threat and eventually the US troops overwhelmed the bridge garrison and its erstwhile saviors. A couple of half tracks took light damage but two half tracks were able to exit for four VPs, which was enough to guarantee a win as the Germans had also lost the bridge.

Switching sides, I decided that my original notion of making a stand at the exposed command-point generating building was a poor idea and this time I committed just one squad of regular troops to make a stab at grabbing the site for a few quick command points, with little expectation of staying long. As it turned out they never made it, being pinned by the US mortar early and often and eventually succumbing to repeated attacks.

Instead I concentrated on the low-hanging fruit and occupied the bridge and the adjacent command site, as well as the other command site with the anti-tank elites and friends. The Germans right was covered by both machine guns.

The US attack seemed to develop a little too slowly, partly because Mark's firers missed a few times around turn 2, which meant that the bridge position didn't really come under heavy attack until around turn 4. A long-range anti-tank attack on a half-track, while missing, made the US wary of closing too quickly. By the time the US was seriously threatening the bridge three squads of Germans reinforcements had appeared and it became evident the US wouldn't have sufficient movement available to exit any of the half tracks before the end of the game, so the 4 VP already earned by the Germans ensured victory.

Overall an interesting contest. I think the US should use the half tracks primarily as fire support and only secondarily as a source of VPs. If just one manages to exit the US can win, because exiting implies gaining control of the bridge by turn 4 or 5 and getting 2 or 3 VPs for that.

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