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Châtillon-sur-Marne, 1918


The Great War, Chain of Command, 28mm

This was a strange night. First of all, it was a Tuesday rather than a Thursday, as the building is being used for local council elections next week. That’s so we can elect another bunch of boobies in Edinburgh, who’ll blow yet more money on their white elephant tram system. Anyway, I digress. It was strange too, as there were only two games on (the other being a 15mm tank one), and also because I had to bail out early, thanks to an evening meeting with a visiting Taiwanese publisher.So, the idea was that Michael and I would play the Germans, then I would hand over my command to Bart, who was arriving late. The game, by the way, was set in the Marne valley a few miles north-west of Épernay during Operation Marne-Rheims, in July 1918. The Germans had already occupied the forward French trench line during the preceding phase of the offensive. Now they had to capture the next line of defences, held by a line of poilus, backed up by a couple of tanks.The French defenders had a platoon on the table, as did the Germans – with pinned down forward units in no-mans land. Both sides had some artillery support in the front line, where they served as anti-tank weapons, and to provide direct fire support. Campbell supplied the French, and Michael the Germans. The game was played out on a 6×4 foot table, using the Verdun terrain Dougie and I built about a decade ago. Despite being knocked around a bit it still looks the part. Fortunately for the Germans they also had a platoon in reserve, backed up by Lotti, an A7V tank. There was also a second tank on the table – a British Mark V captured and used by the Germans as a Beutepanzer. It had broken down astride the communication trench between the two trench lines, and had been abandoned. If either side could capture it, and get it working again, then they could use it in the battle.  Michael’s platoon had already “shot their bolt” in a failed assault earlier that day, and its morale was low – just “9”. By comparison the French were off the charts high, at “12”. Fortunately my reserve platoon (soon to be Bart’s) was a veteran one, and eager for the fray. They deployed on the left flank, with orders to seize the Beutepanzer, and then to head on up the communication trench to storm the French right flank. The French realised this was probably the plan, and so they concentrated the bulk of their defensive firepower on their right, while leaving enough along the rest of the table to discourage Michael’s platoon from resuming their advance. As the game started Bart appeared, and so I duly handed over responsibility to him, and I merely watched the game, while waiting to shoot off for my meeting. Bart used the cover of the communication trench to reach the stranded Beutepanzer in just two turns, and his engineering team crawled inside, to see if they could get the machine to work again. So far so good – at least on the left. Elsewhere things weren’t going so well for Team Boche.Thanks to the stranded tank blocking the way, most of Campbell’s defenders didn’t have a clear shot on Bart’s infantry in the communications trench, and so they targeted Michael’s troops stranded in no-mans land. they were seeking cover in shell craters, but the French fire was pretty relentless, and casualties and pin markers mounted at an alarming rate.  Eventually the units retired, and then came the sauve qui peut moment as the German defenders fled back to their trench line, then off the table beyond it. So, it was all now up to Bart and his more hard-nosed stosstruppen. Their tank support took a while to arrive, and while the engineers were working on the Beutepanzer the French Schneider tank appeared, and blocked the defenders’ end of the communications trench. This meant the French weren’t simply going to roll over, and that the stosstruppen had a real fight on their hands. Lotti the German A7V tank was duly brought forward, and a tank duel began, as Lotti advanced slowly up the table. Goodness knows how Bart passed his bogging down rolls – I had to leave by then – but he got halfway up the table before a lucky French hit immobilised the German tank. Not content with that, the ungainly French  Schneider tank then knocked out the Beutepanzer, leaving Bart without any tank support. Still, Bart continued his advance regardless, and he actually reached the French lines. There unfortunately it all went to pieces, and the stosstruppen platoon went down in true Wagnerian style, amid a hail of French lead and shrapnel. Every time something bad happens you have to see if your platoon morale drops., and by how much. So, after taking a lot of punishment Bart’s platoon morale dropped away, many of his men died,  and by the time the game ended it was clear his assault had stalled. So, that was that.So ended what was a pretty enjoyable little game. The Chain of Command system lends itself well to the Great War, using the amendments published by the Two Fat Lardies in their Christmas 2014 Special on-line magazine, under the title Cocking it up amid the Mud and the Blood. Essentially it adapts the CoC system to incorporate some of the rules from an earlier Lardy set – Through the Mud and the Blood. We simply abbreviate it to “Muddy CoC“!In fact, in mid June we’ve got Deep Fried Lard in Edinburgh – the annual Lardy weekend. We’re thinking of laying on a Muddy CoC game for that, just as it’s something different from the usual WW2 game. So, watch this space – that means we’ll probably being running a few more Great War games over the coming weeks, just so we get a better handle on the rules, and so we can come up with a suitable scenario for the event. 

 

 

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6 Responses “Châtillon-sur-Marne, 1918”

  1. MikeH
    5th May 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Nice AAR, definitely has the right dirty muddy WW1 look to it.
    Glad to see the French win too, 🙂

    • 5th May 2017 at 6:39 pm

      To hell with that, Mike. They killed my Uncle Rudi. He was simply going for a walk in the French countryside with some of his buddies … near a town called Verdun…

  2. 8th May 2017 at 4:08 pm

    My troops were in very good condition at the end of the game and my morale was still higher than Campbell’s. My Stosstroops took the save position in the communication trench ready to support my next assault (I got next Stosstroops team and two rifle teams ready to go into action). However the time was over and that’s why Campbell won the game.

    • 8th May 2017 at 4:28 pm

      That’s not how Campbell tells the story…!

      • 9th May 2017 at 1:42 pm

        Pure French propaganda!

        • 9th May 2017 at 2:11 pm

          Indeed. Still, I suppose it counteracts my hereditary German bias!

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About Angus

Angus Konstam is an author and historian he also plays wargames with historical miniatures. Yup, that’s little toy soldiers to you!