US Support Teams take up positions in Chain of Command Wargame

Monday, June 22, 2015



This is a "3-Round Campaign as first devised by Steven Thomas for Cross Fire. the campaign system uses a "ladder" to determine the flow of the campaign between table-top battles.
In the multi-player games that I have run using Cross Fire, I have had the problem of the Side Commander trying, to one degree or another, to run the troops of each player under his command. This is no fun for the subordinate and tends to alienate him from the game. It is also an advantage to a commander whose opponent espouses a fairer approach to his subordinates. To eliminate this tendency among some of my players, I provided a detailed introduction to how I wanted to see the interaction between the commanders and the subordinates to progress and required the CICs to generate a detailed Operations Order for each of his subordinates. See Below:

A 3-round campaign or a linked scenario campaign can use any historical (or non-historical, for that matter) action as its basis. The original developer of the system (Steven Thomas - has used the idea for Kursk, Tarnopol, The Spanish Civil War (SCW) and other periods. The present version is modeled for modern conflicts that use Crossfire as the tactical rules but there is no inherent reason why the concept can’t be used, with proper modification, for anything from Ancients through WWI.

I am sticking with the author’s original concept, however, and have chosen the U. S. breakout from the Normandy lodgement in July 1944. There are plenty of choices from the breakout that had some 120,000 U.S. troops in 3 Corps to break through the German lines in what would eventually result in the Falaise pocket and the drive to the Rhine.

The operation was called COBRA and began with an enormous carpet bombing in front of the breakthrough jump off point. Unfortunately some half of the bombs fell on the U.S. positions killing and wounding many hundreds including General McNair who had been the main architect of the mobilization and training of the U.S. Army up to that time.

Though the 30th Infantry Division was one of the main victims of the Blue-on-Blue and it’s their action that we are going to game, I will ignore the effects of this tragedy for the sake of simplification.

Page 4 shows the sequence of scenario-events that make up the campaign. It should be self explanatory. ED NOTE: This refers to the "ladder" Shown above.

The Germans have TWO forces, a force to use when on the Defensive (217 points) and one when on the Offensive (259 points). The American has one force (265 points) which is used in all scenarios as they are on the Offensive.

The U.S. has some air assets, while the Germans have some AA gun assets.

The First game is an American attack vs. a German PREPARED DEFENSE.  The Germans receive 21 points of Defense construction in addition to their regular force.  This is the breakout of COBRA toward St. Gilles the next day after the fatal bombing preparation.

Subsequent games may require the Defender to mount a HASTY DEFENSE.  Such a scenario requires that the Defender keep 1/3 (1 complete Company +) off table as a reserve. They come in on the Defender’s Table edge on any Defender’s initiative on a D6 Roll of 5+.  This will be a scenario representing the historical battle at Troisgots.

Finally there may be the need of a  MEETING ENGAGEMENT.  In this both sides advance onto the table and essentially blunder into each other. The battle of Mortain – Hill 314.

Depending on who wins each scenario, there may be additional scenarios that lend themselves to the situation generated by the game "ladder".

Each scenario will detail the victory conditions for that particular scenario.

ALL the games will have the same players on a side and the same CIC for the duration of the campaign. This is to insure a healthy competition to win the campaign.

In playing the games, you must think of what you are going to do at all times so that you can act immediately once your side gets the initiative. Make all your moves in a direct and straight forward manner

ALL MOVES WILL FIRST BE MADE USING YOUR FINGER TO INDICATE THE PATH AND YOU CAN NEVER TAKE IT BACK BECAUSE THERE AN ENEMY  STAND THAT CAUGHT YOU IN THE OPEN!  NO ASKING IF SOMEONE CAN SEE YOU – You have to decide that yourself based on your understanding of the situation and on what has transpired before*.


NO ONE CAN TELL ANYONE ON HIS SIDE HOW TO MOVE OR HOW TO SHOOT – WE HAVE PLAYED THIS ENOUGH SO EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW THE BASICS. BREACH OF THIS WILL COST THE SIDE ITS INITIATIVE.  The talk needed to move the initiative among the players of a side will not be penalized as long as it is in the gist of " I could use smoke in front of that bunker" "Please support my advance from this wood to that wood" etc., No "Use your HMG in that wood to fire on that enemy stand there!"*

The side commander will pass along the side’s initiative to each of his subordinates as he sees fit. DO NOT TELL  YOUR SUBORDINATES WHAT TO DO WITH THAT INITIATIVE. The operations order (see below) will tell your subordinates what their mission is. How they accomplish it is ENTIRELY up to them. So in writing the OPOR be sure to take into account your knowledge of your subordinates’ strengths and weaknesses in the game and in tactics. *

The game  REQUIRES, If that is not too strong a word, that the CIC of each side will come up with a written plan and marked maps ( I will provide enlarged maps for those with weakened eye-sight and a list of the acceptable Map Symbols to be used. DO NOT show them where they should place their troops or their defensive items.* It also REQUIRES that each CIC provide a written OPERATIONS ORDER for each of his subordinates with a copy to me.  Without these the game cannot progress. 

 Initiative starts with the attacker, whomever that may be. All players on a particular side can move within his Company Sector or they can move one-by-one. When one player on a side loses his iinitiative it goes to another player of the CIC of that side as  directed by the side's CIC. When that player loses his initiative, then all 3 players on the side has lost theirs and the initiative switches sides. No player may have more than one initiative in a row unless gained by his own actions. The CIC may loose his initiative if he doesn't use it before the 3 players on his side loose theirs.

*These address the problems that I have encountered in running games with a side commander and several subordinates.

OPERATION ORDERS simplified for war gaming contain:
       a. Enemy forces.
            Possible strengths
            Probable course of action
            Most dangerous course of action
       b. Friendly forces. (Your subordinates force available to complete his mission)
       c. Attachments and detachments. (Attached armor, artillery, etc.)
      d. Position and identity of friendly forces to either flank or rear.
      a. Who (which, if not all, of his force must be applied to the mission), what (defend, attack,                     support), 
      b. Where (the actual objective(s), When (if there is any delay, etc.).
a. Concept of operations.
(1) Maneuver
(2) Fires
(3) Reconnaissance and Surveillance
(4) Intelligence
(5) Engineer
(6) Air Defense

 We are using the rules devised by Steven Thomas at modified by me. My modifications are that the Typhoon has only 4 Pairs of rockets and 2 hmg.

These are dervived from concepts sent me by Arty Conliffe, the author of Cross Fire and from a later posting,  Blagan's "Planned Zones"

Company Sectors
Historically, all units in WWII used delineated sectors to set up an organizational boundary between companies  and we can use them to allow multi-player games of Cross Fire.  Since we have 3 companies per side in this campaign, there will be 3 sectors allowing the entire game to be played as if there were 3 separate games, but tied together.

Company Sector Assignments
Company  Sector assignment is part of each side's battle plan. The Side Commander, Battalion Commander in this campaign, assigns each of his Company commanders a sector for his operations, his forces, supports and mission by the use of the Operations Order, described above. The sectors are drawn on the map and should use features that are readily identifiable on the table to delineate them. Sectors may not overlap other friendly sectors. 

Sector Fire
Troops in one sector may fire into another sector to support, but since their main objective is in there own sector, most of their fire will be in their sector.

Movement Between Sectors
There are only 2 times that a Squad may move out of its own sector. One is to perform a Close Combat  after which it must either remain stationary, only pivoting in place, or to return to its own sector. The other is if a "defending Line" was a part of the sector. In this case the unit may "counter attack across the defending line for a Close Combat as above.

Forward Observers
They must stay in the sector to which they have been assigned but may observe targets outside their sector.

Reserve Units
Reserves may be kept by the Btn. Commander(Side Commander) or a local reserve may be kept off board as a Local Reserve by each Company Commander. The Local Reserve is part of the company and can move in its Sector when ever desired. The Btn. Reserve  can be assigned to any sector by the Btn CO when ever and wherever he desires. It comes under the purview of the Company Commander and can thus move within his assigned sector.



The first game is an American attack against a German PREPARED DEFENSE.

 The US has a PRE-PLANNED BOMBARDMENT as per the advanced rules of CROSS FIRE. They have a number of Fire Missions (FM) BEFORE the game they have selected terrain features (hills, woods, fields, buildings, Bunkers, hedges, etc. that they suspect may hide German units.
1 D6 is rolled for each FM:
A “5” Suppresses a Squad, A “6” Kills a Squad; If in a building or a Bunker, a “6” is required to Suppress.
Two successive Suppresses Kills a Squad.  The Owning player determines which squads are hit but cannot spread hits around multiple stands in one area.  Any successive attacks are against the same squad until killed.
 The Germans use the “Defensive Army” for this scenario.

 The Germans have 21 additional points for mine fields, bunkers, wire entanglements, and emplacements. See your Army sheet for point cost of various emplacements.

The Germans place first, NOT HIDDEN, AFTER the PRE-PLANNED BOMBARDMENT. The US places SECOND, also NOT HIDDEN.

OBJECTIVE: There are 6 objectives, 1 Minor (a) and 5 Major (A,B,C,D and E). (See Map). The attacker, before the game,  may secretly elevate ONE of the major objectives to VITAL.

Objective values:
Minor:   2 VP
Major:   4 VP
Vital:      8 VP
1 VP for ea. German sqd, Hvy Wpn, CC or BC  killed at game end
2 VP for ea. German AFV destroyed at game end
-1 VP for ea. US sqd, Hvy Wpn, CC or BC  killed at game end
-2 VP for ea. US AFV/Aircraft destroyed at game end
We will not carry casualties from one game to another. Rather some of your forces( the number determined by casualty percentage) will downgrade to GREEN as the casualties are being replaced by less well-trained personnel.

Leg Btn. (Regular)
Btn HQ
1 BC (+1)6.00
          1 SMG2.50
Btn Hvy Wps
          2 HMG12.00
          1 81mm W/12FM6.00
          1 57mm AT Gun w/truck3.00
3 Infantry Companies EA. W/141.00
           1 CC(+0)*4.00
                    Coy Hvy Wps
                          1 60mm W/12 FM
                          1 HMG
                          3 Rifle Platoons ea. w/
                                      1 PC(+1) 
                                      3 rifle Sqds
Equip 1 Sqd in ea Company with Bazooka6.00
* CC of A company +2, others +0
Engineer Assault Platoon (-)
           1 PC(+2)2.00
          3 Eng. Sqds10.50
           Assault Bonus pts.4.00
2 75mm  Howitzers W/12FM12.00
5 Sherman/76mm45.00
1 Aircraft Support20.00

Leg Btn. (Regular)
Btn HQ 1st Btn, 902nd Rgt, 130th Pz Lehr Division*
          BC (+2) 6.00
          3 SMG + PC(+0) 7.50
           1 Sniper 1.00
3 Infantry Companies EA. W/
           1 CC(+2) 180.00
                    Coy Hvy Wps
                          1 HMG
                          1 120mm W/10FM
                          1 81mm W/12FM
                              3 Rifle Platoons ea. w/
                              1 PC(+1)*
                              2 rifle Sqds
                              1  sqd w/Panzerschreck(early)
Equip 1 Platoon in ea Company with Panzerschreck(early) 22.50
* 1ST Platoon PC =+2, others = +1

If in prepared defense add 21 fortification points:  4 sqd bunker = 4.5 pts; 3 sqd bunker = 3.5 pts;
 2 sqd bunker = 2.5 pts; 1 sqd bunker = 1.5 pts. Mines ( 4" long or 1 feature) = 2pts;
wire (4" long) = 0.5 pts.

* Figure stands may be identified with different unit designations
Boundary Lines as selected by both sides

The Battle for  Ste Giles
NOTE: The 75mm Observer shown in the US center is in error, there was none and I am too lazy to change the map!

The US had a pre-planned bombardment of 18 rounds ( see Optional Rules in Cross Fire) and it was somewhat effective costing the Germans on the US right several squads and the Germans on the US left the FO for their 81mm mortar. This was followed by an air strike that was ineffective except for pinning a couple of squads.

B Company (US Right0 advanced under heavy fire, their 2nd Platoon becoming pinned down in the wood just at the German set on line. B's 3rd platoon managed to get into the house to the left of the 2nd platoon but soon had a sqd suppressed and the others  behind  the house with no place to go.  The 1st Platoon was initially held in reserve. The German Cpt. Seamens' deft use of mine fields and barbed wire stopped the US cold in their attempt to reach the objectives A and D to their front. 

The Us position on the Right. B/2 is pinned in the wood and B/3 is in the house but suppressed.
That Suppress moved the initiative to the US Left where Rick Bryant pushed quickly into the wood and fields near the German set-on line then passed the initiative to Dick Bryant in the center. Dick moved up to the wall to his front and into the woods on his left Sector line to set up the 75 to command the road. Fire from the German 2/10 Platoon in the field to the front of the US advance suppressed an inf. sqd. in the wood and the initiative passed to the Germans.

Rick Bryant moves up on the US Left.

Dick Bryant's US Central position. Note his suppressed infantry in the wood. But he got his own back by suppressing a German stand in the field to the front.
The Germans attacked on their Right, but managed to loose most of the platoon in the orchard. In the center the Germans and US exchanged fire with Dick Bryant getting the worst of it, loosing his HMG and most of the platoon in the wood. Well directed mortar fire from the German Right under Mitch Abrams added injury to the insult! Dick was expending most of his smoke rounds to protect the advance of Ricky's forces on the left.

Another sweep of US air power netted no results except for a couple of pinned stands. Dick White was expending a lot of smoke trying to get his platoons unpinned and unsuppressed. He sent in an engineer squad to deal with the mines, but it was killed outright giving the initiative to Dick Bryant.
US air arrives for its 2nd sweep pinning a stand of Germans
Dick Provided more smoke cover to his left and charged the German unit with the suppressed sqd in the center. In spite of the suppressed stand, Jack Breen's unit won the melee and and the initiative passed to Rick on the left. Rick pushed A company's 2nd Platoon into the center wood driving out the Germans. He then brought one of the tanks assigned to him by the Btn Commander, Dick White. It promptly found a mine field and brewed up, Initiative to the Germans!

The Germans essentially held their positions, trying to cause as many casualties as possible among the Americans. In this they were successful but some attempts at moving and and unpinning eventually lost them the initiative and it was back to the US. The Btn CO, in charge of the Company on the US Right attempted to force an opening in the enemy to his front with one of his tank reserves and promptly lost it to Panzershreck fire. In the center Dick Bryant moved his reserve Platoon up to the wall and  decimated the German platoon to his front with rifle fire until  he lost his initiative.
The US Btn Commander decided that the best chance for a win was on the left and sent the remaining Tanks over to Ricky on the left. He advanced a tank up to the left of the orchard where it was destroyed by a Panzerschreck! Initiative to the Germans.

US looses a third tank! This time to Panzerschrek fire
The Germans used their initiative in trying to get some help to their right but lost the initiative in doing so. The US opened up with a third pass of air power, but had the Aircraft shot down!
US Loses its air cover

The Germans, on the left had lost two platoons but were still holding out with a platoon and a HMG. The US Force there was essentially out of smoke and was hesitant to move across the no-man's land between their position and the objectives.

A few more turns were played but the US  conceded as they felt that they didn't have the strength to take enough of the objectives to make up for their lost  victory points. They had lost 3 tanks, 1 Aircraft and  7 stands for a total of 24 points. The Germans lost 11 stands for a total of 11 points.

As this was a German win, the next battle will also be an American attack into a prepared German Defense. Reinforcements for both sides have arrived, but are mostly Green, Will the US find the right formula to win the next battle, Stay tuned......

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Franco-Prussian Wargame


Chassepot and Needlegun is a "old style" miniatures wargame written by Larry Brom in the 1980s. I have always enjoyed the "feel" of the game and have played it for years. The members of Kingston Irregulars, being of a newer generation of wargamers don't quite see the same appeal that I do. Having borrowed Bob Beatties's 15mm figures on extended loan, I finally convinced them to try another outing of the rules. Of course being the only member who knows them and has had more than 1 or 2 games with them, I ended up designing the scenario and umpiring the game -so I still didn't get to play. I might get one more in before returning the figures to Bob at this Historicon!

As most of the club had little or no experience with the rules, I wrote the scenario and placed both armies on the board at start.
The Prussian set on is the red line, the French set on is the blue.
The scenario is entitled "On The Road To Paris". Each side was given a scenario description as follows: (Someday I am going to figure out how to hold the tab positions when I copy from Word for Windows to the Blog!!).
You have been tasked with holding the crossroads at Maison-Boutain. The command knows that your force is very much depleted and the Boche are very strong. We are sending you what help we can - the Garde is en-route. But their march is a long one and you must delay for the life of France! Note that The Guard Mobile and the Algerians are green troops at best (Listed as “other” in the rules)
Your force:                                                                                        # Stands
General Commanding   (Major General)  (Jack Breen)                                            2                           
Commander (Bd. General)   (Steve Myers)                                                                   1
               1st Guards
                              Commander ( Col.)                                                                               1
                              1st  Grenadier Btn                                                                               6                                            
                              2nd  Grenadier  Btn                                                                            6                                            
                1st Chasseurs
                              Commander  ( Col.)                                                                           1
                              1st Btn                                                                                                6
                              2nd Btn                                                                                               6
Bde Commander  (Bd.  General)  (Jack Breen)                                                        1
               1st Inf Rgt
                              Rgt Commander  (Col.)                                                                   1
                              1st Inf Btn                                                                                         6
                              2nd Inf Btn                                                                                        6
                              3rd Inf Btn                                                                                        6
               2nd Inf Rgt
                              Rgt Commander   (Col.)                                                                 1                                           
                              7TH Inf Btn                                                                                      6
                              20th Inf Btn                                                                                     6
                              1st Garde Mobile Btn (other)                                                       6
               1 Btry 4# Guns                                                                                             3
Bde Commander   (Bd.  General)  (Dick Messier)                                                1
               Algerian Rgt                                                                                                                              
                              Rgt Commander   (Col.)                                                               1
                              1st Btn, Algerians  (other)                                                          6
                              2nd Btn,  Algerians    (other)                                                      6
                2nd Rgt
                              Rgt Commander   (Col.)                                                               1
                              1st Btn Zouaves                                                                             6
                              2nd Btn Zouaves (Francs Tireurs used as zouaves)               6
Bde Commander (Bd. General)   (Gene Tower)                                                      1
               1st Rgt
                             Rgt Commander  (Col.)                                                                  1
                             1st Btn Marines                                                                              6
                             2nd Btn Marines                                                                             6
                2nd Rgt
                                Rgt Commander (Col.)                                                               1
                                3rd Btn Marines                                                                         6
               4th  Btn Marines                                                                                         6
               2 Btry Mitrailleuses                                                                                 6   
TOTAL                                                                                                                    131 STANDS

The French are on the run. Enemy forces to your front are very weak, though reports of troop movements to their rear are coming in with every messenger. Push through with all speed take the crossroad and send the French reeling back before they can muster any more strength.
Your force:                                                                                                                # Stands
General Commanding    (Major General) (Dick White)                                         2                           
Commander ( Bd. General)   (Rick Bryant)                                                              1
               1st Guards
                              Commander   (Col.)                                                                          1
                              1st Prussian Gd Grenadier Btn                                                     6                                                                                                          2nd Prussian Gd Grenadier Btn                                                    6
               1st Jaegers
                              Commander   (Col.)                                                                          1
                              Prussian Jaeger Btn                                                                       6                                                                                                       Gd Shutzen Btn (Jaeger)                                                                   6
               6# Krupp Battery                                                                                            3
Bde Commander  (Bd. General)  (Dick White)                                                        1
               Prussian Rgt
                              Rgt Commander  (Col.)                                                                   1
                              1st Btn, 29th Prussians                                                                  6
                              1st Btn, Colburg                                                                               6
                              1st Btn, Hesse Damstadt                                                                 6
                Saxon Rgt
                              Rgt Commander (Col.)                                                                    1                                                                                                          1st Btn,Saxon 4th                                                                            6
                              2nd Btn, Saxon 4th                                                                           6
                               1st Btn Saxons                                                                                 6
                              2nd Btn Saxons                                                                                6
               6# Krupp Battery                                                                                            3
WURTEMBURG BDE                                                                                   
Bde Commander (Bd. General) (Bill Seamens)                                                        1                                                                                             Bavarian Rgt                                                                                                                             
                              Rgt Commander(Col.)                                                                      1
                              1st Btn, 5th Bavarians                                                                     6
                              2nd Btn, 5th Bavarians                                                                    6
                              2nd  Btn, Silesian Jaegers                                                             6
               Wurtemburg Rgt
                              Rgt Commander  (Col.)                                                                   1            
                              1st Btn, 7th Wurtemburgers                                                        6
                              2nd Btn, 7th Wurtemburgers                                                       6
                              3rd Btn, 7th Wurtemburgers                                                        6
                              4th Btn, 7th Wurtemburgers                                                      6
               6# Krupp Battery                                                                                          3
                         TOTAL                                                                                        128 STANDS

NOTE: though the two sides seem to be equal in size, The French have 3 Btns of "other troops" with a lower morale which makes each of them about equal to 1/2 a normal Btn. and the French reserve, The Guard arrives late  - they came in on the 3rd turn. which make the French Number of stands about 99 stands vs Prussian 128 for the first several moves of the game.

The Initial Set-up

A schematic map of the original set-up

The French have the Chassepot, a much longer ranged rifle than is the Prussian Needlegun. In game scale it has a 24" range compared to the 16" of the Prussian weapon. The balance is the longer ranged Prussian 6# guns (54") vs the French 4# (40"). The French do have the Mitrailleuse, (Not a machine gun, but more a Volley gun) with a range of 30".
Despite the rifle and Mitrailleuse range advantage and having the mission of "holding the crossroads", the French gave up that initial advantage and advanced into the Boche. See Below:
Both sides advance, the French giving up their range advantage!
Add this to the fact that the Prussian stands can take more punishment than can the French (4 figures/stand vs 3 figures/stand - but equal number of stands to ea. Btn.)and the French were in for a walloping. The Prussians took casualties as well, an equal number of stands, mostly due to one mistake which brought up a Prussian column close enough to the unit in line in front of it to suffer artillery fire passing through the line.  However the casualties are scattered and the Prussians have a lot more figures until French reserves can be brought up.

The Right Flank of the French shows the first signs of problems and its early times yet!

The French advanced left flank. Note the TWO Btn. in rout hiding behind the village.

The French Right flank. One Btn. of  Zouaves has routed to a position beside the wood, hoping to rally. The French guns at the top of the photo (left) have already lost a gun and the Algerians on the bottom left of the photo have managed to move out of command radius!
Can the French pull this out of the fire? Check part 2 below to see.