Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Command Decision: Mortain Part 1

This past Saturday we were hosted by the inestimable Kevin Serafini at his new digs and tried out Command Decision, a battalion level WW2 game. In attendance were Kevin and John Brock as Americans and Roy Bartoo and myself as the Chermans. Kevin and John had both played the game at cons before. I am not sure if Roy had played, I had not.
The game has a lot of rules, but they are well written and easy to assimilate. Orders in the form of chits, or counters, are assigned to each company each turn and kept hidden from your opponent. Some orders include Hasty Move, Normal Move or Overwatch (among others) which allows elements to defensive/opportunity fire at moving targets or fire first if not moving. Initiative determines who moves first. Each element, or stand of dudes, has a fixed amount of firepower and ROF; terrain and other circumstances can affect this. The first photo is of the battlefield of Mortain France as two reinforced battalions on each side clash in a meeting engagement. The Americans must hold the chateau and take the village and vice-versa for the Germans. Many bocage edged fields and woods lie between.

The German heavies roll through Mortain. Two Panthers with a Recon HT out front race to claim the high ground dominating the center. The battalion commander sits (stands) in his kubelwagon and directs traffic like a bad George C. Scott movie.

The Americans enter. The Shermans are in for a nasty surprise and they are fresh out of mine dogs!

Roy's battalion schlepps along the road. His STuG III 75L's engage a few M-10's. I didn't get any pictures of that for some reason but it ended with alot of smoking olive drab vehicles.

Command Decison: Mortain Part 2

The command Panther with his wing man on the hill. From that vantage point the Panther was able to dominate the battlefield, being able to see over all the intervening bocage. He turned the American bowels liquid.

The view of the King of the Hill. Some Americans made the mistake of 'being seen'. The system is unforgiving, so many lessons were learned today.

German PanzerGrenadier coys move through the fields to eventually pour fire into the American center and left. Note the significantly less American elements in the field that the Panther had a LOS into. Big Brother is watching (and has a big gun!)

It's on! Close combat in the woods. The German element with grass that is in contact with the Americans was KIA'd. The good news is that when they were killed, it opened up a LOS to the two stands in back, one of which sports a MG. The fight wasn't concluded but both sides had bloody noses to be sure.

Command Decision: Mortain Part 3

A German PanzerGrenadier company takes position behind the bocage to ready for the final assault on the chateau while the finger of God Almighty personally snuffs out the mortal coil for a few Americans. That's something you don't want to see coming at you on the battlefield!

Aerial view of the American held German objectives. (One Ami coy bravely led by the battalion commander can be seen streaking away from the enemy and into the safety of the woods.)
The American mortar battery behind the chateau outbuildings. MG's have taken position upstairs and the Shermans try to cross France to get away from the Panthers.

Final positions. 2 German companies have taken the bocage while a third is engaged with the Amis in Close Combat in the woods. The remnants of another American coy struggles the hold the bocage against the next inevitable onslaught of massed German firepower. The Panther continues to be King of the Hill and the command Panther now has a bead on the troops in the chateau. The Shermans run like bitches from the Panther, as they should. Some Americans still hold the far bocage as the Germans on that side were pinned down by raking MG fire. The big white Disk O' Death in the center is the blast radius of my 81mm mtr, supressing any hope of American recovery in the center.
It was a good game and a good system. None of us were overly concerned with the results as it was a test game to see how the rules worked and we threw in a smattering of troop types. The Germans essentially only used one Panther and just it's presence erased an entire Sherman platoon as they fired 0 shots while hiding behind a hill. But we weren't after balance after all. The system is rules heavy but not cumbersome, at least not with the assortment we used. The results were reasonable, which is all I ask for. I like the orders and initiative system, it neatly removes a certain amount of omniscience from the table top general. I wouldn't want to play it exclusively, but that is a statement I can make about every game I've played. It's definitely on the list to do again.