Copyright © 2017, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2017, Paul Scrivens-Smith

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the creator.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Chain of Command in the trenches



Yesterday evening it was another opportunity for James and I to get out our new collections of WWI troops and terrain.

For this mission we would be playing the Probe scenario and we randomised that my Germans would be the attackers.

James fielded his French as a Reduced Strength Platoon with an Regular rating comprising of:

  • Lieutenant (Senior Leader)
  • Demi-Section 1: Sergeant (Junior Leader), Grenadier-Voltigeur Squad of Caporal (Junior Leader), two bombers, four riflemen, Support Squad of Chauchat Team of One Chauchat with two crew, one rifleman, VB Team of three V.B. launchers with two crew each
  • Demi-Section 2: Sergeant (Junior Leader), Grenadier-Voltigeur Squad of Caporal (Junior Leader), two bombers, four riflemen, Support Squad of Chauchat Team of One Chauchat with two crew, one rifleman, VB Team of three V.B. launchers with two crew each

I used a standard German Infantry Platoon of:

  • Leutnant (Senior Leader)
  • Rifle Gruppe: 1 Gefreiter (Junior Leader) , eight riflemen, two bombers
  • Rifle Gruppe: 1 Gefreiter (Junior Leader) , eight riflemen, two bombers
  • Light Machine-gun Gruppe: 1 Gefreiter (Junior Leader) , eight riflemen, MG08/15 with two crew
  • Light Machine-gun Gruppe: 1 Gefreiter (Junior Leader) , eight riflemen, MG08/15 with two crew

James deployed his three sections entrenchments and we rolled off for Force Morale. The French were a whopping 11 while my Germans came up a 9, not too bad but I'd rather be attacking with an 11.

With a difference of Force Ratings of 1 and with a Force Support roll of 2 James picked an off-table Machine-gun and an Adjutant. I spent my 8 points on an on-table MG08, an extra MG08/15 for one Light Machine-gun Gruppe, plus three barrage points, "Bombardment on enemy trench line", “Feurwaltz tactics" and "Gas on the enemy trench line". Hopefully under the cover of the bombardment I would be able to rush the French lines.

The image on the right shows the initial jump-off points, plus the star marks the target for the off-table machine-gun.

Having the higher force Morale the French took the first turn and due to the effects of the bombardment struggled to get any troops on the table, however one of the support sections was deployed in the central emplacements.

The Germans started to appear, firstly the MG/08 deployed in a small Bois on the hills crest and started laying down suppressive fire into the French troops, the two Rifle Gruppe deployed on my right.

The under the dancing barrage and gas attack the French struggled to stop the two Rifle Gruppe from advancing on their left positions, although the Germans had to deploy the enhanced Light Machine-gun Gruppe to support the attack and the Leutnant to keep them moving.

Eventually, in close contact with the French position on their right one of the Rifle Gruppe was severely depleted, only two men remained and the Gefreiter dead, however, in only just the nick of time a French Grenadier-Voltigeur Squad manned the positions before them, a sharp fire-fight and exchange of Grenades ensued, the French Lieutenant dashing to the position to maintain morale.

By now the French had saved enough Chain of Command points and were able to end the turn, stopping the barrage. Too late, the German Leutnant seized the initiative and led his Rifle Gruppe into the trenches bayonetting the final few defenders.

In true French "attaque à outrance" style the second Grenadier-Voltigeur Squad was deployed to recapture the entrenchment however, after a sharp fire-fight only the Leutnant and three riflemen remained but the French were broken and ran for the rear.

As the French were concentrating so much on their left a Light Machine-gun Gruppe was deployed on my left and started running towards the French line. Despite the final Support Squad being deployed to oppose them they brushed aside the fire and broke through the enemy lines.

In my final phase they exited the French table edge at the same time that the French Morale collapsed to zero.

The pre-game barrage elements made a huge difference to this game, with a reduction to 4 Command Dice and only being able to deploy on a 5+ meant that two German sections were almost upon their first trench line before any troops could be deployed into it.

The off-table machine-gun that James purchased had no effect on the game, however, now knowing how it works we would probably have used it differently.

This graphic gives an idea of the movements, German in black and French in blue, while the major fire fights are shown in fine lines.


I'm unconvinced with the French Reduced Sized Platoon as although it is well served with support weapons its low numbers make it very brittle.

Another great game though and I'm enthused with getting a load more painted in time for Partizan.

Loads more images from the game here.