Last week Richard Clarke invited John Warren and myself over to Lard Island, The Too Fat Lardies HQ, to have a bash at 'Fighting Season' the modern version of his 'Chain of Command' WW2 platoon level rules.
We were both honoured and very excited to be able to actually give Fighting Season a try before Richard takes them on their first outing next Saturday to Salute. Plus getting to use Richards superb terrain and painted figures, whilst being umpired/playing against the main man himself was a great introduction to this version of the game.
A couple of pictures of the Big Man himself and his little helpers, John
That's the scary pictures out of the way, now on with the report.
We arrived at 10am and after a general chat and refreshments, followed by a brief introduction into the changes for FS from CoC, we kicked off the first game with Richard controlling the Insurgents, whilst John and myself controlled a British platoon between us.
We had a full platoon including two senior leaders (officer and sergeant) radio operator and medic. Three squads of eight men, plus two valons.
We also had three lots of off table support.
Enhanced Sniper, GPMG, Javelin.
Our brief was that there was a possible arms cache in the compound at the far end of the village that we needed to check out.
We carried out the Patrol Phase as per CoC and then John deployed our first squad from one of our Jump Off Points near the well on our left flank on the left side of the village.
In the first picture you can see a British Squad in the bottom left hand corner advancing with a valon in front, through the village towards the target compound at the far end of the table.
Richard deploys a Taliban sniper on the roof of the target building and starts taking shots at the patrol.
In the British phase, we quickly move the patrol forward and out of line of sight of the enemy sniper and then deploy a second squad on the right flank, again out of sight of the sniper. Neither of us fancies advancing up the centre so we try the flanks, which seem to be very quite.
The squad on the left flank reach the first compound but come to a halt as they start to make their way around the corner of the building. Richard has deployed some possible Insurgents (or are they just innocent civilians?) on over watch. The Brits don't want to get in a fire fight, as they need to achieve their objective without suffering any casualties if they can help it. (This is a totally different mind set to playing WW2 CoC, as once you get a casualty, your priorities change BIG TIME, so you really need to slow your advance down and look after your troops.)
On the right flank the path looks clear, so one section with the valon in front advance cautiously along the side wall of the compound, whilst the remainder of the squad deploy in the crops and go on over watch to give covering fire if needed.
With WW2 CoC how often do you choose a medic from your support list? Fighting Season is a totally different kettle of fish with your medic earning his keep by playing a very important roll in trying to keep your casualty alive and preventing him from deteriorating. You will have another reason to use your CoC dice to prevent the end of turn when you have a man down.
Back to the game, the section manage to pull back in cover under heavy fire, behind the wall but the casualty is still out in the open. The fire fight goes on for several turns inflicting several casualties and morale checks on Rich's Taliban and the British casualty is brought back into cover.
End of first game due to the Taliban's morale eventually being reduced to zero but it was a hard fought battle with the Brits losing sight of their original objective and concentrating all their efforts on retrieving their wounded man.
We stopped for lunch that Rich kindly put on for us and then cracked on with the second game.
To speed things up, we kept the table layout the same apart from the well, which we moved from the left side of the table to the right. This was to be our objective, Richard (in so many words) informed us that we were to contaminate the well.
This time we were playing across the table instead of along the length and we were coming in from the left of the pictures. Again, John and myself controlling the Brits and Richard in charge of Terry Taliban.
With the patrol phase we were able to deploy one of our jump off points inside the nearest compound. This enabled us to put a squad on over watch from an elevated position and in hard cover.
Richard deployed his sniper in the compound opposite and as we were unable to spot him, he started to do some serious damage to the section nearest him. We decided to pull that section down out of sight and harms way as they were becoming a bit fragile.
This left just the one section up on the roof to provide cover for the other two advancing squads. We could also see that we had disturbed a hornets nest as the compound opposite was starting to fill up with several units of Taliban (or were they those civilians again?).
We called in some off table support and requested a Javelin to do his deed and target the compound.
We scored a successful and very effective hit but the down side of using this type of weapon was we then had to test to see what sort of impact this would have on the local community and if we had caused casualties amongst innocent civilians.
The Taliban's morale was slowly coming down and so Rich deployed a couple of large units around the rear of the compound, which he brought round on his right flank and head on into the advancing Brits coming around on our left. We received a casualty and some shock with this unit from enemy fire prior to Richard launching a large, low quality unit into close combat with these Brits. We were able to wipe out this rabble but not before suffering another man down. The medic had his hands full. With the loss of this low quality unit, the Taliban do not have to test on their morale, so it was worth the sacrifice of being able to send them in to cause a casualty on the Brits.
We managed to pull the casualties back into our compound but the remainder of the squad was caught on the outside of the wall by another unit of Taliban and things were not looking good for the Brits.
Meanwhile on the British right flank, the other squad had been advancing towards the well, using move and fire tactics. Luckily, they had a valon attached to the squad as one of the sections came across an IED. Richard used one of his CoC dice to play this against a moving unit. The dice Gods were with us and the valon was able to detect the device. They were able to reach the cover of the wall but came under heavy fire from several units of Taliban who were popping up from a nearby jump off point.
The firepower of the Brits was enough to cause another unit of Taliban to break and finally bring their morale down to zero. This was another hard fought battle and a very close run thing. This might of been a win for the Brits but we had to take into consideration the amount of casualties that we had received plus the impact of using the Javelin and the repercussions this would have on the game/campaign.
Its Chain of Command Jim but not as we know it. The basics for CoC are still there but there are lots of subtle changes that take you from the battlefields of WW2 to modern day Afghanistan.
Some of the changes that I can remember.........
Increase in CoC dice when you roll a 5 or 6 for the Brits, also you can decrease and swap pips on CoC dice to increase Brit Leadership initiative/activation.
Increased range/zone of leadership for Brits.
The Brits have a designated marksman with each team that shoots as original sniper but activates and moves as per team.
There was also two valons attached to platoon and assigned to squads of your choosing. These are used when Taliban uses a full CoC dice to activate an IED against any Brit team that is moving. The valon increases the chance of discovering the device.
The medic plays a big part in these rules and again activates on a roll of one. The Brits only suffer a casualty if the team suffer 3 x kills in one phase of shooting, anything less is treated as shock. Once you suffer a casualty you need to get your medic there to try and keep the WIA stable and not becoming a KIA. At end of turn you roll for status of any casualties, so you need those CoC dice to prevent end of turn until you can get the CASEVAC sorted.
We had off table support with a javelin, enhanced sniper and a heavy machine gun, any of these can be activated on a one but you then have to roll to see if this happens. When using support weapons you have to roll to see if you have caused casualties to any civilians this will have negative points on your objective for winning the game/campaign along with a load of other things like suffering casualties. So even though you have a lot of firepower at your fingertips you have to be very careful how you use it.
The enemy are all innocent civilians until you are within a certain range and you test to identify them or they start firing on you.
There are different levels of Insurgents and the very low units that get wiped out wont mean they have to roll for reduction in morale.
There was a lot more going on that really gives the flavour of the period but I can't think of them at the moment and Richard was controlling the Taliban for both games whilst we controlled the Brits. We really had to slow down our approach as casualties with this period had a much greater effect than with WW2
Another nice touch is 'enhanced over watch' which you can have by using a pip from one of your CoC dice.
Richard and Leigh are definitely onto another winner with Fighting Season, as it does everything CoC does and then it is brought bang up to date with some very clever ideas and subtle changes that let you know you are fighting a completely different enemy to the WW2 generation, under whole new battle conditions and rules of engagement.
Richard Clarke and Leigh Neville have done their homework and it shows.
If you need to know the ins and outs of these rules don't ask me but go straight to the horses mouth and contact Richard at http://toofatlardies.co.uk/forum/ or if you are at Salute next Saturday, then Richard will be running a participation game of Fighting Season.
And as Mr Clarke himself would say........ "And there we have it".