Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chain of Command- Good Platoon Level Gaming

Over the last few weeks we've been playing a new set of platoon level World War Two rules at the club called Chain of Command. They're published by Too Fat Lardies and bring with them some of the best and worst qualities that the Lardies usually deliver.

In a game of CoC each player is likely to command a platoon with some support. The basic game may include a single vehicle and some low level artillery. A game takes a few hours to play. In this there's a lot to like. Setup is fast and you don't need a huge collection of models to play. Through the course of the game each player rolls a set of dice and then uses the results to activate teams and squads. If you roll a "2," for example, you can activate a squad to
do something. Rolling a "3" let's you activate a leader who can cause a small cascade of events to occur. Generally speaking you'll have the chance to do Something useful each turn, but the dice add an element of chance. At the same time forces with more and better leaders are likely to do more things, more often, which is appropriate for this level of game.

Firing and combat results are straightforward enough, with figures delivering a number of firing dice and then attempting to roll a target number or higher. Successful firing can cause outright deaths or simply weigh down the squad with "shock," which slows movement and makes firing less effective. Inflict enough shock and casualties and the unit will break.

CoC includes a few novel elements (as is typical for a Lardies game). The activation mechanism is exciting, a little "gamey," but adds some tense tactical choice making. There is a pre-game patrol segment in which players vie for deployment options that is also exciting and challenging. The shock mechanism is effective and overall the game flows well.

On the downside the rules could really use some editing. I don't know why but I constantly struggle to make sense of Too Fat Lardies rule books. The games themselves play quite nicely but I don't think I've ever learned the rules from the book itself- it's always been from having another person teach me.

On the whole, though, CoC is a very fun game and we've been playing the heck out of it. The investment to play is very low, especially if you play in 15mm or 1/72 scale. The games go fast and feel somehow more historical than the Bolt Action games. I think the only caveat is the oddly mysterious rule book. If you can get through that you have a very nice set of platoon level rules.

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