Chain of Command – España

The brave Requetés take on the Godless Brigadistas in our first Chain of Command outing somewhere in the hills South of Granada but North of Malaga and Almería which remain in the hands of the Rojos. This is the patrol scenario with each side having only 1 support point.  The Requetés upgraded a Junior Leader to Senior and the Brigadistas took a mortar for one of their mortar teams.  The other team and indeed everybody else was stuck with rifles.

Among the rules mistakes we used 4 command dice per side instead of 5.  There are some actions tied to a turn end and with 4 command dice this never occurred.  3 or more 6s on the command dice roll are needed to trigger the turn end.  With 4 dice; needing exactly 3 6s would be 1/6*1/6*1/6*5/6 = 5/1296 , that ‘not 6’ could be the 1st, 2nd 3rd or 4th dice so there are 4 paths to success 20/1296 (.0015) .  An extra dice factors in another 5/6 for the dice not rolling a 6; 5/1296 * 5/6 = 25/7776 each ‘not 6’ could be in 1 of 5 positions but they cannot both be in the same position, using NCR we have 10 combinations of ordering 3 things from 5 so 250/7776 = 0.032.  These calculations do not include the odds of rolling 4 or 5 6’s nor of rolling enough 5’s to generate a command point and end the turn.  Short summary with 4 rather than 5 command dice we had no turn ends and no collecting enough 5s to buy the turn end or do any other fancy command point stuff.

On with the game, both players started their patrol markers on a long board edge but the patrol phase swerved the markers leading to Rojos in the West and Requetés to the East.  There is a Rojos jump off point hidden behind a hedge at about 12:00 on the image below.

The Rojos rolled a slew of 3s and used 3 junior leaders to deploy the bulk of his forces, 2 big blobs of infantry and a mortar squad.  The ‘mortarless’ squad having been broken up and distributed amongst the other infantry.  Only a senior leader and friend remained off board.  Chain of Command emphasises creeping up,keeping troops back and manipulating the jump off points.  In hindsight slamming it all down makes a lot of sense if you have the dice to do it.   The Requetés deploy cautiously and advance a squad towards the enemy mortar hoping to first get within its minimum range then destroy it and capture the jump off point.

Troops have to deploy within 6″ of friendly jump off points so the Rojos spent some time sorting themselves out into neat firing lines to avoid shooting through their own troops.  Green markers are shock.  Both sides are aggressive, ignoring the 1st shock result so shock was not a major factor in the game.

The Requetés run flat out towards the mortar,rolling miserably so do not get far and take a point of shock for their troubles.  The mortar should be a small 2-man job not this big model but no more suitable set was to hand.

In a similar miscalculation of force needed to get anything done the Rojos head for an empty Requeté jump off point only to see it spawn Requeté infantry who promptly shoot up the Rojos.

The Requetés head for the mortar but are taking losses and shock.  A junior leader heads off to encourage them on.

Things do not look good for the few Requetés left behind.

The Rojos charge in, take some losses but 2 squads (teams in España), already badly shot up, are wiped out and the jump off point is overrun.

The Requetés have to decide to reinforce failure by sending troops towards the lost jump off point or even the odds by rolling over the exposed Rojos jump off points to the North of the board.

The Rojos detach men to take out the exposed Junior Leader, another Requeté moral loss and they are now down to an almost useless 3 command dice (we possibly rolled on the wrong lines of the force morale table but the writing was definitely on the wall).

If the Requetés run troops to take over enemy jump off points they are going to pile up shock, even without being shot at.  The best they can hope to do is to use 2 Senior Leader actions, 1 to run a squad flat out and another to remove the resulting shock.  That all depends on at least one 4 on the remaining 3 command dice.

If enough command dice had been used the a game turn would have ended by now seeing the loss of the captured Requeté jump off point and their morale crashing out.  Brigadista morale had yet to drop as they do not break and no Rojos unit had been wiped out.

We forgot the Requeté special rule allowing rolls of 1 against them in cover to be re-rolled (taking cover not being a manly thing).  The Brigadistas keep running until rallied but the Requetés are liable to be removed from the game when broken.  The force morale of each side drops when bad things happen so you will be unlikely to fight on until the last man.  As breaking is a ‘bad thing’ this rule made it harder to inflict bad things on the Brigadistas.

A debriefing for Bolt Action readers.  Shooting has no maximum range but apart from the dice activation systems the mechanisms for infantry combat are much the same.  Shock has a lot in common with Bolt Action pins.  Enough shock and you are pinned which pretty much freezes a units firing and moving.  Only Leaders can remove shock.  Movement is based on a roll of 1 to 3 D6s and even moving D6 will halve a unit’s firepower so there will be somewhat less successful movement and shooting than in Bolt Action.

The 2 base forces here were fixed not selected from a points budget.  There are set unit sizes but individual models can be split off.  The problem with small units is that they swiftly accumulate shock equal to their unit size which pins them or double that which breaks them. In this game each side had 2 big section units plus some command and support.  When squads were split off from the sections they only continued to activate on a ‘1’ unless a Leader was sent off to get them, leaving the rest of the section hard to shift.  Although big infantry units do crop up in Bolt Action these full sections are 15 and 18 men so it would be a more competitive model in Bolt Action to field them as 2 units, 1 with the LMG when Regulars or the full 15 or 18 as Inexperienced.  The Chain of Command model assumes full sections but the possibility of whole sections missing in the platoon.  In Bolt Action squads are often under strength but there is an activation bonus if they are at full strength so the model would be more smaller squads for the same number of models.

To summarise Chain of Command is more of an experience, in a role play sort of way.  Bolt Action tends towards a numbers game but both are games and there is enough similarity in the two to borrow mechanisms from each other.

Bolt Action – Spanish Civil War – Requetés

Por Dios, La Patria, Los Fueros y el Rey.

Inspired by essentially finding a Brigadista Internacional army in the garage, it made some sense to round up some opposition.  As usual your author did minimal research sent off for the figures from Empress, had them painted and based within 2 weeks of pressing ‘pay now’ then did some more reading.  There are only 4 packs of Requetés in the Empress range which is spreading the figure variation pretty thin even with a Bolt Action army.  The line up below are all Empress.  They are all very smartly turned out so might be from later in the war but before the Requeté and Falangist army units were merged.

Adding an almost equal number of army types in gorillo hats pads out the range but more detailed investigation reveals that almost all Requetés would wear the red beret.  There are plenty of contemporary pictures on requetes.com it is all in Spanish but easy to follow.  Be warned that it lays the party message on pretty thickly.  Only a handful of subjects sport gorillos.  These could be combat specialists, soldatos attached from other units or the odd example of someone preferring not to adopt the beret.  As the troops might provide their own beret (although the smarter examples are probably issued centrally) lack of stores can’t be blamed for a shortage of berets.  The gorillo with its tassel may look snazzy but is not the best protection from sun or cold; if a soldier is allowed the choice of headgear.   A reliable source of colours is the 1938 Nationalist film ‘Defenders of the Faith‘.  The archive.org version is one of the better resolution public domain prints but this is the Spanish version and significant colour fading is seen.  It is still a massive step up from back and white and the variety of colours can be seen in Nationalist and Republican forces.  There are no obvious Requeté images although the moors and International Brigade get a good showing.  Several subjects do, however, sport red berets.

As some consolation these guys just might be Requetés but could be attached peninsular infantry or even part of La Legion.  La Legion troops ought to be in a paler green and are allowed to sport beards and  shirts open at the collar but with the expansion of the original rebel forces equipment issue would have been stretched.

In some images  Requetés are seen to sport the chambergo, a military wide brimmed hat.  Helmets are perfectly feasible but only 4 of the Empress Nationalist infantry models sport helmets a bugle blower adds another option but he comes in the flag bearer pack.

These are Burns miniatures from Templar miniatures, including an LMG team which is not in the Empress line.  They are not up to the standard of Empress and when including postage are much the same price.  Given the choice Empress are the way to go although the Burns figures do provide some variety in poses.

The ‘spare no expense’ solution would be to buy separate helmet heads or to file down some gorillos, build up with green stuff and hope for the best.  Having tried out a couple of gorillo carve ups the result is middling at best. Here we have 2 converted Empress figures and a Burns Carlist.

The Nationalist artillery park includes a Pak36, 10.5cm IeFH18 and 82mm mortar.  The 10.5cm (a medium howitzer in Bolt Action) is modeled without its crew for possible use with early war Germans.

The Empress Carlists have no LMG. This base is from La Legion, the beards being the giveaway. Here they pose with some flag bearers and a Holy Icon.

These Panzer I Negrillos are 3D prints from the tank factory.  The ‘Defenders of the Faith’ film has them in a mixed colour scheme not unlike Late WW2 Germans.

The autocannon is missing from the Spanish lists but the boltaction.es forum has the following recommendation:

• Replace the 2 MMGs with a turret-mounted Breda 20mm light automatic cannon for +10pts

Here is some captured armour in the form of a UNL-35 from Empress and Warlord T26.  The UNL-35 is an all metal model but the inside of the shell is hollow.  Both would be best with Nationalist insignia but leaving this off opens the option of using them for either side or even trotting them out in Russia (the UNL-35 as a BA-20).

There is an impressive fan created book for Spanish Civil War Bolt Action.   It is in Spanish but the posts on boltaction.es do imply that it is free.  There are theatre lists of Nationalist, Republican and Italians for early war (July – October ’36), mid war (Nov ’36- June ’37), late war (July ’37 – March ’39) and Northern theatre (Nov ’36 – ‘Oct 37)

This is not the place for a full translation but the key special rules are translated below.  The slight problem with translation is that all the well known Bolt Action buzz words such as ‘DOWN’ have their Spanish equivalents (Cuerpo a Tierra).  Here are the Carlist special rules, note that not all of these rules are used in all theatres.

Nationalist rules:

PROFESIONALES (EW)
When the NCO of a unit is lost; roll a die. On a result of 3+ another of the miniatures will replace the NCO.
MAL EQUIPADOS (EW, MW)
A platoon cannot have more than two squads with the MAL EQUIPADOS rule armed with a LMG or more than four MAL EQUIPADOS units with submachine guns. A single squad with the MAL EQUIPADOS rule can be equipped with Antitank Grenades (or molotov or legionary cocktail) at a cost of + 2pts per model. The unit will use the Tank Hunters rule.
MEJOR COORDINADOS (EW, MW, LW, N)
The National player can re-roll the preliminary bombardment die if he is the attacker and the scenario allows it. In addition, you can re-roll the roll on the Artillery Bombardment table. You should always keep the second result.
VIVA CRISTO REY (EW, MW, LW, N)
A single unit may replace a member of the squad by a Military Chaplain or a bearer of a Religious Icon in the form of a cross, standard, etc., for a cost of +25 points. This model will not be able to shoot or be a loader of the LMG. When the unit that carries it or any infantry unit, that is not of Regulares or of the Mehala, that is 12″ of him carries out a RALLY action, it can repeat the roll if this fails. In addition, if successful, it will roll 2 dice instead of the usual 1 and choose the highest roll to remove the pinned markers.
ALFÉREZ PROVISIONAL (CADÁVER EFECTIVO)(MW, LW, N)
When the alféreces and tenientes of the Nationalist Army use the rule “Snap to action”, may draw an extra die (a teniente will draw two and a alférece will draw three). From the moment they draw an extra dice, they will continue to do so each time they use the action, but in turn they will not be able to receive the DOWN order and will go on to consider themselves as INEXPERIENCED when testing for wounds, but not Morale checks.

Republican rules:

UNÍOS HERMANOS PROLETARIOS (UHP)(EW)
A Republican army/column has a free Militia squad of up to 12 models armed with rifles and Inexperienced. If the column is of all of the same type of militia, it will be treated as a member of that same militia. This unit has the rule “A FALTA DE FUSILES, GRANADAS”.  Note this unit is not GREEN.
A FALTA DE FUSILES, GRANADAS (EW)
Any unit with this rule can exchange a miniature with a rifle for a miniature
with grenades. This miniature in melee obtains the “Assault” rule but cannot shoot.
DIFERENCIAS IDEOLÓGICAS (EW)
A force composed only of squads of the same faction of militia may repeat morale checks that fail.
ROJA ES NUESTRA BANDERA (EW)
A Militia squad can replace a soldier with a Standard Bearer for 25 pts, who will carry the flag and can not carry any additional weapon other than pistol. Any squad that belongs to that same militia faction and is within 12″ can repeat a failed rally check. Also, if the rally is successful, it will roll two dice and will discard as many pins as the result of the highest dice roll. If the unit that carries the flag is DOWN or in AMBUSH, the flag has no effect.
¡A LAS BARRICADAS! (EW, MW, LW, N)
In scenarios in which there is an attacker and a defender, if following the roll of dice the Republican player is not the defender the roll will (not may) be repeated, the second result stands.
If the Republican player is the defender, he will have the following advantages:
-During the first turn of the game, the enemy will not be able to give a RUN order to their units, since they are advancing cautiously towards the republican lines.
-The Republican player can re-roll the roll on the Artillery or Smoke Barrage chart.
MAL EQUIPADOS (EW, MW, N)
As for the Nationalist
EJÉRCITO POPULAR DE LA REPUBLICA (EPR) (MW, LW, N)
A force has a free EPR squad of 12 members armed with rifles, INEXPERIENCED and GREEN.
COMISARIO POLÍTICO (MW, LW)
Any unit that is within 6″ of a Commissar may re-roll a failed command check, provided it is not a FUBAR.  If the 2nd roll is failed, the unit will retire 12″ towards its edge of the table.
TANQUISTAS SOVIÉTICOS (MW, LW)
Any T-26 or BA3/6/10 or FA-I that is VETERAN is considered to be manned by Soviet crew. These vehicles when entering from Reserve, not outflanking, do not have a -1 to their order check.
DIRECCION POLITICA (N)
Any unit that is within 6″ of a commissar can repeat a failed activation check, provided it is not a FUBAR.
DIFERENCIAS DE MANDO (N)
When there are units from different provinces within 12″or less of each other both will have -1 to the Orders checks. On the contrary, if all the platoons of the section are from the same province, they can repeat the Moral checks that fail. In addition:
• Basque squads (Euzko Gudarostea) are STUBBORN.
• The Asturian squads can choose squads of Dynamiters instead of squads of the Popular Army of the Republic, but they can not have more squads of VETERAN than REGULAR.
• The Santander squads, when traveling through Difficult Terrain, can run 12 “. This also applies to assaults.

A Carlist squad can be either early or late war.  An Early (EW, MW) squad is 6 to 17 INEXPERIENCED men (9 points each), may have an NCO with SMG and LMG with loader if of size 10 or more.  They are STUBBORN but may be FANATICS instead for +2 points per figure.  Also they are MAL EQUIPADOS, VIVA CRISTO REY and GREEN but if they go up to REGULAR on a further roll of 5 or 6 they become VETERAN. A Late squad (LW, N) (11 points each) may be REGULAR or VETERAN and is not GREEN.  They are not MAL EQUIPADOS but the other Carlist special rules remain.

A rough overview of the special rules suggests that the Republicans have the better deal with a free squad and a bonus to the defense. The Nationalists would need to buy a forward observer to make the most of their own special rules. As a whole these are not dissimilar to what the Germans are allocated but Nationalists do not get the buzz saw rule.

Konflikt ’47 WarMachine Meets Bolt Action

Konflikt ’47 is the alternate WW2 Bolt Action.  Due to a total lack of coordination Gates of Antares, Konflikt ’47 and Bolt Action v2 all came out from Warlord within a short time of each other sharing the same Bolt Action roots but diverging all over the place.  Gates of Antares uses a D10 rather than D6 chance system and in the fashion of science fiction has a multitude of differing weapon types all of which are much the same when it comes to using them.  Konflikt ’47 has some of the original Bolt Action rules and some new bits that are not in Bolt Action v2.  The notable change being a more intricate reaction system and more uses for the ‘Ambush’ order.  Recent Konflikt ’47 supplements have retro fitted some of the Bolt Action v2 changes; notably the increase in LMG dice to 4 and MMG to 5.  Konflikt ’47 still uses multiple dice for HE not templates and more reasonably has special rules that apply to the alternate universe it is set in.  This does pose a problem for the regular Bolt Action player.  How many of the alternate Konflikt ’47 rules to implement without fouling up one’s Bolt Action rules knowledge?  This game kept to the Bolt Action v2 rules except for multiple dice HE and ‘period’ specific special rules.  This generally worked except for fear inducing units who affect the Konflikt ’47 reaction mechanism, which does not exist in Bolt Action v2.

The lists here are based on those from  EasyArmy so are not quite the same as in the original Konflikt ’47 rules booklet.  The choices are not far off the WW2 equivalents with the option to swap out an armoured car for a light walker and a tank for a heavy walker.  Amongst the  specialist infantry choices available the Germans have chosen a huge unit of undead (Cryx Mechanithralls) and a small unit of ‘werewolves’ (Cryx Bane Knights).  The Soviets have a unit of heavy infantry (Khador Winter Guard).  Both forces include a seriously heavy walker, the Soviet ‘Mammoth’ weighing in at 500 points.  To allow for these high pointers the game was played at 1,250 points.

Set up from the Soviet side shows a unit of heavy infantry at bottom right with scouts having forward deployed in advance of them.  The single massive unit of German undead occupies the gap at 11 o’ clock.  The Soviets kept both walkers off board.  The Germans only held back their light walker correctly calculating that even a direct hit from the pre-game bombardment would be unlikely to penetrate.  As it happened the bombardment came in for both sides but only scattered a few pins.  To keep with the apocalyptic theme the 40K scenery has been trotted out.  The building bases count as dense terrain so no units can see into the rubble and out the other side.

K471

Here we see the German Thor walker laughing off 2 pins.  The Nebelwerfer did score 1 hit during the game so just about paid for itself.

K472

The Germans are off.  The Warmachine Banes are standing in as shrekwulfen.  Its all charging and flashing sharp things so the match up is about right.  They sliced through the Zis 3 and the odd infantry figure then idled about for the rest of the game.  Loss of the Zis was a major blow to the Soviets as it could have taken the German walkers to the cleaners.  Set up here in ruin (rough) terrain it had some protection but could only turn  not move from its deployment position.

K473

The Thor did a roaring trade in dropping HE on just about any Soviets in sight.  Here the ‘light’ Spinne comes into view of the Soviet Mammoth.  Both big walkers are basically HE generators.  At +4 HE they can barely affect each other (armour 10 but penetration +4 ) unless they drop shells with indirect fire (+5 penetration).

K474

The German vampire commander (no rules for this but he fits the part) surveys the scene.  The Soviet Cossack walker strolls on and whiffs shooting at the shrekwulfen.

K475

The Soviet Mammoth expends ‘mammoth’ amounts of HE to finally shred the German undead swarm who would otherwise have had the Soviet scouts for breakfast.

K476

Things start to go poorly when despite turning attention to the regular German squads and the nearby panzershrek the Mammoth is unable to disable them before the panzerfausts and panzershrek come into range.

K477

The Germans dominate three quarters of the board with the Cossack walker down and the green infantry squad hardly a threat.

K478

The inevitable as a 500 point Mammoth goes down to less that 1/10th of its points in panzerfausts.  With no means to even scratch the Thor and rapidly running out of infantry the Soviets take an early bath.

K479

Lessons learnt are that spending a silly amount of points on single units is not a good idea.  They are especially vulnerable to cheap anti-tank weapons.  The HE heavy walkers had the ability to dole out a lot of damage but in practice were less of a threat.  Usually hitting at 3 or 4 up they would miss 1/2 or 1/3 of all shots.  This encourages targeting multiple HE weapons at the same enemy to maximise the chance of a result.  If that target is put down with the first shot the remainder from the same firer are wasted.  The undead were well worth their points soaking up a considerable volume of fire that might have been better used elsewhere except that if the undead do close to combat it is not going to be a happy outcome.