WarGaming Battle Report – Chain of Command Goes Bedknobs and Broomsticks

While I was reading the TooFatLardies’ 2013 Christmas edition (My recommendation by the way) the words dropped out of my page to reality. If you still didn’t try to put your pawns on this one, do not delay 🙂

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of my favorite movies when I was a child. Now I forgot exactly why, as I’m not musical type of guy, and those effects inside the movie were pretty lacking even for the ’70s.

It was while showing my daughter the movie a couple of months ago that I realised what it was. There was a German beach landing at the end of the movie.

As a child (and pretty much as an adult too) I was obsessed with World War Two, having spent many, many hours listening to my grandfather’s tales about the war. I had forgotten about that scene when I watched the movie as a child, but having seen it again, it was suddenly obvious to me why I enjoyed the film so much.

Then, when I saw that there was a Chain of Command scenario in the Christmas Special that was based on that landing, I jumped at the chance to play it. Obviously, you now have Home Guard to fight off the Germans, rather than Mrs. Price’s magic. But it is still too good to pass up!

The Scenario

The Germans are a U-Boat crew looking to pick up Agent Haddock, a spy that has garnered valuable information during his undercover work in the South of England. However, Haddock is captured and the U-Boat crew are alerted by Agent Salmon. They therefore form up a quick landing party to rendezvous with Salmon and grab Haddock before he can be turned over to British Intelligence.

Standing in their way is a platoon of Britain’s finest – the Home Guard. They are holding Haddock in a house near the coast, while they wait for the regulars to turn up.

The Map And Deployment

Chain of Command AAR
– The map for the landing

Agent Salmon begins, appropriately, in Traitor’s Field and will move towards the Germans at the start of each German phase. The Germans get 3 patrol markers at the Boat House and their force has 5 Command Dice.

The British begin with 4 Patrol Markers at Point House, and one on Headland Point. They also have 5 Command Dice. At the end of the Patrol Phase, the Germans will place 2 Jump Off markers, with a third on the Boat House.

The British will place 3 Jump Off Markers and one on Point House. The Germans may not advance beyond their Jump Off Points until Agent Salmon makes contact with them. When they do, they will know that Agent Haddock is in the House and will act accordingly.

Playing Chain of Command Solo

I am going to take the part of the British in this game as the Germans are essentially controlled by circumstance for some of the game. So I thought I’d devise a series of tables to facilitate solo play, and to give me a challenge and keep me guessing. It’s my first attempt at doing this, so here goes.

If Agent Salmon makes contact within 2 turns: Agent Salmon informs you that the Agent Haddock is being held prisoner in Point House.

Dice Roll Action
1-2 Secure Headland Point to ensure the U-Boat remains safe. Then attack Point House from the northern hill, using a team to guard the road to WichFord against any British reinforcements.
3-4 Leave a team at the Boat House to secure a line of retreat and send out the rest of the force to Point House using the woods and fields as cover, attacking the objective from the south.
5-6 Advance to Point House using the hedgerows along the road as cover. Set up a fire base on the raised hedge opposite Point House, while the assault team comes in from the south.

If Agent Salmon does not make contact within 2 turns: Assume that Agent Salmon has been killed or captured.

Dice Roll


1-2 Send out a snatch team to investigate Headland Point and obtain prisoners, while another team advances to keep Point House under observation. Once any prisoners have been secured, assault Point House using the observation party as a fire base.
3-4 Send out a patrol to scout out Point House. If British troops are discovered there, assault the house and then try to find the location of your agents from any survivors.
5-6 Send up a patrol towards the house to see if you can capture some civilians. If the patrol comes under fire, engage the enemy. Do not advance unless you have the advantage.

If Agent Salmon is killed within sight of the Germans, it counts as a “Bad Thing Happened” and roll as if a Junior Leader was killed. Similarly, if Agent Salmon is killed and a German patrol stumbles across his body, the Germans suffer the same effect.

A platoon of British regular troops will arrive in trucks after Turn 4. Set an EDNA of 5, which decreases by 1 each subsequent turn. If you roll equal to or higher than the EDNA, the British Platoon may take the first phase of the new turn and will roll it’s own 5 Command Dice. It’s Jump Off Point will be where the road to Wichford meets the table edge.

German troops will advance, bring up more men to lay down plenty of fire, and then break off a group to flank and finish off the enemy.

Special Rules

Having had a look at the British Home Guard list on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo Group, I thought I’d bring in some of their special rules (after all, it’s not often I get to game with the Home Guard).

The Home Guard use “Five Rounds Rapid”, meaning a leading directing a rifle team’s fire can add his command initiatives in fire dice. However, Home Guard suffer a -1 in close combat, as these are not front line soldiers and the men have been on war rations for some time.

The Lewis Gun in the Christmas Special is noted as being 4 dice, while in the Home Guard list it is noted as being 4 dice. As the Christmas Special is the latest publication, I’ll go with that.

Finally, I’ll play this as a night scenario. Visibility is reduced to 12″ (40 yards in ground scale). We’ll assume there is a moon up to allow that. Also, the landing in Bedknobs and Broomsticks was done in the dark (I just checked!)

The Forces For The Bedknobs And Broomsticks Scenario

The British:

  • Lieutenant Drummond, Senior Leader, pistol.
  • Sergeant Hannay, Senior Leader
  • LMG Team Lewis Gun with three Crew
  • Section One: Corporal Claridge, Junior Leader. Thompson SMG. Seven riflemen
  • Section Two: Corporal McCarthy, Junior Leader. Rifle. Seven riflemen (three of whom are at Headland Point on look‐out duty).
  • Section Three: Corporal Evans, Junior Leader. Thompson SMG. Seven riflemen

The Germans:

  • Kapitanleutnant Möller, Ranking Senior Leader. Pistol.
  • Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz, Senior Leader. MP38.
  • Oberbootsmann Wilmann, Junior Leader. MP38.
  • Bootsmanner Schiffer, Junior Leader. MP38.
  • Twenty‐four Matrosen (2 with LMGs, the rest with rifles).
  • I’ll split the Germans up as follows: Kapitanleutnant Möller with 6 men, Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz with 6 men (including an LMG), Oberbootsmann Wilmann with 6 men (including an LMG), and Bootsmanner Schiffer with 6 men.

The Patrol Phase

British Morale is 10, with the men riding high on their capture of a possible spy. German Force Morale is 8, indicating that the men are less than happy to be off their U-Boat and ashore. The Jump Off markers are moved, with the Germans trying to secure the southern woods to give Agent Salmon a fighting chance.

Squad Level WW2 Wargaming
– The Patrol Phase comes to an end

The British seem to have gotten the better of the deployment phase and have pushed their markers forwards to get a spread of deployment zones. However, this also means they’ll have a lot of markers to protect so it could work against them.

Wargaming With Chain of Command
– Calculating Jump Off markers deployment

The Jump Off markers are placed in their spots.
– The Jump Off markers are placed in their spots.

The Germans get a default Jump Off point on the Boat House and 2 additional ones that are crammed towards the southern edge of the map. The British go for more of a spread, taking some good spots in the fields and at the base of the hill.

Turn 1

Phase 1 – British

Squad waragme in WW2
British Phase 1 Command Dice

The British roll their Command Dice. Hmmmm – 5 / 1 / 4 / 4/ 6. With that roll I can deploy a Senior Leader, or activate the team at Headland Point. Or maybe deploy the Lewis team. I’d rather not do any of that until I know where the Germans are going to be. Phase 2 – German

Wargaming with Chain of Command
German Phase 2 Command Dice

OK, yes I put some red leather to roll on to. It looks nicer! And I could do it, so I did. Anyway, that’s a pretty good roll for the Germans to get some bodies on the table.

Before they can do anything, however, Agent Salmon moves 2d6 towards them, reaching the hedge. Using the first “3″ I deploy Bootsmanner Schiffer and his men in to the woods. They will be able to pick up Agent Salmon quickly there. As they have been activated by a leader, I place the team on overwatch. I then use a “2″ to deploy Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz around the hedge. His group has an LMG and will be ideally placed to be a pivot point for any attacks. They cannot go on overwatch as their leader was not activated.

Finally, I use the last “3″ to get Oberbootsmann Wilmann’s team on to the table in the boat house, and place them on overwatch. That leaves one group with an LMG in reserve that I can use to plug any gaps.

Wargaming at platoon level
The Germans deploy

Phase 3 – British

Historical wargaming
British Phase 3 Command Dice

That roll doesn’t leave the British with too many options. Really, they are only able to get a few men on the table. However, they do have a shot at taking down Agent Salmon. I guess we should take it. I therefore deploy Corporal Evans’ section, who have been tracking a suspicious figure lurking around the fields. However, as Evan’s men sight down their rifles, the figure slips out of sight (he is just beyond 12″).

However, I don’t want to leave Evans alone, so I also use the “1″ to deploy the Lewis Gun group in support, and the “4″ brings Sergeant Hannay on to the table. That will give the deployed men some staying power as he’ll be able to rally a lot of shock.

Eagle eyed readers will also note I removed a Jump Off point on Headland Point. While the British get a patrol marker on the spot (to stop Germans moving within 12″), they don’t get a Jump Off Point there. So I corrected it.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks wargaming
The British troops try to draw a bead on Agent Salmon

Phase 4 – German

Wargaming on virtual tabletops
Phase 4 German Command Dice

Before the Germans do anything they move Agent Salmon. He ends up just 1″ away from a German soldier, and thus (as he is within 4″) becomes part of that squad. The Germans learn where Agent Haddock is being held! I therefore roll on the chart to see how they intend to get him back. A “3″ tells me that the Germans are going to advance through the fields and attack Point House from the south, while leaving some men to secure the Boat House. To follow this plan, I generate a 4 (1+2+1) and deploy Kapitanleutnant Möller with his men in the woods.

Skirmish wargaming solo
The Germans get all their troops on the table

Wargaming with Battlegrounds
The German attack plan

Phase 5 – British

solo wargaming on a budget
Phase 5 British Command Dice

Well, I get the next phase, so that’s pretty good. And the 1, 3 and 4 give me some good options too. I use the “3″ to deploy Corporal Claridge and his men in Point House and put them on overwatch. That way they are ready for any Jerries trying to get their hands on Agent Haddock. I use the “4″ to activate Sergeant Hannay who in turn activates the lewis gun team and Corporal Evans’ men. Both of those British units go on to overwatch.

The Germans have to come to us. We can hold our positions. Lastly, I use the “1″ to get the sentries in the bunker. No doubt a sound has spooked them.

historical wargames without figures
The British get in to defensive positions

Phase 6 – British

solo wargames on a budget
Phase 6 British Command Dice

Well that’s great for getting a Chain of Command Dice (I now have 4 “pips”). I also have two “2″s to use. I could combine them in to a “4″, but that doesn’t really give me anything to do. So I hold off. Phase 7 – German

solo world war two wargaming
Phase 7 German Command Dice

Well that’s a nice roll! It should certainly allow the Germans to begin executing their plan. The “4″ and two “3″s activate Kapitanleutnant Möller, Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz, and Bootsmanner Schiffer. Their men rush towards Point House, ready to execute a text book attack of fire and move. The two “1″s don’t really help me, so I leave them be. I’d like to get Oberbootsmann Wilmann’s men moving down the road, but I want to leave some men behind to guard the Boat House (and the rear). So I need to activate the leader to split the team.

wargaming without minis
The Germans advance

Phase 8 – British

Wargaming with virtual tabletops
Phase 8 British Command Dice

Well, that double 6 means another double run of phases for the British.

I’ll use that 2 to get Corporal McCarthy on the table with his men, and the “4″ brings Lieutenant Drummond on to the board too. I want them to flank the Germans, so I’ll put them on the hill. The next “1″ I get I’ll pull back the sentries on Headland Point to join the squad.

I deploy Lieutenant Drummond in Point House to bolster the defence there.

Bttlegrounds Gaming Engine wargames
The British deploy all of their troops

Phase 9 – British

Chain of Command with BGE
Phase 9 British Command Dice

I use a “1″ to activate the sentries at Headland Point and get them to move towards their parent section. I also combine a “1″ and a “2″ to activate Corporal McCarthy and get his men moving over the hill to flank.

Chain of Command After Action Reports
The British start to pull in the sentries

Phase 10 – German

Coc Battle Reports
Phase 10 German Command Dice

The Germans will continue with their plan, using the “3″ to move Bootsmanner Schiffer and “4″ to move Kapitanleutnant Möller’s men. Finally, combining a “1″ and a “3″ they activate Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz and his men.

However, Bootsmanner Schiffer, despite moving tactically, have come in to sight of my British (well 1 man has come in to sight of 1 of my men). I hold fire as I don’t want to give away my position yet.

Solo wargaming with Chain of Command
The Germans continue to advance on Point House

Phase 11 – British

Chain of Command Orders Phase
Phase 11 British Command Dice

Well the British are going to get another run of phases with that double “6″. I think that is one of the fun things about Chain of Command – you never know quite how the turn is going to go. You have to manage with what you get, and do the best you can with the turn as it pans out. Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies, explains this as “friction” on the battlefield (mirroring Clausewitz).

The British are also now just one more “5″ from having a Chain of Command dice.

With two “4″s there isn’t much I can do, so I move on to the next phase.

Phase 12 – British

World War Two Wargaming using Chain of Command
Phase 12 British Command Dice

That’s a better roll. The British get the next phase again. However, they also get a Chain of Command Dice. And the “1″ allows them to reel in the sentries, while the “3″ activates Corporal McCarthy to move further along the German flank. The sentries are just an inch from joining McCarthy’s section.

platoon level wargaming without miniatures
The British prepare a flank attack

Phase 13 – British

Virtual tabletop wargame
Phase 13 British Command Dice

That’s a pretty awesome roll for the British as it will allow them to activate everyone.

But what do we want them to do? Many of the Germans are still out of sight, and I don’t want to leave cover. While I have almost everyone on overwatch, I suppose I also need to get some men in cover too.

I use a “3″ to activate Corporal McCarthy who moves his men in to the cover of the hedge, covering the German flank. The movement also means that the British squad finally joins up as one whole section.

I don’t have much use for the other dice rolls. AS time is one my side and the Germans are under pressure to advance, I leave it up to them.

CoC wargaming beach landing
The British get on the flank

Phase 14 – German

CoC command dice rolls
Phase 14 German Command Dice

Well, that’s a good roll for the Germans. Combining the pair of “3+1″ they activate both senior leaders and get the men forward. The “2″ activates Bootsmanner Schiffer who also moves his men forwards, albeit tactically.

Both sets of forces are still out of sight, but that will change as Schiffer’s men close on the British position.

What is holding them back is the fact that they seem unable to get Oberbootsmann Wilmann’s men down the road.

Chain of Command night battle report
The Germans get in to firing positions

Phase 15 – British

CoC Bedknobs and Broomsticks game
Phase 15 British Command Dice

I use the “3″ to put McCarthy’s squad on overwatch.

My boys can hear the Germans sneaking around in the woods, but can’t see them. And they don’t want to open fire on what might be someone esle’s patrol. Apart from that, the quicker turns end, the faster a platoon of regular British squaddies turn up.

So I pass along to the Germans.

Phase 16 – German

CoC night action AAR
Phase 16 German Command Dice

Well, given the night fighting rules (which I admittedly made up), it has been something of a chess game getting everyone in position. While I set this game up on a 6′ x 4′ table, I’d say a 4′ x 4′ would give a sharper game.

Now that the Germans have the next phase, it would be an excellent idea for them to start the assault.

The three “2″s are used to activate the sections commanded by Schiffer, Wilmann and sur Zee Kollwitz.

Sur Zee Kollwitz gets his men in position to lay down covering fire. Willmann finally gets his boys out of the Boat House and down the road. However, the British are waiting there on overwatch and open fire. The Brits cause a point of shock, but the German return fire kills a man.

Schiffer’s boys leap the hedge and sprint for the British positions.

CoC wargamed solo
The battle begins!

Phase 17 – German

Solo wargaming with Chain of Command
Phase 17 German Command Dice

I use the “3″ to activate Wilmann’s group. They open fire on the British in the hedgerow, causing one kill and 2 shock. Wilmann also removes a point of shock before the firing.

A “4″ is used to activate Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz who lays down covering fire on Evan’s men. The last “4″ is used to activate Kapitanleutnant Möller. He moves down his section, screaming at Schiffer’s men to assault the British as he orders his squad to lay down covering fire also.

Evans shouts for his men to open fire as the Germans rush in, killing a sailor despite the hail of lead coming their way. Schiffer’s men launch grenades and attack in close combat.

The combat is hard and bloody, but am amazing dice roll by the British sees them wipe out the Germans to a man, losing 2 men and seeing Corporal Evans wounded in the process. German morale drops 2 to 6, while British morale drops by 1 to 9.

Finally, the British troops on overwatch in Point House open fire on Wilmann’s men. Now the Germans have fired, they can shoot at them as the muzzle flashes will be visible. However, they only succeed in causing a point of shock.

Wargaming without miniatures
– The German assault fails

Phase 18 – British

solo wargaming on a budget
– Phase 18 British Command Dice

If I can build up another Chain of Command Dice, I can end two turns and start rolling for the British platoon of reinforcements. That will end the game fairly quickly. Wiping out the German squad was great too, and more the result of a mass of sixes than anything else. Had the German grenades had a better effect, my British would have probably been the ones wiped out.

However, we now have a chance to finish off the Germans and cause some damage. We also have to be careful of the LMGs as they can whittle down our men in the blink of an eye.

Combining the two “1″s I move back Corporal Evans’ men. They have suffered enough. It does leave my jump off point vulnerable, but if I keep them in the hedgerow they will be gunned down by concentrated MG34 fire. And with Evans wounded, it is even harder to rally them.

Using a “3″ I activate Corporal McCarthy and get him to lay more fire in to the Germans. McCarthy’s men fire on Wilmann’s section, causing one kill and one shock. Corporal Claridge in Point House does the same (with the other “3″), causing another kill. Wilmann’s squad is taking a lot of casualties. If I can keep on the pressure, it should lower the German morale even closer to breaking point.

historical wargaming without minitaures
– The British get cautious

Phase 19 – German

solo wargaming on PC
– Phase 19 German Command Dice

Well the Germans now have a Chain of Command dice. Their plan is getting difficult to pull off, however, if they can capture the two British jump off points, and destroy the Lewsi gun and Corporal Evans’ section, then they might be able to damage the British morale to point that the force might not hang around.

So, let’s go with something risky.

Leutnant sur Zee Kollwitz activates with the “4″ and advances while firing at the Lewis gun (the British come in to his line of sight as he moves). Despite scoring some hits, none of them have any effect. Uh -Oh!

With the “3″ (1 + 2) I activate Oberbootsmann Wilmann and have his men lay down fire on Corporal McCarthy’s squad. Again, no effect. Double Uh-Oh!

solo wargaming on a PC
– The Germans fire back – ineffectively!

Phase 20 – And Call It A Day

At this point I decided to call it a day. The Germans have been fairly shot up and are not making any headway.

Ultimately I wanted to test out the scenario – and it does play well. Definitely an enjoyable game was had.

This will probably also be my last post on virtual tabletop games. My wargames room is starting to come together, so I will be playing physical games again. Finally!