Afternoon, 10 April 1941
Here we are, the inaugural battle of Kampfgruppe Klink's campaign in Greece. A little background, first: the German invasion of Greece was known as "Operation Marita," and commenced on 6 April 1941, finishing up on 30 April 1941. Following the Fall of France, KG Klink got to lounge around a bit in the French countryside. Then, as the seaborne invasion of the United Kingdom (the proposed "Operation Sealion") was contemplated, they got to do some amphibious training and lounge about the French coastline. As that died down they were given a brief home leave, then set about conducting an intense training program to prepare them for 'something big out east.' As this was occurring, the Italians decided to up and invade Greece in 1940, and they were roughly handled, suffering greatly during the winter and into the new year, at which point the German High Command decided (was told) they needed to formulate plans to go pull Il Duce's chestnuts out of the fire, hastened by the UK's decision to reinforce Greece with Commonwealth infantry and armor in March 1941.
KG Klink was moved east, first to Romania, then on to Bulgaria, where they sat out the fighting in Yugoslavia. They also sat out the initial invasion, the breech of the Greek defenses on the Metaxas Line, and then of the Commonwealth defenses at the Aliakmon Line, before being committed. They fairly cruised along until reaching the area in and around Veroia, at which time they ran into strong, though hastily organized, Commonwealth infantry and armored elements which had re-formed there. KG Klink's involvement in the Fall of Greece revolves entirely around the operations to break the Commonwealth defenses in and around Veroia, with the objective being the investment of Servia and its key mountain pass.
The first battle sees Captain Freitag's 1st Schutzen Battlegroup advancing on a key mountain crossroads manned by members of the British Royal Engineers supported by Armored Cavalry from New Zealand.
I'm playing with very simple terrain so that I can lay it down and scrape it up as quickly as possible, to get in a lot of games as quickly as possible.
I'm playing solo using Too Fat Lardies' Chain of Command, modified a bit. I've bumped it up a level (using multi-based stands, not individual troops), I simplified fire and melee combat, and morale (5Core concepts, as always), as well as movement (I like dicing for movement, but it significantly slows things down for me). I changed the CoC Dice so that it represents indirect supporting fires from Higher HQ, and I did away with the Patrol Phase. I love the Patrol Phase, but it doesn't work for me playing solo, so what I do is designate an attacker and a defender; both sides start completely off table, using their Command Dice to deploy on table (as normal), but where it differs is that I basically give the defender a deployment area of half the table, and he can deploy anywhere in that area, even dug in, so long as it's at least 6" from any attacker.
If you're now wondering, then, why do I still call these rules "Chain of Command," it's because the entire game revolves around the use of Chain of Command's brilliant activation system (command roll/Command Dice), the use of leaders' command initiative, and the 'Force Morale' concept of declining Command Dice and morale to breaking. To me, that's the heart of the system, and it makes for a fun game.
I'm playing these games in 10mm using figures from Pendraken and Minifigs UK, roads from Fat Frank, hills from Warzone, buildings from Crescent Root, rivers from Wargamers Terrain, and trees from Gunner at Signifer.
Captain Freitag (Iron Cross 2nd Class)
1st Grenadier Platoon - 1st Lt Tausch (IC1 and 2)
1st Rifle Squad - SSgt Janke (IC2)
2nd Rifle Squad - SSgt Aust
3rd Rifle Squad - Sgt Lutz
4th Rifle Squad - Cpl Lipniki
2nd Grenadier Platoon - 1st Lt Klugmann (IC1 and 2)
1st Rifle Squad - SSgt Mader (IC2)
2nd Rifle Squad - SSgt Sachs
3rd Rifle Squad - Sgt Lehmkuhl
4th Rifle Squad - Cpl Orel
Weapons Platoon - Sgt Creuzburg
MG1 - Cpl Steinkamp
MG2 - LCpl Moen
Mtr1 - LCpl Hager
Mtr2 - LCpl Schiff
MG1 - Cpl Steinkamp
MG2 - LCpl Moen
Mtr1 - LCpl Hager
Mtr2 - LCpl Schiff
Assault Gun Platoon - Officer Cadet Hinkle
V2 - Sgt Kulle
V3 - Sgt Wagner
Commanding Officer: Major Butler, R.E.
Armored Car Platoon from the New Zealand Cavalry (two w/Bren, one with 2-pdr gun)
British Royal Engineer Platoon (Platoon Commander and three Engineer Squads)
Weapons Platoon (Platoon Commander, two Vickers MGs, and two 3" mortars)
*The Germans could have brought on the Stug Plt, but wait to see how things develop. The Brits roll, but decide to let things develop, too, so Germans go again.
*Stugs still stay off, Brits roll again, really crappy rolls, so still sit tight.
*Germans rolled a double phase, so time to go!
*And still the Brits wait! The Germans now have a CoC dice available.
*Germans kinda got screwed by rolling four 4s!
SSgt Mader is hit in the thigh and must be evacuated, done for the campaign.
SSgt Janke is killed in the initial burst.
*Capt Freitag is really second-guessing himself now, wishing he'd have called the supporting fires in on the NZ Cavalry, worried it's going to hit his 2nd Gren Plt.
When suddenly the sound of motors is heard...
Coulda been better, coulda been worse...
*The Germans had back to back phases.
*Wow, I kinda thought that would be the knockout blow. Guess not...
*The Germans rolled another CoC dice, so Capt Freitag called the Stukas back, this time to hit the NZ Cav.
So, that was my first run out of this (my new) version of Chain of Command, and I'm pretty happy with how things went. We had some ups and down, ins and outs, pretty exciting (at least from my standpoint), things up in the air until the end, and it all worked. I was particularly happy with how the defender's deployment worked, where they waited and waited and waited, letting the Germans prance all over the table, then sprung their ambush, making things very hairy for the Germans. Things definitely could have gone the other way: say the NZ Cav gunners are a bit more accurate with their fire on the Stug Plt, the 3" mortars are a bit more effective, or the R.E. Platoon in the hamlet doesn't have two squads break and run (and the Germans get three phases to move 1st Gren Plt up and into the hamlet). Pretty cool. Here are the stats:
German losses: 20 casualties, 1 Stug immobilized but repaired in time for the next fight
Commonwealth losses: 20 casualties, 30 captured
SSgt Janke, Iron Cross 2nd Class winner and veteran of Poland, France, and Greece, KIA
Cpl Lipnicki, veteran of France and Greece, KIA
SSgt Mader WIA and out of the remainder of the campaign
1st Lt Klugmann, Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class winner and veteran of Poland, France, and Greece, mentioned in dispatches
*Probably would have won him the Iron Cross 1st Class if he didn't already have it, but not enough to get him the Knight's Cross.
Next up, Captain Freitag and his men are right back in the thick of it, taking on some Kiwis to take a bridge.