Help support TMP


"Bolt Action vs. Chain of Command Rules?" Topic


90 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please use the Complaint button (!) to report problems on the forums.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Rules Message Board

Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the Bolt Action Message Board


Areas of Interest

World War Two on the Land

Featured Hobby News Article


Featured Link


Featured Ruleset

Mein Panzer


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 


Featured Showcase Article

Hour of Glory: Germans

The Germans arrive for my Hour of Glory.


Featured Workbench Article

Marines to the Ukraine!

When you have several hundred Marines that need painting, who do you call?


Featured Profile Article


Featured Movie Review


4,678 hits since 4 Jul 2021
©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

Thresher0104 Jul 2021 11:42 p.m. PST

I know both of these rules seem to have decent followings, so I'd like to know what the differences are between these two sets of rules, and which people prefer, and why, if there is any concensus (I'm betting not on this last issue, but thought I'd ask anyway, just to see if I get pleasantly surprised)?

Also, as separate follow-on questions, which set is better for:

- combined unit actions (infantry and tanks),

- and/or tank on tank actions?

Billy Goat Wargaming05 Jul 2021 1:28 a.m. PST

There will be advocates for both sides on this one, and there is no right or wrong. I'd say beware of people who say one is more historically accurate or gives a better feel for the period, or portrays the friction of warfare better than another. These are subjective opinions and not fact.

As you say both have loyal followings. Both can be used to play historically based games. But that's all they are… Games that use different mechanics to get the same kind of result.

BillyNM05 Jul 2021 1:34 a.m. PST

I think they are different in style, with Bolt Action giving a more 'normal/mainstream' game and CoC a different experience. I've never played BA, only looked at the rules, but if you want to find out about CoC I can do no better than to point you at 'The Tactical Painter' blog – the AARs give very good idea of how the game plays.

gbowen05 Jul 2021 1:36 a.m. PST

Both have fanboys. Both are basically infantry rules. You can load up on tanks in either but if you want lots of tanks this is not the way to go. Chain of Command uses a die activation system that has requires some luck and some decisions as how to spend each dice. This gives a dice management sub game that you may or may not like. Bolt Action has semi random activation of units. If you are after a less popular army Bolt Action lists can be easier to track down. A single army will often work fine as an official list for either game. I suggest that you buy both unless you want lots of tanks in which case do not buy either.

Rakkasan05 Jul 2021 1:40 a.m. PST

I am more familiar with CoC than BA. However, both can give a fun game. BA is considered less "historical" than CoC or other rules.
Both are focused on infantry forces with a small number of armored vehicles in support. BA may be slightly better at handling more than a couple tanks per side. Neither is particularly suited to tank on tank actions.

If you are looking for rules focused solely on tank on tank actions then I recommend What a Tanker.

advocate05 Jul 2021 2:11 a.m. PST

Bolt Action generally allows more freedom in force building. Chain of Command assumes a basic platoon and a limited set of supports. In addition CoC has a fair number of campaigns available, though I guess these might be adapted to Bolt Action without too many issues.

Londonplod05 Jul 2021 2:33 a.m. PST

Bolt Action has a Tank War add on, CoC normally has one tank per side, due to the way support points are used.
Both are good games but my club only plays CoC, there are a couple of regular players who really know the rules well, this helps to stop a lot of page flicking, BA is easier to navigate!

Leadjunky05 Jul 2021 4:54 a.m. PST

Very different game experience from each, but AFV's will not be a major force in either game. Both are weight of dice games and use WW2 miniatures, but I believe that is where similarities end.

If you enjoy list building and having more direct control of your units, you will probably like BA more than the CoC. I don't. I prefer the command challenges and force representations depicted with CoC. I also like the manner in which CoC handles scouting, deployment, and off board assets such as mortar and artillery support. I don't even have to buy these models as they are not on the table.

That being said, you may find more BA players in your area. At least I found that to be true.

Legionarius05 Jul 2021 5:54 a.m. PST

I find CoC to be a painful exercise in chart reading and micromanaging. BA is pure Hollywood. I find myself going back to the future with Crossfire! But, it's only a hobby. To each his/her own. Cheers!

Leadjunky05 Jul 2021 6:33 a.m. PST

Yes. I like Crossfire! too. You do need terrain/cover density for it to be playable though. Vehicles and armor rules are also fairly basic. Fun game though for two players.

Grelber05 Jul 2021 7:03 a.m. PST

Bolt Action is more of a tournament game, if tournaments interest you. While both are geared to later war, rather than the campaigns of 1939-41, I think this leads more to anomalies with Bolt Action than Chain of Command. Neither Bolt Action nor Chain of Command is intended to be a tank versus tank game; both center on infantry action. Almost forgot: if you like modeling and dioramas, the Chain of Command jump off points can be fun.

Grelber
Who has played both

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 7:16 a.m. PST

I have played all three sets mentioned (CoC, BA and Crossfire) and much prefer Crossfire.

As said, BA is pure Hollywood and the activation mechanic gives some nice friction with occasional silly results.

CoC uses a kind of dice activation system that is a game within a game. I enjoyed it but I like those kinds of puzzles. I played with a good GM who knew the rules so don't remember reading charts much.

But I still prefer Crossfire. For this size game it is my rules of choice. The initiative system forces hard decisions on players, and luck can be a bit streaky, but life is like that.

None of the above really do well with more than a tank per side. In BA especially, if one side loses their tank early and the other does not, the tank really unbalances things.

For combined arms games my rules of choice are Fistful of TOWs, but that is a game with 1 stand = 1 platoon (ish).

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 7:23 a.m. PST

I think one big difference is that in CoC you as the player can customize and control your attacks determining which units will assault and give cover fire based on your die roll. You can use more realistic tactics. The patrol aspect of CoC in the opening phase of the game is interesting.

BA unit actions are more random depending on the dice drawn so create a little more "chaos". BA does not need charts as the game mechanics and factors (accuracy, armor, and penetration) are designed around the D6 dice.

Neither one goes into much detail for tank-tank combat.

Wolfhag

thosmoss05 Jul 2021 8:19 a.m. PST

For tank-on-tank action, "What a Tanker" is a fast and fun game, which still echoes decisions and chance that can result in vaguely real world results. WaT also is heavily based on the same sorts of activation that drive CoC. There are differences, but to be familiar with one makes working with the other quite natural.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 9:30 a.m. PST

I would find out what people in your area like to play and go with that.

I played both and they have their advantages and disadvantages. Both are purely infantry platoon games in which tanks are best left out. Can't go wrong with either one.

I collect and try lots of rules. At the end of the day it is what people around me want to play. There are rules I like a lot. But if people around me don't want to play them or are not excited about them, it is a waste of time trying to sell rules others aren't interested in.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 10:37 a.m. PST

As ever, the best rules are those you like best!
At our club, some play CofC, but those who play Bolt Action seem to be having more fun!!!!
I play neither one!

parrskool05 Jul 2021 11:26 a.m. PST

Fireball Forward?

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 12:08 p.m. PST

Both look interesting, use neither one – Rapid Fire for 20mm, Spearhead for 6mm

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2021 3:02 p.m. PST

BA is best with 2 players. I played a game with 4x per side. I was bringing reserves into the fight and I was "low priority" getting the last command die on for our side. I'd move my units and then wait 45 minutes to do it again. You need to make adjustments as the units most heavily engaged will almost always going first.

I've played Fireball Forward too. It can have the same issue as above with unit activations in a multi-player game. The player that was to bring his reinforcements onto the table had to wait for 2.5 hours because the card that randomly ended the turn kept appearing before the rest of the team let him activate. Everyone agreed to let the units engaged in action to go before him. It's probably an extreme example but it was his first time playing the game.

Wolfhag

TacticalPainter0105 Jul 2021 8:49 p.m. PST

It depends on where you want to focus. CoC is about command and command decisions. It focuses very specifically on making those decisions in an unpredictable environment. Best to see the dice activation system that others have referred to as simply defining the conditions under which you are operating for that brief moment in time. The decisions you will look to make are about how best to operate under those conditions. You must make those decisions knowing you are in a volatile environment, expect some things to go well and others not so. How you use your leaders will help you mitigate some of the uncertainty of combat.

This is what sets it apart from BA, where the dice are drawn at random and are a mechanic for preventing the predictability of IGOUGO turns. While BA allows you to try to coordinate the actions of your units it is not what the game is about at its core. The rules are more similar to the Games Workshop style (the author has written rules for them), hence they appeal to a more tournament oriented gamer, interested in army building from lists and competitive play. BA rewards army building and some players are more than happy to play ahistorical mismatches. I've heard BA referred to as WH1940K. Not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on what floats your boat.

At heart I see two rules coming from very different design philosophies, producing very different styles of games. I think the decision for a potential player is to ask, what do I want from my historical gaming? The answer to that will probably direct you to the sort of rules that fit best.

Thresher0105 Jul 2021 9:39 p.m. PST

Thanks for the replies and info.

I really appreciate it.

monk2002uk06 Jul 2021 3:44 a.m. PST

TaticalPainter01, what are the key command and command decisions that you have identified for CoC? Or 'command and control decisions', if the second 'command' was a typo?

Robert

advocate06 Jul 2021 4:37 a.m. PST

One of the key decisions in CoC is when to bring on your troops. The Patrol Phase/Deployment Point mechanism allows the defender to risk using an 'empty battlefield' in order to concentrate their forces once the attacker commits. So it benefits the attacker feint and probe, while holding back reserves to be able to reinforce the attack or switch direction. This is mediated by the command dice rolls which won't necessarily allow you to do what you want at the critical moment.

BBT202006 Jul 2021 8:07 a.m. PST

Just played a game of Chain of Command after an eight month hiatus.
The "Force Morale" rule leads to rather peculiar tactics.
Regardless the scenario, the road to victory seems to be to singling out a unit for destruction.
Pour fire on a single unit until it breaks and then is wiped out with its squad leader.
That means three rolls on the "Bad Things Happen" table.
That leads to a loss of Command dice and eventually surrender.

However, CoC melee rules seem superior to BA.
I've successfully played BA with CoC melee rules.

SBminisguy06 Jul 2021 8:32 a.m. PST

We do remember the Smithsonian's "whiteness"/"white culture" poster. If you don't, do a bing image search. Yes, THAT is racism.

TheNorthernFront06 Jul 2021 10:44 a.m. PST

BA is pretty miserable but the books have a lot of killer imagery.

Levi the Ox07 Jul 2021 9:57 p.m. PST

I strongly prefer Chain of Command. Others have described the main combat mechanics of both already but the pre- and post-game processes are also major factors for me.

In Chain of Command your force consists of a platoon of infantry, which you augment with various supporting units only *after* you know your mission and see the terrain. This means your listbuilding is focused on a specific tactical situation, and the fact that the majority of both players' lists is standard infantry makes it less matchup dependent than Bolt Action

Then your scouts probe the enemy and determine the location of each side's Jump-Off Points (JOP), which function as both deployment points and objectives. Between these two factors you get a surprising amount of replayability even out of a single terrain layout.

Only then does the attacker begin deploying on the table, while the defender will often hold most of their force back until a JOP is directly threatened, creating a good deal of suspense even without the bookkeeping of hidden units.

Finally, almost all of the additional content for Chain of Command is based on short campaigns (generally 6-12 games) which deliver an immersive context with minimal bookkeeping.

To your follow-on questions, Chain of Command's focus on command and control means that combined arms makes for an engaging challenge, if a challenge is what you're looking for. It isn't really set up to handle exclusive armor formations, although it shares enough mechanics with What A Tanker, that it would be easy to jump between the two.


While my personal preference is Chain of Command, if you're interested in trying Bolt Action a full infantry platoon and a support weapon or two will work for either.


(As an aside, the aforementioned Crossfire is also fantastic, but as a company- to battalion-level game with 1 stand = 1 squad you'd probably want to play it in a smaller scale.)

TacticalPainter0108 Jul 2021 2:10 a.m. PST

TaticalPainter01, what are the key command and command decisions that you have identified for CoC? Or 'command and control decisions', if the second 'command' was a typo?

While you can activate individual units the key to success in CoC is the use of leaders, particularly senior leaders. They allow a greater range of options and activations. I wrote a longer blog post on this addressing the issue of whether CoC's command mechanisms were about luck or skill. It might shed a bit more light. You'll find it here Luck or skill? The command dice in Chain of Command

TacticalPainter0108 Jul 2021 2:15 a.m. PST

Just played a game of Chain of Command after an eight month hiatus.
The "Force Morale" rule leads to rather peculiar tactics.
Regardless the scenario, the road to victory seems to be to singling out a unit for destruction.
Pour fire on a single unit until it breaks and then is wiped out with its squad leader.

Well, if you wipe out more than 30% of a platoon then chances are you've broken that unit. Not many units continue functioning effectively with 33% casualties. Reminds me of the military maxim "find, fix, finish'. Sounds to me that your opponent used sound military principles to drive your platoon from the table.

TacticalPainter0108 Jul 2021 9:30 p.m. PST

Just some further thoughts on the above. Firstly it's probably worth qualifying that wiping out a squad and its squad leader will NOT by itself cause a cataclysmic drop in force morale. At worst it will hurt, with average dice it will make a dent that should concern you, but no more.

This brings me to criticism of rule sets where players have had a "bad experience". Often this means they lost badly. But why? Is it because the rules are broken or did they play poorly while their opponent was tactically superior. Talk of Crossfire reminds me how unforgiving those rules can be of poor tactics. Players who neglect their flanks or to have a reserve exclaim in horror when their opponent has outflanked them, as if it's the rules that have got it wrong rather than them.

Similarly with this description of Chain of Command. I'd have to ask the question why a player would allow a squad to be left fighting unsupported? Slicing up an enemy force and then destroying it in detail is a traditional way of overcoming an opponent. My recommendation to many players who feel overwhelmed by the firepower of a panzergrenadier platoon is to find ways to gang up on individual squads (I wrote a tactical piece about ways to approach that using CoC that you can find here Dealing with Panzergrenadiers).

I'd say to anyone to be wary of a criticism of a particular rule set based on the apparent bad experience of others unless there's a clear understanding of the situation and how it occurred.

MrZorro12 Jul 2021 12:10 p.m. PST

I have never played CoC unfortunately. It is in my radar. I want to mention than my gaming group and myself enjoy BA a lot and is our most popular WWII system by far.

Not so impressed with the BA approach to tank fighting and the CC mechanic perhaps needs a little tuning in my humble opinion.

Cheers, try both!

greenknight4 Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jul 2021 4:38 p.m. PST

Now here is a topic that gets lots of action :)

arealdeadone17 Jul 2021 7:23 p.m. PST

First a qualifier, my favourite ruleset is Battlegroup and I would love to find players interested in something like Rapid Fire….

I actually think COC is too random and too limiting in terms terms scenario design as limited number of order dice limits it to literally a platoon. CoC does not scale up at all – basically it is ideal for a platoon in dense terrain f Normandy or city warfare but it kinda of fails to catch the vibe of anything else (indeed the Kursk mini campaign is underwhelming and really doesn't capture the nature of combat.
COC also does the desert war poorly).

BA allows for more historical play as it does scale up to company level which incidentally is more up to what real action in WW2 were about.


Sure BA is tournie compatible but with right players it can be far more historical.

My other issue with COC is it is too random for absolutely everything- from what deploys to how much it moves to CoC dice etc etc.

Finally CoC does vehicles terribly. It literally micromanages them to the nth degree and somehow assumes the infantry CO is commanding the tank crew individually.

TacticalPainter0118 Jul 2021 1:32 a.m. PST

Interesting comments about CoC. I don't feel as though I've played the same game as you. First off, it's a platoon level skirmish game, not designed to scale up. If you want company level the Lardies have It Ain't Been Shot Mum.

Random is as random does. The dice don't determine what happens – you do.

arealdeadone18 Jul 2021 2:21 a.m. PST

Tactical Painter, the issue is one of scale. WW2 primary combat building block was the battalion and smallest units were usually companies. Very often fire and manoeuvre was conducted at company level ie each platoon moved and supported each other(not at squad level).

CoC specifies frontages and whilst these are appropriate for defenders, they are inappropriate for offensive (too weak forces on too broad a frontage).

Much like most rulesets, both CoC and BA underestimate importance artillery fire and especially mortars (again a failure of trying to shoehorn platoon level warfare into a much bigger conflict).

This is especially why things like desert war or Russian steppe warfare don't work in CoC. In fact many armies never adopted such low level manoeuvre (eg Soviets or Japanese) so they play ahistorically. As such CoC often does not feel like gaming the period.

The force represented in CoC is basically a modern platoon in Afghanistan not a WW2 one. BA can get away from this as it scales upwards much better


As for randomness, load too much of it and the dice rule the game. I have played games in many systems where the random factor has completely dominated (still remember my first game of Hail Ceasar where my force never moved from their baseline due to failing every single command test).

CoC randomises virtually everything from not just what activates but whether it deploys, how much it can move, who has the next phase, when a turn ends etc etc.

Some randomness is good but CoC goes too far.

arealdeadone18 Jul 2021 2:43 a.m. PST

Tactical Painter by the way I really enjoy your blog and respect your opinions on the game.

But even then it is clear that CoC struggles with capturing the essence of fighting in WW2 – your recent Ardennes/Battle of Bulge campaign captured this quite well. 1 platoon of Americans v 1 platoon of weak Germans (even with a Panther) doesn't really capture the desperate nature of American defence.

In such a case COC falls over as a system.

TacticalPainter0118 Jul 2021 4:43 a.m. PST

Yeah, fair enough, that's your opinion based on your experience.

I see it like Backgammon, one of the great tactical games that's stood the test of time, a game of skill, entirely driven by luck. Worth repeating – entirely driven by luck. Are the great backgammon players great because they are lucky, or because they have the skill to know how to play their luck? CoC is much the same but with far more ways to mitigate the luck. The dice merely describe the current (and fleeting) operating conditions.

It always strikes me as odd that gamers are very comfortable accepting a random outcome to the impact of an AP round on a tank's armour and yet less comfortable with a random outcome for human endeavour which is far more difficult to predict. Surely the challenge of command is managing the variables and chaos of combat not planning how the predictable will unfold.

Not suggesting CoC holds all the answers, just arguing the case for friction in games and the way this takes total control away from the player. CoC certainly does this better than BA.

arealdeadone18 Jul 2021 7:50 a.m. PST

Some friction needs to be there but it's overdone in CoC.

To be honest in most real battles the friction isn't as pronounced as military doctrine and associated tactics provide officers and commanders with a grounding and tool box as to how to solve problems on the battlefield.

Sometimes this grounding and toolbox is
outdated or inappropriate or ineffective – the Japanese come to mind. Even the Germans had some terrible habits – eg immediatescounter-attack after stopping an enemy attack (this simply bled forces in pointless badly planned attacks).

Finally officers and NCOs have their orders and a timetable on how to achieve them In many WW2 armies there was no tactical flexibility. In fact they lacked the coordination and communication to be flexible with orders.

All on all it does lead to predictability in battlefield responses. In fact savvy commanders like Chuikov in Stalingrqd figured out the enemies toolbox and negated bits of it to achieve tactical advantage or at least negate tactical advantage.


It is why I think a good wargame should focus on the period. CoC is too inflexible to do this and assumes some sort sort British tactical manual approach for evey force and doesn't really allow deviations from the standard game (try playig a desert game with infantry and supporting AT trying to stop a tank attack on Gazala or massed Japanese infantry assault on Amerocan positions in Guadalcanal).

BA on the other hand is flawed but flexible enough to play the period if players wish. In fact BA has lots of scenario books that take a far more historical approach.

So CoC works for the backgammon players whereas BA works well for casual players and tournament players whilst allowing historical gaming.

The real historical games are probably the battalion or Brigade level ones like Rapid Fire or Command Decision where you really do get to see those differences in tactical doctrine come to play.


(And FoW is a failure – basically Napoleonics with tanks. For a supposed company level game it allows too much fire-power and negates infantry to speed humps).

TacticalPainter0118 Jul 2021 3:20 p.m. PST

I think part of the issue is defining the parameters of a platoon level skirmish game and what it is you are trying to represent.

It is why I think a good wargame should focus on the period. CoC is too inflexible to do this and assumes some sort sort British tactical manual approach for evey force and doesn't really allow deviations from the standard game (try playig a desert game with infantry and supporting AT trying to stop a tank attack on Gazala or massed Japanese infantry assault on Amerocan positions in Guadalcanal).

This is not beyond the scope of CoC and it's where the campaign system works so well. If you take the example of our recent Ardennes Bloody Bucket campaign. This pitted six US platoons all isolated from each other (with a very small ability to support each other) attacked by ten German platoons. The Germans are able to concentrate and attack wherever they choose, so quite easy to have the 3 to 1 odds you might want at any single point. This was the error my opponent made, he dispersed his force into penny packets and suffered accordingly. I think the ‘flaw' with that campaign was in my opponent's strategy not the rules or the campaign itself.

Another example is the Malaya 1942 which pits multiple Japanese platoons against two Australian platoons and demonstrates quite clearly differences in both sides tactical approach and the effect of a small force facing large odds.

Each scenario/game may see one platoon pitted against another because that's the frontage represented by the size of the table, but the ability of one side to reinforce and continually mount attacks with fresh units while the defender must deal with a diminishing force does a good job of representing dealing with overwhelming odds.

Massed tank attacks at Gazala I would suggest are beyond the intended scope of the game but the example of the Malaya campaign or the recent Last Stand on Opium Hill that we played from Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine show how a Guadalcanal type game could be represented.

Given how significant operational actions were during the war, then I have to agree with you that a game with higher levels of organisation would give a much better historical understanding of many of the wider issues. Personally I think this is an area where most miniature rules are weak and I find board games do a much better job of handling this.

arealdeadone18 Jul 2021 4:57 p.m. PST

As I mentioned, the frontage for attacking platoons in COC is too wide. Attack frontages are significantly narrower than defence frontages as you need mass of numbers and to be able to sustain losses without losing momentum as well as be able to respond to any bolstering of the line.

Basically the old rule of thumb applies in frontages – attackers should be trying to outnumber defenders at least 3:1. CoC fails this dismally as it's usually 1:1 or 1.3:1 if an extra squad is taken.


The other issue is that of command dice as your always restricted in terms of dice. If the attacker (or defender) has large numbers of units, they will usually not be able to bring numbers to bear unless they're rolling a lot of 3 and 4s.

Plans may fall apart in the first minutes but in any case most units will have orders and will be pursuing them. Again the bigger issues of units not moving into position or arriving late or not receiving orders is more one attributable to higher levels.

It's here where BA does better:

1. Game system allows for more realistic ratios and many scenarios have attackers with anywhere up to 200% more than defenders.

2. The game scales well to company size (eg 1 captain and 3 platoons = 13 order dice which is on par with the way the game's been designed). We've played with up to 20 order dice without issue.

TacticalPainter0119 Jul 2021 5:10 p.m. PST

It's clear we are not going to agree on this but I'd like to address a few of your issues.

As I mentioned, the frontage for attacking platoons in COC is too wide. Attack frontages are significantly narrower than defence frontages as you need mass of numbers and to be able to sustain losses without losing momentum as well as be able to respond to any bolstering of the line.

Basically the old rule of thumb applies in frontages – attackers should be trying to outnumber defenders at least 3:1. CoC fails this dismally as it's usually 1:1 or 1.3:1 if an extra squad is taken.

While 3:1 might be the aim it would be wrong to assume it's the norm. How often did an attacker know the true strength of a defender in order to calculate those odds? If we're looking at platoon level (which is all CoC aspires to do), then there's no certainty you have the odds. Which is not to say you can't achieve that on the table. The whole fog of war deployment process in CoC means it's possible to bluff and deceive a defender in order to build the odds you need at a particular spot. That's the tactical solution players should be looking for.

How does BA solve this, isn't the basis for the vast majority of games an equal points balance of forces? I think most players would cry foul if I arrived with 3x the points of my opponent. How does that work?

The other issue is that of command dice as your always restricted in terms of dice. If the attacker (or defender) has large numbers of units, they will usually not be able to bring numbers to bear unless they're rolling a lot of 3 and 4s.

That would mainly be an issue if you try to upscale the scenario and include too many units. It's not an issue I've found in practice and I wrote a tactical piece about it that shows how that is not the case Luck or skill? The command dice in Chain of Command

Plans may fall apart in the first minutes but in any case most units will have orders and will be pursuing them. Again the bigger issues of units not moving into position or arriving late or not receiving orders is more one attributable to higher levels.

I don't believe it's a safe assumption that "most units will have orders and will be pursuing them", especially so when you are talking about motivating small groups of men which is the level of CoC (I think if you are playing a battalion commander then you can make some of these assumptions but even then I'd be wary, many a company commander lost his command for failing to execute orders as fast or effectively as ordered).

Is it not the role of junior officers to lead? I can't help think how the Carentan episode of Band of Brothers represents this well, when the men first come under fire and everyone goes to ground. It takes the officers and NCOs to run around cajoling and leading to get the men to move forward. My reading and understanding was this was not at all unusual for all nationalities and regardless of how well units are trained. The German platoon training manual puts considerable emphasis on this and this for an army guided by mission based orders.

It's here where BA does better:

1. Game system allows for more realistic ratios and many scenarios have attackers with anywhere up to 200% more than defenders.

Not sure how the game system actually does this, which brings me back to my earlier issue about the point system.

2. The game scales well to company size (eg 1 captain and 3 platoons = 13 order dice which is on par with the way the game's been designed). We've played with up to 20 order dice without issue.

It may well, but CoC is about platoon level. There are other rule sets for dealing with the issues of higher levels of command. It seems a bit too simple to say the only difference between platoon and company command is the number of order dice that can be in play. Company command has a level of complexity above platoon level given the company commander exerts control over the company through subordinates who are often some distance from him. Simply pulling dice from a bag doesn't seem to reflect the reality of this.

Anyhow, I suspect we will never agree on this and we're in danger of both descending into one of those TMP rabbit holes that can go on for an eternity. I'm sure you'll want to respond but this will be the last words from me (until the next one surfaces in a few months 😂).

arealdeadone19 Jul 2021 7:34 p.m. PST

How often did an attacker know the true strength of a defender in order to calculate those odds?

Depends on intelligence and reconnaissance successes (and enemy's counterintelligence successes) now, doesn't it?

In any cases all armies practice force concentration on the attack and try to do it at all key levels at the tip of the spear.


CoC literally assumes failure to concentrate forces!

How does BA solve this, isn't the basis for the vast majority of games an equal points balance of forces? I think most players would cry foul if I arrived with 3x the points of my opponent. How does that work?

Many of the scenarios in the various campaign books provide for differences in force points. The scenario objectives and parameters (terrain, defensive preparations and force restrictions help balance).

Most players will play even points but that's choice.

Is it not the role of junior officers to lead?

Depends on the force! Historically some armies tended to leave true command at much higher levels. Soviet (and modern Russian) NCO forces are known for not having much capability – they are there to dispense discipline not leave.

In some forces even the junior leaders didn't have much leadership capability.

CoC again gets ahistorical by assuming every force has a British model with capable NCOs.

I don't believe it's a safe assumption that "most units will have orders and will be pursuing them",

Again failing to issue orders would be a massive issue in any military force especially at platoon level!

And at platoon level it is most likely the units are performing their roles to some degree (well the handful of men who take part in the fight – so called gutful men – studies show most soldiers either never fire their weapon or don't fire with any intent to hit).

Failure to act is more common at higher level or if units are cut off!


It may well, but CoC is about platoon level

And this is my main point – CoC fails miserably because WWII combat wasn't often at platoon level especially Eastern Front but also other fronts as well. Some armies such as Soviets simply weren't capable of operating offensively at that level (in fact it wasn't according to doctrine).


In CoC a single platoon is often given the responsibility for taking a company type objective.

arealdeadone19 Jul 2021 7:40 p.m. PST

Oh and with reference to realistic warfare at level of frontline infantry:

link

Obviously neither CoC or BA or whatever wargame actually captures true warfare. All are abstracted and subjective interpretations

arealdeadone20 Jul 2021 4:53 p.m. PST

Oh and a final pet peeve with CoC – as a game it simply doesn't allow enough use of toy soldiers which is the main thing about toy soldiers.

1. The way the supports work, you often can't "buy" enough supports. Painting up a ton of supports is actually a waste of time as most will never or seldom get used in a standard battle and there's only a few actually useful things and many of them don't even involve little toy men or tanks (eg entrenchments).

2. Like IABSM, it relies a lot on units not being on the table. Very often the tactics promote keeping units off. And very often units don't come on board.

Couple with very small model counts (literally a platoon) it ends up with very few models on the table.

It's why I prefer other rules be they Battlegroup or BA or whatever – I get to paint my toy soldiers and use them! In fact Battlegroup allows, if not encourages, you to use any crazy stuff you've got – bridging equipment, supply vehicles etc etc. Bolt Action itself allows lots of variation and using of toys especially with theatre selectors in both basic and theatre books.

BobGrognard24 Jul 2021 1:59 p.m. PST

It's interesting to see you say that it "is the main thing about toy soldiers." Is it? Who says? It may well be the "main thing" for you, but others may not be so minded. What's more, I think you're misrepresenting the reality. Chain of Command doesn't encourage you to deploy all of your troops from the beginning of turn one, but to win a game you will need to deploy your force onto the table.

Also, to pick you up on you comment about CoC failing miserably in allowing an attacker a 3:1 troop strength ratio. I have to say that I've pretty much never seen a game which sees one side have such an advantage. The challenge in a wargame is not to have 3:1superiority everywhere, but to achieve it at the critical or decisive point. Chain of Command certainly allows you to manoeuvre to achieve that. I think you are misunderstanding the doctrine behind the mantra. To bring this back to the point above about having toys on the table. You're not going to achieve that 3:1 local superiority unless you deploy your troops.

Chain of Command also, I may as well point out while here, allows you to deploy a wide range of kit with the Pint Sized Campaigns which are well researched and challenging. Deploying a variety of kit is not exclusive to any particular rule set.

No longer interested26 Jul 2021 6:36 a.m. PST

I have played both and both have their strengths and weakness.

IMHO:

- Command and combat is more credible in Chain of Command than in Bolt Action
- However, the PIN system of Bolt Action is great and I'd like to adapt it to Chain of Command
- Bolt Action point system, or creation of the armies is superior and fairer than in Chain of Command
- Both fail when using many vehicles. Bolt Action can field more vehicles but with a rather unrealistic feel.
- Though the combat and command are better in Chain, a game can be won very quick with some good luck. best example I recall: A german squad activating several times in a row mopping a soviet squad before it could do anything, as that squad was panzergrenadier with 2 MGs, and was ridiculousy cheap. Also the patrol phase gets boring after several plays.
- Both have very good campaigns and books, though the Chain of Command are better researched and Bolt Action are for matched play.

That said, we're now testing further alternatives (Rattenkrieg from Barrage games with ASL scenarios) and will take elements from several games to create a ruleset the we feel is ok.

arealdeadone01 Aug 2021 10:37 p.m. PST

BobGrognard,

The support system in COC makes it extremely difficult to bring on heavier supports and they often don't add value. You could have that pretty Churchill or Tiger and never have it used due to rolling too low for supports. And heaven forbid I want to use a pair of something – getting two Shermans in is pretty difficult.


The way tanks work (including micromanaging driver and gunner) also makes them less than desirable and cumbersome.

Indeed a lot of the support options are badly conceived and you end up seeing same options used over and over (indeed I don't think I've ever seen anyone use an ATG in CoC, though LeiG 18 infantry gun is extremely popular despite mainly used in indirect role but I digress).

As for advantage, 3:1 is indeed generally not used in wargames, but BA and many other rule sets allow 2:1 or better for scenario play.


though the combat and command are better in Chain, a game can be won very quick with some good luck. best example I recall: A german squad activating several times in a row mopping a soviet squad before it could do anything, as that squad was panzergrenadier with 2 MGs, and was ridiculousy cheap. Also the patrol phase gets boring after several plays.

The whole game is just random. If you're lucky enough the opponent won't be getting any phases and you can run through JPs (or not if you keep rolling low on movement or your troops just don't show up due to need for a roll or opponent's troops don't show up or whatever).


My personal opinion is TFL are good at marketing. Their games are generally convoluted, overly reliant on randomness and very much based on their own design parameters which they declare are historic and people buy into.


The thing I think TFL do well is the campaign system.

BobGrognard04 Aug 2021 5:09 a.m. PST

Ah, I see what you are saying. It's ridiculous that you can't always have a Tiger tank, because the Germans did always have Tiger tanks. Any system that doesn't always allow that is clearly broken. I'm

foxbat04 Aug 2021 8:26 a.m. PST

Played both rules, I won at BA and lost – badly – at CoC. I did not like BA though : the force composition and the activation system did not feel really realistic. My long time wargaming buddy, whom I invited susbsequently to give BA a try, and who is a veteran WH40K player, said he found it to be like WH40K in WW2.
Even though I lost, I enjoyed better my COC experience. It was based on the 1st game of the Scottish Corridor, I was playing the Scots alongside a more experienced player against a team of 3 other players (2 experienced and a complete novice). Wed gone for a Churchill, a Carrier team and a 2" mortar (my choice). The Opfor had taken a Tiger – yikes! – and a PzGr section. We had to cross a lot of empty ground to get to the Germans who were entranched in a village. Well, the game was certainly looking unbalanced, but we certainly had a chance to win it. A smoke barrage was very efficient, and we'd blocked a lot of German LOS to concentrate on a single squad which was effectively mauled when the smoke lifted (rolled 3 sixes) and we were then blasted by the remaining GErman firepower. Tactics used were IMO historically accurate, and even though it was a tall order for my side, I certainly did not feel helpless. My biggest mistake was my poor playing of the patrol phase, which gave the Germans tge opportunity to occupy the best terrain.

Trajanus08 Aug 2021 12:10 p.m. PST

Anyone wanting to read Tactical Painter's

"Dealing with Panzergrenadiers" might need to try

link

The link in his 08/08/2012 post seems to have a ). on the end of it for some reason!

Pages: 1 2