Near the beginning of August, Mark and I returned to Great War Commander, with another scenario from the recent Battle Pack. This one needed a bit of fudging in Vassal, as French Legion platoons don’t exist there yet; however, they’re identical to the Chasseurs platoons except for having one better morale while broken.

It is December 1914, and the scenario uses a no-man’s-land map (#9)… except that everything is destroyed woods instead of shellholes (representing the Argonne Forest). This leads to some interesting line-of-sight questions. Destroyed woods blocks LOS on the second hex, and there are slopes on the board. Generally, in this system, there’s  only ever one blind hex. We worked out that looking down into a broken woods hex would work as normal, and then the next hex in line (also broken woods), being affected by ‘blind’ hex would be the second broken woods hex, which would then create an actual blind hex behind it, and this would continue until the chain of broken woods hexes was interrupted by something (like the stream flowing near the bottom of the map).

The Germans set up along the top edge which is a level 2 ridgeline with a road in front of it, with ten platoons and two MGs and foxholes, while the French are at the bottom with 11 platoons and better leadership. The objective hexes are all in the middle, and the ‘open’ one was L, giving 4VP for objective 4, right below the German ridgeline. Mark had the Germans, and set the MGs up on the ridge, with one on a forward promontory with a platoon and Lt Hertzler to back it up.

I tried starting off with an Artillery Request, but it went off-board. An Offensive let me get everyone moving, but the stream in front of me breaks up the cover, and let that forward MG do a lot of damage, breaking seven platoons and two leaders, and suppressing the unbroken one. With some idea this would happen, I Recovered, which rallied four platoons, leaving two others suppressed (and broken), and suppressing Lt Antoine (after an initiative re-roll).

Mark called in an Artillery Request, which thankfully shifted to just hit one platoon, who was fine. He then forced me to Rout, forcing Lt Antoine, Lt Lebas, and a platoon off-map and onto the casualty track, as well as causing a time trigger. I Recovered the remaining broken platoons, and Advanced into the river on the left, where my only remaining leader was. Mark Denied my artillery, and Moved forward to take all five objectives. This took him off the convenient ridgeline in the back, but he had a small presence at the level 1 slope. At that range, I started Firing on the forward position, with little result.

I Moved mine off board while the intact group pressed onto level 1 to threaten Objective 1. Mark couldn’t do anything about it, but I couldn’t get a card to let me kill to the platoon garrisoning the Objective either, though I did break it. Mark Moved to intercept, and I broke nearly everyone who came in range, but I kept Moving up the board, and exited five platoons and my remaining leader shortly after another time trigger. Worse for Mark, one of his MGs malfunctioned, and was eliminated. This brought VPs down to 3 for the Germans (I think there was a mistake in there, later corrected). And right about this moment, I got two Ligne platoons and Lt Grenier as Reinforcements, these were brought in on the edge of my shattered formation so Grenier could start asserting some control over them.

Remember, shellholes are destroyed woods.

Mark Requested Artillery… which landed a bit short on his own line (I was holding the Under Shoot strategy card to enforce that if it hadn’t happened on its own), breaking two of his own platoons, and turning I6 into actual shellholes. I Moved Grenier forward, with OpFire causing another time trigger, and my exited troops returned, to the left of the stranded ones from early on. Two platoons broke in the stream, but immediately Recovered.

Before much else could happen, an Air Assault caused another time trigger, taking us to the 4 space on the track. Between the re-entry of my troops, and the reinforcements, things were turning around, but time was slipping away. I managed to make a couple German units leave position on a Rout, and then Moved getting across the river with two platoons and Grenier broken to OpFire. Mark Recovered, getting… some of his troops back in order, but failed on two platoons and Waldau. I Recovered my broken troops, but had to give up the initiative again to do it, and Advance got my right onto the level 1 slope. Shortly after, I Moved up to take control of Objective 2, and headed for #4 (accidentally leaving one platoon behind as it was off the bottom of my screen).

Mark Moved to reinforce the area, with my OpFire doing nothing… except setting off my Sniper to break his MG team. I then Advanced onto the forward platoons (J4 & I3) and eliminated the German platoons in both. I also Moved the left flank into the river. Fire then managed to break the German platoon guarding that area, and had another time trigger, taking us to space 6, and passing the first Sudden Death check (at 7 German VPs before the +1/turn).

The close-quarters struggle near #4 continued, with me using multiple Counter Attacks to suppress his troops as he fired (he later cleared that with Recover, and I started the process all over again…). Another time trigger took us to 7, and the game continued. The left Advanced out of the stream, and then into control of Objective 1. I’d been looking to get into Objective 4 and take it in melee, but I had to burn important cards in defense, and then lost the platoon with Grenier, though he was only suppressed.

I got the left back towards the back area again, where Mark had positioned a platoon to OpFire, which ended up Recalling Grenier, and Scrounging his lost MG (this led to an interesting question, if a platoon is already activated, and receives a MG through this event, can he use it; i.e., is it active? Our answer was ‘no’.), and KIA killed a German platoon, while I got two platoons to exit. Offensive got the other three platoons and Fleury to exit. A couple turns after that, I ran out of cards for a time trigger, ending the game with 3 French VPs thanks to those exits.


About mid-way through the game, Mark and I found we’d been playing wrong all this time. Someone came by and pointed out that terrain acts as a modifier to most any morale roll, when we had thought it was just a defense bonus. The rules for cover talk about this, but the Recover order rule doesn’t mention it, and when playing Recover, that’s where we looked….

We finished the game as we had started, without cover helping against anything but taking fire, but we will use the correct rule next time. Both of us are concerned about how easy that makes a lot of morale rolls, notably recovery. Since most broken morale is 8 or 9 to begin with, that makes Recover a nearly automatic pass, especially for a defender.

In fact, it would have prevented my early-game disaster, which while it had me down for a bit, was interesting to recover from as I got things together. I think we saw the Reinforcements event in one of our first games, but nothing more until this time, when Mark got it early, but couldn’t take what he got, and then I got mine.

Including all the objective chits, Objective 4 was worth 7 VPs, which is why the fight in the center got so desperate, with neither of us getting enough advantage to clear the other out. Objective 5 was worth 4 VPs, so along with the early casualties, I was fighting an 11-point deficit in control. My ability to exit so many troops really saved me.