Chain of Command WW II begins with a national army list of units, modified by the time period and the mission being played- it represents the core of the units used in the historical conflict of that time.
Following on this are a number of “points” for each player to use to buy additional support units to add to the army, ranging from tanks and special weapon teams on one side, and fortifications and roadblocks on the other. This adds more narrative to the game, but also allows another layer of tactics for each player to use.
So what are some of these support choices and how are they unique to Chain of Command?
Tactically they can be divided into two groups- on table support and off table support. On table support works very much like the units you start the game with- pay your points for the support choice and it activates on the table from a road or jump off point. Examples, from the German perspective range from a sniper team for 3 points, and tanks like the panzer III for 5 points all the way up to the king tiger for 10+ points. Of table support in Chain of Command represents a different and very interesting dynamic in the game- the fact that while you are in command of a specific part of the battle on the table, it is part of a much larger operations.
There are units off the table, and support choices acting from other places in the battle. These choices are not represented by models on the table, but by actions. Air support, mortar and machine gun support, artillery- stuff that you activate with the command dice on a “1” and it effects the table. So which is better?
They are both very different tactically. On table support is more direct and under the control of your junior / senior officer. You buy the tank with support points and it comes on the table, moving and shooting as you command it. BUT, it does act like a unit out of your regular army list- if it gets destroyed or driven off, you have to roll for a potential loss of command dice. It can be “destroyed”.
Off table support can’t be destroyed, so you pay the points for it in the game, but don’t have to worry about taking losses, but it takes a ton more to bring it into the game, and often only effects a part of the gaming table.
Example would be in selecting a mine field, or a heavy machine gun team that sets up and can only target a small strip of the table. Get your opponent into that place and you are good, if not you can’t redeploy.
Both are an interesting approach in the game- offering some real flavor with how you want to run you army list, while REALLY pulling in the narrative that the battle you are playing is part of a much bigger operation.