In the previous post we looked at some of the issues relating to force make up when selecting an Ethiopian Chitet baluch (platoon) in Chain of Command:Abyssinia. In this post we’ll take a closer look at the national characteristics and specific baluch notes pertaining to the way the Ethiopian chitet commander can expect to use them during play.
To recap, as allowed by the list our baluch (platoon) is composed of 50 men, led by two leaders, they being an Amsa Aleqa (Senior Leader) and an Ammist Aleqa, (Superior Junior Leader). The gascenga can be broken into 3-5 hazbs (sections) and no hazb can be larger than twenty men, or less than six. These form the base parameters to build our baluch off. Let’s start with the Chitet’s national characteristics.
Ok, so how do the national characteristics play into this? To take the last one first, needless to say the Ethiopian Chitet use the Irregular rules in the specific rules of the supplement which we referenced in part I. These rules have a number off nuances in them that are worth pointing out as they will most likely affect other choices we might make from our support list and should always form part of our thinking as they govern how our warriors will behave.
The most obvious is the actual size of the hazb, which can be increased using the ‘additional men’ support list choice. As previously explained this directly affects a hazb’s ability to absorb fire and combat results. Movement speed of irregulars is one of their strengths. They may move 3D6″ each turn for no ill effects, unless firing, so the ability of hazbs to close with the enemy means a close combat outcome is often something the warriors will seek. Unit size is important in combat thus a large hazb that can move quickly is a potent combination.
Motivation is critical to irregulars, in fact it is everything, so anything that improves motivation or helps prevent it reducing or staying so is an important consideration. The first and often most subtle way to control motivation is through the chain of command dice. The play of a ‘CoC-dice’ to end a Turn can be a very good way to eliminate the effects of unmotivated or wavering warriors, as well as all the other effects of the end of turn occurring.
This represents the pause in action for the shaken warriors to regain their composure and once again come back to the fight. Whilst the ‘CoC-dice can be used for a number of uses this one is often a very good, possibly the most important, use of the chain of command dice by the chitet commander. As mentioned, all other ‘end of turn’ effects apply so having a ‘broken unit with a leader’ would possibly be a reason not to end a turn…hopefully you won’t have bad motivation and broken units with leaders! The reverse of this will also be the case i.e. if you have very high motivation you will l likely want to keep the turn from ending which you can do by the play of the chain of command dice.
The flip side of to countering the effect of unmotivated warriors is finding easy or ‘cheap’ ways to get them motivated. During play this is done by having your opponent suffer a force morale drop. It doesn’t matter by how much, the warriors need only know that they gained ‘a success’ and their motivation improves. So any way you can organise your plan to motivate and excite your warriors is a good things and having fast small units to move may be an economical way to do this, something to consider when determining the final number of hazbs in the gascegna.
These could take the form of a small scout detachments for example to grab enemy jump off points (JOPs) particularly when combined with the chitet’s infiltration ability. Equally such a small force can disproportionately force you opponent to place down a unit to protect those same jump off points…a clever ploy for a small hazb or sub unit of a larger one.
Getting back to the National Characteristics. Infiltration gives the chitet an ability that enhances their patrol phase by the additional 2″ of patrol marker movement (14″ instead of 12″) which can make a noticeable difference. Whilst not all-powering this patrol phase advantage should be exploited at every opportunity. When combined with the second part of the infiltration attribute allowing any hazb, regardless of quality, to deploy within 9″ of the JOPs, then this really gives the chitet and ability to rapidly move (deploy) in the opening stages of a game.
When one considers the chitet’s ability to move 3d6″ (that’s an average of 11″ of movement per turn) you can really see that speed is a major weapon in the chitet’s arsenal. If you start to think of small rapid moving unit’s to grab enemy JOPs and hard hitting large hazb units to overrun you are starting to think like a irregular warrior leader in chain of command!
Which leads onto the second national characteristic, Warrior Leaders! This trait allows a unit with an attached leader to ignore a single point of shock when it is inflicted, regardless of the cause. For example, if a medium sized hazb suffered two shock ‘hits’ or one kill (which counts as ‘two shock’) then one ‘shock’ is ignored meaning no test would be taken. This potentially gives one or two of your hazbs an ability to have some additional ‘go forward’ by being able to ‘shake off’ enemy shock hits…very useful to keep an attack going.
In addition leaders have an unique ability that only an irregular commander possesses. For the cost of one command initiative point a leader may attempt to rally off pin markers during a Turn (by the score of a 6, rolling 1D6 per CI spent). This means a leader with a pinned unit can possibly rally off pin markers without needing got wait for an end of Turn as regular troops do in Chain of Command, so it is possible to even restore a routed unit back to pinned or ‘fresh’ status in the same Turn…this reflecting the fickle nature of irregular forces. This is an important difference to all other regular troops in Chain of Command who progressively deteriorate due to a build up shock, ultimately becoming pinned or possibly broken, which their unit leader attempts to mitigate by lifting shock as one of his primary tasks during a phase.
The final national characteristic is Arrai! This trait is both potentially a help and hinderance. It really does depend on when this occurs as it is solely driven by the roll of the chitet player’s command dice roll. To a degree this comes back to the type of force you wish to represent. A less motivated force (CD4) has less chance it will roll two 6s or more than a more motivated one using CD5 (13% vs 20% respectively). This reminds us of our earlier comment about CD4 troops probably being more useful in defence than attack.
However one potential tactical option can be used with Arrai! to make it potentially threatening and a cause of concern for your opponent as well as a possible game changer for the Chitiet player.
If a player was to move a hazb into cover under the leadership of a senior leader and then have that unit ‘go to ground’ it essentially places the unit in hard cover. This makes the hazb quite resilient (for a time) to the effects of shock when fired upon. As it takes 6 shock to trigger a check on the fire & combat effect table for a large CD5 hazb it is conceivable that an enemy force may not be able to reasonably bring enough ‘effective fire’ upon the hazb to cause it to force a check. This reflects a large group of men using every advantage of ground to deny the enemy a target and awaiting their leader’s command to attack.
By way of example it can be seen that a full strength Italian platoon can bring about 13 fire dice on any one target. Against hard cover you need a 6 to kill and a 5 to shock. So on average those 13 fire dice will deliver 2 kills and 2 shock. Statistically quite effective. An attached leader however enables a hazb to ignore one point of shock so in this case it could conceivably ignore the test, not to forget that being aggressive also allows a unit to shake of one point of shock. If off course it had to test, and its motivation was high then it would likely pass the test anyway…never forget about motivation! Needless to say that if the hazb does start taking losses it progressively reduces in size and once it has less than 15 men it then test as a medium sized unit and thus becomes more susceptible to a bad morale outcome.
Now ‘going to ground’ and taking fire isn’t off itself that useful unless you want to achieving something for all this pain. This is where your chain of command dice stratagem comes in. If you have a command dice pool of 5 dice and chose to roll an additional 2 command dice by using your CoC dice then you have 7 dice to roll in one phase. Now the Arrai! rule states that you need two 6s or more for it to come into play. This means you have a 33% chance of rolling at least two 6s on those seven dice. If you do so you will move 4D6″ (average 13″). As you need only get 4″ to an enemy to enter close combat then you can reasonably be 17″ away from an enemy and charge. That’s a very long range hit! If you do so your enemy does not roll the 4D6 in combat for your movement…essentially gifting you a 4D6 combat bonus.
If you then put in all your other combat factors for high motivation and being aggressive all of sudden your hazb has a lot of combat potential. If you wanted to ‘play the odds’ you could sit outside the enemies close fire range (18″) and more or less go to ground with impunity from his fire and still expect to close on 4D6…a bit more of a gamble but doable. Anyway, you get the idea. if the tactical terrain allows for such a deployment then this may be an excellent way to overrun an enemy unit by a charge directly at him with minimal cost to your hazb….it’s worth keeping in mind should the tactical situation allow such a stratagem to come into play.
As mentioned above the Chitet command dice pool can in fact represent a tactical posture by the Ethiopian player as he is less capable of forward aggressive movement with a CD4 force and less susceptible to the Arrai! rule when rolling four command dice than five. You can start to see once again the subtle effects that come into play by deciding what type of Chitet force you field and what you want to be able to do with your baluch, or can expect it to do, in the upcoming engagement.
The Arrai! rule off course only applies when your Senior Leader is near a unit but given the random nature of it occurring you need to have your leaders placed accordingly so that they don’t get a rush of blood to the head and order a premature attack and end up in the open out of puff…you have been warned! Similarly though there is good upside to the Arrai! rule if you can get your hazb near the enemy and often from a a covered approach. You get bonus movement and negate some of your enemy’s firepower so this combined with a large hazb attacking that is well motivated will potentially prove an unstoppable force.
So the number of leaders, where they are a placed and the type of chitet you are representing with command dice are all factors you should be considering before you get to the support list table.
Before we finish this post we should just touch on the unique chitet special abilities that they have.
The first is that the chitet is ask ways considered Aggressive. The rule for being Aggressive are as follows;
“Troops that are rated Aggressive who receive shock from firing or combat ignore the first point received from each occasion of shock inflicted on them in a phase (so they can potentially shake off multiple shock ‘hits’ inflicted upon them)”.
Aggressive troops shake off shock, much like the attached Warrior Leader rule. This now gives them the ability to shake of two shock hits (or one kill) from enemy fire if a leader is attached. This is very useful for if we consider for example that a typical rifle squad shoots with roughly 10 fire dice, then generally only half will hit and off these maybe one or two shock, or perhaps a kill, will result. This would allow a hazb to essentially disregard the fire on the unit..those chitet are starting to look nastier yet again.
If we then add in the effect of the second trait, Sons of Adwa, then it is highly likely that the chitet will start the game motivated or possibly highly motivated (as this adds a pre game motivation check dice roll modifier) which gives them a very good chance of shaking of fire effects as well as giving them added dice in Hand to Hand combat. In case you haven’t notices it yet, the chitet are all about getting up close and personal with their enemy!! Youur enemy will likely try to end a turn to reduce your mitivation as quickly as possible and inflict kills to reduce your hazb size to their pint where motivation fire and combat tests become more frequent.
Lastly, there is one small but quite important note on the Baluch traits we haven’t discussed yet. It is the fourth point that describes the hazb being able to split just like any other section in Chain of Command and being ordered by Flag. This ‘Creating New Teams’ is something that is not often seen much in a usual chain of command game, most likely I suspect, because organised groups/teams in a regular army platoon are already split into something of an optimal fashion in most armies.
For an irregular hazb however this is not necessarily the case. In fact it may be prudent to start your hazbs as large a possible (20-men) and then break away teams as you need them as the tactical situation develops. There is also safety in numbers as the larger units can shake of fire and combat effects as well…so this is a smart option for chitet players to consider, however, remember that each ‘section’ needs a ‘2’ command dice score to activate so creating new hazbs as it were really should be done within the constraints of their allotted task being reasonably able to be carried out subject to the Baluchi command potential, which leads us nicely into the next post in the series.
In the next post in the series we’ll take a look at the support list choices available and see how we can pull all of the above thoughts, ideas and considerations into making appropriate support list choices to tailor our chitet baluch into an effective fighting force….see you then!