So far I have made four play-test of my cavalry list for CoC. Here I will tell the tale and something about how I will try to alter the cavalry rules to get them to my, and hopefully other CoC-players liking.
First game, Patrol against the Italian Pasubio division
The first time was against the Italians and it was a great success! We took the Patrol Scenario as we often use it to test out new things. I had a Cavalry platoon with a mounted section, medic and BA-10 armored car as support. My enemy took a 20mm AT-rifle as support. I started out well in the patrol phase where I took three patrol-markers and the Italians four, I also had help of some extra moves from the cavalry special rule. The random point of entry for the patrol markers also favored me. In the end the Italian JOP was stuck together almost in a corner. Quite soon my mounted squad had moved up behind a wood at my right flank while a firefight erupted in the woods in the middle of the table. The Italians sent out a squad over open ground to reinforce this fight, I had only two small sections (my whole platoon that is!) in the fight so getting these Italians (it was an MG "team", that is, in italian, a section with two light machine guns) in would probably had tipped the balance in the italians favor.
Then I got an double phase! Hurrah! Of course I took the chance and charged! I had to roll average on dicing for the movement to get in, and be able to activate the section for both phases, and I did! I hit the Italians in the flank, so they did not get any MG bonus either, the Italians were ridden down to last man but the cavalry also took a several men down. It was so much punishment so the next phase fire from an Italian rifle team made them break, effectively putting the mounted section out of the game as well. Now many questions rose, how do they break and how do they get pinned? We resorted to just use the normal rules for this time but it felt quite uncomfortable, the cavalry are mounted on horses, you just don't lay down on the ground when sitting on a horse!
The rest of the game let me move in my BA-10 to the fight in the middle and break the Italians morale.
Lessons from the first game:
Second game, Delaying Action against German Infantry
I had to attack, in this, to my experience hard fought game for the attacker. But my opponent was new to the game so fair enough! For this scenario I did not take any mounted section as the terrain, in my opinion, was very unfavorable to mounted action, houses, walls and high fences all over the place! I got bogged down early on and never had a chance to get to the objective. I also forgot to use the cavalry special rule in the patrol phase, so effectively I did just play with ordinary infantry but with smaller sections… on the nice end, my opponent was pleased with the game and have started playing CoC himself so good pay of anyway!
Lessons from the second game:
Third game, Patrol-Big Chain of Command against Italians and Germans
My soviet friend played a ordinary rifle platoon. The Italians started with a double phase, threw out the whole platoon (they deploy very fast, due to their WW1-era organization) and charged forward threatening a whole lot of Soviet JOP. The soviet commanders pushed troops on the table as fast as they could and as my comrade in arms was most hard pressed (being opposite ti the Italians) I realeased my mounted section! It had an good target in a Italians rifle "team" (read section if you are not familiar with this fascists from the mediterrainian). The charge was put in place of two reasons, firstly to relive my beleaguered comrade, and secondly to let the Italian player eat his own words as he boasted that "the Italians will never be ridden down again" during the patrol phase. Said and done. Urahh!!!
Bad for me, he had more firepower in the are then first time we met so I took some (calculated) casualties before I hit the Italians. The Italians was eradicated but rolled good and took a lot of horse-men with them. So many that the section then were totally shoot up next phase when I (due to bad movement roll, if I remember right, but that could just be post battle-justification over events that did not evolve as I liked…) was not able to get the riders out of harms way.
I rolled terrible on the "Bad things happen" for this and ended up losing a great deal of moral on the charge.
The rest of the game was very one-handed and when I finally faced the germans, they easily out-shoot me with two sections against my entire platoon… and even if I deployed almost all my support to save the other player he could not got to grips with the Italians, which was on his throat before he even had time to react. My moral dived even deeper in the brief encounter with the germans an we had to give in.
Lessons learned from the third game:
Fourth game, Delaying Action against Italian Pasubio Division
I played the defender, we turned the table and played long-side to long-side to see if the scenario was more balanced (easier for the attacker) then. This was as well our first play-test with mortars, which also had impact on the game. I took three extra sections, one medic and a Maxim as support. I left the mounted section out of two reasons, firstly my Italian opponent had lost a unit to my cavalry the two times we met so he probably thought I would try it again and play cautiously with that in mind. Secondly as I am a little worried that the price of 3 Support for an extra section is to cheep and than you can break the system with spamming small sections…
I rolled very good on my patrol-phase extra moves and had a good opportunity to waste the Italians deployment. I think I botched this as I just pushed all my patrol markers forward 12" and this did not have any serious impact on the game in the end.
This was an very interesting game. The mortar stopped me from deploying (and playing!) effectively and the Italians used their first CoC-Dice, not to let the mortars continue firing over my position but to move a JOP forward and push half a platoon down my throat before i know what happened. I then tried to get the max out of all my extra sections in the fire-fight in the woods but failed to coordinate them properly. A lone section on the flank (moved there to avoid the mortar barrage) was also shot up in an unlucky numbers of 6´s precisely after being rallied and planned to get into the fight with my new reinforcements. The game was in the balance but the Italians better maximization of fire-power and a string of hit and wounded/killed leaders left me loosing the game on morale.
Lessons learned from the fourth game:
To avoid the "lurking with a mounted section behind a barn, killing something important in an suicidal strike"-style of play we felt was encouraged in this rule I thought following was a good idea: Only an Senior leader may order a mounted charge (he gets a Urahhh! special rule for cavalry, thanks Truscott Trotter for this suggestion!) and he has to be attached to one charging section. This puts a Senior leader at high risk, and we felt it´s only proper that an Leutenant takes this decision, a mounted charge in WW2 is such a rare and probably fatal move that an sergeant probably not are entrusted with it´s effectuation.
With the pinning question, I thought as follows: you obviously have problem hiding at the ground when mounted so instead of doing this when pinned you instead break of as if you are routed (fall back 2D6+6) to closest cover (that puts you and your horse out of line of sight, could be the table edge).
A final word about play-testing CoC, it is very hard to get much out of it, or more precisely getting something sure out of it. I think is it´s becuase of the many levels of the game, witch interact with eachother in a way that give you problems to sort out why something really happened as it did. Some levels are true for most table-top games as terrain and army selection, but other are more CoC-specific, as patrol phase and CoC-dice use.