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Brave But Futile
#1
After completing War on the Equator and Indian Unity, Daniel and I decided that we would return to some of the more well known parts of WW II era combat for our next venture. Feeling a bit more sure of ourselves we took on something a bit more demanding in Panzer Lehr with its plethora of hidden units and nasty AFVs.

We were certainly enjoying the scenarios but wondered about that "thing" in the back of the book called a "campaign". As we played we became more interested in the process and decided to give it a go. We figure that the total play time may be as long as five months (perhaps done by the new year?), if we don't hit any significant stretches of lost time. This may indeed be a brave but futile attempt, raising the question as to whether the name of the campaign is more a description of the player's attempt rather than the effort of the Lehr troopers.

With a couple of weeks to review rules and consider first movement and CP usage we met last weekend for our first session. Since Daniel had been playing the German in the scenarios we had played to date we decided to switch roles and I would play the Germans, and he the Allies. The first scenario we played was more a skirmish than a battle. I had four German battalions and a support unit on delayed activations (maening only a 12 turn battle) attacking two unactivated battalions and a support unit (meaning Daniel's force had some restrictions on movement and the ability to react to my forces. I could have avoided contact altogether and taken the location but the opportunity to cause some losses was too great. The resulting lack of a chance for Daniel's troops, especially given a four board surface left us both a little underwhelmed by the play, however the work that went into the scenario setup was very interesting and led to some considered discussion.

It is our intent to put in some detailed discussion of each turn, its battles and the results in this forum. Daniel is taking pictures and I have developed some schematics of the campaign mapboard which will help to summarize a turn's action. A discussion of each battle scenario, its setup (boards and forces) and the progression of the battle will follow the turn

It is my hope that the combination of this campaign playback with Alan's solo effort on the Ivy Division campaign will spark some discussion of the campaign style shown in Steadfast and Loyal (4th US ID, contained with Winter Soldiers), Brave But Futile (Panzer Lehr, contained in the scenario set of the same name), Patton's Nightmare (2nd US Armored Division against the Soviets, contained in Patton's Nightmare) and Hammer & Sickle (11th Tank Corps, against the Americans, contained in Hammer & Sickle).

Campaigns in PG

For a quick run down of how these types of campaigns work, the region (in Brave but Futile (BBF) the region is Normandy) is broken into a number of locations (19 in BBF ) which will correspond at least loosely to the area fought over. The locations will include two suggested map types (e.g. town, river, open or village, etc.) and the players will pick the mapboards and then array the forces that they have moved into the regions for a standard PG scenario battle. Based on the results of the battle the location will be granted to the attacker or defender and play will move on to the next battle locations. Each campaign turn can have several battles depending on the players aggressive tendencies and/or their available logistics (which are captured by the abstraction of "campaign points", which are used to activate your forces, augment artillery, air support, initiative or to purchase replacements. Special circumstances (e.g. Cobra, Wacht Am Rhein, Cold War airbases, West Wall, etc.) all play a role in the scenario structures. Victory is different in each campaign but requires the use of bold tactics from time to time and the ability to have fresh units at that crucial moment.

There are two other types of campaigns in the PG world. The first, the Campaigns and Commanders series is based on a series of typical prestructured scenarios however, certain leaders are actually pregenerated characters who can evolve in their capabilities and skill sets as the campaign progresses. The second, (seen in Cassino and in The King's Officers using Beyond Normandy as a base, has more of the flavor of those like the Ivy and Lehr campaigns but are confined to the "historical" style maps and are focused on capturing territory on those maps. While I enjoy each of these types of campaigns, the leader focused one relies on either existing scenarios or a new scenario pack. Indeed, the "force" search function on PG-HQ, which lists scenarios in which a force or its components participate can form the basis for a leader based campaign without resorting to any new scenario development. The territory based campaigns rely on large historical mapboards which are relatively rare in the PG universe.

The idea of managing a larger force (in Brave but Futile that Allied player will ultimately have 19 line battalions and the Germans will have 15 and both sides have a swarm of supporting units such as engineer or tank companies which will augment their fighting strength) over an extended period, managing losses and maintaining fighting capabilities despite attrition is a challenge that we don't see often in a PG scenario. By adding this quasi-operational level of force management an additional challenge is brought to the table. One I am interested to test out.

I expect that we will post results of our battles and the basis of our thought processes as we continue through each turn of the campaign. Since we are playing at the same time I wouldn't doubt that some of our longer range goals will only be discussed at a future date or at the end of the campaign but I am curious to see how this campaign style works. Here's hoping that it is interesting to you all and that those of you who may have played these campaigns will stop by for a chat. Please feel free to offer comments or suggestions. Make sure that they are particularly useless or inept if they are for the Allies and insightful and stunningly strategic if for the Germans!
No "minor" country left behind...
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#2
Matt, Welcome to the campaigns. Be interested to see the writeup on these and glad I could inspire. Would you like the campaign spreadsheet I have for PL? Same format as the one I posted for Ivy Division, but with all the PL units.
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#3
Well we have completed the first standard turn of the campaign and are now considering whether there will be an exploitation turn. I have attached an excel file with a graphic summary of the action as well as the campaign point usage by both sides. I have also attached a short narrative describing the two battles during the turn. All is not well for the Allies at this point in time.


Attached Files
.docx   Brave But Futile Turn 1.docx (Size: 14.99 KB / Downloads: 33)
.xlsx   Brave but Futile Campaign Turn 1.xlsx (Size: 27.72 KB / Downloads: 28)
No "minor" country left behind...
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#4
I have attached the AAR for the exploitation phase of Turn 1. The Allies were able to hold off the attack and the Germans leave with a bloody nose. The lure of getting adjacent to the Beaches was just a bit too strong.


Attached Files
.docx   Brave But Futile Turn 1 Exploitation.docx (Size: 14.39 KB / Downloads: 17)
No "minor" country left behind...
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#5
Great stuff. Reading avidly. Can't wait for the next installment. Leading me to buy the suppliment to get the campaign rules. (long term plan is to do a campaign with the Highland Division during the Fall of France).

Thanks again,

Bob
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#6
Thanks Bob!

I am really enjoying the process. I am very lucky to have a ftf opponent in Daniel who is willing to play through the campaign with me. The solitaire rules are very, very good but playing with an opponent raises the bar.
No "minor" country left behind...
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#7
Turn 01 - Battle 1 (Carentan)

With 4 maps and only 2 non-activated batallions, I thought I had no chance to win this battle. Consequently, I put all my units in one town hoping to minimize my losses.

The American High Command was not happy with my decision and assigned me la crème de la crème to lead my troops.

Batailion leaders on top, support company leaders on the bottom
   

My setup, The different orientation is to differentiate the bataillion or support company the unit belongs to.
   

I could not move until activated so, after a few turns, this is what I saw:

Enemies to the north
   

Enemies to the south
   

There were also enemies to the west but I forgot to take a picture.

With the result never in doubt, the Germans attacked cautiously trying to eliminate more Americans than they would suffer casualties. It worked.
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#8
Turn 01 - Battle 2 (Carpiquet)

The Allies are on this offensive this time with 2 bataillions and 3 support companies fully activated. The problem is the Germans moved more units in the region during the movement and I am now facing 3 bataillions plus an unknown number of support companies.

As none of the German units are activated, it's still worth to isolate a bataillion without activating the others.

I enter from the right side and must get to the leftmost map if I am to have a chance of winning. The leftmost two maps hold the most victory points.

Left Maps
   

Right Maps
   

I moved my units near the bottom and woke up too many German bataillions. The battle area was quite small as I went on the defensive rather early. I lost many good men, a number from bad decisions and some AFVs to bad dice rolling (4 crossfire shots at an adjacent Panther or Tiger, all misses. The German shot back and destroyed both AFVs).

The two most interesting parts of this battle for me were (1) set up a defensive perimeter while on the move, and (2) disengaging from the enemy. I did not do either especially well but I did learn something.
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#9
Turn 01 - Battle 3 (Vierville)

The Germans launched an attack in the exploitation phase. The Allied have more bataillons than the Germans and, as the victory points are spread out to only three boards, I decided to defend them all but the woods.

View of All 4 Maps
   

The Americans which fought in Carentan are on the Southwest board, far away from the German entry point (east) and in good defensive position.

Southwest Board
   

One of the British motorized bataillion is defensing the town on the southwest map. There is a Crocodile in the middle of the town (he was blown away without activating) and the AT gun support company is dug in the the west, The AT guns did well, eliminating 7 steps of AFVs, including 5 steps of Panthers.

Note that Matt and I do not inspect stacks until they fire or a unit become adjacent. The trucks of the motorized infantry were used to mask the units beneath; nothing is loaded.

Northwest Map
   

The other British motorized bataillion is defending the town on the northeast board. I set up a unit dug in east of the town to wake the bataillion sooner than later if possible. I did not expect it to survive long and it did not make a liar out of me.

Note the American leader. He's a spotter for the activated mechanized artillery support company. He's to run into town on the first turn (He could not start stacked with a British unit). A bit of a dumb move as the town is out of range of the M17 initial position.

Northeast Map
   

The battle was over the two towns to the north. I did not contest the northeast wood but did try to contest the northwest wood.

Later - Northwest
   

Later - Northeast
   

One thing that kept the battle tense until the end was the need for Matt to score more than 50% of my total so I would not be awarded 6 campaign points. This forced him to be aggressive until the end and that resulted in many, more decision points.

I would have rated this one a solid "4" if it was a scenario. It's not a "5" for the Allied player because he has nothing to do but wait until the Germans go on the attack.
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#10
This looks like a tense series of games. Great stuff. Keep up the excellent reports.

I like the Leader Characters from the Kings Officers. Do you think that they would be able to be combined with this style of campaign?
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