Elsenborn Ridge #1
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||America (Defender)|
|America||99th "Battle Babies" Infantry Division|
|Germany||277th Infantry Division|
|Overall Rating, 38 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 250 of 560|
|Parent Game||Elsenborn Ridge|
|Layout Dimensions||43 x 28 cm
17 x 11 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Elsenborn Ridge||maps + counters|
After a brief artillery bombardment, the Germans sent infantry divisions forward as the first wave of the attack known as Operation Herbstnebel, or Autumn Mist. These units would open the way through the American defenses for the panzer divisions to exploit deep into the Allied rear. At least that was the way it had been drawn up on Sixth SS Panzer Army's planning maps.
Using searchlights directed at the low-hanging cloud cover, the Germans created what they called "artificial moonlight" to enhance visibility. It could not, however, enhance the willingness of the raw Volksgrenadiers to stand up to American firepower. The advance made some initial headway, forcing the 393rd Infantry Regiment's Company K to surrender and surrounding the rest of the regiment's 3rd Battalion. But the American defense rallied and the German attack stalled.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|3 Errata Items|
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The morale and combat modifiers of German Sergeant #1614 should be "0", not "8".
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
The movement allowance on the counters in Airborne is misprinted. It should be "3."
(rerathbun on 2012 Jan 30)
|Luv me some entrenchments|
As a first scenario for this box set, I must say it seemed well balanced and fun. Maybe even to the point that a draw is almost a given. With the victory conditions set on controlling the road for a major victory, the level of losses seem irrelevant. The Germans must be aggressive to clear the road and in doing so will probably suffer high losses and the Americans are outnumbered but dug in. The real bonus for the Allies are the three entrenchments. I placed mine back far enough that they would miss the first three rounds of super artillery from the German pre-assault barrage. The Germans moved through the first clump of light woods opposed by 2 platoons of infantry offered up as a stalling sacrifice. By the time (turn 3) that the Germans came out of the first set of trees the artillery had lessened. The Germans ran across the open ground and lost 2 steps before positioning for an assault on the first entrenchment. Over the next couple turns, after a horrible roll on the initial assualt, the Germans finally cleared the first entrenchment, but not before going over the 10 step loss threshold for a Allied minor victory. The Americans had lost a total of 6 steps and so the game was in a drawn state and the deciding facto would be control of the road. The Germans and Americans both got reinforcement rolls on turn 9 and the race was on. the Americans came on and began digging in behind the hill on the road next to the last entrenchment. The Germans used the road bonus to move up as quickly as possible. On turn 12 the Germans launched the next attempted assault on the second entrenchment. I say attempted because a funny thing happened on the way up. A natural 2 and a 3 on two different rolls. The three came on the point blank shot from the units on an overstacked hex which left 2 units demoralised and one flipped. This was followed up with an artillery barrage with a 2 rolled for a 3X and the German offensive was all but over. The game finished as a draw with neither side being able to clear the road.
|Basically came down to the last roll...|
I played the Americans, my face-to-face opponent the Germans. The game ended in a draw with both sides having more than enough step-losses for a minor victory. We played with the "accept-no-substitutes" winter map
I began by setting up mainly in the tree lines at 0607/0707 and across the road around 1008. My mortars and a few infantry were back around the heavy woods in 0413 and across the road in 1014. My 3-inch gun was over near 1008, and my HMGs were in the 0607/0707 groups. the 0707 and 1008 groups started off entrenched and the rest dug in.
The Germans entered the board, got their mortars set up and running, and made their way through the large section of light woods toward my 0607/0707 position. Because of LOS blockages and the dawn SSR spotting limitations, the Germans never got to take advantage of those huge, early artillery barrages.
The bulk of the fight consisted of the Germans advancing through the light woods to engage my 0607/0707 positions in melee combat. As the melee tilted in favor of one side, the other scrambled to try and get more units into the mix. Artillery proved to be immensely important. As the Allies, I tended to use my artillery to prevent the Germans from ever getting a solid force together to overwhelm those 0607/0707 positions. I lucked out with my reinforcement roll and got the additional units on my second try.
In the end, those 0607/0707 positions held despite some close calls. We both made last round moves to control the road. I saved my artillery until after the Germans made that move in one last attempt to demoralize those units and steal away the Major Victory. Sure the Hollywood ending involves a swooning orchestra as those last shots break those German platoons off the road, but reality involved me totally whiffing the rolls and missing.
Looking back, I wish I had grouped my mortars together to deliver a greater punch. I thought I would be covering more area by splitting them up, but I only covered more area with ineffective fire. I also don't know what keeping a few infantry units back accomplished given how things played out, but they managed to get into the mix as melee reinforcements, so they weren't wasted. My opponent really outdid himself as far as bell-curve probability goes, bringing an astounding amount of 6, 7, and 8 totals on his dice rolls.
Overall a really fun time. We used the optional fog of war rules that really changed how a few turns played out.
|Wo sind die Panzer?!|
The German player first bombarded the American entrenchments with some artillery, disrupting a few units, but it isn't good enough. Because when the German player advances, and moves adjacent to the entrenchments the American firepower is still strong enough to inflict two step losses to one Gren unit, and manage to disrupt one Gren and one HMG unit.
But then at turn six the German player makes a great mistake: he tries to sneak trough a gap in the defensive line with 3 Gren and 1 HMG and the American player combines fire of the 3-inch and 3 INF units. Two Gren units get disrupted and one Gren unit gets demoralized.
At turn twelve the German attack is halted and the German player needs to use almost all its activations to recover disrupted or demoralized units. I think it went a lot better if the German player got tank support of two Pz IVH platoons. But they have no tank support! And theAmerican player keeps firing at the recovering units to make sure they wont recover.
At turn fourteen the German finally manages to assault a entrenchment and inflicts one step loss and demoralizes a INF unit. At the cost of one disrupted Gren unit. But with the end of the scenario nearby the German player can't get trough, and retreats.
The Americans won! Hurray!
|Historical Outcome. If you can leave with a minor victory - you should|
Bottom Line: Draw. Excellent balance, extremely difficult for either side to obtain a Major Victory. My game ended with the general historical outcome. The Germans successfully isolated 1 x US Company and overran the northern hill, but could not break the main defensive entrenchments. The game saw one of the most amazing events in my war gaming experience when a HMG PLT in entrenchment endured 15 of 16 turns of enemy contact, and 8 turns of continuous assault and successfully repulsed 2 x German companies (6 x Gren squads and 3 x leaders), this included three rounds of calling down mortars onto his position.
Casualties: US: 13 steps, 3 leaders (55% combat effective, 69% disrupted/demoralized at end) German: 14 steps (58% combat effectiveness, 76% disrupted/demoralized at end)
US Situation: Elements, 99th INF DIV (1 x US INF BN) defend to retain the East-west road west of hexes xx006.
Setup: The US BN established a defensive line from the hill base at 0907 to the hilltop at 0506. The center strongpoint was entrenchments at 0907, 0807 (BN CP), and 0808 (Mortar pit/fallback entrenchment). 1. The defensive line was anchored in the south at 0907 with 1 HMG PLT, 1 3-in AT Gun PLT, and 1 LT (9-0-0). Tactical task was to retain to deny enemy access to road. 2. The center consisted of the 1 x IN CO, BN CP (MAJ, 10-1-0) in 0807 and 0808 and the BN Mortars in 0808 and 0807 (w 1LT 9-1-0). Tactical task was to retain to deny enemy access to road. 3. The north was 1 x IN CO dug in, 0707 (CPT 10-0-1), 0606, (LT 9-1-0), 0505 (SGT, 8-0-1). The northern most hex anchored the flank with an HMG. Tactical task was to retain to disrupt enemy access to the road.
German Situation: Regiment of the 277 Volksgrenadier Division attack to defeat US forces vicinity of the east-west road in order to allow freedom of movement to follow-on forces.
Plan; Conduct frontal assault to Penetrate Enemy defensive lines and seize US positions at 0907, 0807, 0707, 0606, 0505. Use road movement to get high quality leaders and HMGs forward to take advantage of early OBA and establish base of fire for reinforcing assault element.
Sequence of events:
Turns 1-8 (0600-0745) Shaping Operations The German Leader draw included a studly SGT (9-2-2) who led the advance force down the road quickly to get eyes on for the opening barrage. The opening OBA on Hex 0907 destroyed the AT platoon, and disrupted the leader, but the HMG held on. The rest of the German Battalion followed suit, but accurate US Opportunity Fire from the Northern HMG successfully disrupted 2 x German HMGs from getting forward. It would take them an extra hour to recovery and get in place.
The initial German support by fire positions were established, but weak without heavy weapons. Under heavy US HMG and OBA from hex 0907, the Germans could not get their IG gun in place and it abandoned its guns, along with the supporting infantry. By 0745, the reinforcing German BN came on board, while the German LT COL was busy collecting and recovering both his HMGs and fleeing infantry. However, the US had lost 3 steps, and the Germans 4, and German forces were able to push assault forces into hexes 1006, 0906, 0806, 0605, 0505 and were in position for the Decisive Operation.
Turns 9-13 (0800-0900) The US successfully kept the German SGT and his platoons out of the initial fight with OBA. At 0800 the “mad minute” ensued and the US successfully repulsed the first attempt to take hex 0906. However, a company made it onto 0505 when the US SGT fled his position. The melee ensued and would continue there for the rest of the game. At 0815, a second attempt for hex 0906 occurred. This time the position was contested with 3 x German platoons and 2 LDRs vs. 1x HMG PLT, and a US LT (who would eventually flee). The Germans switched their main effort when 0906 became embroiled in melee, and sent the recovered SGT and platoons to the fight in the forest of hex 0606. Here over the next 45 minutes, they successfully defeated US forces there. Supported by fire and OBA onto Hex 0707, the Germans broke the US northern positions. However, The US SGT rallied and returned to Hex 0506 where he and his platoon successfully pinned down 5 German platoons for the rest of the game, but with no hope of rescue themselves.
0830 saw the high water mark for the Germans. They penetrated the US lines in the north, and inflicted 7 steps vs. 6 on themselves. They were in a position to withdraw with a minor victory, but decided to press their luck, as withdrawal might incur more German casualties with little payoff.
The melee on the southern position left the lone HMG fighting off 3x German platoons. He took advantage of being in entrenchments and having high density enemy and called for mortars on his position. This successfully demoralized the entire German assault. However, 1 German platoon rallied with snake eyes, which allowed the company to retreat without giving a free shot to the HMG.
By 0900 the German assault in the south had failed. The HMG forced the remaining German platoon west of the road to retreat. US reinforcements were now on the board and digging in at 0810 to deny the Germans any hope of a major victory.
Turns 14-16 Recovery/Attrition (0915-0945) Culmination
The remaining turns of the game saw repeated attempts by the Germans to recover their demoralized forces for a final push onto the road and into the entrenchments, but it never materialized. There was no hope of opening the road all the way to hex 0810, so the US and Germans were content to attempt to blast US casualties for the remaining hour, and try to resolve the fate of the lost outpost in hex 0506.
US direct fire and OBA successfully disrupted German attempts to reestablish a base of fire in the wood line, as well as disrupted the German SGT and assault element from contemplating exposure any closure to the line. Also, abysmal German recovery attempts told the tale that the Germans had culminated. With excellent dice rolls, the Germans destroyed the US Mortars, but could not dislodge the US SGT and his HMG and INF platoons from their dug in positions on the northern hill(0506).
Conclusion: Historical outcome. The US reestablished its defensive line on the south side of the road from 0907, 0807-0810. The isolated company in 0506 would either be forced to exfiltrate under pressure or eventually surrender. The east-west road between the US and German lines would become a no-man’s land until follow-on forces could try again.
Heroes of the Game: US 1. Unit: US HMG PLT in Hex 0907 withstood 15 consecutive turns of combat, never becoming demoralized. They called artillery onto their position three times. Repulsed 6 assaulting platoons and racked up 1/3 of all German step losses.
Lessons: 1. Remember that woods do not protect you from bombardment. 2. Digging in offers better protection than woods if you will be facing bombardment or assault. 3. Don’t get greedy, if you can win with a minor victory, you might be better off breaking contact early.
|POORLY PLANNED ATTACK|
Played solo. Germans sustained heavy losses in morale and men to arty concentrations against three stack units. German 75mm in open also lost to arty fire. HMG PLT disrupted by arty and later demoalized, didn't recover morale in time to be of further use. Three German units engaged in assault with US units in woods hex for almost entire scenario were of no use in clearing road hexes. Germans did not seal off battle area. US reinforce-ments entired scenario before German reinforcements and reached battle area first. These US reinfocements and reserve units came forward to replentish units in the fight for road hexes. Scenario ended in draw with US good order units in hex 0806 and German good order units in 0706 and 0906. Better planning and tactics by Germans would have resulted in victory.
|Mist Opportunities - Autumn Mist Elsenborn Ridge #1|
I used this scenario as a learning opportunity after trying out the free demo for a few turns. I was intrigued by the game system and enjoyed the demo enough to purchase this title (along with the obligatory Winter Wonderland Maps) and try it out. After about 2 weeks of on and off playing a few turns at a time, the scenario ended in a draw but was not without tension and some observations that in hindsight would have changed the outcome.
The Americans setup a forward defense along the 40m hill north of the east-west road, placing infantry in entrenchments in 0706, 0908, and 1008. Also, Infantry units and the HMG were dug in 0605, 0506 and 0406. Finally, the 81mm mortar units were deployed dug-in in 0810. The Germans, being extremely lucky to draw the 10-2-1 Lt. Colonel, placed him in the middle of a line of units stretching from 0401 to 0901 with leaders of lower rank filling out the command along the line.
The Germans moved cautiously forward across the light woods but were soon spotted and took some damage from the off-board artillery. The American troops in the forward positions began to feel the effects of the large number of batteries, taking 3 separate "X" results on the dug-in positions. Over the early turns, the artillery barrages, combined with several assaults, would cause significant damage to both sides, causing several flee results and allowing the infantry units advancing through the light woods to get up the hill and push the good order Americans off toward the crossroads and forced the fleeing units to the far north in the vicinity of 0311. In addition, during these early barrages, both the US and Germans lost their infantry guns. In fact, At the end of turn 4 (0645), the US losses were already at 9, the Germans at 5.
At this point, it looked as though the Germans had the battle in hand and I expected the battle to end around turn 8 or 9. For a while, It seemed that every artillery roll for the Germans was a 2,3 or 12 and combined with their unshakeable Lt. Col (10-2-1) and the successful roll for reinforcements on turn 5, it seemed that victory was imminent.
However, the tide would soon turn the other way. In later turns, The US artillery would recover and begin to score hits that would slow the German advance, but not enough to prevent the Germans from occupying and fortifying the east-west road west of the crossroads. This move forced the American mortar units to retreat to the clump of woods in hex 0915 in hopes of being reinforced. The Americans would receive their reinforcements on Turn 9 and they would dig-in near the mortars to provide a final stand. In the final turns the Germans had moved several units adjacent to the dug-in units after an artillery barrage and only the accurate fire of the US OBA and mortar units saved the dug-in units by disrupting and demoralizing the German units, preventing them from making a final assualt as the game ended in a draw. Final Step Losses: US: 15, Germans: 13
Aftermath and observations
One of the high points for the Americans was a bitter defense of an entrenchment near the cross-roads. The Germans began their assault on the entrenchment on turn 4 and by turn 16 had still not ejected the American fighters. This defensive stand, forced the Germans to siphon troops from the main attack along the road to try and dislodge the Americans, all to no avail.
In playing this scenario, I frequently turned to the forums on BGG for help on rulings and questions and am thankful for the great support this game has, both there and here on PG-HQ. I did notice that the setup I made with the US units far forward caused unnecessarily high casualties by exposing them to the early bombardments by the German guns. Attillery is definitely king on the battlefield and is crucial to softening up entrenched or dug-in areas for assaults. Also, I played the spotting rules wrong early on, causing early step losses that were not really losses. However, despite the mistakes, I did really enjoy this scenario and rated it a 4.
|A Fun Draw|
Played solo over 2 sessions and 4 hours.
As there are already 13 AARs, I will just limit myself to a few comments.
I enjoyed this scenario as the Americans must react to the German movements if they want a chance at victory. Except for the units in entrenchment, I used the American forces as a mobile reserve reacting to the German movements. It was fun and it took the Germans 14 turns before they control one road hex. Although a draw was a guarantee at that point, I played out the last two turns to reward both sides for a battle well fought.
A well-deserved draw by both sides.
I gave this scenario a "4". I recommend it, especially solo.
|End Run Avoided|
I set up the US troops with two entrenchments on the big hill, one actually on the road, and the other to the north of it adjacent, and 2 stacks entrenched east of the woods so thatthe troops could withdraw from dug-in to woods and then back to the entrenchments if needed. The third entrenchment was set up south of the road and further west, forcing Germans trying to take the road to engage them, and dug in another stack in the light woods next to them and mortars behind them. The 3" AT gun went in to the entrenchment, giving it range on anything the Germans sent forward to the edge of the woods next to the big hills. Germans deployed in 2 task groups and the LTC bringing up the mortars behind along with the 75 INF gun. Germans were able to push the forward US troops back but were bogged down quickly with fighting over and around the woods and entrenchments. It became a blood bath for the Germans as they lost more and more steps trying to take the entrenchments on the Eastern hills. Shot after shot of OBA missed everything on both sides, and 7s were rolled consistently, the only number that completely missed. As it looked hopeless for the Germans, a strong force broke off and tried to circumvent the hill and block the road well west of the defenders, and a US element broke off and headed west to try to stop them. Down to the wire, the last 2 turns saw the two forces facing off against each other on the road just a few hexes from the west edge of the board, but in the end the German infantry were destroyed leaving only a single demoralized leader with no troops on the road, while the US troops just above them succeeded with just part of the stack they started out with. Germans lost 25 steps to 5 US, no Germans on the road and not enough US casualties to eek out even a small win. Victory for the US.
|Niebla de otoño|
Hice un reportaje fotográfico que publiqué en Consimworld, en la dirección siguiente:
A new FtF opponent in Darryl, which meant I could play the Gemans for a change. This was an excellent one board scenario, I tried to outflank the American forces but got bogged down trying to clear the road. I also remember managing to throw a 6 for the column and a double 1 for the effect when dicing for friendly fire. Which prehaps not critical to the result certainly crmaped my style.
|German leadership wins the day|
Looking to get some of the Elsenborn scenarios done, I looked to replay this first scenario again. I had played it a while back but did not write an AAR for it. In this play the Germans get a marginal victory after there leadership rescues the troops on a couple of key turns.
First the Germans were lucky on the leader draw, the Lt. Col. was a 10-1-2 and so was a Lt. with plenty of other leaders with 1's for firepower and morale. This was key as American fire was brutal the first few turns. Americans rolled 2's and 12's on several artillery attacks reducing or demoralizing many of the VG's. But the German leaders recovered the troops and shifted there attack to the wooded 40m hill. American OP was accurate and more units fell back on disruptions and demoralizations. The Germans shifted units to the north as well as bringing the reinforcements across the northern part of the board to try to move down the north-south road. The Americans had to shift troops to cover this advance and successfully held of the German assaults. On several occasions the Germans had a 3-1 advantage and the Americans disrupted or demoralized them before they could attack.
But slowly the Germans began to gain ground and demoralize American units. On one activation a German Captain was able to shift units so that he had a fire lane on the Americans holding the top of the wooded 40m hill. This allowed his 16fp to hit the Americans and demoralize them. Subsequently the Americans fled after failing to recover. German GREN's were able to advance into the hex and continue their attack. In a second instance a German LT was key in demoralizing an American INF that had been holding off a German assault. The LT. moved in when the assaulting LT fled. He was able to stabilize the remaining Germans and demoralized the American unit. It fled and was killed by OP fire.
In the end, the Germans were able to capture enough road to deny the Americans a Major victory as well as keep their casualties down while inflicting the required number on the Americans. A victory but not on that would make the offensive a success. If the battle continued it would still be heavy fighting and not much ground taken by the Germans.
|The 277th Volksgrenadier's puncture the 99th Inf Divs Forward Positions|
Played as a PBEM battle with Alan Rhodes who is in the same job as I, albeit a different department in London. I fancied this game when Alan offered it as I had just recently used the 277th VG Div in a skype battle against Alan Sawyer. On that occassion, they allowed the more able 12th SS Hitler Jugend do the donkey work, but did nonetheless carry out some important roles in the game. Here, it was all down to them. I had previously also looked into their commander, Generalmajor Wilhelm Viebig. A slim dashing looking fellow, who after the war became the West German Olympic Show jumping and Dressage coach. Interesting fella.
Anyway, this scenario represents the opening morning for the 99th and 277th during the Bulge campaign. The VG's want the road and to inflict losses on the US troops, whilst the US need to inflict casaulties so as to give the Germans a bloody nose. Here is how it went.
The 277th Volksgrenadier Division was to launch their part in the Bulge offensive along the main Hollerath road toward the village of Krinkelt. Facing them would be the US 99th Infantry Division. The commander of the 277th VG Division was a man called Generalmajor Wilhelm Viebig. A slim dashing looking officer, who looked more akin to an old fashioned cavalry officer. He had been asked to either clear the main road and capture the crossroads near Krinkelt or inflict enough of a bloody nose on the American defenders so that the panzers following up later could simply roll through. Having spied the US positions, it was not difficult for Viebig to make his decision. In order to spare his Volksgrenadiers too many casualties, he opted to knock out the American mortar positions and inflict as many casualties on the GI’s as possible whilst keeping his own losses low. This would therefore rule out any attempt at the more glory-hunting capture of the whole road and its attendant losses.
Meat Of The Battle
With the 277th moving up to their positions at 0600 hours, the bombardment began at 0615. In this area, the Americans had placed entrenchments on each flank and had troops and MG positions dug-in along the road that they intended to deny the Germans. Within 30 minutes, the US mortars had been crushed and buried under the surprisingly heavy German bombardment. The Germans lost some men to counter OBA fire as men from the 989th infantry regiment pushed forward through the pines and snow of the Ardennes. As the mixed bag of Volksgrenadiers tried to close in on the American dug-outs in and around the main Hollerath road, their numbers became depleted as the US OBA proved so accurate, sending a few of their great-coated men to fall lifeless into the deep snow. But the battalion’s inspirational Oberst decided he had to lead the attack as the Grenadiers frail morale was being put to the ultimate test. The officers of the 989th then managed to push a company sized attack home against the most forward US infantry position and a close assault began into the US dug-outs supported by MG fire that had disruptied the enemy 99th Division troops. The assault proved brutal. Both sides losing men a plenty in short time, and both sides losing officers too, the Germans more so as these veteran soldiers attempted to inspire the new-boys of their regiment to oust the Amis. Another German company managed to join this assault and by 0745 the crossroads had been cleared of Americans and a satisfactory amount of losses inflicted on them so that the German tanks would be able to push through later. The crossroads though was still very much under the sights of US fire lanes.
Germans Consolidate Gains
The German OBA had also zeroed in on the vicinity and was now clocking up a count of the lives of US soldiers. Even recently arrived reinforcing GI’s were being targeted severely on the main road, eventually being dispersed in some disorder. Whilst this bombardment continued, the German infantry, happy with their work, took the opportunity to dig in themselves in the pine forest. Here, they could also keep watch and range on the crossroads, deter any American counter attack (unless a suicidal one was sent) and also have some protection with the dug outs against the US OBA. From 0830-0930, both sides inflicted around 50 casualties on each other as the opposing infantry contented themselves with a firefight through the pines, but the front in general had stabilized for now. It would be the panzer thrust later in the day that would be the thorn in the American side. Generalmajor Viebig could be pleased with his mens work. They had inflicted more casualties than they had suffered, despite being the attacker and fears of their morale qualities. They had also cleared the crossroads, and the regimental Colonel had showed his mens fragile morale could be converted to the positive with brave leadership.
US casualties were 12 steps and a leader, with German losses adding up to 8 steps and 3 leaders.
Minor German victory.
A strong 3 for me. Quite an exciting battle with a time pressure of only 16 turns available for the Germans to get the job done on a single snowy board. Welcome to the Ardennes
|The long and winding road|
Played solo in 2 sessions
How to defend a stretch of road 20 hexes long and how to attack and control them.. It's a puzzle and the first scenario I played that is less suitable for solo play. There are so many tricks you can perform to outmaneuver your opponent to take the one road hex you need to turn the scenario at least into a Draw. One of the more straight forward things is to bomb all your opponent's troops to smithereens to easily clear the road from their remains and the number of on- and offboard artillery pieces and mortars could well establish that, but.. those darned trenches. I put all three of them linked and adjacent to the road, in the woods, south of the eastern 40 hill, out of harms way of the first turn's off board arty.. just keep still with your heads down for at least 4 turns, no spotting so no shooting.. As soon as the Germans reached the trenches however, their full blown artillery (always used the 3 batteries together) was devastating (2 consecutive boxcars). The Americans lost 2 steps during that period, abandoned the easternmost trench but stubbornly (Nuts!) refused to leave the other two. They held out intil the end. After that the loss rate dried up. Although there were a lot of DIS's and DEM's to be noted, the Germans only lost 3 steps, the Americans 4. The American reinforcements arrived on exactly turn 7, the Germans had to wait until turn 9. With so many units going to and fro across the road the game turned into a chaotic tag play with a heavy dose of hide and seek thrown in. It had to end in a draw and it did. Played solo it deserves a 3, but I can imagine a higher rating in FtF play.
|Mistakes in the Mist|
This scenario was played with my college freshman son, Jacob, to introduce him to the system and to gain more experience myself. Jacob took the defending Americans, while I played the attacking Germans. The Americans set up with a 9.1.0 Lieutenant and two INF platoons manning a forward post on the south edge of the hill. An HMG platoon set up on the road to the north of the hill covering the open ground on the American left flank. Most of the remaining force took positions dug-in or entrenched along the north/south road. The German OBA obliterated the HMG platoon on the American left and moved forward entering the light woods. Overconfident in the power of his supporting artillery, one zealous German Lieutenant led 2 GREN platoons on a charge uphill to assault the American forward post entrenched in the woods. The ensuing combat destroyed one GREN platoon and demoralized the other. The German reinforcements entered with Prussian punctuality and rapidly advanced across the open ground north of the hill. The Amis took heavy casualties and almost lost control of the east/west thoroughfare. The German reinforcements had advanced quickly to control the road to the rear of the American forces and prevented the American reinforcements from relieving the besieged defenders. However, the Americans were able to advance two platoons at the last moment to prevent the Germans from completely clearing the road for the Panzers that were meant to follow soon after. Result: German minor victory. Excellent play by Jacob considering that we both completely overlooked the American OBA severely handicapping their defense. Very exciting scenario.
|First Foray into ELSENBORN RIDGE|
Bottom Line Up Front--we only got through 8 turns before calling it quits as a Draw. There was a good chance of a German victory if the Amis never got their reinforcements, so we're not all that confident in the Turn 8 assessment. I was the Americans, so I'm writing this primarily from the U.S. perspective.
The first problem is to decide where the major defensive battle should be fought. Given that there are plenty of light woods and hill complex at the East edge of Board 25, it's very tempting for the American to set up there dug in. But I resisted that temptation for the following reasons: (1) I'd have to cover the whole board width and the Germans can mass superior numbers at their point of attack, (2) German artillery is at their strongest, (3) any rupture made by the Germans at their schwerpunkt causing demoralized units to flee would turn the defense into a running gunfight that I did not judge the Americans could win. So I conceded the eastern hill and light woods to the Germans and set up a defense line in the next clump of light woods, with the defense weighted to the south. My thinking was that he would be deterred from going that direction and might make his bid either directly across the ridge's length or go for the north edge, which is what happened.
The Germans opened on a broad front but quickly weighted themselves to the north when American fire disrupted, demoralized, and "Xed" a good number if platoons coming into the light woods line opposite my defenses 3 hexes away. They soon pounded the reinforced platoon defending the light woods clump on the northwest board edge, but the assault was still fairly dicey for them. The Germans got their reinforcements relatively early (Turn 4) which the surely needed. By the time we stopped play it was clear the Volksgrenadiers would gain the entire woods complex north of the ridge, but then would have to be attacking directly south to gain the road--over open ground, uphill, with dug in Americans. I think the Germans could have done it for sure if the U.S. reinforcements didn't show up; if they did, it would be a dice-fest. What works in the Germans favor is that the U.S. has to get out of the light woods and dig in on the road. When we stopped on Turn 8, the Germans were still clearing out the northern woods and on Turn 9 I would have to move onto the road out of the light woods, then spend two activations to dig in by the end of Turn 11. My thinking was that the German couldn't interfere too heavily with this given their requirements to clear the woods and bring the rest of their reinforcements up. But one never knows--it could have gone way wrong.
The scenario is an engrossing one, despite it being an infantry-only maneuver contest with the minimum of supporting arms. Never seemed to bother us. A good bit of tension throughout. I rate it a "3" only because the defensive problem and the attack concept seems to offer only a very few usable options at first glance. For new players to the PANZERGRENADIER system, this seeming disadvantage is actually a plus. Definitely this is the scenario to start PANZERGRENADIER novices on.
|A Muddle in the Mist|
AUTUMN MIST Given the fact that I’m getting back into PG after a long hiatus, what better way to do it than to start with the first scenario of the game I and many others consider the best intro to the PG series: Elsenborn Ridge. I had developed other PG games and supplements before Elsenborn, but ER was the game where I hit upon the formulae that would guide my scenario-development technique for the rest of my tenure at Avalanche. The result is a boxed game with 40 scenarios that are fast paced, fun, and well balanced.
SCENARIO SETUP: The Americans get a pretty good leader draw, at least from the fire-coordination perspective. Three of the initial six American leaders on the board have +1 combat modifiers, but only two of them have +1 morale modifiers. Still, the American units have higher morale than the Germans, so because of that plus the fact that they’re dug in and entrenched in defensible terrain, I decide to set them up in a long and relatively thin line, placing the entrenchments at the crossroads, in the hex where the road enters the hills from the east, and in the hex where the road enters the hills from the south. The German objective is to push the Americans off the east-west road, so the at-start American defenders focus on protecting the road and will rely on their reinforcements (which will likely arrive anywhere from the halfway to the three-quarter point of the game) to push off the road any Germans that infiltrate or circumvent the line.
The Germans get a leader draw that’s a little better in quality than that of the Americans. Four of the initial eight German leaders on the board have +1 combat modifiers, and four of them also have +1 morale modifiers. Their average morale is also about the same as the Americans, but that of the units they will be leading is not.
TURN 1 (0600): The Americans win initiative by two activations but can do nothing because the Germans aren’t on the board yet. So they pass, and the Germans enter on the east edge. The Volksgrenadiers know that due to their inferior morale, they can’t afford to split their forces, so they decide to throw their entire initial force at the relatively weak American south flank, hoping that their reinforcements can exploit any weakness in the American lines resulting from the Americans pulling forces southward to counter the German flank attack. The Germans begin by sending their HMGs up the road to put pressure on the American center. Opportunity fire from the American center is ineffective, but American off-board artillery fire demoralizes the German captain leading the HMG advance. His Lieutenant remains in good order, but the OBA fire he calls down on the now spotted units in the American center is ineffective. The Americans pass to hold fire and see where the rest of the Germans will enter, and the Germans oblige them by bringing in their entire GREN force south of the road and into the light woods there. The Germans keep all their GREN units at least four hexes away from the Americans so they can’t be spotted in limiting terrain, but they send a sergeant ahead to spot the Americans who are entrenched where the east-west road enters the hills. American op fire on the sergeant is ineffective, and then American OBA hits the HMGs on the road with the demoralized captain and disrupts them both. Both sides then trade ineffective bombardment fire, and the turn ends.
TURN 2 (0615): The Germans win initiative and hit the American road defenders with OBA again, but American morale holds through four segments of bombardment. The Americans pass on each of their activation segments during this time, and the Germans choose to recover the morale of their disrupted HMGs rather than advance out of the woods against a good-order, dug-in and entrenched American position that has superior morale. The demoralized German captain recovers, but his disrupted HMGs do not, and fire from the third HMG on the road is ineffective. American OBA then hits the disrupted HMGs in the road and scores an X result that reduces an HMG and demoralizes the other one. The Germans and the Americans then pass, and the turn ends.
TURN 3 (0630): The Americans win initiative but pass, and German OBA finally gets the range, rolling a 2X result that eliminates an American INF unit entrenched on the road and demoralizes the other INF there. The Americans want to save their OBA for when the main German force emerges from the woods, but trying to rally the demoralized INF runs the risk of leaving the road and entrenchment hex he’s occupying wide open if he fails to recover and flees. So the Captain commanding the American center activates both Lieutenants next to him so that the demoralized INF can attempt to recover and another INF from farther north can move down to support him on the road. The demoralized INF recovers to disrupted status, and more German OBA is ineffective. The Americans pass, and German mortar fire is ineffective. The Americans pass again, and the Germans decide this will be their best opportunity to advance since the road defenders have already activated and can’t use op fire against them. The German Lieutenant Colonel commanding the advance draws op fire from all along the line and even from the HMG and AT gun at the crossroads, and the latter scores an X result that disrupts him and reduces and demoralizes the GREN he’s moving with. More op fire disrupts the Lieutenant leading the GREN units on point, so the Germans bring up another LT to lead the assault on the entrenchment next turn. American OBA then opens up on the main German advance, disrupting the LT the Germans brought in to lead the assault on the trenches. The Germans bring in yet another LT for that purpose, and he, another LT, and a GREN are all demoralized by American mortar fire, leaving the intended assault force in a shambles.
TURN 4 (0645): German reinforcements fail to enter, but the Germans win initiative by two activations. With the main advance in danger of collapse, the Germans decide to shift their focus to the two INF units at the American south flank on the north-south road. German OBA hits the entrenched INF and Sergeant on the road, and once again it gets the range, scoring a 2X result that eliminates the INF but fails to shake the morale of the Sergeant who was leading it. The German captain now effectively leading the advance (his LT COL having become disrupted) sounds the charge, sending a lone GREN into an assault on the trenches on the east-west road to pin down the two INF units there. The GREN becomes demoralized after American first fire, but that keeps the Americans pinned down so they can’t use op fire on the main German advance. However, the INF at the extreme south end of the American flank scores a 2X result on op fire that wipes out a GREN and disrupts the LT who was advancing with him. More fancy shooting from the crossroads reduces a GREN and demoralizes it and disrupts a second one, but a third GREN makes it into the empty trenches, capturing the trenches and the American sergeant there. American OBA then hits the sergeant who’s the only remaining good-order, unactivated German leader in the main assault. The OBA scores an X result that reduces a GREN, destroys a wagon towing an infantry gun, and disrupts both GRENs with the sergeant but fails to shake the sergeant’s morale. The sergeant then advances into the trenches with two GRENs while leaving behind the GRENs he was with to recover on their own. American OBA then hits the GREN company that has massed in the trenches, but they all pass their morale check with the sergeant’s help. German OBA is ineffective, and the Americans pull in the INF on their extreme north flank to counter the German breach of the south flank. German mortar fire is ineffective, but American mortar fire is devastating, demoralizing two of the three GRENs that had massed in the trenches. The German Lt. Colonel recovers to good order, but the demoralized GREN he’s with flees, and then the Americans in the trench on the east-west road counterassault the demoralized GREN that pinned them down there, inflicting a step loss on it. The turn then ends on recoveries and ineffective direct fire.
TURN 5 (0700): The initiative level of both sides drops by one, and the Americans win initiative by two activations. American OBA hits the GRENs massed in the trenches again, disrupting their sergeant. Then the dug-in INF on the American south flank fires point-blank at the GREN and LT next to him, demoralizing the GREN. German reinforcements again fail to arrive, but German OBA gets the range of the American Major and his INF and AT gun entrenched at the crossroads, disrupting the Major and demoralizing the AT gun. American OBA and German mortar fire are both ineffective, but then American mortar fire disrupts a GREN back in the woods, leaving only one undisrupted GREN on the board. The sergeant in the trenches tries to rally his two demoralized GRENs while the other one fires at the crossroads, and one rallies while the other flees. An American counterassault on the disrupted GREN in the trench on the east-west road is ineffective, and the German Lt. Colonel tries to rally his main force and is successful with most of his disrupted units, but three demoralized GRENs flee. Then the INF that the Americans pulled in from their northern flank moves south to block the German advance, and the turn ends on recoveries, with the American AT gun eliminated due to failure to recover from demoralization. That puts American step losses at five, putting the Germans just one American step loss away from a minor victory.
TURN 6 (0715): German reinforcements again fail to arrive. The Americans win initiative but their OBA is ineffective, as is that of the Germans. Then the Americans wipe out the reduced, demoralized GREN in the trench on the east-west road, putting German step losses at 9, meaning the Americans are also one enemy step loss away from a minor victory. Point-blank German direct fire from the other trench is ineffective on the INF that came down from the north (though the German sergeant in the trench returns to good order), and point-blank fire from that INF demoralizes a GREN. German and American mortar fire are both ineffective. The turn then ends on ineffective fire and recoveries, with demoralized German units fleeing farther away.
TURN 7 (0730): The Americans win initiative, and American reinforcements arrive on a roll of 6! American point-blank fire from the eastern trench scores a 2X result that wipes out a GREN, giving the Americans enough German step losses for a minor victory. German reinforcements again fail to arrive, and all the Germans can realistically hope for now is to force a draw by inflicting one more American step loss for a minor victory of their own. So German OBA hits the INF that came down from the north, scoring an M2 result that demoralizes it. The unit has already activated this turn and can’t recover (it was one of the units that fired to get the 2X result on the GREN), so American OBA hits the GRENs in the adjacent trench to try to keep them from hitting the INF with point-blank fire. The OBA is ineffective, and the German point-blank fire scores an M1 result that just barely fails to cause a step loss due to compound demoralization. American mortar fire is ineffective, and two good-order GRENs move adjacent to the demoralized American INF. The American reinforcements then enter the west edge and hurry up the road toward the action, German leaders run off after fleeing GRENs, the Americans move an INF out of the center and down to support the demoralized INF, and the turn ends on recoveries.
TURN 8 (0745): German initiative drops to 1 (making it even with American initiative), and the Americans win initiative by two activations. American OBA hits the GRENs in the southern trenches but is ineffective, and then the Americans open fire point-blank on the last undemoralized GRENs of the main advance. All the point-blank fire is ineffective, and the demoralized INF fails to recover and flees north. German reinforcements finally arrive, and the Germans then return point-blank fire on the INF that came down from the north to support the demoralized INF that just fled. Their fire on the 30 column scores a 2X result that wipes out the INF and disrupts one of the leaders that was with it. That brings American step losses up to seven, giving the Germans a minor victory as well.
So now, while the scattered Germans have no chance of pushing the reinforced Americans off the east-west road for a major victory, the Americans can’t win a major victory either because they've taken too many step losses. Therefore, since both sides have scored a minor victory, the game is a draw.
FINAL IMPRESSION: This is a good scenario for introducing players to the basics of infantry combat. It's instructive because it shows how an outnumbered force can hold off a larger one in defensible terrain if it has higher morale. The lack of vehicular units makes the scenario a bit pedestrian (no pun intended), but the powerful OBA available to the Germans early in the game gives them the opportunity to create breaches in the American line and then exploit them. The outnumbered Americans need their reinforcements to arrive early and also need German reinforcements to arrive late if they're going to have a chance to hold the Germans off while not taking enough step losses to lose the chance for a major victory. For all that their low morale hurts them, the Germans still have a lot of firepower, so the Americans need to play very conservatively to keep their step losses down and thus preserve the chance of scoring a major victory.
|First Blood on a New Front|
This was my first scenario from ElsR. Everything I’ve played to date had been from EFD or RtBr, so I was excited at the prospect of having the home town team to root for.
The scenario itself did not let me down. I found a really nice balance with superior numbers and inferior morale on one side and lesser but hardier numbers on the other. The time frame made the VC’s a good challenge for the Germans while the Yanks are constrained by an upper loss limit. The balance extended itself to the outcome, a well-fought and bloody draw.
I found a second set of challenges on the map itself. It tested the upper limits of a pair of 55 year-old eyes. Some of the hex sides tended to disappear in the deep woods. I’m sure I inadvertently rewrote some history by missing a couple of thread-thin elevation lines and the resulting consequences in combat.
But I’ll be back for more. With a brighter bulb in the light and my nose a little closer to the map, I’m looking forward to my next scenario in this campaign.
|VCs can make it a good scenario, but kind of a grind|
The American player had a good setup. He had a defence in depth which precluded my early use of artillery, which ended up forcing my Germans to make some desperate assaults against entrenched positions. This was a real slogfest, and seeing as how the Germans don't have the best morale, it really was frustrating. American artillery is plentiful and kept me from moving too much, but the American defences were far enough from the road that I was able to keep them off of it by scenario's end.
The Volksgrenadiers paid a heavy price, and most of the A,erican force was intact at day's end...but the road was clear for follow on attacks by the German forces.