Winter Soldiers #16
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||United States (Attacker)|
|Germany||2nd SS "Das Reich" Division|
|United States||3rd "Spearhead" Armored Division|
|Overall Rating, 9 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 443 of 598|
|Parent Game||Winter Soldiers|
|Layout Dimensions||43 x 28 cm
17 x 11 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Elsenborn Ridge||maps + counters|
Third Armored Division formed Task Force Brewster to aggressively recon the Parker Crossroads area and ascertain the enemy strength and intentions. Several days into the Wacht Am Rhein offensive, division headquarters ordered TF Brewster to drive back the SS hordes in their vicinity. With only seven Sherman tanks, an armored infantry platoon, and two companies of the 509th Separate Parachute Battalion, this was a tall order. Even when some stragglers wandered in including a tank destroyer platoon from 9th Armored Division things still looked pretty dicey. Finally, just as a company from the green 75th Infantry Division reported to the task force, Brewster ran out of excuses and launched the attack.
This was the first action for the 290th Infantry Regiment and it showed. But to be fair even an experienced outfit would have had trouble fulfilling their orders, which was reflected in the mediocre performance by the other units involved in the attack. The SS sent the inexperienced and unenthusiastic Americans packing after a couple hours of skirmishing, their possession of the east-west road never seriously contested. That night the Americans nervously listened as the enemy infiltrated north around their positions.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|5 Errata Items|
All SPW 251s have an armor value of 0.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
The reduced direct fire value of the SS HMG is 5-5 in Beyond Normandy and Road to Berlin.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The Units in Beyond Normandy were misprinted with a movement factor of 5. The movement factor should be 8.
(rerathbun on 2012 Mar 21)
Liberation 1944's counters are mislabeled 'PzIVF2.' The counter's ratings are correct (Armor 5, Move 8, DF 11-6, AT 6-8).
(rerathbun on 2014 Feb 14)
The M18 has a special rule in Battle of the Bulge but it applies globally: "A two-step M18 unit can fire one anti-tank shot and move half its movement allowance (retain fractions) in a single impulse. The order in which it does these two actions is the player's choice."
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|Great First Action|
SS hold the large hill on board 25, setting up within 2 hexes of the east-west road. US enter from the north with armor coming in randomly on a later turn starting on turn 2. I set the SS up with a halftrack and infantry in a line along the hill top so they could engage US troops fairly early if they chose to come down the north-south road. Every other hex had an HMG unit with an infantry and a halftrack to give a little more firepower. The Mk IV was at the west end of the German line, and the SS LTC stayed a hex back from the line with the mortars while the AT gun was set up on the 40meter hill overwatching the road. US split up with paras and the Major walking in on line on the US right, and the regular Rifle units on the US left, with 3 halftracks loaded with 2 infantry, an HMG, the Captain and 2 LTs, which tried to make an unsuccessful road entry hoping to end up in the light woods and out of sight of the AT gun. I rolled to see which halftrack was hit when the AT gun rolled a 12 for the hit, and naturally, it was the one with the Captain. US airpower was active nearly every turn and did quite a bit of damage, most often with the P47s making an appearance. US troops did a little bit of damage of the German line and then moved in to assault down the line. The Mk IV had adjusted it's position to the east end of the halftracks when the US armor appeared, so it was not present to bolster the line as US paras and SS troops entered assault the length of that side of the front while arty and tanks pounded the hill top. The Mk IV exchanged fire and killed one Sherman unit (both steps) before it was destroyed by fire from the other Sherman and the M18. The German AT gun fell in assault and the rest of the Germans holding the hill bogged things down for a while, but by turn 10, things were pretty good for a US victory. SS were fleeing the field, even the LTC fled and as he recovered and started gathering other survivors, he was struck first by a successful arty strike followed by an air strike, killing the LTC and causing a step loss for the one SS unit that was with him. A fleeing Captain was the immediate next in line of command for the SS, and he rallied just short of the board edge so he could take charge. Overall, the Germans gave up the roads and the hill and were gathering the last surviving unit to try to make a presence again on the east-west road as the random game end came along at the start of turn 13. The US troops had rallied most of their troops and formed a line south of the east-west road, and had cleared the north-south road, so the Germans didn't get any points for holding terrain, and had only eliminated 19 steps, so in the end, it was a Major US Victory. Great game.
|Attacking SS with green troops|
This is an interesting little scenario, with American adhoc force green troops force in to an attack on veteran SS troops to push them out of the of the crossroads that they were defending. TF Brewster would be give the job and something I am sure he did not want to do. The SS are strong, they have better morale as well as a force only a third smaller that the Americans as well as holding the terrain to start. The Americans do have some chance with more tanks and some airpower as well as slightly more men. As for the leaders, that favored the Germans with good morale leaders and few American leaders with a morale bonus.
The setup has the Germans in a skirmish line position to intercept the Americans as they advance. They hold the hill with a company of SS and HMG's to the east and west single platoon of GREN's hold the rest of the hill as well as the east-west road. The American advance will be two pronged, one force from the northeast and one from the northwest to try to turn the flanks, cut the roads and grab a few hills for VP's. All without getting hit by bad morale rolls.
The advance starts in the northwest with PARA's, INF's, M3's and HMG moving to establish themselves in the northern woods on board 25. German OP fire disrupts some the advancing units but they make it to the woods to establish a firebase. To the northeast the American Major leaders the other group of INF's and PARA's into the woods. German HMG fire and mortars disrupt there advance and make it look like the Americans are going to have a bad day.
The Germans, having the advantage of seeing the American advance, shift units from the center to the the flanks to hold the American advance. But they won't need much as the poor American morale slows the advance when OP fire hits them. But to the northeast the American Major is able to get a force over to the German force covering the east flank. They are able to assault, but there lack of coordination fumbles the assault leaving them disrupted and demoralized and with only the destruction of a SPW251 to show for it.
To the northwest, the Americans push forward their HMG and get a firebase to try to dislodge the SS on the west slope of the ridge. But again the lack of coordination shows and the fire yields no results. American mortar and OBA is called in to help but with the artillery spotters can't get the fire on the targets. The German tanks target the M3's while they are maneuvering and they are soon lost.
The Americans finally get their armor reinforcements and press on M4 up to support the assault on the east flank, while the other attempts to pin the center SS units. The German PzIVH moves to attack the M4 that triggers the M18 platoon to attack. They fail and are destroyed by the PzIVH's which then turns on the M4 and reduces it. At this point it is up to the infantry to do the job themselves. But their losses are mounting too. Eventually they do reduce the eastern roadblock, but it is too little to late and they have spent their force doing it. To the west it is the same, stuck in the woods trying to recover. Even the promised air support fails to hit the German AT gun. In the end a major German victory.
This scenario was rather one sided for the Germans and given the advantages of the SS and the morale make it very hard for the Americans to win. Although historical, very one sided during the game. What make this most interesting for me was my opponent, the master of PG upintheattic. This was an introduction to playing via Skype for him and we had quite a good time despite the shellacking. Look forward to more games with him in the future and I welcome him to the world of PG Skype gaming.
|Fortune Favors the Bold . . . and is Pure Hell on Attackers with Substandard Morale|
strong textOBJECTIVES: Victory conditions in this one require players to hold the roads and keep or take control of the hexes of two 40-meter hills, one of which is in the northeast quadrant of the board and the other of which is in the southwest quadrant. Players also score VPs for killing enemy steps.
strong textTactical Situation: The Americans are on the attack here, and while they have superior numbers, they also have a substandard morale of 7, they're attacking a German force with superior morale and posession of the high ground, and they don't have much time either since the game can end on a variable-ending dieroll as early as Turn 9. Also, the American tanks are vulnerable to superior AT firepower from a PzIVH platoon and a German AT unit.
strong textGERMAN DEPLOYMENT: All of the above led me (as the Germans) to take a gamble and try to hold all the objectives on the board by setting up in a long, thin, east-west line across the northern face of the ridge. My reasoning was that I didn't need to kill the Americans--I just needed to slow them down with disruption and demoralization from bombardment and op fire so that they couldn't amass enough of a good-order force to take any hill hexes away from me before the game ended. So I deployed on both hills in roughly company strength, placed individual GREN platoons supported by halftracks on both my flanks in hexes 0703 and 0715 on the east-west road, placed an HMG in the north-south road at hex 0510, and scattered a few other units here and there to fill in gaps in the line. I placed my sole PzIVH tank platoon at crossroads hex 0709.
strong textGAME PLAY: Play progressed as follows:
Turn 1: Americans enter the north edge of the board, splitting their force in two to advance on both my flanks, with no forces coming down the north-south road. American Major leading advance toward the German right flank is demoralized by German offboard artillery fire.
Turn 2: Americans continue to advance on German flanks. Hauptsturmfuhrer commanding left-flank security force in hex 0715 is demoralized by bombardment fire and flees up to woods on southwestern hilltop. PzIVH platoon moves northwest from the crossroads into a firing position on American M3 halftracks advancing through northwestern woods.
Turn 3: US wins initiative by 6 and thus gets 3 free action phases initiative. Force attacking German right flank advances to assault position on GREN and halftrack holding road hex 0703, and German op fire from that hex scores a 2X result, eliminating a PARA MG unit. PzIVH then destroys two M3s in woods near German left flank, thus bringing American losses to four steps and dropping American initiative down to 2 (equal with German initiative). Turn ends early on FOW roll.
Turn 4: American assault goes in on the German right flank and kills the halftrack unit supporting the GREN there, but the GREN survives and recovers from disruption. Then American armored reinforcements arrive, with an M4 unit advancing toward German right flank. Americans bring another M4 in and move it to to hex 0306, near the line of Germans on the northeastern hilltop. But the fast M18 tank platoon remains offboard, and the Germans need complete intelligence on American armored force dispersal before they can redeploy their defensive line. So the Germans try to bait the Americans into bringing the last of their tanks onto the board by sending their sole PzIVH unit forward to road hes 0208, giveing the panzers firing position on the M4 unit in hex 0306. The Americans take the bait and bring the M18 unit onto the board; it moves into 0313 (where it can give the M4 a crossfire bonus), and fires once using its special move-and-fire ability, but misses the Panzers. A tank battle is now in the offing, with success on the next turn's initiative roll the key to victory.
Turn 5: Both sides are still equal on initiative, and the first initiative roll is tied. Both players roll for initiative again . . . and the Germans win the roll! The Panzers fire at the M18s and score an 11 + 6 - 2 = 15, destroying the entire M18 platoon in one shot. They then swivel their guns and take their second shot at the M4s, scoring a modified 10 to kill one step of Sherman tanks and disrupt the second. Then the Americans assault the GREN on the right flank again, and disaster ensues as the Americans roll a 1 to the German 6. Two American platoons are demoralized and a third disrupted, stopping the assault cold.
Turn 6: American initiative drops to zero due to last turn's losses, and the Germans win initiative and finish off the M4 near the northern ridge. The Americans use their one air unit of the game but it misses the target. At that point, the right-flank assault is completely bogged down, and German bombardment fire has disrupted half the American force that has massed in the woods near the German left flank. Therefore, the Americans capitulate, knowing there's no hope of a successful assault on either hilltop. The Germans are ahead 13VPs to 2 from step losses alone, and while control of both roads would likely be contested for the rest of the game, the Germans hold all the 40-meter hilltop hexes for an additional 14 VPs. At 27 to 2, the Germans score a Major Victory.
COMMENTARY: The Germans took a lot of chances here but the gambles paid off bigtime. Things could have been different if the Americans had won initiative on Turn 5 and had destroyed the Panzers rather than losing most of their own tanks in that engagement. However, the basic problem of a substandard-morale force attacking a higher-morale force holding the high ground remains, and Alan and I agreed that the scenario is unbalanced as written. He thought the Americans should have a morale of 8/6, but I disagreed given the green troops at their disposal and the trepidation with which they went into this engagement. However, using VP-based victory conditions is too harsh on the Americans here given the heavy losses they're likely to take in an assault on such a strong position. I would have preferred objective-based victory conditions somewhere along these lines:
The American player has the following objectives in this scenario:
1) Control all hexes of the 40-meter hill in the northeastern board quadrant at the end of play. 2) Control all hexes of the 40-meter hill in the southwestern board quadrant at the end of play. 3) Control crossroads hex 0709 and all road hexes north of it at the end of play. 4) Have at least ten undemoralized American steps on and/or south of the east-west road at the end of play (tanks count double). 5) Eliminate at least six German steps (tanks count double, trucks don't count).
American Major Victory: Americans achieve any three objectives (or more). American Minor Victory: Americans achieve any two objectives. German Minor Victory: Americans achieve only one objective. German Major Victory: Americans achieve no objectives.
That would force the Germans to mount a mobile defense in order to keep the Americans from infiltrating their lines, rather than just sit there and trade shots with the Americans as happened in this game.
|Makes for a messy battlefield|
One of my favorite Willie and Joe cartoons has a British soldier passing the boys and saying, "You blokes leave an awfully messy battlefield." Must have seen this action.
The Ad Hoc task force put together from tag ends of PARA, armored infantry, etc. is tasked to take control of some hills and roads from a coherent group of SS. While the Americans have some mass they are terribly outclassed in morale and my leader group only had two leaders with morale modifiers while the Germans had nearly all of their leaders with morale modifiers. As a result, the battlefield was littered with red and black markers from the start.
The SS set up on both peaks with strong forces and the Pz IVs hiding to the south of the mountain on the road to permit a quick redeployment as necessary. Until the American armor arrives the SPW-251s are very potent weapons and are included in the defenses for fire support.
The Americans enter to the west of the board with the idea that the eastern peak is too strong to tackle immediately. As they move towards the western peak they are disrupted and demoralized like crazy by the opportunity fire. Seeing an opportunity to destroy gobs of American steps the SS tankers emerge and start clearing out the east-west road of Americans. This is helped by the early failure of the American armor to advance to support the attack.
Their arrival , however, starts a rebound in the action. Until they arrived, the SS had nearly complete control of the battle. The M18 put a hole in the Pz IVs and a follow on assault finished them off and the Major was able to assemble enough good order troops to deatroy the SS on the western peak and earn a draw. The SS were somewhat quiet during the process as they did not want to give the Americans a chance at a win but were content to hold half of each road and thereby frustrate the aim of the American attack.
The scenario was interesting for two reasons. First, the Americans usually have better morale and the lower morale in this one forces one to play very differently. Second the variable scenario ending forces both players to consider what needs to be done now versus later and gives a very tense structure to the play. I give it a "3" only because I feel that, played aggressively, the SS should not lose this one. While that is the historical result it seems a bit too programmed here. I would suggest it for any play format.
|First and last action for Taskforce Brewer.|
This one maps scenario has the US forces on the attack with initially a mix of PARA & INF supported by MG and M3, they face a battle hardened SS mixed arms kampgruppe. VP's are awarded for 40m hill hex control, road control and step losses. A good rule has a variable end of game to simulate the US lack of confidence in the attack. As the US forces enter the board they are met by accurate mortar and artillery fire which result in early losses for the attacking units. However through sheer weight of numbers the American's forces the German units of the first 40m hill point. The German commander though decides to launch a counter attack which causes more US losses but does not retake the hill. Eventually the US armour arrives, they could have arrived as early as GT2 on a roll of 5 or 6 but did not arrive till GT5. The balance of the scenario now swings slowly back the way of the US as several combined assault cause the first SS GREN losses and finally Hill 0607 is cleared of German units. A PZIV and Sherman exchange shots with both sides losing several tanks and the survivors retreating to the rear. (A lucky shot for the US as an 11 was needed). Seeing the demoralized German tanks retreating the Hellcat platoon saw easy meat but as they moved in the attack was called off. During this last turn however more disasters befall the US forces as a stray mortar round killed off the CO. Hence the title of the AAR. A solid little scenario but very dicey with both US reinfircemnts and game end being rolled for. A longer game, a lucky air strike and those US tanks getting on the board would change the whole balance of this one.