A Manhay Christmas
Winter Soldiers #17
|(Defender) Germany||vs||United States (Attacker)|
|Germany||2nd SS "Das Reich" Division|
|United States||7th "Lucky Seventh" Armored Division|
|Overall Rating, 6 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 17 of 609|
|Parent Game||Winter Soldiers|
|Maps||3: 22, 24, 25|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 43 cm
33 x 17 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Elsenborn Ridge||maps + counters|
The previous day had been a disaster for CCA as they had been attacked while preparing to withdraw. They became disorganized and quickly lost seven Shermans before they could get off a shot. Soon ten more Shermans were burning on the battlefield, greatly reducing CCA's ability to resist. Manhay and the high ground to the north had been lost in the confusion. CCB soon arrived to stabilize the situation. On Christmas day the two formations were to secure Manhay.
Seventh Armored had recovered from the previous day's confusion and made good initial progress towards Manhay. However, as the infantry approached the town's outskirts the armor's attention was diverted elsewhere. Deprived of their mobile fire support, the infantry could make little headway against the town's defenders. Meanwhile, General Ridgway wanted a scapegoat for the Christmas Eve disaster so he fingered Colonel Rosebaun who had just been recommended for a Silver Star for his leadership at St. Vith. "There is nothing so subject to the inconstancy of fortune as war," wrote Miguel De Cervantes.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|3 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 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)
|Winter Soldiers, scenario #17: A Manhay Christmas|
This scenario looks interesting and balanced to me so I went for it. Plus I really like how AP pretty much covers the whole Battle of The Bulge with: Battle of The Bulge, Elsenborn Ridge-Battle of The Bulge 2 and Winter Soldiers. The victory objectives are excellent in this scenario and the Americans don’t have to worry about step losses either. Both sides have a nice mix of forces and finally the American have an armored force of: 6 x M4, 2 x M4/76, 1 x M18, 1 x M36 and 6 x M3 that can handle the German 1 x Panther, 1 x StuG IIIG, 1 x SPW 251 and some AT guns. Both sides have similar Infantry & support units but the Americans get Off-Board Artillery.
The Germans had two places they had to defend: the cross roads on map 25 and the town hexes on 24 so they pretty much had to split up their forces. The American move forward and engage the German armor right away, yes they lose some steps but they have so much quality armor this time, that the blow away the German armor can call pretty much clear the hill top cross-roads at will, then they re-gather their forces and head for the town of Manhay, where they lose a few more steps to AT Gun and Infantry assaults but with all their Armor, Off Board Artillery, Infantry, Engineers and halftracks they take enough town hexes for a major American Victory.
• This was a great scenario that hit the spot for me. I guess I just like the subject matter, the victory conditions and the fact that the Americans finally had the right makeup of armor to deal with the German armor, though it was smaller in size.
German set-up included a road block grouping just south of the crossroads on board 25; some Gren/HMG+AT guns set-up to attempt a cross-fire on any US mechanized approach south along the road; Grens+HMG in Manhay (board 24); the Stug-IIIG+Gren on the eastern hill of board 24; the PzV + Gren + the mortar corps on the western hill/village of board 24.
US attack schema: Group A: 3xINF + 3xHMG + 3xM3 + 2xM4 + 2x81mm South along the main road towards the crossroads of board 25. Group B: 3xINF + 2xENG + 2xM3 attack south ~4 hexes from east edge; then circled west to attack cross-roads from east in conjunction with Group A's attack from the North. Group C: 2xM4 + 2xM4/76 + M18 + M36 + 3xINF + 3xM3 along the eastern board edge: objective to attack Manhay from the SE in a long encircling move.
End Result: US manages to capture the board 25 crossroads and clear the required four-hex radius about it though at some serious cost in men and machines. Group C essentially holds German forces in Manhay from any attempt at reinforcement of the board 25 units.
Exciting Moment: The M36 made a "dash" across an open terrain gap in view of the StuGs (still not sighted) at a range of six. So despite the -2 penalties for range/OF, the StuGs kill a step of M36 (DEM the step remaining), but then fall victim (now spotted) to the M4/76's sitting in ambush in the light woods to their NE(despite the StuGs being dug-in and at a higher elevation).
|An unexpected Christmas present - a Super-OSTFR...|
This was my first FTF game of PG with fellow Chicagoan, John Legan. It took two sessions spread over 4 months as we both struggled to find a date that we both could commit to. I am glad we were able to finish as it was an exciting scenario, tense until the end. As a result of the long delay, I took copious notes so this AAR is rather longer and more detailed than my previous entries, so hopefully, it provides an interesting read.
The situation at Manhay, Dec. 25th 1944, is that the Americans were on the attack and the Germans were tasked with maintaining a presence near the crossroads on the large hill north of Manhay as well as preventing the Americans from entering Manhay proper. The Americans win if he can obtain either of these objectives, otherwise, it is a German victory, as long as he inflicts 10 step losses. This is how it went.
The SS decided to put a split force on the defense. On Board 25, The StuG and Panther platoons dug in on the edge of the northern part of the hill (hex 0409). 2 Grenadier units were placed in dug-in positions at 0408 (leader: Ostfr 10-1-1 - who we will refer to henceforth as the "Super-OSTFR") and 0706 (leader: Ostfr 9-0-0). An HMG and Gren were also dug-in at 0809 (leader: Ostfr 10-0-1). Just behind the hill were the German mortars with 120mm and 81mm (Leader: Hpstfr 9-1-1) in hex 1209 and two 81mm in hex 1208. A Gren and Hpstfr 9-0-0 dug in and hidden at 0506 and a 75mm AT with Hpstfr 8-0-0 were dug in and hidden in 0916. The remainder of the German forces were arrayed in Manhay as follows: (0909 - Ostfr 9-0-1, HMG, 75/41 AT; 0808 - Stbnfr 8-0-0, 2x Gren; 0809 - Obstbnfr 9-1-0, 20mm AA, Gren). The Americans decided to try a two pronged approach, lining up 3 armor platoons (including the M18), Engineers, 3x INF and officers northwest of the hill with the remaining armor, infantry and leaders northeast of the hill.
Turns 1 - 3 (1000-1030)
The Americans start the battle with 3 activations and begin moving both groups along the western edge and eastern edge of the board, looking to use the light woods as cover for as long as possible. As the tank group approaches the east-west road on the western edge of the hill, the hidden 75mm AT opens fire and succeeds in inflicting a step loss and a demoralization. The attack group on the eastern edge of the board moves toward the hill through the light woods and becomes the target of a mortar barrage after being spotted by the Super-OSTFR in 0408. It disrupts a LT in the line the turn ends early with FOW.
The Americans again wins initiatve on turn 2, but this turn goes even quicker as Fog of war comes after only 7 activations! The Americans continued their slow movement towards the slope. The 75s in 0916 attempted to kill the remaining M4s and missed which then moved to the light woods just to the east while the demoralized, reduced M4 failed recovery and headed for home. The German armor, seeing that no one was committing to the road, moved back to the crossroads so that the field of fire on both ends were clear. the mortars continued their bombardment of the approaching US units that were spotted and missed. US OBA dropped fire on the AT unit and succeeded in disrupting the AT Gun and Hpstfr.
Germans get the initiative on turn 3 and drop mortars again on approaching western infantry moving to get in position to dislodge the 75mm AT in 0916, scoring a step loss hit on infantry and causing another demoralization. The demoralized M4 continued its rout by failing recovery. Several units of US infantry finally make it up the hill with accompanying M3s, which spray the dug-in units with direct fire just before the infantry run in and assault 0506, killing the GREN unit and demoralizing the HPSTFR who narrowly escaped capture. The Americans continued their progress around the eastern end of the hill making sure that he remained in the light woods and out of range of the 75/41 AT gun in the town of Manhay. (As a spoiler, remember these units in 0408 and particularly, the Super-OSTFR, they will be sung in beer halls across Germany for their heroic stand at Manhay :). The German armor then moved again, positioning themselves in 0909, providing a view to the west to the end of the hill and also getting them into position should American armor or M3s decide to pop out from the light woods around the dug in German units at the summit of the larger peak in the east. At this time, seeing that it would do no good moving out of dug out positions, the Germans passed on most of the activations, waiting for an opportunity to counter at a critical point and making sure they didn't move units into vulnerable positions.
Turns 4 - 5 (1045-1100)
Turn 4 starts with the Germans winning initiative and rallying the 75mm AT gun. The Americans launch an assault into 0706 with 2 platoons of infantry. Germans get first fire being dug in and proceed to inflict a single step loss on the American units and causes the reduced unit to demoralize. The Germans counter-attack and inflict an additional 2X on the Americans, forcing the good order unit to reduce and demoralize while the other unit is eliminated, with the LT that led the charge getting killed in the action. In 0916, A unit of American engineers assault the AT Gun and again first fire proves disasterous for the Americans, forcing a step loss and causing them to demoralize as well. All during this time, the US OBA was ineffective in breaking the dug in units. On the eastern part of the hill, the Americans began to surround the assault in 0706 and inched closer to the edge of the woods. Here the Germans made a crucial mistake which led to the loss of several of the highly precious armored units. Moving the units from 0909 to 0808, the thought was that they could spot American armor moving to support the assault hex. Instead, the Americans moved the armor into positions to trap the German units, by moving a stack of 3 M4s to 0708, the M18 and remaining M4 in the west to 0611 and the M36 and 2 M4/76s into a potential cross-fire at 0805. Seeing this potential disaster, The Germans decided to add some support to the hill defense by moving 2 GRENs and the STBNFR from Manhay to the split-board hex directly behind and between the mortar platoons. I was going to see if I could get them into a position to assist the armor.
On Turn 5, The Americans once again get initiative and I groan inwardly, yelling all kinds of swear words in my head but actually saying "Oh yes, good roll...". The Americans fire with the M36 and M4/76 units at the StuG and Panther units. The M36 misses the Panther but the M4/76s are able to destroy the StuG platoon. I sit and ponder if I should fire at the M4s right in front of me or get into cover to avoid the inevitable cross-fire shot from the M18 and M4s that would be coming in the next action segment. I decide after much debate to retreat the full-strength Panther platoon back into the light woods, going to 1009 to remove them from LOS of the M18 and M4 on the northwestern edge of the hill. While retreating the M4s fire all 6 OPFIRE shots and miss. In the meantime, the M18 moves into 0911 and the M4 rolls into 0912, hoping for an initiative win on the next turn. At this point, I dropped OBA and was able to inflict another step loss on an infantry unit in 0406. The Americans then moved his units not in the assault against the AT gun up the road onto the hill in 0914. At this point, I noticed that my STBNFR and 2 GRENs were in a position to move adjacent to the M18 into hex 1010. Doing this, the Americans would need to make a decision on whether to attack the Panther and move out, ignoring the infantry, or attacking the infantry and ignoring the Panther. The next initiative roll would be a crucial one. In 0706, the Germans counter-attacked the lone, reduced, demoralized INF unit inflicting another DEM to destroy it.
Turns 6 - 7 (1115-1130)
WHAM! The Germans win initiative with 2 activations. Immediately, the Panthers fire their first shot at the M36, destroying the unit. The Germans debated the 2nd shot: either fire at the M4/76s, the M4s in front of the Panther or the M18. The most deadly enemy for the Panther was the M18 so the second shot went there and inflicted a step loss. For the next activation, the infantry platoons which moved into position the turn before then launched their assault into the M18 hex, not getting any Panzerfausts but assaulting and destroying the remaining M18 step loss. Unfortunately, fate was not kind to the Panther. The Americans activated the M4/76s and firing 4 shots, one reduced the Panther (which then demoralized). Following that attack, the M4s activated and fired 6 more shots at the reduced panther, killing it on the final shot. In the meantime, the units in 0408 were under very heavy fire from all areas, first from OBA, then from the mortars that were just off the eastern edge of the hill and finally from a massive fire group setup with an INF and M4 in 0307, a Captain 10-2-1 with an HMG and INF inf 0406 and a MAJ 10-0-1 with 2x HMG in 0507. These units in 0408 sustained morale hits on several occasions but the Super-OSTFR was able to rally his platoons each time and they remained in good order after a brief period of disorder. The American LT COL called his men together and along with a halftrack, launched a second assault on 0706 with an INF, HMG and M3 along - Again first fire disrupted an HMG and the results were inconclusive. This turn then started to wind down with the Americans taking every activation possible before attempting to roll recovery for the reduced, demoralized Engineers in assault in 0916 (FOW prevented the attempt last turn). With FOW not appearing here, the final activation for the US was recovery - the battle proved too much for the Engineers and they bolted out of 0916 and were cut down by the German AT crew.
Turn 7 started with the Germans winning initiative, moving the STBNFR and his two GRENs who had defeated the reduced M18 into the light woods hex 0910 to get into cover. The M4, seeing its companion go down sprayed the area with OPFIRE and disrupted a GREN platoon and demoralized the leader. The American LT COL currently in assault in 0706 sent the M3 out of the hex, attempted to rally the HMG and tried calling an M4 in but it did not answer (we determined that the M4 could not be called in by the Leader, it would be a separate activation). After sending the M3 out, the Germans counter-attacked again to take advantage of the numerical superiority but missed any fire. The M4 then quietly slipped into the hex to support the upcoming assault. The SS commander, seeing that the US was starting to focus on the crossroads, sent 2 SK9s on the way west to get the 75mm gun platoon in order to bring it into play later. The Americans behind the M4 in 0912 moved down the hill through the light woods to position for an assault on the SS Mortars in 1209, but self-preservation took over and the mortars activated to fire on the US stack of (CPT, INF, M3) and disrupted the Captain and demoralized the INF. Finally the 3x M4s that had destroyed the reduced panther platoon, turned around and headed for hex 0408 to try and intimidate the Super-OSTFR. The Germans, not buying it, fired OPFIRE back in hopes of getting an X result and forcing a morale check but they missed on all counts.
Turns 8 - 13 (1145-1300)
The Germans get 2 activations and open with a mortar barrage on the U.S. Major's position just east of 0408, as American M3s begin to threaten the dug-in mortar positions. The OBSTNFR in Manhay orders the last platoon of GREN and HMGs out to defend the mortar group. In the meantime, the assault in 0706 continued to be bloody with German first fire inflicting several step losses and causing demoralizations amongst several units and an M4, and then losing 2 themselves. At 0916, the SK9s arrived and picked up the 75mm AT guns and started to move them east, stopping and unloading on the edge of the hill in 0915 when it spotted an M4 between it and the German positions at the crossroads. In 0408, the Super-OSTFR and his troops were taking severe fire from several platoons of M4 and INF/HMG units, as well as OBA. The units were able to stay more or less focused on defense and despite the loss of a step, were able to stand firm. after 45 more minutes of brutal fighting (turns 9-11) the Grenadiers in 0706 finally succumbed to US assaulters. 15 minutes later (turn 12) hex 0408 fell with the Super-OSTFR escaping leader loss and capture rolls. By the end of turn 13, The US had cleared both heavily contested positions and began organizing to move south to push the Germans off the hill, where 3 GREN units and an HMG unit had dug in around 0809 and 0910. The units that had moved out of Manhay earlier, made it to the mortar positions and moved into formation to assault the threatening US M3s. The US halftracks laid down OPFIRE on the approaching troops but were unable to shake them. A Captain arrived to lead the M3s in the eventual assault but the German push proved too great and the M3s went down in assault, with the Captain being captured. Clearing the southern part of the hill and saving the mortars, the GREN and HMG units started digging in to block further attempts at disrupting the Mortar support.
Turns 14 - 17 (1315-1400)
After clearing the two hotly-contested hexes (0706 and 0408), The American Commander realized that time was running out and in order to secure victory, would have to clear 3 positions of dug-in German units within 4 hexes of the crossroads (0809, 0910 and 1110). The German commander, seeing that the Americans were focusing on clearing the hill, left Manhay virtually unprotected except for a 75/41 gun and a 20mm unit, in order to support the rugged defense of the hill as he knew the Americans would have to clear the hill, having no time to attempt a dash for Manhay with the time remaining. Realizing the luxury of time was no longer there, the Americans began moving swiftly to attack and assault across the hill. The Super-OSTFR had been able to escape the advancing Americans and jumped into the dugout positions at 0809 to help in the defense there. In their movement across the hill, the Americans no longer had the light woods as partial protection from enemy op fire as they approached the dugout positions and were disrupted and lost an M3 on the way. The lone M4 between the Germans in 0809 and the AT Gun in 0915, moved up to threaten that position and attempt an assault. At the end of turn 14, The US would need to win initiative in order to prevent a potential disaster, as there were several infantry and HMG units in positions around 0809 and the M4 adjacent to the 75mm, just beginning to load its guns.
In the following turn, the US did win a single activation and launched their assault into 0809, surviving first fire and then inflicting 2 step losses, losing the entire Grenadier unit, leaving the HMG with the Super-OSTFR. The 75mm, loading its guns just before the M4 breached the ridge, fired and inflicted a step loss on the M4 and demoralized it. US OBA followed, falling on the 75mm and wiping it and the accompanying leader out. German mortar support continued to be critical to the defense as it eliminated another step in the advancing American troops.
Turn 16 started with a continued American assault on 0809 and the dawning realization that if the position did not fall, it would be almost impossible to clear the Germans off the hill before the end of the game. The Americans gave it all they cound and despite taking a step loss and losing a LT to fire, were able to inflict losses on the single HMG unit defending the position with the Super-OSTFR. However, as happened all throughout the game, the steadying hand of that OSTFR prevented a rout and the men continued to hold the line. The Americans were able to clear 0909 with heavy direct fire from M4s and INF but those units moved back to positions near the mortars where they were able to stablize and remain.
In the final turn, the US assault in 0809 finally succeeded in securing the position, eliminating the HMG and killing the Super-OSTFR. However, they could not move and assault the Germans remaining on the hill and the game was over. At the end of it all, The Germans inflicted 28 step losses whilst receiving 24 and they were able to hold on to both objectives (barely on the hill) resulting in a major German victory.
This scenario provides an interesting challenge and I think requires the German player really focus on an effective setup and then play with patience in order to look for opportunities that will inevitably come up in play. Time is an ally to the German side and requires that the American player set his sights on either the hill or the town. Leader draw was especially crucial, as I received several leaders with a morale modifier and that helped in the trenches when the fighting got tough. All in all, it was a fun, tense and closer-than-I-expected scenario and to have played it face to face with a great opponent was a real joy. I rated it a high 4.
|great rural assault scenario|
My limited PG experience has been dominated by urban assault scenarios. One of the reasons I liked this scenario so much is that as it played out for me and Mike it was a rural assault scenario.
I finally beat Mike! It was very bloody for the Yanks though. Mike set up his defenders on the hill. The Yanks gradually moved up, although with some caution because of the Panthers and StuGs. This scenario is a challenge for both sides. The Germans have superior armor, the Yanks have superior numbers. I gradually wore Mike down, benefiting from timely shots to destroy his AFVs. It required a lot of patience as pitched battles raged along the ridgeline.
In the end Mike lamented a suboptimal setup. He defended the hill too strongly. As I gradually wore down the less numerous German defenders I was able to divert a small amount of armor to take the town easily. Very solid scenario, and one I will want to revisit.