From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Report to the eastern front as a private? Yeah, that's likely to happen. I've already requisitioned a vehicle, with which I intend to find some allied troops (preferably British, since the Americans involved in this battle may be angry with me) that I can surrender to. Peiper is with me:
As you can tell from the numbers, the 99th infantry division is but a shadow of it's former self. The Americans have lost 101 units out of a total of 165, according to Markshot's chart. This doesn't really help me, since I still lost, but it may serve as an indication that my focus may at times have been more on the man, than on the ball, so to speak.
Here's a screenshot of the final situation:
I managed to take Bullingen towards the end, but lost Rocherat-Krinkelt when the sherman company moved north. They retreated back south, but not far enough for me to regain the town, unfortunately. I doubt it would have made much of a difference, though.
Ever since I realised that I wouldn't win, sometime during day 3, I've been considering what I did wrong, and what I did right. Here are some thoughts I've been having:
Things I did wrong:
1) I think I spread myself too thin, attacking both in the north and in the south. I could have just focused on attacking south of the river - maybe occupying the central hills with tanks, for direct fire support and artillery spotting - and attacked along the highway. Since 4 of the exit points are south of the river, the last one really isn't necessary. Had I realised earlier that the 3 southern exit points would dissappear on day 3, I probably would have done this.
2) Ironically, While spreading myself too thin, I also clustered my forces too much, pretty much everywhere I attacked. As soon as I left the forest, I was under intense artillery attack, and having my forces clustered tightly together meant that they were hit harder than they should have been. I think this is in part due to my decision to conduct the battle on a battalion level. I made this decision because i mistrust the regimental level AI, and often think that it takes way too long to carry out my orders. I only carried out one regimental level attack in the game - KG Krause's attack on day 4 - which actually seemed to work rather well, although it did take a long time to get underway, and the game ended before it finished. I will experiment more with regimental level AI in the future, but my impression is that it works best in the open.
Another reason why my forces were often clustered is my own impatience, I'm afraid. Instead of ordering one or two battalions to attack, and keeping the rest in reserve, I usually ordered whatever I had at hand to attack, leaving all of them exhausted (and chewed up by artillery fire) by nightfall.
3) I used the attack order too much, I think. Towards the middle of the scenario, I started using the move order more often, when moving into positions I knew contained enemy units. I would, of course, tick off the attacks box, allowing the battalion to initiate attacks on its own. This actually worked rather well most of the time, and although the attacks weren't always as effective, they were mounted much faster. I wish I'd done this from the start.
4) I never personally took charge of my artillery. I'm not sure if this would have made a difference, since I had a lot of artillery, and the ai seemed to handle bombardments pretty well, pretty much firing on every single unit in sight. I could have chosen to concentrate fire on certain important points, but to be honest, the scale of the battle and the number of artillery units at my disposal, made it seem like too much micromanagement.
5) I think I was too protective of my tanks. I usually use them in a direct fire support role, preferably placing them on a hill, from where they can fire at several enemies. It might have been a good idea to use them in a more direct role, once in a while, to dislodge stubborn defenders, and such. I did this a few times, usually to great effect, when a single company stalled an entire attack. I still don't think this is the best use of tanks, since it places them at much greater risk, but once in a while they can make all the difference in an attacking role. I'll work at better recognising these cases, and act on them.
Things I did right:
1) Despite some setbacks, I think that my initial attacks in the forest worked rather well, at least in the way they were conducted. In order to control the roads, I attacked - and subsequently garrisoned - every major crossroads in the forest. The result was that I didn't lose a single supply column, at least untill day 4, when my attacks became more desperate.
2) I can't really think of anything else. :)
Things that went wrong, but that I don't feel was my fault:
1) When ordering my corps HQ to move to Losheimergraben, with all of it's attached artillery units, it started out by moving all of the nebelwerfer units down there, then back again. Then it stayed in place for 12 hours, before finally starting to move again. Because of this, I had only a relatively small part of my artillery available on day 3. I can't help but feel that I could have at least managed a draw, if this hadn't happened. I couldn't have chosen not to move the artillery, since my front line was moving out of their range, and moving every unit manually didn't seem necessary (untill it was too late, that is).
Anyway, those are my thoughts. Hopefully, i've learned something from this (I think I have), and maybe I'll do better next time. Perhaps someone else has learned from it, too. In any case, I'd love to hear any advice anyone might have, both regarding this scenario specifically, and the game in general.
Thanks for reading my AAR, I hope you enjoyed it. :)