Inspired by some of the recent AARs shared here, I've decided to give this scenario a go. This will be my first "Medium" sized one in the game; in the hopes that I can improve my overall planning, adaptation, and perspective, I'm going to try to keep this thread updated as the scenario plays out. I've played a few of the "Small" scenarios and I have a feel for the basic mechanics, but obviously with more units I'll need to have a better formulated plan if I hope to win.
I have started the scenario with the following game options enabled:
- Allow staff fire support (FSCC) control
- Allow "Ctrl-L" line of sight (LOS) checks
- Allow browsing of spotted enemy units
I usually play with automatic resupply enabled and limited staff orders disabled, but I thought I'd see if I could manage my orders appropriately in a more restricted environment. I also admit that the ability to browse spotted enemy units is kind of game-y, but I've not played the game long enough to be as intimately acquainted with all the different types of Soviet units (at least, by the silhouette on the unit counters) as I'm sure that an actual battalion commander would be.
Without too much more ado, I'll begin with the initial orders and setup. Initial orders are fairly straightforward:
- Mission -
You are to advance to meet the Soviet forces. You are not to allow Soviet units to advance any further to the west.
Control the road network in the areas as you advance east to make contact with the 3rd Armored Division.
- Friendly Forces -
1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment [reduced strength]
B [and C] Company of 23rd Combat Engineer Battalion
- Intelligence -
The unit leading the attack [40th Guards Tank Regiment, 11th Guards Tank Division] is as elite as they get in the
Soviet Army. [It] is the unit intended to break the defense of the US V Corps and breakout to the Rhine.
On a small scenario, I will typically just take a look at the units on the map to see what I have available. There are a lot more than I'm used to dealing with at the initial setup, though, so I printed out my OOB from the TOC and went through unit by unit to familiarize myself with my forces. The mission briefing says I'll have some reinforcements coming online as they become available, which sounds to me like it won't be until after I have first contact with the enemy.
Here's what I'm starting with:
- 3 Recon
- 15 Infantry
- 3 Anti-tank
- 4 Air Defense
- 1 Mortar
- 1 Field Artillery
My infantry units comprise 3 companies from 1-36th and 2 companies from 23rd CEB. The units from the engineer battalion show up as infantry and not "engineer" specifically. Other than being smaller in size than the companies from 1-36, I'm not sure if they have any different capabilities. I know that most of the engineering functions that I have access to in this game are abstracted and that I don't explicitly need engineer units on-map for most stuff; on everything I can see so far, they look like regular infantry here.
I have more infantry, air defense, and artillery listed as reserves as well as a couple tank companies and two A-10s.
Here's a look at the map and my initial unit deployments. I'll describe my strategy below. (Note: I'm using green cones to reflect recon/observation, and red cones to indicate fire/engagement. If there are more appropriate graphical representations for various tactical dispositions, please point me toward them!)
Initial intel suggests that enemy forces will be arriving near Schaafheim and areas to the south, roughly framed by the north-south and two east-west road networks in that area. There are three highways from this area that will allow westward movement towards my forces, as well as a lightly-forested area between the center and southern roads. Scenario victory points are heavily distributed to the south of the map, mostly near Gross-Umstadt and the surrounding towns, so I presume the bulk of enemy forces will be moving rapidly on my position via the center and southern roads or the gap in between. I have positioned a recon unit in Babenhausen to the north; I do not expect a strong enemy presence to make its way around that far to the right, but I certainly don't want to get caught by surprise if they do. There are enough roads to permit travel more or less at will throughout the entire rear area, so any sort of breakthrough would be very difficult to contain.
Here is my intent for the various units.
- Far north (Babenhausen), to keep an eye on my far left flank.
- Far south, from this position there is some LOS into what I presume will be the enemy's staging area (good luck, troopers).
- Roughly mid-left behind my front line (I didn't have anywhere else for this one yet).
- A/1-36: Tip of the spear; orders to blow two bridges at Schlierbach and then I will have them fall back to Kleestadt. I'm hoping they can get the bridges blown and move back over the hill to the southeast before getting pinned when the enemy shows up. The company's AT and AD assets are in an elevated position to the WNW to provide cover. I fear this company will take heavy losses, but taking out the two bridges will hopefully slow the enemy advance.
- B/1-36: Holding in Klein-Umstadt; engage enemy advancing through the gap between central and southern roads, and hopefully provide overwatch and cover for A co if the weather cooperates.
- C/1-36: Holding in Langstadt; engage enemy advancing via central road or northern roads from Schaafheim. There is a large heavily-wooded hill in between the two roads that I think would be too slow for a rapid Soviet advance. I'm focusing on covering the roads and open areas as best I can for now.
- C/23rd CEB: Screening in a town west of C/1-36. Keeping this unit in reserve until fights start to break out; road network should allow mostly rapid response.
- D/23rd CEB: Screening in Richen, west of B/1-36. Keeping this unit in reserve as well.
- Mortar: On call, close enough to support A/B/C companies as needed. Will consider dropping mines and smoke once the enemy pokes his head out a bit.
- M109s: Positioned in northern Munster, given orders for counter-battery fire. I expect the ability of the enemy to use roads initially would make trying to hit moving tanks or APCs very tough.
- ADA: Providing support on the southern road out of enemy arrival area. I may have cheated a bit here; I watched a YouTube play-through of this scenario and there were quite a lot of enemy Hinds that came out of this area, so hopefully I'll be able to keep them in check a bit.
I think that's about it to begin. All of the above took a few days of reading through printouts and scribbling on maps. As I'm hoping to use this as a learning experience, here's what I've got so far:
- Reading through my complete OOB and taking notes on my specific unit capabilities and chain of command was incredibly helpful in understanding what I have at my disposal to start the scenario. This is probably a no-brainer for most of you, but sometimes I just want to start playing straight away. :)
- I've had some difficulties in the past with some operational-level games that put me in command of hundreds of units, which is why I think I've favored smaller scenarios. I find I am very prone to "analysis paralysis", so sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to do min/maxing for the theoretical "best" positions and actions for every single counter. Keeping track of chain of command and logically grouping units helped me to be a little more relaxed and go with an attitude of "this is probably good enough", realizing that once the enemy shows up they won't care about what my perfectly-crafted layout looks like.
- This is the first time that I really took the time to consider the enemy's initial position, and how I would expect them to act. In most wargames I've played, I just try to position my units to provide as much frontage as I can in an area forward of the victory points/objectives. I suppose this can be an okay strategy in Napoleonic-era games, where you've got massive armies in large, open fields. However, with somewhat asymmetric forces in the NATO/WP setting, combined with the hills and forests of the German countryside, I think a lot more thought is needed as far as what you expect the enemy to do and where you expect them to do it. If I set up a straight north-south line of infantry just west of the enemy initial position, I have no doubt they would all be cut down within the first hour.
Now all that's left is for me to try to come up with other things to consider, so I can delay clicking the "Start" button as long as I can. :)
I'll try to keep somewhat regular updates on the battle, but I have a somewhat unpredictable home/family schedule so I'll see how that works out. Wish me luck!