BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

This scenario is set on 30 July 1944 southwest of Notre-Dame-de-Cenilly, France.  The SS Panzer Division 2 (“Das Reich”) started to realise it’s in danger of being encircled.  They therefore looked to withdraw remaining units southwards towards Brehal.  The stretched out 2nd Armoured Division (“Hell on Wheels”) caught wind of it and moved to foil the German plan as their vehicles appeared before dawn.

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

This scenario has a real interesting setup.  The three boards represents three venues through which Germans tried to escape the American dragnet.  They operate separately from each other like three separate but concurrent games.  The Germans had to divvy his forces up into three groups.  Each group would enter their designated board using Convoy movement.  The Americans had to divide his forces into four groups, one being a reinforcement that enters on Turn 4.  Again, the three boards represents three separate venues that doesn’t affect or crossover to each other, so once forces were committed to a board, they were committed to that board.  The Germans can win via one of two ways: by exiting >= 44 VP (ex prisoners) off the east (right) edge of any one board or by exiting >=110 VP off the east (right) edge of all three boards.  Proper force allocation is very important for both players.  There are parameters to curb either player from heavily slanting his forces on one or more boards, but we also know he who defends everything defends nothing!  It’s also important to know that those bocages you see are Light Bocages.  Light Bocages, as defined by the BFP Beyond the Beachhead rules, are 1/2 level obstacles, don’t create any blind hex and allow LOS along hex spine.  It costs vehicles 1/4 of their MP allotment (instead of 1/2) to cross and Bogs with no additional DRM’s apart from the usual.  

The top board has the second most restrictive terrain.  The German convoy enters via a restrictive channel for a third of the board and the terrain opens up before leading into bocage country again for the last half of the board.  The temptation is to start shooting at the Germans as they come out of the first third of the board but the openness will allow their guns to gang up against our tiny blocking force.  I decided to duck further into the bocage with a HIP’d baz team, a Sherman and an MMG.  Hopefully the choices for the Germans are either to come through to us one at a time down the channel or risk bogging and underbelly shots crossing the bocages to flank us.  Forces were deployed along the road and a HIP’d baz team is on the bottom of the map since I suspected the Germans would be tempted to flank us along there.  

The middle board is the most open.  The Germans start by coming down a channel for a third of the board, then it’s the village for the second third before closing off into bocage country on the last third.  I put the roadblock where the bocage opens up into the second third.  That’s covered by a Sherman and the 9-2 HMG team in the church steeple.  The M1 57mm AT Gun (TK15, ROF3, HE4 & APDS4 w/ TK18) sits behind a ring of bocage on the left (map bottom) of the Germans’ axis of advance, closing off that half.  Once the fighting happen, I would bring a M2 mortar to the back to provide some defence depth.  

The bottom board is the most restrictive.  On one hand, not breaking up the German convoy make it slow(er) going for them, on the other hand, I can’t cede too much ground.  I put the second roadblock shortly past the first half of the board, covered by a Sherman, an MMG behind it and a HIP’d baz team on the side of the road covering the small opening past the crossroads.  

Oh, those Roadblocks are only “hasty” Roadblocks, they don’t allow Hull Down’s, can be crossed by a vehicle at half of it’s MP allotment and a Bog Check (+drm) but leaves a Trail Break behind for other AFV’s.  There’s also a +1 LV when you think about your covering your Roadblocks (this action’s at dawn).  

Note also that there are no restrictions against Kindling in this scenario.  Some of those grain on the latter bits of the map might be good candidates, particularly in the top board if the Germans decide to do an end run on the right of the road.  

After Action Report

BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We opened with German Turn 3 (of 7.5).  All three convoys had now been broken up.  On the top board, an armoured car arrived at the bend in the road where the Sherman bore-sighted.  The Sherman open fired and missed!  It then tried popping Smoke and turned tail.  Halftracks started unloading people immediately.  A couple of tanks went to our left (bottom) down the Road to see if they could get at our Sherman.  I imagined they might be tempted to cross the bocage after I take my Sherman out further to the back.  An M2 mortar team hopped over a bocage on the back.  

We shot 1 halftrack at the Roadblock on the middle board.  Again, Germans infantry started unloading from their halftracks.  An armoured car went to our left (bottom) to check out that side of the board (like they are paid to).  Our AT Gun torched it at the intersection.  German tanks jump the bocages and went to our right to get at Sherman parked in a stone building.  Our M2 mortar team sprinted backwards as planned.  

In the bottom, our Sherman shot the leading armoured car and the HIP’d baz team popped up and shot an halftrack from the side.  What I should have done though was to wait for the German armour to jump the bocage in an attempt to flank the Sherman.  My intention was to increase the MP cost for German traffic as quickly as possible but that didn’t make a material impact on the game. 01 notre dame de cenilly 1944 1

BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Download  1On the top board, our Sherman backed off into the sunken road, escaping the 2 German AFV’s sitting behind the bocage.  Unfortunately, they decided against coming over to chase after our lone Sherman!  The sheer weight of the incoming halftracks/ armoured cars got our infantry on the hill to start thinking about heading back.  They did have a few open top vehicles in the proximity so we tried to light up a few more.  

In the middle board, we were still fighting in the first half of the board.  The 9-2 HMG team fired on and stunned another AFV (subsequently recalled) before moving off the church steeple!  The German infantry had yet to close in.  Our Sherman backed off into a bypass along a Stone Wall and sped backwards.  Our gun crew on the left (bottom) broke out a few MRE’s waiting for the next German to arrive.  

On the bottom map three AFVs got busy trying to snuff out our baz team.  They survived the first barrage and took a second shot at one of them in hex!  Unfortunately they missed and were all sent to a better place.  On the far side, an M2 mortar team persuaded the Germans to not run any other halftracks down the road.  The Sherman drew back to the next firing position but the MMG team (erroneously) stayed on.  (Note to self: folks can’t outrun AFVs on foot.)

 

BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Allied Turn 4, and this was where I had to decide on which board to reinforce with 2 Shermans (w/ hedgerow cutters) and infantry.  Normal practice dictates that we reinforce successes but here we need to plug holes.  In this case I sent my reinforcements to the top board since it had yet to claim any enemy kills.  I immediately regretted the decision when I pulled back my Sherman on the bottom board and immediately bogged on at the bocage!  BOGGED!  German AFV surfed up and down those bocages all game and my Sherman bogged on its second attempt!  Having said that, it would help if I pick the bocage crossing location with the awareness that I might bog there.     

My infantry was broken and was on the run as well.  Repent!  The end’s near!

However on the top board, folks are backing off nicely to the right. The Germans decided to have their halftracks double back and mill about around my HIP’d baz team so as to not give me a cheap kill.  One even bypassed the Woods the baz team was hiding in but since the halftrack didn’t end its turn in its hex it didn’t have to reveal.  

In the middle board, the Sherman worked well with the 9-2 HMG team in keeping the Germans on the right (top).  The 2 concealed squads (one’s a dummy) kept my HMG shielded off. I had to think that the “missing” baz team (in the top board) kept my opponent wary.

BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

On the top board, the long HIP’d baz team threw off their invisibility cloak (“taaaddaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”) in slow motion and fired pointblank at one of the halftracks so as to minimise the returning fire group!!  Unfortunately the shot went wide and the team was snuffed out in the return fire.  The 3 Shermans now on board open fired together with the M2 mortar.  None connected but we thought that might give them something to think about.  

On the middle board, the Germans were determined to stick to the right (and away from the AT Gun).  Our Sherman backed off to its final firing position but our screen for the 9-2 HMG started to crack.  

However on the bottom board, our bogged Sherman got burned and the Germans were in a position to exit >=44 VPs off.  This was game.  

How’s this scenario interesting?

I lost this scenario badly.  Considering that I lost it after Axis Turn 5 (out of 7.5).  My Turn 4 reinforcement was definitely misplaced.  However, this should be an interesting read not because of my sub par tactics but because of the unique mechanism this design introduce and the interesting considerations extending from it.  I don’t tend to play scenarios over (except when playtesting) but this is definitely one that invites repeated attempts.  The mental sparing starts at force allocation and it definitely tests the defender’s ability to harmonise his assets with the terrain.  It tests the attacker’s ability to respond to ambushes and to turn the tables.  The multitudes of paths one could take to get off these boards exercise one’s risk management skills.  

I imagine this scenario can be played as a 3×3 team game with asset allocation negotiated between teammates.  Has anyone tried that?

Upcoming: BFP Sangshak Project (working title)

https://www.paradata.org.uk/event/sangshak

Gents, I exchanged a few emails with Keith Hathaway, the designer of the upcoming Sangshak Project.  It’s a brilliant new project involving Gurkhas & Indian paratrooper vs elite Japanese at Sangshak (India) during Operation U-GO.  I figured you should hear it directly from him, so here we go :

[From Keith Hathaway]

I designed it from the start of Operation U-GO until just after the battles at Sangshak, Jessami and Kharasom. I have included some actions which V Force fought in front of the main British/Indian Forces. I’ve included the Japanese 31st Division and some of the 15th Japanese Division. I wanted to place the events before the Kohima HASL coming out and the Imphal scenarios. Carl  [Nogueira, Project Developer]  is working with the play test group to refine my initial research and create playable scenarios. There will be roughly 20 scenarios included with a CG or two for Sangshak.

The Scenario’s are in chronological order and  start with the Japanese crossing the Chindwin River and attacking a V Force radio station. It then goes to Point 7378 where C Coy 152 Parachute Battalion make a last stand. Then a  scenario show a relief effort of the trapped Company. Other scenarios show a fighting retreat to Sangshak along with delaying actions helping the Brigade concentrate at Sangshak. There are 5 or 6 scenarios on or around Sangshak itself.

I have written a few CGs around Sangshak and Carl has worked hard on the rules (amazing work on his part). These include shortage of water, food and ammo. Japanese attacks and supply drops. The problem here is getting a good picture of the area. I have the hand drawn terrain maps from the war dairies, modern photos and maps from the books but nothing with enough concrete detail. I have contacted the US archives and a researcher to pull aerial photos from that time. I know the roll of film I need but they are closed due to Covid. Once they are open Sandy White can finish the map of Sangshak.

The action moves on to the 1st Battalion 1st Assam Regiment at Jessami and Kharasom. There are patrolling clashes as the Japanese move toward Kohima. Three scenarios around the two bases but trying not to be repetitive on earlier themes. Their relief force has a fight to save the Jeeps and trucks used in the column. Then the final scenario is a section of the Assam Regiment’s retreat to Kohima for an even more desperate stand.

I’ve researched everything I could find. I have a ton of books and have gotten a few War Diaries along with Division histories and a couple of scraps of information.

I wanted the pack to have the British players feel the on rushing tide of the Japanese advance.

https://www.paradata.org.uk/event/sangshak

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP19 Russian Style After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP19 Russian Style After Action Report (AAR)

Scenario Background

It’s July 26th 1944, St. Gilles, France.  Combat Command A was tasked with clearing elements of Panzer Lehr divison from the town of St Gilles.  This one wasn’t going to be easy, the tough Panzer Lehr veterans had largely recovered from the shock of air bombardment.

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

The Americans win by controlling all multi-hex building in the bottom half of the board and exiting 30 VPs of American units off the south (bottom edge) in 7 turns.  The Panzer Lehr group had seven second line squads, four Panzer IVJ sporting 75L (TK 17) guns and a STuG, a Roadblock and plenty of Bocage.  The Americans had 12 squads, 9 Shermans with TK 14, 3 with TK 17 (German frontal armor’s 8 vs US armor that’s mostly 11).  There were also 2 fighter bombers carrying bombs and rockets between Turn 2 and 4.  Our armor could take on the Germans apart from the fact that we were big targets.  I had no doubts that the quick route down the middle’s blocked and bore-sighted.  Let’s see if we couldn’t take an alternate route with our Cullin Hedgerow devices.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP19 Russian Style After Action Report (AAR)

We picked a route from the top left of the map.  The American troops came in riding their tanks “Russian style” and I realized I forgot one detail : they couldn’t ride through Orchards like so and had to dismount and re-mount.  That delay most likely costed me my game.  Running down the right in that sense seems more “Orchard” free.  I got the cutters to work in pairs.  Unfortunately 2 cutters bogged where it’s orchard free.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP20 Bypass Lehr (AAR)

The fighter bombers came in Turn 4 and discouraged German armor (amongst others) from moving in.  One fighter bomber blew up some dummies and the other immobilised a vehicle that was backing out of the Woods.  The lead tank that reached the village was surprised by a HIP crew popping out with a panzersheck!!  (“AH HA!!”) Good thing it promptly malf’d.  Another tank scored a lucky CH on their HMG team, there goes their anti-air.  Other tanks moved up in support and we were really missing our Infantry cover.  Every one of these Germans must have brought their panzerfausts, right?
Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP20 Bypass Lehr (AAR)

Turn 6 saw us trying to bring the sheer numbers of American tanks to play.  Some of our tanks got round to the German left flank but a STuG, crouched low in Bocage caused some delay.  Our infantry arrived but was blocked building by building on the way to our objectives!  What we should do more (better) is to use all the sM’s we got to help our squads get around the German blockage intact.  Failing such, we plodded on building by building and quickly ran out of time.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP20 Bypass Lehr (AAR)

At the end, we couldn’t reach all of our VC buildings.  We did try getting some of the tanks off board.  We got three off, one got blown up by the STuG right through the smoke and the last one ran out of MPs at the edge of the board, failed its ESB rolled and immobilised.

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

The tradeoffs.  I arrived at the fight with most of my assets intact by taking the least defended route but I ran out of time.  Taking the right side of the map down might offer a better solution although there are chokepoints I’d to fight through.  The key seems to be timing the approach so that we benefit from immobilising effect of our air cover between Turn 2 and Turn 4. I gotta to do better at combined arms as well.  Generous application of smoke mortars and smoke rounds would help the American squads get around the German blockage.  That would involve moving the AFV’s closer but I did have more than 2:1 advantage from the start and 3:1 advantage as the game developed.

BFP16 Snake Charmed

It’s July 25 1944, the 83th Infantry Division “Ohio”, tried to pushed through a bocage area held by a few SS squads and some REALLY good guns.  They are to push from the green dotted line to the red dotted line with 37VPs (minus German CVPs) in 7.5 turns.  The action came hot & heavy on Turn 1 where all German HIP units (apart from the Raketenwefer) were revealed and the “Ohio” lost 3 out of 8 AFVs .. IMG_3754

BFP15 Cobra’s Venom

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP15 Cobra’s Venom

You are going to see a lot of bocage country. We are going to play the whole of BFP Operation Cobra front to back. We already did BFP14 Opening Phase, so this is the second one ..