Thursday, September 12, 2019

Battle of the Bulge Scenario - The Twin Villages 18th December 1944

The German assault on Krinkelt-Rocherath intensifies!
I recently finished a game with a couple of friends based on the Battle of the Bulge around Krinkelt-Rocherath. I've posted on the table set up. This post covers the actual scenario we used. The next post will be the AAR. The scenario is written specifically for the rule set we're working on but is should be relatively easy to convert to Spearhead or any other larger scale game.

Two days ago the Germans launched a full scale attack on the American positions in the Ardennes. It caught the Americans completely by surprise. German forces have the strategic initiative and in places have made major advances. Poor weather is preventing Allied aircraft from providing ground support and US commanders are struggling to react effectively. German forces though are not having it entirely their own way. US troops on the ground are fighting hard and progress is already behind schedule. At the northern end of the German salient lies the twin villages of Krinkelt-Rocherath and beyond them the strategically important Elsenborn Heights.  Probing attacks by German forces began yesterday, but the Americans reacted quickly and a rushed defence has been thrown together.
The simple map I drew up prior to laying out the table

The battlefield is hilly, with the key Heights at the northern side of the battlefield. Roads and rivers run along valley floors. Three villages are dotted across the landscape surrounded by bare fields. Trees cover whole areas of the hillsides. A light dusting of snow lies over the ground.
The river that exits the western table edge is, from the west of the river junction by Wurtzfeld, passable only to infantry. This requires an entire turns movement to cross and results in 1 disorder. Strategic counters cannot cross this river, they must deploy.
All rivers are impassable to wheeled and half-tracked vehicles for their entire length. It costs infantry and tracked vehicles half a move to cross.
There are bridges in both Krinkelt-Rocherath and Wurzfeld. Any section of river anywhere on the board can be bridged requiring 3 engineering actions. None of the bridges, either built by the Germans or pre-existing, are strong enough for Tiger or Panther tanks.
The fields around the villages provide no benefit to units inside them.
The towns are generally low density housing.
The snow prevents roads from having any beneficial impact on movement and causes wheeled vehicles to treat the steeper slopes as difficult terrain (4” move). Otherwise the snow has no additional effects.

US Briefing
The heights must be held at all costs or the entire flank will fall and the Germans could be in Paris, or Antwerp or God knows where by Christmas.
Hold the village of Krinkelt-Rocherath for as long as possible. US troops continue straggling back through the lines there. The longer you hold the more can be saved. Round them up, feed them and get them back into the line.
The krauts are going to throw everything they have at you. God knows where they got it from, but it’s coming. You must hold. Hold until dark!

Initial US Forces
All formations must conform to the 12 unit max rule plus non fighting HQ and FO. Formations may field any stand allowed by the Army list with the following restrictions.

3 Formation Infantry - 2 regular, 1 inexperienced
  • ATGs are 57mm.
  • No more than 3 stands Engineers, split or grouped into one or more of the formations.
  • No recon units
  • No more than 5 M3 halftracks, max 3 in any given formation
  • Up to 3 75mm Shermans to 1 formation
1 Formation Tanks
  • 3 105mm Sherman
  • 6 75mm Sherman
  • 3 M10 Wolverines
3 Formations Artillery
  • 6 battery 105mm artillery – Regular, off table
  • 6 battery 155mm artillery – Regular, corps reserve, off table
  • 6 battery 155mm artillery – Regular, corps reserve, off table
Either the Tank formation, or both corps artillery formations, may be well led.
Corp reserve artillery suffer an additional -1 activation penalty
1 Dummy counter

US Unit Placement
The US deploy first.
The US players may set up their starting units anywhere within 6” of the villages, or anywhere north of the river. The use of garrisons in any of the villages is permitted. Up to half the US infantry may start the game dug in, in entrenchments.
US formations may be placed deployed or in strategic mode.
Forced movement is generally towards the northern edge of the table.

US Reinforcements
For every turn that ends with the US player having an undisordered unit inside Krinkelt-Rocherath the US gains 1 infantry stand placed on the road hex exiting the northern table edge north of the twin villages. Once 3 units are available these may be moved at strategic speed to reinforce an existing formation of the US players choice, subject to formation size rules. These units move in the activation phase of the formation. Once within the 6” command of the formation HQ the units must move normally. They are considered a garrison if attacked/ threatened by enemy troops.

German Briefing
Advance! The great assault upon the allies in the west has begun. The Americans are poor fighters and cannot resist the might of the Fuhrer’s armies. You must capture the roads and heights to enable the advance to continue. Nothing must stand in our way. Failure will not be tolerated! Attack!

German Forces
All formations must conform to the 12 unit max rule plus non fighting HQ and FO. Formations may field any stand allowed by the Army list with the following restrictions.
2 Formations Tanks
  • Max 9 panther, split as desired
  • Max 3 Tiger, split as desired
  • Remainder PzIV or Stugs
2 Formations Mechanised Infantry
  • Max 9 Sdkfz251 inf carrier
  • Max 3 Eng – must be assigned into 1 formation
3 Formations Infantry
  • Max 3 Eng - must be assigned into 1 formation
  • Max 3 Tigers
  • Max 6 Stug/JagdPzIV
2 formations artillery
  • 4 battery 105mm with trucks – regular, on table
  • 4 battery 150mm – regular, off table
3 dummy counters
The German player must field a minimum of two veteran formations. However for each veteran formation the Germans must field 1 matching formation as inexperienced.

German Placement
The German formations start on the southern table edge, no closer than 12” to another formation/HQ, including dummy counters. Formations that cannot fit on the table in the first turn only become available, including dice, in the 2nd turn. Formations may be deployed or in strategic mode.
Forced movement will generally be towards the closest of the southern table edge, or the eastern or western table edges south of the river.

Visibility and Conditions:
The 1st turn and last turn are poor light. The weather is overcast/ light snowfall resulting in no aircraft support for either side.
The game begins with fog/ mist at base level. This clears based upon dice roll starting on the 2nd turn, on 6, then 5, then 4 etc.

Line of Sight range in Fog 4”
Line of sight poor light 18”
Line of sight in daylight / Tier 1 or higher 36”
Formations in fog activate at -1 to die roll.

Scenario Specific Rules:
FO with 3rd Tier height advantage grant a +1 to hit modifier to indirect artillery attacks instead of the well led advantage.
Formations unable to draw a line 12” wide from the HQ to their relevant table edge activate at -1. For US troops the northern table edge, Germans the southern table edge.
Corps reserve artillery activate at an additional -1, as well as the off table -1 activation penalty.

Game Duration and Victory Conditions
The game lasts for 14 turns.
The Germans win by ending a turn with more undisordered stands on the Elsenborn Heights (the highest set of hills on the table) than the US player has undisordered stands on the Heights .
Any other result is a US victory.

Designers Notes:
Whilst this game has been based on a historic battle some liberties have been taken with the types, availability and arrival of the various forces as well as the layout of the terrain and entry points. This battle was designed to test the effectiveness of artillery and to look at the rules for units fighting at various height differentials as part of the design work on the All Hell Let Loose rules.

The actual battle for the Twin Villages:
The Americans reacted quickly on the ground and established their defensive lines. Th US forces were mostly infantry but there was a battalion of Shermans and a company of M10s supporting the defenders. US troops from other units hit by earlier attacks were retreating through the battlefield. Absolutely key though was supporting artillery, in enormous quantities, firing from the Elsenborn Heights. German armour and infantry attacked fiercely with much close quarters fighting, particularly in the villages. Ultimately the US troops held on, principally due to the effectiveness of artillery support. Although forced to withdraw the dogged defence bought enough time for a new line to be established below the heights. Successive German attacks on it over the next 10 days all failed. The northern shoulder of the Bulge held and severely impacted German manoeuvrability and success contributing significantly to the ultimate failure of Hitler’s last gamble in the west.

Roll dice responsibly!

Charles the Modeller

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