It’s been a while since I’ve written a game post because I haven’t been playing much lately. I was going through my archives the other day (read: the gazillion projects I’ve started over the years and abandoned) and found this incomplete After Action Report thing.
I have been playing the PC game Combat Mission for over ten years. I have three versions of the game: Beyond Overlord, Barbarossa to Berlin and Afrika Korps. As you may guess by the titles, they are WWII games. Combat Mission was the first wargame to get away from a strict turn taking game (I go then you go) by creating a game that operated on what Battlefront (the makers of the game) called the “We Go” system. So, rather than each side taking a full turn which would include movement and combat, the Combat Mission games gave a player an “Orders Phase” in which both sides issued orders to their units. You would then watch the game for 60 seconds as the action played out, unable to do anything but bite your nails. After 60 seconds, the game paused and another Orders Phase began. The system was revolutionary in the wargaming world and has been copied by other game companies.
Many years ago, I was playing a game of CM:BB and decided that I would write my thoughts as I played the game by talking about what I was thinking during the orders phase and then describing the action for each minute of the game. I was trying to write it as an actual battlefield commander, by including names and other language to lend credibility. At the time, I had no thought of ever posting this on the web, so I never took any screenshots of the game. I found some screenshots of the game that I felt were appropriate to the action being described and have included those so you can get a sense of what the game looks like.
For this particular scenario, I was playing as the Germans against an American opponent. I also abandoned this project at the end of 7 turns. This is also rather long, so I don’t expect anyone to finish reading it.
Herr Kommandant’s Report
First impressions as defenses are set:
My first thought is how huge this map is. The amount of trees is going to make seeing the enemy nearly impossible until he is right on top of me.
I may have misjudged in my purchase of units – too much artillery and not enough infantry. When it comes down to it, this will be a close combat battle.
Platoon Leader Lt Heubaum is in charge of the church. With him are Obg Ernst and Obg Chronister, both HMG; Lt Handschein, 120mm spotter and three Rifle 44 Squads led by Unt Buchbinder, Unt Becker and Unt Prevo. Ernst, Chronister and Handschein are on the top floor while the others wait on the ground floor.
On the Southern Hill, Platoon Leader Lt Gräber leads three Rifle 44 Squads headed up by Unt Gerhardt, Unt Englund and Unt Liebling. They are hiding in a small patch of forest ready to aid a small group nearby who is lead by Hpt Jacob. Jacob has under his command two HMG’s manned by Obg Ober and Obg Gaschler as well as a 105mm Howitzer manned by Obg Enders.
As a special surprise for the Americans, I have ordered the placement of two ambush points consisting of Panzerschrecks, PzIVG’s and Tigers. Both points are located on the roads to the north of the church. Obg Adler and Obg Welt have the Panzerschrecks at the southern point and Unt Vossen and Unt Wörner command the PzIVG’s about 100 yards back along the road. The northern point consists of Obg Sauer and Obg Rosenfelder with Panzerschrecks and Unt Hartmann and Unt Lummer in the Tigers. I believe the enemy may try to use these roads for a quick approach. If the Panzerschrecks do not stop him he will have to deal with my superior armor.
I consider it a great luck that a large hill dominates the center of my defensible area. Thought an easy target for the Americans, I cannot pass on the opportunity to place long-range weapons there. This forest is working against me, as such I need to take advantage of the higher ground. I have placed both Lt Kubler and Lt Anglen in charge of the troops there. They are both hardened veterans and will not run at some artillery fire. Unt Limbach, Unt Zimmermann and Unt Wetzel command the three Rifle 44 Squads. There are two 105mm Howitzers manned by Obg Hagemann and Obg Blaskowitz. Lt Kuhn is also there acting as spotter for 150mm artillery. Two HMG’s are providing close support: Obg Protzner and Obg Liebig both veterans from the Eastern Front. Lt Tappe is there to operate the 81mm mortar and a 105mm and a 75mm RCL are there for medium support, operated by Obg Weyter and Obg Adam, respectively. Down the hill to the east is Lt Gansel, calling in coordinates for my other 150mm artillery battery.
To the west of the northern ambush point and southwest of the large hill, a small group of advance men have dug in lead by Lt Waldstein. Again, three Rifle 44 Squads (Unt von Furst, Unt Stare and Unt Basten) and two HMG’s (Obg Hemper and Obg Carius) occupy this area. I hope that this group will be the first to spot American movement and be able to call it in for artillery strikes.
The northern defensive group is almost as extensive as the group on the hill. The terrain seems to offer the easiest approach, so this area has been saturated with ground troops. Hpt Freitag commands two 81mm mortars which are manned by Lt Blauvelt and Lt Hauer. Unt Kinkel and Unt Tippach have the pleasure of commanding two of the Reich’s finest armored vehicles, the Panzer IVG. Hpt Kruwel awaits action with 105mm RCL operator Obg Harish. Lt Altschuler commands the standard three Rifle 44 Squads (Unt Lärmann, Unt Austermann and Unt Wöhler) and two HMG’s (Obg Hofmeister and Obg Hochstadter).
Lastly, Lt Hermanns commands the reserve troops, again with the standard three Rifle 44 Squads (Unt Blücher, Unt Eymer and Unt Fell), two HMG’s (Obg Greup and Obg Janz) as well as a 75mm RCL, operated by Obg Wieland. These troops are to rest and be used should the need arise to replace troops at the line.
The enemy has to come into my positions uphill in most cases which is to my advantage though I fear my Howitzers will be useless.
My men have dug into foxholes. I thought it best to have them wait for the enemy’s push.
In poor judgment, I did not set up TRP’s before my defenses were set (only because I wasn’t aware until after the fact). As such, I have to guess at the enemy’s movements 2-4 turns away and hope I guess correctly. Lt Handschein, Lt Gansel and Lt Kuhn have all called in artillery strikes at targets along the roads. Though the barrages will not come for 2-3 minutes, my hope is to take out some of his secondary forces come turn 3 or 4, while his front line is engaging my positions. More than likely, I will have misjudged everything, and he will take 5-6 turns before he reaches me.
I have taken a gamble placing so many units on that hill – if he has off-board artillery, I’m doomed. That will open a hole so wide in my defense he will have no trouble getting through. Should that happen, my armor can swiftly move men to target areas (I hope).
Enemy infantry approaching from the southwest. I may be able to have Lt Handschein adjust the 120mm shells before it is too late.
Hagemann has spotted the enemy and taken one poorly aimed shot with the Howitzer. Won’t the enemy be surprised to see heavy fire so early in the engagement!
Handschein has redirected the 120mm shells and Lt Gansel has done the same for the 150mm shells. Two minutes seems a long time to wait for a barrage – the enemy may not even be in the vicinity when the shells start falling. No matter, I must hope to catch his second wave. Morale is excellent (100%) though I myself have doubts as to our victory (19%).
The enemy’s infantry continues to make a slow advance with more units appearing from the northwest. Hagemann has fired again, this time eliminating one enemy infantry unit.
I have issued no new orders. I hope that the artillery barrage will arrive soon – I think my adjustments may be entirely incorrect. Morale is still strong (100%) though the uncertainty of the artillery’s arrival has not made me feel any better about the outcome of this battle (20%). Lt Hermanns may have to advance up to the line as it appears the enemy is heading straight for one of my open areas in the line between the hill and the northern placed PzIVG’s. I shall find out very soon whether the enemy has targeted the hill-top for an artillery barrage, Hagemann may as well have waved a flag saying, “Here we are!”
Thankfully, an artillery barrage from the Americans did not come. More of their infantry units have appeared to the northwest, though Obg Weyter spotted them from the hill and fired two rounds of the 105mm RCL. There were no confirmed kills. I must move troops forward quickly to fill the gap the Americans are headed for – Hermanns’ group should do well.
Hermanns’ entire group has been ordered forward to fill in the gap the Americans are headed for, though there is still a large undefended area between them and my northern PzIVG’s.
The enemy continues its slow march into my line. More shots from the Howitzers, this time it was Blaskowitz – and again no confirmed kills. Obg Carius spotted some American infantry but was unable to fire before they disappeared into the trees. Artillery shells hit near the church, there were no casualties, though the rounds hit closer than I would have liked. One lightly armored vehicle was spotted heading for Hermanns’ recently abandoned position yet it remains unidentified.
Greup, Janz and Wieland have been ordered back to their original locations as they will have a good shot at that approaching light AFV while the rest of Hermanns’ group continues on to fill that gap. Judging by the terrain, the American light AFV should head straight for Greup, Janz and Wieland’s position. Kinkel and Tippach are to take their Panzers south along the road, for a better LOS at approaching troops and I have ordered Unt Hartmann to bring his Tiger to just behind Sauer and Rosenfelder’s ambush point.
More artillery shells have hit the ground around the church and the forest is now on fire. The American bombardment of the hill also began this turn, but as predicted, Kubler and Anglen are holding the troops together there. Greup, Janz and Wieland came under fire from the now identified armored car. Greup and Wieland are pinned while Janz has run away in a panic. Handschein and Kuhn’s artillery drops have begun, though I think my earlier assumption that they will have missed the American troops is true.
Blauvelt and Hauer will begin dropping 81mm mortar rounds at the predicted location of the mass of American troops in two minutes. I had to divert Hermanns’ group away from the gap to take out the armored car. I hope he can succeed. I am starting to feel a little better about the outcome of this battle (28%V). Obg Enders will begin re-positioning his Howitzer, hopefully it will not take the boy forever!
The American bombardment of the hill continues. Lt Kubler was lost and those under his command have been routed. Hagemann’s Howitzer and Weyter’s 105 RCL have both been knocked out. Anglen is doing his best to keep the remaining troops together. Janz and Wieland have recovered – I hope they can fight back against that armored car. Blücher and his boys were able to toss off a few grenades at it, though no damage was done. Hartmann advanced his Tiger with no difficulties and spotted a second armored car, taking a shot at it with his main gun. No reports yet as to the result. Hemper and Basten have spotted what may be an American anti-tank team advancing through their forest and have looked on to it. This battle has taken a turn for the worse, as evidenced by the loss of Lt Kubler on the hill. The Fatherland shall remember such a brave warrior.
Wieland has a dead-lock on the armored car with his 75mm RCL. He must destroy that vehicle! Eymer has joined Blücher in the attack of that car. Lt Gansel has redirected his artillery fire to a point on the road midway between the current position of Hartmann and the last known position of the second armored car. It seems the Americans are crossing the road at that point. Handschein is continuing to drop shells from the church and the entire contingent at the southern end of the line has been ordered north to the next stand of trees. They will remain there as will the group at the northern end of the line. Even though all known enemy activity has been in the center, I cannot leave my flanks exposed.
This battle has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Though Obg Wieland was able to knock out the armored car with one well-placed 75mm round I have lost the church and over half of the men there to artillery fire. Becker, Ernst, Chronister and Handschein are all dead. The bombardment of the hill continues though we have suffered no more casualties. Basten has eliminated the anti-tank team and Hemper has spotted more infantry sneaking through the forest between his position and the remains of the church. Unt Lummer spotted an American tank destroyer in the same place as Hartmann’s armored car, and was able to fire one shot with the main gun of his Tiger forcing the destroyer to retreat. My southern flank was able to advance without incident. The men are frightened (M 86%) and my chances of victory are slowly getting slimmer (18%) though I can not see how the enemy can win (12%).