Sunday, February 10, 2019

Our Friday Game - Scenario MM49 The Other Side of the Tracks

For our Friday Games - Dan and I returned to the 2018 March Madness "The Players Pack". And for the first time, I would have the opportunity to play one of my own scenarios. MM49 The Other Side of the Tracks is the first scenario that I designed, which has ever been printed. So, I was really looking forward to seeing how my design played out.  The March Madness Players Pack is available from this link .

My inspiration for this scenario arose from an article in the Summer 2017 edition of WWII Quarterly magazine. I initially bought this particular copy due to its article on the fighting for Hill 112. But an article entitled: "Love" in the Vosges Mountains would capture my attention. I'm not particularly well read on the fighting in the Vosges. I have read the Lost Battalions book which covers the 442nd US Regiments action to find and relieve a trapped US Battalion. But beyond that I hadn't really read too much. The article covers the actions of Company L, 399th Infantry Regiment of the 100th Infantry Division.  The entire article is available at this link: . Well worth your time.

The action I selected for this scenario took place in Lemberg. Interestingly, the map included in the article shows that Lemberg was in the sector assigned to the 398th, but the article as well as the Love Company unit history shows that the 399th was in the Lemberg fight or at the very least...L Company was there. One picture in the article drew my attention and from it, the scenario was born.

The fight for this railroad underpass takes center stage in the scenario. In short, the men of Love Company were positioned in a draw not far from this underpass. A smoke screen was dropped by the local US Artillery battery and the Americans charged forward to get up on top of the embankment. A German counterattack through the underpass was repulsed and the Americans were able to put down a punishing fire from the embankment and then move into Lemberg. Securing Lemberg would open the door to Bitche, which would be the 100th Division's most famous battle.

This unit history by John M. Khoury is available on Amazon. The Kindle edition is currently $2.99. Again, highly recommend this resource as a great addition to any ASL library. 

After rolling for sides, I would be the Americans of Love Company. My force would consist of 14 x 6-6-6's led by a 9-2, 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, DC, 2 x Baz 44's and 2 x 60 MTR's. 

For support, I would receive a smoke screen bombardment, which would come in very handy.

As the attacker, I would have to control 5 or more buildings to the east of hexrow Q. Not an entirely easy task, especially with only 5 turns to accomplish it.

So...the key for the Americans is to be moving every turn. As you will see...I forgot this important combat maxim.

As the defending Germans, Dan would command elements of the 25th Panzergrendier Division. This veteran German unit was composed mainly of Swabians and Bavarians. I attended university for a semester in Reutlingen, West Germany, which is deep in the heart of the Swabian Alb. Many of the 25th's Grenadiers were from this area. The division would be all but eliminated near Minsk during Operation Bagration. The cemeteries from Stuttgart to Reutlingen to Tuebingen confirm the loss as many of these men's names appear on large plaques in the cemeteries as the bodies remained in Russia. A consequence of the German Wehrkreis system for forming units for the Wehrmacht is that a division could find itself in a terrible situation and the result would be that the region lost every young man. It was not uncommon to see 300 names on plaques in tiny little village cemeteries. 

The 25th would be reconstituted and fight with distinction in the Vosges Campaign.

Dan's force would consist of  8 x 4-4-7's, with a 2-2-8, led by an 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 3 x LMG's, 1 x 50 MTR, a 20L AA Gun and a Flak-Wagon with a 20L AA Gun. Additionally, Dan would have three foxholes an 5 wires to fortify  his position.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Commentary:

This scenario is a nice infantry only design.  Short and sweet.  The Germans in this scenario face a big group of Americans with high firepower.  I will station the MMG with the 8-1 leader at the crossroads where it can lay a fire lane down the road and under the railroad bridge.  It can also cover the row Q road, which will have the wire.  The 8-0 and LMG in foxhole will cover the other side of the hill.  The MTR will position itself to fire on the hill also.  The 20mm AA will set up HIP in the village covering the crossroads.  So when the Americans break the 8-1 and move through the gap they are met with a nasty surprise.  Hopefully these will slow the Americans enough to keep them from taking the needed buildings. The AA truck will back up the 8-0 and if the American attack on the other side of the hill move over to support.  The 7-0 with a LMG will set up in the village in good skulk cover to have fire over the wire.  With the hill dividing the board into two sides it breaks up the German ability to have interlocking fire lanes and mutually supporting positions.  If the Americans come over all in on one side it will be tough.

 A look at my attack plan. I intended to drop my smoke bombardment right on the underpass and then move through it as quickly as possible. I would place supporting units on the north and south parts of the rail line embankment. Dan had placed a potential unit on my side of the embankment. I couldn't assume it was a dummy. It cost me some movement as I was cautious about running in the open in front of it. It did turn out to be a dummy location, but it had done exactly what Dan needed it to. Effective use of your dummy units can be a real critical aid in any game.

 The calm before the storm. Dan's 8-1 with the MMG was sitting in the crossroads foxhole with a nice fire lane right down the road. My plan of rushing through the underpass was looking a lot less appealing.

This wasn't going to be a walk in the woods for sure!

 Turn 1 - my 60 MTR's tried softening up Dan's Dummy Location with no success. Then my Arty dropped the smoke screen right on target. And I moved forward to the rail line embankment.

 I was able to reveal the dummy stack and then get my initial fire group up on the northern piece of the rail line embankment. And this revealed bad news. Dan had stretched his wire across this portion of the front. Drats!

Dan's boys were dug in and waiting.

 Turn 2- My smoke had begun to it was time to move. My fire group on the northern shoulder had successfully broken the Germans in R2, but another 4-4-7 had taken their place. As my other boys began to cover over the embankment, Dan's MG-42's began their canvas ripping staccato that broke a few of my 6 morale troops. My main group had successfully gone up the middle.

Dan's 8-1 was keeping an eye on my boys as we came through the underpass.

 At this point, I was pretty happy with things. I felt like I was in good positions going into Turn 3.

 I had my north and south fire groups in place and my center assault group was where I wanted it. Things looked pretty good.

 Dan's 20L AA guns would reveal themselves and I would take some tough hits as a result. I had managed to break Dan's 8-1 and force him to rout away, but then the 20L AA Gun revealed itself and messed up plans to exploit the opportunity.

Dan had positioned it very well. It would control the road.

In better news!! My boys would manage to take out Dan's 20L Flak Wagon! Woohooo!!!

 I tried pushing ahead despite the 20L fire, which had caught me off guard. Both Dan and I had broken squads, but at this point in the game, I still felt pretty good that I was about to push through the German defenses.

I had foolishly underestimated the resolve of Dan's 4-4-7. The grenadiers of the 25th were going to be very stubborn Swabians.

 Oh yeah...the dice would be heard from in this game. Dan had managed a couple of nice snake eyes, one of which KIA'd  a 6-6-6, but I would do the most damage to myself. A normal morale check on my 9-2...oh look BOXCARS! He would wound and guess what...he would not rally for the rest of the game. It was the decisive blow to my efforts in the center. Dan's LMG's and MMG were lacing the area with fire and I was collapsing.

 Going into Turn 4, Dan's line was completely intact. I had knocked out his flak-wagon and KIA'd h is 20L AA gun crew, but his stubborn grenadiers were not yielding any ground. Meanwhile my boys were firing without any effect from the rail line embankment. I had made a terrible mistake of not moving those men up close. Americans are tough to stop on the advance. A cardinal ASL error...keep moving...and I didn't.

"Hey...are you fellas actually hitting anything...cause it sure doesn't seem like it..." 9-2 refused to rally. His recent brush was death had left him quite distraught and my boys on the hill were being kept DM by persistent German fire.

"Sarge...things are not looking so good down there. We haven't event gotten past that German wire and we only have one movement turn left."

 I made one last attempt to move forward...but got knocked back. I had to face reality. I had not moved fast enough and the clock had run out on me. Too much Prep Fire from the embankment had stalled my attack for no result. Dan's wire was perfectly placed and slowed me down in the village. My 9-2's failure to rally left all his brokies unavailable to support my center attack. Dan's flanks were too well protected, so I could not find an opening to get around him. In was time for me to offer the concession...

Actually no...I just say...I concede and move on...a speech seems a bit much for a 5 turn scenario...but perhaps for a CG...that might require a speech!!!

A last look a the battlefield. Dan had schooled me on my own scenario!!! But honestly, I thought his defense was really well done. So congrats Dan on a nice victory. German losses were slight and the initial German line was pretty much still intact at game end. I struggled to get close to Dan boys, which is where the Americans can be very dangerous. My failure to close the gap contributed greatly to my loss. 

Dan's grenadiers had won the day and could relax and enjoy some hot Maultaschen.

And now for Dan's Post-Game Commentary:

The Americans came across on a broad front and the Germans managed to hold...barely.  The key moment was a morale check for the American 9-2 where they rolled a 12.  The 9-2 wounded and failed to rally for the next movement.  The Americans lost movement and some very hard hitting fire base leadership.  With this loss of time the American attack ran out of steam and could not take the buildings.  This is a fun scenario and a good design.  It usually has a clear winner at the end.  A good scenario to play with your friends.

That's a wrap on this week's game. Dan and I will be back next Saturday for a playing of ASL Scenario 133 Block Busting in Bokruisk. 

See ya then!

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