Massive post: Northern Campaign AAR Last Blitzkrieg

Written by Russ Massey in the UK, who kept meticulous notes. My physical world game play has stalled due to the fur ball I have created  in the North with crossed lines and MSR issues and range issues on HQ’s….sigh. I think I need to reset. I still am struggling to bring some cohesiveness in my mind to the functional aspects of the game play. The rules much like OCS or TCS are crisp and pretty clear. But the practical application of them is not so clear. Which then sends me diving around the book – double checking a Legal Hex on page 30, flipping to review command radius of page 11 and definitions of Safe Path on Page 5.

Last Blitzkreig

I recall many false starts with OCS in the beginning. I’m sure this will see its way into my brain eventually. So in the mean time we should take a look at the details provided here. I was going to break this up into 2 or 3 posts [I hope it dont snap the back of WordPress…] but it is best viewed as a continuum.

Here we go:

Northern Campaign

  • Playing the first 2 Days of the KG Pieper scenario got me up to speed with the rules and the tactical possibilities, so it’s time to play looking at the operational level picture.I chose this scenario as I’m now somewhat familiar with the terrain and situation but it’s still small enough (for my tastes) to be playable solo.The first thing to do in any scenario is to check the victory conditions and then look at how they might be achieved. Each VP hex is worth either 1 pt to the Germans, 1 pt to the Allies, or 1 pt to each of the sides. At the end of turn 6, victory goes to the side controlling the most points. There are also some opportunities for the Germans to score bonus points by exiting certain formations off the west edge, but this is better than historical levels of performance, so I won’t look at that too hard.There are 4 hexes worth 1pt for the Germans. From east to west they are; Rocherath-Krinkelt, Camp D’Elsenborn, Spa and Parker’s Crossroads.

    There are 8 hexes worth 1pt for the Allies. From east to west they are; Bullingen, Berg Rueland, St Vith, Malmedy, Stavelot, Vielsalm, Trois Ponts and Parker’s Crossroads.

    All the hexes begin under Allied control, so the German Player needs to cause a 7 pt swing to win the game.

    Capturing every VP hex up to and including Stavelot and Vielsalm would be enough. A northern-only thrust to take everything up to and north of Trois Ponts is only 6 pts – enough for a draw but not victory. A southern-only thrust to take Parker’s Crossroads and everything south of and including Bullingen would net just 5 points, so there will have to two axes of attack to make up the total needed.

    The main road for the northern attack passes through Bullingen, Malmedy, Stavelot and Trois Ponts. I know from the previous game, that Trois Ponts and Stavelot are likely to be well defended by the time spearheads reach them on T3 or T4, but that Rocherath-Krinkelt is relatively easy to take in the first 3 days with a diversion of forces north against the 99th and 2nd US Infantry Divisions.

    Let’s assume a northern thrust then with the objectives

    1) Bullingen
    2) Rocherath-Krinkelt
    3) Malmedy

    The main road for the southern attack is the route St Vith, Vielsalm, Parker’s Crossroads. This would be worth 4 points and given the 3 from the northern objectives above would be enough for victory. Parker’s Crossroads is a long way – 50 hexes by road to the German front line – and I don’t have any experience of how strong Allied defences are along this route. The 106th ID is thinly spread and the forward line out of command range, so can be easily broken through. CCB of 9th Armoured will be on or around St Vith, and is only 2 battalions, but the rest of the division arrives between Vielsalm and St Vith on the 17th (T2), surely before any German spearhead will have reached it.

    Let’s assume we can drive forward as far as Vielsalm, but Parker’s Crossroads is out of reach. We would need 2 more points. Burg Reuland in the south is quite likely to be taken by the advance of 62VG in the first few days. They would then need to just hold, as there are no further VPs along that line of advance. That leaves 1 more point needed, and Camp D’Elsenborn in the north seems to most obvious place to get it.

    The revised operational plan is therefore:

    Northern Objectives (Turn of projected capture)
    1) Bullingen (T2)
    2) Rocherath-Krinkelt (T3)
    3) Camp D’Elsenborn (T3)
    4) Malmedy (T5)

    Southern Objectives (Turn of projected capture)

    1) Burg Reuland (T2)
    2) St Vith (T2)
    3) Vielsalm (T5)

    If either of the turn 5 objectives seem out of reach by turn 4 there should be enough time to switch the main axis of advance to the other front and press for either Stavelot in the north of Parker’s Crossroads in the south to make up the shortfall.

    I’m going to use the optional Unit Traffic rule in this play, as I felt it was too easy to pass formations through each other in my first play. I won’t be using random activation draws or any other optionals.

    My focus for the Germans will be on maximising SNAFU rolls, so I will accept limitations on what I do if it avoids coordination markers or mixed formations. I’d like to avoid crossing the streams as well, but I think that’s just not a realistic option given the road net and initial situation. For the Allies I’m going to concentrate on attrition. They have better replacement rates and artillery firepower, so I’ll try to ensure that destruction barrages all available artillery points each turn, and that assaults are always made even if the likelihood is just a 1 pt loss to each side. The Allies can absorb those sorts of losses, but I don’t think the Germans can, and it might lead to formations crumbling away by the late game.

    Turn 1 – 16th December

    Ground: Normal, Atmosphere: Poor, Visibility: 1hex.
    Maps are all taken from the situation at the very end of the turn.

    12 Volksgrenadier
    Only manages a Partial 1st Activation, which immediately causes problems, as only the bicycle battalion is able to contact the Allied front line. They kill 2 steps of the 1/394 at a cost of 1 step, and formation fatigue rises to 1. They get no 2nd activation. Not an auspicious start!

    2nd Infantry Division
    Rolls for a 2nd activation (having started the scenario Used) and fails.

    18 Volksgrenadier Division
    Gets a Pass on the SNAFU roll. KG Renn advances and destroys A/18 of the 14th Cavalry Group. The Provisional Battalion of the 423 is destroyed in an Attack and the remaining 5 battalions in the Schnee Eifel almost surrounded. 18VG remains Fresh and gets a 2nd activation.

    Unfortunately the SNAFU roll is a 2, and the activation is only Partial. The engineer battalion in Schonberg is first weakened by infantry Attack and then eliminated in a Shock Attack by KG Renn, which crosses the Our and gets with 5km of St Vith. The formation loses Fresh status.

    CCB, 9th Armored
    These reinforcements are placed (Used) to defend the approaches to St Vith. The roll for a 2nd Activation succeeds and gets a Partial. The 14th Armor battalion engages KG Venn but comes off worse, losing 2 steps to the Germans 1. Fatigue does not increase.

    277 Volksgrenadier
    They get a full activation. Units butt heads with the 99th ID in the Hansfelderwald, with roughly equal losses and no movement of the front line. No fatigue is gained, but there is no 2nd activation either.

    14th Cavalry Group
    Fail to get a 2nd activation.

    3rd Fallshirmjager
    They only manage a Partial SNAFU roll. They press C/18 of the 14 Cavalry and lose a step (to 1). Fatigue increase to 2 and they get no 2nd activation.

    99th Infantry Division
    Succeed in getting a 2nd activation (they are another formation starting Used) on a 5. Unfortunately the SNAFU roll is a Fail, so there is not much they can do. Voluntary retreats are possible, and 1 battalion falls back from the northern forests to the road leading to the HQ at Rocherath-Krinkelt. The southern defensive line seems to holding okay at the moment.

326 Volksgrenadier Division
The SNAFU roll is a Pass. This unit does not have much of a role in taking any objectives, so just needs to tie down US forces and cause casualties with artillery and the supporting heavy flak. I will probably reassign the 88s to a different division next turn. The 3/395 has its support dropped (and it out of command radius of the 99th ID HQ so this is not temporary) and loses a step. Other barrages are ineffective. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation. [I always forget the 6 hex radius for Prepared defence – the US unit should have retreated].

106th Infantry Division
This is the last US formation, and is in trouble from isolation. A 6 is needed for a 2nd activation, and the roll is a success! The SNAFU roll is a 10 and the activation is a Full one. Someone in the 106th HQ is on the ball. The HQ relocates SE to Steinebrusk, which may enable parts of the division to fight its way clear via Bleialf tomorrow. Unfortunately 3 battalions are trapped by ZOCs and too far away to be helped. They each lose 2 steps from isolation effects.

62 Volksgrenadier Division
They get a SNAFU Pass. They are able to blow through a weak battalion of the 106th and send a unit to the bridge over the Our at Steinebrusk. One of the 3 Grief teams is expended to affect the bridge blowing. On a 2 the bridge would have been OK even without use of the team. 62VG remains Fresh and gets a 2nd activation.

The SNAFU roll is another Pass. Overrunning the 106th HQ would drop that division’s Prepared Defence and be a big boost, as well as capture a crossing of the Our leading to St Vith. Both OBJ markers are placed on Steinebrusk and a 2nd battalion moves up to Attack the village. The modifier is just +1, but with a roll of 10 the Americans are forced to retreat north behind the cover of a mechanised battalion of CCB. This is a potential route for 1st SS Panzer, but there is no need to clear the roads yet, as they are far behind the front line and may not even activate.

Units rush to expand the bridgehead, and the HQ and Train advance to support the rapid gains. There is still no fatigue increase.

There are now just the three remaining German SS formations to activate. All begin Used, so will have to roll for a 2nd Activation. I could try and send Pieper and 1st SS to take advantage of the southern breakthrough, and allocate 12SS to the Bullingen road. It’s all moot anyway until I make the rolls.

KG Pieper
Rolls a 5 and gets his activation, with a SNAFU Pass. The KG moves to the vicinity of Brandished (4206), poised to drive on St Vith on the next day and carefully avoiding coordination problems or mixed formations with 18 VG.

1st SS Panzer Division
Fails the roll for 2nd activation.

12th SS Panzer Division
Fails the roll for 2nd activation.

Turn 2 – 17th December

Ground: Normal, Atmosphere: Fair, Visibility: 2 hexes.
Maps are all taken from the situation at the very end of the turn.

Reinforcements are placed, with the US 9th Armored arriving both east and south of St Vith. The US have a single air point available. At this point I realised I completely forgot the German reinforcements last turn. I move the 2 units from KG Pieper to join him. The 1st SS are easy, since they failed to activate. The 150 Panzer Brigade I will assume moved last in the previous turn. They move to backstop the 12VG and failed to get a 2nd activation. In the current turn Von de Haydte drops south of Baraque Michel, and I re-allocate the 88s from 325VG to 12VG. That division is also allocated the reinforcing Stugs.

The Germans win the die roll for 1st player.

I agonise over which formation to use first for quite a while. Eventually I think that the best early opportunities are in the north and select:-

12 Volksgrenadier Division
Again, they only manage a Partial SNAFU roll. The newly arrived 88s shell the 1/394 on the road to Bullingen, knocking out a step of the AT support and then a step of the infantry. An Attack kills 3 more steps and sends the battalion in retreat to the marshes of 4119 with a single step left. Fatigue rises to two and the formation fails to activate again.

99th Infantry Division
The Allies see the main weakness as the undefended HQ at Rocherath-Krinkelt and hope to be able to reinforce the village. The SNAFU result is a Fail however. The 2/395 is able to Voluntarily Retreat to join the HQ, but is on its unprepared side. The surrounded 2/394 in the Gerolstein Forest also falls back. There is no 2nd activation.

18 Volksgrenadier Division
They are selected with the idea of trying to surround and eliminate 14 Cavalry Group and open an alternative route for Pieper to reach St Vith from the north. They get a SNAFU Pass. The 32nd in Andler holds firm, despite being reduced to a single step. KG Venn suffers badly in the attack. Attacks on the surrounded troops in the Schnee Eifel go poorly, despite their lack of prepared defences. Fatigue rises to 1 and there is no second activation.

14th Cavalry Group
The formation is in trouble, with 2 units down to a single step and its Train no longer at optimal distance due to advancing German ZOCs. The SNAFU result is a Partial. The trapped 32nd calls in the US airpower to try and breakout, and succeeds, causing 2 step losses and a retreat to the 1/294, and then escaping to Mayerode. The HQ and light tanks retreat (losing Prepared Defence), and C troop of the 18th is abandoned. Its back is to an uncrossable river and it can’t escape 3FJ ZOCs. It is eliminated due to isolation. Fatigue remains at zero, and the roll for 2nd activation is successful with a SNAFU Pass.

Prepared defence is re-established to hold the trails leading to Ambleve.

3rd Fallshirmjager Division
If this formation can get off the road there may be a route for 1st SS to reach Bullingen from the south. With fatigue 2 the SNAFU roll is only a Partial. The paratroops move north to clear the trail to Holzheim, An attack on the 3/394 at Buckholz goes poorly. Fatigue rises to 3, but the formation manages to roll a 6 for a 2nd activation. It is used to recover a point of fatigue.

The open route to Bullingen is pretty obvious, so the US player chooses:-

2nd Infantry Division
The hope is to improve defences in the Bullingen area. The SNAFU roll is Partial. Units slowly move south as Prepared Defences are established. Heavy shelling of the 326VG in the north kills 3 steps, but also causes fatigue to rise to 2.

A second activation is gained, and another Partial SNAFU roll. Battalions are able to defend a line from Modersheid to Murringen. The artillery falls silent to prevent further fatigue.

1st SS Panzer Division
A SNAFU Pass is gained. The bulk of the division reach Ormont (5015), but there is no way to prevent coordination issues with 150 Pz Brigade, and the Train has to be moved up on Ghost mode. The roll for 2nd activation is failed in any case, so there will be no advance on Bullingen this day.

106th Infantry Division
The hope is to be able to use retreats to recover as much of the trapped units as possible, while scraping together a Prepared Defence for the approaches to St Vith, The SNAFU roll is a fail however. Three battalions retreat west, each losing a step. Prepared Defence is set up by the HQ. Due to isolation effects all battalions east of Grosslangerfeld are lost except for the 3/422, with but a single step remaining. The roll for a 2nd activation fails.

277 Volksgrenadier Division
Still Fresh, they get a SNAFU Pass. The Attack on the 3/393 forces it to flee, and the advance after combat surrounds the 1/393, which is reduced to 3 steps by attack and barrage but holds the trail. The division remains Fresh, but fails to get a second activation.

CCB, 9th Armored
The SNAFU roll is a Fail. The HQ sets up a Prepared Defence. The roll for a 2nd Activation succeeds and this time gets a Partial. The CCB units drive one of the 62VG battalions back over the Our with losses. Fatigue does not increase.

KG Pieper
The SNAFU roll is a 3, giving just a Partial activation. In a series of Shock Attacks from the march, the 1,2/1 Panzer battalion destroys 1 retreating battalion of the 106th and pushes another back beyond Winterspelt. The rest of the KG follows in its wake. Fresh status is lost. Pieper gets a second activation, and rolls 3 again – another Partial.

Spitze destroys the remnants of the fleeing 106th battalion (killing a step of the supporting towed tank destroyers), opening a path for the Panzers to push within 2 hexes of Burg Reuland. Fatigue increases to 1.

7th Armored Division
Had arrived Used, and fails its roll for a 2nd activation.

62 Volksgrenadier Division
I should have used this formation before Pieper, but for some reason I thought they’d already gone this turn! It’s what can happen when you return to a game after a few days. They are a mixed formation (thanks to Pieper), but still manage a SNAFU Pass. The Mechanised infantry of CCB are driven back towards St Vith, and a heavy barrage kills 3 steps of the 3/424, trapped behind German lines. 62VG remains Fresh but fails to get a 2nd Activation.

1st Infantry Division
The Formation (the 18th Regiment plus HQ and supports) gets a SNAFU Pass. They march south through the Hohes Venn, attack the vdH paratroops, kill all but 1 step and force the survivors to retreat. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

Von de Haydte FJ KG
They arrived Used and fail to gain a 2nd activation.

9th Infantry Division
The final Allied Formation rolls a 3 and gets a SNAFU fail, so does not move onto the map from entry area P.

150th Panzer Brigade
The unit gets a SNAFU Pass. Their way forward is hampered by the traffic rules, but they push through the 12VG HQ and the middle of the 3 FJ to reach just short of Holzheim. A second activation is rolled which results in a Partial.

KG X drives north and engages 1/394, wiping out the last of the 99th Division’s Tank Destroyer support and killing the final step of the battalion with Attack by Fire. Honsfeld is captured. The Brigade loses Fresh status.

326 Volksgrenadier Division
Rolls a 2 and gets a SNAFU fail. I convert this to a flip and lower fatigue to 1.

12 SS Panzer Division
Get a SNAFU Pass. The panzer spearhead drives through the 277VG and destroys the 1/393 battalion of the 99th still blocking the trail to Rocherath-Krinkelt, with the rest of the division following up. Fresh status is lost but a 2nd activation is gained.

With a roll of 3 (the SNAFU rolls have been terrible for both sides this turn) the formation just scrapes a partial activation. Lead elements push forward through the wood, destroying a defending battalion and getting within 2km of Rocherath-Krinkelt. Fatigue remains at zero.

So a the end of the second turn the German plan was to have taken Bullingen, Burg Reuland and St Vith. None have been obtained, though the Germans are 3, 2 and 4 hexes away respectively. The first two can probably be taken next turn, but I think St Vith is too well defended unless 1st SS Panzer can get behind and cut the town off. German progress has been disappointing. Partly due to poor SNAFU rolls, but also because the optional traffic rules really put a crimp in passing motorised formations through other formations in wooded terrain.

Turn 3 – 18th December

Ground: Mud, Atmosphere: Poor, Visibility: Any.

The Germans win the roll for initiative.

During assignment I think to replace the lost Support for 99th Division with a transfer of a unit from another Division with more Supports. I then discover that Divisional Supports are fixed and can’t be re-allocated. What I should have done is used some of the Allied Replacements to reconstitute the destroyed Towed Tank Destroyers, but the points were all used to replace infantry losses in the previous phase. The 99th ID will have to make do without Support this day.

KG Pieper
Seeing the open road to Vielsalm and beyond, Pieper seizes his opportunity before the Allies can react and close off the breakthrough. He gets a Pass and races west. A step is lost from the unit of Tigers due to breakdowns. 7th AD’s Train is displaced twice by the advance of 1,2/1, which reaches Vielsalm via the intact Berg Reuland and Salmchateau bridges (the remaining 2 Grief teams was expended and both bridges were captured unblown). The lead panzers outrun the rest of the formation, which can only reach Grufingen and Berg Rueland. Artillery kills a step of the 87th recon unit of 9th AD. Fatigue remains at 1. Pieper gains a 2nd activation. The lead Panzers lose a step due to isolation effects (down to 2).

The SNAFU roll is a Fail. Units deploy and a Prepared Defence is established, though few units are within the radius of the HQ to benefit. The 1,2/1 Panzers lose another step due to isolation (to 1).

99th Infantry Division
Gets a Partial SNAFU roll. Defences solidify to the east of Rocherath-Krinkelt. A local counter-attack costs 2 steps from the 1/395, but supporting artillery kills 4 steps of 12SS infantry. There is no increase in fatigue or 2nd activation.

62 Volksgrenadier Division
They scrape a Pass, despite coordination and mixed formation issues with Pieper. The trapped 3/424 of the 106th Div is wiped out, and other units trade fire with the 106th and CCB/9 to little effect. Fresh status is maintained but there is no 2nd activation.

2nd Infantry Division
Rolls an 11 for a SNAFU Pass, but this is dropped to a Partial to maintain the Prepared Defence.. The Priority has to be to block the 150 Pzr Brigade and 12VG threat to Bullingen. A barrage kills a step of KG X. Fatigue stays at 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

12 Volksgrenadier Division
They get a Partial activation. KG Holz softens up the defenders of the woods west of Hunningen, also managing to knock a step off the 2nd ID’s armoured Support. A follow-up infantry attack forces the defenders to retreat, and takes the woods. Fatigue remains at 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

1st Infantry Division
They go next to wipe out the remnants of vdH’s paratroops, before they can interfere with the supply trains of the 2nd and 99th. They just manage to get a Partial activation. The German paratroops are eliminated with an artillery barrage, and the formation marches south towards Malmedy. Fatigue remains at 2, and there is no 2nd activation.

1st SS Panzer Division
Their aim is to blow through 14 Cavalry Group and cut off St Vith from the north as Pieper is doing to the south. They get a Pass and a full activation. The Group’s light tanks are destroyed by the SS JgPzs, and the HQ forced to flee. A single step of the 32nd recon survives the activation in Mayerode. Muddy roads delay the trucked infantry, who are just short of Andler. The formation loses Fresh status, but gains a 2nd activation.

The roll is a Partial. The 14 Cavalry Group are wiped out, and the armoured spearheads pause 4km north of St Vith to await infantry support. Fatigue increases to 1.

7th Armored Division
Fails its SNAFU roll. I consider a failure flip to lower fatigue to zero, but the 50% chance of a 2nd activation is too good to miss, so I take the failure instead, set up Prepared Defence, and move the combat train to optimal distance. The roll for a 2nd activation succeeds.

The division manages a Partial activation. Tanks are sent south and drive off Pieper’s panzer grenadiers with losses, while armoured infantry form a defensive screen against 1st SS north of St Vith. Fatigue remains at 1.

[The caption should read 7th Armored, of course]

18 Volksgrenadier Division
The formation gets a full activation. The division presses west against the defences of St Vith, using engagements and barrages to whittle down the defending CCB/9. Fatigue remains at 1. There is no 2nd activation.

9th Infantry Division
Gets a Partial activation and moves to Kalterherberg to face the 326 VG. Fatigue cannot increase from 1, and there is no 2nd activation.

150 Panzer Brigade
Gets a Full activation. Bullingen received a double OBJ, and the forward troops deploy and attempt to drop support on the line of 2nd ID infantry. Little progress is made. Fatigue increases to 1 and the roll for a 2nd activation is successful.

Another Full activation. The 2/23 stand firm despite mounting losses, and casualties rise among KG X. Fatigue stays at 1.

CCB 9th Armored
Gets a Full activation. A barrage kills a step of KG Renn, but an Attack fails to open a route for the 14th battalion to escape. The trapped tanks retreat back to US lines, losing 2 steps. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation. [OK. So I know that voluntary retreat is restricted to counters with an unprepared side – mistakes happen in war]

12 SS Panzer Division
The formation barely manages a Full activation. They are facing the 99th ID, who are in Prepared Defence, but lack Support. This enables the tanks to drive past the infantry battalions right up to Krinkelt. Attacks on the flanks are successful, driving back the defenders with losses, but the villages hold out. Fatigue increases to 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

326 Volksgrenadier Division
Get a Full activation. An attempt to take Hofen fails, with a step loss to each side. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

112/28 Infantry Regiment
The formation gets a Partial activation. The need is to block Pieper’s access to Vielsalm, so that the lead panzer unit in that village will wither away before it can be supported. Unfortunately there are too many trails and roads for a single regiment to cover effectively, so the HQ sets up a Prepared Defence just south of Beho and marches 2 battalions north hoping for a 2nd activation. The roll succeeds on a 4.

The SNAFU roll is fail however. At least the battalions are able to deploy.

3rd Fallshirmjager Division
The Formation is more or less blocked from moving to the SW by 1st SS and to the NW by 12VG and 150 Pzr Brigade. Since it has fatigue 2 I consider recovering, but eventually decide to roll SNAFU, and they get a Full activation. I think the future need will for them to defend Bullingen (once it falls), so they move as fast as possible to the west. An attack on the trapped 3/394 reduces it to a single step, but leaves it alive to potentially harass the 150 Pz HQ next turn. A Spotted Barrage kill a step of the 2/23 infantry. Fatigue remains at 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

82nd Airborne Division
The division only manages a Partial activation. Their intent is to protect Parker’s Crossroads and retake and hold Vielsalm. The paras move as far as possible in the direction of Vielsalm but are 6 km short at the end of the day, and there is no 2nd activation.

277 Volksgrenadier Division
They are in a perfect position to take a recovery apart from the fact that the division is still completely Fresh! They get a Full activation and consider their options. There is simply no way west through 12SS, who have jammed the trails through the Hansfelderwald. Turning south would entangle them with 12VG, but there is a US battalion in a swamp, the 2/394, which could be attacked and provide a gap to advance through. Two battalions attack with a 3pt destruction barrage in support. The US are reduced to a single step, but survive in place. The division retains Fresh status but fails to get a 2nd activation.

30th Infantry Division
Arrives Used. Crap! I realise now that 82AB was also Used, so I was actually rolling for a 2nd activation which failed. That division should not have been able to move at all, so I’ll go back and replace them where they started.

The 30th rolls a 2, and also fails to get a 2nd activation.

F. Begleit Brigade
Rolls a 3 and only gets a Partial Activation. It means they can only reach Prum, and don’t have to choose a final objective as yet. They remain Fresh and fail a 2nd activation roll.

106th Infantry Division
The Formation is down to 3 remaining battalions – 1 in St Vith, 1 with the HQ 3km SE of St Vith, and 1 trapped behind enemy lines in 3435, but at full strength. The activation is a Partial. The trapped battalion retreats to 3203, taking control of the south end of the bridge at Burg Reuland, and cutting the road that Pieper’s Tigers were intending to use. It takes 2 step losses (to 4). The other units of the division stand fast, and artillery kills 1 step of the 62VG. Isolation effects drop another step from the 2/424 (to 3). Fatigue remains at zero, and there is no 2nd activation. On zooming out to take a picture I spotted another battalion of the 106th still trapped in the Schnee Eifel. This was down to its last step, and surrenders in the isolation phase.

9th SS Panzer Division
The Fresh reinforcing division gets a full activation. Tac-move units reach the Losheim gap. But the trucked infantry are lagging far behind on the muddy roads and only reach Kronenburg (5219).

The formation gets a 2nd activation, again a Full one, and is able to close up to the rear of 12VG

 

So how are things looking for the German plan at the end of the third day? Not good. Of the 3 northern objectives that were targeted for T2 and T3 none are currently in German hands. 12 SS Panzer is adjacent to Rocherath-Krinkelt and should take in next turn. 12 VG is only 2 hexes from Bullingen but could have a fight depending on who gets the initiative here. Camp d’Elsenborn is 8 hexes distant and likely to be held by 1st Infantry before German forces can approach.

In the south the Germans now have Burg Reuland, but St Vith is fairly strongly held by the Allies, though at the risk of being pocketed. Vielsalm has been taken by a flying column of panzers, now dwindling as they are out of reach of Pieper’s HQ and likely to be eliminated before they can be reinforced.

Turn 4 is going to have to be about getting the combat power stuck behind the front lines into effective action and praying for poor US SNAFU rolls.

Turn 4 – 19th December

Ground: Mud, Atmosphere: Poor, Visibility: Any.

The Allies win the roll for initiative.

The 99th Division remembers to allocate a replacement to reconstitute the towed TD Support this turn. Pieper is lucky enough to get replacements for his broken down Tigers, bringing them back to a strength of 2 steps.

It’s an agonising choice for the Allies of which formation to activate first. 1st SS are breaking through north of St Vith, Pieper may try to support his spearhead in Vielsalm, and the 99th HQ is threatened with being overrun. I eventually go with 2nd ID to try and stabilise the north.

2nd Infantry Division
A roll of 5 is not enough to get a Partial Activation. The roll for a 2nd activation is unsuccessful – the division is paralysed!

Kampfgruppe Pieper
It was an equally difficult choice for the Germans, but the lure of Vielsalm was too much and Pieper got the nod over 12VG. Pieper gets a SNAFU Pass. Objectives cover the battalion of the 106th blocking the road south of Burg Reuland, and the line held by the 112/28 centred on Beho. The Tigers growl forward to brush aside the isolated 106th unit. Attack by fire does no damage, and an Attack with a suppression barrage rolls a 2!. The Tigers lose a step and the riflemen retreat to 3005 losing a step (to 2). The turn gets worse. Units launch a number of poorly coordinated attacks on the 124th Regiment, and several attacking steps are lost to no gain. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation. Pieper is dribbling away his units in over-ambitious attempts to push west at any cost.

99th Infantry Division
The Allies make another attempt to regroup the northern defences. The roll is a Partial – just. Artillery knocks a step off the 12SS lead panzer unit but at the cost of fatigue rising to 1. There is no 2nd activation.

1st SS Panzer Division
There seems to be an opportunity to drive on Malmedy until I remember the mud and the mainly trucked units. I have already flipped the HQ at this point, and the SNAFU roll is only a Partial anyway. Using the Division against the northern flank of St Vith seems to be the logical choice. Lead units skirmish with armoured infantry of 9th Armored and await the infantry to catch-up. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

1st Infantry Division
Chosen next so as to get some force opposing the advance of 150 Pzr and 12 VG before they can reach Butgenbach. Unfortunately they get a SNAFU fail (must still be hunting paratroops in the Hohes Venn), and I decide to take a flip to lower fatigue to 1.

12th Volksgrenadier Division
They get a Full activation. The division blows through Bullingen with ease, capturing the village itself and Dom. Butgenbach beyond. Fatigue increases to 3 and a 2nd activation is gained. The SNAFU roll would be at -3, but I take it anyway in order to have a chance of clearing the route for 9th SS to pass through the division. The roll is 4 and the SNAFU is a fail.

82nd Airborne Division
Rolls a 3, and thanks to Pieper earlier jumping their train they fail the SNAFU check even though Fresh.. They also fail to get a 2nd activation, and are stuck around Habiemont. The Train relocates to Werbomont, out of Pieper’s way.

150th Panzer Brigade
They get a Partial Activation, and need to clear out the 2 battalions of the 2nd ID south of Bullingen to allow access to the roads west for 9SS and 3FJ. They only manage to exchange steps lost in engagements and attacks. Fatigue stays at 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

CCB/9th Armored Division
Rolls a 3 and gets a Fail. They take a flip and reduce fatigue to 1.

3rd Fallshirmjager Division
Get a Full activation. The Division streams west, striking at the cut-off US units they pass to little effect. Fatigue remains at 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

30th Infantry Division
Pass the SNAFU roll and head south. The HQ is hampered by muddy roads, but the lead marching infantry approach Stoumont and Stavelot. There is no 2nd activation.

18th Volksgrenadier Division
The SNAFU roll is a Pass. The formation drives on St Vith, forcing the HQ and a battalion of the 106th to retreat with heavy losses and pushing back the armoured infantry of CCB/9. Fatigue increases to 2 but the Division gains a 2nd activation.

The roll is 12 – another Pass. Pressure continues, but this time the Allies stand their ground, with both sides losing steps. Fatigue increases to 3.

CCB/3rd Armored Division
The formation gets a partial activation and drives south along the road the Stavelot until they come upon roads already choked by 30th ID. There is no 2nd activation.

62nd Volksgrenadier Division
The still-Fresh unit gets a Full activation. They support the drive on St Vith, wiping out the 2/424 battalion of the 106th but making no headway against 9th Armored. Fatigue finally increases to zero, and there is no 2nd activation.

112/28 Regiment
The HQ is surrounded by Pieper ZOCs, and so there is no legal trace to the Train, which has to be moved off board. Given the extra -3 modifier then formation fails the SNAFU roll and cannot activate. A step is lost from each of the 2 battalions with no safe path to the HQ. The Regiment chooses not to attempt a 2nd activation, in the hope that Pieper will be counter-attacked next turn.

326th Volksgrenadier Division
The division gets a partial activation. It moves a battalion into Hofen and artillery kill a step of the 9th ID. Fatigue increases to 3 and there is no 2nd activation.

106th Infantry Division
Is now down to 2 battalions, and gets a Partial activation. Prepared defence is re-established, and long range spotted artillery fire kills 2 steps from the 18VG. Fatigue remains at zero, and the division gets a 2nd activation.

The SNAFU roll is a Pass (reduced to Partial because of the Prepared Defence). Artillery fire kills 2 more steps. Fatigue does not increase.

277th Volksgrenadier Division
Gets a SNAFU Pass. A destruction barrage wipes out the 2/394, allowing a follow-up Attack against the engineers behind. This is equally successful and removes the unit. The division stays Fresh, and gets 2nd Activation.

The Activation roll is a Pass. An Attack on the 2/395 fails, and barrages do no damage to the defenders of Rocherath-Krinkelt. The division remains Fresh.

9th Infantry Division
The formation gets a partial activation. The infantry move up against the 326VG division facing them, and artillery knocks a step of each of the 3 enemy battalions in contact. Fatigue remains at 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

F. Beg. Brigade
Gets a SNAFU Pass. The Brigade decides to follow in the path of the 1st SS to the north of St Vith, with lead elements approaching Roth. The brigade fails to get a 2nd activation.

7th Armored Division
This is the last Allied formation for the turn. They roll a 3 and Fail the SNAFU roll. They take a flip and reduce Fatigue to zero.

12th SS Panzer Division
Manages to scrape a Full Activation. The 99th ID HQ is driven out of Rocherath-Krinkelt with the loss of the defending battalion and the twin villages are occupied. Fatigue increase to 2 and there is no 2nd activation.

9th SS Panzer Division
The Formation gets a Partial activation. The General gnashes his teeth as scout reports come in. The roads NW are blocked by 12VG, west by 150 Pzr Brigade and 3FJ and SW by 1st SS. The most ground can be gained by following the 1st SS, and the division heads for Andler. A barrage swiftly takes out the engineers of the 99th ID en route. The formation remains Fresh but gets no 2nd activation.

3rd Panzer Grenadier Division
The last German formation is a reinforcement from the north. It only gets a Partial activation and takes the good roads south as far as Schmidtheim, intending to turn west through the Losheim Gap. There is no second activation.

 

At the end of the fourth day there has been progress. Bullingen and Rocherath-Krinkelt both fell in the north, and Vielsalm and Burg Reuland are still held in the south. With 2 turns left it is possible that St Vith could fall, and that Camp D’Elsenborn could be taken, especially if Allied formations continue to be paralysed by indecision as happened this turn. Malmedy is a long shot, and I really can’t see anything further west than that as a possibility. This leaves the Germans at least 1VP short of victory, and more likely 2. I freely admit to playing Pieper horrendously badly, though if it turns out that he holds Vielsalm at game end it may have actually been a stroke of genius. We can only see what the SNAFU rolls bring.

Turn 5 – 20th December

Ground: Mud, Atmosphere: Poor, Visibility: 1 hex.

The Germans win the roll for initiative.

1st SS Panzer Division
Chosen first so that it can clear the path for follow up units while hopefully putting pressure on St Vith from the north. The roll is an 9 and just manages a Pass. A lucky boxcars strips 2 steps from TF Rhea of 9th Armored and sends then fleeing. TF Chapman gets the worst of a dual with KG Knittel, but holds its ground. Fatigue increases to 3 and there is no 2nd activation.

1st Infantry Division
They have the best chance of setting up a defence for Camp D’Elsenborn and Malmedy before the Germans advance. They overcome last turn’s lethargy with a SNAFU Pass, and are able to get forward to good positions. There is no 2nd activation.

12th SS Panzer Division
Choose to strike before the 99th ID can set up Prepared Defence again. The roll is just good enough for a Pass. KG Bremer engages 2/395 to drop support, but rolls a 3, taking a step loss and traffic STOP in Krinkelt. The Pioneers drive off the 2/393 of the 99th ID but forward progress in disappointing. Fatigue remains at 2 and there is a 2nd activation.

The SNAFU roll is a 3, which is a Fail.

82nd Airborne Division
Now with their Train re-positioned they hope to be able to secure Parker’s Crossroads and advance on Vielsalm. A roll of 10 gives then a full activation. Lead units reach the outskirts of Vielsalm, but the main hindrance is the slow movement of the divisional HQ (Leg 2!). Troops could have pushed further but would be out of command radius. There is no 2nd activation.

3rd Fallshirmjager Division
Roll a 5 and Fail. A Flip is used to lower Fatigue to 1. This was a bad fail – I really needed them to put pressure on 1st ID in the drive to Malmedy, and to clear the route for follow-up units.

30th Infantry Division
Gets a Full activation. The division moves south to garrison Stavelot and the approach roads, and reach the outskirts of Trois Ponts. There is no 2nd activation.

9th SS Panzer Division
Get a full activation. The armour drive NW at full speed, hitting the 99th Norwegians with coordinated attacks by fire and destruction barrage, and reducing them to a single step at the cost of 1 loss from KG Recke. The infantry are left far behind, struggling through the wooded trails to Ambleve. The division loses Fresh status and fails to get a 2nd activation.

7th Armored Division
The SNAFU roll is a Pass. The division uses its artillery to kill 1 step from Pieper’s 11,13/2 armoured infantry, and 4 more steps front the from line of 1SS pressing from the north. Fatigue remains at zero and the unit gets a 2nd activation.

The activation is Full again. Artillery is used to kill the Pioneer battalion of the 18VG and another 4 steps, also from 18VG and 1SS. Stacking is a bad idea when the defenders have so much artillery to call upon. Fatigue remains at zero.

62nd Volksgrenadier Division
Gets a Full activation. 9th AD had to abandon Prepared Defences in order to use its artillery offensively to full effect. Units infiltrate the woods south of the Braunlauf stream and make a daring attack over the stream against 7th AD HQ, stacked with only the recon battalion. First Task Group Fuller is Attacked, and forced to retreat with the loss of 2 steps due to lack of a Safe Path. The attack on the HQ is less successful, and the 1/190 loses 2 steps (to 4). Fatigue remains at zero, and the unit gains a 2nd activation.

The roll is 10, for another Full! The division continues to push to the west. This time the attack on 7th AD HQ gets boxcars, and the defenders are driven back to the woods north of Crombach. Fatigue remains a zero. This formation’s turn drove home the fact that if you want to hold ground you need Prepared Defences. 7th AD should not have dropped it just to kill a few more steps with artillery.

CCB/9th Armored Division
The formation manages a Partial activation and moves to better defensive positions. Artillery fails to hurt KG Renn. Fatigue remains at 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

KG Pieper
Rolls an 11 for SNAFU pass. Pieper’s HQ needs to get within 5 hexes of Vielsalm so that units defending the village are not isolated. The only route is through 112/28, so these will have to dealt with first. The Tigers drive up to Beho and knock out the last of the towed Tank Destroyers, ending all support for the US Regiment. A Shock Attack kills the last of the Tigers and 1 step of the defending infantry (to 5). An Attack by Panzergrenadiers forces the HQ to retreat, and it falls back towards its supply source (no Train on the map) to 1805, which still blocks the route to Vielsalm. KG Spitze is eliminated in a Shock Attack forcing another retreat of the HQ to 1607. This gives just enough leeway for 11,13/2 to drive up to contact, followed by Pieper’s HQ. It is just in 5 hex reach of Vielsalm, which saves 6,7/1 from being eliminated. Fatigue remains at 2, and Pieper gets a 2nd activation.

The roll is 3, which is a Fail. I missed previously that the Pioneer battalion was now out of command radius, so it is down to single step due to isolation at the end of Pieper’s turn.

CCB/3rd Armored Division
Gets a Full Activation. The Command pushes south of Malmedy to threaten 9SS Panzer with being cut in two. There is no 2nd activation. [Just remembered – Combat Commands don’t cause coordination problems, so I’ve removed the 3 markers I placed]

18th Volksgrenadier Division
Gets a Partial activation. The Attacks are highly successful, and the lead battalion gets to the outskirts of St Vith. Fatigue stays at 3 and there is no 2nd activation.

99th Infantry Division
Rolls a 2. That would be a fail then. I don’t flip, but take the opportunity to set up Prepared Defence and retreat to 2/395 out of the pocket to friendly lines. The roll for a 2nd activation is successful.

This time a 7 is rolled and a Partial activation obtained. A new line is formed to stave off 12SS, and artillery batters the infantry in contact with the division. Fatigue remains at 1.

F. Beg. Brigade
The activation is Full. The HQ reaches Wischeid and the formation gets a 2nd activation…

…which is also Full. The lead elements of the Brigade reach Mayerode, but form part of traffic jam behind 1st SS Panzer. Three divisions trying to use Rollbahn ‘E’ does not really work.

9th Infantry Division
The SNAFU roll is a Partial. The division enters Prepared Defence to block 326 VG and shells Hofen, killing 1 step. Fatigue increases to 2 and there is a 2nd activation.

Another Partial activation is gained. Barrages have no effect and Fatigue stays at 2.

150 Panzer Brigade
Gets a Full activation. KG X destroys the last step of the 2/23 with an Attack by Fire, then drops the support of 3/23. The follow-up attack goes badly wring, and 2 attacking steps are lost. Fatigue stays at 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

106th Infantry Division
Gets a full activation, but down-graded to Partial to retain Prepared Defence. The 1/424 is surrounded with just 1 step left, and will be eliminated unless a safe path can be created. The only other unit of the division is the garrison of St Vith, so this is out of the question. The trapped unit Attacks II/164 to try and break the pocket. The Germans are forced to retreat, but the US unit is eliminates in the attack. Fatigue increases to 1 and there is no 2nd activation.

12th Volksgrenadier Division
A roll of 6 is fail thanks to 3 fatigue, coordination issues and mixed formations. I consider a flip to recover fatigue, but the end of the scenario is approaching and there is a 50% change of another activation. With a partial they could clear the Bullingen road for follow-up units and put pressure on the Camp D’Elsenborn defences. I take the chance and roll a 2. No further activation.

2nd Infantry Division
Gets a Partial activation. The defences pull back north of the Warche. Heavy barrages send a panzer battalion and an infantry battalion of 12 SS Panzer to the graveyard. Fatigue remains at 2 and there is a 2nd activation.

Another Partial is obtained. Another battalion of the 12SS is destroyed by artillery. Fatigue remains at 2.

277th Volksgrenadier Division
The formation gets a Full activation. The division passes through the paralysed 12VG and attacks 2nd ID. There are equal losses to both sides but the line holds. The unit remains Fresh and there is no 2nd activation.

112/28 Regiment
With the Train off the map, the HQ gains an MSR Blocked – 1 marker, but as it is no longer surrounded by ZOCs its Train can now return to a legal hex. With a roll of 3 the SNAFU is failed. Prep Defence is established and the Train flipped to its normal side. Unfortunately there is no 2nd activation.

[Ah – I was checking the effects of having MRS blocked, and saw Prep Def is not allowed, so I removed the marker after the screen cap was taken]

326 Volksgrenadier Division
They get a full activation despite the 3 fatigue. They drop it to Partial in order to set up Prepared Defences. No artillery is fired so as not to risk further fatigue, and no roll is made for a 2nd activation.

3rd Panzergrenadier Division
Gets a full activation. They are probably not going to have any effect on the game before the scenario ends, but I turn the formation west along the road to Losheim. There is no 2nd activation.

 

At turn end the status of the VP hexes are as follows:

Spa (G1) – solidly Allied and unthreatened.
Malmedy (A1) Allied. 9SS are 6 hexes away but unlikely to capture the village.
Stavelot (A1) Allied and unthreatened.
Trois Ponts (A1) Allied and unthreatened.
Camp D’Elsenborn (G1) Allied and extremely unlikely to fall.
Rocherath-Krinkelt (G1) German and unlikely to change hands.
Bullingen (A1) German and unthreatened.
St Vith (A1) Allied but very likely to be captured next turn.
Burg Reuland (A1) German and unthreatened.
Vielsalm (A1) German but could change hands easily.
Parkers Crossroads (A1, G1) Allied, very unlikely to fall.

So the Allies have 5VP and the Germans 1VP. On the best possible performance I can see the Germans capturing St Vith, holding Vielsalm and taking Malmedy. This would still leave them 1 point short of a draw so I’ll call the game at this point and declare an Allied victory.

What a superb game system! I haven’t been so captivated by a new wargame since I first played OCS Tunisia 20 years ago.

I’ve just spent 25 hours or so on Vassal playing and writing up this scenario, and I immediately want to start playing again (probably the Advance and Destroy scenario to see what the Allies look like on the offensive).

I’m still learning how to best use the formations. I certainly made a mess of Pieper, but I got the feeling as I was playing that both sides were suffering from lower than average rolls for SNAFU and 2nd activation checks. It might be interesting to check the results for each formation turn by turn.

The number in brackets is the roll for a 2nd activation. U = Used, F = Full Activation, P = Partial Activation, X = Failed Activation, Rec = Fatigue Recovery.

GERMAN
12VG (4): P, P, P, F/X, X
18VG (4): F/P, F, F, F/F, P
277VG (6): F, F, F, F/F, F
3FJ (6): P, P/Rec, F, F, X
326VG (6): F, X, F, P, F
62VG (5): F/F, F, F, F, F/F
KG Pieper (3): U/F, P/P, F/X, F, F/X
1SS (4): U, F, F/P, P, P
12SS (4): U, F/P, F, F, F
150 Pzr (5): F/P, F/F, P, F
F. Beg. (4): P, F, F/F
9SS (4): F/F, P, F
3PG (5): P, F

ALLIED
2ID (4): U, P/P, F, X, P/P
CCB/9 (4): U/P, X/P, F, X, P
14Cav (4): U, P/F
99ID (5): U/X, X, P, P, X/P
106ID (6): F, X, P, P/F, F
7AD (4): U, X/P, X, F/F
1ID (4): F, P, X, F
9ID (4): X, P, P, P
112,28 (4): P/X, X, X
82AB (4): U, X, F
30ID (4): U, F, F
CCB/3 (4): P, F

I think this shows that the Germans have little to complain about with regards to their infantry. The divisions all performed above expectations except for 12VG, which was still adequate. The mobile divisions however were getting fewer than average 2nd activations (expecting around 14 and getting just 10). This did greatly slow the initial drive.

The Allied turn 4 was a disaster, with 5 formations failing to activate at all. 112/28 must hold some sort of record for getting just 1 partial activation in 4 days! To be fair he was being kettled by Pieper for 2 of those days.

One thought on “Massive post: Northern Campaign AAR Last Blitzkrieg

  1. Outstanding AAR! I have just started the rules for the BCS and they seem easy enough to suss out. The real test of that comes when playing the game which is why the map comes out next and some counters for the first scenario to see how well I remember them. After a few times of that I hope I am ready for an opponent.

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