Side by Side – Bastogne [SCS] Game 1 of 2

The second in an occasional series of games played by 4 guys who share a common interest in historical conflict simulations.

This weekend we played Bastogne. Another SCS title. Our games are chosen around a number of factors, firstly era of interest, then play ability, opportunity to complete in one day or one and a half days, and familiarity with the game system or experiences with the game itself.

Having recently played Yom Kippur, it seemed a natural fit to try some Western Theatre world war II at the company level. This SCS title is a departure from others in scale in the sense of unit sizes and time scale.

I am happy to report however that it works! Tweaks to turn sequence allow for a historical flavor that shows the power of Allied Artillery and C&C. That and the fluidity of movement via road movement rule additions and some clever arty supply rules make this a unique experience each time. Part of the challenge of course historically for both sides was the maze of roads, intertwining through dense forest.  This did not mean however that one could not maneuver! If a road was open then by golly you bet the Germans would use it!

The second game is readable tomorrow and has a video attached to it also. Make sure you subscribe to receive notification of its availability.

German Player Game 1

KG Bohm and KG 902 advance along with the 26 VG (Volks Grenadier), not making much head way and focusing on destroying or attempting to destroy Artillery of the Americans. The plan for the German player was to push up the middle initially and then thrust North hoping to catch the Allies on the hop.  The Allied player is a notorious counter attacker and plays defense by attacking. This game started out no different with lots of units  of his staying well forward.

There would be no easy breakthroughs. The 902 stuck to the highway and tried but failed to dislodge some key Engineers in turn one that basically842 IMG_0090y meant that the 101st reinforcements would be assured lots of room to deploy.

Turn two saw good advances north and almost nothing east of Bastogne! The 101st had now deployed in a 2 line defense. with 2 battalions ready to counter attack. Well really I suppose they would plug holes, as they lack the firepower to be aggressive. The armor for the Allies was not readily available yet to inflict much pain.  Nevertheless Allied Arty and the inevitable low rolls on 3:1 attacks hurt the Germans enough without Allied tanks. The German can attack freely, with the right units. Its is important to know who stays and who goes, who is worth VP’s and who is not. The German player was not doing a good job of managing this.

Losses are important in this game as they represent potentially 8 VPs. 2 per KG removed. It is however not possible to advance without taking losses. So the German player should have been more aggressive with his play, and foregone the VP accumulation. The wall of the 101st looked unbreakable at this point and the German strategy would now rely on a Northern approach.

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The German player gladly admits that it is better to be luck than good! With heavy attacks failing and the Eastern advance faltering a gift was handed to the Germans.  A trail that ran clear around the map would prove to be a boon. KG Fallois and 901 motor around the dual wall and the battalions of defense and strike the naked rear of Bastogne. 2VPs for ending in Bastogne on turn 3!

Trouble was not far way however. As KG Bohn leaves the game in turn 4, and allied air would soon be available.  The grip on the town was thin, and the Germans thrust everything they could into the gap. Strangely the US did not move to block the roads recently traversed and this would eventually setup KG Kunkels rapid arrival to support Fallois.

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It is noteworthy that if this road opening had been exposed in the North then either Kampfe Gruppe 902 nor Bohm would have to leave Bastogne just as they were establishing themselves! Certainly an issue for the German player and whilst historical, not terribly realistic.

The arrival of reinforcements for the Germans was a boon. The attacks had been fierce in Bastogne and relief from the NE was still not there. Kunkel arrived with 88mm guns and they were quickly deployed in town once the German player saw the defensive value (6), with just one step.

As attacks continued VP’s mounted for the Germans. Yet, the grip on Bastogne was tenuous. The German player resisted the temptation to expand its holdings and concentrated artillery fire on DG’ing units that could attack his men in the city. Meanwhile, the Germans north of town blocked access to and attacked units on Victory Route A.  It would be close but if Bastogne fell the Route was the key to securing a minor if not major victory.

The German line becomes thin with KG 902’s departure.

The noose tightened on Bastogne, but 5 air attacks and lots of arty failed to dislodge the Germans. The Allied players feared hot dice deserted him. The German and Allied player agreed the game was over.

The Germans only through the luck of the other players omission take victory.

Allied Player Game 2

As the US player : garrison Bastogne.  And you really need a far screen to halt the road movement a decent distance from Bastogne.  But you also need a secondary screen as the German mech units should be able to Road March, then use regular movement to overrun that screen, so don’t count on one company to hold off the advance.

US artillery : really, no more of a benefit than the German indirect firepower.  The Germans have tons of mortars which, even with poor rolling, will leave plenty of US units disrupted over the course of the game.  US arty should have a hierarchy of who to engage : armor/mech units in woods, armor/mech units in open if you can force the Germans to consider a low odds attack.  Don’t bother with VG units or non-withdrawing units.

As the Germans – you have the mobility and firepower advantage.  If you can get into Bastogne early, do it at all costs as the benefit is worth the VP “loss” for a withdrawing unit.  Use the VG units to attack, even at 1-1 odds.  Who cares?  They are not worth VPs and the US has a limited counterattack possibility.

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