Friday, 6 February 2009

Attack on the Hochwald

I finally got to run my Hochwald scenario for Megablitz at the club on Wednesday. Tim Gow, Nick Mitchell, John Armatys and Jerry Elsmore braved the snow and sub zero temperatures and turned out to play. I felt rather sorry for the original soldiers having to fight a battle in weather like this.

The planning session we'd had a couple of weeks ago meant we got set up reasonably quickly, although for some odd reason it always takes far longer to set these things up than take them down. The Germans set up with their front line pulled back to Udem, 6th FJ Div holding the ridge, 2nd FJ Div holding Udem and 116th Panzer Div refitting in the Hochwald. The Canadians arranged their two infantry divisions in echelon to attack Udem frontally, while the Armoured Div pinned 6th FJ. The leading infantry brigades were provided with Kangeroos. The biggest problem the Canadians faced was fitting all their troops into the deployment area (just as in reality), the photo illustrates just how jammed in they were.

The Canadians rolled forward into a brutal frontal assault on Udem, right into the strongest Germans defences. 3rd Infantry Div burned itself out and was rotated with the 2nd who resumed the attack. Meanwhile engineers breached the forward minefields and the attached armoured brigade passed through to assault the German paras. The first wave of tanks was destroyed by the German infantry, but towards the end of the second day the infantry of 2nd CID managed to both clear Udem and punch a hole in the 6th FJ line.

At nightfall the Germans had had enough and fell back to the Siegfried Line defences. The third day was spent by the Canadians moving up to the next defence line whilst clearing the rubbled roads, mines and onstructions. As they approached the Germans demolished the anti-tank ditch causeways in front of their defences and waited. On March 1st a ferocious Canadian assault dashed the 2nd CID against 116th Panzer, meanwhile 4th CAD conducted battalion level probing attacks against the remnants of 6th FJ, succeeding in siezing a small bridgehead. The fighting raged all day, but as night fell in the incessant rain, German counterattacks destroyed the bridgehead in the north, and the infantry in the south had failed to make significant headway against the Gap. With the prospect of a breakthrough now looking slim, the attack was called off, having advanced 15km in four days.

In retrospect, this game was perhaps a bit ambitious for a club night, although we could have managed the last two days if the outcome had perhaps been more in doubt. Some of the mods I'd made worked OK (such as the terrain effects and increased combat benefits for defence), but some aspects were unworkable. The repair/replacement system was too complicated and it was easier just to allocate replacements to units in supply, and trying to remember which units had been in S for two turns in a row was too much to remember. It was easer just to give all units in S and extra dice and let them dig in overnight. I'm still not very happy with the actual mechanics of combat, units don't get pushed out of positions and casualties aren't a function of target density (unless using minefields), but it seems to work, and I'm not sure I have the energy for a total revision. I keep thinking that some of the mechanisms from the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame would help, but really it would be a different game.

The players seemed to enjoy themselves, although the Canadians had quite a hard time of it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I can't help thinking that they would have been better off with a more indirect approach than a frontal assault on Udem. The Armoured Div was quite capable of rolling up 6th FJ Div on its own as there were no AT obstacles to stop it, whereas it was quite stumped by the Siegfried Line AT ditches. Having isolated Udem, it could then be reduced at leisure, whilst another division was supplied via the Calcar Road to carry on the attack. The Hochwald Gap was defended so strongly as 6th FJ was allowed to withdraw in reasonable order and beef up the refitting 116th Panzer. We are unlikely to play this one again, but I'm now enthused to dig out my SCW Megablitz scenario for the Battle of the Jarama, or possibly re-visit Operation Battleaxe (which most certainly is doable in an evening).

No comments:

Post a Comment