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Subject: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report rss

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Leo Zappa
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Session Report: Solo Session
Game: Bitter Woods, 1st Edition
Date Started: 2-24-2008
Rules: Basic, no optional rules

Introduction:

While I do get quite a bit of gaming in between my two gaming groups and my wife and kids, none of these people tend to want to play traditional wargames. So, in order to satisfy my periodic cravings for some good, old-fashioned counter-pushing, I am often forced to go it alone. In this particular case, I’ve had a hankering to try Randy Heller’s classic Battle of the Bulge game, Bitter Woods. I have a first edition copy which I bought from another BGG member, and it has sat on my bookshelf for over a year. After reading so many glowing reviews of this game, and the favorable comparisons made between it and The Russian Campaign, which is one of my all-time favorite wargames, I have finally decided to give this one a spin. I am also going to post a running session report for this experience, just for fun! Each installment of my session report will represent one day (two game turns) of the operation. I have decided to tell the story from the German side of the battle, as it was their offensive, and I thought it might be interesting to see things unfold (and most likely, unravel) from the vantage point of Field Marshal Walther Model, commander of Army Group B, the Wehrmacht army group tasked with execution of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine). The playing of this game might take me a while, as I probably won’t get through more than one turn per evening, and unfortunately, I can’t devote every evening to playing the game, even though I do find it incredibly therapeutic after a hard day at the office!

Installment 1:

16-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein has been launched! Please feel free to refer to our briefing map while I present today’s situation report.



Our first report is from Hauptmann Kruger of General Von Brandenberger’s 7th Army. Hauptmann Kruger reports that 7th Army’s units have successfully crossed the Our River and advanced over 12 km from their start points. The towns of Consdorf, Beaufort, Vianden, and Diekrich have been secured. At this time, elements of the 5th Luftwaffe, 352nd, and 276th infantry divisions are positioned to assault American forces holding the town of Ettlebruck. Our attack on Ettlebruck is scheduled to begin at 0430 tomorrow. American resistance so far has been stiffer than expected, and we are facing elements of the American 9th armored, 4th and 28th infantry divisions.

Our second report is from Oberleutnant Knappe, liaison officer for General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army. Oberleutnant Knappe reports that after fierce initial resistance, 5th Panzer Army forces have crossed the Our in two locations. The southernmost crossing, led by the 2nd Panzergrenadier and 26th infantry divisions, has resulted in a 7 km penetration to the outskirts of the town of Clervaux. Meanwhile, the northern crossing, by elements of the Lehr, 2nd PzGren, and 560th infantry divisions, has driven nearly 15 km westwards, to the town of St. Vith. American forces have retreated at least 20 km to the west! Herr General Manteuffel’s plans for tomorrow are to secure both Clervaux and St. Vith, both of which appear to have been abandoned by the Americans, and then drive on towards Bastogne, Hoffalize, and Vielsalm.

Our last report, Herr Field Marshal, is from Major Weidling, our liaison from General Dietrich’s 6th SS Panzer Army. Major Weidling reports that the spearhead of the 12th SS Panzer division has driven nearly 25 km into American lines, capturing the village of Ambleve, and approaching the town of Malmedy! The 12th and 277th infantry divisions are positioned to assault the town of Rocherath-Krinkelt at 0500 tomorrow morning. Despite the overall success of today’s operation in the 6th SS Panzer Army’s sector, Major Weidling does report that American resistance has proven to be far greater than expected, and the Americans repulsed our initial attack on the town of Monschau by the 1st SS Panzer division. Elements of at least three American divisions, including the veteran 2nd infantry division, are reported to be in the operational zone. Operations for tomorrow include continuing the drive towards Malmedy, with the hopes of threatening the Americans in Monschau with encirclement, thereby compelling them to either give ground or be caught in a Kesselschlachten.

Herr Field Marshall, that completes the situational briefing for December 16th, 1944, Day one of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein!
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Thanks for the report out. I am waiting for my copy of the game to arrive in about 2 weeks I figure.

I look forward to future session reports.
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Faithful wrote:
Thanks for the report out. I am waiting for my copy of the game to arrive in about 2 weeks I figure.

I look forward to future session reports.


Thanks! I did German 17 AM movement last night and hope to complete their turn and the US 17 AM turn tonight, although my wife wants to play a game of Condottiere tonight, and I never say "no" when my wife says she'd like to play a game!

I have to say, at this point, it looks scary for the Americans, but they do get their first reinforcements on 17 AM, so maybe their defense will start to look a bit less anemic, especially in the middle sector. I think they can hold either Bastogne or Hoffalize, but probably not both. I anticipate a lot of US bridge blowing this turn!
 
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Installment 2:

17-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Day Two of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein has come to a close. The liaison officers from our field armies have arrived and delivered their reports, and I have compiled them for you! As always, please feel free to refer to our briefing map while I present today’s situation report.



Our first report is again from Hauptmann Kruger of General Von Brandenberger’s 7th Army. 7th Army had a most successful day, Herr Field Marshal! The Americans defending the Ettlebruck sector left a key bridge undefended. This allowed the 212nd infantry division to cross the river and, in conjunction with the 5th Luftwaffe FJ divison, complete an encirclement of the enemy forces defending Ettlebruck. 7th Army caught and destroyed the CCA regiment of the 9th American armored division, and the 109th regiment of the American 28th infantry division. Ettlebruck has been secured and lead elements of 7th Army have penetrated as far as 30 km from their start points and are now poised to invest the towns of Wiltz and Martelange. Yes Herr Field Marshall, I shall make certain that Hauptmann Kruger passes your congratulations on a fine day's operations to General Von Brandenberger!

Our second report is from Oberleutnant Knappe from General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army. Oberleutnant Knappe reports that 5th Panzer Army had mixed results, but that these results stemmed from General Manteuffel's very ambitious plans, which have placed 5th Panzer in a strong position for tomorrow's operations. General Manfeuffel directed the 2nd PzGren and 26th infantry divisions to make a bold attack on the key road hub of Bastogne! The town was only lightly defending in the morning by two American infantry regiments, one of which was considerably understrength. Despite American attempts to screen Bastogne, the 2nd PzGren was able to cut off Bastogne and our forces made a strong encirclement attack. Unfortunately, the assault went awry and forces from both armies engaged in close combat. Later in the day, the Americans were able to send a relief force to Bastogne, including their 10th armored divison, newly arrived in the sector. The Americans counterattacked the surrounding force, and General Manteuffel regrets to report that the 2nd regiment of 2nd PzGren was destroyed in the battle. At this point, General Manteuffel plans to try at Bastogne again tomorrow. Further to the north, 5th Panzer reports that after securing the towns of Clervaux and St. Vith, the Lehr and 116th PzGren divisions had been directed to make a breakout in the direction of Houffalize. However, 5th Panzer reports that American jabo squadrons, primarily composed of their P-47 Thunderbolt attack planes, pounded the Houffalize-St. Vith road all day long, making progress for both Lehr and 116th incredibly slow. Lehr also reports being counterattacked late in the afternoon by American tanks from their 7th armored division, and supported by heavy artillery fire. Lehr beat off this attack, but is currently halted outside of the town of Vielsalm. General Manteuffel is proposing to assault Vielsalm at 0400 tomorrow and then resume the advance. On a brighter note, 5th Panzer reports the destruction of two American infantry regiments, the 422nd and 423rd regiments of the 106th division.

Our last report, Herr Field Marshal, is again from Major Weidling, our liaison from General Dietrich’s 6th SS Panzer Army. Major Weidling reports that as expected, the Americans vacated Monschau to avoid being encicled. As a result, the town was easily captured and presently, 12th SS Panzer division is driving on the town of Eupen, supported by the 352nd infantry division. Meanwhile, Colonel Peiper's battlegroup spearheading the 1st SS Panzer division has driven nearly 35 km to the outskirts of Stavelot. American forces have pulled back from the town, and Colonel Peiper expects to make a river crossing tomorrow no later than 0500 hours. General Dietrich also reports that the 277th and 12th infantry divisions are preparing to launch an assault on the town of Elsenborn no later than 0550 hours tomorrow. 6th SS Panzer also confirms the destruction of the American 23rd regiment of their 2nd infantry division during the day's fighting. Finally, the 3rd Luftwaffe FJ division and 18th infantry division are set to assault the town of Malmedy tomorrow morning, although no start time is given in Major Weidling's report.

Herr Field Marshall, that completes the situational briefing for December 17th, 1944 of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein. I believe it is worth noting that while our forces have made great progress over the last two days, it is troubling that American forces seem to be gathering strength throughout the operations area. Our intelligence services estimate that at least four additional American divisions entered the operations area today, including two armored divisions. It is imperative that our panzers breakthrough into open country before the Americans get more units into the area. Yes Herr Field Marshall, I shall send a message along with each liaison officer to their commanding generals, imploring them to let nothing stop them from pushing westward!
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Steve
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Keep posting these--I will keep reading!
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Great reports! Keep 'em coming! I love the in-game photos with clarifications.

I currently have about zero time/energy for gaming, with a newborn daughter and a soon-to-be two year old son to look after/support.

These kind of reports fulfill my gaming needs to a certain extent, make me happy, and inspire me to try to get a wargame on the table.

I am also very interested in this particular game, and I suspect that there will be a copy of it on my shelf soon(4th ed.). I wait for FAB: the bulge to arrive, though, and that game will probably be my tool for examining the Ardennes battlefield in the nearest future!

Thanks,
Fredrik
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Installment 3:

18-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein has concluded a third day of operations. My apologies for starting this briefing 30 minutes later than scheduled, but the liaison officer from 6th SS Panzer Army was late in delivering his report, as he had to avoid American fighter planes strafing the roads from General Dietrich's headquarters. I now have all the reports and stand ready to brief you on the day's activities. As always, please refer to the updated briefing map while I present today’s situation report.



Our first report is again from Hauptmann Kruger of General Von Brandenberger’s 7th Army. General Brandenberger wishes to report that 7th Army, with support from some units of 5th Panzer Army, has captured Bastogne! The 5th Luftwaffe FJ division led the assault, along with the 62nd and 276th infantry divisions. Once Bastogne was captured, our forces held out against several determined American counterattacks, led by their 10th armored division. At this point, Bastogne appears secure, but American resistance west of Bastogne has stiffened considerably, and 7th Army report that the American 101st airborne divison is now in the area. Further American counterattacks are expected. 7th Army also reports that they have captured the town of Martlelange in the southermost sector of the operation. What is that, Herr Field Marshall? Yes, I will send a note back with Hauptmann Kruger reminding General Brandenberger that his command is charged with flank security of the operation, and to move some of his units back into position to guard against possible Allied attempts to attack the southern flank of the Army Group!

Oberleutnant Knappe of General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army has once again provided us with his report. 5th Army had another successful day, it would seem, with the capture of both Houffalize and Vielsalm. 116th Panzer Grenadier division had the honor of seizing Houffalize, and has driven 48 km into Allied lines, farther than any other unit in the operation, while Panzer Lehr division claimed Vielsalm after a morning assault. 5th Panzer Army reports however that the American 7th armored division retired in good order, and has apparently been joined by the American 82nd airborne division, newly arrived in the sector. General Manteuffel indicates that the plans for tomorrow include driving on the towns of La Roche and Manhay, two more key road junctions.

Our last report, Herr Field Marshal, is again from Major Weidling, our liaison from General Dietrich’s 6th SS Panzer Army. The Major was delayed in arriving here as he reports that 6th SS Panzer was victimized by determined attacks by American jabos all day long. 6th SS Panzer had a busy day, conducting a total of five major attacks. Malmedy and Stavelot were finally captured after assaults by 18th and 326th infantry divisions, and the 1st SS Panzer division. However, American forces continue to hold out in Trois Ponts, delaying the advance of the 3rd Luftwaffe FJ and 277th infantry divisions. Major Weidling's report also indicates that the Americans made a strong counterattack against 1st SS Panzer division, which apparently did suffer some casualties. Desipte this, the 1st SS Panzer is expected to regroup overnight and resume its drive on both Spa and Verviers. Finally, 12 SS Panzer divison worked to flank the Allied position holding the town of Eupen. Progress was slow due to poor terrain, but 6th SS Panzer Army states that the 12th will be in position to strike Eupen tomorrow.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes my situation report for December 18th. The weather for the next several days is forecast to be heavily overcast, with snow. This should ground both our planes and the Allied aircraft, which should work in our favor, as the American jabos have caused our field armies considerable grief. I will write a note for Major Weidling to inform General Dietrich of your decision to assign both the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer divisions, both due to arrive in the zone of operations tomorrow morning, to his command. Yes, Herr Field Marshall, I shall make it clear that he is expected to use these units to smash through any Allied resistance and cross the Meuse at the earliest possible moment!
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Just for fun, and also to help follow along, I am posting a map of the actual Ardennes operation here.



So far, in my game, the Germans have advanced on a somewhat more broad front, extending the flanks a bit further on both sides than their historical counterparts did. Of course, in my game, the Germans have also successfully taken Bastogne, although at the moment, they seem to be stalled there, as the Americans have a pretty dense defensive line established just west of Bastogne. This will be a good reference to compare against for the rest of this session!
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Re: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report - End of Day 4
Installment 4:

19-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Operations for day 4 of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein have substantially concluded. I have collected and reviewed the reports of our field army liaison officers, and am prepared to begin the briefing. As always, please refer to the updated briefing map while I present the December 19th situation report.



Our first report is from Hauptmann Kruger of General Von Brandenberger’s 7th Army. 7th Army conducted only one attack operation today, a relief of 26th infantry division, which had been surrounded by American units. Hauptmann Kruger reports that the attack was successful and resulted in the surrender of a regiment of the American 106th infantry division. Beyond this one operation, the 7th Army began to take up positions to provide southern flank security for the rest of the operation.

Oberleutnant Knappe has provided the following report for General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army. The 5th Panzer Army launched three major assaults today. The first, led by the Grossdeutschland Fuh Es. panzer brigade, engaged elements of the American 101st airborne division west of Bastogne. Unfortunately, little progress was made, and losses were noted for both sides. The second attack, spearheaded by the 116th Panzer division, was more successful, resulting in the capture of the town of Manhay. The last of 5th Army's attacks was a combined operation with Panzer Lehr and the Das Reich 2nd SS Panzer division from 6th SS Panzer Army. These two divisions attacked two regiments of the American 82nd airborne division, once again however with little result. Yes, Herr Field Marshal, my note to General Manteuffel will implore him to push harder.

Our last report, Herr Field Marshal, is from 6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling, General Dietrich’s liaison. Good news from 6th SS Panzer Army, Herr Field Marshal! Eupen has been captured and the river Vesdre crossed! The assault was made by 12th SS Panzer division, which was able to push two panzergrenadier regiments across the river on pontoon bridges. However, 12th SS Panzer's heavy tanks can not yet cross, as the Americans had blown the bridges across the Vesdre and it will take at least a day to repair them sufficiently to allow tanks to cross. 1st SS Panzer division, in conjunction with the 150th independent panzergrenadier brigade, struck the American 2nd infantry division, but reports it was only able to push the Americans back 3 kilometers. The 6th SS reports that it is now facing at least four full American infantry divisions, the 1st, 2nd, 30th, and 99th.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes my situation report for December 19th. The weather forecast for the next several days remains snow and overcast, which once again should keep our planes and those of the Allies on the ground. Overall, Herr Field Marshal, I must agree that our progress is too slow. The Americans are not breaking and running as we had hoped. Our best chance now for a major breakthrough appears to be in 5th Panzer Army's sector. We have massed three panzer divisions there, Lehr, 116th, and Das Reich. All that is in front of them are American paratroopers. Our tanks must be able to punch through at this point, and as soon as possible. We have to expect that the Allies will be bringing more reinforcements to bear on the operation soon, so our window of opportunity will not likely stay open much longer. Yes, Herr Field Marshal, I shall send notes back with each liaison officer demanding that their Generals redouble their efforts tomorrow! Sieg Heil!
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Re: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report - Day 5
Installment 5:

20-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Day 5 of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein has come to a close. As usual, I have collected and reviewed the reports of our field army liaison officers, and am once more prepared to begin your briefing. Herr Field Marshal, I have had our staff add some new information to the briefing map. You will now see our Panzer divisions called out on the map for easier reference, and I have had the map makers also highlight the Meuse and the currently planned axis of advance for each of our field armies.



Hauptmann Kruger of General Von Brandenberger’s 7th Army provides our first report. 7th Army has largely gone over to a defensive posture to guard the southern flank of the operation, as had been your instructions. Several 7th Army formations, most notably the 5th FJ division, did assist in 5th Panzer Army's attacks west of Bastogne, but for the most part, the 7th is digging in to defend against any attempts by the Allies to disrupt the operation. Intelligence reports do note that an unknown number of units from American General Patton's 3rd Army have shifted position and appear to be headed towards 7th Army. These reports still require verification, but word has been passed on to General Von Brandenberger.

Oberleutnant Knappe once again has submitted the report for General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army. The 5th Panzer Army had hoped to launch a morning breakthrough attack west of Manhay with Panzer Lehr, 116th Panzer, and Das Reich Panzer, temporarily attached from 6th SS Panzer Army. However, 116th could not participate as fuel and ammunition resupply did not take place until nearly 1600 hours. Lehr and Das Reich did launch a smaller assault against forward American positions near Werbomont, destroying the 395th regiment of the American 99th infantry division. In the afternoon, Das Reich made another attack and pushed past the American positions. However, before a breakthrough could be made, the American 3rd armored division cut off the path of advance. General Manteuffel expresses his frustration that at times, it is as though the Americans know his plans as soon as he makes them! At this point, Das Reich is actually cut off, but 116th Panzer and Panzer Lehr are positioned to both relieve Das Reich, as well as to resume the advance.

Our last report, Herr Field Marshal, is again from 6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling, General Dietrich’s liaison. Major Weidling's report indicates that 6th SS Panzer has been extremely active, making a total of nine assaults during the day! 1st and 9th SS Panzer are now reported 3 km from Spa, while 12th SS Panzer and 3rd PG divisions report they are within 4 km of Verviers! Supply difficulties have also been reported in 6th SS Panzer Army's zone, with 9th SS Panzer apparently running dry in the afternoon. We currently have a night convoy of supply trucks headed to them to remedy the situation. General Dietrich reports continued heavy American resistance, with withering artillery barrages making progress difficult.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes my situation report for December 20th. The weather forecast indicates that we should have continued bad weather for at least another day, which is good. Based on our intelligence reports, significant Allied reinforcements are being directed into our operation zone from both the north and the south. These units are expected to arrive no later than the morning of the 22nd. This gives us one more day to try to force a major breakthrough. If we cannot do this tomorrow, I'm afraid Herr Field Marshal that our situation may begin to deteriorate. Yes, Herr Field Marshal, my apologies if I sounded somewhat defeatist. Yes, Herr Field Marshal, I shall remind each Army General that if they believe they are having supply difficulties, they should take what they need from the Americans!
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Installment 6:

21-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Our forces have completed Day 6 of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein. As has become customary, I have collected and reviewed the reports of our field army liaison officers and shall now brief you on the day's progress.



Hauptmann Kruger of 7th Army again provides our first report. The 7th is continuing to dig in to defend our advances to the north. The 5th Fallschirmjäger division continues to push towards St. Hubert, but is hampered by the heavily forested terrain in that area, and the Americans continue to block the only roads out of the woods. 7th Army corps artillery is finally catching up with the front line units and is being positioned to support 5th Panzer Army's push to capture the town LaRoche. It should be noted that LaRoche is defended by a large concentration of American armor, but they are in a precarious position. Generals Von Brandenberger and Manteuffel are contemplating a possible encirclement attack on these forces, which if successful, could open the road up to Marche and beyond! Additionally, General Von Brandenberger has submitted a request for reinforcements, as he feels our positions in front of Bastogne are dangerously thin. Yes Herr Field Marshal, I shall tell him to make do with what he has.

Oberleutnant Knappe of General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army submits the following report. 5th Panzer Army units launched a total of six attacks in the morning, followed by a further six in the afternoon! At this moment, 116th Panzer and 2nd Panzer divisions are locked in a heavy engagement with American tanks east of Hotton, while Panzer Lehr and 2nd SS Das Reich divisions are similarly engaged in a firefight with American armored forces east of the town of Durbuy. 5th Panzer Army reports that despite apparently outnumbering the defending Americans significantly, progress is very slow, due primarily to intense American artillery fire. Despite this, General Manteuffel has committed to crossing the Ourthe River within the next 24 hours.

Finally, Herr Field Marshal, 6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling provides his report on behalf of General Dietrich. General Dietrich reports that his troops made seven major assaults today. The general made a significant change in his axis of attack today, shifting both 1st SS Panzer and 9th SS Panzer divisions from Verviers section of the front southwards towards the town of Aywaille, where General Dietrich felt he detected weakness in the Allied line. However, once again American artillery provided tremendous supporting fires for units that they rushed into the sector to halt our advance. Despite these delays, both Panzer Divisions now stand less than 30 km from the Meuse! Meanwhile, 12th SS Panzer division and supporting infantry units continue to assault the city of Verviers. Unfortunately, the Americans continue to resist, and have reinforced their positions in the city. 6th SS Panzer Army now believes an entire US division is in Verviers. Once more, American artillery strongly supports their position.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes today's situation briefing. The weather forecast happily indicates that we should have continued bad weather for at least another day. None of our units reported supply difficulties this day, which was welcome news as well. Finally, our intelligence section confirms reports that General Patton's units will be in a position to strike 7th Army's positions as soon as tomorrow morning, while British units are expected to reinforce Allied positions along the Meuse tomorrow as well. Despite this, our panzer units are still largely intact and we should continue to hold momentum for the next day or so at least.
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Re: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report: 22Dec44
Installment 7:

22-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
Day seven of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein. Herr Field Marshall, today saw the heaviest fighting of the entire operation. It is clear now that the Allies have launched a full-fledged counteroffensive aimed at pinching off our forces from the north and south. We continue to push ahead, and 5th Panzer Army and 6th SS Panzer Army still have offensive capacity to make a breakthrough. However, we will soon have to make a decision as to whether to continue with the Fuhrer's big solution, or if we will have to reconsider the small solution that you and Field Marshal von Rundstedt suggested to the Fuhrer last month. Now, Herr Field Marshal, here is the situation report by Army.



Hauptmann Kruger of 7th Army has submitted the following report on behalf of General Von Brandenberger. The III Corps of American General Patton's 3rd Army has engaged 7th Army in the Martelange-Bastogne sector. Initial reports are not encouraging mein Field Marshal. American units surrounded our forces holding Martelange this morning and apparently have captured the town and destroyed the 320th regiment of the 212th infantry division. The American 4th armored division struck our lines 9 km southwest of Bastogne. Our 164th regiment of the 62nd infantry division was destroyed in the battle, and the Americans are advancing towards Bastogne. In response to this threat, General Von Brandenberger has formed Kampgruppe Kahler, consisting of Colonel Kahler's Fuhrer Grenadier brigade and Colonel Remer's Fuhrer Begleit brigade. KG Kahler hit back at elements of the American 80th and 26th divisions south of Bastogne and have pushed them back for the moment. In further 7th Army news, our spearhead in the St. Hubert-LaRoche forest captured St. Hubert in the morning, but by 2030 hours, the Americans had recaptured it and wiped out our 304th regiment of 2nd Panzer. At this point, General Von Brandenberger has pulled his forces back to defensive positions east of the Ourthe in order to protect 5th Panzer Army's flank.

Oberleutnant Knappe of General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army provides the following information. Per your instructions last night, the 1st SS Panzer Corp was attached to 5th Panzer Army for today's operations. General Manteuffel launched operations at 0500 this morning to capture one or more intact bridges over the Ourthe in preparation for a follow-on drive to the Meuse. 1st SS Panzer, led by Colonel Peiper, successfully engaged an American armored regiment and exploited the battle to establish a bridgehead across the Ourthe 3 km south of the town of Ouffet. Throughout the rest of the day, 1st SS Panzer and Panzer Lehr conducted operations to secure and expand this bridgehead, while Das Reich and 116th Panzer, along with the 3rd regiment of 2nd Panzer, conducted an encirclement operation that bagged a division-sized contingent of American troops, including a tank regiment of their 7th Armored division. Unfortunately mein Field Marshal, I have to report that 5th Panzer Army's efforts to secure the Ouffet bridgehead were not successful. The British XXX Corp entered the battle late this afternoon, and supported by what our intelligence section believes were as many as six Allied artillery regiments, they destroyed our position at Ouffet. Further, General Manteuffel reports that Colonel Peiper's command was unable to disengage from the battle and was lost, along with the 1st regiment of 1st SS Panzer division. Despite this serious setback, the General wishes to report that he still have Panzer Lehr, 116th Panzer, Das Reich, and elements of 2nd Panzer and 1st SS Panzer available for operations. At this point, he recommends either a thrust south to Hotton, or perhaps north between Aywaille and Stoumont. He awaits your instruction.

6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling provides General Dietrich's report. 6th SS Panzer Army's siege of Verviers continues, but the General reports that Allied losses are mounting and they do not appear to be sending as many reinforcements to this sector as earlier. Further, Allied artillery fire actually seems to have lightened here, although we believe that is because the Allied operation to destroy the Ouffet bridgehead probably drew off the artillery units that had been in this area. It's not clear whether or not these units will return. Regardless, General Dietrich feels that 12th SS Panzer should complete the capture of Verviers by tomorrow afternoon, which if it does come to pass, will open the door to Liege and perhaps give us our best chance of victory.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes today's situation briefing. Tomorrow's weather is expected to both clear and see falling temperatures. As a result, the Luftwaffe reports that they will be able to fly support missions for our operations. We expect a ground freeze this evening which should allow our panzers greater mobility in the lightly wooded areas of the battle sector. Of course, these things are true for the Allies as well, and American and British jabos are expected to be in the skies at first light. Good news is that the 9th Panzer division has been released to your command by the Fuhrer and will enter the operations zone no later than 0400 in the morning. Herr Field Marshall, we now need to consider where General Manteuffel should direct our remaining panzers, where you wish to assign the 9th Panzer division, and how much longer we wish to pursue the big solution!
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Re: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report: 23 Dec 44
Installment 8:

23-Dec-44, 2100 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall:
The eighth day of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein has come to an end. I am afraid mein Field Marshal that the operation appears to be slipping away from us. As you will see with the information I am about to present, we are on the edge of a blade, and a decision must be made tonight as to whether or not we continue to pursue the Fuhrer's original objectives, or look to reconsider what can realistically be expected of our forces at this point. Herr Field Marshal, here is the current situation report for Army Group B.



7th Army's new liaison, Hauptmann Mueller, has submitted the following report on behalf of General Von Brandenberger. Apparently the former 7th Army liaison, Hauptmann Kruger, was wounded in today's fighting, as 7th Army was heavily engaged throughout the day. In the morning, KG Kahler, with the help of two regiments of Nebelwerfer rocket artillery, attacked and destroyed a regiment of the American 101st airborne division. The kampgruppe then advanced and attempted to force a crossing of the Ourthe near the village of Champlon. The attempt was unsuccessful due to heavy artillery fire in support of the American paratroopers holding the bridge. Meanwhile, the American III Corps continued their relentless attacks on our positions west of Bastogne. In the fighting, two of our 26th infantry division's three regiments were utterly destroyed. We might have even lost Bastogne had it not been for the timely arrival of the 15th Panzergrenadier division, which immediately went into the line in front of Bastogne. At this time, KG Kahler is hanging out in space and will have to make a retrograde move and attack to avoid being cut off completely.

Oberleutnant Knappe of General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army reported into our headquarters only minutes ago, but his report is complete. Herr Field Marshal, 5th Panzer Army is in some distress at this point. On the one hand, our main Panzer strike force, which started the day with elements of Das Reich, 2nd Panzer, 116th Panzer, and 9th SS Panzer divisions, launched a massive assault on the town of LaRoche and successfully took the town and established a bridgehead with their panzergrenadier regiments. Our panthers were not able to cross initially, as the Americans had blown the bridges across the Ourthe. However, we repaired the bridges later in the morning and launched a follow-up attack which widened the bridgehead and allowed some of our tanks to cross into LaRoche. Once again mein Field Marshal I have to report that the damned Americans and their artillery were able to not only close off the bridgehead, but their assault just an hour ago retook LaRoche and forced our panthers to retreat back over the Ourthe. We still have two panzergrenadier regiments west of the river, but as I will describe shortly, we may need to consider bringing them back as well. The British XXX Corps has crushed 5th Panzer Army's front from Hotton to Durbuy. Panzer Lehr attempted a late afternoon attack to push the British back but was repulsed without effect. The Brits now have three divisions across the Ourthe, and we have only one Volksgrenadier regiment between LaRoche and Hotton. General Manteuffel requests permission to use his remaining panzers to stablize his front before returning to offensive operations.

6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling again provides General Dietrich's report. 6th SS Panzer Army reports that American forces have blown a hole in their positions north of Werbomont that threatens the flanks of both 6th SS and 5th Panzer Armies. We are running short of units to plug these gaps, and General Dietrich requests that his SS panzer units currently attached to 5th Panzer Army be returned to his command to allow him to ward off the Americans. Also, the General regrets to report that despite two more major assaults on American positions in Verviers, the city remains in Allied hands. Once again, reports indicate that Allied artillery is preventing us from breaking the American lines. The Americans have also reinforced this sector with their 2nd armored division, and are currently assaulting 12th SS Panzer positions north of Verviers.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes today's situation briefing. Tomorrow's weather is expected to remain both clear and cold. Intelligence reports that major Allied air assets have been rebased to this sector, and expectations are for intense Allied air attacks throughout the day. Herr Field Marshall, it seems clear now that the Meuse is not attainable. The Americans and British are now present in sufficient strength not only to close off our bridgeheads when we gain them, but to conduct offensive operations at the same time. Herr Field Marshal, I implore you to consider shifting to the objectives you outlined last month in your plans for Operation Autumn Mist. If we can hold the Ourthe, and remain in possession of Bastogne and several other key towns, we can hold the Allies at bay for weeks, and perhaps give our factories and scientists time to provide us with the weapons we need to win this war. Please consider this, and I will issue the appropriate orders to the Armies.
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Steve
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Awesome, another installment. Thanks!
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Yes, thanks for the next update. I did get my copy of the game, but yet to have time to play it.
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Re: Bitter Woods - Day by Day Session Report: Dec 24 (FINAL)
Installment 9:

24-Dec-44, 2200 hours Staff Briefing
for Field Marshal Model, Army Group B
Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein

Herr Field Marshall, our forces have completed the ninth day of Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein. Mein Field Marshal, I am sorry that I do not have better news for you on Christmas Eve. Based on the reports from our three field armies, it is clear that our offensive has completely stalled, and the Allies have claimed the initiative in the battle. Herr Field Marshal, I now present to you the current situation report for Army Group B.



Hauptmann Mueller of General Von Brandenberger's 7th Army has submitted the following report. 7th Army conducted a total of only two offensive actions today. All offensive action for the 7th revolved around KG Kahler's efforts to extract itself from its encirclement. These operations were successful to a degree, and an American infantry regiment was eliminated in the process, but the kampfgruppe remains in a tenuous position. Meanwhile, the 7th Army reports numerous American III Corp attacks along its front. The American 26th and 80th infantry divisions have driven to the outskirts of Bastogne, while an American armored force, led by their 10th armored division, has driven East across the Ourthe River and threatens to pocket our forces Northwest of Bastogne, including KG Kahler.

Oberleutnant Knappe of General Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army provides us the following information. 5th Panzer Army also only conducted a pair of attacks today, both in the morning. The bulk of the day was spent pulling back from the Ourthe River after the British destroyed two SS panzergrenadier regiments, 4th/2SS, and 2nd/1SS, which had been anchoring our position on the east bank of the Ourthe. With the loss of 2nd/1SS, General Manteuffel regrets to report that the entire 1st SS Panzer Division has been rendered completely combat ineffective and he has removed the division from his order of battle. Panzer Lehr also apparently suffered the loss of one of its panzergrenadier regiments in this engagement. During the afternoon, the 5th Panzer Army fell back 12 km and reports that they are now attempting to establish a new defensive line in the forested area west of LaRoche, Manhay, and Werbomont. Intense Allied air strikes were also reported, which greatly hampered the movement of our panzers in this sector.

6th SS Panzer Army's Major Weidling has submitted the following on behalf of General Dietrich. It appears our lone success of the day came this morning, as the 150th Panzer Brigade has finally taken Verviers! 6th SS reports that the 150th took the city this morning around 1030 hours, and has already repulsed at least one major American counterattack. However, General Dietrich reports that he does not have sufficient forces to exploit this success, and believes he will be lucky to hold the city through tomorrow. Beyond this, 6th SS Panzer army reports that the attack of the newly arrived 9th Panzer division in the area north of Aywaille was a complete failure. The panzer division did cross the river north of the town, but was quickly pushed back by American forces. The division suffered the complete loss of one of its panzergrenadier regiments in the process of this defeat.

Herr Field Marshall, that concludes today's situation briefing. The weather is expected to remain both clear and cold throughout the next three days at least. Intelligence reports that Allied air activity has tripled over the last 24 hours. Additional Allied units are expected to enter the zone of operations tomorrow as well. Herr Field Marshall, what are your orders for our forces?

________________________________________________

At this point, the game has four turns remaining, but it is essentially over. At the moment, the game would score as an Allied Tactical Victory based on the situation on the mapboard (i.e. the Allies have avoided both German victory conditions and the conditions for a draw), and with the Germans having suffered more than 18 units lost (20 as of the end of the December 24th PM turn), the victory conditions shift to Allied Strategic Victory. There's no chance for the Germans to better this situation, as the Allies now have a virtually unbroken line across the board and their superiority in both artillery and airpower would stop any desperate attempt by the Germans to breakthrough at any point. As such, I'm going to halt operations and get ready to bring a new game to the "solitaire table"!

As for my take on "Bitter Woods", I'm greatly impressed with the game. It's everything I hoped for - a fun, playable game with a strong historical feel. My favorite wargames tend to be those where both sides have the opportunity to be on the attack at some point in the game. In that regard, this game is right up there with other classics such as The Russian Campaign and Victory in the Pacific. The Germans spend the first two-thirds of this game on the offensive, with the Americans desperately looking to stem the tide and not allow the Germans that one critical breakthrough to the Meuse. The last third of the game sees the Allies finally gather enough ground forces to tip the balance to their side, and when this ground force is combined with their awesome artillery and smothering air power, it becomes a steamroller that threatens to push the German army all the way back to their starting point. One of the problems that the German player faces in the latter portion of the game is that since they are compelled to remain on the offensive and push westwards for as long as they possibly can, their units are not necessarily deployed with defensive considerations in mind. When the tide turns and the Allies switch to offense, the Germans can find a lot of their units poorly positioned from a defensive standpoint, with units able to be surrounded on four hexsides (which turn defender retreat results into defender eliminated results!), or up against rivers, or in clear terrain with no defensive benefits. This, combined with the fact that German artillery is nowhere near as effective on defense as Allied artillery, means that the German player finds it much more difficult to defend their ground than it was for the Americans in the early part of the game.

Another mark of a good wargame in my book is its impact upon my interest in the battle, campaign, or war that it models. A good wargame, such as Bitter Woods, will educate me on the campaign and inspire me to read up more on the subject. Playing Bitter Woods really helped me fix geographical locations and distances in my mind better than any book I've ever read on the subject. The game also gave me an education on the identities and relative strengths of the units on both sides, as well as a better appreciation for those critical force multipliers: artillery and air power. Now, as a result of playing Bitter Woods, I am planning on going back and rereading some of the books I have on the battle, such as Dupuy's "Hitler's Last Gamble", with a better appreciation for the operation gained through playing this game.

I think that Randy Heller created a real gem in "Bitter Woods" and it certainly seems to hold up well against today's wargame designs. I would play this game again without hesitation and look forward to playing it versus another human as soon as possible!
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Iain K
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Great report Leo.

Quote:
My favorite wargames tend to be those where both sides have the opportunity to be on the attack at some point in the game.


Be sure to try the "Patton's Relief of Bastogne" scenario as well (Dec 22nd to 26th). I prefer it as both sides attack and defend at the same time and it has only 2/3rds of the units, and avoids the first turns of the Bulge, when the Germans have long turns where the Allied player can leave the room.

Cheers!
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