This is the conclusion of the session played mostly in Decemver 2012, ending in Jan 2013. Real life just unfortunately resulted in a long delay since.
Part 1 of the session
Part 2 of the session
The first two parts saw the Germans reach the Meuse, and juuuuust get across. The strategic goal is so near, in sight even without binoculars. But is it close enough....?
Day 8, 23rd Dec 1944 (turn 15-16)
They tried, and they tried hard. The came close, very close, but not close enough. The Germans managed to create a lodging on the west side of the Meuse, in game terms they needed all of 1 more hex. But it was not to be. The writing is on the wall more and more that the high point has been reached. A few more desperate attacks are launched, but more out of spite that for any real palpable gains. Yes, a few more Allied screening forces get eliminated, but the rest of the bridges remains secure.
The German High water mark - of German turn 15
If anything, it is the Germans that are increasingly at risk. Patton’s forces are all but here, and major clashes with the Germans erupt along a 10 mile front. Whilest in the early morning hours the Germans launched a few surprise attacks, pushing US scout troops back, it is less clear now who is the hunted there. It is more tenacity than strength that help the German lines, and they will have a right headache now to extricate some of their forces that were advancing just hours ago.
Patton makes his presence felt - a game of fox and hunter, but who is who? (End German turn 15
The increasing strength and threat to push into the back of the Germans advance units that crossed the Meuse force the 10th SS to be diverted into the sector as well; forces that will be missed near Liege...
A second regiment of the Screaming Eagles fell for the German propaganda leaflets dropped over their positions. Despite air supply drops they saw no way out and surrendered near La Roche en Ardenne.
End of German turn 15
The major German nightmare is slowly emerging though in the area south of Liege. Two armoured US Divisions with several other attached smaller units crash into the German lines, and here they did not get stopped. The entire German flank now suddenly looks vulnerable. Having air support and ample of artillery around is going a long way making those battles increasingly one-sided.
The Allied armoured fist strikes...
It is a long way back home from here. Not sure how to take it from here...Retreat with the advance elements to a defensible line? Preventing a German advance is one thing, but without the Brits that remain confined to the west bank of the Meuse, pushing the Germans back is something else if they concentrate their strung out forces.
Well, I answered the strategic question of the morning hours for the Germans when to abandon and retreat with a compromise. A really now last attack was launched against the entrenched position near Givet looking for the off-chance, that should it succeed, a road to Antwerp might be ‘cleared’. Similarly, an assault on the Dinant British regiment holding the town and choking the crossing was started. The odds do catch up on you in the end. Both attempts stalled – the allied air support is now everywhere.
Alas, it was not meant to be, but so agonisingly close...
Patton got a bloody nose though. An entire Combat Command was surrounded with their back against woods, and with a pincer attack ground to dust. The Allied lost in the area 6 steps vs. 1 , despite heavy jabo support. The Germans still have some punch, but their stockpiled artillery ammunition is now depleted at least.
On the northern side of the bulge, the Germans reorganise their forces, and only try to eliminate a few stray units. But same story, jabos are now everywhere. The Allied armoured fist however is steamrollering the Germans. Having gained a good 8-10 miles in their onslaught, the Germans are in real trouble in the area. It will be them who will start blowing bridges soon.
The British Guards in their counterattack break the ring around Divant in the meantime, ending any real hopes for the Germans in the area. With now Allied artillery eventually in positions in all combat areas, the long dark tunnel has ended for good. Really only small local counter-attacks against overoptimistic advances are envisaged. Conservation of forces is the theme now.
The Germans technically ‘won’ the 6 and 8 turn scenario (by VPs), and the fulfilled their win conditions of the campaign (6 victory hexes on the west map). It will be interesting how things fare when the ‘Counterattack’ scenario and extended campaign dead-lines come to pass. This is too much fun to stop now. And slowly retreating now to hold some gains is probably not even that gamey, as that is what the Germans should have done to a degree in reality.
Day 9, 24th Dec 1994 (Christmas in Germany) (turn 17-18)
Patton is engaged in a classical punch and counter-punch. Losses are mounting, and while the Germans can ill afford those, they seem to slowly get the upper hand. This would nicely neuter the southern Allied pincer, at least until further reinforcement arrive in 48 hrs for Patton.
At the end of the day, it is however a German taskforce that ends up behind cut off, engaged several miles behind the enemies line...
Otherwise it is now up to the German side to practice the difficult task to disengage from an enemy that keeps pouncing. Getting over the Meuse initially was one thing; getting back now appears equally difficult, with the Brits aggressively following on. It doesn’t help that virtually all German units in the west are out of fuel for most of the day...
The US armoured fist continues to drive forward; losses again are taken on both sides, but the Germans bleed more, and their losses are more difficult to replace.
Day 10, 25th Dec 1944 (Christmas Day) (turn 19-20)
Things are getting faster to play now. The fronts are sort of set, and apart from tactical maneuvering to attack, no sweeping action is taking place.
The name of the game is a slow retreat by the Germans, trying not to lose too many stranglers, while the Allies advance trying to pocket as many units as they can. Increasingly low odd Allied attacks are happening, as their forces can just afford the losses.
...and Patton's riposte
Patton eventually is winning truly the upper hand, and the slow grind towards Bastogne is on the way, with 15 km to go...
The Allied armoured fist hammers away, winning some fights, loosing others. But all those ‘engaged’ and ‘disrupted’ markers prevent a more organised German retreat so are well worth it.
The countryside is littered with burnt out tanks from both sides
The afternoon sees the first turn without a German attack! No even local good and worthy opportunity for a little spoiling counter-attack was seen. Once again, the organised retreat continues as good as possible.
The 9 Pz arrives in the front near Bastogne – badly needed by now- and a solid defence is now organised – even here the dashing tank strikes are officially over now; just more grinding.
Day 11, 26th Dec 1944 (Boxing Day) (turn 21-22) – the end of the Patton’s Counterattack scenario
More bloodshed for little gain. Patton pushes hard, but grinds only slowly forward towards Bastogne. A small detachment of the 4th Arm however pushes the rearguards away and sneaks through the forests west of St Hubert, threatening the German rear in earnest.
Near Givet, the Germans still unsuccessfully try to extricate themselves from the advancing Allied units. It becomes clear, that some will not escape here...
And the Armoured wall in the north keeps on pushing, claiming scalp after scalp. At present rate, the German line will collapse in the next 2 days unless massively shortened. Repeated engaged results pin the Germans, while others succeed with little regard spent on Allied losses (they can afford it!).
The German supply is now entirely reliant on the Hotton-Rochoefort road, being squeezed closer and closer to the road from both sides.
The end of the turn sees the end of the campaign and Patton’s counterattack scenario. The Germans still hold Bastogne, and occupy 5 VP hexes on the west map, which means at this time point once again a German victory. As previously mentioned, I do understand that a game needs to offer a realistic goal to the player, but the feeling over the past 6-8 turns certainly has not been one of German victory. Things have come down to a slow grind, not worthy anymore of this great game, so I think I will conclude this sessions and game here.
It has ben great fun, one of the most enjoyabl gaming memories for years I think. To anyone out there who contemplates giving this a go: you are crazy if you miss out on this gem!
The final positions at the end of the game, on the evening of the 26th Dec 1944 in the Ardennes forrests and surrounding areas:
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Gotta watch out for those Stranglers.
Iplayed until dec 22 and still needed 2 more Victory Pts < really like game
Gotta watch out for those Stranglers. :D
Especially the Bastonian one. :)