16 September 2018

Death in the Hürtgenwald: A CoC Mini Campaign

Yesterday Tom and myself got together to finally play the Achtung mini-campaign from the Summer 2017 TFL special. I had got to play part of the campaign that Tom presented last spring at Huzzah but it was not until now that we got a chance to play out the whole campaign. It was also the first time in several years that I got to play an actual CoC game with Tom. Tom introduced me to CoC when it first came out.

As usual we played at the Hobby Bunker, and got set up and started by about 1030h and finished at around 1730h with a brief break for lunch, making this the longest gaming session I have ever played.  We got in 2 campaign turns and although we did not finish the campaign completely we came to what I believe was a fair conclusion.

The scenario pits an American infantry platoon against a German platoon that has occupied two WWI era bunkers in the Hürtgenwald. The scenario is played as a mini-campaign as it would be quite difficult for the Americans to take both bunkers in one go. Each time the American re-set the game they suffer a -1 to their Force Morale. You can purchase the scenario here for the price of a pint! I have taken the liberty of taking the terrain image from the booklet as follows.
Tom did a great job with the terrain as you can see.
The German Edge

The American Approach
First Game

German Forces (Starting FM 10)
Core
SL w/ MP40
Two 8 man infantry squads w/ 3 man LMG team, 4 riflemen and JL w/StG44
Supports
MMG Team
PzSck Team
5 Minefields
4 Barbed Wire Fences
Infantry Squad

American Forces (Starting FM 8)
Core
SL x2 w/ Carbine & SMG
Bazooka Team
3 Infantry squads w/SMG armed JL, BAR Team w/ 2 M1 riflemen and a 8 man M1 Rifle Team
Supports
FO
Pregame Barrage
Sniper
1 Wire Cutting Team
2 Mine Clearing Teams
I felt I was pretty successful in the Patrol Phase as I got 2 JOP's far up my left flank were I felt would be my best approach of attack. I used the JOP in the farground to deploy the diversionary force coming up the centre.
The Diversionary Attack up the centre w/ the FO and a SL. The FO throws a HE barrage in the centre of the German lines allowing the left flanking American unit to have some cover as they approach the first minefield.
The Main Attack up the American left flank under cover of a HE barrage over the centre blocking the LOS of the German troops in the Bunker on their left flank.
Second Infantry Team added as well as a Mine Clearing Team and a SL to direct operations.
The American unit in the centre who is not shielded by the barrage starts to take casualties. and decided to withdraw, I am not really sure why I did not order a general withdrawal at this time as I was about to take out or had taken out the first minefield as planned. I could have easily teleported from the JOP rather than making a run for the perimeter.
Mission accomplished: First minefield removed, the American unit retreats.
Summary of First Game
Once the first minefield was removed, I felt it best to withdraw in order to re-assemble my forces. I had started to suffer significant casualties (13 men and a JL) and my FM had dropped to 3 and I had only 3 Command Dice. My plan for the 2nd attack was to quickly take out the second minefield and than outflank the Germans on their right, thus gaining access to the smaller bunker and so on.

I had taken a pregame barrage as one of my supports in the first game but unfortunately threw a treble6 very early on thus making this of no use. I also had not got to deploy my wire cutting team. The Americans have only 12 supports to the Germans 20, I felt I had not enough heavy firepower down the centre, so as you can see I had to reconsider my support options as reflected below for the 2nd game. I had also permanently lost 7 men and had 4 not to return for the 2nd game. The Germans has essentially lost no men.

Second Game

German Forces (Starting FM 8)
Core
SL w/ MP40
Two 8 man infantry squads w/ 3 man LMG team, 4 riflemen and JL w/StG44
Supports (unchanged)
MMG Team
PzSck Team
4 Minefields
4 Barbed Wire Fences
? 5 points

American Forces (Starting FM 8)
Core
SL x2 w/ Carbine & SMG
Bazooka Team
Infantry squad 1 w/SMG armed JL, BAR Team w/ 2 M1 riflemen and a 8 man M1 Rifle Team
Infantry squad 2 w/SMG armed JL, BAR Team w/ 2 M1 riflemen and a 4 man M1 Rifle Team
BAR Team 3 w/SMG armed JL (CI 1), BAR Team w/ 3 M1 riflemen
Supports
Pregame Barrage
Sherman 75
1 Mine Clearing Team
3 Satchel Charges

Of course now the battle became quite heated, so I forgot to take many photos and I missed taking any at the end of the game.  We had now been playing for 5 hours so I hope to be forgiven! I should also note that according to the scenario rules the same JOP's were used, so there was no Patrol Phase.
In this campaign turn the pregame barrage was much more successful and as you can see I was able to advance my intact Rifle squad with a mine clearing team quite rapidly to the 2nd minefield. The mine clearing team did take significant casualties once the Germans were able to deploy. They had put their MMG team in the trench system which did chop up both the Engineers and the Rifle Squad but close range return fire forced them into the bunker with only 2 men remaining. The German SL had deployed to remove shock but had to skedaddle out of their once the MMG team had bolted to the bunker. The SL started to run unsupported toward the far bunker trough the trench system. The Sherman has deployed in the American centre, the tank JL first lays down some smoke to block the LOS from the German left flank bunker but then advances to rain HE and MG fire on the bunker and then spots the fleeing German SL............
.........The 2nd minefield has been cleared by the last remaining engineer! The Americans advance to take out the bunker.  No further photos, I am afraid but I will describe what happened. The American squad advances and enters the trench system at its far right as above. The American SL who is accompanying the squads orders one rifleman to advance with a Satchel charge to the back door and place it. He is successful but gets blown up in his retreat, a 2nd infantryman has also been ordered to place a 2nd Satchel charge on the main forward looking port, he is also successful but escapes unscathed. The JL then commands the BAR team to occupy the bunker while sending the Rifle team along the trench system to take the 2nd JOP in the German centre. They end up just short but close enough to deny the Germans the ability to deploy to it. I use a CoC Dice to end the turn. The German morale is now plummeting. They have only 2 Command Dice, their is little they can do and their SL gets caught by the Sherman's MMG and dies, FM 1.......time to end the game.

Summary of Second Game
The Americans end up with a partial victory having taken 1 bunker, but by now almost 6 hours had passed and I think we were pretty done. The American plan had gone pretty well and I think if we had played a 3rd turn, I might have been able to take the second bunker. 

If I had my time back I would have taken different supports in the 1st game. I should have take an engineering squad rather than 3 Engineering teams. The sniper although deployed really did not help and by serendipity the choice of a pregame barrage was of no value.

I believe I made the good choices in the 2nd game but again an Engineering squad with mine clearing and demolition teams would have been more valuable as the demolition team comes supplied with Satchel charges. The Sherman was quite useful as was the pregame barrage.

All in all, though it was enormous fun. Tom is a lot of fun to play with it and he supplied a great terrain and game.

8 comments:

  1. A great game AAR. Excellent scenery too. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Nice AAR and nice looking terrain by Tom.
    Hope to play this one day.
    cheers John

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  3. John it was great playing with you!

    First the 5 missing points is for a third German squad (same the others, this directly from Rich)

    I should have put down a squad in the communication trench as soon as Lt. Vettel made his break for freedom. Yeah I would have been under fire from the Sherman, but I would have protected Vettel from being isolated, and I could have covered the back of the bunker. It would only have lasted a few turns but that might have been all I needed.

    You where down to a squad and a half. Cowering in the dead zone behind the bunker. It would have been bloody, but it had to be better than letting you blow up the Bunker unimpeded.

    Well played on you part!
    --Tom

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  4. Nice looking table, and it sounds like you both made amiable opponents!

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  5. Fabulous looking (and playing) game. Well done guys!

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  6. Love Tom’s terrain. The tree stump markers for the cleared areas is a genius idea I shall certainly be stealing!

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  7. Great read John. I haven’t played Chain of Command in like...forever! So this was fun to read.

    Sadly the weather outside my house is starting to resemble the weather portrayed on the tabletop of your games in this post :(

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