|Wargamer Home - Forum Home|
|23 JAN 2012 at 12:55pm|
Posts : 1105
Joined: 12 AUG 2011
Status : Offline
Posted In: Articles : After Action Review
Highway to the Reich revisited - a Battles from the Bulge Expansion Pack
"This is a tale to tell your grandchildren and mighty bored they'll be." So said Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks at the briefing to his XXX Corps on 16th September 1944. Two days later XXX Corps, led by the Irish Guards Group, were off at the start of the "Garden" part of "Market Garden".
In this AAR I will be commanding the 82nd Airborne All American and elements of the British XXX Corps against the German AI in one of the scenarios to be found in Panther Games new Highway to the Reich expansion pack for Battles from the Bulge. And I promise you will not be bored well, hopefully at least you wont be mighty bored. But first a word or two about what you can expect, whether you are new to the pauseable real-time genre of the Panther Games lineup, or a crusty old veteran of the original HTTR game. I was introduced to the Panther Games series back in 2005 when I purchased Highway to the Reich prior to a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium. As sophisticated as the game felt back then, these reworked scenarios played on the Command Ops engine have been a real treat.
The HTTR expansion Pack is a set of 13 scenarios covering all of the major actions that took place during the Market Garden Campaign in Holland, September 17-26 1944. The project began in 2006 with the conversion of the HTTR maps for mixed-mode movement. As we dug into the map conversion we discovered more and more issues that needed attention. Many parts of the maps had to be re-worked since minor and major river terrain had wiped out mechanized road movement wherever the roads were drawn too close to the river (like almost everywhere) and many new crossings were added where these roads crossed the rivers. Numerous other historical accuracy checks and revisions were made using veteran accounts, period aerial photographs and digital topography.
We also expanded the Eindhoven map and scenario start time to include the Irish Guards probe into Aalst on the morning of September 18th. But the big-ticket item included in the pack is the melding together of the Nijmegen and Arnhem Campaigns into one 10-day long mega scenario. The Map is 27 Km wide and covers the battlefield from south of Grave to 15 Km north of Arnhem. Developed, playtested and balanced by Panther Games beta testing team, this scenario promises to provide an experience like nothing you have ever seen before in real-time strategy wargaming.
Every scenario had to be designed to incorporate all of the new features that have been introduced into the series through Conquest of the Aegean and Battles from the Bulge including the new supply mechanics, supply entry points, and exit victory conditions.
The German and Allied OOB's for the Market Garden Campaign had to be reconstructed with the new BFTB estabs, unit by unit. All of the historical bios and unit histories were transferred over from HTTR and many new ones added that were missing in the original. Both the German and the British OOB's have been extensively reworked for historical accuracy based on new information, most of which has become available only after HTTR was released. Guards Armoured Division, 107th Panzer Brigade, Korps Feldt, 406th Infantry Division, Kampfgruppe Walther all got closely reviewed and many revisions and corrections were made based on historical research. But that's enough of that. If you are a wargamer and a fan of the Western front in 1944 you will not be disappointed, especially at Panther Games where, as they say, realism counts.
The All American over Nijmegen
Nijmegen Sector - September 17, 1944: 1300 hrs
Historical Scenario. Duration: 4 Days, 10 Hours
The 82nd Airborne was tasked with securing the biggest of all the crossings along Hell's Highway, the road and rail bridges spanning the Waal River at Nijmegen. It was also responsible for securing the highway crossings at Grave and Honinghutje and seven other bridges across the Maas and the Maas-Waal Canal, not to mention securing the 10km of the Groesbeek Heights that overlook the Reichswald from which, General Gavin knew, the inevitable German counterattack would come. Unlike Gavin who, under Browning's direction, delayed the immediate capture of Nijmegen in favor of securing the Heights, I will try to make a grab for Nijmegen with 3 battalions from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) on the first day. I know from history and experience that the 10 SS will be sending down reinforcements from the North and the sooner I block the crossings on the Waal the better the chance I will have securing Nijmegen. On the other hand, I also know that Korps Feldt will sortie from the Reichswald but I hope to have XXX Corps on hand to help out before my SEP on Groesbeek Heights gets overrun. The rest of my strategy will follow more or less historical lines secure the bridges over the Maas, Waal, and the Canal before pushing on to Arnhem.
Situation at 13:30 hours, showing my plan: Lots to do with little to do it with.
Sitrep: - September 17, 1944: 24:00 hrs
Well, the good news is I made it into Nijmegen with 3 Battalions from the 508th PIR relatively unscathed. As night fell I observed SS troopers crossing the Waal into Nijmegen so tomorrow we should see some heavy street fighting. That's fine as long as I can hold out until XXX Corps arrives and at least contest the city. Usually (not always) your objective is also the enemy's objective so if you cant overwhelm and clear them out you should at least try to contest it and deny your opponent victory points. The bad news is the Germans blew the bridge at Grave so I have to capture and hold the Mook rail bridge if Im going to get XXX Corps into Nijmegen in a timely manner. Luckily I am able to secure this bridge by nightfall but with my main effort far to the north in Nijmegen I have little left to guard this crossing and the Groesbeek Heights against the German counterattack out of the Reichswald.
Ready to go for the bridge and city center tomorrow but I'm wondering if this was a good idea.
Sitrep: - September 18, 1944: 12:00 hrs
With the bridge at Grave blown I dont really need the bridges along the Maas-Waal Canal (except for the VPs) so I pulled the 1/504 out of Heumen to help the 505th defend the southern flank just before the German attack hit with very significant drives into the Heights from the southeast. To make matters worse, the 508th is now surrounded and cutoff inside Nijmegen while German reinforcements are slipping by over the Nijmegen Rail Bridge apparently. I am really feeling the pressure here and XXX Corps is still a full day away from reaching my sector -- and they will have to travel on minor roads and tracks through polder-country to get to the Mook rail bridge (if its still in my possession when they get there) instead of the nice highway through Grave and Honinghutje. Although XXX Corps should be able to rebuild the Grave Bridge before game-end it may be too late to have any effect on the outcome except to give me a few more VP's.
Pressure on all fronts you'd think they didn't want us landing here.
Sitrep: - September 18, 1944: 24:00 hrs
September 18 (D2) is a day I would rather forget about. I feel like I have lost the initiative and the 82nd is now simply responding to the enemy's actions. I have called off all attacks inside Nijmegen to consolidate and conserve ammo (not the red boxes on the units, representing supply lines cut) until XXX Corps arrives. Although the Germans didn't get very far in their counterattack from the southeast they have infiltrated far past my pickets. They are indeed a menacing presence and will likely force me to commit some of the British armor to help fight them off. Meanwhile I still hold the crossings over the Maas River at Mook so I'm looking ahead with high hopes for regaining the initiative on the 19th.
The 508th isolated in Nijmegen. But that's what being in the Airborne is all about right?
Sitrep: - September 19, 1944: 12:00 hrs
Copyright ©1995-2013, Wargamer Ltd. All rights reserved in the United States and throughout the world.
All other products and copyrights mentioned on Wargamer Ltd are the property of their respective companies, and Wargamer Ltd makes no claim thereto.