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Tiresias

BigDork vs Tiresias - Seizing the Windmill - German Version

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Hello all,

After my mauling at the hands of BigDork in CM:BN, we decided to do a CM:FI battle and a joint AAR. It's been running for a few days on the weplayciv.com forums and my worthy opponent now appears to have gained approval for us to do the same thing here. He started pasting his thread across yesterday, so this is my contribution.

I hope you enjoy reading this thread and will of course be happy to answer questions as we go. However, do please remember that I am still very much a newbie - I started PBEMs last month and this is only my second such encounter in CMx2! I think that my side of the story will be most useful for fellow newcomers keen to learn from my tactical blunders. These should be available in plentiful supply. Expect Germans spilling their pixellated guts out all over the map.

I should also mention my generous opponent because he's been hugely supportive and despite my battering in the last encounter, he's made the whole experience really enjoyable, despite his fearsome name. My main aim this time is to try to do a bit better in Sicily and see how long I can hold on.

Oh yes, and do remember that this AAR comes from a site where people are less familiar with CM, so the references may seem a little obvious occasionally. I'll try to tweak it a bit to suit the greater knowledge of Battlefront forum users. Happy reading!

So, to the battle: It's July 1943, and it's a beautiful day in Sicily. My German forces have been assigned the task of defending some old windmills and a road junction, of which the windmills in particular command a relatively steep hill. It's a natural defensive position which means that my chances of at least putting up a decent fight must be reasonable. I've made my unit picks and they look like this:

1 x Panzergrenadier Company - comprising 3 x rifle platoons and a heavy weapons platoon of 4 MG42 crews. The Company also has a couple of off-map mortars, which I am hoping will come in very handy indeed if the Americans get pinned down.

1 x Marder II tank destroyer

1 x PAK 40 75mm anti-tank gun.

That's it. The US will have a slight advantage in numbers because this is an Allied Probe game, but hopefully the terrain will even things up on my behalf. I've also invested in "veteran" status troops, mostly with high motivation, in an attempt to exercise a tenacious defence. Here's how I've set things up:

001turn1.jpg

As you can see from this, I've stationed 2 & 4 platoons - the latter is my heavy weapons platoon - right in the centre of the map, where the ground begins to rise. This is where I think that the bulk of the action is likely to take place. My suspicion is that the US attack (predicted with the blue arrows) will be through the centre and on my left as this is the area of the map which offers the best cover and concealment. An attack on my right, towards the windmills, would have to cross large areas of open ground and would give the Americans a difficult uphill struggle.

For this reason, most of my MGs are with 2 platoon in that central cluster of foliage. They are covering kill zones from interlocking fire positions. The leftward part of this group of men can also cover an advance towards the road junction on the left. Here they are, hopefully sufficiently concealed in the sparse undergrowth to spring a few surprises:

002turn1.jpg

Meanwhile, 3 plt have been stationed in a concealed position behind the road junction. Their main task in the battle will be to seize and hold the junction itself, but I am holding them back just in case the US commence the battle with an artillery bombardment in that area.

1 plt have the task of holding the windmills. If my other positions are lost, I expect elements of both 2 and 3 platoons to fall back to this area. This will be the last line of defence but for the time being, 1 plt are in the basements of the windmill structures, again anticipating a possible bombardment here from the US as the battle begins.

My main concern is whether I have enough anti-tank weaponry at my disposal. My PAK 40 is close to 2/4 plts in a semi-concealed position covering the low ground ahead and to the right. If the US have a lot of armour and want to bombard the windmills, this is where they will station it because it offers the best LOS towards the VL where 1 plt is waiting. My AT gun has a great view of this area but could ultimately be taken out as US infantry moves through the centre of the map.

003turn1.jpg

Meanwhile my Marder II is currently concealed by the hill in an area covering the road junction. It may be that the Americans send their armour this way, supporting an infantry advance and taking out our positions on the left of the hill and around the junction as they go. The Marder has a well-concealed approach to the junction itself, where I hope it will be able to counter the threat of any tanks on the left. If it turns out that the emphasis of US armour is going to be on the right, it will be able to move back round the hill and assist the PAK within the space of a couple of minutes.

Finally, I'm hoping to inflict a bit of damage from the word go with my off-map mortars. Anticipating that the Americans will make straight for the cover offered by the foliage on my left at the start of the battle, my Co. HQ has arranged for a pre-planned bombardment in this area. You can see this area in the image below, along with some detail on 2/4 plts positions. Hopefully those mortar shells will land in the right spot and soften up any concealed infantry, evening things up a bit before the Americans can commence their uphill assault.

004turn1.jpg

So goes the theory. Now let's see what happens in practice…

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Turn 1

Sometimes games are slow-burners, in which both sides spend the opening turns painstakingly moving their forces into position, keeping their men hidden until the moment is right to strike. In such games, patience is vital, the wait for the first shot to be fired can be agonising and the tension cranks up a notch further with every passing minute.

This is not one of those games.

Instead, the clock has barely begun ticking when a mass of US contacts, variously probable or confirmed, appear in the trees ahead and to the left of the slopes where 2 and 4 plts. are positioned. More quickly emerge on the open ground behind them. For a few seconds, the only thing that breaks the silence is the rattle of one of my MG 42s firing at a target amid the trees. Then, everything erupts as my off-map 81mm mortars open up. It quickly becomes difficult to see exactly what's going on because of the smoke from the exploding rounds, but I can see a handful of GIs are hit during the bombardment.

screenshot20120813at041.png

It isn't all going my way, though, far from it. We're still less than a minute in when I also see rounds landing among my own men on the slopes. At first I think it's my own bombardment missing the target, but the second round clearly comes in from the American side of the map. The explosion takes out an entire MG 42 crew - it's so surgical that I can only presume that an American mortar crew has spotted them.

screenshot20120813at041.png

Another explosion hits the ammo-bearers for the AT gun. This isn't a devastating loss, but the MG 42 that I've lost had the best LOS to the wall at the foot of the hill where the first squad of Americans is now sheltering from my own bombardment. I break off an MG 34 team from one of 2 plt's squads to take up position next to the bodies of my unfortunate crew.

The first minute has clearly caused bloodshed on both sides and it's difficult (and too early) to assess what the damage has been or whether my initial presumptions about the likely direction of the US assault is correct. Here's what my guys can see from the lower part of the hill as we reach the 60-second mark:

screenshot20120813at042.png

Most of these remain unconfirmed contacts, but the most striking aspect is that the Americans are spread further back than I expected, with only limited numbers probing into the trees on my left flank. I still think this is the most favourable approach for them because of the amount of concealment it offers, but the large numbers clustered towards the rear of the map arouse suspicion. Is it possible that they are planning on moving against my right flank as well? If so, then their best chance is to come through the trees in the map's centre, right where 2 and 4 platoons are waiting. I also notice this:

screenshot20120813at045.png

Looks like the Americans have at least one Sherman in tow as well. However, I'm almost relieved that this is the only armour spotted so far. Although the vast majority of contacts are unconfirmed the best-guess is that they are otherwise infantry. Oddly, the only further exceptions to this are some field guns. My men seem to think they've seen an AT gun positioned on the far left, but this would be an odd choice of assault weapon. More likely, this is a different field piece and the misidentification is a result of the smoke spreading across the battlefield.

For now, I'm going to stick to the plan. There has been no bombardment on the left so 3rd platoon are being sent up to seize the road junction. Also, I'm bringing the Marder down behind the houses at the junction in case the Americans have more Shermans knocking about and decide to move up the road to the left of the hill. In the centre, 2 and 4 platoons are ordered to sit tight and suppress the enemy as much as they can. They will only be able to take this for so long, given the presence of a tank and some sort of heavy weaponry in the American ranks. But the longer they can hold the US forces amid the trees, the more my mortar bombardment will take its toll. Theoretically, there are 4/5 minutes more of that yet. Even if my guys in the centre of the map can hang on for a couple of turns, that could be enough to cause the Americans some serious casualties.

Ultimately, however, I'm expecting 2 and 4 platoons to get a kicking. Given the Americans' dispositions, it looks like we will be seeing a frontal assault on the hill. But I will be watching the left flank with great interest next turn. If the US forces look weak there, then 3 platoon may be able to at least demonstrate enough to put them under pressure and cause some real problems. Much depends on whether my men in the centre of the map have been spotted, and how long they can hold on in the coming turns.

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Turn 2

In the long run, the next minute of combat will probably prove little more than transitional, but that doesn't mean that it's without surprises. Things get off to a decent start. Although a mortar round which was landing just as the first turn ended takes out 2 plt's 2i/c, my MGs open up again from the slopes of the hill and I can see that I am still inflicting some casualties among the US infantry as they move forward.

screenshot20120814at064.png

Then, the first of two surprises occurs. A command in German crackles over the radio and my mortar bombardment of the American positions comes to an abrupt halt. As a non-German speaker, I have no idea why and - as I mentioned in the report from Turn 1 - I could have sworn that the bombardment was scheduled to continue for a good few minutes yet. One possibility here is that the artillery barrels have overheated. The more likely explanation is that, not for the first time, I've screwed up the orders. Whatever the explanation, it's a frustrating development, because I know that there are Americans in those trees. I can only hope that we inflicted a few casualties before the bombardment was halted.

Real-life generals reading this may wish to note that it always helps to speak the language of the men you are commanding. Fact.

The second surprise is this:

screenshot20120814at065.png

The Americans have started to bombard the area around the windmills, right on top of the hill where 1 plt. are stationed. It looks like 50mm fire to me, 81mm at most. Either way, it's not causing any damage yet. Most of the rounds are missing the buildings and my men are all in the basement rooms, which means they are pretty sheltered. The only minor annoyance is that I've positioned my Co. HQ on the rear slopes behind the buildings to keep them out of harm's way. If they stick around they'll be very much in harm's way instead, should the bombardment continue, so I'm going to move them back.

Meanwhile there is little sign of the US forces advancing at speed, which is probably because they were sheltering from my own mortar fire - until it stopped. Here's how the battlefield looks at the end of the second turn. As you can see, the Germans are still picking up lots of US contacts so I am confident about where the bulk of their forces are, even if the precise identity of the troops I am facing remains unclear.

screenshot20120814at065.png

I can tentatively draw two conclusions from this. First, the lack of movement from the Americans may also reflect the fact that their ability to perceive my positions - particularly those of 2 and 4 plts on the hill, is more limited because they are on lower-lying terrain. That could give me valuable time to arrange a second mortar bombardment, which will inevitably involve a delay.

Second, I can also see that they are almost, but not quite where I expected, which was becoming clear at the end of the last turn. A larger concentration of US forces is to the extreme far left. They might be preparing for a heavy frontal assault against the area where 2/4 plts are stationed, moving either against my centre or even my right. That would be particularly understandable if, as the bombardment of the windmills suggests, the Americans think that my own forces are concentrated there on the highest ground.

All of this has one important implication: on my left, the Americans might have left themselves a bit exposed. As we reach the end of the second turn, 3 plt are still racing forward towards the road junction and will arrive next turn. If it looks like the US are weak on that flank, we might be able to advance some elements of 3 plt. further, with the Marder in support, and threaten to turn them. But that depends on how that rear concentration of American forces starts to move, and timing will be key.

Overall, I suspect that the area directly ahead of the hill will be the scene of bloody fighting in the next few turns. Accordingly, I'm calling in a new bombardment slightly to the right of the earlier one. It's up to 2 and 4 plts. to hold their nerve and try to pin the Americans down until this supporting fire arrives. Only time will tell if they can do so.

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Turn 3

With the premature cessation of my bombardment, that concentration of American troops towards the far end of the map suddenly starts to move. My men on the hill are faced with the daunting prospect of what looks like at least a couple more platoons heading towards them.

Meanwhile, we continue to exchange fire with the squads that are now arriving at the foot of the hill in ever-increasing numbers. It's difficult to tell whether or not the enemy are taking hits. My own men are starting to take casualties, however. It's inevitable, really. There is only limited concealment on the hill and with movement on both sides, the lines of sight are shifting all the time. One MG34 team in particular finds itself exposed to American fire and suffers the consequences.

turn0301.jpg

Ouch. In spite of this, overall 2 and 4 platoons are holding up well. With pretty much all the Americans spotted so far heading their way, I fully expect their forward position to take a hammering, but if they can cause some casualties too, it might mean the enemy are severely weakened by the time they launch their assault on the windmills.

One bonus in this regard is the ongoing mortar fire around the windmills themselves. The American mortars are pounding our position there but to no avail - so far nobody in 1 plt has suffered so much as a scratch.

And there's more promising news: As 3 plt arrive at the road junction on the left, only a handful of contacts are identified directly ahead of them. It looks as if my prediction about the Americans being weak on their right flank might be correct. But that means that they are going to throw pretty much everything at the map's centre. This picture shows where their forces are massing, along with what I now expect to be the direction of their main assault.

turn0302.jpg

I had originally expected them to aim slightly to the left of this, but it involves only a minor rearrangement of my men on the hill to ensure that we are in position to hit them as they cross the obvious kill zones that lie between them and us.

Their weakness on the left and the opportunity it offers is causing me a major headache. 3 plt's original assignment was going to be to hold the road junction and deal with an expected attack. Now, with the American gaze clearly directed towards the hill, they could push forward. But to do that they will have to move down one slope and up another at speed, and in intense heat, presumably under enemy fire. Losing large numbers of men in such an attack would allow the Americans to walk into the road junction almost unopposed. But a successful push might be worth it, as it could potentially cause havoc at exactly the moment the enemy are trying to launch a decisive assault. As 3 plt set up their MG's and catch their breath from the initial advance, it is becoming clear that I need to make a decision fast, while my opponent's attention is focused elsewhere.

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Turn 4

The bulk of the American infantry starts to appear exactly where I expected, facing the lower slopes of the hill. MG teams from both 2 and 4 platoons have moved to cover their assault, which I imagine is only moments away. I don't think my men will hold out much longer, now. Last turn an MG 42 crew were seriously shaken up by a casualty they sustained, although thanks to the steadying presence of their commanding officer nearby, they are still in the game for now. I expect heavy weapons and maybe that Sherman to start firing on us in the next turn or so. Ominously, the mortar bombardment around the windmills has also stopped. It has proven wholly ineffective and 1 plt's men. remain unscathed.

Where does this leave 3 plt. on the left? As discussed last turn, it's now clear where the thrust of the American assault is going to be. Hopefully, my mortars will start bombarding the Americans again in a few minutes' time, but it's questionable whether 2/4 plts. will survive even for that long - and the accuracy of mortar fire is not guaranteed. If the Americans push into the map's central area and 3 plt. move round on the left, the latter will be marooned in the trees on my left flank. But potentially, my opponent could then find the majority of his infantry sandwiched between 1 plt. on the hilltop, and 3 plt. below.

The alternative is to have 3 plt. stay at the road junction. In that scenario, the US advance would be splitting my remaining force in the middle in such a way as to give them plenty of room and concealment through which to move on the road junction at the leisure. In such a situation, both 1 and 3 plts. would find themselves embroiled in isolated firefights, which could each be undertaken at a time of my opponent's choosing and would have little bearing on the other's fortunes. Although I enjoy a cautious defence, I think this would reduce the Germans' role in the battle to a passive one after the fall of 2/4 plts' position. It's time to force the situation instead:

002turn4.jpg

Next turn, elements of 3 plt are going to move forward on the left. Their MG teams are already in positions to provide good covering fire but the whole move is going to have to be executed within the space of a few turns if we are going to be in a position to threaten the Americans before they realise what is happening. And the whole move is a major gamble; it is still not clear what strength the Americans have on their right, but given the numbers of men now focused on taking that central hill, I can't believe that there is yet another platoon hiding somewhere.

As for the hill, I've got everyone in positions where they have reasonable LOS and the cover arcs are now mostly off. A few guys remain on the leftward slopes to cover parts of 3 plt's advance, too. But we are still taking casualties and in the coming turns I expect it to get a whole lot worse.

001turn4.jpg

I still can't really predict whether this attrition will be worth it - and I still don't know if we have hurt the Americans that much so far. As 3 plt. swing into action, the clock is ticking and I am worried their advance may be too little, too late.

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Excellent Tiresias. Not sure how it will turn out but I applaud your daring. My first PBEM I had similar issues with artillery. The confusion worked out for me in the end, but still it caused quite a bit of nervousnes and frustration on my part. Best of luck on 3rd platoons counterattack.

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Excellent Tiresias. Not sure how it will turn out but I applaud your daring. My first PBEM I had similar issues with artillery. The confusion worked out for me in the end, but still it caused quite a bit of nervousnes and frustration on my part. Best of luck on 3rd platoons counterattack.

Nope, I'm not sure either! Like I say, it seems the best way of making sure that 3 platoon can actually play a part that influences the outcome of the battle, rather than sit at the road junction waiting for the Americans to attack when they feel ready. We'll soon find out what happens. It's been a fascinating experience playing this one so far.

Thanks for the comment!

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<snip>

The alternative is to have 3 plt. stay at the road junction. In that scenario, the US advance would be splitting my remaining force in the middle in such a way as to give them plenty of room and concealment through which to move on the road junction at the leisure. In such a situation, both 1 and 3 plts. would find themselves embroiled in isolated firefights, which could each be undertaken at a time of my opponent's choosing and would have little bearing on the other's fortunes. Although I enjoy a cautious defence, I think this would reduce the Germans' role in the battle to a passive one after the fall of 2/4 plts' position. <snip>

I am enjoying your DAR thank you for it. Gutsy move counter attacking with 3 Platoon and keeping 2 and 4 Platoon on the hill. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Normally my advice would be to create a forward line of defense that I *plan* to abandon and use it to try to pin the initial enemy contact to try to get them under artillery fire. Then shortly after contact is made they withdraw to either joint the real defensive line or just to a second forward line depending on forces and the size of the map.

Your first contact went pretty well - enemy pinned and under artillery - well done. From personal experience I all to often to try to keep those forward guys in place too long. Sounds like you are doing the same:-) The remnants of 2 and 4 platoon could move back to the reverse sloop of their current hill. The idea being that once the enemy has blasted where your guys used to be and then take the hill they will want to come down the other side. When they do you have guys at the bottom to engage them as they crest meanwhile elements of 3 and 1 platoon also hit them from their positions. Is that possible? Can 3 hit targets on the back of the centre hill from their original planned positions at the junction? Can 1 platoon fire on the back slope of the centre hill from their positions? If so you can make that a nasty kill zone and win they day.

I am only offering that as an alternate possibility for you to consider - some future time perhaps. You clearly have chosen a plan and I am looking forward to see how it turns out.

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Normally my advice would be to create a forward line of defense that I *plan* to abandon and use it to try to pin the initial enemy contact to try to get them under artillery fire. Then shortly after contact is made they withdraw to either joint the real defensive line or just to a second forward line depending on forces and the size of the map.

Your first contact went pretty well - enemy pinned and under artillery - well done. From personal experience I all to often to try to keep those forward guys in place too long. Sounds like you are doing the same:-) The remnants of 2 and 4 platoon could move back to the reverse sloop of their current hill. The idea being that once the enemy has blasted where your guys used to be and then take the hill they will want to come down the other side. When they do you have guys at the bottom to engage them as they crest meanwhile elements of 3 and 1 platoon also hit them from their positions. Is that possible? Can 3 hit targets on the back of the centre hill from their original planned positions at the junction? Can 1 platoon fire on the back slope of the centre hill from their positions? If so you can make that a nasty kill zone and win they day.

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the message, and for reading. I think your assessment about keeping 2&4 platoons where they are for too long is almost certainly about to be shown to be spot on! As you say, the intent was to keep the enemy pinned down so that I could pound them with artillery. The combination of my first bombardment ending earlier than intended and the appearance of Americans slightly to the right of where I had expected encouraged me to arrange a second bombardment, which is the main reason they are still hanging on in there.

A proper reverse slope defence is something I have yet to master given my limited experience. There is definitely potential for this where 1 plt are positioned, and it could form the basis of my "last stand" at the windmills. For 2 and 4 platoons the prospects are slimmer. The hill effectively becomes a ridge line running all the way back to the windmills. In an effort to create something approaching a layered defence I identified a point where it plateaus out between their current position and 1 plt. I have an MG team there at the moment and retreating elements could pull back there within the next few turns. It isn't a reverse slope as such but I think that, in a similar manner to that kind of position, it might be possible to catch a few more Americans as they come over the crest.

Again, thanks for your thoughts. The main reason I decided to write this in the first place, in spite of my lack of practice with the game, was because the BF community seem such an informative and positive bunch, so I really appreciate the advice!

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Turn 5

As three platoon begin their advance on the left, my attention is drawn to the windmills, which are hit by something other than mortar fire. It looks like it might have come from a tank or possibly a field gun of some description.

turn5001.png

Whatever the source, this is the closest the Americans have come to causing some damage up there. A couple of minor injuries are sustained among the squad hiding in the basement. It's nothing serious, but enough to have me pull them back behind the summit next turn. The windmills are where I will fight my last stand, and I need 1 platoon intact and fighting fit.

Meanwhile 2 and 4 platoons are battered by mortar and machine-gun fire on the lower slopes. Unlike the previous turns, there is no evidence that they might be causing the Americans a problem - in fact, most of them are too busy cowering for their presence to be in any way effective.

turn5002.png

I resolve to pull a few of the teams back next turn, including 2 plt's commanding officer. They will reassemble on a small plateau slightly to the rear of their present position, where it may just be possible for them to inflict a few casualties as the Americans advance up the hill. Before they reach the windmills, they will have to cross a relatively narrow ridge, and this fallback position might enable me to hit them a little there. For the time being, my MG teams are still on the lower slopes in the hope of suppressing any attempted US advance, however. That mortar strike I've called in is just a few moments away.

The news is better on the left. Forward elements of 3 plt. race forward through the bushes that lie in front of the road junction. They're spotted by an XO team over to the far left of the map, but an MG from 1st squad keeps them in check. No casualties so far, and not much sign of American infantry covering their advance, either.

turn5003.png

Two teams from 3 platoon's 2nd squad have made it across the one stretch of open ground that lies between us and the American right flank by the turn's end. Having encountered barely any resistance, I will be accelerating the move forward on my left next turn, to get them into the relative cover of a grove of trees that lies on the opposing slope. It's the one bit of really fast movement they will have to undertake. I am convinced that I have caught the Americans by surprise in this area and now is the time to get everyone across, while my opponent is still working out what is going on. Otherwise, the advance will slow up in the intense heat. Once in this first grove, there will be little time to catch their breath:

turn5004.png

2nd squad will spearhead the advance, moving relatively cautiously up to the far perimeter wall, where some contacts were spotted earlier. 3rd squad will follow once their position is secure. 1st squad will break slightly left, however. I expect to have to move them over towards that XO team, as I think there may be a field gun of some sort pointing towards the windmills on the summit. That's the gun which was misidentified by my men as an AT piece in the first turn.

With 3 platoon now moving across the open, there's no question that the Americans will realise that we are threatening their right. My hope is that this will draw some men away from the hill, allowing 2 and 4 platoons to recover slightly and maybe buying us more valuable time to keep the enemy pinned down and hit them with mortar fire. I'm slightly disquieted by that shot at the windmills at the start of that turn, however. Is there another tank alongside that Sherman? As the turn ends, I think I hear the first of my spotting rounds screeching through the air...

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watch out using the fast command, it can burn your guys out real quick and in an advance to contact situation that can be particularly annoying. You don't want your guys going into a potential firefight worn out.

Nail biting excitement here. Hat's off to both you and BD for this.

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watch out using the fast command, it can burn your guys out real quick and in an advance to contact situation that can be particularly annoying. You don't want your guys going into a potential firefight worn out.

Thanks for the tip. I think my guys in 3 platoon will be OK in this regard; they had to race to get across that open ground but now they're mostly in the trees and can slow down. It's conveniently sloping, which means that they are in a defensible position while they get their breath back, too.

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Turn 6

This is probably the toughest turn the Germans have had so far, as the Americans noticeably up the intensity of their bombardment of the hill with mortars, supported by suppressing fire from their MGs. My decision to pull some of 2 platoon in particular out of there couldn't have come sooner, and next turn all but a handful of MG teams will be reassembling in the fallback position I have already identified. Meanwhile, an MG positioned on an outcrop just in front of the windmills takes the rash decision to open up on a field gun it spots somewhere to the rear of the American right flank. It proves to be a very bad call.

turn6001.png

For the first time I can sense that the advantage is turning towards the Americans, which further endorses my decision to pull back on the hillside. Spotting rounds now begin to land around the area I have targeted, and I hope that the spotter is calling them in accurately and that they will arrive in time to have a substantial effect on the men intended for any forthcoming American push up the hill. As one falls near the Sherman, however, a chilling revelation takes place:

turn6002.png

There's a second American vehicle down there and it's a Priest - self-propelled artillery. I expect that this is intended to cover any final push on the windmills. Hopefully it will stray into the region covered by my anti-tank gun on the hillside. If not, I'll have to leave the Marder to handle it later.

3 platoon's advance on the left has been a casualty-free encounter so far. Most of my guys are now in the grove and are slowly moving forwards towards where we think the nearest American contacts are. In the meantime, a covering MG back at the road junction successfully blasts away at that pesky XO team who picked up the movement last turn.

turn6003.png

turn6004.png

I've been fortunate in getting them all across the open safely and now they can slow down in the assembly area. Next turn we should be in a position to have them move to where they can threaten the US right flank and hopefully draw some of the attention away from the hillside.

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Turn 7

With the Americans still pounding away at the hillside, 2 platoon are now pulling back with a few surviving elements of 4. However, a few MGs are still stationed around their original position to hold down any American advance a few moments longer. It should be all I need for those mortar rounds finally to arrive - the clock now says less than one minute until they start falling in earnest. Spotting rounds have been landing in roughly the right part of the map. I'll find out next turn if the formal bombardment is going to hit home where I need it to. Meanwhile my decision to keep a few men lower down the slopes proves well-founded, as we see the first handful of US soldiers racing across the open towards the foot of the hill. It's only a matter of time before my men on the lower slopes are overrun, but those GI's are still in the artillery kill zone for now.

Further up the hill, 2 platoon's men are racing back to my fallback location on the plateau as American mortar rounds explode all around them.

turn7001.png

A few are already up there and I've checked LOS and assigned cover arcs. I think it will be very hard for the Americans approaching those positions to spot them until they are almost upon them. That way I might be able to eke out more effective attrition; the intent being to weaken the American advance as much as possible before they reach the windmills and the (as yet fully intact) 1 platoon. The latter have a natural reverse slope to defend from, so that will hopefully prove a bloody last stand.

Things could ultimately turn out that way for 3 platoon as well over on the left, but for now they've clearly caught the Americans on the hop. Forward elements of the platoon encounter a smattering of enemy infantry this turn from the edge of the grove.

turn7002.png

I hope that this might divert any supporting troops the Americans are pulling across towards the grove itself. To the rear, 1st squad have already begun to get their breath back and are now instructed to break left, out of view just below the summit, and towards that XO team we spotted before. I'm pretty sure that a field gun is lurking there but, if the Americans are heading for the grove, we might be able to outflank them on the extreme edge of the map. My 3rd squad are deeper in the grove, waiting for more contacts so that I can bring them in as a supporting reserve.

I've one last disturbing thought - what if that Sherman or the Priest, currently hovering towards the rear of the American position, come for 3rd platoon? I may have to look at repositioning my Marder next turn to cope with such an advance, but there's no sign of definitive movement from either just yet.

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Turn 8

Last turn an American squad appeared to make an exploratory dash ahead of an expected frontal attack on the hillside. With most of 2 platoon pulling back, we weren't able to lay down much fire on them and I expect they made it across. Presumably buoyed by this success, I see more Americans leaping over the wall and heading towards our remaining handful of positions on the lower slopes. But they might have moved too late. Within seconds, the movement is obscured by a series of mortar explosions and the resulting smoke.

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The long-awaited bombardment is finally underway, and to my huge relief it's falling exactly where we had planned. The spotter, 4 plt's commanding officer, has been calling the fire in through his radio operator despite a barrage of suppressing fire all around him and he's done a superb job. It's impossible to say how many Americans have been hit or whether we have severely blunted their advance, but my guess is that the bombardment will have at least taken out a few of the enemy.

Unfortunately, that's all the artillery we are going to muster. My 81mm off-map mortars are just about empty. I can only hope the two bombardments have caused the Americans some significant damage and weakened their ability to send men up the hill in the large numbers they might have hoped.

2 and 4 platoons have made a heroic stand on the hillside, suppressing the Americans below for as long as they could and buying us valuable minutes so that we could call the bombardment in. But it's come at a heavy price. The bodies of dead or seriously wounded Germans litter the lower slopes.

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The battle is now entering a distinct second phase. Our defence of the lower slopes is essentially now over and most of my men have pulled back. On the left, 3 platoon pick up more contacts beyond the grove, but there are good signs indicating that the Americans are again trying to attack there head-on, allowing 1st squad to move around the left flank. This battle will intensify during the coming minutes and although more German lives will be lost, it has, crucially, drawn some Americans away from the hillside.

As the turn ends, here is how things look. The blue arrows show where the Americans are now moving. We have seen infantry crossing the open directly in front of the hillside from two positions, ahead and to the left. The blue circle shows where my mortars are falling. The grey circle illustrates the fallback position where surviving elements of 2/4 platoons are now concentrating and getting their breath back to await the American advance up the hill.

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On the left, you can see parts of 3 platoon's 1st squad moving to the extreme edge of the map in an effort to outflank the enemy. So far they have suffered no casualties.

And up among the windmills, 1 platoon are still rested and waiting for the last stand. That should still be some time off, and I hope that by that stage I will have inflicted enough casualties on the Americans to prevent them from seizing that vital last position. The critical issues over the next few turns will be, first, whether 3 platoon can keep the Americans busy on the left and cause them some damage, and second, whether those survivors from 2 platoon are sufficiently well-placed to pick off a few more GI's as they work their way up the hill in the searing heat.

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3rd platoon considering they had a long bit of open ground to reach their current position doesn't have much of a retreat option do they? If you have any mortar rounds left you may want to save them to give those guys an option.

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3rd platoon considering they had a long bit of open ground to reach their current position doesn't have much of a retreat option do they? If you have any mortar rounds left you may want to save them to give those guys an option.

No they don't! Their job really is to see if they can harass the Americans while they are still responding to the advance (hence 1st squad's flanking move), and then try to hold a position drawing guys away from the hill. They've got a decent spot in those trees to defend from at the moment.

Really I'm trying to fight an attritional battle across the board now. However, if they do need to move back to the road junction we'll try to pop smoke to cover the retreat; most of them should be able to move it back across that stretch of open in a single move if managed well.

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No they don't! Their job really is to see if they can harass the Americans while they are still responding to the advance (hence 1st squad's flanking move), and then try to hold a position drawing guys away from the hill. They've got a decent spot in those trees to defend from at the moment.

Really I'm trying to fight an attritional battle across the board now. However, if they do need to move back to the road junction we'll try to pop smoke to cover the retreat; most of them should be able to move it back across that stretch of open in a single move if managed well.

cool. Really hoping to see this work as I occasionally run into these moments on defense where I wonder should I try a little more risky offensive action and usually never get to try it.

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cool. Really hoping to see this work as I occasionally run into these moments on defense where I wonder should I try a little more risky offensive action and usually never get to try it.

I'm not sure how it'll turn out either. My natural disposition is really to find strong defensive positions and wait for the enemy to come to me. But this situation really seemed to call for something more aggressive. And it's good to be flexible!

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Turn 9

The next minute of combat proves far less intense as the bombardment dies down. There's still no telling what kind of damage I have inflicted on the Americans who were positioned in front of the hill, because with 2 platoon having drawn back from their original position my intel regarding what's down there is a lot weaker than it was. Towards the end of the turn, I spot a couple of GI's coming our way along the slope to the right of 2 plt's fallback position. They are some way off yet and will run into a rifle team when they get a bit closer.

Far off in the distance, we also spot an HQ team of some description running across our line of sight. I would imagine that they are moving into a spotting position in an effort to call in an artillery strike on whatever I have on the hill.

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This is the first time that a unit has moved into the region covered by my as-yet redundant PaK40. It may be time to use it as it has some HE rounds available and does not look set to play a major role in the battle. I expect it to be overrun within a few turns anyway, as the Americans make their way up the hill. So far it's had an armour-only cover arc set, but I'm switching that to a general cover arc in the hope it will cause the enemy a little further anguish before it gives up the ghost.

On the left flank, a fascinating skirmish is developing with both sides trying to outmanoeuvre the other. 3rd platoon suffers its first casualty at the edge of the grove, as Americans assemble on two sides of the forward-most position and start to lay down some firepower. As luck would have it, however, a surviving MG 42 team on the hill have LOS to some of the Americans and should be able to provide a decent base of fire to protect 3 platoon's right flank.

I'm scoring some hits as well, as 1st squad continue their move on the left. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, a couple of men from one team succeed in wandering off back towards the road junction, which is rather irritating, but I've redirected them and should resolve this next turn. They don't seem to have wandered into any of the Americans' line of fire. More positively, 1st squad successfully sneak up on some Americans whose attention is focused on the grove in which 3rd platoon first arrived and I see a couple go down before they appear to break and run.

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Here's the overview of the left flank at the turn's end. You can see that we're moving up on the left, but the US strength is on either side of that line of sheds, with the group of men to the right potentially threatening to outflank us. This group, however, is also covered by that MG 42 I mentioned, which has been ordered to fire on them as soon as possible.

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I'm expecting more Americans to arrive in this area over the next turn or so as the battle develops, and it's difficult to see how it will turn out in the long term. Again, however, my main aim is to cause them some damage, and leave them seriously weakened before they are in a position to threaten the windmills up on the hill. So far I seem to be having some success. I'll try to keep 3 platoon relatively mobile and spread out, to avoid mortar fire, in the turns to come.

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cool. Really hoping to see this work as I occasionally run into these moments on defense where I wonder should I try a little more risky offensive action and usually never get to try it.

This great to watch. I usually resist the urge to try this kind of thing - been burned a few times:)

@Tiresias this seems to be working well and on top of that you got some survivors for 2 Platoon and 4 Platoon out of harms way who can fight again. Brilliant. That Priest will be an challenging issue. The good news is if you can hit it hard enough it will go BOOM. I have seen those guys make a massive crater and takeout nearby infantry just from the secondary explosions.

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This great to watch. I usually resist the urge to try this kind of thing - been burned a few times:)

@Tiresias this seems to be working well and on top of that you got some survivors for 2 Platoon and 4 Platoon out of harms way who can fight again. Brilliant. That Priest will be an challenging issue. The good news is if you can hit it hard enough it will go BOOM. I have seen those guys make a massive crater and takeout nearby infantry just from the secondary explosions.

I strongly suspect I'll get burned too. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for the comments, I was particularly pleased that I was able to pin the Americans down long enough to get that second bombardment in. The issue with the Priest is not so much how well it'll go up as what to hit it with. All I have is my Marder and the PaK40, which is unlikely to get the chance to take on much armour as the Americans seize the hill. This was always going to be the problem, but if I can keep on weakening the infantry, I may neutralise their capacity to mount an effective final assault on at least the higher VL.

Although yes, it would be nice to see the Priest go boom. And the Sherman, for that matter.

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I strongly suspect I'll get burned too. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for the comments, I was particularly pleased that I was able to pin the Americans down long enough to get that second bombardment in. The issue with the Priest is not so much how well it'll go up as what to hit it with. All I have is my Marder and the PaK40, which is unlikely to get the chance to take on much armour as the Americans seize the hill. This was always going to be the problem, but if I can keep on weakening the infantry, I may neutralise their capacity to mount an effective final assault on at least the higher VL.

Although yes, it would be nice to see the Priest go boom. And the Sherman, for that matter.

LOL well you are going about it with the right idea in mind. The weaker his infantry, the more incentive he has to risk the Priest in direct fire support and the odds go up that maybe you will get a shooting opportunity. The Marder is probably better used versus the Priest. The Sherman can shoot back really fast and the Marder needs to hit it right away. Your Pak has better odds of getting off more than a single round, but once spotted is vulnerable to his mortars.

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LOL well you are going about it with the right idea in mind. The weaker his infantry, the more incentive he has to risk the Priest in direct fire support and the odds go up that maybe you will get a shooting opportunity.

+1 to that.

Work the problem (of the Sherman Priest Duo) as it comes. If one hangs back and the other moves forward look for opportunities to take out one of them. Distraction can work for you as well. I have on several occasions ordered infantry to fire on a buttoned up tank just so the tank would spot them and engage them. Knowing that I had an AT asset that could then get a side shot. Sometimes it goes off so well I don't loose anybody. Other times - well they got the tank but it cost me.

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I've been looking long and hard at the Marder for the next turn and I think I've found two positions it can move to, both relatively hull down, where it might be able to lay down supporting fire for 3 platoon with its HE rounds, and cover a potential approach by either or both of the American vehicles I've spotted so far. More to follow on this in my next report.

I'm not sure the PaK40 will survive long enough to take on US armour as American infantry advances up the hill. It was always a bit of a necessary risk sticking it on the rightward slope, but it has caused a bit of damage which, again, I'll fill you in on shortly.

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