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landser

Kampfgruppe Engel Campaign

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I have been playing through this campaign and a few observations I'd like to make. First, many thanks for creating it, I believe JonS is the author? And to all playtesters and others who helped. I have really enjoyed it. I haven't finished, I am up to The Last Kilometer, which I believe is the final battle? I had a look at the map, and the forces at hand and have planned my route, but yet to play it. Should do so in the next few days, as I am keen to see the final tally.

This campaign was played on version 3.11. I suffered none of the reported issues this campaign had like missing core tanks and ATGs. This post contains SPOILERS!!, so proceed at your own risk.

I have been playing through quite a few campaigns concurrently. I will play two or three battles of one, then if I've had enough of heavy German armor for the mo, I'll switch to American paratroopers or somesuch, so I have quite a few campaigns going in various states of completion. When I first got CMBN I scoured the 'net for info on campaigns -- which ones were out there, how do the mechanics work (resupply, repairs, branching missions etc) and also AARs, opinions or reviews. Truth is, there isn't much out there. In one of the few threads I found, the poster listed campaigns he suggested to play, or to avoid. KG Engel was in his 'avoid' list, as he said odds were overwhelming and the campaign was too difficult. But of course I tried it anyway, and glad I did. I found KG Engel challenging, but hardly overwhelming. I can see where someone might feel that way though, as the player often faces huge odds, and if he isn't careful with his troops and especially armor, could have a bad time of it. There were several missions where we ended up with more than 20 tank kills, so the enemy is strong. But if played carefully it is completely manageable.

The opening few battles are excellent, as are most of them. I also prefer the 'single core' setup. Quite a few campaigns I've been playing feature several separate task forces that each fight separate but related battles, Task Force Raff and Road to Montebourg being two examples. This works fine, but perhaps dilutes the sense of attachment I feel for my pixeltruppen. KGE focuses on the core units throughout, aside from some exceptions such as the recon units in Hunters in the Mist. I knew the names of each of my unit leaders and tank commanders, and I cannot say that about all other campaigns.

I am not posting from my gaming computer, so I don't recall the names of each battle, which leads to confusion, so I will make some edits when appropriate to add in the names I may have forgotten.

Random thoughts about the battles. Loved the opening mission. Big, mostly open map with terrain undulations and just enough obstructions like hedges and tree lines to break it up. Had a hell of a time getting my ATG set up at the base of the main road. Never did get it right, it alternated between limbered and clueless and was a non-factor in the battle. The battle itself has KGE attacking dug in recon troops ostensibly screening a town, and allows a great deal of maneuver, with a timely enemy armor reinforcement arriving mid-mission. After completing this mission an assault on the town itself follows. Another fantastic map and mission.

From there KGE acts as the German's Falaise pocket fire brigade, tasked with attempting to keep the pocket open allowing friendly forces to escape.

The jury's still out for me in regards to the exit mechanic. It's used several times in this campaign, and it's used extensively in others as well. I can see the attraction to scenario designers. It adds another (usually interesting) requirement to the battles, and forces the player to have a more complex plan, fighting the battle or completing objectives, with an eye toward 'how will I get my troops off the map safely.?'

In KGE I loved it in Tiger Poaching, but not so much in Guardian Angels. It worked well in Hunters in the Mist, but there it was the enemy that had to exit. Tiger Poaching was one of my favorite missions, a delightful change of pace. Hunters in the Mist was another inventive mission that JonS should get credit for. My main gripe with exit requirements isn't that it makes the scenario harder, but that I can't see the kill stats for exited units. It's one of my favorite parts of the campaigns, seeing the stats after each hard fought battle. Minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, and is more a limitation of the game engine, but one I care about nonetheless.

The most challenging battle for me was the Dives River Crossing battle. It follows Hunters in the Mist, and the player must do it with only what was left over from Hunters in the Mist, including ammo. Because I thoroughly pasted the Allies in Hunters, my tanks especially had close to empty racks, not to mention chewed up tracks, shot up radios and optics. It's a different sort of challenge when you cannot just rely on your heavy weapons to pound the enemy positions and you must find another way.

KGE is a great campaign, with persistent core units, excellent briefings and maps, interesting and unique missions with sufficient time allotment and some sexy German heavy armor. That King Tiger was the star of the show. Now I just need to escape the pocket....

 

Edited by landser

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I finished the Last Kilometer mission, and there's at least one more to go. It's an assault on a fortified enemy position on a hill, dug in with armor and a commanding view of my approaches. Mist limits visibility, negating the long range firepower of my heavy armor. A walk in the park then!

In The Last Kilometer I did very well. After ending the mission I was pleased to see that I had chosen the route well. I was shocked to see how strong the enemy had been, and we were fortunate to avoid most of it. In all I had 24 casualties, including several who had the misfortune to be passing a knocked-out Cromwell when it exploded. Such is war. I also lost a Wespe and a Mark IV. Got a tactical victory. How is it scored for the Allies in this mission? Those are relatively light casualties since I just happened to take probably the only 'safe' route. But that netted the enemy 560-odd points, for what amounted to a fraction of my force. It seems that it would be very easy to draw this one, or lose it if you happened to stumble on a strongpoint. I would expect that in order to get 500 points the enemy would have to destroy half my force, so I clearly don't know how the scoring works for the Allies. No matter really as I'm past it, but curious nonetheless.

Now, one more attack and we are free. Or dead.

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Finished this campaign. Has anyone won the Deliverance mission? What a tough battle. To hit me with a massive barrage and an armored counterattack midway through was simply cruel :)  I cease fired shortly afterwards, just no way I could see a way to overcome this one which earned a minor defeat. Despite losing the last mission, the campaign overall went very well. I was lucky with my armor, keeping most of it alive.

 

 

KGE Final AAR.png

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The King Tiger's final tally is shown here, and the player doesn't even aquire this beast until about the fourth mission. And also the tank platoon leader, a Panther that you have from the start. His final tally was affected by the fact that this tank struggled with track damage through most of the second half of the campaign, forcing me to use it more like a slightly mobile bunker than a highly agile armored dealer of death.

 

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This was a great campaign experience. Challenging, interesting, varied. I know it's quite a few years old and most of you have played it by now. But if you haven't it's certainly worth a go.  Thanks to everyone who had a hand in creating it.

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Yes, there are quite a few great missions after that point, so I hope you get back to it. What sort of problems did you have with Tiger Poaching if you recall?

 

Spoliers!

 

I had to replay a turn, because I had loaded the Tiger crew in to a truck, and not knowing the enemy positions, drove it a bit too far forward and the Tiger crew was wiped out. Restarted that turn and adjusted the truck's waypoints and went forward from there. I used the dirt road that leads to the field where the Tiger is, and then used pioneers to blast a withdrawal route. The 'recovery force'  was a Panther, 2 Mark IVs, a Lynx and the Pioneer platoon in halftracks and an Opel. I prepped the area with mortars but targeted the wrong hedgerow as it turned out, they were mostly deployed one hedge forward.

This map is well suited for a fighting withdrawal, and I set up a defense in depth, deploying platoons by putting two squads forward with one squad to the rear to cover the other two when they disengage. I had a Panther and a Mark IV covering the main road (with the King Tiger also setting up along this road, and the ATG and another Mark IV on the left,  The hill to the right of the main road was a very effective position to place heavy MG's and some mortars, they wreaked havoc on the enemy as they tried to move up the German right flank, but they were eventually targeted by a barrage and took heavy casualties, with one MG squad wiped out.

In the end we knocked out close to 25 tanks and got everyone off the map, with relatively light losses. It might have been worse had the enemy pushed harder on the left, but they dawdled long enough to allow the ATG and Mark IV to pick them off one by one.

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I liked the opening battles of this campaign, but now that I'm a bit further in, I feel it's getting a bit silly. Odds are frequently overwhelming, but in a "shooting fish in a barrel" kind of way. Rambo VS the Russians comes to mind, as dozens of enemy tanks just roll into your line of fire.

I did lose some of my own tanks too, but mostly because I wasn't really paying attention. I understand the designer had to add lots of enemy tanks in order to make up for the extremely limited AI, but I feel this just draws extra attention to the AI problem. It starts to feel less like real war and more like a shooting gallery.

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Haven't been around lately, so just seeing your post now. Do you recall which mission(s) gave you that feeling? I really enjoyed the massive enemy armor formations, but yes,  there were some times that the tank kills were piling up, like in the Tiger Poaching mission.  But I really enjoyed playing this campaign.

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18 hours ago, landser said:

Haven't been around lately, so just seeing your post now. Do you recall which mission(s) gave you that feeling? I really enjoyed the massive enemy armor formations, but yes,  there were some times that the tank kills were piling up, like in the Tiger Poaching mission.  But I really enjoyed playing this campaign.

Well Tiger Poaching was one that seemed silly to me, but in that one, at least the enemy tanks rolled towards you, so they had a chance to shoot back. Not that it mattered much, I ended up destroying around 25 tanks if I remember correctly.

Then there's one later (Hunters in The Mist?) where you have loads of enemy tanks rolling in from west to east, and you come up from the south and just have them rolling past, shooting them. I mean, after the first wave probably the US forces would notice they were going into an ambush...

But the same could be said about most defensive missions I've played in this game. Also most of the ones in Scottish Corridor. Designers know that the AI can't do anything resembling a real attack, so they just turn up the enemy numbers and experience to compensate. I don't think this produces realistic or enjoyable scenarios at all.

Oh, and the pitch black night mission towards the end that just didn't technically work. Having "ghost tanks" driving around straight through your units, smashing through low walls, but with nobody spotting anything, even when my panzerfaust infantry were sitting in the same square as the enemy tank... It stopped being a wargame and started being a Benny Hill show.

However, many of the missions where you are on the attack were excellent. Difficult as hell, some of them, but definitely good challenges.

 

Edited by Bulletpoint

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Fair points, Bulletpoint. The night mission you are referring to is The Last Kilometer. In my case, I got through it fairly easily, and frankly was shocked at the debrief to see how strong the enemy was. It seemed to me that if I didn't fire, I could pass by the enemy within a few yards. But any shot brought a fusilade in return.

I liked Hunters in the Mist. But your points are valid. In all I thought it was a fantastic campaign. 9/10 would get my optics shot out again. And again.

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17 hours ago, landser said:

The night mission you are referring to is The Last Kilometer. In my case, I got through it fairly easily, and frankly was shocked at the debrief to see how strong the enemy was. It seemed to me that if I didn't fire, I could pass by the enemy within a few yards. But any shot brought a fusilade in return.

Yes, I think your approach is the only proper way to do it. I think the idea of a "sneak past the enemy at night" mission is good, it's just that there's no way for me as a player to see how dark it really is, and the briefing only says it takes place at 03:00. If the briefing had stated that "it's so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face", then I would have understood much better how to go about it. But still, if it's that  dark, you can't realistically drive a tank through the landscape, and you can't really move about on foot either. Try running through a forest while blindfolded :)

17 hours ago, landser said:

I liked Hunters in the Mist. But your points are valid. In all I thought it was a fantastic campaign. 9/10 would get my optics shot out again. And again.

It was a good campaign for sure. I'd rate it 8/10 bulletpoints. Very well presented in briefings and overview maps, and the battle maps were also well done. Never played a campaign that was perfect; there are always hits and misses. The two missions that stood out for me were the first one and the one where you're crossing the Dives river. 

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Yes, aside from the final mission, which branches, I found the missions to be varied, challenging, and inventive. If you get the Deliverance mission as the finale, it is brutal. I lost that one, and frankly I don't think I would win it if given a hundred tries.

I enjoyed most missions, but Guardian Angels stands out as one I didn't care for as much. The Dives River crossing mission you mentioned was particularly tough. Because you only have what was left from Hunters in the Mist (including ammo and repair state) it is made that much more difficult. You have all of this heavy armor, but with empty or mostly empty racks and various degrees of damage. I entered that mission with shot out optics, radios, barrels and several damaged tracks. So it forced me to find another way through, since I could no longer rely on pounding the enemy positions with heavy tank fire from range.

I really enjoyed the first two missions especially, the battle against the recon units outside of town, and then the assault on the town itself. Those battles played out well, and set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

Edited by landser

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1 hour ago, landser said:

I enjoyed most missions, but Guardian Angels stands out as one I didn't care for as much.

I didn't like it either. So many waypoints to plot for the groups of trucks. And the "human wave style" attack seemed weird, at least in Normandy. More like an early war Russian attack. Also, I misunderstood the briefing and didn't pull back my forces in town before they were nearly destroyed. But of course it's not the fault of the scenario designer that I'm stupid :)

1 hour ago, landser said:

The Dives River crossing mission you mentioned was particularly tough.

Yes, I had to restart it several times halfway before I got it right. Which I never like to do, as it feels like cheating. But I thought it was an interesting scenario, and that in theory I could have won it on the first try if I had been smarter. I always like that kind of scenario, even if they are often very frustrating because I keep kicking myself for the mistakes I make.

By the way, I think it's a bit much to expect the player to take all three objectives. I took two of them (bridge crossing and crossroads) and ceased fire, thinking I had earned a tactical victory now that the crossing and road ahead had been secured. But it only yielded a draw.

1 hour ago, landser said:

If you get the Deliverance mission as the finale, it is brutal.

Strangely I can't remember the final mission at all right now. Maybe it just seemed so hopeless that I ceased fire quickly? But I think I still got a campaign win overall.

Edited by Bulletpoint

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I think that in general, I would have liked more missions where you command smaller parts of the Kampfgruppe, with more limited objectives, rather than commanding the whole group at once.

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Agreed, I think reinforced company sized battles are CMx2's sweetspot. But I don't mind a larger one now and again, especially if the briefings and battles are well done. Keeps me engaged. Overall though you can tell how much work went in to this one, and frankly, good campaigns for CM games are limited, so I'll take them all.

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Hello Everyone

I've come back to CMBN after some time and I'm really enjoying KE. I'm only a few missions in and I'm going well ... until I get to Tiger Poaching. I have a sure fire method of getting the crew to the KT safely but what I find difficult in this mission is line of sight (e.g. for forward observers) and effective placement of my tanks to cover a withdrawal so they can shoot and not get shot. It is a very enjoyable mission, just in a very frustrating way! Any advice would be much appreciated.

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It's been a very long time since I played this, but IIRC it was relatively easy to get the crew to the Tiger by blowing holes in the bushes... and then reversing back out keeping the tough end vs the enemy.  The only problem was that one kept getting barrel hits and it was common to have the Tiger's main gun disabled.  Don't recall needing to use the supporting armor that much.

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