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Hapless

DAR- Breakfast in Noville

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I fancied a little break from doing video AARs for a bit so here's a text and pic During Action report!

AjarmanG and I are squaring off in a meeting engagement at Noville, north of Bastogne or just off the eastern edge of the map of Bil and Baneman’s beta AAR:

Map1_zpsepsqcsi7.jpg

We’ve played a few games so far and I’d say we’re fairly evenly matched, but something that came up out of our last Meeting Engagement was that there was an initial rush for position and then the game pretty much stagnated.

So we put this one together with an eye on keeping things fluid: we’ve got 2km2 of rolling countryside to manoeuvre in and it’s a foggy dawn to boot. Flush with an unanticipated appreciation for the US Army after winning our last game with them, I plumped for the Americans.

Thinking about it now, I won that game mostly because of P51s which are going to be useless here and I really wish I had squads full of Mp44s riding Tiger tanks instead of Garands on Shermans, but hey ho.

This is a different kind of battle to that which I’d usually want to fight- usually I’d be looking to take and hold chunks of key terrain and exploit them to get my opponent to fight on my terms. That kind of approach doesn't really work when the opposition can walk right past your positions without you ever knowing.

So its time to wheel out the standard backup plan, which is pretty simple:

Stage 1: Find the enemy

Stage 2: Kill him

I can quickly split the map into two sections: an arc through Cobru, the centre hill and Noville which is all close suburban, urban and forest terrain:

Map%203_zpsfx6tjcyo.jpg

and then a big arc around the outside of that from deployment zone to deployment zone is which is full of wide open spaces:

http://i1152.photobucket.com/albums/p486/vhapless/Map2_zpspmlzxevv.jpg

Gut instinct took one look at the map and said “Go right.”

The darkness and the fog make the wide open spaces over there an area I can exploit for manoeuvre rather than the deathtraps I’d usually see them as, so going right isn’t as daft as it might sound- though I might be changing my mind about that pretty quickly.

If I'm fast enough and can push round the right with some tanks and mechanised infantry I can hopefully catch my opponent in the flank as he moves from his deployment zone into Noville. If I’m too slow to catch him (much more likely), then I’ll be behind him, which should upset him some and maybe get to snack on some HQ elements, on-map mortars or unlucky stragglers. Whatever happens I want to be in his face (or behind his back) giving him a good kicking instead of sitting back and handing him the initiative.

There’s always the possibility that he’ll push the same flank and we’ll end up with a messy knifefight as we run into one another, but I’m confident that I’ll come out of that fairly well: my Shermans will be at their best against German armour up close (read "actually have a chance") and anything lighter than a tank should get shredded by all the halftrack mounted .50cals I intend to bring with me.

My biggest worry here is having to really get stuck into streetfighting. This is an area where I’ve struggled against AjarmanG in the past (damn Oosterbeek!) and chances are he’s going to have time to set up shop in Noville no matter what I do. I’m currently thinking I’ll have to wait until it gets lighter and my tanks can engage enemy positions from outside panzershreck range before I try to wrinkle him out Fallujah style. Assuming I have any tanks left by then- we’ll see.

Speaking of tanks, I always agonise over how many to take. In the end I could only afford to bring along six Sherman 76s- more would be better, but at some point I'm going to have to knuckle down and clear out Noville and for that I'm going to need plenty of manpower. The tanks are going to be beefing up a mounted armoured infantry company led by a recce platoon as they go for that right hook straight off the bat. The rest of my force is a dismounted armoured infantry company that’s going to be tabbing into Cobru to set up or push from there as things progress- I can't just let him have that village. In an ideal world, an occupied Cobru would be the anvil to the right hook’s hammer, but unfortunately Noville is in the way.

http://i1152.photobucket.com/albums/p486/vhapless/Plan%20-%20Copy_zpselsj5jar.jpg

Planning beyond the basics seems fairly redundant here- exact details will depend on exactly what circumstances I find myself in. Best case scenario: I manage to isolate, envelop and destroy helpless pockets of enemy troops out on the right flank and AjarmanG will find it tricky to manage to defend his inevitable position in Noville from two sides. Worst case scenario, that open ground out there really is the deathtrap it usually is...

Should be fun whatever happens!

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Hey, I'm already excited!

This DAR will bring the forum back to life, I reckon..

 

BTW, to be brutally honest: out of spite that there is still no schwimmwagen, I didn't (and do not) buy CMFB. 

Edited by Seedorf81

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Thanks guys! Hope its going to turn into a suitable interesting, dramatic game for everyone.

We’re up to Turn 3, most of what's going on is traffic control, except for the spectacular progress of the recce elements:

D1%20-%201_zpssaeghp5p.jpg

Recce 1 has almost reached the highway (N30) in Noville. They haven’t seen or heard any sign of the enemy. This might mean that he hasn’t reached Noville yet, or at least not this part of Noville.

Of course, this is early days yet- as soon as the recce troops get out of the jeeps they might start picking up sound contacts galore. Or they could be seconds away eating from a torrent of enemy fire (who said reconnaissance by fire meant outgoing fire?) or they could even have bypassed some equally speedy Germans going the other way without either side noticing the other.

But if it is quiet then I’ve got a decision to make:

Do I treat this as a solid sign that the right hook is going to succeed because AjarmanG is moving slowly and stick to my plan?

Or do I treat this as an opportunity and quickly reinforce Recce 1, aiming to knock him on the back foot and get into his face in force early on?

Command Push or Recon Pull? (Slightly more nuanced than that I know).

What does gut instinct say?

Gut instinct says: “Its nearly lunchtime.”

Weighing this up is going to keep me busy all day. I’ll post again in a while and lay out what I'm thinking.

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I'm sure there'll be something out there - darkness and fog means that you pretty much have to trip over the enemy before you see them.  I would advise against recon by fire for sure because your muzzle flashes will attract a hailstorm of return fire.

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"...muzzle flashes will attract a hailstorm of return fire."  That is a pretty good way to locate the enemy positions.  An experienced player will have his units with short arcs so they don't return the fire of a recon element.

It's a bit gamey, but so is treating recon units as expendable.  I always encourage designers to make recon and other specialized units at least one experience higher than regular troops so they are very good at their job and can spot the enemy and survive.

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1 hour ago, Erwin said:

It's a bit gamey, but so is treating recon units as expendable.

 

"Just drive down that road until you get blown up".

George S Patton, being a bit gamey.

 

I wouldn't go out and out and say that I consider my pixeltruppen totally expendable, but I would say that you can't play chess without pawns.

Here are the options I'm considering with regards to the Recce 1 situation:

Option 1: Low Risk, low reward.

Continue as planned- leave Recce 1 as an OP in Noville and concentrate on delivering the right hook.

D1%20-%202_zpstb6xl8yw.jpg

The fact that I’ve almost made it into Noville without the slightest sign of any enemy activity means nothing on a dark foggy morning and the absence of contact icons shouldn’t be taken as a sure sign that the area is clear, especially at such an early stage. There’s no need to weaken the right hook and get involved in street fighting based on the fact that a recce team can’t find the enemy in the dark. I’m getting excited about nothing. Its Turn 3. Calm down, wait and see.

 

Option 2: Potentially high risk, potentially high reward.

Send one of the Mounted Infantry platoons to reinforce Recce One and secure the roads leading out of Noville towards Cobru.

D1%20-%203_zpssevvdgau.jpg

A presence in Noville would be a fantastic brake on enemy progress towards Cobru and hopefully help pin him in place for the right hook. A rifle platoon split into as many teams as possible, spread out amongst the buildings and aggressively handled could look like a significantly larger force than it actually is and lure AjarmanG into thinking that my main effort is a frontal push from Cobru to Noville.

This would also free up Recce 1 to go and recce or set up somewhere else.

I might be worried about getting involved in some urban/suburban warfare, but if I can get set up first and be defending an urban area then the advantage should be on my side.

Furthermore, the halftracks used to transport that platoon could quickly turn around and start shuttling the dismounted infantry company forward: it’s faster than walking and they won’t be knackered.

The downside is that it’s easily possible that Recce 1 bypassed enemy scout elements who are now in position covering the road. Any reinforcements heading for Recce 1 could easily be ambushed or at least observed or heard moving up. Even worse, I’d end up with two widely separated non-mutually supporting forces that could be destroying in detail (but on the flipside I was in that situation already with the logic that they’re too big to be destroyed quickly and would serve to pin the attacking enemy in place.)

 

Option 3: Compromise?

Offload one of the halftrack platoons onto the tanks and then start loading and shuttling the dismounted infantry company forwards with the empty halftracks.


http://i1152.photobucket.com/albums/p486/vhapless/D1%20-%204_zpsw8okfw7h.jpg

Will an entire armoured infantry platoon fit on the back of six Shermans? How are they going to retain their mobility once they dismount and the tanks are in action?

Also, why didn’t I think of this when I was setting up?

What I think:

I'm currently leaning on 3, but I'll need to check if the tanks have the carrying capacity. It shouldn't slow down the right hook too much and it'll speed up all movement on my left. Even if Recce 1 gets wiped out at the start of the next turn its probably still worth accelerating the occupation of Cobru and injecting some extra flexibility by juggling the transport arrangements.

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I wouldn't go out and out and say that I consider my pixeltruppen totally expendable, but I would say that you can't play chess without pawns.

Amen, break eggs to make omlettes. I'd rather be losing recce than actual combat power.

Edited by Rinaldi

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1 hour ago, Hapless said:
Option 3: Compromise?

Offload one of the halftrack platoons onto the tanks and then start loading and shuttling the dismounted infantry company forwards with the empty halftracks.

http://i1152.photobucket.com/albums/p486/vhapless/D1%20-%204_zpsw8okfw7h.jpg

Will an entire armoured infantry platoon fit on the back of six Shermans? How are they going to retain their mobility once they dismount and the tanks are in action?

<Snip>

Yes a platoon will fit.  I think six Shermans can transport about 90 troops.  I vote for option three.  Looks like there is a lot of cross country movement.  I wonder if you need to worry about bogging / immobilization at all.   

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15 hours ago, Rinaldi said:

 

 

Amen, break eggs to make omlettes. I'd rather be losing recce than actual combat power.

In a game, of course I would too...  My point was is that a RL use of recon?  It's a philosophical issue re whether one exploits game weaknesses (that one's pixeltroops will do anything one orders even if it's suicide) vs handling them as real human troops who would rather stay alive.  My rule of thumb when playing is (usually) "what would I do if I were in this soldier's place".  Committing suicide is low down on that list.

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Back to 'recon by fire'  - as part of the section battle drill for the British Army ... in particular 'locating the enemy' ... use of fire is part of the drill if the enemy hasn't been found by other means.  So not gamey at all.

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Well, Recce One did its job and found something German:

 

A Panther covered in flamethrower teams. They only took a single casualty before Recce One’s lead car evacuated the area (and likely their bowels), but the Panther gave them a few squirts with the coax and the two backseaters got drilled. The guys in the front are now in a panic, justifiably so. The best part of this is that they actually ran out of orders just as they met the Panther and the whole encounter was basically AI driven. At least Recce One gets style points for conducting a drive by on a Panther!

Style points aside, Recce One’s lead car is out of the fight for at least a while. The much more important radio carrying trail car (which is supposed to be comparatively safe at the back) now has an angry Panther bearing down on it and I’m not too optimistic about its chances. The Tac AI is reversing it away, but I’m not confident that it’ll disappear from view in the time and I don’t think changing its orders in any way will help, so that’s a wait and see. Getting the Thompson maniac in the front seat to stop shooting will probably help.

Recce%201%20Reverse1_zpspcyxhgt0.jpg

On the whole, though, prospects do not look good for Recce One so let’s think about what information they gathered with their virtual lives:

They bumped into a Panther carrying 3 flamethrower teams, probably with more vehicles following.

First of all, they bumped into it, which implies that either AjarmanG’s recce elements have passed me by OR they’re somewhere else OR he’s not got any.

Isolated%20Panther1_zpstqkd2gwe.jpg

This could well be another opportunity- I need to get some troops into position in Cobru quickly and ambush that tank if it pushes in. He might be a bit more cautious now, but if he is then I’ll have gained some time.

Secondly, he’s brought at least one Panther along, there’s probably going to be more. Panthers are scary, but at the same time close ranges aren’t going to play to their strengths. The sides and rear and nice and flimsy and the front may even be vulnerable to Sherman 76s at these close ranges (still want to avoid that though).

Third, flamethrowers.

Flamethrowers1_zpsqjbfgtqg.jpg

Not sure why they’re out in front (if they are actually in the lead), but it looks to me like he’s thinking about fighting the house-to-house. On the plus side, that lead Panther is supported by five infantrymen (one got wasted by Recce One) and that should be fairly easy to deal with, flammenwerfers or not.

Lastly, looking at the way Recce One’s sound contacts developed it looks like there might be another three enemy vehicles behind the first.

Sound%20Contacts1_zpszfhdu4nt.jpg

Panthers come in fives so maybe it’s a panther platoon, maybe it’s something else. If I’m lucky and Recce One survives they might be able to keep tabs on the traffic.

So planning wise, a cheeky quick toehold in Noville is out because I don’t want my halftracks anywhere near enemy tanks if I can help it, but the Option 3 transport juggle is in progress and almost certainly necessary now to get some troops into Cobru quick. That Panther wants ambushing if it carries on, but I need to beat it to the ground. I think I’d better resort to mixing up my companies and quickly get one of the right hook platoons to rush into Cobru to get boots on the ground and then send the Option 3 platoon loading into the halftracks to the right hook. Hopefully spaghettifying the command links isn’t going to end in disaster.

In other news, Recce Two is in position at a bottleneck on the highway out of Noville, they’re going to go to ground there and keep their eyes and ears open.

http://i1152.photobucket.com/albums/p486/vhapless/Recce%2021_zpsg2wc5y6m.jpg

Recce Three is rushing down the backroads parallel to the highway to investigate the right flank.

Recce%2031_zpsbswrigw1.jpg

The leading right hook halftrack platoon is currently having some traffic issues trying to cross the bridge, which is a pain because I need them up forward to complement Recce Three (they might be armoured infantry, but they’re still on recce duty). It might be worth risking the chance of bogging in the stream with the other platoons to avoid bottlenecking at the bridge.

HT%20Traffic1_zpsow1b9a95.jpg

I’m slightly worried that I might have to sack off the right hook to bail out my left, if he bumrushes Cobru in force, but we’ll see how things develop. I’d still rather have him react to the right hook stabbing him in the back than sack it off in favour of my reacting to him.

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8 hours ago, Erwin said:

My point was is that a RL use of recon?

It really surprised me to watch soldiers in Afghanistan wandering over open fields devoid of cover- but its frequently a sort of "provocation patrol" or "recon by exposure" designed to goad the enemy into exposing himself. The risk is balanced out by the fact that most Afghans are apparently terrible, terrible shots and that NATO forces could call in overwhelming firepower in a matter of seconds. Recce by fire is similar and like Combatintman says, its a recognised option.

For this game, in an ideal world Recce One would have had some backup to counterbalance the risk of hurling them towards the enemy. Maybe I should have beefed up the recce platoon with some greyhounds or reinforced them with some bazookas (if those guys had bazooka's that Panther from the backseat of the jeep then I would give them all Medals of Honour as soon as I'd stopped laughing like a maniac), maybe I should have even had some tanks to back them up, but at some point they stop being recce elements and start to become something else. A couple of jeeps are nice and low profile- these guys had some bad luck (or dumb orders, your mileage may vary!).

23 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

I wonder if you need to worry about bogging / immobilization at all.   

A little pre-game testing showed that things would bog occasionally when trying to cross the streams. I think the fields under the snow are all fairly passable, I'm just trying to stick to the roads at this point for the speed.

18 hours ago, benpark said:

I'm a little biased since I made the map, but I sure would like to see that left hook through Cobru!

Definitely on the cards now I think. Fantastic job on this map man, I'm loving it!

6 hours ago, General Melchid said:

Thanks for doing this, big fan of your writing/presenting style ; enjoy the vids but always seem to glean more tactics from the written word.

Keep up the good work.B)

Thanks very much. Believe it or not, I'm finding writing it out like this is much easier than speaking it, so its a nice change.

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Turns 5-6

I actually ordered the Recce One trail team to ditch the jeep and leg it into the adjacent garden, which they managed to do with only a single casualty.

The enemy flamethrower teams disembarked- one of them got nailed. Recce One is still panicking, but at least they’re panicking with the pedal to the metal and they seem out of the immediate danger zone, picking up sound contacts as they go.

After that they withdrew to the back of that garden and took another casualty as what I assume was the Panther did a drive by on them on its way to Cobru.

T5%20Recce%201%20flees1_zpsdhcllrtv.jpg

The most interesting part of this is the sound contacts. Here’s an overview for Turn 5:

T5%20Sound%20Contacts_zpsuqorahsi.gif

Wondering what I’m actually hearing aside, it’s clear that AjarmanG is piling into this end of Noville. Of the left and right roads between Noville and Cobru he looks like he’s stopped on the left after running into Recce One. Or at least, the lead Panther has stopped. There is another sound contact- a probable tank contact- heading for the right side road.

The halftrack platoon moving into Cobru is deploying into ambush positions now, the dismounted company has actually reached the village now but is basically knackered. Well done me. On the plus side, AjarmanG is potentially leading with isolated tanks here, so a few squads of GIs with bazookas should hopefully get the drop on noisy blind tanks. Or at least give him second thoughts.

Recce Two’s position just outside the edge of Noville is good- they can hear something tank-like from where they are, Recce Three’s lead jeep is just about in position.

T5%20Recce2-31_zpsaj08ampy.jpg

The right hook feels like it should be moving a lot faster and I am questioning whether it is actually a good idea: I’m splitting my forces in two where my opponent isn’t. It might be a good idea to either bring it in closer to Noville and attack along the highway to speed things up, or leave the forward platoon up there to move in as a deception effort (I think he knows how much I like big dramatic manoeuvres) and pile everything else onto the left flank.

T5%20Overview1_zpsnt7yv8v9.jpg

This is probably too much thinking, too early and I just need to be patient.

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Hapless,

  Really nice presentation.  I am enjoying your running commentary and reasoning for your moves. 

  I especially like how you are explaining and showing your recon units.  I think this isn't done enough as most of our games and battles start right out in the thick of things.

Heinrich505

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Cheers Heinrich! For meeting engagements at least I think that the game sidelines recce to some extent: you know that you're actually going to run into an enemy force, you know from the QB settings roughly what size it will be and you can take a reasonable guess at their options from examining the map. Obviously circumstances vary, but if one player sacks off his recce and the other doesn't then the battle can quickly stop being a meeting engagement and become an attack-defend with the advantage to whoever got into position firstest with mostest.

Turns 7-8

The recce teams are doing their job of keeping tabs on enemy activity in Noville:

T7-8%20Sound%20Contacts_zpsdix4r84m.gif

It looks like AjarmanG might be digging in to Noville- those tank sound contacts look like they might be spreading out to cover the roads. Recce One's lead team has stopped panicking and the trail team is having to be very quiet because it looks like there's infantry in the houses opposite.

There are sound contacts closing on the other recce team positions- would be nice if they could turn the damn jeep engines off when they disembark!

Recce Three's lead team in particular looks like it might be about to get bumped. Worst case- that Panther is coming out to investigate their jeep's engine noise. Best case, its going to drop off some infantry at the house ahead of them and they can ambush them before legging it away into the night.

Recce31_zpsy60ribow.jpg

The right hook is still moving in- though I'm wondering if I should divert the tanks to take a less circuitous route and be in position to flank anything coming down the highway or pushing past Recce Three. Suddenly I feel I need to know whether the shermans will identify and engage targets from their muzzle flash alone, and at what distance. If they will and the range is fairly long then the H/T platoon may not like what comes next...

The footsloggers on their way into Cobru are a bit knackered, so they're slowing down, but I've got some ambushes in place on the connecting roads to Noville. They might be fairly porous, depending on the difference between how far the game tells me they can see and how close any enemy vehicles need to be to resolve a spotting contact, but the sound contacts in Noville don't appear to racing forward right at this moment so fingers crossed I don't find out.

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Not much to report, everything is pretty much carrying on as before.

The sound contact approaching Recce Three stopped outside the house nearby, stopped and then moved off as if it was heading to link up with sound contact near Recce Two.

T10%20Recce%20Team%203_zps0r7sjm8y.jpg

The contact never resolved, but it could well have been dropping off an outpost team at the building. There’s not sign they ever noticed Recce Three. I did manage to remember that Recce Three has the Platoon HQ and a halftrack and that the Halftrack has a bazooka in it, so on seeing that the tank was stopping I got the HQ team to acquire it and set off to beef the lead team up. Now that the tank has they’re going back to the damn HT where the radio is and they can be a lot more useful.

The surviving jeep of Recce One has recovered somewhat and I’ve trailed it round the back of Noville, but its not picking anything up. Chances are I never had much chance of catching AjarmanG as he deployed, but that jeep team is going to be doing a good job by just surviving and listening to engine noises.

The right hook is steadily getting there- once the tanks have all moved up I can kick the party off- I want to have a go at those two sound contacts near Recce Two and see how these tactics are going to work out.

Some quick testing reveals that I might be massively optimistic about actually spotting the enemy though. Things could get down to walking bazooka teams forward until the muzzle hits something metal...

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Just stumbled on this...much as your recce team stumbled on that Panther! I like it: when a commander is confident enough to send a jeep to take out the enemy's spearhead, victory cannot be far behind. ;)

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On 16/07/2016 at 6:15 PM, c3k said:

Just stumbled on this...much as your recce team stumbled on that Panther! I like it: when a commander is confident enough to send a jeep to take out the enemy's spearhead, victory cannot be far behind. ;)

My one regret is that that recce team didn't attempt a boarding action.

Just waiting on the next turn at the moment, shouldn't be too long.

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Ok, a couple of turns on now and its all pretty steady, nothing particularly new:

output_Pu62EP_zps7pfsrjez.gif

I'm still standing by the general thrust of the plan:

T11%20Overview_zpspivk72wr.jpg

The interesting part is the massing sound contacts to the left of Noville in between the question marks- potentially that's a clump of tanks and halftracks that's going to push on Cobru. From where he's stacking up he can either go straight up the road or through the fields around my left. Either way, its time for the guys in Cobru to get their act together and hedgehog up.

On the right at the moment I've got one halftrack platoon going far right to get behind him, the tanks and the riding platoon are pushing towards the sound contacts on the highway and the last halftrack platoon is lurking in reserve. On the one hand I know that splitting my force like this into non-mutually supporting chunks isn't that good an idea, but on the other its so dark and so foggy that they can't mutually support each other anyway so it feels better to disperse.

The next big thing is probably going to me having a go at the sound contacts near Recce Two on the highway- the tank platoon is going to roll up and follow the dismounted infantry in. Obviously this is not quite the elegant kind of fire and movement most people here are familiar with so I've taken the time to test the procedure out under the same conditions. There's a very simple chain of events:

1) Infantry scouts find enemy unit by touch.

2) Chaos ensues.

3)???

4) Victory.

Simple.

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Turn 13

The lead Halftrack platoon on the right is crossing the stream and getting behind Noville. This is a little risky- you could argue that I should have dismounted a scout team and probed the stream just to be sure- but I'm confident that AjarmanG hasn't installed steely eyed panzerfaust crazies in every scrap of cover on his side of the map. If he actually has then excellent! We can get stuck in.

Image1_zps0l6v8qve.jpg

The platoon hedgehogs in Cobru are coming together, freeing up the halftracks over there and I'm considering using them to demonstrate on that flank and get his attention- a bit of noise, maybe some optimistic area fire (might be too obvious), anything to get him looking towards Cobru and not at the highway or his rear.

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