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Broadsword56

Best way to structure objectives for cavalry screen scenario?

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The situation:

18 Dec 1944, 1400 hrs

The US 32nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron has retreated from its starting positions on Dec 16, and has taken up a screening position with the rest of 14th Cavalry Group to prevent KG Peiper from reaching Malmedy.

Peiper's lead element, the "spitze" battalion, probes along Rollbahn "C" and encounters the 32nd CRS screen in rolling terrain just N of Waimes. Peiper reacts by diverting his main element north to Sourbrodt and Rollbahn "B" to proceed unhindered. But Peiper has ordered the spitze to make a hasty probing attack on the 32nd CRS, and:

A: Engage and destroy as many high-value AFVs they can find (in this case, Stuart tanks, M8 HMC assault guns, and armored cars).

B. Keep the cavalry in contact and preoccupied with threats from the east, allowing Peiper's main body to continue its drive to the Meuse while cutting off Malmedy from the N and NW.

I'm setting up this battle as a HTH scenario (no AI) between these two mechanized, roughly battalion-equivalent forces.

My challenge is crafting objectives in a way that represent this cavalry screening mission on one side, and the anti-armor probe on the other.

The cavalry is the only mobile mechanized force in the area. They're not expected to stand and fight to hold ground at all costs, but they need to hold on as long as they can to buy time.  The German side has no need to assault and take territory -- they just need to seek and destroy the enemy's principal assets.

I'm thinking that one way to do it is:

1. To make all the German VPs "destroy" objectives for the specific high-value unit types. That would force the Germans to search and destroy, although they could score by picking off enemies at standoff range if/when they see them..

2. Split the American VPs 50-50 between terrain objectives and "preserve" parameters for their high-value units. This forces the dilemma between holding and fleeing. Maybe the highest-value terrain VPs would be for the most risky locations, those most exposed and closest to the neutral zone in the middle of the map. The lower-value locations could be those in the US rear, where all they would have to do is camp out.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

I've read the various scenario design tips on the forum, as well as Jon's top-quality :Sheriff of Oosterbbek" design guide, but I'm still not sure what the best way is to approach this.

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There's also the "meta game" to take into account. What I mean is that a H2H scenario will play out very differently depending on whether the players know the exact scoring rules (and forces, arty, etc.) of the scenario or not.

In the case of your scenario, you're asking the US player to hold some terrain. If the German player doesn't know his opponent gets points for holding objectives, or where they are, the German is unlikely to even enter those areas. If there's any concealment in the objective area, this means the US player can in effect just hide a very small infantry force on the objectives and get points at the end of the game, since the German player is unlikely to ever find those teams unless he is going to clear house by house, which he won't if he is tasked with finding and killing enemy AFVs. (I assume the US player has some infantry at least).

If, on the other hand, both players know that the US player needs to hold area objective, and they both know where it is, then the game will play out like when playing with regular occupy objectives. Because even though the Germans won't get any points for taking the objective, they will still deny the enemy points, which comes down to pretty much the same thing.

Long story short: I think once you add terrain objectives, you turn the game into a regular take and hold mission.

Maybe instead, you could simply give the Germans points for killing AFVs, and then give the Americans an amount of default starting points? So if the Germans have killed enough AFVs when the clock runs down, then they win. If not, the US has succeeded in their screening mission. In order to prevent the US player from clumping up at the back of the map (king of the hill style), you could add several phase lines that give the Germans extra points if they pass them. Or a series of touch objectives.

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What do you want each player to do? Figure that out, then reward them for doing the 'right' thing.

It seems to me that the two sides have quite different objectives, because of their imperfect understanding of the situation. That is fine, and really that's how it should be, because lack of knowledge of the enemy's objectives is the norm.

In this case, the 32nd CRS is trying to prevent the Germans from advancing down that route. They don't know that Peiper has already turned his advance onto a different route, and will think they're facing the enemy main force. You say the 32nd is occupying a 'screen' - that is a definite task verb, which has a specific meaning:

from FM 1-02:

Quote

screen – (DOD, NATO) 1. An arrangement of ships, ... 2. In cartography,... 3. In surveillance, ... 4. A security element whose primary task is to observe, identify, and report information, and which only fights in self-protection. See FM 3-90. 5. (DOD only) A task to maintain surveillance; provide early warning to the main body; or impede, destroy, and harass enemy reconnaissance within its capability without becoming decisively engaged. (Army) A form of security operation that primarily provides early warning to the protected force. (FM 3-90) See also concealment; flank guard; guard; security operations.

I'll assume that you meant to saw screen, and it's not just a throw away term. In that case, you could give objective points for simply sighting German forces, or sighting some, and destroying others. I would also strongly suggest a series of terrain objectives, and given that this is a battalion-sized activity, quite a lot of terrain objectives. They don't have to be worth much each, but in aggregate they sum up to something worthwhile. I'd also frontload them, so the foremost objs are worth relatively more, and the rearwards ones relatively less. Finally, you could have a preserve objective set at, say, 10% or 20% of the US force, to encourage the US player not to become 'decisively engaged.' Then you have the tension between the US player wanting to hold the Germans as far forward as possible, and kill (or sight) as many of them as possible, with the objective of the limiting friendly casualties.

Your main problem is that CM doesn't have any time-based objectives, but the scenario length effectively provides the time component anyway - if the Germans haven't advanced to a certain location within the length of the scenario, that's a good outcome for the US. Fiddle with the weightings of the various types of objectives so that an "ordinary" playing - where the two sides achieve what you wan or expect them to achieve - delivers the overall result you expect.

As a rough rule of thumb, assuming a total pool of 1000 points, and only as a starting guess, I suggest:

Friendly Force Preserve (15%): 250pts

Terrain Objectives: 400 pts

Sighting key German assets (HQ tanks, or representatives of each unit so that int reports provide an overall picture): 100pts

Destroy Germans: 250pts

 

Although not stated, I read the German mission as 'feint';

Again from FM 1-02:

Quote

feint – (DOD) In military deception, an offensive action involving contact with the adversary conducted for the purpose of deceiving the adversary as to the location and/or time of the actual main offensive action. (Army) A form of attack used to deceive the enemy as to the location or time of the actual decisive operation. Forces conducting a feint seek direct fire contact with the enemy but avoid decisive engagement. (FM 3-0) (Marine Corps) A limited objective attack involving contact with the enemy, varying in size from a raid to a supporting attack. Feints are used to cause the enemy to react in three predictable ways: to employ reserves improperly, to shift supporting fires, or to reveal defensive fires.

So, like the US, the Germans are trying to avoid a decisive engagement, so a friendly preserve set to 10% or 20% might be appropriate. You also want the US to " to employ reserves improperly" or "shift supporting fires". You can't model that directly in CM, but you can imply the precursors by making the US ground forces worth quite a few points to the Germans (so the US would need to employ reserves and/or shift fires) and but setting a series of terrain objectives, or phase lines, with increasing value, resting on the assumption that a deep advance in this area would cause the US to employ reserves and/or shift fires. Then you have the tension between the German player wanting to advance deeply and kill lots of Americans with the objective of the limiting friendly casualties.

As a rough rule of thumb, assuming a total pool of 1000 points, and only as a starting guess, I suggest:

Friendly Force Preserve (15%): 200pts

Terrain Objectives: 400 pts

Destroy Americans: 400pts

 

(As a general rule, I think that every scenario should have the enemy's force as a Destroy objective (or multiple sub-objectives), even if it isn't worth very much.)

 

 

Edit: Link to FM1-02. I think it'd be worth scenario designers considering the various task verbs (see p. 3-26 of that pdf, definitions for each are in Chap 1), choosing ONE (1) for each side, then designing the scenario and attendant objectives for each side, around that.

Edited by JonS

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