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SelfLoadingRifle

Advice needed, The Cassino campaign, Scenario 2: The Gorge

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I have been with CM right from the start and I think that I can rightly call myself a veteran who wins far more games than he loses.  However, I have a confession to make.  The game has just beaten me.  The scenario responsible is 'The Gorge' (second in the CMFI Cassino campaign) which I have now fought twice.  The first time I suffered a major defeat, and the second a minor defeat.

The problem is the historical one, a combination of mountainous terrain and some of the finest troops in the world (the Fallschirmjager) defending.  As the attacker, I have large amounts of artillery including plenty of smoke, a battalion's worth of infantry, Vickers guns, sappers plus three Shermans.  So far, I have used smoke to get company HQs onto high ground to spot for the artillery and also to cover the sappers while they mark minefields.  I have kept my infantry well dispersed to minimise casualties from the German artillery (which is fearsome) and used my own artillery as the principal weapon.  The infantry are of secondary importance and their role has been to occupy ground after the artillery have neutralised the opposition.

Progress has been painfully slow - as it was historically.  Each time I have run the scenario I have managed to cause the Germans 50% more casualties than I have received (a kill ratio that was seldom matched in real life) but the survivors -as befits their elite status - have held fast and have always prevented my infantry from holding any of the ground I was supposed to occupy.

Can anyone give me some tips as to which is the best way to win this scenario?

SLR

Edited by SelfLoadingRifle

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It was played in the new 4.0 upgrade.  All I can add is that if the Germans were steadier under artillery fire in version 3 than they were in 4, then that truly makes it a very difficult scenario.  That isn't to deny that it is an accurate depiction though!

SLR

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I've played this scenario recently and have also had trouble with it. 

Within the restraints of the campaign, I think your best option is to develop a very detailed fires plan and stick to it. You want friendly artillery falling constantly, at a low rate of fire to preserve ammunition, and you want it layered in tiers so to speak. Essentially you need to establish one really long rolling barrage that your infantry operates behind. This should keep the bulk of the German defenders pinned down, leaving only smaller teams and the like that you'll have to deal with at any one time, instead of the bulk of the defenders firepower. 

In the first phase of the mission before the tanks arrive, positioning your infantry and sappers should be your primary goal, while spotting enemy positions, all while having that slow steady artillery falling on suspected German positions. Keep the mortars in reserve to engage point targets of German positions as you begin to spot them. If possible, drop smoke near the first minefield and begin clearing it. Be careful though, as the Germans can drop pre-registered fire missions on this location. 

In the second phase, when the tanks have shown up, use the combination of your infantry and tanks to advance slowly, engaging specific enemy positions with direct fire as you go. From here it just becomes a slog. You have to slowly advance with your tanks and infantry, while maintaining a constant artillery barrage to keep the majority of enemy positions suppressed. 

Quick note, I found that smoke was relatively useless in this battle. Due to the terrain, it does not block enough of the Germans line of sight to be fully useful, and it tends to blow away rather quickly as well. You would need a lot more smoke rounds in order to effectively blind the Germans here. That said, it can still be used in a few specific places to good effect, such as the bottleneck of the first mine field, and on any German positions that just wont seem to die. You can drop smoke directly on them to blind them and give yourself a chance to maneuver. 

Ideally, you would have a lot more time to fight this battle. If you're so inclined you could unpack the mission from the campaign and add more time in the editor (max it out at 4 hours) to really give yourself the time needed to slowly prod your way forward. This battle is mainly difficult in my opinion due to how tedious you have to go about fighting it. Every individual German position must be suppressed, and there are a lot of them. If you allow the Germans to fire at you in mass, or allow their officers and observers to view your forces easily, they will murder you with direct and indirect fires. It may also be worth adding additional forces, although that begins to go outside of the original mission parameters and may be historically inaccurate as well. 

Granted, all of this is much easier said than done. Biggest piece of advice I'll reiterate is to accept that playing the mission is very tedious. It either requires a lot of mental stamina or a lot of breaks. Maybe both. Lots of orders to give every turn for a lot of units, and if you get lazy you'll be severely punished by the Germans. That, or you'll find yourself running out of time with out of place units, which will then turn into a scramble which will lead to mass casualties. 

Hope this helps some. It would be interesting to hear from the scenario designer his thoughts on the mission. It would also be very interesting to see an AAR done for this mission. 

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Captain Miller,

Thank you for your advice, which I thoroughly agree with.  Most of it tallies with the tactics I have already tried.  However, you said that it was easier said than done and boy oh boy were you correct!  The one thing you mentioned that I didn't try was the slow steady artillery on suspected enemy positions approach.  I tried to identify enemy positions before calling down fire on them which certainly contributed to the fact that I ran out of time.  I will run the scenario a third time and see how that particular tactic works out.

For anyone else attempting this scenario it is worth stressing that progress will be slow - snail pace slow.  Every single position that you identify must - as Captain Miller states - be eliminated before any progress can be made, and that takes time, far more time in fact than the scenario allows.  There are no shortcuts to this.  If you take any liberties at all, you will be hammered.  Also, although I kept my forces well dispersed, I didn't disperse them enough.  Sections (or squads to use the U.S parlance) should be subdivided into fire-teams and these should be kept well apart.  Never have more than one platoon advancing down that valley at any time.  The German artillery is absolutely murderous which you will find out in the hardest possible way if you make the mistake of concentrating your forces.

I noticed with interest that despite the fact that the result was recorded as a defeat, I was allowed to progress to the next scenario rather than suffer a termination of the campaign.  Perhaps the designer is trying to tell us something?  I second Captain Miller's request for his (the designer's) thoughts on the mission.  We await his reply with considerable interest...

SLR

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Just wanted to add a quick point of emphasis: when the tanks arrive you can really start clearing out those individual German positions and gain some momentum.Progress will still be slow and tedious, but with the tanks you will have  a reliable way to engage/suppress/destroy bothersome German positions.

As for a defeat allowing you to progress in the mission, that is not uncommon in campaign design. Usually in the campaign briefing it will tell you what victory conditions are required to continue the campaign. For instance, there could be a mission where if you do not win, you lose the entire campaign. Other campaigns are much less strict, requiring only a draw in order to advance. If memory serves, the campaign allows you to progress even if you do not complete this mission due to its inherent difficulty. 

Good luck on your third attempt! I'm interested in hearing from you how it turned out. Remember to use a slow rate of fire with the artillery. If you set the mission duration to 'Maximum' but set the rate of fire to 'Harass' (or a similar very slow ROF setting) you effectively will not run out of ammo, and you can cancel the fire mission when you start to get close to where the shells are landing. Even with the slow rate of fire it should be enough, for long enough, to keep the Germans heads down most of the time, and will degrade their morale as well. 

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