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landser

Spreading the Fausts Around

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15 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

Almost every clump of trees contains Russians. Just when you think that you have killed them all, bang, more of them.

Ain't that the truth!  It's crawling with Ivan, he has infested every little patch of cover or concealment on the map it seems. You are quite right. But the German has a very powerful force with which to attempt to eject them, I suppose depending on how well forces were conserved in the previous battles. I have two main axes of advance, each with a company of tanks and two companies of infantry, with plenty of support from crew-served weapons, artillery and tracks. That's a heavy hammer. We took the right-most objective with only two infantry casualties, but the remnants have withdrawn in to the forests and will have to be rooted out as we make our way to the next objective.

It was glorious really, with artillery crashing in, a smoke 'corridor' created, through which the assaulting infantry arrived in halftracks before dismounting and getting down to business. HMGs were laying fire in on the flanks, tanks enveloped the target on both sides. It was a very strong enemy force installed at the objective, but as the assault started, they mostly got up and ran and were cut down though a number managed to escape as my liberal use of smoke works both ways doesn't it? The fact we got a resupply for this mission means we have lots of smoke and I'm not shy about using it.

So with a little more than an hour to go we have secured one objective and are closing in on two more, though there's plenty to do to get there. And there are aircraft buzzing around and I'm waiting to see what fate deals me. Which part of my plan comes apart due to air attack?

Edited by landser

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44 minutes ago, landser said:

 Maps are around 3k x 3k and most missions are around battalion in size. The final one is even larger. I mentioned it before, but these battles have an operational feel to them, the way they flow, the coordination required. I don't know if you've played games like Grigsby's War in the East, and especially as the Russians. The way you are playing two games in one. There's the front, where the combat is, but there's also the whole matter of getting the arriving units forward where you need them.

Yes, yes, yes and yes...  Love all these aspects.  And agree, when CM is large enuff to feel almost operational that is great.  Having to deal with force and ammo conservation decisions is a great plus.  It's enjoyable to start with what seems like a huge force, maybe too much.  But, then the challenge is to conserve what you have as if you lose too much the later battles can become impossible.

There are few other CM2 campaigns that are like this - IIRC "Road To Dinas" (made for CMSF1) was memorable in this regard.  

Few campaigns are no being made with that sophistication as it must be much harder to design.  Recently most campaigns seems to allow you to start a mission with a full force and full ammo with no/few consequences carrying over from previous battles.  

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17 minutes ago, Erwin said:

Few campaigns are no being made with that sophistication as it must be much harder to design.  Recently most campaigns seems to allow you to start a mission with a full force and full ammo with no/few consequences carrying over from previous battles.  

Quite right, Road to Montebourg is like that. You have a number of different battle groups, related but essentially separate. I prefer a core force, like this one, or Kampfgruppe Engel is another. When persistent repair and ammo states are included it's really the sweet spot, as those must be managed as well. I recall in KGE getting to the Dives river crossing mission and my armor was alive but in tatters, with shot-out optics, radios and barrels. One Panther's tracks were in such a poor state that it was really little more than a barely mobile pillbox, and I had used up most of the rounds in the ammo racks and it forced me to find another way, instead of relying on heavy armor firepower applied from range. Good stuff.

Edited by landser

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Oh yeah, one more thing that just occurred to me.... reserves. In many scenarios and campaigns I play I want to position reserves. But often I find I commit these reserves on the attack frontage, and they aren't really reserves at all in the proper sense, more like late-arriving advanced elements, if such a paradox can exist. But in this campaign I have proper reserves. In other ones, when I have them, maybe it's a single squad, or a platoon held back. But in this final battle I am almost an hour in and have about eight platoons! still in reserve. That's cool.

So I have the flexibility to install flank screens, or reinforce success or replace losses, to widen breaches in the line, or to regain or maintain initiative if the attacking infantry becomes bogged down through a number of causes. I mentioned before that i tend to avoid large campaigns and battles, but this one has shifted my view somewhat, as I've found it very fun and interesting. There's a lot of micro, but it's a hell of a good time when in the right mindset. The act of conducting a proper combined arms attack, and with the forces to really do so, is very appealing for me.

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Fifty minutes remain, and the final battle is going well. I've been playing this campaign since September 26th. What a beast.

In this sixth and final battle my infantry has suffered. As Warts noted, the enemy is seemingly everywhere. My troops need to plunge in to the forests to comb them out. A single Russian soldier with a PPSh is very dangerous at such close quarters. At 20 feet range they cut loose and take out 4 or 5 of my troops before they've burned through a single magazine. There is too much forested terrain, and not enough time to march fire through all of it and often my first clue the enemy is there is the ubiquitous chatter of those SMGs. So all of the enemy squads cut up by the attack or by artillery, if they have any survivors that melt away, will be encountered again deep in the forests.

I took the right-most objective with a company of infantry.  Two of those platoons were then wheeled to the left (east) astride the road to sweep the forests along the route to the next objective and clear for the armor. One platoon was left to occupy the objective. The two platoons sweeping have been whittled down by the close encounters in the woods and no sooner had they cleared the objective than a enemy barrage hit it and caused casualties in the platoon left behind to 'rest'. 

All infantry reserves have now been committed. I still have most of my armor, and the two infantry companies on the left are in better shape as the terrain isn't so close and they aren't just walking in to the kill zones like the assaulting company on the right. As the sweeping platoons on the right wheeled left, the reserve company was fed along beyond them, creating an extended vertical right flank and essentially a big 'L' with these troops the shorter leg and the main body the longer one. The intention was to compress the final objectives from two sides, but on the right only three platoons are still near full strength. They're well behind the enemy MLR though and might be able to make progress. Some armor sound contacts along the back edge of the map give me pause though.

If I can push these reserves forward we can essentially create a kessel with a large portion of the enemy infantry caught inside. That's the new plan, to use the depleted platoons as a base or hinge, and use the two legs of the 'L' to converge and create the pocket. What little remains of my artillery can be brought in on them, and then the armor can be brought up to reduce the pocket while simultaneously taking the center objective and closing the ring. Best laid plans and all that....

Edited by landser

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I managed to complete this campaign, with the AI surrendering with 36 minutes left in the final battle.  I lost 76 men and 7 tanks (four Panthers, three Mark IV), plus a number of soft vehicles like trucks and a kubelwagen to air attack and artillery.  On the other side of the ledger though, the Russian lost 509 men and 20 tanks, plus 59 of armored vehicles and other.  The artillery once again did the job.

In all for the campaign I lost 208 men and 14 tanks (five Panthers, nine Mark IV), while the enemy lost over 1300 men killed or wounded, 48 captured, and 94 tanks, plus 120+ assorted other vehicles. I played it on Veteran mostly for the quick artillery. Longest wait was nine minutes and three minutes on a TRP,  but those are only available in the first half of the campaign. These are dense missions, compressing a lot of action in to an hour and twenty minutes, and I'm glad I went for the shorter on-call times as I got to use the full power of the strong artillery the German is given. If I had to wait 13+ minutes for it then this campaign would have played very differently for me. I wish I had been on engine 4 to see the artillery kills. I'd guess that it accounted for about half of those 1300 kills.

The player starts the campaign with a total of 56 tanks, evenly split between the two types. Of course it's only in the final battle that all are on the same map.  So over the course I lost a quarter of my armor.

I had a great time playing this campaign. The maps are fantastic and offer up a nice blend of long range gunnery duels and close-in combat in the towns and forests of the region. My longest tank kill was 2269 meters in the second battle I think. But there is a lot of combat that takes place at 1500-2000 meters, which I find a lot of fun. I focused on force preservation, playing each battle cautiously in order to have the strongest force I could at the end. So I ignored certain objectives. For example the two flank touch objectives in the fourth battle, Stary Jankow,  were clearly traps, served no tactical purpose, and I judged it a fool's errand to go for them. So they were ignored. I wasn't too concerned with the scoring, just trying to play sensibly, concentrating my forces and trying to keep them alive. I scored in order, Draw, Minor, Total, Total, Minor and Total, for a Total victory overall in the campaign. I was way too cautious in the first battle crossing the river and let too many T-34s escape. But after that I got the pace.

Historically, the action this campaign portrays is not well-known, but this was the largest armor clash that occurred in Poland. I imagine that the grogs that hang on this board know about it. But it's worth recounting. In July of '44 the Russians were closing the Vistula and the eastern approaches to Warsaw. Operationally, it was XXXIX Panzer Corps defending against Rokossovsky's 1st Belorussian Front, and in this region 2nd Tank Army, of which the campaign's enemy, the 3rd Tank Corps, was part. Model ordered a counterattack with four Panzer Divisions. The Hermann Goring and 19th Panzer Divisions attacked first and managed to cut off 3rd Tank Corps from 2nd Tank Army. 5th SS and 4th Panzer then arrived and the pocketed 3rd Tank Corps was destroyed. In the campaign we command elements of 4th Panzer, and the player is attacking/pursuing 3rd Tank Corps as they fall back in to the pocket to ultimately deliver the crushing blow.

Historically, this action was a sharp success for the German. For the moment anyway, the Vistula crossings were safe, and the direct threat to Warsaw removed. It was a good example of how vulnerable armored spearheads can become after a long advance, and here, at the end of Bagration, 2nd Tank army was exploitable, Model recognized this and struck when the time was right. This action is also interesting for the role it played in the Warsaw Uprising. It was these forces that were approaching the suburbs, and probably sparked the Uprisings. The Soviet defeat left Warsaw on it's own as they needed to cross the river elsewhere. Of course it's questionable whether Stalin wanted to enter Warsaw in the first place, as one might reason capturing Warsaw with no home army intact was preferable from a political point of view.

I started this thread because I thought one of my squads had thirty panzerfaust. I was quickly shown my error and then just turned it in to a sort of AAR and review of the campaign. I apologize for the spoilers, but as the campaign is nearly six years old now perhaps it's not such a sin. I think it goes without saying by now that this is an awesome campaign, with great battles and proper resources to conduct them. Ammunition and force preservation are important, as is killing as much Russian armor as possible to make the end manageable. I felt like there was always plenty of time, except maybe the second battle, but even there I took all of the objectives, even if I needed extra-time to do it. If you enjoy long range battles, and feeling like a battalion commander, with all of the attention to detail this demands, you should play Blunting the Spear. It's one of the best campaigns I have played in Combat Mission. Well done and thanks to everyone who had a hand in making it.

Edited by landser

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