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The Sheriff of Oosterbeek – A Scenario Design DAR/AAR

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On-map 150 mm you mean GreenAsJade? Mine was shooting in a flat tajectory too and in the proces spent many cartridges exploding in the orchard in front of the gun. First spotting round was fun to watch - it almost hit the spotter, he he. I did have some success with the gun though since some granades did fall on the designated house where brits were interdicting my advance.


Brit paras are so tough - I saw some instances where building colapsed and those damn buggers keep on shooting from it. It's really hard to supress them. You need to spend a lot of ammo to be able to do so when your assault element charges the perimeter, the ammo you don't have lots of available. Truck and halftracks that arrive later don't have much ammo so it's paramount you check the level of available ammo left on units and swap the ones who have it depleted with the ones who have lots or you end up charging with units who have nothing to throw at the enemy but their "johnsons". ;) 

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I recently had an experience which some scen designers might find instructive, and which I thought I'd share.   I've recently been re-reading John English's Canadian Army in the Normandy Campaign. Tow

While I'm reading your document and examining the map in the Editor, I've noticed I did a battle scenario called < The Sheriff of Oosterbeek - small >where there are no British SUZs and the map

Hi folks, Creating a scenario in the Combat Mission editor has been described as the-game-within-the-game. I know a number of people who’ve spent more time playing with the editor than they have

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I recently had an experience which some scen designers might find instructive, and which I thought I'd share.


I've recently been re-reading John English's Canadian Army in the Normandy Campaign. Towards the end, I came across a throw-away line which caught my attention. The context is late-July, with the Canadians flailing away ineffectually on the Bourgebus/Verrieres Ridge in the time between the disastrous Op SPRING and the more successful Op TOTALISE. Here is the passage, in its entirety:

As if to illustrate that there was nothing basically wrong with Canadian troops, a reinforced company of the Essex supported by artillery and the direct fire of a tank troop captured an enemy-held orchard midway between Verrieres and Tilly in a vicious, costly action on the night of 29 July. ... [description of Calg Highrs attack the following day] ...[37]

The interesting thing here is that despite the brevity it describes a very tightly constrained battle in terms of forces, time, and space - in the context of CM it will be quite possible to plausibly and realistically depict this entire battle, without fretting about including or excluding flanking units and their effects on this battle.


Note 37 includes this additional information:

37. Copp and Vogel, Falaise, p.84; Roy, Canadians in Normandy, 138, 141-142; Farran, Calgary Highlanders, pp.154-156; and Stacey, Victory Campaign, p.205. The CO of the Calgary Highlanders ordered artillery fire stopped to show the effects of the German counterbarrage. A message log entry for 0325 hours, 1 August, also recorded "Essex mortars shelling us. Stop fire." (RG 24, Vol.14, 109, WD HQ 5 CIB Message Log 010325).

In an effort to track down more info about this battle I hunted down a copy of Roy's Canadians, and had a look at my own copy of Tout's Bloody Battle for Tilly. I couldn't find a copy of Copp and Vogel's Mapleleaf: Falaise or Farran's Calgary Highlanders in any library I have access to. Stacey's Op Victory is available online. Roy's book didn't offer much more than English's - in fact, English seems to have just copied Roy's description of the battle with only minor editing, and they both appear to have copied Stacey. Tout's description was more useful, including the useful information that the tank troop came from the Scots Greys, in 4th Armd Bde. However, because with just one troop involved this is such a minor action for them I couldn't find any Greys-centric description of the action.


I then turned to the interwebs. English, Roy, Stacey and Tout all refer to the war diary of the Essex Scottish. Not being in Canada I don't have access to their archives, but! the wonderful folks at LMH Archive have been digitising war diaries of Canadian units involved in the Normandy campaign. The Essex Scottish is one of the diaries which has been digitised, and it includes a fulsome description of this action, including all the attached units. I had a look at some of the other War Diaries - including 4th and 5th Fd Regts, TorScots, and the 8th Cdn Recce Regt - in case they had something. The 4th and 5th both mention firing in support of the attack, but that's about it. The others had nothing, which wasn't too surprising. I had a look for online-copies of the Greys' war diaries (WW2Talk has a fairly large collection), but couldn't find anything. I had a cursory look for German sources, but I haven't found much. That's ok though, because the Essex war diary has a detailed accounting of the enemy forces they encountered. Reynold's Steel Inferno does, however, identify the occupying German force as "SS Panzer-Grenadiers of Schiller's 1st Regiment" (i.e., SS-Pz.Gren.-Regt. 1, from 1. SS-Pz.-Div.)


Next up, I wanted some imagery. Based on the description ('... mid-way between Tilly and Verrieres ...') and named location it was pretty easy to find what I think was the objective. The French national maps site provided a good topographical map of the area, and some aerial photography of it taken in 1947. However, the imagery didn't quite fit the description - in particular there's no orchard there. So I tried the TARA collection, which unfortunately has a black hole in that area. Next I turned back to the LMH Archive and browsed through their collection of aerial imagery, and turned up a couple of really good images. The detail of le Noyer isn't great, but the outline shape now is exactly the same as it was in 1944, so I intend to use modern G-Maps aerial imagery combined with a bit of artistic license.


Still left me with some niggling doubt that the location I thought was the objective, was actually the objective. Happily, the Essex Scottish war diary includes a map reference to it: 060 606. This, however, is for the 1944 map they were using, which I don't have a copy of. So, back to the intarwebs. There is a site which will translate 1944 map grids into locations on Google Maps. After a bit of noodling about on that site, the settings I was after were French Lambert Zone 1, with the prefix of vU added before the 6-figure grid. When translated onto Google Maps it ended up right smack on the exact location I thought it was.


So, now I have a topo, some aerial photography, a fairly good description of the forces on both sides, and a rough outline of the battle which will inform the briefing and objectives. I'm good to go for another nice little company-sized infantry attack :D


I have some other stuff on my plate for the next month or so, but you can probably expect to see it on the Repository sometime in November :D


Key points: keep your eyes open for descriptions of nice little discrete actions when you're reading. It doesn't need much - just a line or two. Then chase down the references, and turn to the internet to flesh things out. Assume that the information you are after exists, but you just haven't found it yet. And remember that you don't need a detailed, blow-by-blow of the whole battle, instead you just need enough to set the start conditions and objectives. After that it's up to the players.

Edited by JonS
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JonS, if you wish I can give you a rough translation of what the LAH history (Die Leibstandarte IV/1) says about that date.


It's pretty amazing btw how well the war in the west is covered by sources in comparison to the Eastern Front, imagine finding a war diary of some Soviet rifle batallion on the internet, even in if it were in Russian.

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Oh, yes please - that'd be great.


Yeah; the Normandy campaign, especially, and the CW forces in NWE generally seem to be pretty much an open book. There's a lot of stuff available for the US too, of course, but IME not down to quite the same granular level ... although that's probably just an reflection of my research bias. Italy is pretty good, but not as good, again IME (which, again, is probably just personal bias).

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"In the night from 29th July to 30th July the Canadians managed to wrest a small group of houses north-west of Tilly-la-Campagne on the road to Falaise after heavy fighting from the defending group of 5. and 6./1 (note: 5th and 6th Company, 2nd Battalion, SS-PzGrRgt. 1). This is correctly juged by the defenders of Tilly, the rest of II./1 and 10./1, as well as 7./Pz.Rgt. 1 (note: 7th Company equipped with Pz IV) and parts of 2./St.Gesch.Abt. 1 (note: 2nd Battery of the divisional StuG battalion) as a preperatory meassure for a renewed Canadian assault." Lehmann, Die Leibstandarte IV/1, p.194


So not much on that, but a pretty precise identification of exact units involved, in CM terms probably to greatly reduced companies of motorized SS Panzergrenadiers.

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Thanks Rokko, that’s really useful. The Essex war diary mentions 14 German KIA and 8 PW taken, along with some unspecified number who scampered back to Tilly. Based on that I’d estimated that the initial garrison was … mmm … about 50? Which is way too much for a single platoon and probably too much for two reduced platoons, so I was looking at using a heavily reduced company which, coincidentally, suited the defensive arrangement I had in mind. Two companies suits that arrangement even better.
I’ll probably go for just two platoons in each of the companies, plus some heavy weapons. I expect that’ll be a total of 70-80 men. Hmm. I’ll need to think about that some more once the map is done and the first-draft forces are in position.
Is there any comment on where the Bn HQ for II/1 was located? I expect it was at Tilly (or, at least, not with the two companies in le Noyer), but it’d be nice to confirm that.
Edit: never mind: "... the defenders of Tilly, the rest of II./1 ..." is the answer to my question :D
Edited by JonS
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I don't want to hijack the thread but as there are some scenario design guru's giving excellent advice here I have a question. 


Is it possible to get the AI to use smoke after the first turn? 


I've tried but failed to get the AI to use smoke after the first turn. I set up one (or more) Support targets in the AI plan and chose smoke from the drop down menu I have tried a few different things e.g bring the arty in as a reinforcement.  I've tried off-board arty and on-board arty.  I can get smoke on the first turn but the AI never seems to use it after the first turn.  If it's impossible - it would be a nice feature for the a future version as it would make AI attack and assaults a little more like a human IMHO



Edited by weta_nz
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Haven´t seen the AIP use smoke during a mission as well and at times it´s difficult to get the AIP use Arty. at all (1st turn set barrage excl.). Sometimes it also punishes it´s own troops, particularly with mortars. What helps is to let the AIP have several FO´s and a good number of Target Reference Points all over the enemies lines and depth.

What I haven´t tested intensively, is whether amount of smoke rounds stocked for each gun has an influence on the willingness of the AIP to use it. Usually there´s few smoke rounds, as compared to HE and when the AIP considers these low right from the start, it´ll more likely spare (for what tactically wise moment anyway...?) them.

What also can be tested if the AIP is set up to use a first turn barrage, that uses up all its HE and just leaves it with smoke. Will it use the smoke, cause it has nothing left but it? (assuming there´s no other Arty. or mortar left in play, that has HE and not used during the first barrage).

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I farted around with AI mortars a while back and discovered this below so maybe with the AI's painted suppressive target area set as "smoke" type it will work for you at T=5 or later?

Please let us know.

AI Mortar success!


I had 2 different FO's on map from start and placed them in good spots with LOS.

Then made the actual mortars show at R1=5, R2=10, R3=15.

I deployed them to make sure that the FO had them in contact. And a platoon HQ as well. Responsible adult types with radios.


The mortars do spend a turn deploying upon arrival. 

But then pretty soon the board lights up with pretty green lines. If someone carelessly is spotted. 

This one FO had 2 different missions going. They appear to take the normal long times to get the mission set-up. 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 9 minutes. They do fire spotting rounds and adjust.

A round too far left, a bit later a round too far right, a bit later one more or less on target, then a bit later, 4 rounds. bam bam bam bam. 

It wasn't on the area of the AI plans Support Targets Axis. The platoon HQ also set-up a mission.


Unfortunately, it can't happen at night or when viz is very low due to fog or smoke.


So, this could be part of an AI defense plan for a scenario or also for AI on the attack. You don't need to get the initial preplanned barrage style from turn 1. It could come later on...

Actually, I now recall I did use an off-map mortar team that came in at R2. So, you could sprinkle low supply off-map mortar teams in with your R groups. They don't take up an AI slot either.

A prolonged defensive mortaring to make every round count. Come on ostfront winter module!

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The le Norey scenario is coming together nicely, and is currently being playtested. It should be ready for release in a week or two.


While nosing around today, I came across accounts of another two Canadian, company-level attacks, along the Verrieres Ridge in late July. One is Troteval Farm, and is here (two reports):



(note that the second one is actually for a different attack on the same location, conducted a couple of days earlier.)


The other is St Martin de Fontenay, here:



Both of those would make good company-level CM scenarios, and the files there provide a good basis for developing from. I'm not going to do anything with them, so grab them and crack into the scenario editor yourself :D



Edited by JonS
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I have some other stuff on my plate for the next month or so, but you can probably expect to see it on the Repository sometime in November  :D

Aaand it's ready, available from here

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to wander around the orchard at le Noyer when I was in the area for a couple of days back in September. That was ... a very interesting experience. The Verrieres Ridge is a very gentle piece of terrain, but - for example - when viewing the bowl on the south side when the Black Watch marched to their doom, it is readily apparent why that battalion got slaughtered, and whey the Canadians had so much trouble advancing over the ridge.





Edited by JonS
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So I followed these steps and my overlay does not show up...just to be clear, I place the [special_editor_overlay.bmp] in the z file in my DATA folder?  where I put mods right?


Overlays Quicksteps:
Step 1: decide exactly what area your CM map is going to cover.
Step 2: crop and save an image (from Google Maps, Google Earth, some map you found somewhere, an aerial photo, whatever) to exactly those dimensions. If you add the originals as layers in Google Earth, the ruler tool to help here.
Step 3: name the overlay image from Step 2 special_editor_overlay.bmp and place it in your Z folder
Step 4: open up CM, go to the Editor, go to Map
Step 5: you will see your overlay on top of the map square, but it'll be compressed. Use the + buttons to stretch your map to the desired dimensions, and the overlay image will stretch right along with it. Once you get to the right size map, there should be no distortion in the overlay image.

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3 minutes ago, kohlenklau said:

@grunt_GI Hi Jerry, get rid of those underlines and it will work.

special editor overlay.bmp

HAHA, literal me...that's exactly how the Scenario Guide PDF has it... @ChrisND  For future reference, some of us literal knuckleheads will probably mess this up.. On page 26 of the Scenario Design PDF you ship with games, you might want to make this change.  Just a thought.

Wow, that is VERY cool...you can see various transparencies of your overlay...outstanding...thanks for the tip.


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1 hour ago, JonS said:

... and press 'o' (the little oh button, between I and P on a qwerty keyboard ;) ) to adjust the transparency of the overlay. Press it repeatedly to go around the loop.

Yea, that was what was particularly cool...very well done concept for map making...now I might be ready to make my first from scratch scenario...for CMBS... B)

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