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Xerxes' Examples - two AARs

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In the maneuver and attrition thread, Xerxes asked for some examples in CM terms of the subjects being discussed. I therefore provide two AARs (one has been posted before), in both of which I employed what I consider attrition, firepower based strategies, once on offense and once on defense. In both cases, American forces with armor were attacking towns held by a German infantry and gun defense. I can't say they are anything like "fair trials", because their were obvious mistakes on the other side. But the guy who attacked me did try to use a basically maneuverist strategy. I am sure the maneuverist will explain all the things he did wrong.

1. An attempted maneuverist attack on an infantry and gun defense - regular to vet US combined arms attacks a green German infantry defense. This one is a "diary" written from turn to turn as the events happened. Don't worry, the fight itself was very short. But my comments about it are anything but brief.

2. An attritionist attack on a static defense - scenario "Jumbo". This one is a true AAR, written after the fact - though I made some notes while playing to help write it. It was originally written as part of a scenario playtest review and sent to the scenario designer.

First, my defense. I start where my diary did, after seeing the opening turn and trying to assess the enemy force (known to be 1500 points, combined arms) and plan. The details of my defense are covered in the course of my comments, but not at the outset I am afraid.

Estimate of US force made after seeing the first turn -

1 veteran infantry company

1 81mm FO

1 Stuart

2 Greyhound

1 Jackson or other TD

1 Sherman

1 heavier FO - 4.2", 105mm, or 155mm

Disposition, after first turn -

Fire support group:

2 60mm, 81mm FO, weapons HQ - NW corner looking SE.

Left armor probe:

1 Greyhound, Tank Destroyer - Near N edge, () around woods, TD N-most

Center command group:

Company HQ and heavy FO riding Sherman, plus 50 cal on foot - 1/4 SofN edge, cover.

Right armor probe:

1 Greyhound, 1 Stuart - hugging N edge of middle woods

Main Body:

2 Platoons, 2 MMGs, 2 Zooks - straight through middle woods, at speed


1 Platoon, 1 Zook, 1 60mm - near middle road, hanging back

On the last, the 60mm is certain but the location of the 3rd infantry platoon is a guess. It could also easily be coming through the N-most body of woods, which would fit as protection for the northern armor probe and as cover for the fire support group.

All 3 60mm fired smoke to cover the opening move, 3-4 rounds each. They likely have only 0-2 rounds of smoke left, each. The 81mm FO targeted the center gap for a major smoke mission, and spotting round has arrived.

Overall intention - heavy left at speed behind smoke barrage. Counting on smoke to close to mid map, and then mass to overcome the scattered defenders encountered there. After capture of northern half of the middle of the map, wheel right to hit the main objective from the N and NW.

(Note - this is what is called "telegraphing" the attack. My sightings on the first turn told me just about everything I needed to know. But the attacker planned to rely on speed, not surprise).

What is in their way - 1x75mm PAK, 1x150mm SiG, 1xSchreck, 1 VG Rifle Platoon, 1xHMG, Company HQ. Observed by 120mm FO, 1 VG Rifle Platoon, 1xHMG, 2xSchreck.

Shoulda put all the AT mines there as the most likely avenue of approach. That was my first intention but I second guessed myself. Also out of position - 1x75mm PAK, with LOS across to right only as far as forward buildings. TRP is at right forward buildings. If he hooks in "shallow" both will be effective.

The sIG position is ideal for this approach - it will have to do well for the defense to succeed. I do not want to waste it dueling with light 37mm armor. He only has 150 infantry fighters, to my 200. His are vets to my greens, but I do have SMGs and stone buildings and he has neither. If the sIG can get 50 men he doesn't have a chance in the infantry fight. His smoke may mask his tank replies when his infantry first clears it.

The 75mm PAK in his path may be overrun quickly if his 3rd platoon is coming through the northern woods. Smoke is likely to mask most of its field of fire in the meantime. The main danger is losing it to rushing infantry while it is still trying to hide. However, if he has neglected to send the 3rd platoon by that route, then his concentrated infantry force would miss the PAK, and his vehicles must pass it to become effective in the center.

He may intend to first clear the woods on the northern half of the map, and then to use the relatively long fire lanes into the objective area from the NW to pound the town with his armor and artillery, while standing off beyond schreck range. There is shelter from this tactic in the middle of the town, and the back side of the northern buildings (until rubbled anyway).

I am considering sending one VG rifle platoon, from my southern wing, forward and right in a sweep behind his advance, especially if he has not kept a reserve. There is one 60mm mortar in their way. The downside is greens moving; if a tank comes along they will have trouble, even with a schreck along. But it will reduce his area of control and his sense of security.

It would still leave 180 vs. 150 infantry in the other areas. The distribution would be 30 men left hook outside the town, 42 men right side outside the town and in his immediate path, and 138 men in the main body inside the town. The "towners" have one company HQ, all the SMGs, 2 HMGs, and 4 Schrecks, which should make them a tough nut to crack. They will have to sulk a bit to avoid his armor. But his infantry should be outmatched, after its losses to the right side platoon, 120mm mortars, and especially the SiG.

On turn 2, one PAK 40 KOs a Stuart and an M-8, before being knocked out by his Shermans. A revised estimate of the enemy force now is -

Vet infantry company (60mm out of smoke)

1 extra MG (50 cal or MMG)

1 Stuart (dead), 1 Greyhound (dead)

1 M-20

1 105mm Sherman

1 76mm Sherman (E8)

1 81mm FO (50 rounds used, smoke, 150 remaining)

1 4.2" FO (2 rounds used, spotting, 78 remaining)

MGs have hit a few of his infantry, but not many, and they have not broken.

One platoon in reserve behind the center, where it probably spotted relocations of forces.

It is possible the dead M-8 was really a misidentified M-20, which might allow the 2nd Sherman to be another E8 model. The 4.2" might be 105mm instead, with 98 rounds left. The dead Stuart might have been an M8HMC.

The basic story remains. All enemy forces except for 1 platoon are believed to be identified. He has 1 M-20 and a platoon of infantry far ahead on the north side of the town; another platoon, HQs, and zooks in the woods NW of the town; the Shermans carrying the MGs in the north center gap; 2 60mm, weapons HQ, and 81mm FO in NW corner; and the remaining 60mm is in the center of the west edge, probably with the hiding reserve platoon.

I have avoided the flanking move so far. The rifle and MG positions are north of town facing SW, hiding, and in the NE corner of town facing NW shooting, and the 3rd is newly relocated in the west end of town facing NW, ready to shoot. The SMG platoons are drawn up in the center of town, in a "question mark" formation with its bottom pointed SW and its hook tying in with the Rifle-MG platoon in the NE corner of the town. The sIG is silent, hiding during the smoke mission. The 2nd PAK has stopped hiding, hoping for a thin LOS flank shot on one of the Shermans, due north. The 120mm has been called on the TRP at the NW corner of town, and half a minute's worth should arrive on turn 3.

He should run into the town and find the first few buildings empty but shelled, everything beyond them swarming with SMGs, and the left rear of the entering force surprised by a bypassed rifle and MG position, and by the sIG at le moment juste.

And on turn 3, he hooks in shallow with the infantry, just like I had hoped! Also, he seems to have sent his 3 zook teams ahead of the force as scouts. 2 are near the buildings and another is pinned in the smoke short of them. The force behind them seems to be all 3 of his infantry platoons, all making for the NW corner of the town, en masse. One group headed to a small wood just west of town, most headed for the NW-most building, and others behind them or heading to the next building to their left (east, farther in to the town). This puts the center of them smack under my TRP, and the 120mm FO's clock reads 1 second to impact! Boy is he going to get a wake-up call about massing under artillery fire! Smoke will not help him against that.

The way forward is blocked immediately by 2 SMG platoons in stone buildings, as yet unspotted. They are backstopped by a third in reserve, the next row of buildings back. Another VG Rifle platoon (-) is just to their left, with its HMG team supporting from a bit farther back and able to sweep the streets out of the first building, although he has moved his 81mm smoke barrage to that area. To their right is another Rifle+MG position, active now shooting into the smoke, but also drawing the attentions of an M-20 car (suppressing the MG somewhat, and I hope running low on ammo before long) and just now, a Sherman as well. The HMG may tough it out until dead, but the squad on the ground floor of the same building will have to scram to avoid the inevitable incoming tank HE.

His 2 Shermans are both excellent models, 76mm W+ HVSS, just shy of super jumbos. The 2nd PAK had a flank shot at one of them but missed short, and lost the target behind a building before another. It seems to have been unspotted, however, as it drew no fire. It tracked the second Sherman briefly, again from a flank, but without advance line-up "notice" did not have time to get a round off. Both are now in the dead ground behind the buildings at the NW corner of town. But the PAK has two LOS, one diagonally through town back to the NE, a line he can't be expecting, and the other the thin one west of the town. He does not really need to move his tanks, although right now the smoke is limiting their effectiveness. But if he advances either way, the PAK should have another shot. If he comes around the western side, it will be front aspect however, and the PAK 40 can only kill W+ with a turret hit from the front. I'd have to wait for a second "turn" to see a side again.

All 6 schrecks are alive and well, although one moving west of the town, out of position south, was spotted and drew a little fire. He is safe in a building now. One VG rifle squad NE of town, hiding in the ground floor of a tall wooden building and as yet unspotted, might get a faust chance if he is lucky (he has 2). He is about 80-100 yards from one of the Shermans, too far right now. But if it tries to bypass his area, he has a chance. The sIG is so far safe, but open sheaf (unobserved, I bet) 105mm rounds are falling in its general area. The center of the barrage is not on it, but 2 rounds have landed about 20 yards away. And there are 86 more where that came from (or only 66 more if they are 4.2" mortar rather than 105 - but they sound like 105). Schrecks and 150mm HEAT (of which the sIG has 7) are capable of penetrating the front of a W+ Sherman, although the upper hull gets hard if the side angle is noticable.

His MGs are coming in with 2 riding each tank, and 1-2 more MMGs walking, well behind the main group because of their medium speed. There are 3 50s and 2-3 MMGs. One of the 50s dropped off its tank under fire and lost 2 men, and is currently pinned and crawling through 10 meters of open ground trying to get to woods cover. Another 50 cal is still on the back of its Sherman, but has lost 4 men. The 1-2 MMGs (one might be the company HQ) are walking across a wide area of open ground, which I can hit immediately with 1 VG rifle squad and an HMG, directed by a +2 combat HQ. One of his 60mm mortar teams dropped 9 rounds HE on an unoccupied area of scattered trees, the other two seem to be quiet and may be moving forward by now. Overall his support weapons aren't likely to be much of a factor, for a while yet anyway and perhaps for good.

The critical items that have me most nervous right now are (1) will a lucky 105 round find the sIG? and (2) dealing with the 2 super-Shermans when the smoke clears. I have 5 schrecks in good positions, but he needn't come close enough for hit chances to become high, and the shooters are green. The sIG can potentially KO them, but it is a low velocity and thus innaccurate weapon, and also green crewed. I'd like it to have only one in its sights before it opens up. The two issues are related. I'd like the sIG to survive his armor, in order to dump its massive HE onto the north side of the town. I'd also like to get rid of his armor for its own sake. And I worry about waiting for nice clear smokeless shots, because of the falling arty which may at any time neutralize my best weapon (without his even knowing it, really).

The massive positive is catching essentially all of his infantry under the 120mm TRP, while they are blocked from moving farther into the town by still hidden SMG platoons. I feel pretty confident about whacking his infantry hard, in the next two minutes. Eventually he will run out of smoke too, leaving whatever remains inside the town naked to the sIG's 150mm shells, if it is still alive that is. He cannot beat 6 platoons - even small green ones - with the infantry that will survive 50 rounds of accurate 120mm plus several pinpoint 150mm.

His tanks are worrisome, but if his infantry is defeated, just sulking out of LOS will prevent them from doing too much damage. He can't get close to get around such sulking, or the schrecks and fausts will get him.

Revised estimate of force -

2 Sherman 76mm W+ HVSS "Super Shermans"

2 M-20 AC (one dead)

1 M8HMC (dead)

1 Regular Rifle Company

1 105mm FO (1/8 expended)

1 81mm FO (1/2 expended)

3 extra MGs (50 cals, some vet)

It helps that he spent on thick skinned and "shooter" tanks, as it makes his infantry only regular quality. If they all break under the 120mm, it could be a slaughter, as my SMGs wade into them still cowering. The remaining 105 ammo is dangerous to greens, although stone buildings protecting most of the infantry reduce the threat somewhat, and right now it is firing elsewhere on scattered targets, with an open sheaf. So far, no one has so much as ducked due to the 14 rounds he has expended.

Update - final turn before surrender

The 120mm impacted perfectly and scattered his infantry to the winds. About a platoon made it into the first main building, but the remainder of the shells will get them soon, and while suppressed they cannot defend themselves from the 2 SMG platoons right across the street. In addition, one of the schreck crews firing with a 25% hit chance at about 125 yards, KOed one of the super Shermans. It even got off a second round that hit the other one, recorded as a side turret penetration, but failed to kill the second tank. I'll take the one kill any day. (It turns out the 2nd caused gun damage - learned only at the end. Give that schreck team a medal). And the shooter, while suppressed from his own backblast, is still alive and not even taking fire.

The sIG has perfect position for all targets, but remains blocked by smoke for the time being. His artillery has shifted to infantry positions I revealed last turn, and is no longer a threat to the sIG. It did get 5 men, but nothing serious - just 1 VG rifle squad halved and pinned, and 1 man down from an HQ. 2 other schrecks have angle to the remaining Sherman at but are blocked by smoke, and the range is long for both. If the Sherman moves ahead, yet another schreck will come into play, and the PAK will have a side shot. Staying where it is one schreck is firing at it. If it backs up before the smoke clears it will survive, but that is about the only chance it has.

Meanwhile his M-20 and remaining Sherman have been shooting up another HMG + VG rifle platoon position. The HMG has lost 3 men but is still up and firing. One squad lost another 3 but successfully withdrew to the next building back, breaking LOS. My overall causalties are 6 in that platoon, 5 in the similar force north of the town under his 105s, and 5 men from the first PAK crew, from the early gun duel, along with the PAK itself. The remaining crewmember of that gun was the only man to panic so far, and he is back to cautious and headed to the rear. I've also expended half the rounds from the 120mm FO.

In return I've destroyed more than half his armor, wrecked his MG and zook teams, decimated his infantry with the 120mm barrage and scattered the remainder. His effectives are 1 tank, a scout car, and about a platoon and a half of infantry that made it to the buildings but are heads down. And a platoon of those is about to receive another helping of HE. His attack is utterly shattered, and I don't blame him in the least for choosing to call it a day. If fought on, the smoke would clear on the wreckage of his attack, the sIG would still be there to hit anything still moving outside, and the SMGs would mop up.

Most of the damage he sustained was inflicted by just the following units -

1 green 75mm PAK 40 - 2xlight armor

2 green VG rifle platoons with 3 HMG - his MGs

1 green panzerschreck - 1xsuper Sherman, gun damage to another

1 green 120mm FO (half expended) with 1 TRP - his infantry main body

Which comes to 400 of the 1000 points of defenders. Or, one might credit the schreck kill to all of them, since together they have the "footprint" that created the shots. That would raise the "points engaged" to around 500. The sIG, the 2nd PAK, the AT mines, and 4 platoons of SMG infantry - weren't needed.

His plan of attack was reasonably well adapted to the terrain and it was pushed with audacity. Rather too much audacity, as the result should make clear. The plan seemed to be based on the idea that closing to the town - getting across the open areas - was the main issue to be solved. It had little prospect of success.

The town his infantry was entering - besides having a TRP at the "engraved invitation" empty buildings at the NW corner - had not be prepared by fire at all. His heavier arty confined itself to plastering the northern flank of his advance, firing without observed targets at first, and against scattered infantry later. His strongest covering fire into the town came from a single M-20 scout car that ran ahead of the smoke, and so had some firing opportunities.

His heavy tanks could have hit the town from much farther back, but instead moved to within 125 yards of buildings his infantry hadn't reached, exposing themselves to infantry AT to little purpose. The only reason for them to come so close was to try to get through his own smoke, to see. He did not know the defense, having employed no scouting. The best case was the bulk of his infantry across paved streets from unphased SMG platoons in stone buildings.

He seems to have planned on some systematic tank HE destruction of points of resistence. But he did not take the time to KO positions one by one. Everything was concentrated on pushing as far toward or into the town as possible, as fast as possible, under smoke. The plan was all movement. The role of "fire" was (1) smoke to cover movement, (2) harassing artillery outside the objective to suppress an uncleared flank. Concentration of the maneuver elements was supposed to do everything else, up at the pointy end.

It was a plan that could only work against a thin, spread out defender counting on trying to prevent movement forward anywhere by covering all areas of open ground. As such it was a gamble, and a reckless one.

In fact the defense was based on a division of labor, with the spread coverage of open ground areas delegated to 2 PAK, 3 HMGs, and 2 VG rifle platoons, all using their range. The bulk of the defending infantry force was waiting inside the town, spread only enough to ensure one barrage would not hit them all, and away from its forward edge to avoid direct HE. The third component of the defensive plan was a network of AT mines in some areas and schrecks in others, designed to prevent physical penetration by armor, and to force armor to fight from standoff positions, or die if it came close.

And the last leg of the defense was the artillery arm, consisting of an elaborate trap aimed at the most likely avenue of appoach, which is the one the attacker's picked. This consisted of a TRP on unoccupied buildings at the forward edge of the town, a 120mm FO on a second story with observation of the whole northern approach as well as this TRP, and a hidden 150mm sIG sited to see half of the buildings in the town from the northern side. In the event, the TRP and half the 120mm shells were practically decisive on their own.

Artillery is rightly called the King of Battle. Maneuverist ideas of mass and speed of movement only, do not work at the tactical scale, because of artillery firepower. It doesn't help if you telegraph the attack on the first turn either, especially if it comes down the most obvious route of approach.

The actual US force was slightly different - not a company, but 3 platoons, 3 50 cal, 3 MMG, 3 81mm mortars, 3 zooks, the 2 super Shermans, and 3 M-20s (Stuarts and Greyhounds though some of them appeared), 1 81mm FO and 1 105mm FO. My early estimate was close enough.

(The second AAR is covered in the next post on this thread, to keep this one a reasonable size).

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Now an example of the firepower or attrition method. The scenario was "Jumbo".

First I examined the terrain. I notice the perfect wooded ridge to the right, with higher ground masking the approach to it, at "overwatch" range from the objective village. Other high wooded clusters are noticable, and are obvious possible gun locations. As SOP and because of the threat from those, the infantry generally scouted ahead for the overwatching tanks, to avoid AT ambush.

Assessing my force, I find I have 5 tank guns with ~200 rounds of 75mm HE, an FO with 100 rounds of 105mm HE, and ~100 rounds of 60mm mortar as well. I decide this is ample firepower to adopt a firepower based strategy. Meaning, I will not finesse my way to the objective, but level the place and send the infantry into the ruins to mop up.

I then tasked the elements of my force. I paired off the M-10s with the regular Shermans, trailing each as an anti-tank "shooter", while the Shermans led. The jumbo I treated as a seperate "element". One 2-tank element was sent left toward "overwatch ridge" while the other was retained in the center with the jumbo.

Examining the infantry, I found one excellent platoon HQ and put him in charge of the overwatch operation. He was assigned 1 bazooka, same as every platoon to maintain some infantry AT capability wherever there is infantry. He was also assigned the weapons platoon HQ, both MMGs, and 1 60mm mortar. The heavier MGs, mortar, and zook rode the vehicles, while the faster HQs and squads were on foot. They ran west then north in the first 2-3 minutes, slowing to "move" half a turn to catch their breath, and arrive safely behind "overwatch ridge". The tanks got a little ahead of them when they slowed their pace.

I divided the remaining infantry into a point platoon, with just a zook and a middling commander, the reserve platoon with the stealthy one, and an HQ-weapons element with the company HQ, 2 60mm mortars, and the FO - between these two. The point lined up in the low ground opposite the first house and planned to scout down the main road toward the town to discover the enemy positions. The HQ-fire element headed for a portion of woods just barely up at the level of the plain, left of the first house, with the company HQ spotting for the 60mm mortars and the FO spotting for himself beside him. The reserve platoon moved into the woods to the left rear of the command group and goes to ground to await events. The lead Sherman hunted forward to a hull-down position behind the first road crest, trailing his M-10, while the jumbo waited to his left rear.

In the first few minutes, I opened up with the lead Sherman at the church on the objective itself, 500 yards away. No waiting. As the spot seemed safe, the jumbo pulls up on the right side of the same road location and a little bit above the crest, while the M-10 pulled back to make room for it. The point platoon was by now running and moving down the thin lines of scattered trees on either side of the road toward the town, and the HQ element was nearing position. At this point the first enemy fire was encountered - an MG on the second floor of a forward building in the village pinned down elements of the point platoon.

Front row buildings and high up - a "forward" defense. Just what my firepower strategy is best at handling. Seeing no need to move, I finish demolishing the church and shift the fire of the two Shermans to the MG's building, using "area fire" to keep it up and knock the building down regardless of whether he ducks. The 105mm FO calls for the first fire mission on the forward building with the MG in it too. I notice its "beaten zone" should hit the woods in front of the buildings and the second row behind. The point keeps moving, though by smaller bounds now.

On "overwatch ridge", the regular squads go into the woods to scout them, and as these are clear the vehicles come forward, drop their teams, and then work their way toward firing positions. The M-10 steers for the top of the hill, through some scattered trees, while the Sherman takes the end of the ridge closest to the enemy to peep around.

At this time, the point comes under fire from a gun position to their right, making the "overwatch" tanks cautious at first. The point returns suppressing fire at the gun from the excessive range of ~300-400 yards, and the command element goes into action. I choose not to switch the 105mm barrage as it is already well placed for other roles. Instead, the light mortars try to suppress the identified gun. The lead Sherman from the center 2-tank element backs up, and then heads right behind a line of woods, hunting around the corner to find the gun from 90 degrees away from its angle to the point platoon. It KO's the gun at ~500 yards with its 4th HE round.

At the same time, I decided to send up the M-10 to replace the missing Sherman firepower at the road-crest position, where the jumbo still is, merrily plinking away at the town with HE. But I send it up to the right of the road, in a spot of open ground not 40 yards from the safe position of the jumbo. This M-10 is promptly knocked out by an unseen gun position, losing 2 men but not brewing up.

A gun is however, soon identified blasting at the still somewhat exposed point platoon, which skulks about a little but mainly just keeps their heads down and waits for supporting fire to deliver them. The 105mm barrage lands on the front of the village, and the jumbo finishes off the building with the first MG in it. From overwatch ridge, another gun is spotted in front of the town, in the middle of the 105mm barrage, which promptly KOs it.

But yet a third gun is still blowing up the point platoon, after it moves one more "jog" down the road toward town. This gun is identified in the woods to the right of the town, between the other two - it may have been this one that got the M-10, or it may have been the one in front of the town center (probably the latter - this one seems "sighted" at an "inward" angle, towards my right). All of this has taken 8 minutes so far.

To deal with this third gun, the 105mm fire mission on the town is cancelled, having delivered around 40 shells. A new one is called in on the gun, or rather on some open ground close to it the FO can actually see. The mortars smoke the gun to help protect the point platoon while waiting for this to arrive, and the two right-center tanks put HE rounds near it without being visible to it. Meanwhile, the overwatch MGs and tanks begin shooting up the left front of the village, continuing the initial firepower strategy.

The next four minutes see this third gun KOed by the 105s, a nearby MG position routed and shot up by tanks while the barrage is still falling, the point freed briefly from fire and cautiously advancing again, only to drawn renewed MG fire from the rubble in the front of the town. Overwatch ridge levels the left front of the village and the center tanks move to reply to the MG hitting the point, while the reserve platoon moves forward and right somewhat, but still staying in the woods. The HQ section mortars, their ammo expended, are sent to the rear. The 105s cease their fire on the woods to the right of the town with 24 rounds remaining.

After 12 minutes, only one prominent building is still standing in the forward edge of the village, and enemy fire has dropped off to practically nothing. I decide the forward fire elements have been neutralized and it is time to rush the objective. All four tanks remain in overwatch, along with the two MMGs and one mortar on overwatch ridge, with the weapons platoon HQ left to command them, and the FO with 24 rounds 105mm. The point advances cautiously, taking its time as it has already taken losses amounting to about 1/3rd - it is effectively the new reserve. The overwatch and reserve platoons, with their zooks, move out for the objective.

The first of those does so over plain open ground and so goes at a dead run, including the zook team. They head for the scattered trees on the right forward edge of the village, without trying to press in to the rubble or buildings. It is assumed they may have to clean out some remnants before entering those. The reserve platoon runs through open, and moves through wheatfield, terrain. With farther to go, I do not want them exhausted on their arrival, and they will be a minute afterward regardless. Their initial movement point is the edge of the wheatfield nearest the town, but they soon "lift" these to locations inside the scattered trees beyond, same as the other platoon.

As it turns out, there were still some Germans in the last remaining, standing, two-story building at the forward edge of the town. They managed to take out half a squad from the "overwatch" rushing platoon, but well led as those were, they pushed on into the scattered trees as ordered. The same platoon took 2 losses from its left flank, ranged fire by some Germans closer to the secondary objective, but nothing serious. The reserve platoon took a little light MG fire from the far right (around the first KO'ed gun), and when closer to the town a few mortar rounds before they got too close for those - but again nothing serious.

Meanwhile, the massive overwatch fires smashed the resistence that was encountered. The last standing building on the forward edge of the village went down while the led elements of the overwatch platoon were running toward it and only ~60 yards away. The Germans on the flanks soon had the attention of a tank apiece and their fire slackened, and the men had reached the cover of the village anyway. One mortar was discovered, apparently knocked out by 105mm, and another was overrun and silenced.

The last 105mm mission was called in on the center of the town (using a second story as an aim point) while my infantry clung to the forward edges, to cut up the fleeing survivors of the tank fire. The survivors of the defenders of the village, proper, fled into this 24-round barrage or were cut to pieces by ~70 men trying to avoid it, in short order. The point platoon on the right edged forward and occupied a useful stone building on the right side of the town. All of this took around four minutes.

Incidentally, you can see a characteristic firepower tactic in the previous paragraph, which I call the "sandwich". The point is to make it difficult for the enemy to go forward or back, while applying your infantry's full firepower, stationary, if he advances to get out of the barrage. Instead of sending the infantry after him, it waits ready to fire while the guns make his present locations unpleasant. Anyone who panics doesn't make it. And if anyone is left after the barrage, they are often too rattled to oppose the infantry when it does advance.

The battle was by now won, but the Germans were not done fighting. They still had infantry on the flanks of the town, and these tried to press back into the town to evict its new owners. The "overwatch" platoon was soon joined by the weapons, riding in on their tank team (MG + mortar, MG and HQ). The point platoon was the only one in any trouble, as they were attacked in front and from the right by what appeared to be about a platoon of infantry, while they were only 2/3rds strength and their ammo situation was the worst on my side. They were supported by two tanks (one the jumbo), but HE ammo was getting low and the terrain around them was tight enough (woods), that the tanks had to stand off to support them. The overwatch platoon had an easier time of it, but did face some Germans who made it into buildings on the left side of the village and fire-fought them from house to house.

But the Germans were disorganized, seperated by the destruction of their center and main strength, by this time outnumbered, without heavy weapons or artillery support, and facing four functioning tanks (although the M-10 was out of HE and the rest had ~35 rounds of it left between them). The attack on the point platoon was beaten off, with help from the jumbo entering the village proper and sighting rightward along one of its lanes. The other right side Sherman shot up some desperate moves toward the center by the surviving elements around the farthest gun position - a lone German HMG was still operating there.

At the end, it was found the counterattacking platoon opposite my point platoon had 2, 1, 1, and 1 men left in its squads and HQ element, while its assigned Schreck and MG teams were wiped out. They had been under a barrage of ~35 rounds of 105mm in woods (by the 3rd gun position), then tried to attack 2/3rds of a platoon frontally (some of them in a stone building), and also drew fire from two tanks, while crossing a road and then in no better cover than scattered trees whenever they did try to attack. It is not surprising they did not do very well. They also could not know how low on ammo my point platoon was by the end.

The overwatch platoon won its firefight - it was in the buildings now, while the Germans had to advance through scattered trees - supported by its Sherman, and soon the MMGs were in the second story of a building on the far side of the village, looking out beyond it and shooting up the fleeing stragglers. The reserve platoon passed through the center of the town essentally unscathed, between these two flank platoons, finishing off a few survivors of the barrage-and-infantry "sandwich" described above. Their right elements turned and helped support the point platoon, which by the end was down to 3 half-squads with 3, 2, and LOW ammo remaining.

I lost one M-10 and 2 men in it, 19 men in the point platoon, 13 men in the overwatch platoon, 3 in the reserve platoon, and 1 in the HQ of the weapons platoon. About 2/3rds of the point's losses were from the guns, the rest from the late counterattack. About 2/3rds of the overwatch platoon's losses were from the rush to the village, the rest from the counterattack on their side, and rolling that back - the weapons HQ hit is also in that category. The reserve losses, such as they were, came from mortar and long-ranged MG fire as they crossed the center fields. German losses were listed as 108 WIA, 40 KIA, 27 PWs, 2 81mm mortars and 3 88mm FLAK. The score was 87-13, a total U.S. victory, as the Germans surrendered a little after the 25 minute mark.

The decision was, in my opinion, achieved by fire before and during the actual rush to the village. The SOP of infantry scouting for the tanks kept the vehicle losses from 3 88mm FLAK to a single M-10. The 88s were defeated by 105s, to which they could not reply, and suppressed or masked by 60mm mortars in the meantime. The tanks helped and took out one gun, exploiting the fact that it was otherwise occupied and facing in the wrong direction.

Direct and indirect HE defeated the defenders of the village - they were hit with ~65 rounds of 105mm HE and more like 150 rounds of 75mm HE (more than 10000 total blast value in CM terms). At the end, I had 27 rounds of 75mm HE left, and most of the tanks had fired their MGs ~75 times apiece. Everything else was timing and pacing, using the simplest possible movements to mass the force on the objective and then to refuse its flanks, defeating weak local counterattacks.

A frontal assault across open ground and a complete success, because fire before and during was the real point and decided the matter. Incidentally, if I had a bit more ammo (105mm or 75mm), I would have taken my time and knocked down even more of the place before the rush, and probably would have saved 6-10 men as a result. That would have reduced manpower losses to ~1/6th rather than 1/5th of the force size. The defenders lost more like 7/8ths of a force nearly the same size in manpower terms, with the remainder captured.

I note in passing that some seem to think fire and frontal strategies are about expending men, but actually they are about expending ammo. And there are direct substitutions in many such situations - the more you shoot, the less you bleed. I also note that the platoon that went up the middle took the lightest losses. Because the front and center of a position that has been thoroughly plastered is no longer a dangerous place, but in fact the safest one, while still remaining tactically decisive as a point to occupy.

Also, notice how much time I took, and how each defending force was dealt with by fire, methodically, avoiding none of the defense but instead just shooting it full of holes and walking into those holes.

Anybody see any difference in these two approaches? Anybody *not* see a difference?

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A comment on the first, "maneuverist" example.

Obviously the forces involved were human bought. But it apparent that the American did not have a firm grasp on what he was doing. 76mm W+ HVSS shermans? Vets, no less? I would never buy these, for any scenario. This is what, 500 points spent? This would be much better spent on 8 normal M8HMCs, or perhaps 4 normal M4A1s if you are concerned with historicity. Or even 3 jumbos; this is a bit over 500 points but not much.

The only reason I can think of to take veteran tanks is for their superior ability to fight tanks. When you are shelling buildings with HE, crew quality is pretty much a non-issue. (Of course for me to think in terms of shelling buildings is rather attritionist, isn't it?)

Now look at the infantry force. He has an incoherent mix. He bought zooks to attack infantry. He has spent lots on mortars, but he has no HQ to spot for them. He spent lots on slow MGs, yet he tries to maneuver. He is attacking an infantry force (with VGs allowed, no less) of 1000 points with just three platoons! That, almost by itself, lost him the game.

Here's his points breakdown, more or less:

Shermans: 508

Infantry: 387

Support: 252

Vehicle: 56

Arty: 314

Spending the same amount for a gamey force, I would have ditched the "support", thereby saving 252 points. This would have bought two more platoons. Then I would have dropped both Shermans and the M20s, and bought 10 M8HMC cockroaches. Finally, although the 81mms are, I suppose, acceptable for maneuvering (smoke is wonderful stuff), I would not get 105mm against a village. Either get mortars for speed, or the heaviest you can afford. For slightly less than the 105mm module you can get a 155mm module.

If you want historicity, get a company of infantry with an additional platoon, and buy a platoon of M4A1s instead of the cockroach swarm.

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Both of these examples were similar to the default CM quickbattle scenario -- attacking a village. Now, CM generally induces a rather attritionist mindset, because the value of the units is usually more than the value of the flags. But village terrain does not help the maneuverist, as it tends to concentrate cover right where the flags are, thereby tending to make "taking the flags" and "killing the defenders" roughly the same task.

Also, using "infantry" type forces is another way that attritionism is encouraged. Infantry cannot maneuver that well itself, and has no "flanks" the way that tanks do that would encourage maneuver on the other side.

I would suggest that if you want to see maneuver in CM, you play on a large map, using smaller combined arms forces, in more open terrain -- rural, light trees, perhaps.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Wreck:

I would suggest that if you want to see maneuver in CM, you play on a large map, using smaller combined arms forces, in more open terrain -- rural, light trees, perhaps.<hr></blockquote>

....which one doesn't in fact encounter very often in CM. The moral being that CM is basically an attrition-oriented environment. Points for casualties is pure attrition and the VLs--arguable a manuever target-- not only usually count for less in point-value terms, but don't usually in themselves confer tactical advantages on the possessor. (That value is in fact external to the game environment, having been assigned by some imaginary or historical higher level commander.)

You usually can't take and then hold the VLs without achieving significant attrition. In an attack or assault, the defender is sitting on the VLs and you have to push him out. In an ME, you can try to outrace your opponent to the VLs, but then have to dig in and take a pounding. Either way, the issue is generally decided by who has the most forces left standing. In short, while manuever is not entirely negligible in CM, it sure counts for less than attrition, and while manuevering your forces into favorable positions from which to achieve attrition is very important, a pure "manueverist" strategy is unlikely to work.

[ 12-19-2001: Message edited by: CombinedArms ]</p>

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He had the option of taking an armored force type or a combined arms force type for his attack force. I had the option of taking a combined arms force type or an infantry force type. He took his super-tanks presumably to ensure he got something out of them even if I took a Panther or Tiger I or pair of Hetzers as part of a combined arms defense. Likewise with his perfectly ordinary buying one zook per attacking platoon.

Yes, I took an infantry force type because I planned on an attrition strategy defense. I also had greens, making my force even more numerous (and less able to react). By the terms of the fight, (which originated in a challenge to a statement about the importance of unit quality in CM), he was allowed vets or regulars, while I was restricted to greens or conscripts. I planned on having more infantry and then using heavy artillery - in the form of the sIG and 120s - to attrite his infantry force further.

My attritionist mindset told me that if, after artillery losses, he had negative infantry odds and I was defending in buildings, he couldn't win no matter how good his unit qualities or how much armor he had or how much he razzled and dazzled. That is a perfectly common and effective attritionist point - that the fielded force ratio can matter more than fancy maneuvering.

Of course his force would have been more effective with 3 plain Shermans and a 4th infantry platoon - because I took infantry rather than constructing a defense around an uber-tank. That force wouldn't have worked terribly well against one uber-tank, however - e.g. a Tiger I in place of the sIG and one PAK, or the AT mines. But this was not the basic problem he encountered.

One basic problem was that his investment in support weapons - 3x81mm, 3x50 cal, 3xMMG, the extra 3x50 cal on the M-20s - did not produce any commensurate return in suppression or loss to my force. It might well have, as my men were green and those are pretty effective support weapons - though the ammo won't last terribly long. They could have provided some significant overwatch, with the mortars doing trees and guns, and the MGs doing buildings and infantry. For five minutes or so they might have suppressed all the "up", forward defenders.

But instead, he used 81mm smoke instead of overwatch, and the two ideas conflicted with each other. Taking those support weapons, you'd want to set up with long fields of fire over open ground, and then send in the infantry on the covered routes on one or both sides of the overwatched area. And shoot the heck out of anything the opened up on the infantry. This was a different card in the same suit as 81mm smoke, and he couldn't play both at once.

He made a similar mistake with his tanks. The only reason for tanks to advance is to get LOS to something. He had two locations - the front of the town and the NW corner - where he could see two sides of the town (west and north faces) from range. He could have stood off and plinked, without advancing into schreck range or crossing fields likely to be covered by PAK. But he could not do this through his own smoke.

It was really the smoke barrage that made a hash of his choice of forces. His ranged tanks and support weapons can be effective because of their ability to hurt defenders without endangering themselves, from range. But his smoke was all about blocking long range fire and making everything a short-range contest of maneuver element strength (so he hoped). If he planned on the smoke, he should have taken more infantry rather than ranged weapons. With the ranged weapons, he should have used overwatch instead of smoke.

He thought, though, that smoke would get his tight spearpoint across the open ground, which seemed to him the great danger. Once into the town, he counted just on tight deployment at a chosen point to win for him, along with the attacker's odds. This is a common idea, but it doesn't work for infantry under TRPs. His smoke did not prevent all ranged fire, because my ranged weapons were firing from three points on the compass once he got far enough forward.

The point of the example was not that he made all the right choices and lost anyway - hardly. It was merely an example of someone trying to use a smoke-n-speed-n-schwerpunk idea, with quality and uber armor, against a reasonably well-planned (and quite realistic, not at all "gamey") defense, based on quite different ideas about what would wind up mattering. Which therefore went south in a real hurry.

As for the idea that a "fairer" test is open hilly ground, um, why is that "fairer"? Defenders use strongpoint defenses for a reason. Having villages to build such strongpoints around is not exactly an uncommon, luxury item. If I want to put an infantry force in a strongpoint instead of a combined arms force, who is going to stop me? Tanks may be scarce, but not having tanks is easy.

Incidentally, a reverse slope ridge defense could be constructed on quite similar principles, with covered areas on the backside of the ridge performing the role of the town center in the example given above. It is harder to get it to work with a large body of woods, especially because airburst artillery is more dangerous in that case, but many aspects of the scheme could be tried work with only a forest to work with.

As for a defense without a town, ridge, or forest, um, why not just back up a km and get one? They are a dime a dozen in virtually all of western Europe. Because where there are lots of people there are towns, and where there aren't there are forests, or in the rare case of neither, it is because you are up in hilly pasture country and therefore there are ridges.

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Another thing that make movement-heavy tactics difficult in CMBO is that the usual map -especially quickbattle map- does not have enough room to move armour without exposing the vulnerable sides to shots. This is made worse by the fact that turrets cannot be ordered to stay at an angle when moving (that is fixed for CMBB, yeah!) and that you cannot order area fire on targets that are not yet in sight but may come within the turn.

Movement by tanks was often done by spraying all possible cover with MGs and main gun while on the move. Many AARs describe that and it is still true for today. The current CMBO engine can't do that. The extreme accuracy of flak guns and to a lesser extend 37/40mm guns make the flank short issue worse.

I once did some testing for heavy counterattacking when defending, in the hope to get around the approaching infantry and strike at heavy weapons and thin but infantry-dangerous AFVs that attackers typically hold back. While the actual move was quite possible, the side shot issue and inability to do supressive fire made Tigers required for this action, everything else was shot in the side by low-penetration guns or even HE. In an actual play against a human attacker the whole thing congruously failed miserably due to the Tiger's insufficient speed and slow ROF. The game had two Tigers and a Sturmgruppe platoon as the counterattack force.

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As for the idea that a "fairer" test is open hilly ground, um, why is that "fairer"?


I did not say "fair" -- what I said was "if you want to see maneuver". And the reasoning is a matter of how CM generates maps. In rural terrain, the flags are not likely to be placed right where the best defensive position is. Some might be; some might not be. Therefore, in theory, there is the chance that the attacker can maneuveristically maneuver to get those flags without having to crush the defending force.

In villages, though, the chance of winning on flags without also killing the defenders is much less. In my experience.

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Regarding the issue of what sorts of terrain a defender might expect to have in western Europe. I agree with Jason's analysis -- there is almost always something there to defend with.

But all this tells us is that if we wish to play more or less historically, we should use quickbattle settings that give the defender a town, ridge, or forest.

It is still possible to play the game simply as a game, not trying to use it to sim the WWII western front except insofar as it cannot help it. If one is playing only with the idea of using the system to generate interesting games, then it might well make sense to place defenders in treeless farmland, for example.

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Fair enough, and sure it can be fun to pick "farmland". Some battles were fought on flat farmland with limited trees - like Goodwood - though also with villages about here and there. But in general I don't agree that CM maps favor attrition methods - though that is doubtless true enough of villages, at least in the sense that the defenders have to be at least pushed out rather than gone around.

The reason is they are typically much wider than they are deep, and the flanks are anchored by the pits of despair. This makes it much more feasible to attack a limited section of a defense and split it from front to back, preventing all side to side shifting of defenders, when in reality the defenders could still come around farther back in their rear area.

Also, the defenders basically have to sit still for the attack because the defensive zone is quite shallow, before you get to the flags. Attrition defense, understand, is not about butting heads but about reducing the attacker's numbers until he no longer has the odds to keep attacking. Without regard to ground won or lost - which is a maneuverist criteria of success not an attritionist one. That there are flags at all is a bow to maneuver ideas of what matters.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Wreck:

A comment on the first, "maneuverist" example.

Obviously the forces involved were human bought. But it apparent that the American did not have a firm grasp on what he was doing...<hr></blockquote>

You got that right. I will admit that my newbie status caused me to make several errors in that example. First, I was forced to select my units with no foreknowledge of type of terrain, weather, time of day, date, map size, minutes, etc... The only knowledge I had was that I had 1500 points to spend and I was attacking German green defenders (against an experienced foe).

The whole thing started with this thread:


The other thing that I might add in my defense (do I even have one?) is that I had never played CM as a defender and as such knew about TRP's but had never used them. My "audacious" advance (and it was!) was based on the fact that I had calculated that Jason's artillery would not have time to wipe me out before I got to where I wanted but I did not count on the TRP (and it was PERFECT). There were no weak spots to attack on this map. My only hope was to move quickly to a easily defended VL and hold it. As I had to choose forces before any game knowledge I did not purchase any flamethrowers. The bazooka's were pushed forward so that they could occupy empty buildings and set them on fire using the backblast (hopefully) thus creating barriers to add to holding the VL.

Jason is a very good teacher and boy did he teach me a lot. I was humbled by the experience and would welcome playing him again sometime.

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It seems obvious to me that CM defenders are, necessarily, attritionist. The reason is simple: they don't need to move to get the flags. Therefore the entire concept of strategic maneuver is vacuous for them. There is nothing for them to gain by moving, except perhaps better positions to kill the attacker. But that is not distinguishable from what an attritionist defender would do.

Therefore when I discuss CM defense I am generally thinking attrition. To the extent that I say something helps maneuverists I mean that it will tend to raise the change that some significant maneuver not directly aimed at killing enemy units will be worth doing. That does not mean the chance is large, though.

I disagree that the map depth works against attritionism. In fact it is the other way around, IMO.

Consider a defense that sits in its setup positions and never moves -- is that "maneuverist" (hardly), or "attritionist" (at least arguable). Given the choice of only the two classifications, I would say that the more immobile you force the defense to be, the more attritionist you force its strategy to be.

You suggest that expanding the depth of the map would help attritionist defenders, and that is true -- the defender has added setup locations, but loses none; it is provably better. But the question is would it help a maneuverist defender (whatever that is) *more* than it helps an attritional defender? Seems to me that in addition to adding new places one might put the MLR, the expanded zone adds the possibility of ambushes or other attacks ahead of the MLR, which then run back to the MLR or beyond. That sounds maneuverist to me: movement.

We must also consider the attackers. Maneuver, if it requires anything, requires room to maneuver. Less room means less chance that moving is going to get you better position. Less room also means a more static, and therefore necessarily attritionist defense. Well, if the defense is going to stand then the obvious thing to do it beat on it -- and the attacker has the guns and numbers to do so.

And as we did before: would a deeper map help attackers? Clearly not, since the defender will have more options for setup while losing nothing. Does a deeper map hurt attritionist attackers more than maneuverist ones?

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I don't think that equating maneuver strategy with movement and attrition strategy with sitting still is either accurate or illuminating. One focuses on areas of ground, on disarticulating the enemy force and engaging its elements in sequence, generally with front line infantry and armor, often tightly concentrated. The other focuses on the overall (not local, location by location)fielded odds ratio, fights the whole enemy force, and depends on ranged firepower both direct and indirect.

See, particularly on the shallow but wide maps created by high point QBs, the prospects for disarticulating the defending force are much better with wide-n-shallow than with deep. You can physically isolate say his left wing by one "cut" 400m deep just right of center. Then throw almost all of your force at one wing, to create a many-on-few. Then come back and repeat the operation on the other side.

This is a standard schwerpunk maneuver multiplier idea - but in reality, you have to cut a lot deeper than 400m to prevent a defender from shifting forces from one part of his front to another. In CM QBs, you don't, because the men the defender would want to shift encounter the pits of despair at the back of the map.

Maneuver theory stresses ground in the first place because it is trying to get at the rear and flanks of the enemy. But it is trying to get at the flanks to get many-on-few engagements with only a piece of the defenders at a time. And it tries to get into the rear, so it can pick its target (central positioning), and effectively "flank" anybody you want. It counts on disarticulating the defenders, on some defenders being irrelevant because they are in the wrong spot. That pushes the effective odds at the point of the decisive fighting higher.

The movement in maneuverism has a point, in other words - it is not movement for its own sake. And that point is a heck of a lot easier to reach when the enemy has his back to the pits of despair , instead of having his back to a home country, reserves, friendly reinforcements, yada yada. To "break through" on a CM QB map, you only have to advance a few hundred yards - not dozens of miles. Not because the fight scale is tactical. Only because the defender is prohibited from shifting past the rear edge. He can retreat off the edge - but never come back again.

See, when the Germans want to make a pocket at Kiev, they have to drive to Smolensk, and the Dnepr bend from the other direction, and then south a few hundred miles, and then link up spearheads. Several breakthroughs of great depth can add up to a successful maneuver, at the end of which a fraction of the Russian army is left without support to face whatever the Germans put in front of them. And therefore doomed.

But to doom the right flank company of a large point CM QB, all you have to do is get some effective ranged weapons with LOS to the back edge of the map between that flank company and the rest of the defenders. Then you can pile whatever you like opposite that company, without the rest of the defenders being able to support them. It is therefore doomed. A lot more easily than it really would be.

See the point? The edges of the map are barriers a maneuverist attacker can use like additional encircling forces, to disarticulate the defenders. He doesn't need two pincers meeting in the rear after two breakthroughs - one "pincer" can just link up with the pits of despair, and that is good enough.

On a big map, a maneuverist has room to try maneuvers, yes. But he also has to actually accomplish them, himself, in order to reap the reward of a disarticulated defender force. On a thin, shallow map he flat doesn't have to, in order to reap the same rewards. He just needs a good shove a little ways forward, anywhere except right along an edge.

I hope that is somewhat clearer than mud. In case it isn't, I can give an example. I had the Americans, with a company, 2 Shermans (1 of them a 105), and a 105mm FO. The defenders were green German VG infantry in big numbers, and the ground rather open - but it was at night, LOS about 200m maximum. The Germans set up with a mostly reverse slope defense (one wing a bit forward to use a body of woods on his left).

I used the 105mm on a body of woods near his center, while the tanks kept anything from coming over the crest on either flank. Then I sent the bulk of my infantry after the barrage, into woods and over the crestline. They had a tough few minutes with the holdouts, but mostly the arty had cleared the area and eventually they held the center of his original set up ridge-line. This let me get my tanks past it, thus able to see to either left or right.

In real life, his infantry could then have just fallen back, leftward and rightward seperating further to avoid my men in the center - at first. And once behind the next ridge or treeline, have hooked back towards each other to try to reestablish a front. Simple enough. But in the CM game, the pits of despair blocked this natural move. He could run off the map with anybody he liked, but only by losing them for the rest of the battle and thus effectively conceeding.

So, I could direct both tanks to my left along with half of my remaining infantry, and systematically shoot to pieces every infantry position on that side of my center break-in. His other men could only do nothing, or try to charge me in the center, over open ground (with greens - at night - at good order infantry in cover: survey says...) I did so, and within five minutes everybody on that side was dead, surrendered, or ran off the map. Then I swung to my right with my whole force to repeat the procedure - only about half finished at the buzzer. Defeat in detail.

Had I earned that defeat in detail by my successful "breakthrough"? Hardly. I had accomplished the reasonably difficult feat of getting established across the ridge, which realistically might have led to a slight tactical retreat. But this was amplified into defeat in detail, because on clearing that ridge my tanks achieved LOS coverage all the way to the pits of despair on his rear edge of the map. Which might as well have been another task force arriving after its successful wide pincers - because the disarticulation of the defenders was that complete, as a result of the far more trivial maneuver I had performed.

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Interesting ideas about the map size, edge of the world, etc. As a miniature gamer, the table size was always an issue. We finaly made a 8'x 14' table - almost too big to play on - and still the false edge came into play.

It seems that there is no way around the gamyness of a game. No matter how good the game, it always falls short somewhere.

Not knowing that much about comp. games, I have a few questions:

1. Can you set up battles with a HUGE map, and place the flags in the center such that you could possibly eliminate the edge problem?

2. Is there any way to have off-board units, or units that can return to the visible map? Similar to having a map larger than the playing space, that would allow off-board map movement like some miniature battles do.

3. Is there any way to eliminate the "flag" in setting up the battle? A probe, for example, should have more of a open ended quality. "See if there is anything going on in that direction" without any specific locations that are established by a flag(s)?


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I would heartily agree that a fire-based attritionist approach can be very successful in CM. Attacking a town is probably the ideal situation. Infantry in heavy buildings with mg support correctly deployed are extraordinarily difficult to deal with. Direct fire HE is essential.

Given that, let me relate an attack with a quite different story.

A probe in farmlands, heavy woods, the attacking force is SS, defender is british paras.

Approximate forces:

Attacker (myself):

1 co of motorized inf

1 co of regular inf

1 wespe

2 Stuh

1 105 FO


2+ brit para cos

3 vickers

minefields, wire


A difficult map, heavily woods with a huge set of woods in the middle of the defense. A ridge provided additional cover to his middle defense and allowed the Brits unlimited movement from the left to the right. The left flank had heavy woods a bit back. The right flank had a couple houses, more scattered woods and a church on the edge of the center woods. All the VLs are in woods, the left side VLs are exposed to direct HE fire. The center VLs are invulnerable to direct HE due to being in deep woods. This was perfect anti-tank piat terrain.

Battle Plan:


A frontal attack: This would place me at point blank range to entrenched paras without being able to support the attack with HE or MGs. Only indirect fire from the 105 FO would be available. Additionally, the defender could shift his flanks in to support the center without being interdicted. An attritionist approach appeared to be suicide to me.

Left flank: More VLs but good defensive terrain.

Right flank: No VLs, but weaker defensive terrain.

First turn reveals that wire is deployed on the left and center.


Fake left, go right, roll up his flank and move towards the center through the woods with overwhelming infantry engaging and defeating his forces in detail.

I deployed a holding/distracting force on the left flank of 1 stuh, a platoon of motorized, all the mg42s and on-board mortars. This force would make it’s presence known immediately in an attempt to draw mobile defenders to my left.

Center: Light screening force, mg42s, these would attemp to hinder movement between his center and left and then move to support my left flank.

Right: Schwerpunk [i just like that word] maneuver force, Stuh, Wespe, 2 platoons motorized, 1 co german ’44 inf.

Phase 1: Left flank scouts and engages at range. Center sets up as best it can to interdict.

Phase 2: Smoking the church, 2 motorized platoons and 1 ’44 platoon assault the church capturing a para platoon. The remaining 2 ’44 platoons sweep the far right supported by the stuh. Light resistance causes higher than expected casualties but the right flank is cleared in good order. The attack is on schedule.

Phase 3: Moving as quickly as possible the Schwerpunk enters the heavy woods from the right. An understrength para platoon is encountered at the totally wooded first VL. A pitched close range infantry battle rages and even though the British are finally routed, very high SS losses are incurred and many of my platoons are running low on ammo.

Phase 4: Continuing my Schwerpunk advance from the right to the center through the woods appears ill-advised. The British can easily reinforce center. I might take the next VL but my infantry would be exhausted in doing so. Instead of the direct approach I wheel almost my entire Schwerpunk all the way behind the woods (all the way to the back map edge) and engage the left flank and center from the rear. At the same time my weak left engages, catching the defenders in a crossfire.

Phase 5: Time is running out, I make a too hasty assault but manage to take most of the VLs. The British are hamstrung because they can no longer maneuver, reinforce or retreat.

I would argue I’ve conducted a maneuver strategy here (avoid enemy strength, move fast to keep the enemy off-balance and finally place him in an untenable position). I also think an attrition strategy would have failed due to the very poor LOS conditions created by the terrain. The defender did not cluster his infantry to allow my artillery to be effective, they were spread out but had mutually supporting fire lanes.


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Yes Xerxes, that is certainly a maneuver strategy. You had enough firepower for an attrition approach if you had drawn buildings or relatively open terrain (3x105mm vehicles plus 105mm off-board, 2x81mm, 6xHMG), but I agree against a large body of woods, 1x105mm module and even infantry odds (plus defending mines) would have failed.

One thing you may not have noticed helped your strategy, besides the maneuver scheme, was the absence of indirect fire support for the defenders. He was all infantry and obstacles. The defense scheme failed due to lack of combined arms.

Since schwerpunk tactics require bunching up, any attempt to stop them with an attritionist lots-o-infantry approach requires one other supporting ingredient - a form of area fire weapon. Imagine if just 3" mortars had hit your tight schwerpunk just as it entered the woods past the church position, and he had used the suppression and rally delay that bought, to bring over his troops.

Concentration can kill scattered defenders, but the trump card to concentration is indirect artillery fire. Because its effect multiplies the tighter the attackers are. Against maneuver elements, tightness protects, because it achieves fire ascendency and thus reduces the volume of incoming fire. But guns off the map can't be suppressed that way. AP mines can give the same effect, but the exact location has to be either anticipated or brought about by "steering" (e.g. retreating and sidestepping so as to put the mines between the defenders and the tight attackers).

As for the possibility of a firepower based attack on such a large body of woods, of course it is possible. Just not with the force you had. Two modules of 155mm instead of all the 105s might have allowed it, but the odds would still have been close, if the defenders had even one module of 3" mortar to reply with.

The the procedure would be as follows. Forward elements creep to about 100m outside the main body of woods. A short 155mm barrage is placed on the woodline. The second module is called farther into the woods but still on its delay. After a minute of the outer one, the forward elements rush the edge of the woods. They stop very near the edge and shoot it out with whatever they encounter.

They probably draw more defenders. The second 155mm barrage lands back among them. If things are too hot, the infantry runs back out of the woods, and both 155s play their tune. Repeat in ebbs and flows into the woods and back out - 4-8 155 shells at a time, and a company of infantry engaged at a time, while the other one rallies.

It would take a while, but it might well run the defenders out of men before the attackers, because 155mm tree-bursts are rather nasty. Of course there is danger from friendly fire, from following the barrage too closely. And lack of points of observation can make it harder, as the barrages come down more scattered when unobserved and are hard to adjust rapidly. The US would be better at it on the arty side, with their shorter delays.

I am not saying that approach would be preferable to your maneuver strategy, which worked fine and was well adapted to the terrain and enemy you faced. I am merely continuing to explain the differences between the two approaches, in CM terms. It is not a matter of one being better than the other, but of understanding both methods, picking one, and making it work.

With the maneuver idea, you have to succeed in fighting only pieces of the enemy at a time. You did that with your long right hook; I did it with my punch into a center and then a left at half the defenders. With the attrition idea, you need to run the enemy out of men by fire, with enough HE for that job (direct and indirect) and enough infantry odds to overwhelm what survives the HE. I did in on the village attack with tank HE and 100 rounds of indirect 105mm in Jumbo, and did it on defense with a 120mm TRP and my block of infantry inside the town (with the 150mm sIG part of the same idea, but not proving necessary in the event).

The whole idea of the thread - which was suggested by Xerxes in another one, and a good suggestion it was - is to illustrate the differences between the two approaches with concrete CM examples. They are different, and both can work. As I think has been made pretty clear by now.

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On the question of how to deal with map edge effects, there is no way to completely eliminate them. They are a smaller issue on larger maps, and also a smaller issue when the ratio of force to space is small rather than large. Few forces on a big map that is - which isn't always realistic for different reasons. But these are half-measures at best.

The nearest approach to eliminating map-edge effects is to run an operational campaign. With a ref, a larger scale operations map (for which the CM map editor is perfectly suited, on a CMx10 basis), and tactical fights on auto-generated maps at the points of collision, resolved rapidly in parallel via TCP/IP play. What this allows is relatively realistic use of withdrawls. It gives you a chance to "fight another day". You can't maneuver off the map in the same scenario, but you can move off the map and wait for the next scenario in the campaign. The drawback is obviously playability. You need at least three people to run one, more to deal with parallel fights efficiently, and it takes more management time. Nothing else achieves the same large scale flexibility, or puts as much (entirely realistic) emphasis on force preservation.

As for the question, "are we a Princess Bride fan?", I say "Inconceivable!"

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by JasonC:

As for the question, "are we a Princess Bride fan?", I say "Inconceivable!"<hr></blockquote>

'nuff said.

One more thing: Can we postpone this discussion about a month? Xerxes is pressing home an assault on me right now, and he sure doesn't need any more help. Things look bleak enough as it is. :(

Back to lurking...

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I would like to discuss the meaning of flamethrower vehicles in this context. I hope you regard this thread as appropriate, I don't like the other one :) My current view is that the British used their flamethrower vehicles as a kind of replacement for the more powerful long-range HE fire that the US had.

So, what is the Wasp or a Crocodile? Does it lead to maneuver or attrition?

This first view would be that the FT had to move in to the defender, which in itself could be seen as maneuver, and it would cause the defender either to move away from the FT (which is comparably easy due to the short range), or to move something in that kills the FT or at least chases it away, which is maneuver from both sides as the movement can lead to a general shift of forces for both sides (which usually supports the attacker).

But on the other hand, the FT can been seen as that part in a attrition battle that forces the defender to do something, hopefully something that exposes its forces to other fire, or else that does the attrition itself.


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