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CMx10 revisisted

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I got an email from a fellow asking about the CMx10 method of conducting operational campaigns. I thought my reply to him might be of some interest to others, so I am posting it here. The following assumes you know what the CMx10 system is.

Briefly, it is the idea of using the CM scenario editor as a "virtual sand table" to represent higher scale units and maps. Units are then ordered around on that operational map by side commanders. When they meet, a TCP-IP fight is generated and resolved by tactical commanders. After a round of this, a new operational map goes out reflecting the results of the previous moves and fights.

Here is a portion of the question, and my response.

"I was reading some old posts at the BFC forum, and ran across your CM x10 campaign model. From the one thread that talks about it, it sounds like it worked very well. But I have never heard/read anything else about it, which makes me wonder if you thought it was successful."

It worked great and was a blast. But it also took a fair amount of my time as a referee, running the Bulge campaign. (Which the Germans were running away with. The players wanted to continue, though the US position was approaching "hopeless" in the last few turns. I had a bout of real life that forced me to stop spending the time for it, and it did not start up again after that, unfortunately).

I do have definite advice about doing in. Keep the operational map reasonably small, and the total forces engaged at the reinforced battalion to regiment level. Giantism is a serious temptation, but makes everything run slower. To be playable TCP-IP, you really want the tac battles to be company scale. We had battalion fights sometimes, and that was definitely pushing it for TCP-IP single sittings. Also, longer rather than shorter op moves might make sense. We used hourly, with 4 hour night turns and 2 hour dawn and dusk. That meant 12-13 op moves per day. 2 or 4 hour ordinary op moves and 8 hour night turns might have moved faster (4-5 op moves per day).

I found in practice 3 constraints on playability - #1 referee time, which is mostly a function of overall size but also forced by overall scheduling. #2 player turnover. I had plenty that wanted in but pretty high "churn", beyond the side commanders and 1-2 diehards. The reason is a signed up player can expect only a game other week or so, plus reaction to losses. #3 was player scheduling. Despite a planned game day and rules about replacements, penalties (play against AI if no show etc), there were snafus getting one or another tactical battle to occur as scheduled, one week per month. And that tends to disrupt the rest of the turn around process.

I arrived at a weekly "sequence of play" that worked pretty well, as long as everyone had the time. Understand there are a far number of email or file exchange "iterations" per operational turn. To keep it moving at one op move per week, all these need to happen with 1-2 day turn around times. Here is the schedule we wound up using -

Sundays - game day. All tactical scenarios fought out TCP-IP. (Saturday allowed by prior mutual agreement, but if either player wants Sunday the game is Sunday).

Monday - After action reports from players to their team and the ref are due. (Tac commander's task).

Wednesday - new operational map from ref to both teams are due. (Ref task. I shot for Tuesday but only promised Wednesday. It was still tight).

Thursday - new operational orders due (team commander task. Not a lot of time unless the ref gets the new files out by Tuesday. Consultations have to go lickety split as one round of email. It works best if everyone on the side comments on the AARs to their side commander before even seeing the new op map, and the side commander decides his orders right after viewing that map).

Friday - tactical scenarios due (ref task, and a tight one. I anticipated op moves to make up likely collisions ahead of time. If I had waited, artificially "clueless", I'd never have had 3 scenarios out and ready to go in one day, week after week). In addition, the ref resolves bombardment attacks, himself.

Saturday - scheduling. Side commanders selected for each tactical battle (team commander task. But with high snafu potential. It helps to have more players per side than tactical battles likely to occur per week, and not to use rigid command assignments. I.e. tactical commanders sometimes lead B company, sometimes C company, etc. If made too rigid or there are only as many side commanders as fights per week, any real life delay for one player sends the whole next week off the rails).

The downside to a large stable of players compared to tactical battles is each does not play every week. Lower interest can result, and from it higher turnover. When you have to add new players and brief them in the middle of the above schedule, it can get hairy and a week sometimes slips.

As it is, the Ref must read up to 6 AARs and use them to assess combat results and update the operational map, then write up new turn briefings to accompany the new op files to each side, in 2 days. Then he must design up to 3 tactical fights with briefings for each side, sometimes in 1 day, sometimes in 2. Sometimes a "bombardment" scenario or two as well, to see how much those 105s hit etc. Every week. That winds up being a significant time commitment.

The smaller the forces engaged and the more readily the new forces pop in the force editor, and the more existing maps can be used without any tweaks (or completely new ones auto-generated), the easier it is. But when the ref is "into it", he adds chrome - reports about events on the flanks, supply, reinforcement, air support, lost units, stragglers coming in, transport problems, ongoing engineering (mine clearing or laying e.g.) - into the new op move briefings. And so it winds up (enjoyably, to be sure, but inexorably) chomping up ref time.

The side commanders must review the past week's events, coordinate their side's input and advice from the team members, review the new op map, and decide on his new op moves - on a pretty tight schedule in the first half of the week. Then he has to assign commanders, and (the least enjoyable part of his job) ride herd on his tactical commanders to get them to show up as promised at game time. Whenever there is a gap, he has to be ready to step up and play one of the battles himself.

The tactical commanders have it easy. They must fight the battle - the fun part. They must report what happened to their side, but it needn't be too elaborate and they have a day to do it (the good ones did it right after the fight while their memory of it was fresh, but not everyone can block that kind of time every week). They may, but needn't, give input to their side commander between AARs and new orders, seeing the op map in the midst of that. They have to be fast and sensible to get their side commander to listen.

Players varied on that, some tracking the whole campaign with great interest. Others got dispirited after losing a big force in one fight, and drifted to minimal input or dropped. Or left after not getting a tactical command for 3 weeks. (Understand, sometimes a op move or two goes by without a tactical battle - but the schedule isn't very forgiving about that). Usually, though, we had more battles than players ready to play them *that day*. We had many more "hypothetical" players, people interested in the whole idea and in being a tactical commander -if it could just be some other day of that particular week ;)

With that whole scheduling thing, we averaged not quite an op move per week, more like 3 per month. We generated well over 20 tactical engagements, some with a full battalion present on a single side, most with multiple or strongly reinforced companies.

The single thing I'd change most to make it move faster is more hours per op move, so 3 per month can represent more like a day of action. The second would be a somewhat smaller operational map, still using the CMx10 system, but representing less ground.

Pre made and importable maps would also speed things up occasionally. (Fights close to, but not exactly at, a previous fight location, or near key operationally represented terrain, crop up sometimes and matter when they do. I had to laboriously recreate portions of maps in the editor to deal with that, designing the remaining portions. Not a 1 day job on top of all of the above).

I hope this helps. I'd love to play in one that somebody else runs sometime.

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I realize this may seem like a lot of verbiage, but my discussion in email is continuing. Round 2 about simple systems we came up with to deal with various operational bits -

> my concern was that would go too quick (with just a reinforced battalion).

How quick is too quick? I understand the concern. But you actually do want to finish the campaign. Set the forces at regiment size, and you can easily spend six to nine months on a campaign and still not finish it.

Here are the forces we had for the two sides -

Germans - a VG regiment of 3 battalions (each 3 line companies plus a weapons company with HMG and 81mm platoons - each line company has 3 infantry and 1 weapons platoon), plus a company of pioneers, and a recon company of Fusilier infantry (each of those just 3 line platoons). That is 48 units.

One battalion started restricted (a reserve, covering a crossing at first), and the pioneers had a bridge to build. Then a company of vehicles - actually 4 small platoons of 3 vehicles each, total 3 Hetzer, 3x2 = 6 "Hummel" (representing Grille), 3 Flak vehicles. Makes 52 for the Germans on the first day.

On the second day, an exploitation force meant to pass through the first day force - a StuG company, a light armor company (Luchs and PSWs), and an armored Pz Gdr company (all part of an armed recce KG). In all 9 vehicle platoons and 3 foot ones, bringing the total to 64 maneuver platoons.

Arty support from 3x105, 1x150 batteries (off map), plus each battalion's 81mm mortars. Also 1 150mm Nebelwerfer battery.

That is a reinforced regiment the first day, but leg infantry. A battalion sized KG in addition on the second day, with vehicles.

Americans - an infantry battalion, plus a company of engineers. One cavalry platoon (M-8s) attached, working with the (motorized) battalion recon platoon. Also 2 half-batteries of AAA (each platoon sized units with 40mm Bofors and M3A1 halftracks). An additional 57mm ATG battery, from division. 2 supporting 105mm batteries - on map - plus the battalion 81s. In reserve and not initially available, but on the map and coming forward once the situation looked bad enough, one company of Shermans. The possibility of a second engineer company on day 2 or 3, in the rear, if breakthrough looked likely. Possible support from an additional 105mm battery off map, if driven far enough back. Also a truck company, in addition to the organic lift of the gun units - enough to lift one company of infantry at a time.

That is a reinforced battalion. But add up all the attachments and it is more like 2 battalions worth than 1 1/3rd. More specifically, since we represented these things by platoons on the map the US had -

10 rifle platoons, 3 engineer platoons, 3 weapons platoons (MMG+60mm), 2 battalion MG platoons (one each 50 cal and HMG-1917), 1 battalion 81mm mortar platoon, 1 cavalry platoon, 2 57mm ATG platoons, 2 40mm AA platoons, a battalion HQ platoon, 2 105mm batteries (each almost company size when attacked on map), 3 Sherman platoons.

So it is around 30 maneuver units. For a battalion, not a regiment.

Realistic combined arms forces aren't infantry only - their infantry strength is only half to a third of the total, depending on the force composition.

My recommendation is instead of pitting 60 units against 30, you pit 20-30 against 12-15.

>even if I win by a bunch, I only have about half my force left.

Force preservation is vastly more important in a CM campaign than in CM scenarios. That is part of the point of playing a campaign. Mission number 1 is always "preserve your force". Killing the enemy force is a close second. Ground matters far less - still matters, mind, but far less. Because nobody can afford pyrrhic victories 3 times in a row.

We had some fights in which a stronger force annihilated a reinforced company, or a battery of guns was wiped out. In others a platoon of stragglers gets out. We had one group pursued, trying to get away through surrounding enemies, then trying just to run for their lives but run down and finished. We had other fights in which one side probed with a platoon and called down arty fire to inflict losses, without pressing. Or shelled from tanks while the enemy skulked away into woods trying to hide. Or another where a scouting platoon was shot to pieces in a 2 minute ambush, and the rest of the attackers called it off.

Your CM scenario experience doesn't mean anything, that is the message. Early on, the worse tactical commanders will play like it isn't a campaign and lose their entire force trying to do something inherently not worth doing. Later, aggressive side commanders will push hard to annihilate portions of the enemy force, even when the other guy isn't trying to stand and take it. A battle where a company is wrecked will be a big deal. It should be.

A lot of units come out of fights with minor losses that erode them without destroying them. And there are constant needs to reorganize forces and re-apportion losses in some meaningful way. German battalions with 2 companies, companies with 2 platoons, yada yada.

I allowed each side a replacement stream of 1 platoon per day, and 1 non-armored, transport type vehicle. Very low compared to losses, as it should be. That represents walking wounded, rear echelon types coming back to their units, actual replacements, all of it. Those were received at night. Abandoned AFVs had a modest 1/6 repair chance, immobilized ones 2/6, the next dawn turn.

>how do they do that?

They have to get off the map. They can hit the ceasefire option, but they only get one if the other guy has also hit the ceasefire button. Anybody can run.

>In the battles do you have VL? I can't see why you would.

Definitely. I use them to determine who keeps the location after the fight ;) The side that doesn't have the VLs must retreat. If they are split, the attackers pull back. After action, the seperation of the sides must reset to ~400m. Nobody remains continually in contact without being in action.

> Do you have any or know of any written rules for art barrages, air support, supply (and would supply be an issue >at the reinforced battalion level - seems like it should to a small degree)? I have read the CMMC rules, and those are much more complicated that I want.

Yes I do. And they are kept simple. The biggest item that needs addressing is artillery ammo, how often the FOs can fire. I used the following system.

Every battery is given a "global" supply state at the start of the scenario. Generally it does not change. But the ref can allow some events to change it a notch (examples later).

There are 3 global supply states for a battery - abundant, normal, and limited.

After a battery is used, you determine whether it must check depletion by looking at the portion of its ammo expended. All expended means -> automatically check, half expended means -> 3/6 check, etc. Round up to the next 1/6. This addresses the case where someone only fires off a few rounds from an FO. Normally, they fire the wad and you check.

Abundant 1-4 full, 5-6 half supply

normal 1-2 full, 3-4 half, 5-6 out

limited 1 full, 2-3 half, 4-6 out.

The roll does not change the global supply state of the battery. It does change its rounds available in the next op phase - to all (a normal full module), half (obvious), or none (can't be used).

If *not* used in a given op phase and below full, you can roll on the same table and *add* that much to the existing temporary supply aka rounds available. E.g. a battery with "abundant" is automatically back to "full" if it remains quiet for a turn.

The intention is that "abundant" FOs can fire more or less every op phase. They will occasionally have a little less ammo, but you can continually use them. A "normal" FO can fire every other op phase on average, but with considerable variance. A significant pause will allow sure use of all batteries at full again - once. Limited ammo batteries take on average 3 rolls to recover their ammo. When you choose to use them, you know you won't be able to count on them at full strength again for some time.

You can represent more limited ammo categories by allowing rerolls not after each shoot or each inactive op phase, but only in one night turn e.g. It is simple, playable, players "grok" it very quickly, and it makes sharp distinctions between endless pounding by a US 105mm battery with stacks of shells, vs. the one-off fury of 150mm Nebels with limited ammo.

As for small arms supply, I only tracked it for some units that went "deep" through woods into the enemy rear. They went to "low" ammo, roughly half, after a fight. I figured their resupply at the "normal" level, when they remained inactive. You could instead treat all units with good supply lines as "abundant" for small arms, and then use the same system as for guns.

You can make a similar system for fuel states, when representing the driest periods. Only tanks should be effected, as the fuel used by other vehicles is trivial in comparison. The difference is it is movement ability that goes.

Examples of operational rules modifying global ammo states - In our scenario, I had the global supply of the German 81mm mortars "limited" until a bridge was finished across a certain river. This represented the fact that all the rounds they'd get would be by man packing from the small ammo details of the mortar units themselves. Once the bridge was open, allowing supply vehicles forward, it bumped up to "normal".

The same system can provide air support, except you don't get the "one in the tube". I made it a little more elaborate for my Bulge game, because historically it was cloudy on day 1 and the Luftwaffe put in a rare appearance on day 2. Thereafter, it was all US. I made a 1d6 table for types, with fighters netting each other out if both got them. The US could get an L-5, pick a spot on the map and get an intel report on everything within 2 km. I even let them direct a bombardment mission.

I also made an arty assignments system, very simple. You get an FO unit on the map, in addition to the battery. The player puts the FO next to the HQ he wants it to support, so it gets a command line from that HQ.

If that HQ is a company HQ, it is dedicated support to that company only. If that company gets in a tac fight, it gets full ammo, full unit quality support. If it isn't, the battery does not fire.

If that HQ is a battalion HQ, it is general support to all units in that battalion. If any unit of that battalion gets in a tac fight, support will be given to one such tac fight. If there are more than 1, which is determined randomly (no player choice).

General support, however, only gives 70% of the available shells, and the on map FO is down a quality level (regular becomes green e.g.). Thus you get slightly longer delays and less ammo fired - but don't have to guess which company will be hit. You still have to pick the right battalion (like that is hard).

If you put the FO on an enemy spotted area, you are ordering an operational artillery attack on that location. If there is anything there, the ref resolves that attack and applies the casualties, before tac fights occur.

I resolved them using CM itself. I set up the units in the area in typical realistic formations, then targeted the approximate center of mass with the relevant FOs, "target wide" order and unobserved. Fire the shells. Record the losses. It gave perfectly believable results. Trucks get hurt, one half track once, a gun or two, a dozen men at a time sometimes, only a handful other times.

If you want to save time instead, you could approximate it with something like blast / 2500 d6 men hit, each 6 a soft vehicle lost in addition. Doesn't take target density and terrain type into account as accurately, but certainly faster.

One other arty point is how to deal with weapons that have potential use on map or off. I allowed them to be used as FOs, but in general with "limited" global ammo, sometimes with only 1 mission possible (zero resupply), unless that was their main role. E.g. Grille 150s and SPW-251/9s were really meant for direct fire. But I allowed them to be used as 150 or 75 FOs, without any (for the Grille) or much (for the SPW) chance of resupply.

With the German 81s, which were split between 2 per company weapons platoon meant for on map use, and a 4 mortar platoon at battalion weapons, I allowed both uses when the "local" ammo situation was "full rounds", only one or the other at the German player's choice when it was "half", and no use (even of the on map) when it was "out" - for that battalion's mortars.

I modeled units that had lost battles or been in heavy action as "tired". If they fought in that state, they acted as one quality level lower (regular to green etc). Rested a turn, they were usually fine. The most severely rattled needed 2 turns out of action.

Another rule I developed was for operational scale "opportunity fire", interacting with movement. The basic idea is when a unit is ordered to move through open ground or along a road through LOS and range of enemies that can hurt it, then it gets fired upon.

I handled this abstractly. The usual result is simple to halt the moving unit. I gave firing platoons a flat 1/6 chance to kill a vehicle if their gun could at that range and aspect. Vs. infantry, only direct fire guns with significant anti-personnel ability (75mm HE and up, or quad 20, 37, or 40 FLAK) or HMG platoons could do this, with a 1/6 chance of getting a squad's worth of men. 2-4 on the same die and the unit halts movement but is not hurt (they halt on the loss too). 5-6 it may continue its move.

The idea was not to allow e.g. a company of Shermans to charge from 1500m down to 500m from a hill with Panthers on it, to support infantry ready to attack - unless they get lucky. But I did not want the real fighting occuring on the op map. It functions as a sort of "zone of control". When there is cover around, I assume the movers (if not on a road) can exploit it to avoid observation.

You only get this "sticky attack" when entering the range of that firing platoon, and only 1 platoon fires at a time. So if the first halts you, that is it. Conceptually, you've gone to defilade. If you keep going and there are more possible shooters, I let one fire every 500m (50m by the LOS tool on the op map). Once you get close enough there is going to be a tactical battle, you halt anyway and wait for the tactical resolution.

Last thing was movement rules. Those are going to depend somewhat on the time scale you pick for op moves. What I used was -

infantry on a road - 3 km

infantry open ground - 2 km

infantry in woods, etc - 1 km

I allowed +1 km for special units (veteran recon e.g.)

vehicles on paved road - unlimited

vehicles on dirt (muddy) road - 10 km

vehicles cross country, open - 5 km tracked, 2 km wheeled, 1/6 bog chance tracked, 2/6 wheeled

vehicles cross country, woods etc - prohibited

(if you get a "bog" result, it means -1 vehicle, not the whole unit).

Note that km distances are easy to see on the op map, because 5 20x20 tiles x10 is a 1 km square, so those editor large grids are square km. You can usually see right away if a proposed move is within the legal range. You can always measure exactly with the LOS tool. Mixed terrain crossed you can either do the proportions, or simplify it considerably by just allowing the average of the two as the move length (particularly for infantry).

The same quick and dirty system works for things like uncleared minefields. Just treat them like bog chances, but with loss instead of immobilization the result. If you want to represent thicker or unmarked mines, raise the chances by 1.

I hope this helps. Fine questions by the way.

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Verbose as ever, eh Jason?

Anyway, I was the US commander in the Bulge campaign and it was hella fun!

Do you still have the files? We never found out what exactly we were facing

or how far they got. The feel of involvement, necessity and relating

to any campaign are always far above any "normal" battle...

If you have some stuff left from the campaign, mail me and I'll post it here..

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Bulge Campaign - German Briefing

You command the 39th Volksgrenadier Regiment, part of the 26 VG Division, which just crossed the Our River in the early morning of 16 December, the opening day of the Ardennes Offensive. Your mission is to cross the high ground between the Our and Clerf rivers and seize crossings over the latter, while also opening a route for the armor behind you. As many of the Americans in the way as possible, should be destroyed. Your own losses should be kept as low as you can manage, but most of all you must open a route for the armor quickly.

Behind the 26 VG is the Panzer Lehr division. It is drawn up in road column and not expected to fight here at all. Its own objectives lie much farther to the west. Once you have forced a crossing of the Clerf, elements of Panzer Lehr will pass through your positions and take the lead. The forward element in your sector is about half of the recce battalion - not united because the division must move down several parallel roads, to fit into the overstrained road net in the area. Concretely, you will have succeeded when this lead Panzer Lehr force has crossed the Clerf river, on the way to Wiltz farther to the west. If elements of the recce battalion have to fight in the area, you will have fallen short of your goal - but if it can't be helped, so be it. Nothing else from Panzer Lehr is going to fight in this sector. If you do not break through here, they will go elsewhere - but through giant traffic jams because of your failure.

Your command has three full strength infantry battalions and several additional attachments. A company of Fusiliers from the division are assigned to your sector, and are presently ahead of your main body, scouting. A company of engineers are also attached, but at present are busy building a vehicle bridge at Gemund. You have 4 platoons of armored vehicles as well - a Panzerjaeger platoon with 3 Hetzer TDs, a Flak platoon with 3 Ostwind, and two sIG (sf) platoons with a total of 6 Hummel (really Bison-type assault guns) between them. However, there is no way yet for these vehicles to cross the Our, until the engineers complete the bridge. All other weapons, including anything towed, are left out of battle because of the impossibility of moving horse teams over the vehicle clogged, muddy roads. All the infantry are on foot, having crossed the Our by raft.

You have also been assigned fire support by a battalion of 105mm and a single battery of 150mm from division, and Nebelwerfers from a Volks Werfer brigade (100 rounds, fired as one salvo by 4 FOs). The battalions also have their own 81mm mortars. There are some ammo limitations on these various forms of support, because the preliminary bombardment (preceeding the campaign) used up much of the available stocks, because some guns are displacing forward, and because resupply is difficult on the presently clogged road net. Ammo for the 81mm must be man-packed over the river. The divisional artillery has "moderate" ammo resupply, while the others are "limited".

In addition, if a battalion's indirect 81mm run -low- on ammo, the battalion mortars will no longer be available, but each company's pair will be. If they run -out- of ammo, both types will be unavailable for that battalion until resupplied (if ever). The company level 81mm may be used on-map without ammo restriction, as long as the battalion mortars are at full supply. The two sIG platoons may be used as additional 150mm FOs, but their ammo is absolutely limited. If used once this way, the vehicles will be unavailable for the rest of the battle, for both indirect and direct fire use.

Your third battalion, III/39, is initially restricted as to its movements by higher command. It is tasked with defending the immediate crossing site over the Our river, at Gemund and nearby villages. It starts on the east side of the river, and may not move more than 1 km past the Our at any point, until released by division. The division commander's stated intention is to release the battalion to you once it is clear the engineers can work on the crossing site unmolested, but your own staff, based on past experience, expects to get the battalion "back" at the earliest by noon on the first day.

The infantry sub-units of your command have the following structure and permanent attachments -

Fusiliers - no company HQ (on map HQ is padlocked out of area), operate as independent platoons and may do so individually, on their own. All are veteran quality. Each has HQ, 2xVG SMG squad, 1xVG Fusilier Squad, 1xSharpshooter. Fausts only, no schrecks. No MGs or mortars - traveling light.

Pioneers - no company HQ (ditto), operate as seperate platoons, but meant to be attached to a regular company or higher formation if in combat. All regular quality. Each has HQ, 3xPioneer Squad (standard) with 2 demo charges and 2 fausts apiece, and each platoon also has 2xFlamethrower and 1xSchreck. Not released for action until the bridge at Gemund is completed.

Grenadiers - These are the "security" infantry type, with 1 LMG, 3 SMG, 5 Rifle per squad. Each battalion has 3 line companies and a weapons company. The weapons companies are all regular quality, and consist of an HQ, an MG platoon (represented by an HMG on the map), and a mortar platoon (represented by an 81mm mortar). The MG platoon has 4 HMG, the mortar platoon has 4 81mm. Schrecks formed the 3rd platoon but are distributed to subunits. The infantry companies each have 3 line platoons and a heavy platoon. The heavy platoons are all regular quality and each have an HQ, 2 HMG, and 2 81mm (all, together, represented on the map by an LMG). Each line platoon is equipped with 1 Panzerschreck, same crew quality as the platoon. 2 out of 3 of the line platoons in each company are green quality (navy transfers, mostly), the remaining platoon is regular quality. However, all company and battalion HQ units are veteran quality. Each company also has one regular sharpshooter.

You are told to expect Panzer Lehr Recce to show up after the bridge is finished and your own AFVs have crossed the Our. There may be additional delay due to traffic. You have talked with the officer who will command this force and learned its exact composition. They have a StuG company attached to add punch, as the leaders of the column. It has 3 platoons, each with 1 StuH and either 2 StuG (platoons 2 and 3) or 3 StuG (platoon 1, with the company leader's vehicle attached). Next a light armor company of three platoons, the first with 5 Pz II Lynx, the 2 and 3 each with 6 20mm armored cars and 1 75mm armored car. Then three platoons of armored panzergrenadiers, each with 1 HMG and 1 schreck added, and each riding in 4 MG halftracks. And last, a heavy weapons section with 2 75mm halftracks, 2 81mm mortar halftracks, 2 Wirblewind, and 1 flame halftrack. In all 48 vehicles, all of them armored. This is the force you must get through the American defenses and over the Clerf river, headed for Wiltz.

Aggressive patrol action and raids have gathered important intelligence about the enemy you will probably face. It is believed your sector of the line is held by a single US rifle battalion. Its quality is judged to be good. The enemy puts out listening posts during the day, but at night most retire to the villages, with only an occasional platoon sized patrol out and about, a few nights a week. One battery of artillery, 105mm caliber, has also been identified by sound ranging, somewhere on the reverse slope of the high ground ahead of you. The US formation ahead is fully motorized, and vehicle traffic is regularly heard on and behind the ridge. It stands to reason that the defenders have some additional attachments of other arms, in company strength or below. But no enemy tanks have been seen or heard - the only confirmed American armored vehicles in the area are a few M-8 Greyhounds and a number of M3 halftracks. Overall, their main forces are no farther forward than halfway down the near slope of the hill, toward the Our. This has allowed your Fusilier platoons to reach the outskirts of Walhausen and Putscheid unmolested.

The ground is wet from rains in the last week, and the sky is overcast. The only paved road in the area is the Skyline Drive, the highway from St. Vith south into Luxembourg that runs north-south near the crest of the ridge ahead of you. The other roads are all unimproved and somewhat muddy already. The preliminary bombardment has just ended, and in the lower ground by the river, a light morning fog still envelops the scene. As it is still nearly dark, the Americans are expected to still be in their villages or not far from them, but the bombardment has certainly alerted them by now.

The rest is up to you and your men.

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Bulge Campaign - American Briefing

You command the 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th US Infantry Division, and its attached elements. Your battalion has been defending a large frontage along the Our river in a quiet sector of the front. All that changed today, however, in the early hours of December 16th. The Germans opened an enourmous preliminary bombardment for what you expect to be an equally enourmous counteroffensive. All telephone communications were cut within minutes, but artillery radios have taken over and you are in touch with your units, and with higher HQ.

Regiment reports the situation is at least equally bad for the next battalion in the line, and because of this reinforcements will only be limited. Artillery is equally strained, so you can count on the support only of the units in your sector, firing as much to prevent themselves from being overrun as you. There will be no permission to withdraw either - that has come down all the way from corps level. The order is "hold at all costs", and you have few illusions about what that means. Staff officers explain that even if you lose, the time you can hold out is a critical factor in the survival of other units and the effectiveness of the whole American response to the German attack.

The ground you occupy is the high ground between the Our and Clerf rivers, along a stretch of paved highway called Skyline Drive. The Germans are on the other side of the Our - or were, yesterday. Regimental HQ is on the banks of the Clerf, but away from your sector to the north a bit. Division rear area and supply operations are centered on the town of Wiltz, a considerable distance behind the Clerf.

Your immediate mission is to stop the Germans from the high ground, and on no account to let them have a crossing of the Clerf and a clear road to such a crossing. If you fail, your unit will be penetrated and in all likelihood the entire division will be overrun. That may happen anyway, but it is within your power to prevent it from happening due to anything you have done or left undone.

Your force is small for the length of front you must defend, but it has many attachments added and the defensive terrain is good. The men are also reasonably experienced regulars - new replacements have had some experience patrolling and are leavened by veterans of tough fighting in the Hurtgen in the previous months - and grimly determined. Of the odds against you, you can only guess, but your guess would start at "daunting" and range up to "hopeless".

Your forces are organized as follows -

I, K, and L companies are standard rifle companies, regular quality, each with a 3rd MMG in place of the usual 50 cal, 1 extra bazooka each (4 per) and 1 regular sharpshooter each. These are represented on the operational map by a rifle platoon each, with a 60mm mortar representing the weapons platoon (60mm and MMGs).

M company is the battalion heavy weapons company, with four platoons. It has an 81mm mortar platoon with HQ and 6 81mm mortars, which have "moderate" resupply when used indirect; an ATG platoon with an HQ, 3 57mm ATG and 3 MMG; and 2 MG platoons, the first with an HQ and 6 50 cal HMG, the second with HQ and 6 30 cal HMG, 1917 model. Each of the 4 platoons also has 1 bazooka for close defense, and 1 jeep and 4 trucks to move the weapons and men. These are represented on the map by an 81mm mortar, a 57mm ATG, a 50 cal HMG, and a 1917 HMG respectively.

The last part of the battalion proper (3/110) is the Headquarters company, which has three components. There is a recon and intel platoon, which is 1 regular infantry platoon with 2 veteran sharpshooters added, and a jeep and 3 trucks. They have no zook or weapons teams because they travel light. It is represented on the board by a sharpshooter. Then there is a supply and transport platoon, which has 1 green infantry platoon with green zook - meant to fight defensively only - and the battalion motor pool of 5 jeeps and 15 trucks. It is represented on the map by a truck. It can be used to lift and move one infantry company at a time, and when not so employed is automatically bringing all units supplies, especially ammo. Last is the HQ proper, which has another green rifle platoon and zook, 3 green MMG teams, the battalion HQ, and 2 jeeps and 6 trucks. It is represented on the map by a company HQ.

You have a company of engineers attached - B company, 103 Combat Engineers. These are 3 seperate engineer platoons, each with 2 flamethrowers and 2 zooks, but no other weapons teams or company HQ. They are represented on the map by engineer squads, one per platoon. (The HQ is out of the way and "padlocked" to show it is not in play). In addition to fighting, they can also lay mines, make roadblocks, blow bridges, etc.

The next main "attachments" are 2 artillery batteries in your area, Battery C of the 107th Field Artillery - your own divisional artillery (C/107), and also Battery C of the 687th independent artillery battalion (C/687). Each is represented on the map by a 105mm howitzer. Each is actually a company sized formation, with 4 105mm howitzer, 1 green rifle platoon representing battery personnel (again not meant for attacks, and the battery can't fire without them), 4 MMG teams, 1 jeep and 10 trucks. Each also has attached to it 1 M3A1 Halftrack and 2 50 cal HMG from anti-aircraft (covered next). These batteries will support you exclusively, and are abundantly supplied with ammo. They will not run low on the first day regardless of how much they are used, and their ammo will remain at the "abundant" resupply level even after that.

Next you have a battery of light AA attached - 'A' Battery of the 447th anti-aircraft artillery, automatic weapons. These are divided into 2 half batteries each represented on the board by a 40mm Bofors. Each half-battery has 4 40mm AA, 4 M3A1 halftracks, and 4 50 cal HMGs. These are in addition to the attachments to the artillery batteries, already mentioned. You can if desired divide these half-batteries into 2 gun sections, each with 2 40mm, 2 HTs, and 2 50 cals - but you may not split off the HTs or 50s from the 40mms.

Next another gun unit, the Anti-tank gun company of the 110th regiment, your parent unit, represented on the map by 3 57mm ATGs, 1-110, 2-110, and 3-110. Each of these platoons has an HQ, 3 57mm ATGs, 3 MMGs, 1 zook, 1 jeep, and 4 trucks. So they are each just like your own battalion level ATG platoon.

Then there is a small cavalry unit assigned from division, the 1st platoon of C troop, 28 cavalry - 1/C/28. This platoon has 3 M-8 Greyhound, 3 Jeep MG, 3 Jeep, and 3 60mm mortars.

That is all of your present attachments. Last but not least, however, there is a company of Shermans - 'A'company, 707th tank battalion - in reserve behind your front at the town of Wilwerwitz, on the Clerf river. This has 3 platoons of Shermans, each with 1 76mm W (not HVSS, however), 2 75mm W, and 2 plain 75mm tanks - all M4A3 model - except the 1st platoon, which has a second 76mm and 6 tanks in all (the HQ is attached to it). This unit will probably be released to you by division as soon as you are hard pressed, but if you get off lightly, may be diverted to your sister battalion, 1/110, to the north.

Prospects for replacements are nil, but there is a possibility of two kinds of reinforcement, besides release of the tank reserve. The other two batteries of the 687th field artillery are behind your right, much farther to the rear. They may be able to support by fire at some point, if the units to your right are not too heavily attacked. No guareentees there, however. And 'C' company of the 103rd Combat Engineers, a sister company to the one working with you, is also off to your right rear. It may be sent to help, although it probably has urgent tasks of its own building obstacles and wiring bridges for demolition, all behind the attacked frontage. Your own parent unit is certainly too hard pressed elsewhere to send anything additional to your aid.

That covers friendly forces, then there are enemy ones. In the past, you have outposted the Our river line only during the day, withdrawing to the cover of the villages at night. The lower ground between Skyline Drive and the Our has consequently been a kind of no man's land after dark, in which patrols from both sides stalk each other, a few times a week. Your set up locations may be anywhere west of Skyline Drive, but only close to the villages if farther east than that, and in no case within 1 km of the Our river. Anywhere you start engineers there can be a few mines (the more engineers there, the more mines available); elsewhere the initial fortifications will be limited to foxholes and a few TRPs. You haven't exactly been on the highest state of alert - this was supposed to be a "rest" sector for your men.

From prisoners taken during patrols, you know that the front line infantry unit opposite you is the 26th Volksgrenadier division. You have a healthy respect for their ability, especially their Fusilier scouts. A portion of their manpower seem to be recent additions, however, including some who transfered in from the German navy. Occasional clanking is heard along the Our, but not many vehicles, and most of their artillery seems to be horse drawn. From the preliminary bombardment which just occurred (without doing much, except alerting everyone), you are certain their number of supporting gun tubes is superior to your own, and includes rockets.

The weather is overcast, with a morning fog especially in the lower parts of the terrain. The ground is wet from rains of the past week. All the roads in the area are unimproved except for Skyline Drive, which is an excellent paved highway. The time is dawn on December 16, 1944.

The rest depends on you and your men.

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