Monday, January 9, 2012

Combat Mission Battle for Normandy - A Note on Combat Functions/Services and Weapon Systems

After an intense week at work, I decided to relax with a Combat Mission scenario. It was an unusually warm winter Saturday morning in the US east coast ...

Half and hour later, my son found me in the war room (AKA my home office), all twisted in my armchair, cursing at the monitor, the coffee and Argentine pastries untouched and put well out the way.

The scenario: Bloody Dawn, by one of the great scenario designers Field Marshal Blucher
The game: Combat Mission Battle for Normandy

Spoiler Alert! Do not read if you are still going to play this scenario against the computer.

It is now evident that I've grown too comfortable of assuming that all Combat Mission scenarios will be about the classical move-strike-protect simple formula. Move your troops towards contact, fix and flank. At most worrying about your fire support weapons and keeping HQ units close to their troops. Meh! Wrong!

Let me start with a description of the scenario. I'm in command of two infantry companies of the 119th IR securing one village north of St. Lo. Reinforcements (one armored infantry company and two demi-platoon of tanks) to arrive later. Defending is one company of German infantry supporting two or three AT guns.

A 3D view of the scenario. Shaded blue and purple, the deployment are of my units (green floating icons). The objectives are shaded yellow (town entrance) and bright green (intersection). 
Notice the terrain? Hedgerows everywhere. A nightmare for mutual support between maneuver units! Every fight is so compartmentalized that every maneuver group needs to be self-sufficient.

The following map shows roughly how the fight went. I avoided an initial frontal, road bound assault on the objectives and I leaned on my right flank with two platoons attacking west of the town in order to gain enough flanking fire positions to support the other platoon clearing the town's entrance and to gain enough depth within the enemy defensive scheme so to maneuver forces for the final assault on the intersection. The final assault on the intersection objective was achieved by close cooperation between the infantry units and the tank reinforcements.

The battle as it was fought. I have a typo: the three infantry platoons in the map are not from company A but from company F.
I will be posting more detailed descriptions and screen shots about certain parts of the fight in a later entry.

But before that, a bit about all the combat functions, weapon systems and services that I rarely think of in an integrated form:

  • Command and control
  • Intelligence
  • Maneuver Units
  • Fire Support Units
  • Mobility
  • Combat Service Support

This scenario had me on the edge because alas, I am always missing something from the list.



Mike said...

"Notice the terrain? Hedgerows everywhere. A nightmare for mutual support between maneuver units! Every fight is so compartmentalized that every maneuver group needs to be self-sufficient."


The thing that confuses me the most is that you can see through the hedges, shoot through them, but you cant go through them. It's the weirdest kind of obstacle imagined.

Good luck with your plan. I get my ass kicked in that game. So badly, that I now play it on 'Scenario Author Test' in order to feel good about myself and pretend that I'm not a real-life combat arms Captain in the Army.


Bertrand said...


I've finished a PBEM on that map a few weeks ago. Interesting battle, but the defender is ultimately doomed by the number of attacking units (and the US artillery).

For the hedgerows, there's not enough gaps (holes) allowing the infantry to infiltrate. So it helps the germans defending the place, but is not very logical for a place like that (that is the entry of a village).
At least here the US has the possibility of blasting its way through hedgerows (it's not the case in every maps, which is often a problem as it blocks too much maneuvers).

All in all Bloody dawn is still an interesting battle. At least we enjoyed our match.

Anonymous said...

Bertrand; take a look at my PBEM video AAR I did a while back with this scenario.

I was ze germans.

Bertrand said...

Yes, already seen that great video some times ago. As a matter of fact in this battle I inflicted a lot of casualties to the US. It's a tough battle, especially at the beginning. But when the US reinforcements arrives, and until the end, the US player has a great advantage.
Once germans MG or AT guns are spotted, they're soon dead. And you don't move them as easily as you move a Sherman.

And there's too much hedge rows on this map, which hinders the germans as much as the US.

Exemple of differences when we played this battle : US artillery made some damages on my side, and i was not as lucky as you with the few german mortars.
I also made a few mistakes in that battle, risking this or that, as we were partly discovering the game.