Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Combat Mission Fortress Italy - Scenario Design at the Postgraduate Level

This is the type of scenario quality that I hope everybody can appreciate as much as I do. "Biazzo Ridge", by Jon Martina, is a great scenario included in Fortress Italy with added value in the form of a history lesson and  scenario-design know how. Not that other scenarios in the Fortress Italy game don't deserve praise. I just chose and played this one today and I thought of writing a bit about it before calling it a day.

Yes fellows, that guy with the binoculars is the legendary partrooper Colonel Gavin (see the unit info at the bottom left, user interface menu). He is close to the Acate Rail Station looking towards the Biazzo Ridge.  Many of the other subordinate leaders  in the scenario have their correct names too.

The Battle of Biazzo Ridge started at a seemingly irrelevant meeting engagement between the US and German forces in Sicily. The date was 11JUL43, and Colonel Gavin initially lead an attack against the ridge with a rag tag force of men from the 180th Infantry Regiment, engineers from the 307th Engineer Battalion and some paratroopers of the 505th RCT. By the end of the day, after many attacks and German armor-infantry counterattacks, the ridge was in US possesion. Unknown to them, the US forces have just bumped on the left flank of the Goring Panzer Division, which was rushing towards Gela to push the US beachhead back into the sea. Some historians think that Gavin's attack saved the US beachhead at Gela. For that, and for the extreme courage shown in the line of duty, the Battle of Biazzo Ridge is one of the finest moments of US military history.

A big map, abundant in trees and concealment  favors what paratroopers are very good at: infiltration and mayhem into the enemy rear.
Besides the extreme attention to historical detail, including abundant notes and references in the briefing, I find this scenario outstanding on how the author explains in his designer's notes what he left out and why. It is not easy to cut back stuff in an scenario in order to keep it both playable and historically oriented.

"All Americans" at the Biazzo Ridge, fighting for their lives.
The troops of the Goring Panzer Division, in one of their counterattacks to take back the ridge.
So, thanks Jon for this scenario and by the way your great authorship and references costed me some $20+ in books.



Mike_in_AkronOH said...

Check this book out:


great, great, read. I think better than Phil Nordyke's books. All in one volume... sweet

JC said...

Awesome, Mike. Got it for the Kindle.


Stian Lund said...

I've been playing a lot of CMFI but have avoided the large scenarios for now, since I need to get the basics of the game first.

How does this compare with "Lemon Hill"? As Italians, it was a really tough nut to crack.

JC said...

This one is a tough battle in which all the difference is made by keeping a paratrooper's frame of mind (infiltrate, disregard flanks and attack at first sight).