Sunday, October 27, 2013

Combat Mission Market Garden Module - Sharpen Up Lads, We are Light Infantry Against the Rest of The World!

What a pleasant afternoon for a fine Combat Mission scenario, gentlemen!

As a farewell for the lazy hours of yet another great weekend, two very short points on tactics.

As soon as the Market Garden was released, one scenario immediately crossed my mind: the fight of the 10th British Parachute Battalion, 4th Parachute Brigade at the pumping station north of Oosterbeek. At a gaming convention I saw a couple of guys playing this attack with miniatures and it was quite a thing. The heavy wooded area, the German forces throwing everything at the advancing British paras. The proverbial meat grinder.

It turns out that the latest Market Garden module has a very similar scenario to the one I was thinking of. It is actually the south flank of that miniatures games I saw. Pete Wenman's Dreijenseweg historical scenario features the 156th British Parachute Battalion's action against a German defensive line composed of infantry, halftracks, anti-aircraft guns of all types and more.

The historical research that goes into this scenarios is astonishing. When I saw that "pilot" type of troops (yellow highlight) among the troops of my A Coy I though it was an error. It turns out that one of the platoons of this company was left at the landing zone on a security mission and that glider pilots were taken up front instead.
Before you close the internet browser and go check out this scenario, please remember two things.

First. The British paras, while highly motivated and trained, are as any other type of airborne unit: light infantry. As such, in this scenario there is no substitute for good tactical manners when going against the most eclectic collection of German heavy weaponry you have ever seen in a historical scenario.

Second. One of the strengths of light infantry is its inconspicuous mobility. Infiltrate the hell into those objectives, folks! To do so in an scenario of this size, you will use one of the staples of airborne tactics: the continuous use of aggressive patrolling.

If you are rusty on your movement and assault techniques, I highly recommend you to go to Bil Hardenberger's Battle Drill site, download and play the squad attack scenario.

A scene from Bil's squad attack scenario. After the initial shock of contact, suppression (MG team in the foreground) of the enemy position allows the troops in the background to move into the assault position.

Now back to Pete Wenman's Dreijenseweg scenario. The screenshot below gives you an idea of the type of terrain you as a British commander will be attacking through.

The map seen from the right British flank (orange icons).

I will not deliver an AAR of the scenario so not to spoil it for you. I've got a minor victory and reached deep into the enemy territory, taking the eastmost objective (Litchenbeek house) with a couple of platoons. I really want to play this one again when time allows. I'm not happy about the amount of casualties I sustained.

Still I want to present you with two tactical micro-points for this scenario.

Armored vehicles are only as dangerous as the status of their gunners

You will face a fair amount of German halftracks in this scenario. Do not underestimate the value of targeting them with your infantry's light guns. The halftrack gunners tend to bunker down under small arms fire, even get killed quite easily. A halftrack without a gunner is as good as an ammo lorry.

Two halftracks burning near a farmhouse. These were taken by a single PIAT team after the German gunners got killed by British small arms.

Persistent targeting saves clicks and lives

This one must be as old as Combat Mission itself, but hey this senior gamer is grateful to have remembered this thing while playing Bil's training scenarios. If a section has been ordered to target a position, they will keep that target after they have been ordered a quick move somewhere else. If the section is forced to drop to the ground due to casualties, they will still target the old target.

A British parachute section has been ordered to move (yellow line), but still keeps their old target (red line) for when they stop. Very useful for both turn based or real time play.

That's it for tonight folks! But before I leave, let me present you with the badass soldier of the week.

He was helped by other infantry, and his buddies got killed or injured ... But who is going to take away his bragging rights of two halftrack kills?



Pete Wenman Aviation Art said...

JC- Glad you seem to be enjoying MG.

I was very close to making a scenario dealing with 10 Para's attack on the pumping station, but time determined that only the 156th's scenario was completed.

The Johanna Hoeve master map is actually large enough (and designed) to allow a scenario for each of the 4th Para Bde units (10th,156th Para & 7 KOSB) but someone else will have to do these now.


JC said...

Hi Pete,

Thanks for reading this.

Your scenario was quite a treat. Thanks!

I think that in the end, the 156th had more done that the 10th. Sort of ...

Good times!