One Hour WW2 Bulge

One Hour WW2 Bulge

 Another tryout of the new hex based OHW rules. I thought I’d give it a go with my old Battle of the Bulge scenario, the German attack on Rocherath, originally reported here:

The revisions from the Leshnow game were to restrict the effect of artillery bombardments on movement to just knocking one hex off, and if an assault failed, the attacker took a hit as well as retreating.

I set up an approximation of the terrain on my Winter Memoir 44 boards and the Bulge expansion set. Rocherath and the vital crossroads are off to the left. Densely wooded hills to the north and south of the road leading from the Reichswald in the east. The sole victory objective is possession of the crossroads at game end.

The gap is held by two Green battalions of 99th Div, dug in beside the road. I have oriented the hexes so the units face east. Reinforcements from 99 Div and the veteran 2nd Div are en route. Using my 6mm Northwest Europe stuff for this, a generous two bases per unit this time. 

277 Volksgrenadier Div poised to attack. Two Green infantry regiments of two battalions each, and the Divisional Fusilier battalion with the divisional Hetzer company (so rated as Heavy Infantry). In the rear is a battalion of 12th SS Panzer Div, motorised infantry supported by a company of Pz IV (so alse Heavy Infantry). 

The Germans have to enter along the road, the VG Regiments leading, then the Fusilier battalion and finally the SS. Historically the SS battlegroup turned up when the original infantry assault failed and the 12th SS commander got impatient at the holdup. These were the tanks which overran Charles Macdonalds rifle company as described in ‚Company Commander‘. 
The restricted entry area is a bit of a problem for the Germans as they need to avoid getting in a huge traffic jam which will hold up their reinforcements. I got in a bit of a mess working out the pro rata movement for the road column, so might need to think about that.

The preparatory bombardment knocked one SP off the bottom US battalion but was otherwise ineffective (as it was historically). To make room the Germans somewhat unwisely put one battalion in range of the defences (visibility and hence fire, is two hexes in this version). This promptly attracted the fire of the thoroughly unsuppressed US, took 60% casualties and became disorganised. Ouch!

The Germans rallied some of the hits off, but concentrated US fire routed the battalion anyway. The Germans took the opportunity to bring more of their stuff on and try for a more concentrated assault. One VG Regiment plus the Fusiliers went left flanking, while the remains of the other VG Regiment went right to ‚keep the Americans busy‘. The motorised SS meanwhile hoped to slip around the woods at the top.

The Germans get closer. Covering fire from the Fusiliers chipped another hit off the southern US battalion. The ZOC don’t stop units entirely, they can still move one hex, which means the Germans can infiltrate through the woods on each side, very slowly. The SS end run is going quite well.

At this point reinforcements turn up. A Combat Team from 2nd Div (infantry supported by Shermans) and an artillery battalion. The artillery pose a huge threat to the German force composed almost entirely of infantry, four regiments of which are Green.
The US artillery duly strips 2 hits off one of the Germans and suppresses them (the blue counter). The US infantry rallied off a hit while covered by the artillery, only to lose it again as the Fusiliers covered the other VG battalion inflitrating the wood to the south. The US now had an unenviable choice, stay put in their foxholes and face a flank attack, or pivot to counter the threat and lose the benefit of their hasty entrenchments?

The German infantry in the north pulled the same trick, but the odds were much more even here and defensive fire chipped a hit off the attackers as they moved. The SS moved up just out of range of the US infantry near the town. US defensive fire coupled with artillery could obliterate them, so they needed more support. 

In the south US defensive and artillery fire destroyed one of the VG battalions. 

And as the Germans were hanging back, the US started digging in outside Rocherath (the green counter). Two turns to dig in.

The US stayed in their trenches (overall the long term benefit of cover exceeded the threat of a single flank attack). In the south the Germans assaulted and scored a whopping three hits! Coupled with the two hits already suffered, the Green US infantry broke and the Germans occupied the position.
The main road is clear, the SS move down to the road and await reinforcements from the Volksgrenadiers.

In the north the Germans assaulted and chipped a hit off the defenders but were repulsed with a loss themselves (the new rule after Leshnow) and had to fall back. The penalty of a forced retreat and a step loss for a failed assault felt a bit better. The Germans now need a full turn to move up, and given they also have two hits, they should really spend a turn rallying beforehand or their is a real risk US defensive fire will disorder them before they can attack.

Faced with this new development, the 2nd Div infantry abandon their half dug foxholes and move back into Rocherath. Artillery and defensive fire tear into the SS infantry, four hits no less, which is enough to make even veterans go disorganised, plus they are suppressed by the artillery fire. Veterans can take seven hits before they rout (unlike five for Green troops), so they can do this for quite a while if they keep rallying. 

A VG battalion moves up to support the SS who rally two hits off but take another devastating round of fire whcih takes them to six hits. The Fusiliers get a bit distracting ‚masking‘ the remaining road defenders. I think I had in mind another flank attack. The VG in the woods rally.

At this juncture, more US troops arrive from the south. Another battalion of 99th Div and another Combat Team from 2nd Div. 2nd Div leads, this battalion is reinforced with the Regimental Cannon Company. The US now have equal numbers of battalions and artillery support. Oh dear. 

The Germans mass their forces before the reinforcements can make an impact. The SS rally again (removing three hits this time!) and the errant VG and Fusiliers move up as well. The latter are cunningly placed to mask the SS from any unpleasant fire from the US infantry still holding the front line.

The US artillery pounds the SS again, disordering them, and the US ground forces instead concentrate on the southern VG battalion, which is routed in a single round of firing (admittedly from the equivalent of an entire Regiment, support by tanks and 105mm howitzers).

The Fusiliers take a couple of hits from the dug in US infantry.

The remaining Germans mass around Rocherath.

The static US units in Rocherath and on the front line pour in defensive fire, as does the US artillery, as the reinforcements move up. The 99th Div infantry  occupy the dense woods to the south, but 2nd Div moves right up to the SS intending an assault next turn. The SS are suppressed by artillery fire, and the Fusiliers are now down to two hits left and also become disordered, 

The German response is fairly pathetic as they have so few good order units left. The Rocherath defenders are left completely unscathed, and the 2nd Div infantry outside the town just take one hit. In turn, US artillery fire, small arms and direct gunfire routs both the Fusiliers and the SS, at which point the Germans throw in the towel. Rocherath is saved!
I’ve played this scenario a lot as a  playest one for various rules, and this is a tough one for the Germans. They need to either be methodical and mass against each US unit in turn OR, pick a flank and dash for Rocherath. I flipping between the two and ended up feeding the Germans piecemeal to the defenders.  
As a playtest of the mechanisms though, it worked pretty well. I like the revised assault mechanism, it certainly works with hexes in a way the old ‚move into contact‘ system wouldn’t. Is it too easy to attack a flank? Well, it will take at least two turns to get into position to mount a flank attack, giving the defenders plenty of time to shoot or decide whether to pivot or evacuate, and the dynamics work the same as the ruler based version.
The only thing which is different is that my old 5″ wide units could block an area 9″ across each by positioning themselves 4″ apart, whereas with the 4″ hex/unit size, they can only block 4″. Hopefully the sticky ZOC compensates for this to an extent.
I’ll try this with some players at some point, but it feels like it is done now. I’m mainly thinking of some of the smaller (or bigger!) CD/RF scenarios which won’t really work with NBC. OHW isn’t anything like as granular as NBC, but is good enough and gives a decent game and tbh I prefer it to the Portable Wargame, it just gels more in my head.

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Autor: Martin Rapier / The Games We Play

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