Monday, January 29, 2007

CC:E Scenario 4 - For Want of a Few Minutes More

Eric and I played Scenario 4 of Combat Commander: Europe Thursday evening – the set up for the scenario is that the German’s hold a chateau/mansion in Belgium, and the Americans need to drive them out of the strong defensive position they are in.

Eric (the German defenders) set up his forces first, putting a lone squad with a machine gun in one of the outbuildings near the side the Americans would enter on, and the majority of his forces in the manor house, with one outlying MG squad as well hiding in the woods. He also had an infantry gun and weapons crew in reserve – the scenario set up provided that he could place the gun and crew after the Americans (me, attacking) set up.

I split my forces into two main groups – the elite squads, with a light MG and a .50 cal MG lead by Lt. Wray, and the line troops, also with a light MG and a .50 cal MG lead by Sgt. Buehler. I put Lt. Wray and the elites up against the wall to the right, and Sgt. Buehler and the line troops on the right (along the road, and very near the outbuilding where Eric had set up one of his MG squads – I was hoping I would be able to take thembefore they had the opportunity to do too much damage).

The Germans then set up their heavy gun – Eric was a bit conservative, and set the gun crew up near the rear, behind the manor. One thing we didn’t really notice at the time, but I did eventually (and I’m sure Eric did too) is that this set up left the road on the left side pretty much un-covered – there was a wall and woods between the manor house and the road, and the forward observation post was all that was protecting that side (and this was soon to be eliminated).

Initially, I focused on using my artillery to drop smoke all around the manor – this provided me the cover I needed to advance my units closer. I also, on the very first turn, used the line troops to overwhelm the observation post in the outbuilding before it had a chance to respond. This left the left flank of the map open, and I was able to move my units quickly up the road to begin the assault on the building.

At this point, I think I made my major mistake of the game – I took a lot of low-quality pot-shots at the German forces. This had some positive effects – many events occurred, and in this game most of them seemed to go my way (a sniper eliminated the infantry gun after only one or two shots from it, for instance) – but also had the long term effect of driving the time marker forward. This ended up being my undoing, as I ran out of time despite what felt like good momentum in the final assault.

The frontal approach was, for the most part unsuccessful – although it did keep the heavy weapons focused on the front, allowing my line troops access to the building from the side. More effective was moving my line troops up the road, climbing the wall all at once, and advancing on the building that way. Once the engineers and their flamethrowers arrived, they also came up the road, and were very effective once they were able to get near the building. The flamethrowers ignoring cover makes them very strong in clearing buildings and fortifications (which, I guess, makes sense).

One the whole, I think I had the Germans (Eric) off balance most of the game, but time ran out just after I was able to gain access to the building. It should be interesting to hear what his perception of the flow of the game was!

Memorable “stories” from the game:

  • One of the line squads advanced into a space containing a leader, squad and MG, and after both Eric and I used our lone Ambush cards, rolled a tie on the melee rolls – resulting in elimination for both my lone squad, and Eric’s group of units (including a leader). This would be one of those “heroic charges of a machine gun nest” you see in movies / read about in books.
  • American snipers were very active throughout the game – eliminating the infantry gun very quickly, and keeping pressure on the German defenders
  • Both the Germans and the Americans came across discarded weapons (i.e. scrounge events), leading to joking cry’s of “look what I found, Sarge”.

Lessons learned:

  • As attacker, take fewer high-quality shots, rather than a lot of low-quality shots (time is not your friend). This *is* mentioned in the play advice section of the playbook, but I didn’t read that until after this game (and learning something directly may be more effective than having someone tell it to you).
  • Flamethrowers are harsh and effective for rooting out enemies with strong cover, but also not easy to use as they need to be adjacent
  • Units in strong cover (buildings or pillboxes) are difficult to eliminate
  • Artillery is not terribly effective for attack – but smoke can be very useful!
  • Advance into melee can be your friend – especially against hard points

This was my second game of CC:E, and I still enjoy it immensely – one of the reasons, I think, is because it moves quickly (we did the entire scenario in about 2.5 hours, or so), and also because the rules are very well laid out. We did have a few questions in the course of play, but it was both easy to figure out where to look, and once found, the rules laid out in a good level of detail what needed to be done.

I’m leaning towards using “my” picks for what game we’re going to play to focus on CC:E for awhile, in order to get the rules well imprinted on the old gray matter (which needs more help these days ;).


Eric said...

Flamethrowers are harsh and effective for rooting out enemies with strong cover, but also not easy to use as they need to be adjacent

See nearly the entire Pacific theatre. I'd be willing to bet there's a LOT of flamethrowers in CC:Pacific.

Units in strong cover (buildings or pillboxes) are difficult to eliminate

See previous point :).

Artillery is not terribly effective for attack – but smoke can be very useful!

Well, there were two primary reasons why the artillery wasn't very useful to you. One is that the artillery you have in that scenario isn't very strong (8). The other is that I was holed up in very strong cover within the chateau. (My defense rolls started at 11 or 12, generally.)

After you got the smoke down, you were probably better off using the Artillery Request cards for their actions. Needing to beat me by four or five every time you fire your artillery is hard.

Tim said...

I'm sure you're right about flamethrowers and the CC:Pacific.

And yes, you're right - the artillery I had was pretty small, and I concur that I shouldn't have wasted the shots at your guys in the manor. This is part of what I was talking about on the "low quality" shots thing.

Some of my thinking there was to churn cards (which turned out to be abad idea - but in general it's good to get new cards into your hand, especially if the one I was using wasn't particulary useful, even as an action).

But in retrospect, I think you're right - should've held onto them and used the actions instead, which would have resulted in the same card usage, but without the events and time advancement.

Still was a blast, though!