RECAP: My buddy Matt and I decided to play some red-on-red games of Flames of War. As we discussed what the games might look like, it evolved into a four game, “de-escalation”mini-campaign with some experimental house rules about list-building, air support and using a weighted dice-off to determine who is the attacker and who is the defender.
We created an alternate history back story for the campaign where the July 20 Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler succeeded but Goering took power, there was a schism in the Wehrmacht and on the Western front the combined forces of the SS and Luftwaffe fought the Heer.
As our games rolled out, a setting for the battles took shape within this larger fiction. As German forces rushed from Normandy back to the Fatherland to determine who would have political control, they ran into each other in the Ardennes. As in the real history of WWII, a great armored battle took place. Only in this alternate history, German soldier fought German soldier.
GAME 1 (1650 points) – ROYAL TIGER MEETS “FRANKENTIGER,”
Floreffe Abbey, 7 miles SW of Namur, Belgium on a tributary of the Muese River
Obersturbannfuhrer Joachim Peiper is still absent from I SS Panzer Corps’ Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) when the division – busy keeping the British out of Caen – learns of the assassination of the Führer. Goering recalls all SS and Luftwaffe divisions to the German border, so LSSAH entrains in the rail yard in the eastern outskirts of Caen. The division is able to travel by train as far as the other side of the Belgian border. There, Heer forces have cut the rail lines and the division is forced to disembark at Namur.
Meanwhile, Heer forces have gathered at the Siegfried Line with the goal of preventing SS and Luftwaffe ground forces from re-entering Germany. Reconnoitering in force is an armored kompanie from KG Hummel out of the Paderborn Tank Training School, being personally led by a recently convalesced Obserstleutenant Hans-Peter Knaust. When the kompanie hears that LSSAH is in the area, it sends an armored column to gather security troops and block the SS division’s entry into the Fatherland.
Local Belgians sympathetic to the Heer side of the “civil war” alert KG Hummel to the presence of advance elements of the LSSAH near the Muese. These locals are dismayed when Heer forces destroy the ancient Floreffe Abbey in a massive artillery bombardment intended to deny this very defensible piece of ground to the SS. This bombardment also tips off the LSSAH to the presence of an “enemy” force so that the two opponents meet on the move.
A nigh unstoppable platoon of King Tigers – issued to LSSAH for early testing just prior to the surprise Allied landing at Normandy – easily destroys three of the worn Tiger 1Es from Paderborn and threatens to overrun Kampfgruppe Hummel’s position. A Heer recon platoon supported by Grenadiers returns in the nick of time and outflanks the SS force just before a final tank assault can be launched to shatter the Heer force. Threatened with encirclement by the addition of these forces, the LSSAH Kompanie retreats south.
Mission: Dust Up
Final result: Heer victory 4-3
Heer: 1 Win, 0 Losses, 4 points
SS/Luft: 0 Wins, 1 Loss, 3 points
Hannut, Belgium, 10 mi N of Namur on the way to the Dutch border near Eindhoven
Their repulsion at Namur has tipped LSSAH off to the fact that Heer units are in position to defend the Siegfried Line. So in a strange perversion of history’s Allied attack, Operation: Market Garden, LSSAH decides to drive north through Holland in an effort to link up with SS and Luftwaffe forces capable of holding the bridges there and outflank the West Wall by crossing the Rhine at Arnhem.
After Normandy, the 116th Panzerdivision retreated east ahead of LSSAH. So when the order to integrate, disarm or repel SS units is issued on July 21st, they are in position to move east to a defensive position on the West Wall at Aachen. The 116th’s reconnaissance unit – Panzer Aufklarüng Abteilung 116 – is in an advance position near Liege, Belgium and its scouts first report the northern movement of LSSAH.
Major Eberhard Stephan – commander of Pnz Aufkl Abt 116 – immediately attacks, taking the LSSAH’s rearguard infantry screen – composed of elements of 6th Fallschirmjager Division – by surprise. Major Stephan offers them the opportunity to surrender but the 6th FJD, lacking experience but not courage, responds: “Verrückt!” (Translation: You’re nuts!).
Badly outnumbered and facing a mobile armored force, the Fallschirmjagers are encircled. Their problems are compounded when an RAF patrol of rocket-armed Typhoons unloads its ordinance on them. Unable to reposition its defending infantry platoons fast enough, the Fallschirmjager’s AAA and anti-tank platoons are overrun. Though an ill-advised, overly aggressive assault by armored cars results in the needless loss of a highly valuable Heer platoon, the Fallschirmjagers are forced to retreat and the north-moving LSSAH is seemingly left without an infantry screen to defend its right flank.
Mission: Hold the Line
Final Result: Heer Victory 5-2
Heer: 2 Wins, 0 Losses, 9 points
SS/Luft: 0 Wins, 2 Losses, 5 points
GAME 3 (1350 points) – IT’S A TRAP!
The Losheim Gap – a valley byway into Germany, south of Aachen
The Losheim Gap can be used to advance into Germany from Belgium, but any invader still faces the defenses of the Siegfried Line once they crossed the border. But since the Losheim region is of no other strategic importance (producing no military materials) the OKW has left it lightly defended. In the Gap sits the 246th Volksgrenadier Division recently reformed and shipped to the Aachen area in anticipation of the defense of the West Wall. These “green” troops are the first to learn that LSSAH’s drive north toward Holland is a clever feint when a strong armored spearhead slams into them. Never one to go around when they could go through, the LSSAH is probing to find a weak spot in the Heer occupation of the West Wall and return to Germany by the most direct route available.
The 246th VGD is tragically inexperienced and its commanders make gross errors: they choose a poor position from which to defend the Gap and as a result are forced to charge across open ground to attempt to stop LSSAH’s Panzers from rolling through the valley. Even support from two experimental, heavily armed Sturmtiger Rocket-Assault Howitzers (Proxy: Tiger 1 Es with the turrets rotated backwards) cannot stem the LSSAH armored tide. The 246th evaporates in the attack.
Final Result: SS/Luftwaffe Victory 6-1
Heer: 2 Wins, 1 Loss, 9 points
SS/Luft: 1 Win, 2 Losses, 11 points
GAME 4 (1200 points) – PLUG THAT GAP! Losheim, Germany
Though soundly defeated, the 246th VGD was able to blunt the advance of the LSSAH enough to give elements of the 116th Panzer Division – mainly the green 60th Panzergrenadier Regiment” – time to move south from Aachen and attempt to counterattack into the Losheim Gap and stop the SS advance. But before the 60th could reach the SS spearhead they ran into the 6th FJD, acting again as a screen for SS armor, protecting LSSAH’s left flank. The 6th FJD having no good reason to go toe-to-toe with the 60th, began a fighting withdrawal towards the main SS force, hoping to draw the Heer forces into an overextended position and allow SS armored reserves to encircle the 60th. Two platoons of the 60th launched a mounted assault into left side of the 6th’s defensive position. FJ AT guns decimated the PG’s armored HTs as they attempted a mounted assault and the two platoons of PGs evaporated even as they destroyed the defenders. As the battle wore on and the Heer forces lost momentum, the 6th was able to move a platoon from its right to support the center and stall the Heer attack long enough for the FJ force to withdraw back to the main SS force.
Mission: Fighting Withdrawal
Final Result: SS/Luftwaffe Victory 4-3
Heer: 2 Wins, 2 Losses, 13 points
SS/Luft: 2 Wins, 2 Losses, 15 points
We had to call the last game before it was finished. Matt and I talked through how we thought the next few turns would likely go and decided that the most probable outcome would be a 4-3 SS/Luftwaffe victory. This tied the campaign at two games apiece with the SS/Luftwaffe slightly ahead on points. Under the rules we’d outlined for the campaign, the points advantage should have given the campaign victory to the SS/Luftwaffe, but because we had to call the game early we decided it would be “cleaner” to play an unplanned, fifth, tie-breaker game. (And we’d get to play another game!)
So check back in to learn how things are finally settled in the Losheim Gap in the “Kreig Unter Brüdern.”