The Kreig Unter Brüdern is over – at least in the Losheim Gap – where the combined forces of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the 6th Fallschirmjager Division (played by my buddy Matt) broke through a poorly defended West Wall manned by the 49th Infanterie Division.
For those of you who have not been following this series of blogs, my buddy Matt and I decided to play a four-game, de-escalation series of red-on-red games using Battlefront Ltd.’s 15mm WWII miniatures game Flames of War. The Late War lists for our games started at 1650 points, then went down 150 points per game – 1500 then 1350 – until the last game would be played at a measly 1200 points. This was meant to represent how badly attrition would affect German forces in a civil war.
We had to end our fourth game before it was completely played out. based on what we saw, we awarded the victory to Matt, leaving the series tied at 2-2 with the SS/Luftwaffe slightly ahead on points. So we chose to play a 5th game and to get a decisive result for the series and was it ever!
Since the ficitional narrative we’d created to tell the story of the series of battles had the LSSAH and 6th FJD attacking the West Wall at the Losheim Gap by this point, I originally created a Fortified list for this last game that was complete with trenches, nests and bunkers. But after looking at the confusing set of rules for things like bunker depoyment and feeling like I had no idea what tactics to use with a company like that, I went with a Fortified Infantry list out of Atlantik Wall that didn’t have any actual fortifications. Matt brought SS Panzers, effectively faking me out since I was sure that at 1200 points he’d bring infantry.
A detailed AAR follows, but for those of you who just want the scores:
Mission: Hold the Line
Final Result: SS/Luftwaffe Victory 6-1
Heer: 2 Wins, 3 Losses, 14 points
SS/Luft: 3 Wins, 2 Losses, 21 points
CAPTIONS ARE ABOVE PHOTOS…
The board set-up. Each game we rolled for terrain: 1=light, 2-5=medium, 6=heavy. We rolled a 6 and got heavy. The pic below shows what the board looked like and gives you an idea of what heavy terrain was for our series. We used mirror maps to avoid terrain advantage and any delay of game caused by players studying the terrain layout to pick a side. The 49th Infanterie Division KGed up to 8 zugs and put x2 short combat zugs, its 2cm AAA and its Armored Rockets in reserve. I placed a short platoon of PAK 40s and a zug with x3 Marders in ambush.
LSSAH’s Panzers warming up their engines for an assault on the thinly manned West Wall. The recon goes in first to lift Gone to Ground on the Heer Infantry.
The Panzers have a difficult time fording the river. Two bog – the one on the left in the pic does not unbog for four turns, but still manages to avoid getting brewed up!
I deploy my sniper hoping to keep Matt’s supporting infantry pinned to allow my meager AT assets – consisting mostly of Panzershreck teams – to attack his tanks. If you look closely, you might see his rifle barrel poking out from under that wrecked Kubelwagen. Unfortunately, despite a re-roll, the sniper misses. Matt assaults on his turn, catches my sniper and he is summarily executed by the SS.
The SS Panzers start to work the right side of my line. The PAK 40s evaporate after doing nothing else and so it’s time to reveal my Marder ambush. They take out one Panzer then one gets destroyed and two get bailed. They fail their morale check and the crews abandon their AFVs and run to the rear. Both of my heavy-hitting AT zugs are now gone and I haven’t destroyed a platoon. I’m starting to worry – it turns out for good reason.
My Panzerwerfers come on from reserve in turn 3 and proceed to basically do nothing. They pin the FJs a couple of times by a 3+ motivation and a CiC in command range ensure that Matt can unpin them. He gets them into the woods just out of range of my infantry and starts to soften me up for an assault.
My remaining reserves come on all at once, but with my long-range AT assets gone, all I can do is try to work my man-packed AT weapons into position, hoping I can hit his tanks before his infantry screen annihilates the little ‘faust and ‘shreck teams. You can see my ‘shreck team trying to advance into position across the objective.
Matt fails a Stormtrooper roll and the ‘shreck gets a shot off. He nails a Panzer IV, then gets swarmed. Four FJ stands assault him but he almost survives… almost. (That FJ die just had to come up six!!!)
After that the game’s pretty much a foregone conclusion. His FJs take the objective but before they can dig in, my Grenadiers pop over the hill and decimate them. However, he makes his fourth motivation test of the game (darn Fearless troops) and he still hasn’t lost a single platoon despite his two Combat platoons of Panzers being down to a single AFV each!
From that point all he has to do is keep his AFVs out of assault range where he can whittle me down with ranged fire and then assault me off the objective.
Matt and I agreed that whichever side won this Kreig Unter Brüdern, the rest of the (made up) story would prove it a pyrrhic victory. A civil war like the one we played out would have thrown the Western Front into total disarray, only making it that much easier for the Western Allies to liberate France and the low countries and advance into Germany proper. The only upside would be if the Western Allies conquered and occupied Germany instead of the Soviets as a result of the unexpected opportunity presented by the Kreig Unter Brüdern. However, since in the real war the Western Allies seem to have been okay with letting the Soviets beat their heads against the German defenses in exchange for the capture of Berlin, it seems just as plausible that history would have played out pretty much the same way.