Friday, 14 December 2018

Battle of the Bulge 1944

Starting today, 15th December, this blog is following on a day-by-day basis, the last German major offensive in the west, surprising the Allies in the heavily wooded Ardennes region.

We will be using the Bitter Woods boardgame, designed by Randy Heller and currently published by Compass Games (previously published by Avalon Hill, Multi-Man Publishing and L2 Designs.

Two game turns represent a full day, so each day, two turns will be played and the action will be posted here until the campaign concludes on 26th December. Each new daily content will be added to the bottom of this post to preserve the chronology of events and allowing readers to come back at anytime and just pick up where they left off.

In preparation of this game, I have enjoyed Anthony Beevor’s book ‘Ardennes’, highly readable, with a level of details that is immersive.

Today is the eve of battle and three German armies with offensive capability have managed to position themselves under the Allied collective noses, in the Ardennes sector, without the Allied intelligence or high command collectively appreciating the situation.

The Ardennes region, considered a quiet sector, was being used by the Americans as a place to rotate units that had recently been in combat and that needed rest and replacements. Additionally, the troops that were there, were spread thinly - too thinly for effective defence.

The Allied drive on Germany was running out of steam after intensive and continuous campaigning since the summer. The supply chain was stretched and readily available manpower reserves were starting to look inadequate. The Allied focus was on crossing the Rhine and winning the war by Christmas, so much so, that their minds were closed to other possibilities - such as the Germans having the capability to launch a major offensive in the west.

Internal rivalry between the Allied commanders saw Montgomery (British) wanting a large slice of the limited supply to go to his drive north of the Ardennes, while Patton and Hodges (American) wanted that same supply to support their thrust into Germany, from below the Ardennes. They saw and interpreted any reported German activity as being at most, preparations for a spoiling attack against those ambitions. They totally missed that German intention (itself unrealistic) was a large scale offensive with much greater goals of dividing the Allies, seizing their supply hub (Antwerp) and forcing a peace settlement.

The Allied mindset can be summed up with a few choice observations noted by Beevor;

Early September, G-2 intelligence at SHAEF “The August battles have done it and the enemy in the west has had it” (Beevor page 5).

15th December, Montgomery asks for leave the following week to visit the U.K. for Christmas (Beevor page 108).

Though Colonel Dickinson, G-2 1st Army, interpreted his available intelligence to suggest that a German attack would be made in the Ardennes, this report was ignored (Beevor page 104).

Tomorrow will bring a rude awakening to this peaceful Ardennes landscape.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Pinboard Battles Project

Returning to the pinboard project again, I have upgraded the board and given it a first outing, with a fictional divisional action from the American Civil War.

Figures are Kallistra 12mm and the rules are the Perry’s Firepower set, with inches converted to centimetres.

This post discusses painting the board and gives a brief AAR just to demonstrate some action in a small space.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

ASL Starter kit plus Deluxe boards mash-up

The worlds of the ASL starter kits and full ASL are set slightly apart, with product that has a lot, but not total cross-over. In my renewed journey back into ASL, I find myself with the starter kits while I wait for the Beyond Valor ASL printing.

Of itself, this is not a bad thing, as it makes the journey of re-familiarisation a lot easier. This week I wanted to set something up a bit different for our face-to-face session, so I have pulled down Starter Kit #1 and decided to do a mash-up with the ASL Deluxe large hex boards from the ASL Winter Offensive Bonus Pack 9 for 2018.  

Though not designed for Starter Kit use, they do have some shared function, enough, together with a home made scenario, to allow me to put together a good looking, low complexity, infantry only game, hopefully that Mike will enjoy. I have dragged him across too many different tactical system this year, so this needs to be very playable.

Bonus Pack 9 has four lovely three panel fold out large hex game boards and five full ASL scenarios. It is also a product that donates part of its sale price to charity. This post may interest those starter kit owners looking for potential ways of expanding their product beyond the SK series.

The rest of this post gives way to looking at the home brew scenario designed for our Friday night game and discusses the suitability of Pack 9 for starter kit users.

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