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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Firestorm Bastogne - Turn One Recap

The first turn of the WWPD Firestorm Bastogne Campaign is complete! There were three battles in turn one, Marnarch, Hosingen, and Café Schinker that were fought out by players in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Italy. It was a pleasure to see how players took the scenario suggestion and played out these games as very realistic depictions of the battles' historical counterparts from December 16th, 1944.

Initial German Assaults in the Firestorm Bastogne Campaign

In all the first turn battles, the primary defenders were Perimeter Outpost Platoons from the US 28th Infantry Division list (Page 68 in the Battle of the Bulge Book). These were limited to 1250pts force without Tank Teams or air support to replicate the dangerously spread out and initially unsupported aspect of the US front line on December 16th, 1944.

Volksgrenadier of the 26th Volksgrenadier Division try to flank the Hosingen position
The Germans, likewise had no vehicle support due to engineer bridges not being emplace on the Our River yet. But as they were massed for the attack, they had 1500 points and were supported by Firestorm Troop bonus units. The meant that the attacking Germans often could have as much as 1900 or maybe even 200pts total in their force. Because the German forces in these games had to leave their artillery behind the east banks of the Our River, we had to resurrect the old Version 2 "Guns Across the Volga Rule." But here we called it "Rockets Across the Our."

One would think the 1250 to 1900 point difference  would make the mission used in turn one a "walk in the park" for the attacking Germans. However it was not. The Germans ended up only winning 66% of the games played in turn one.  This was enough to secure a win in all three areas, but because the wins were so marginal in Hosingen and Café Schinker four Firestorm Troop units were at risk for loss. Fate favored the Germans here and none were eliminated from the game yet, but the US players created that possibility due to their performance in these battles.

Volkspioneers from the 26th Volksgrenadier Division use easily cross wire obstacle and then flamethrowers to eliminate an Perimeter Outpost Platoon.
So why play these seemingly unbalanced games with some pretty strict force composition requirements?  The answer is for the pure joy of recreating history! It was far from a forgone conclusion that the Germans would win all three battles. Though they did, the US really did about as well as they could forcing four Firestorm Troop loss rolls. This is not too far off how the actual battles went on December 16th, 1944. Two out of our three battles were close calls, but instead on barely favoring the US as they did in history, here the barely ended up favoring the Germans.

One club's take on the Café Schinker battlefield
So as we move into to turn two of the Campaign, we'll see more battles and they will be less restrictive on force compositions as the Panzer will have crossed the Our River and the US will have realized the threat and sent Armored units to try to stem the breakthrough. Players and clubs can jump in and play games whenever they want. There will be many more opportunities to participate and even if you only get in and report one game, you can still contribute to the outcome of the campaign! So look of the turn two battles to be posted soon and try out a historical scenario for a change!

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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