Thursday, October 17, 2013

Command Ops - Lion Route

I'm giving Flashpoint Campaigns a rest tonight and trying out a new Command Ops scenario, designed by Chris of The Sharp End Gaming blog. Chris' scenario depicts the assault via the "Lion Route" of the British 1st Para Brigade to relieve Frost's men at the Arnhem rail bridge during Operation Market Garden.

I have to admit my knowledge of Market Garden in general and this part of the operation specifically is pretty hazy.  I read A Bridge Too Far over a decade ago and saw the movie when I was much, much younger.  Beyond the general details of what happened I don't remember much.  I know that Robert Redford crosses the river at night in a boat, but I don't think Chris' scenario covers that part.

Here's the opening situation on the morning of the 18th.  Frost is camped on the bridge, and the rest of 1st Brigade is around Oosterbeek.

My initial thought is to pull 3rd Battalion south to a defensive line along the canal north of town, while 1st Battalion consolidates a defensive position on the Oosterbeek objective. Frost and the 2nd Battalion will take up defensive positions around the north end of the bridge, and hold on.  I also send a recce unit to probe the Lion Route objective.

Looks like there are fairly strong German forces taking up positions on the Lion Route objective.  I order 3rd Battalion further south in line with 1st Battalion, and then order both battalions to kick off an attack on the Lion Route objective.

Despite a day's fighting, 1st and 3rd Battalions haven't been able to force the Lion Route objective.  Meanwhile, German units have come down from the north and threaten our rear areas.  I'm reinforced by the 2nd Staffords, who I assign to launch a counterattack against the advancing SS troops.

Situation just after midnight, September 19th.  Frost and 2nd Battalion have been forced off of the bridge.  I've retreated 1st and 3rd Battalions to rest and prepare for a new assault in the morning. The 2nd Staffords have been joined by the 11th and 156th Battalions in their attack on the SS units threatening Oosterbeek.  These troops are proving tough for the Red Devils to dislodge.

Morning arrives, and Frost is in trouble.  I've moved the recently arrived 10th Battalion up to help 1st and 3rd Battalions in the morning assault on Lion Route.  The 2nd Staffords, 156th and 11th Battalions are still bogged down fighting the remaining SS units to the west of Oosterbeek.

Things pretty much fell apart from here.  2nd Battalion was essentially destroyed by heavy SS attacks.  1st and 10th Battalions launched an attack on the Lion Route with some initial success, but were eventually repulsed.  3rd Battalion just decided the entire idea was a bad one, and bunkered down.  Some German paratroopers showed up to the north, so I dispatched the 2nd Staffords and the 11th Battalion to see them off while the 156th Battalion continued to mop up west of Oosterbeek.  We managed to push them back, but only just enough to get a good picture of the massive concentrations of German troops on the Lions Route and bridge objectives.

It was pretty obvious at this point that I was whipped, so I hoisted the white flag and came here to tell you about it.

Despite being thoroughly beaten, this was a fun scenario.  British combat power seems like it isn't strong enough to counter the significant German reinforcements that arrive, so I'm thinking the best approach is to try and force the Lion Route objective early, and then try and hold it strongly enough to siphon off some troops from the attacks on Frost.  Grabbing the objective of the heights north of town might help with that as well, but that seems impractical until most or all of the British reinforcements arrive - at which point there are bad guys between you and there.

This is a challenging scenario that looks like it requires top notch generalship to eke out so much as a draw.  This is one of those I suspect I'll play over and over as the British until I can get good enough to win! A big thanks to Chris for coming up with such a great scenario.

Update: Chris has posted an updated scenario file here if you'd like to give this a whirl.