Sunday, May 4, 2014

EFCO Platoons: Crossing the Dnieper 1943

Chris from The Sharp End Gaming has been hard at work again on Command Ops scenarios. Lately, he's really been pushing the engine to the limit by developing platoon and company level scenarios, something CO wasn't designed to do. Since these fit in with my current fixation on small unit actions (and because Chris' scenarios always rock) I gave his latest, Crossing the Dnieper 1943 a try.

Scenario description. I believe that Chris and I are determined to simulate every East Front river crossing engagement that ever happened between the two of us.


I choose to play the Soviets this time. I have four companies and supporting assets ready to storm across the river.

I send 1st, 2nd, and 4th Companies across the Dnieper and hold 5th Company, in reserve. I use my artillery to pound the German held bank at the crossing points while my troops make their way across.

3rd Company arrives. I send them over the southern-most crossing, hoping that the assaults to the north have drawn off most of the defenders.

After several hours of fighting, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 7th Companies are across the river. 5th Company is still in reserve. 6th Company has arrived and is moving toward the south crossing. 2nd Company has run into stubborn resistance from some Stugs and infantry and can't force the crossing. We'll be losing the light, soon.

I send 3rd and 4th Companies into an attack on Objective Ivana. They are tired, but the objective seems lightly held. I'm hoping I can take it before dark.

Nightfall, and I'm still unable to take Objective Ivana. 1st and 7th Companies have taken Objective Tatiana, however.

2nd Company's attack is stalled. Better to pull them back into defensive positions and let them rest for the night.

Dawn. 3rd and 4th Companies have been involved in the fight for Ivana all night and are pretty well exhausted. I think they're mostly out of this fight. 6th Company is across the south crossing. I move my reserve, 5th Company up to cross the river and complete the attack on Ivana with fresh forces. Meanwhile, a rested 1st Company prepares to advance on Objective Sasha, the heart of the German defense.

Looks like my intended envelopment by 1st and 6th Companies is running into trouble. 6th Company has run into strong resistance not far from their jump off point. Worse, they're fatigued from their overnight river crossing.

As expected, 3rd and 4th Companies pack it in. I've re-routed 5th Company to reinforce 6th Company, in hopes of breaking through to the south and taking Ivana. 1st Company has reached Objective Sasha. All three objectives are now contested - I've lost control of Tatiana thanks to a strong German counter-attack.

A draw is better than I expected when things started to fall apart towards the end!
The Command Ops engine appears to work quite well at this scale! I was really impressed at the much more detailed map and the nicely developed OOB for this scenario. It didn't feel at all like I was playing a standard game of Command Ops with units that just happened to be smaller - this had a very different and much more tactical feel to it.

As such, I suspect these platoon-level scenarios benefit from more micro-management than I usually provide in a Command Ops game. I suspect I should have manually positioned weapons platoons and gave them fire orders rather than simply ordering companies into the attack. I usually have good luck with leaving my artillery on AI control, but here I think I may need to personally direct fire support a lot more.

There are a ton of small unit actions I'm finding in my recent reading that are probably too large for Combat Mission but would play well in Command Ops at this scale. Kudos to Chris for developing the resources to make this possible!