Monday, May 12, 2014

Huzzar! - Recon action

I had a great gaming weekend, how about you? I really managed to play a lot this weekend. I gave Chris' latest, Kekava Firefight a run as the Germans and thoroughly enjoyed it. I managed to pull off a draw, which I felt was pretty good given the size of the attacking Soviet force. I also played a couple of scenarios of Conflict of Heroes (I really need to do an entry on this game) and started to get my head around it. I split the rest of my time between Combat Mission Fortress Italy/Gustav Line and Combat Mission Red Thunder. Quite enjoyable!

Tonight I decided to dust off Combat Mission Battle for Normandy. I may just have found my new favorite scenario from that game.

Briefing for Huzzar!

I usually not a big fan of meeting engagement scenarios in Combat Mission. I've found that a lot of them are more or less "line up two sides and have them charge at each other." They exhibit all the tactical subtlety of the charge of the French knights at Agincourt. A great English victory to be sure, but about as interesting to play as cleaning your garage.

I could tell as soon as I started to read the briefing that this scenario was different. Whoever created this understood what really happens in a meeting engagement. The briefing is exceptionally well done and militarily meaningful.

Even the tactical map looks more complex and interesting than average.
 For a variety of reasons I was interested in the action in the vicinity of Mortain in August 1944 tonight. This scenario is based on an action in the vicinity, between Avranches and Mortain at a village called Coutances.

The scenario opens with just a troop of cavalry under my command. I'm to perform reconnaissance and locate the advancing enemy armor; a column that broke through American lines in the night and is headed to the village to secure crossings over the River Souleuvre. My cavalry needs to find the main route of the advance, investigate several Points of Interest (POI) on the map, and prep for my soon to arrive armor. I'm then to attack, destroy the enemy and seize the crossing points.

The map is exceptionally well done. This is a view over the battlefield before I begin to scout. Half of my cavalry troop is on one of the two main roads headed south.

Cavalry advancing down the rail line south toward the river crossings.

The retreating Germans left a lot of burning equipment in the area. I can't tell if all of the smoke columns are destroyed German equipment, like the Opel, or the remains of American units that have recently been destroyed by the German counterattack.
 I'm primarily scouting with my M8s and jeeps, keeping my light tanks in overwatch. When I make contact I want to do it with the smallest force possible. If I lose a unit, I'd rather it be an armored car or a jeep than one of my tanks.

Contact! My cavalry elements on my right encounter German recon forces near Bridgeheads C and D.
First blood goes to the Americans. My leading M8 spots a German SdKfz 234 on the other side of the western crossing point and opens fire with machine guns and 37mm cannon and destroys it.

It looks to be an entire recon platoon
My M8 is soon joined by a Stuart light tank. The combined fire destroys another armored car and appears to have immobilized a halftrack.

This Sd. Kfz. 250/9 fires on my cavalry, but doesn't move to follow the other halftrack speeding away to the east. I think it's been immobilized by a hit from one of my Stuarts.
Here's where I really wish CMBN were updated to the CMx3 engine. I've started to depend on seeing hit decals in CMRT to tell me if I've hit an enemy vehicle but I don't have them in this game yet!

The situation at the western bridge
The accurate fire from my cavalry overlooking the bridge seems to have stopped the German recon forces and redirected the survivors to the east. They'll have to get through the village to reach the second crossing point. Fortunately my second, and stronger cavalry force is already at the bridge. I decided to move an M8 and jeep across to ambush the Germans.

That halftrack was quick!
The Germans arrive just as my jeep and M8 cross the bridge. They seem as surprised as I am. Both side exchange a few bursts from machine guns and scramble to reverse into some cover. I think I have the upper hand with my M8, if I can get a shot off first...