In this short series of posts I wanted to share some ideas that for Current or ex Military men who lead and plan will be obvious, and for those that understand military history well they too will find the posts obvious. While I am a military history novice, I find reading about “how” decisions are made in combat situations at all levels fascinating.
One thing VASSAL does allow you to have when playing is the luxury of looking over your game whenever and almost wherever you are. This luxury can afford the chance to do a little planning without going into renal failure via analysis paralysis.
Using OODA loops is natural to some and un nerving to others. An OODA loop is an acronym.. here is what Wiki says:
“The OODA loop has become an important concept in litigation, business and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. Frans Osinga argues that Boyd’s own views on the OODA loop are much deeper, richer, and more comprehensive than the common interpretation of the ‘rapid OODA loop’ idea.”
Now the good news is that was the end of the ‘science’. I’m sharing the aforementioned as means to show you how it applied or not in my game play as I consciously tried to use this cycle. Hopefully we will see where and when we get inside the enemies loop..if ever!
For this play of Bastgone from the Simple Combat System (SCS), a Dean Essig system I thought I would firstly report in on the situation with you guys as always but also provide a ‘plan’ for my approach to a very fluid battle and my planned intentions as each turn evolved.
This is a system and a module in particular where the battle evolves and changes turn to turn and where you can really focus on the game play not the mechanics of the rules or chrome.
So first, Objectives. What are they? In order to win the German player is required to accumulate Victory Points via the avenues:
1. Force preservation as Kampfe Gruppe roll off board. Lose too many you receive only 1 VP, lose just enough and you obtain 2 VP.
2. Securing a hex or hexes inside the village of Bastogne. This generates 2VP a turn.
3. Control of one or more ‘victory routes’. These are a series of road hexes that represent the overall strategic goal of the The Bulge mission for the Germans. Each route is worth a certain number of VPs. with the road going thru Bastogne worth the most.
At the end of Turn 1, we can see that the Germans have advanced to engage along 3 axes. More on this shortly.
In order to ‘win’ at the lowest level the Germans require 12 VPs. You can achieve 4-8 via option 1 above.
Routes North to South generate A: 5 B: 8 C: 4 from Option 3.
So as you can see careful management of losses will still only get you to 2/3’s of the minimum requirement! So you must either capture a hex for some # of turns OR Capture and hold a Route….or both! Not receiving the extra 4 VP’s for force preservation places a big burden upon the German to BE in Bastogne.
If the Northern and Southern Routes are acquired that is 9 points. 8+9 is 17. 17 Leaves you one VP short of a Major victory. So if you “want” a Major Victory you must secure a hex of Bastogne for at least a turn, ideally two, if you intend to blow thru and ignore VPs for losses in KG’s.
With all that in mind and a series of units coming on and off the board to leave gaps in the line and a lack of forces just when you need it…..this is a tough Nut to crack!
The Germans know to get any sort of success they need a unit in Bastogne AND at least on Route clear. Unless they can get units into Bastogne for an extended period of time they cannot succeed in their mission. They ideally must obtain at least one VP for each KG.
Clearly 2 VP a turn for 4-5 turns is a game changer via Bastonge occupation. How will we do this if the Allies know that too?
So I elect to make Bastogne occupation for at least 2 turns my Secondary mission along wit at least one VP per KG exited. The Primary mission or objective being clearing Route A and C. What? Yes, but the order is dependent upon the enemy. By Driving at Bastogne first to attempt an early 2 VP to 6 VP capture we setup some things up for ourselves;
a. The US player will react or hopefully over react and collapse on Bastogne if I manage to penetrate or find a road in via Road March to close on the town. With Bastogne vulnerable they MUST protect every hex. This will require the 101st to stay close to home and their likely to use Armored units to be either in reaction mode or plugging gaps.
b. This reaction will pull forces away from Route A & C. At the very least it will mean weakly guarded road junctions versus facing a string of units in tough terrain along the victory routes.
c. The collapse onto to Bastogne frees movement choices for the Germans. This mobility means that reinforcements that arrive from the SE will have a chance to penetrate deep to the West early, and also allow reinforcements that arrive from the South with some more freedom. It also allows us the freedom to react quickly to changes that are unforeseen or that evolve that we desire to address.
(1/2 turn) "German Opening moves" The first order of action is to clear the Eastern approaches of all US presence.
Factors to consider. Enemy Capabilities and Resources. WE know reinforcements arrive. They are defense orientated, and we also know the US has limited Arty ammo until Turn 6 when fresh ammo and Air support arrives (due to weather historically). Part of my plan will be to drive on attacking US Arty, forcing it to displace and be DG or reduced. We want their Arty to be LESS of a factor in this game. We also want them to burn thru their ammo. The best way to do this is present targets at key locations for him. As we attack we know Arty losses he inflicts could be high. We accept that as part of the cost. This is all important because Arty Barrages arrive just prior to my Barrages and AFTER my movement in the turn sequence. So he can disrupt attacks and therefore delay our plan.
Another factor is the need to clear the Roads to Bastogne quickly so we open movement choices. Full on Assault is needed here, whilst limiting use of our Primary Arty ammo. We need to save some for game end to pound units that may occupy the Routes.
Above the Germans enter heavily focused on Route B, and clearing roads to allow movement.
In Turn 2 the 101st is spearing out, in columns blocking all terrain facing EAST.
Game Turn 2
Losses mount as the Neffe- Margaret area and intersection is fought for and the US arty spends heavily. This is good. His resources draw North. Right now the US player is focused upon East facing German forces, and reacting to Noville. My forces drive past Noville and head towards Bastogne from the North, I’m hoping to draw his forces with me.
In turn 3 and 4 we want to have him begin reacting to my moves as I attempt to ‘sweep’ forces around and try to change the focus of my attack.
Our goal is to 1. push him closer to Bastogne and off Routes A and C. 2. Clear a path to earn VPs IN Bastogne.
Next Turn 3 &4 where we orient against our observations and decide on a plan to compress his defenses.