In past months I was continuing – with Lukasz, my main Memoir’44 opponent – the Winter Wars campaign. Another three scenarios were played – if you would like to see our two initial skirmishes or the Winter Wars in breakthrough format please follow the links.
Once again, I have to admit that Memoir’44 is one of the best examples of how the boardgame can develop thanks to its expansions. With every new addition to the game – Russian front, Winter Wars, Breakthrough format, Overlord, new Air Pack, etc. – we are getting more and more elements making this a very compelling and quite interesting title.
What we usually do with my wargaming companions is playing each Memoir campaign in full, as a logical continuation of scenarios in order to get the feeling of the historical context. Recently we were focusing on one of my favorite add-ons – Winter Wars expansion. This is the ten scenarios, all focused on crucial 2 weeks of Christmas 1944 in the Ardennes – place of great German counter-offensive. Scenarios feature massive tanks groups, interesting victory conditions – a lot of them based on terrain or exit from the map – and allow for play in regular and breakthrough formats. As mentioned above, today another 3 gameplays!
03 (6760) Battle in the Schnee Eifel
Historical background (based on https://www.daysofwonder.com/memoir44/): The morning of December 16, 1944, Fifth Panzer Army attacked the positions held by the U.S. 28th and 106th Infantry Divisions. Thinly spread and outmatched, numerically as well as materially, the 422nd and 423rd infantry regiments dug-in in the Schnee Eifel sector, soon found themselves threatened by a pincer attack of 18. Volksgrenadier-Division. The Germans overtook the villages of Roth and Bleiaf, leaving the US Artillery near Auw by Prüm exposed. Desperate counter-attacks by the reserve US Engineer battalions temporarily stopped the German advance; but lacking direction from their commander, 422nd and 423rd remained dug-in, as the Germans closed off any possible path of retreat. On the 19th, low on ammunition, the two regiments were finally forced to surrender.
With up to 9,000 men lost and a substantial amount of arms and equipment, the Schnee Eifel battle would go down in US Army history as “the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944/45 in the European theater”.
So, historically, that was one of the greatest US army set-backs in Europe during WWII? Let us see if we can change something about this!
When you look at the map, it seems that this could not had been such a calamity – US troops were well entrenched on the hills and had bazooka and tanks team guarding the main road. What can go wrong?
The answer is – a lot! The hills can be circumvented, the artillery and engineers defeated in the open terrain and many points gained by exiting the map – and that is exactly what happened in our game:
Try as I could, there was nothing to be done to prevent that painful defeat. I tried on left but only scratched advancing Germans.
04 (6766) Wardin
Historical background (based on https://www.daysofwonder.com/memoir44/): The morning of December 19 opened under a thick fog. The stragglers that had been poring back through the Allied lines had stopped coming, which could only mean the enemy was approaching. In the village of Wardin, Team S-2 and Company B of 54th Armored Infantry Battalion had secured the road block and part of the village, while O’Haras Armor was in position on the hills to the south, supported by Armored field Artillery. The Germans initially attacked through the woods in front of O’Hara, while their Combat engineers attempted to clear the minefields. But they were soon pushed back and the threat of the minefield remained. They then opted to skirt O’Hara’s position and move in full force against Wardin. Late in the day, the 28th Division command post in Bastogne received word that the Allied forces in Wardin had been wiped out.
Yet one more very difficult scenario for Americans but as I have learned a lot from initial engagement, I hoped for some better result!
I am again defending – and the battle provides enormous quantities of armor on both side so you may count on many panzer firefights. The mines and roadblock are to my advantage and I will made a great use of them during the session. Still, my right wing will collapse which will in the end result in the US troops defeat:
That game was much more fun for me – I had a feeling that I can stand up to the German onslaught. And despite losing, seeing couple of German Panzer Divisions annihilated it was a time well spent!
05 (6775) Baraque de Fraiture
Historical background (based on https://www.daysofwonder.com/memoir44/): Under orders from command to “hold at all costs”, Major Arthur C. Parker of the 589th Field Artillery unit assembled a makeshift force of glider and parachute infantry, armored infantry, a few anti-tank guns and some Sherman tanks at the crossroads near the Belgian village of Fraiture. Repeated German attacks over the next few days were turned back as fuel supply problems limited the 2nd SS Panzer Division and 60th VolksGrenadiers. By the 23rd, however those fuel problems were solved and a powerful combined arms attack finally overwhelmed the out-manned Americans. By evening the position was lost. While the final outcome was never in doubt, by holding the crossroads for over 2 days, Parker’s hastily-assembled troops prevented the German forces from advancing – giving the Allied forces in the area precious time to recover and reform.
Maybe this time the Ardennes offensive can be stopped? Let us see – below main actions of our game:
- Lukasz attacks me with Barrage but fails to inflict losses; I am counter-attacking destroying his mortar!
- Germans slowly progress in center and on their right – I am able to get 2 victory banners on their approach, with steady fire and precise rolls
- I am moving my US tanks from right wing to center and… catastrophe ensues! In the following tank battle I am losing desperately and the score is 2-5!
- But then I pull a good card, ordering multiple units in the center and that results in me finishing off 3 wounded German units
- The last turns are very close and exciting. Lukasz and Germans prevails due to well played Their Finest Hour card.
You can say that I was learning how to defend with US troop through the scenarios – each was better although in all of them US side was defeated. The last one was very close… In a summary, I lost those three scenarios 11–19. Congrats to my opponent!