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Tactics in
Fading Legions




Strategy in 'Alsace, 1945'
Scenario #1, 'The Alsace Offensive'
By Doug McNair
February 2009

Despite its subtitle “The Germans Attack,” Alsace, 1945 covers more than just Operation Nordwind, Hitler’s attempt to restart the Ardennes offensive by mounting a second attack in Alsace in January 1945. Four other scenarios deal with the American offensives leading up to Nordwind, explore what could have happened in Alsace if the Germans had managed to launch both the Ardennes and Alsace offensives simultaneously. They also let players indulge in large-scale alternative history by linking up the maps and counters from Alsace, 1945 and our America Triumphant game to play out an entire Grand Offensive on the western front using the America Triumphant system (see my previous article on that game for system details).

Scenario #1, “The Alsace Offensive,” simulates the initial American drive from Strasbourg toward the German Westwall. Starting on November 27, 1944, the American XV Corps pushes northward while the German LXXXIX Corps tries to hold them back. The American objective is to push their front forward and take at least four town hexes numbered XX07 or lower. The game runs until the end of the December 4 turn.

American Strategy

The Americans are relatively weak at start, with three of their units starting off at reduced strength due to past combats. Their force is composed mostly of infantry, with only two tank battalions and a recon/armored car regiment for support. And the board is shot through with rivers (just as in America Triumphant), and forests dominate the northern section of the board. The American advance will be slowed by terrain and German defensive bonuses.

The best way for the Americans to make quick gains is to either attack toward the northwest corner of the board (which is free of forest terrain), or through the forest north of a river-crossed forest gap in the west-central section of the board. This latter part is difficult for the Americans due to their weak armor support, but they have to go all-out for early gains, for several reasons. First, the Germans get five units as reinforcements during the game (including a mechanized division which is double-strength when its units are stacked together), while the Americans get only one. Second, bad weather can slow the American advance dramatically. And third, General Eisenhower’s attitude on an American attack into Alsace can sour easily, causing him to order units withdrawn from fighting.

German Strategy

The Germans are also weak at start — five of their units start at reduced strength. But three of their units comprise the Panzer Lehr division, which is double-strength if those three units are stacked together. The German player must therefore place Panzer Lehr in a good position to oppose American armor advances and hopefully counterattack and crush one of the American flanks. The rest of the German line will have to make do with what they have, using the terrain for defense until German reinforcements arrive from the north to plug any holes the Americans make.

Game Summary

Here’s what happened in a recent game:

German Setup

LXXXIX Corps sets up its infantry in a long east-west line north of the river running by the towns of Bischwiller, Haguenau, Schweigbausen, Bouxville and Ingwiler, and west of there to the western board edge. The Panzer Lehr division sets up in the woods north of the eastern American flank, just north of the town of Haguenau. They will oppose any American advance up the road and through the woods north of Haguenau, and if able to throw the Americans back they will charge south to threaten the American XV Corps HQ.

American Setup

The XV Corps sets up in a line two hexes south of the German line. The Americans place their armor on both their flanks, hoping to attack into the unforested terrain in the northwest board corner while pushing up the eastern road north of Haguenau through a narrow neck of the woods and into the unforested heartland to the northeast. The center of the American line is all infantry, but two infantry regiments stack together in the town of Bouxville, planning to attack northeast across the river at Rothbach and press on into the unforested land beyond, to link up with the American armor after it emerges from the woods. The American player places his HQ in the center-right so it can support the units on the right against Panzer Lehr.

A lesson learned. American and French officers examine a Panzer Lehr Panther destroyed during the battle.

Turn 1 — November 27th

The weather turns from Cloudy to Clear (giving the Allies maximum air support), and the ground condition turns from Dry to Frost (no effect on movement). Eisenhower’s attitude stays positive toward an Alsace offensive.

The American player gets to replace one step loss on his units in each Initial Segment, so he flips his infantry unit on the extreme left flank to full-strength. The units on the extreme American left flank are out of supply, and those on both German flanks are also out of supply. The players put the impulse chits for their two HQs in the cup.

The German LXXXIX HQ’s chit is drawn first. It activates, the three regiments of the 245th Infantry Division enter the northern board edge as reinforcements and use strategic movement on the roads to reach positions on or behind the German line.

Then the Panzer Lehr heads south across the creek into Haguenau and attacks the American 399/100th Regiment plus the 191st Tank Battalion at double strength due to divisional integrity. The odds are 18/4 or 4/1, and column modifiers (attacking tank and infantry together within range of friendly HQ, defending tank and infantry together within range of friendly HQ) are a wash. The Germans roll a 2 and score damage of 1/1. The full-strength 902/Lehr regiment flips to half-strength, as does the full-strength 399/100 American infantry regiment. Then in the Mechanized Movement Phase the Panzer Lehr goes for an overrun attack, with both HQs providing support for the units involved. The attack is at 3/1, but the roll is a 2 and neither side takes damage.

The Americans draw their chit and XV Corps HQ activates. Panzer Lehr’s attack on the American right flank is very, very dangerous, so the American HQ shortens the line from both the east and west. He sends units to support an attack up the middle through the forest gap and toward the German HQ. The attack receives two points of air support.

Three American infantry regiments plus the recon regiment and the 101st Tank Battalion from the American left attack the German 481/256th infantry regiment just southeast of Rothbach. With many of their units attacking at half-strength across a minor river, but their attack enhanced by air support, the American attack is at 5/1. The American player rolls a 2, scoring just one step loss but taking no damage in return. The 106th Recon regiment then leaves the scene of that attack in the Mechanized Movement Phase and heads back east to link up with the units defending against Panzer Lehr.

November 28th

The weather becomes Cloudy (American air points are reduced to 1 for the turn), and the ground condition stays Frost. There is no change in Eisenhower’s attitude, and the American player replaces one infantry regiment step participating in the attack up the center. Only the extreme American left is out of supply, while the four regiments on the German right (west of the attack up the center ) are all out of supply.

The German player draws his chit first again, and sends his reinforcements to bolster his center. Panzer Lehr attacks the reinforced American eastern flank at 2/1 but rolls a 3 and scores no damage. Then the German infantry in the center move to attack the American 315/79 infantry regiment, which is the only one that has crossed the river from the south. The attack is at 7/3 or 2/1, and with HQ support from both sides plus American air support it drops to 2/1. The German rolls a 6, scoring a 1/2 result, inflicting a step loss and driving the Americans back south of the river. One German infantry regiment takes a step loss in return, and German infantry advances to occupy the vacated hex north of the river.

The Americans bring in their reinforcement (the 324/44 infantry regiment) to take up position opposite the 35/25 German infantry regiment at Fronmuh on the extreme western German flank. They then take the infantry regiment which was holding that position and throw it into the central offensive.

The Americans, finding themselves stopped at the river, shift their attack northwest to hit the half-strength German units in the forest northwest of Ingwiller. The two German infantry divisions there are outside the range of their HQ and are both reduced. The American attack is at odds of 11/3 or 3/1, but tank and infantry and American HQ and air support plus the forest terrain bring the combat odds up to 5/1. The American rolls a 5, scoring 3 step losses and taking only 1 in return. Both German units are wiped out, and the Americans move north into the hex they occupied. The Americans opt not to send the 101st Tank Battalion ahead in the mechanized movement phase, since the infantry units in the central offensive need their tank support.

November 29th

The weather changes to Clear (2 air points for the U.S.) and the ground to Dry. Eisenhower’s attitude stays unchanged, and the German player repairs the 130/Lehr tank regiment to full-strength, while the Americans do the same for the 179/45 infantry regiment in the successful attack northwest of Ingwiller. Both German flanks are out of supply, as is the reinforcing infantry regiment on the extreme American left. Both sides are in a position to hit each other’s flanks hard.

The Americans draw the first chit, and the tanks and infantry that punched a hole in the line move northeast to the north bank of the river, and then southeast to hit the German river defenders in the flank. More Americans come up from the south to attack across the river in support. With half the attackers north of the river, the odds are now 16 to 3 or 5/1, but with the tank and infantry bonus plus two points of air support and HQ support, the odds go up to 8/1. The Americans only roll a 2, but that’s all they need to destroy one of the two half-strength German infantry regiments there and force the other to retreat northeast, while three of the four Americans south of the river can cross to the north.

The German line falls back from the river to the north and east, and then the Panzer Lehr strikes back. Rolling a 5 on the 3/2 column, it gets a result of 1/1, with both sides taking a step loss.

The general got the Croix de Guerre . . .

November 30th

The weather stays clear and the ground turns to Frost. Eisenhower’s attitude deteriorates a bit, but no units have to leave the scene of action. The American player once again replaces a step in his units opposing Panzer Lehr, and all units on both sides except those at the extreme west are in supply.

The German player draws the first chit and pulls his line back north and east so that it ends up running from Singling in the northwest, eastward through the forest to Niederbrom-les-Bain, and then southeast along the east bank of a river to the Panzer Lehr’s position at Haguenau. Panzer Lehr then attacks again, but encounters disaster, rolling a 1 on the 3/2 column and taking 2 losses. The 901st Lehr mechanized infantry battalion is destroyed (meaning Panzer Lehr no longer has divisional integrity), and the two remaining regiments move northeast to a defensive position on the other side of the river.

The American line advances north and east, with the armored units that were pinned down by Panzer Lehr leaving the right flank and charging up the road northwest toward the central push. The tanks which outflanked the German river defense head northeast toward the new German river line.

Then, six infantry regiments at the former German river position head due north into the woods to hit the single German infantry regiment on the road northwest of where the newly-defended river ends. They attack at odds of 17/2 or 8/1, which is good since they roll a 1. They take one step loss, but the German half-strength infantry on the road is wiped out and the Americans advance to the road. Then American armor advances north during the Mechanized movement phase and goes around the river, once again outflanking the river defenders and taking two town objectives.

December 1st

The Germans’ only hope lies in their reinforcements coming this turn. The weather turns to Precipitation but ground conditions do not suffer. There are no Allied air points this turn due to the weather. Eisenhower’s attitude doesn’t change, and the Americans repair one of their victorious infantry units in the breach. All units are in supply except those on the extreme west flank. The Panzer Lehr division has to withdraw from the game, but the XIII Corps HQ will get to enter along with the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division.

The Germans draw the XIII Corps HQ chit, which is very lucky for them. XIII Corps HQ and 25th Panzer Grenadier enter on the west board edge, activating the two other German regiments holding the roads in the northwest board corner. They all come down the northwestern road and smash into the sole American unit guarding the extreme west American flank, the 324/44 infantry regiment in Wingen-sur-Moder. They attack at a strength of 16/3 or 5/1, and roll a 4, forcing it to flip and retreat while the Germans take no losses. 25th Panzer Grenadier then leaves the 936/245 infantry regiment behind to guard the Americans and drives down the unguarded road to the east, ending up only 2 hexes southeast of the American HQ.

The German LXXIX Corps HQ is the next one drawn, and LXXXIX Corps commits all its forces to a last-ditch attack on the American HQ (which is with a half-strength infantry unit in a forest between two rivers). The Americans put two air points into the defense of their HQ, lowering the odds from 2/1 to 3/2, and the Germans roll a 1 on the 1/2 column, taking 2 losses and retreating.

American XV Corps HQ heads northeast with three infantry regiments to take on the remnants of German LXXXIX Corps, while a tank battalion and an infantry regiment from the central breach move southeast and behind LXXXIX Corps to cut off its retreat to the northeast. All but one infantry regiment from the rest of XV Corps moves south to envelop the German 25th Panzer Grenadier so it can’t threaten the American HQ anymore.

The final infantry regiment rushes northwest to take control of more town objectives and block the retreat of the German 936/245 infantry regiment. The attack on LXXXIX Corps rolls a 6 on the 3/1 column, doing 2 hits which must both be taken as step losses since the units there are surrounded by enemy ZOC. One half-strength German infantry regiment remains with LXXXIX HQ.

December 2nd

The weather stays at Precipitation, and the ground turns to Frost. Eisenhower’s attitude continues to deteriorate but not dangerously yet. The German player gets to repair one weakened unit, so he repairs the one unit left with LXXXIX Corps HQ. The Allied player repairs a unit attacking it. All U.S. units on the extreme flanks are out of supply, as are all German units not stacked with their HQs (due to enemy ZOC in the way).

The German player draws both his HQs before the American, but his enveloped units cannot break out, and American units swarm northward to take control of numerous towns in hexes numbered XX07 and northward. The Germans can’t do anything about it — and the Americans win.

This piece originally appeared in May 2006.

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