Well, I solicited help on several different forums for a plan on how the Germans should allocate their forces to each of four fights in a mini-campaign, and I greatly appreciate everyone that posted. Here are the results of the first battle.
Below is the scheme of maneuver for the mini-campaign.
Here is the map for the first fight. North is to the right, with US forces attacking from the NW (top right) corner.
Here is the table:
Everyone except the squads at OP Lois are dug in, and the squads at Lois are in the buildings.
Let's get this thing started. So, I'm a bit nervous because I feel like a lot more folks are looking now, since I posted for help online. As my good friend Ronan put it, "Hey, Jack... now you're fighting ALONE in front of a full HQ of several generals."
So, if you haven't seen my battle reports before, things are run fast and loose, very stylized, sort of a movie version of warfare, which is the way I like it. Real war isn't all that fun... Also, I'm playing solo, so I put the enemy forces on blinds (with dummies added), place them on the table in likely defensive spots, then flip them over and place the enemy teams. This keeps me from unduly influencing the enemy's setup. And once the game is on, I use a dice-roll matrix to help me make decisions for the enemy, such as when to use opportunity fire, whether to move or shoot, who to shoot at, etc... So, screwy enemy decisions are not necessarily my fault, but screwy US decisions most certainly are.
Lastly, the company executive officer (XO) comes on the table between 1st Plt and Wpns Plt, and attempts to call in a fire mission on SP Helmi, but fails...
That probably seemed awful easy, but the Shermans were hitting only on sixes, and saves were on 4+, so it was some pretty interesting die rolls, as opposed to rules issues (I think).
Then the Helmi infantry went to work: the MG-42 team went after 1/1, got three hits and a pin, went after B1, got two hits, then exchanged fire with 3/1, with both units getting a hit and pinned. The Helmi rifle team fired at 2/2 (at the wall near OP Lois) and got two hits, though the return fire got one hit and pinned them.
On SP Alma, the German Company Commander (CC) had to make a decision; does he make calling for fire the priority, or unpinning troops the priority? He chose unpinning his troops, who were still suffering from the initial arty barrage (pinned troops can't exercise opportunity fire, and have a harder time activating when it's their turn). The German CC was able to unpin the mortar team and the PaK-40, but failed on MG3.
The 80mm mortar went after 3/2 (at the wall at OP Lois) and got three hits and a pin. Then it went after B2, and eliminated them! The SP Alma PaK-40 went after one of the Shermans, but the round bounced (2 hits, 2 saves), while the FlaK-36, unable to see any Yankee tanks, went after 1/1 and eliminated them. MG2 went after B1, killed them, then put a hit on 3/1 before return fire from 2/1 got a hit and pinned MG2.
Neither of the rifle teams on SP Alma, nor MG3, were unable to unpin themselves. The small force at SP Gunter sits tight.
The 81mm mortar gets two rounds of fire on the FlaK-36, getting one hit and pinning it. The 60mm mortar went after the remaining PaK-40 (on Alma), got one hit. Then the damaged Sherman fired at the PaK-40, missing, and received return fire, though it missed also.
Meanwhile, the other three tanks went after the remaining PC, rifle squad, and MG at SP Helmi. The MG was eliminated, and the rifle team was shot up before the PC and the remainder of the rifle team made the decision to head for the door.
PC1 unpinned 3/1, then consolidated them with 2/1, then they sprinted south towards the wall at Lois. 1st Plt is now only the PC and one rifle squad.
The Wpns Plt MGs decided to move up a bit, though the first MG got gunned down by one of the German MGs on Alma.
Then the German mortar went to work putting a hit on the remaining US MG team, then going after 2/2 (in the right-hand house at Lois) and getting a hit and a pin, before going after the US MG team again, getting another hit. The PaK-40 fired at the already damaged Sherman, knocking out its main gun, and return fire from the Sherman's box MG had no effect (I couldn't believe they hadn't bailed).
But then the US MG and the 1st Plt rifle squad and PC returned fire on the PaK-40, getting a kill, pinning it, then forcing them to flee! The FlaK-36 fired at the 2/2, getting two hits and pinning them. 1/2, with only 1 FP dice, returned fire on the 88mm, and got a hit on a 6, which was unsaved (needing a 4+). The FlaK-36 took the hit in stride and fired again, getting another hit on 2/2. Then the German MG2 got in on the act, but fired to no effect (1 hit, 1 save). Meanwhile, the other MG manages to unpin, then fail its roll, and the rifle team that's been pinned since the opening stonk managed to unpin, but also failed its next command roll.
The pic above shows the situation at SP Alma at the end of the Germans' turn.
The US turn starts, and the XO finally is able to call in up a battery of 105mm arty...
Then the remaining MG went after the German Company Commander. First round of firing, no effect; second round, no effect, third round, blunder! "Unit becomes confused and fires on furthest friendly unit in LOS." This turned out to be 1/2 in one of the buildings, which probably saved them (2 hits, 2 saves). But then the German CC returned fire and eliminated the US MG... The US Wpns Plt PC put one hit on the German CC.
2/3, 3/3, and B3 moved up to the wall, and drew some rifle fire from SP Gunter (very top right of photo), receiving one hit.
Surprisingly, neither side lost any leader stands. At this point I also noticed I shorted the US side their company commander...
So, I had a good time, but not a great time. First, and the more minor of the two problems, were the rules. I've used the rules quite a few times, though this game was bigger (more forces on the table) than I'd ever tried previously, and there's a couple minor things I need to hammer out, particularly with regard to the arty, which probably had too easy of a time cleaning out the dug-in defenders atop the hill in SP Alma.
The second, somewhat small problem was me: I was rushed as I got started let, then was running up against the start of the football game, so I was rushing things a bit.
Third, I need to work up a force morale system. Not hard to do, it's just it had never come up in my asymmetric games (insurgents keep coming regardless of their casualties, and the Legionaires are fighting for their lives, and surrender's not an option). So, both sides suffered horrendous casualties and probably would have given up the ghost a lot earlier than I called it. Though the US force 'won,' they're in no shape for continued combat operations. They have only four of nine rifle squads left; although it's really not that bad for the campaign. You figure after the battle the KIA/WIA get sorted out of the sick, lame, and lazy, and you get another 2 or 3 of those squads back, putting you conservatively at 2/3 strength, which really sucks but they can be used as battalion reserve until replacements get brought up.
Lastly, the big problem was also my fault: the map. I got so wrapped into the mini-campaign, my force structure, the enemy force structure (via continually peeking at the internet to see what had been added), all the various thoughts about the next fight, etc..., that I let myself walk into a trap with the map.
I play games to make decisions; right or wrong, that's the fun of gaming for me, seeing how it all turns out. But when I set the map up, I didn't offer any opportunities for decision-making. There was only one way to attack, or, at most, a variation on a theme: you could charge up the road across open ground, or charge out of the NW corner across open ground. So, I wasn't happy about that; my only real decisions were sequencing (what order to bring units on, what order to activate the units once they were on the table) and targeting (should unit 1 shoot at enemy unit 'X' or 'Y'?). It may again be a matter of scale, i.e., I need to set up my 6' x 4', or even my 6' x 8' table, but I'm not sure that's the issue. I think I just need to set the table up better.
I'm sure a lot of guys are thinking, "man, you're really screwed with Map #2 then," because of the bridge, but I'll come up with something, and most likely it will be the simple solution: multiple fords, to make the Germans defend more and give the attacker more options. We'll see what happens. In any case, fight #1 is in the books, and I'll look to get to fight #2 next Saturday.
Thanks for looking!