Low Countries Conclusion: Scenario 2 Allies Defiant Order of Battle WW2

Turn 15 to End of Scenario         

Woops!  A German Army advanced through the Ardennes, broke through at Sedan, and is threatening Allied troops in Belgium and Northern France.  Destroying most of the advance units arriving somewhere South/Southeast of Lille is a new secondary objective. 

The last road bridge in the North is blown.  French forces broke contact with the pursuing Germans and another bridge is wired by British Combat Engineers for demolition. 

French forces continue to retreat towards Lille on turn 16.  Since no German bombers have been reported on the front, two fighter units are scouting in the South and Southeast for approaching German units. 

Pursing German units fail to catch up with the French rearguard by turn 18.  A bridge is blown on the approach to Lille making the French defenders task easier.  There are only seven turns left.  All of the road bridges from the North towards Lille have been blown.  The railroad bridge has been mined.  There are a significant number of defenders blocking the approaches to Lille from all directions. 

On turn 19 the lead German spearhead from Sedan attack British forces South of Lille capturing Arras. 

Allied counter attacks near Arras destroy all of the lead Ardennes force spearhead excepting two units on turn 20.  German armor attacks on turn 21 destroying a unit of French armored cars.

However, the British main force with support from French Armor and Infantry attacks on turn 22 destroying the initial spearhead from Sedan giving the Allies a major victory. 

In sum, I’ve played this scenario about a dozen times on the First Lieutenant level of difficulty.  By chance, when I played this scenario for the AAR and screenshots the Allies got very lucky.  Both German Stuka Units blundered into French AA guns without fighter support in the first couple of turns and were destroyed.  Then, a Bf-109 unit made the same mistake and was destroyed.

Next, German Armor pursued without adequate infantry support which enabled the French defenders to effectively use anti-tank guns to severely damage most of the armored units.  This made it easy to pick off the heavily damaged units or to surround and destroy German light armor if it advanced too far in advance of the infantry.

Overall, the strategy was sound but the Allies benefitted from a lot of luck this play through.  I’ve never had this battle nearly this well in a dozen attempts.

Would this strategy work on a higher difficulty level?  I played Norway on the Captain level of difficulty and had no problems.  The Low Countries scenario is more difficult on the Captain level of difficulty – the basic strategy of carefully blowing bridges and having units covered by anti-tank guns is sound. 

This scenario’s AAR contains 69 annotated screenshots and five pages of text.  I’m not redoing the AAR on a different level of difficulty.  However, I did pare down the screenshots from a level 3 difficulty to about a dozen that I will post in the upcoming week on the Slitherine website to demonstrate how the strategy works on a higher difficulty level.

Low Countries Part 3 – Scenario 2 Order of Battle WW2 Allies Defiant

Turns 7 to 9

The allies retreat and the Germans pursue on Turn 7.  During the UK phase another bridge is blown.

German pursuit continues on Turn 8 while the UK combat engineers wire another bridge for demolition at the next defensive river line.  French forces carefully retreat keeping their infantry covered by anti-tank guns. 

British Engineers blow another bridge on Turn 9 and move towards blowing the last bridge in front of the 2nd defensive line. 

Germany faces disaster on Turn 9 on the French sector.  Damaged armor units advanced too far and did not secure their flanks.  Four different armor units were destroyed either by blundering into entrenched infantry backed by anti-tank guns or advancing without flank support. 

Turns 11 to 14

French Forces slowly retreat in an organized fashion.  The biggest German push is by infantry and armored cars on the South bridge, but the assault is repulsed.  By Turn 14 the French have successfully broken contact and are entrenched east of Mons. 

British forces hold their second line behind the blown bridges and by Turn 14 are withdrawing towards Lille. 

Last, I’m providing an overview at the end of Turn 14 showing the Allied armies and spotted German units.

My next update wraps up scenario 2.

Franklin Greenway: Winter 2020 to Spring 2021

Franklin has a multi-purpose Greenway running through much of the town. Much of the greenway is adjacent to the Little Tennessee River and some of its tributaries. Other walking trails lead off the Greenway. The Greenway is in the lowest part of the floodplain – and sometimes parts are underwater for a couple of days. March, 2021 during a week of heavy rain flooded parts of the trail.

Most of the trails are paved with many benches and picnic tables scattered around. There is an extensive kids playground at one spot, an “exercise trail” with places you can do light muscle exercise, a frisbee golf course, many bird houses, and two enclosures for picnics or meetings. During the plague a Zoomba Class ran in one of the enclosures.

People walk, bike, run, sit and read, have picnics, play, and walk their dogs. Most weeks we are in Franklin, we will walk the trail at least twice. Three bridges were taken from other parts of Western North Carolina and relocated to the Greenway.

These pictures are from multiple months when we cared to take pictures. Some outside dog pictures from previous posts were taken on parts of the Greenway. Many of our guests have walked parts of the Greenway.

We love hearing the water and the birdsong, and seeing happy people and dogs on the trail. It is so close that we can take an hour or so to drive, park, walk and return. Our neighborhood is very hilly, and this is a pleasant alternative.

Chimney Swift Tower
Start of a Kids Book Trail
A Fall Bloom from a Plant Unknown to Us
River Very Early Fall
Panzer ready to cross the Nikajack Bridge
River View From Nikajack Bridge – Fall
Nonah Bridge Fall 2020
Nonah Bridge Fall 2020
Third Bridge
Fall Path Beside the River
Nearby Cow Pasture – You can hear cattle and donkey’s on parts of the trail
Fall River
Squat & Gobble Bridge Club Bench

The benches have been donated by various people to commemorate various things. The “Squat & Gobble Bridge Club” bench in memory of Margaret Henry is our favorite.

The closest trail parking area is less than 1.5 miles from our house.

Low Countries Part 2: Allies Defiant Order of Battle WW2

Turn 3

The Germans launch large attacks on all three sectors on Turn 3: the Belgian Army, the UK Sector and the French Sector. 

British Forces counter-attack three of the four units attempting to cross the river destroying one unit and heavily damaging the other two. 

The French evacuate Namur and selectively counter-attack exposed German units.  Note the anti-tank gun supporting the two front line French Infantry units. 

Overall, the only thing slowing down the Germans against the Belgian Army is the lack of mechanized and armored units.  The British has successfully defended their front.  The French are slowly pulling back.  They have enough forces to pull some troops out of the line for resupply and reorganization.  The French have also placed a strong infantry blocking force backed by anti-tank guns on the bridge guarding their Southern flank.  British Combat Engineers have blown the bridges close to Brussels and are moving to mine the last critical bridge over that river.  

Turn 4 & 5

The Brits held the line for four turns and get an armor commander providing advantages to an armor unit for the rest of the campaign. 

In the far South German infantry quickly advanced to the bridge and died.   

The non-core British Combat Engineering unit blew the bridge leading to the Belgian Army just North of Lille.  This protects the city from a rapid advance by German units attacking the Belgian Army.   

Troops are being pulled off the line in the UK sector to man the second line of defense.  The combat engineers have already wired the last bridge for demolition.   

The French slowly give ground to the German Advance.  Several units are in the rear gaining strength while front line infantry units are backed by Anti-tank guns. 

By Turn 5 a heavily damaged Belgian unit in Amsterdam is the last defender in Holland.  There is little to prevent the German Infantry from moving towards the Atlantic Coast.

The Brits rapidly retreat in good order.  Only two units are holding the Dyle River bridges, a unit of French Armored Cars and a fast Cruiser tank.  They must hold one turn against the German onslaught to allow the rest of the army to escape.  The British Infantry and anti-tank guns will complete their withdraw next turn. 

German pursuit of the slowly withdrawing French army seriously blunders by exposing a truck mounted infantry unit and a heavily disorganized armor unit to a French counter-attack and pay the price.

Turn 6

The only thing seriously slowing the German advance against the Belgian Army is the slow speed of the German Infantry.  For the rest of the scenario, Germany advanced against the Belgians systematically destroying their army.  This is the last screenshot because the German advance was too slow to threaten the key objective of Lille.

Germany turns the British Flank in the North but the rivers and the blown Brussels bridges prevent serious problems.

The German army continues to press the main French force. 

Britain successfully broke contact with the German Army.  Next turn the delaying force will cross the river and the bridge will be blown. 

The Southern French blocking force destroys another German infantry unit that advanced to an exposed position on the bridge.  

The French main army retreats East into a new line with strong anti-tank support.  The French will hopefully continue an orderly withdrawal to the Mons area.

Overall, my defensive strategy has gone far better than expected.  Germany frittered away much of their air force by repeatedly blundering into heavy anti-aircraft fire.  The British delayed the German advance long enough for key bridges to be blown.  French counter-attacks mauled the German advance and the Southern blocking force has been surprisingly effective in destroying German probes.  The strategic view screenshot shows the planned staged withdrawal, shows the blown bridges, and illustrates how the collapsing Belgian Army has enough ground to give up to make those German gains too slow to trap the British or French forces. 

Dogs of 2020 & 2021

An assortment of pictures of Panzer (the Schnauzer), Dash (the Sheltie) and Max (miniature Golden Retriever Mutt)

Panzer October 2020 on the River Trail
Dash River Trail November 2020
Avery & Dash Nov 2020
Sam, Panzer & Max Dec 2020
Dash, Panzer & Max watch Avery & Lynn Drive Away – Dec 2020
Dash Sleeps Like This Often – Jan 2021
Dash in Lynn’s Studio March 2021

Native Orchids at our Home

Ed and Nancy Lowenstein visited us last Saturday. They walked through the wooded lot we purchased adjacent to our home, discussed how to keep the forest healthy, and identified many of the plant species. We found out that we have about 2 score native orchid’s growing on the lot. The common name is Pink Lady Slipper. Below are pictures and a link to a US Forest Service article on the plant.

They cannot be easily transplanted due to the symbiotic relationship they have with a ground fungus.

See: Pink Lady’s Slipper (fs.fed.us)

Low Countries – Allies Defiant Scenario 2

Strategy

In the Low Countries Scenario the Allied Forces have their first of many fighting withdrawals.  French forces start with no replacement points, but gain 100 on turn 3 if they can inflict 15 points of damage on German Armor.  UK forces must aggressively counter-attack to hold key hexes long enough to achieve their secondary victory objectives.  Lille must be controlled at all times. 

Scenario Objectives

The UK must hold two river bank hexes for four turns to gain a valuable armor commander.  They must hold two different river crossings for 15 turns to achieve a second secondary objective.

Carefully examining the strategic map shows a series of key road and rail bridges across several North/South flowing rivers.  In Order of Battle, fording a river takes three turns.  First turn the unit moves adjacent to the river.  Second turn the unit enters the river and on the third a unit moves one hex off the river.  Even engineers must move adjacent, move into the river, and on turn three erect a bridge.  For these reasons, blowing key bridges is a key part of my fighting withdrawal plan.

Objectives Mapped

Some might question blowing the two railroad bridges I’ve put on the demolition schedule.  Units must be in rail move mode to advance across a river using rail transit.  But leaving railroad bridges standing may allow German units to get into your rear and cut supply lines.

Unfortunately, your core UK forces are ill-suited to stop the German advance.  Units must have the speed to both break contact and to fight off the German Armor.  Only the Matilda tank unit from Norway is usable as-is in the Low Country defense.  Infantry guarding a river crossing is vulnerable to armor attack.  But infantry backed by anti-tank guns can defend against both armor and infantry crossings.  Last, all of your UK air command points should be used with the best Fighter units possible.  Germany has far more air units and keeping their Stukas from killing off damaged units is critical for victory.

Therefore, I purchased the best two available fighters, two motorized anti-tank guns and also motorized one core infantry and the heavy infantry unit.  I purchased one Cruiser Tank for a speedy response unit.  Last, I purchased a unit of combat engineers and mechanized them. My troops were carefully placed.  The faster motorized regular infantry and Cruiser tank unit were placed in the North because they have the longest route of retreat.  The slower Matilda tank and motorized heavy infantry unit were placed to the South.  Both infantry units are supported by adjacent motorized anti-tank guns.  Last, my combat engineers are placed on the railroad bridge to blow it on turn one.  The engineers will withdraw to the land bridge after demolishing the railroad bridge allowing the second bridge to be blown on Turn 2.  Last, a non-core combat engineering unit is located West of Lille and it will move North to blow other bridges.  All UK units will withdraw South of Brussels. 

UK Troop Placement
Bridge Blowing & Phased Withdrawal Plan

Turn 1

The AI Germans aggressively attack everywhere on Turn 1.  The Belgium Army loses initial battles and the Germans rapidly advance. 

Attack on Belgian Forces

Against the French around Florennes  one infantry unit is destroyed with another heavily damaged.  German Armor further North advances beyond their infantry screen.  In a grievous error, a Stuka loses its fighter escort while attacking a unit with a nearby French AA unit.   Against the French the lead German Armor units are exposed to counter-attack while the Stuka squadron sets itself up for destruction.

Attack on French Forces – Turn 1

Against the British the Germans move a Panzer 2 unit and three infantry units to contact leaving the Panzer 2 and an infantry unit on bridge hexes.

Attack on UK Forces – Turn 1

The Stuka Squadron was destroyed by hitting it with AA fire followed up by fighter attacks.

Stuka Explodes on Ground

The French Counter-Attack on Turn one heavily damaged two Panzer Units providing 8 of the 15 points of damage needed to gain 100 replacement points. The UK forces attacked the infantry unit on the bridge but did not open fire on the Panzer 2

French Counter-Attack Turn 1
Score after Turn 1

Turn 2

The Germans continue to advance against the Belgians’ in the North.  The Germans do not attack the entrenched British Infantry, but they do advance a unit of combat engineers into the river.  This unit must be driven back or it can build a bridge next turn. 

Attack in Belgium Turn 2
Attack on UK Forces Turn 2

The Germans recklessly advance against the French main force.  German Armor advances beyond their lines leaving themselves open to being surrounded and destroyed.  The German 88 unit advanced and badly damaged the best French armored unit. A Bf-109 moved too close to the French anti-aircraft guns.

Turn 2 Attack on French Main Force

The British Counter-Attack heavily damages and throws back another German Infantry unit.  UK Combat engineers blow the ground bridge. 

UK Counter-Attack Turn 2

The French Counter-Attack surrounds and destroys the lead German Panzer unit.  The Bf-109 Fighter was destroyed by a combination of anti-aircraft fire and UK and French fighters. 

French Ground Attack Turn 2
Bf-109 In a Bad Spot
Dead German Fighter

By the end of Turn 2 my strategy is working well.  The French have reinforcements due to counter-attacking exposed German Panzer Units.  The UK have held the river crossings and have blown two key bridges.  Unexpectedly, the Luftwaffe has twice blundered into French AA guns losing a Fighter and a Tactical Bomber Squadron.  The strategic position can be seen below.

Strategic View End of Turn 2

Battle of Norway Conclusion

Norway Finale

In the South on Turn 8 we start with a weakened unit of combat engineers guarding the only supply point.  After stiff fighting, the Brits capture the supply point and almost manage to kill or capture all of the defenders remaining in the vicinity.  North of Lillehammer some out of supply German infantry manage to destroy a small Norwegian blocking force and are close to linking up with another out-of-supply unit from Trondheim.  But with no supplies, the Germans cannot reinforce and will have weaker combat effectiveness in the South for the remainder of the scenario.

Big picture – by the end of Turn 8 the German position is hopeless.  Trondheim is surrounded with overwhelming force.  The Battle of the North Sea is going well.  The remaining forces in the South are out of supply and out of luck. 

On Turn 9, the Southern Force destroys the last German defenders around Lillehammer and turns North to capture the remaining holdouts.  In the North, one of the two remaining German infantry units is destroyed at Trondheim as the noose tightens.  The Brits finally get the airfield operational and purchase a land-based, tactical bomber. 

On turn 10, a French Ski unit almost destroys the last reminants of the northern German forces while a large British force moves North from Lillehammer.  The only goal left in the scenario is mopping up. 

Victory is achieved on turn 14 when the last German survivors are captured! 

Specialization Points & Research Strategy

I obtain two specialization points for achieving secondary victory goals in Norway.  Two points is not enough to purchase any advances.  IMHO, getting scrambling is the key early technology.  Scrambling allows your aircraft on the ground to move half speed when they take-off.  British fighters have small gas tanks and can only stay in the air for a limited period of time.  For this reason, getting scrambling technology improves your fighter usefulness about 25%.  Germany has superb, early war tactical dive bombers.  Being able to keep control of the skies (or at least contest control of the skies) prevents the Germans from repeatedly destroying your damaged units from the air.

But scrambling costs 10 specialization points compared to a five point purchase for other early technological advances.  It is hard to wait when you can purchase something NOW that helps your troops.

Others think that War Economy should be purchased first.  War Economy gives you a small number of additional command points on the air and ground.  Through extensive play, I’ve found that having control of the skies is more important than one additional unit (at best).  Ceding air superiority means your heavily damaged units die, instead of being pulled out of the line and reinforced.

With this strategy you purchase the first researchable advancement for your forces later than if you chose the less expensive, five point advances. 

Battle of Norway – Part 2

Turn 3 – In the North, British troops face two damaged German units.  The other two spotted German units are attacking a strong Norwegian fortress and are in danger of having their supply lines cut. Both weakened units are eliminated and the North force advances towards Trondheim.  The most serious impediment is the concentrated naval firepower from the Kriegsmarine.

In the sea North of Trondheim the screening German destroyer is sunk and it goes under the waves in an unusually good screenshot.  The carrier based scout plane and fighter head towards Trondheim.

The Southern force continues their advance towards Lillehammer.  I risked advancing one infantry unit by rail.  In OOB you can load units onto rail if they start their turn in a town with a rail line.  Infantry can disembark anywhere on the rail line, but armor and artillery must disembark in towns.  Rail transport does increase unit vulnerability.

Turn 4 to Turn 7: In the North the allies steadily advance against outnumbered German infantry.  The strongest impediment to advancing UK and French troops is naval bombardment and Luftwaffe bombing and strafing.  But the constant air attacks make it easy for the mobile UK anti-aircraft unit to damage and eventually destroy the tactical bombers.  Eventually the carrier based fighter reaches the battlefield and destroys the last vestiges of Nazi airpower.  German infantry concentrated too much on the Norwegian fortifications which allowed allied forces to surround and destroy them.  On to Trondheim!

In the South advancing forces ran into a screen of armored cars.  Pushing them aside is challenging because they easily retreat and suffer little from having their supply lines cut.  My careful advance kept the Matilda brigade in front closely followed by the anti-tank guns and artillery.  The result?  Easy destruction of the German light armor unit on turn 6.  By turn 7 German infantry guarding the supply depot is heavily damaged.  The German commander makes a critical error by assigning a weakened unit of combat engineers to guard the supplies.  This will probably doom the German units from the South attempting to link up with the Trondheim force.

Battle of the Norwegian Sea – The Royal Navy approached the forts protecting Trondheim while the Cruiser Admiral Hipper with two destroyer escort squadrons cleared the straits into the Norwegian Sea. One of the keys in naval battles is to guard your capital ships from torpedo attack while launching close-in torpedo attacks on enemy capital ships.  Turn 7 the British DDs screen the British Cruiser. The Royal Navy concentrates their fire on one Destroyer Squadron nearly sinking them.

The German fleet directed most of their fire on the British Cruiser, so the UK starts Turn 8 with a mildly damaged cruiser, the German destroyers have fired their torpedoes, and the Admiral Hipper is wide open to torpedo attack.  The British close and hammer the Admiral Hipper almost sinking her.

Turn 9 the British sink one German destroyer squadron, heavily damage another taking some additional damage on their Cruiser.

On Turn 10 the Brits sink the final German Destroyer Squadron and their tactical bomber squadron (a land based Fairy Battle) arrives in the area.

After heavy naval gunfire the Fairy Battle sinks the wreck of the Admiral Hipper. Note, three air command points for several turns before I purchased and deployed the tactical bombers.  I waited until the land airfield was captured and restocked.  This allowed me to deploy a land-based bomber unit instead of a sea-based unit.  Since most battles in Allies Defiant are land based, it is better to wait a bit and deploy land instead of carrier based bombers. 

Order of Battle: WW2 – Allies Defiant Campaign, Scenario 1: Norway

Allies Defiant is the latest “official” campaign in the Order of Battle WW2 Series. The first scenario is Norway. You command British and French troops. There are a few, weak allied Norwegian units not under your direct command. The Germans launched an audacious attack to secure Norway considering there was no common land border and the UK had a much stronger Navy.

Norway is a straightforward scenario. You have three groups of units. Your North Force is a combined French/UK force which must take Trondheim. The North force must also capture the only airfield. Your opposition is German Infantry, Paratroopers, Dive bombers, Fighters, and a significant German Naval Force which can hammer your ground troops. Your South Force must expel the German ground troops and light armor moving north from Lillehammer. On Turn 2 the Royal Navy Arrives in the seas north of Trondheim.

You command noncore units and core units. Core units follow you from scenario to scenario throughout the campaign. Noncore units typically appear in a single scenario within the campaign. It is important to distinguish between core and non-core forces for reinforcements, elite reinforcements, and deciding if it is worth sacrificing an experienced core unit to achieve your mission. For Norway I mostly purchased British Infantry. One armor unit was purchased, a Matilda Tank. Early war UK tanks offer the choice between fast and highly fragile, or slow and well defended. Matilda’s can stand up to medium German tanks such as the Panzer 3 – although they are much slower than motorized or mechanized infantry. I STRONGLY SUGGEST renaming your core units so you can quickly identify your core units.

The Matilda is sent to the South forces along with some UK infantry. The rest of the infantry leading with a Heavy Infantry unit is sent to the North group to join the French ski forces.

Turn 1 – In the South I start movement with the Matilda. It is so slow that if you don’t move it first it is easy for it to get shifted to the end of your column instead of leading your forces. In the North my forces are unable to launch direct attacks because a very weak Norwegian infantry unit blocks the road.

Turn 2 – The Royal Navy appears with a carrier, cruiser, destroyer escort, a scout plane and a fighter. Destroyers move to screen the cruiser from torpedo attack from the nearby German destroyer squadron. In the North the UK ground troops maul the Germans blocking the South road while the mobile AA gun shoots up the German Dive Bomber. In the South, advancing forces destroy one German infantry unit and almost destroy the second.