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Overlord (FW115) Operation Cobra
3rd Armoured Division CCB

by First Born Gaming

When we were asked to put on a big game for the re-release and refresh of the Normandy lists, as a group we were a bit stuck for a choice of where to concentrate. As there are so many parts of the campaign that are so compelling. From the actual beach landings all the way to Falaise, there are actions large and small that we could have done. In the end, we decided on the right thrust of Cobra involving Combat Command B of the 3rd Armored Division. More specifically, we would concentrate on the thrust to Marigny started on the 26th of July and followed up the next day continuing on to Camprond.
US Infantry
For forces, the American thrust part was easy as a couple of companies from 3rd Armored Division were required. To round out the force and accommodate players we added a company of Armored Rifles from the 3rd and an infantry company from the Big Red One, 1st Infantry Division.
US Armor
The Army Lists
The Forces
German Panzergrenadiers
For the Germans, it is known that Hausser had elements of 353rd Infantry Divison sent to counterattack at Marigny with two companies from 2nd SS. Panzerdivision. As a group, though, we felt it better to represent the Germans by sticking to the 2nd SS. Panzerdivision with support from their own Panzergrenadiers (one company of motorized and one company of armored infantry).  We felt the grenadiers of the 353rd Division would have been dispersed by the point in the battle we were attempting to represent. German Armour

This particular action also had the famous stand of Ernst Barkmann. Though historically, it was but a small part of the whole action, we felt it would be a shame not to include it in our game. In order to represent this and for some added flavour, I added both Ernst Barkmann and Lafayette Pool from the original Cobra book. These were added to the game separately from the lists below.

All in all, both are good, sizable forces for a big game. We decided on using the Total War scenario and rules although we made some adjustments to the scenario as written. For starters, our size game of 6000 total points comes in recommended at being played on a 12' x 6' table. As we have played a number of these games before and were comfortable with changing things around we decided on using an 8' x 6' and tweaking for the scenario we were going to run.

In the Total War scenario, you are given a number of alternative deployment configurations. Given that we were doing the 3rd’s thrust toward Marigny and Camprond, we decided to go length-ways on the board and deploy on the short edges. Taking into account the limited deployment space for 3000 points a side, we decided to allow the overall commanders to leave some forces in reserve. We also adjusted the deployment zones to 24" from the edges and the objectives to within 3" of the lines designated in the scenario and 6" from the table edges.

Gaming under way
The last thing to account for was the bonus special characters I gave to each team. For the Americans, we simply allowed SSGT Pool to replace a tank in one of their platoons for free. For the Germans, I allowed Barkmann as an Independent team and he was deployed at a suitable crossroads near the middle of the table. Barkmann’s workshop was not in play in this game. For both teams, I allowed an extra victory point for the special character being destroyed.

With the rules set, it was time to start the game. Also allowing for the special setting, I had the teams deploy simultaneously in the twenty minutes allowed after their requisite five minute strategy session.

Turn One

The Americans

At the beginning of the turn, it looked a little bleak as the Americans failed to get their air. The US began their movement phase with Chris utilising the Recce move available to the Spearhead division on his Tank Destroyer platoon to set them up to be able to take side shots at Barkmann. Otherwise almost all the platoons, save for the American artillery park, sounded the general advance and pushed forward.

Next came the shooting phase. Smoke first. So, Jerry smoked Barkmann. Chris was vocally displeased as his M-10s were now out in the open. To be fair, Jerry was only following orders he was given in the US strategy phase in that they wanted to smoke the biggest threats. The rest of the US shooting did some minimal damage with one of Joe’s Panzergrenadier platoons losing a couple of trucks and a team. Mike’s Panzergrenadiers also lost a half track and a team. One of Jeff’s Panthers on the left was bailed.

Barkmann advances
The Germans

Most of the Germans did a general forward advance as well. Joe’s Panzergrenadiers toward the center used the benefit of rapid road movement to get Barkmann some much needed support.

Jeff’s panther platoon with the bailed tank (He failed the roll to get back in, a theme for Jeff...) broke through the wall to help open up the German’s left. The panthers also made the M-10s pay for leaving themselves in the open, flaming two of them. Chris had some more words for Jerry which are not printable. The rest retreated back down the road they came from using the US tank destroyer rules.
Barkmann poked through the tree line on his left to put some machinegun fire on the advancing rifle platoons. He Stormtrooper moved back behind the tree line.

At this point, the Total Battle victory points stood at 2 each as both sides had the objectives on their respective sides of the table.

Turn 2

The Americans

This turn, the US was luckier with their air and got a flight of two planes. These were targeted on the Panthers from Pierre’s company on the German right. Scott’s infantry continued to move forward. The tanks from Jerry and Chris’ companies moved forward cautiously, Jerry’s very cautiously as he was on Barkmann’s side of the board.

This cautious movement was preparation for the American shooting phase, the artillery in particular. After all of the American commanders ensured that Jerry didn’t smoke anything, the American artillery found their marks on Jeff’s Panthers, Barkmann, and some of the Panzergrenadiers in the town. Barkmann managed to escape with only being bailed. Jeff’s Panthers, however lost a platoon. This was bad, especially for Jeff. The bad news for the Germans ended when they managed to shoot down the American airstrike targeted at Pierre’s Panthers.
US tanks move in the Bocage
The Germans

The bad news wasn’t completely over for the Germans; as Jeff only had two platoons, he was forced to take a Company Morale check as under the Total War rules, a company must test if goes to one platoon left. Jeff promptly failed his Company Morale. As Jeff puts it, “I expected to be done early as I was fielding such a small force, but not that soon.“ So the Germans were now down a company, but they were not deterred. Jeff’s dice rolling woes continued as he was unable to have Barkmann remount his tank.

Pierre started to move up his Panzer IVs on the left in an attempt to shore up the hole left by the disappearance of the Panthers. Joe’s Panzergrenadiers that came up to help Barkmann in the center took up positions in the surrounding bocage and the tree line on the Germans right, covering the road. Joe finally realised he was playing Veteran troops and not the Trained or worse Soviets he usually does. Mike’s armoured Panzergrenadiers pushed on the Germans right flank to attempt to grab the objective in front of Jerry’s tank company who were moving too slowly for Scott’s liking.

The Germans shooting phase was nothing to speak of as they had very few clear targets. Pierre’s Panzer IVs only managed to bail a Sherman and an M-10 of Chris’ on the US right.

With that, the Victory points stood at 3 – 2 for the Americans as they had nabbed the objective near where the Tank Destroyers were smoked.

Turn Three

The Americans

At this point they hoped to press their advantage as overall commander, Scott, tried to cajole his armour commanders to press their attack. He was to be disappointed, as the armour commanders still faced a well dug in PaK front. Chris’ Shermans moved up the wall/bocage bordering the road with Barkmann on it to set up a firing line to punish Pierre’s Panzer IVs. Scott continued his advance in the centre with a rifle platoon hoping for a chance to assault a bailed Barkmann and on the left with another. Towards the rear, Rich was trying to manoeuvre his armored rifles around the slow moving Sherman’s to look for the break that the armour was supposed to be creating.

The Germans move up
The shooting phase opened with Jerry again being denied to use smoke just in case it tried to enter his head. The US artillery again found their marks as most of the rest their shooting was ineffective. Jerry tried to take shots with 76mm Shermans he’d moved up the bocage at Pierre’s Panthers on the edge of the US right. Chris managed to take out one of Pierre’s Panzer IVs while the artillery took out one more and bailed a couple of others. Luckily for the Germans, Pierre made his morale check.
The American P-47s made another appearance and managed to get shot down yet again.

The Germans

The German players now felt it was time to make their best push. Realising that taking up a defensive stand against so much artillery had probably cost them Jeff’s panthers for no gain had most of the Germans moving up to more advantageous shooting positions and positions where they could challenge for objectives.
Joe didn’t disappoint by revealing a sniper in the woods opposite the 1st Infantry Division pushing up the center. Pierre moved up the Panthers Jerry had been attempting to shoot at so the Germans could take better shots. Pierre then made the move of the game by moving up his Panzer IVs to contest the objective on the US center right and take some shots at Chris’ Shermans lined up on the wall. Mike pressed his armoured Panzergrenadiers to fields on their right to try and gain or contest the objective there.

The Germans shooting phase showed promise as Pierre managed to bag two of Chris’ 76mm armed Shermans. Joe’s sniper pinned Scott’s Rifle platoon in the centre. Mike’s SS-Cannon platoon inflicted a couple of casualties on Scott’s Rifle platoon on the US left. Scott’s riflemen began to look around to see if they actually had some armour support.
The German players used their Stormtrooper moves to consolidate some positions and ready for the coming assaults.
At this stage, the victory points were beginning to even out. The Germans had gained one more while the Americans were about to lose one. At the end of turn three it was 3 – 3 in points earned. Making turns four and five pivotal.
Panzer IV deal out some punishment Turn Four

The Americans

Scott and the rest of the American players were at a bit of a loss. While they had been able to inflict enough damage to remove one company, the rest just wouldn’t go away. The artillery had done its job at softening up the SS, but, as Scott felt, the armour commanders were moving too slowly. Rich’s Armored Rifles were pressing as they should, but were getting tied up behind lines of tanks not moving and punching holes in the German lines for them to exploit.
Scott managed to unpin his infantry in the center in preparation for assaulting Barkmann. He also considered moving up his Priests to act as assault guns as they hadn’t been able to shoot anything all game. Scott got Jerry to move up his tanks on the left to help challenge for the objective on that side. Scott obliged Jerry by bringing up infantry for some possible assaults. For his part, Rich was managing to move through Chris’ stationary tanks on the US right to take the fight to the remaining Germans.

The shooting phase began with the requisite denial of a smoke mission to Jerry. Chris finally had some success at shooting the rest of Pierre’s Panzer IVs and got some help from the artillery. I’m pretty sure Rich got in a shot or two as well. Over on the US left, Jerry had finally moved up another platoon of his tanks to the wall. “Before the war was over”, I heard someone mutter. It may have been Scott. It could have been me. We’ll never know. He again traded shots with Pierre’s Panthers and the attached 2iC. He was rewarded with the destruction of the Panzer IV of the 2iC. In the centre, Scott could only wait for assault as there wasn’t much he could shoot at, let alone hurt with his rifles.

The assault phase was short-lived as most of the Americans were found to be out of assault range of anything. Scott was disappointed as he thought he had had it.

The Americans were resigned to the seeming fact that they would have to wait until turn five for the decisive assaults to force the SS back. They were to be somewhat surprised by the results of the German’s action of their part of the turn.
The Americans push forward
The Germans

The SS commanders were a bit weary of the incessant artillery and stand-off tactics employed by the Americans so far. Though Pierre’s move of, and subsequent loss of his Panzer IVs, had allowed the Germans to equalise the victory points, they were running out of reserves to force the 3rd Armored back or even counter any moves made by the Americans. The infantry commanders were going to take up the slack and show what they could do with Fearless Veterans. Joe had sneakily made sure all of his infantry in the centre hedgerow were on the edge of the bocage in preparation of springing an ambush in a make-or-break move. Mike made moves with the Cannon Platoon and Armored Infantry on their right side to counter Jerry’s sudden movement. Pierre moved up with his Panthers to take shorter ranged shots at Jerry’s 76mm Shermans.

The shooting phase arrives for the Germans with not much to shoot at. Pierre gets in his shots at the 76mm Shermans and manages to get two of them. The rest of their shooting devolved into pot shots where available, including some good shooting from Pierre’s CiC Panzer IV that brewed two of Rich’s M4’s that had managed to get around the traffic on the American right. Mike also managed a couple of shots at Jerry’s Shermans on the wall.

Both sides had been waiting for an assault and they were finally going to get one. Joe surprised everyone by assaulting Scott’s infantry platoon in the center. Jeff was helpful and brought Barkmann into the fray. Scott lost a couple of teams but managed to stay in the fight. He counter attacked, won the assault and blew up Barkmann’s tank. Joe was forced back behind the hedgerow. The moment had come and gone. Though Joe had only lost a couple of teams, the American numbers were beginning to become evident. There were no more assaults and the only Stormtrooper moves were for repositioning for the coming wave.

Turn four had proven to be the decisive turn. The lone assault had resulted in the loss of a special character and some of the resolve of the German commanders.

By the end of the turn, the Americans had put themselves in position to regain their lost objective and a victory point and earned an extra victory point with destruction of Barkmann. As Jeff pointed out, since he was now out of the game, he probably should have pushed forward with his own Panthers and formed a wedge with Barkmann.

Victory points gained at the end of the turn: Americans 3 – Germans 3.

Knocked out Panthers Turn Five and Six

What remains are the attempts by the SS to stem the overwhelming tide. The American armour commander’s sort of woke up, as it were, with Barkmann gone. Jerry pushed his tanks over the wall on the American left in concert with Scott’s infantry to challenge and, eventually, destroy the remaining Panthers in the game in an assault by Scott’s infantry. Turn five was really rough on Pierre as he also lost his AA platoon and was out of the game as those were his only platoons.
Over in the center, Scott pushed on Joe’s Panzergrenadiers in the bocage and won the ensuing assault without losses. Mike pushed his Panzergrenadier platoon in the across from where Joe was to meet Jerry’s M4s that had started to push through with Pierre’s Panthers gone.

On the German left, Rich finally had some room to make better speed through to the town of Camprond. He lost a half-track or two and some teams in the process, but made better progress in two turns than he had in the previous four. This push was what finished Pierre’s AA platoon.

At the end of turn six it was decided to call the game as the German players realised that they were in a losing proposition. The push to take the town, though likely to be hard fought, was a foregone conclusion. The victory points totals at the end of the turn were:

Americans – 17
Germans – 15

Still a close game by the point totals. In the post-game tear down of the board, many discussions ensued about how to do some things differently. It was here that was revealed that the American armour commanders were more than happy to allow the artillery to keep blasting the Germans as they had no counter to it. Also, the more than obvious PaK front covering the somewhat open ground outside the town was a deterring factor, especially for Chris, whose side of the board was more open.

For the Germans, it was also pointed out that perhaps they shouldn’t have been so defensive minded and really pushed to effect a breakthrough to attempt to wreak some havoc in the rear of the American lines. Pierre had had this realisation when he started to push his Panthers and Panzer IVs forward in turn three. It was also speculated that perhaps they shouldn’t have had an entire Panther company and maybe more of a mix to try to gain some indirect fire capability.

At the end of the day we all had a good time with our victories and defeats. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned as we readied ourselves for the next time we took the field.

Last Updated On Thursday, July 18, 2013 by Blake at Battlefront