At the Origins Game Fair this year, I attended a “War College” lecture on Market-Garden as a victory wasted. The speaker walked through 4 (of many) things that could have allowed the Allies to make it through Arnhem, but his real interest lay in what could have happened after that. According to his research, British planners weren’t really looking at going to the Ruhr, their next objective was the coast of the Zuider Zee, to cut off the Germans west of that.
So, I wanted to play Long Left Flank again, and see what Europa has to say about the operation. Unfortunately for half of my experiment, the scenario cuts off in November, so I cannot see what the German winter offensive might look like. I suppose I could play again, and extend it with using the Battle of The Bulge scenario that’s also in TEM. I ran out of time, so I will have to do that later.
First attempt: Sending the First Airborne Army against the Antwerp approaches
The scenario opens with the German forces scattered from their retreat from Normandy, and the Commonwealth forces mostly still in Normandy. I sent strong forces on the Sep I turn to assault most of the Channel ports, taking Boulogne, Le Havre, and Dunkerque. It is possible for motorized forces to reach Antwerp in exploitation, which I did, as well as Ostend. I flew the 52nd Airlanding division into Antwerp, in advance of the later airborne assaults.
Sep II 44
the Allied supply shortage came to bite, and only 3 corps were active. The parachute landings (0924, 0823, 0723) went smoothly, except for the 1 Para HQ, grabbing the Breda-Drodrecht causeway as the Rhine crossing. XXX Corps broke through from Antwerp, but the wily Germans massively flooded 0824 in the combat phase. (Fortunately, the scenario rule meant that I didn’t lose all of my Resource points.) Meanwhile, Gent was also taken, and its port was also intact. The islands were now cut off.
Oct I 44
The Allied forces fought into Rotterdam (port destroyed) and isolated The Hague. 0927 and 1026 were taken, clearing 2 of the 5 hexes remaining to open Antwerp and Gent. This turn, I unwittingly violated a scenario rule by using USAAF transports to fly in more GSP, so this playthrough is somewhat invalid after this point.
OCt II 44
The Germans tried a rare counterattack into the woods east of Antwerp, which succeeded in a DR on 3:2 odds! This didn’t quite isolate the Allied spearheads north of them, but it is closer. With (too much) supply, the Allies are able to make a lot of ground this turn. Even partial flooding on one of the peninsulae was unable to prevent its total capture. Only Walcheren island remains. Other Allied forces crossed the Albert Canal and drove east, exploiting all the way into the 2 northernmost (unoccupied) West Wall hexes!
Nov I 44
The Germans tried to get behind the rivers again, anchoring their line at Nijmegen. An attack into 1220 (West Wall) is a miserable failure at AH. Shouldn’t have attacked into a Mud turn! When the Allies try to assault Walcheren island, they are crossing water, into Mud, against a port fortification, when the island is partially flooded. Use of carpet bombing is effective, though—no short bombing. The result is a 3:1 -2, and they rolled an AS.
Nov II 44
With Mud on Nov II, and me realizing that I had given the Allies too much airlift on Oct I, I suspended the play. The Allies had a Decisive Victory (72 VP), holding 2 West Wall hexes and 5 hexes over the Maas-Waal, including Rotterdam. That wasn’t the drive to the Zuider Zee like I wanted to see happen, but it was fun to play, and the Allies looked to be in good shape for later attacks once their supply situation improved. Another assault on Walcheren would have to happen, I think I did not realize just how tough a nut that would be to crack. As a German player, I knew that next game I would work more on stuffing that hex with more defense factors. As an Allied player, I learned that I really didn’t want to risk any more massive flooding results!
Second try: planned for historical drop zones, except with swapped the 101st and British 1st targets.
Sep I 44
The Allied turn went almost the same as the previous one, except I didn’t try for the Channel ports, except Boulogne (port wrecked).
Sep II 44
The Allied airdrops had some nail-biting die rolls: The SS cadres reacted into the 101st’s drops at 0820 and 0920. The Americans were thrown out of the former, but held Arnhem on a DR roll! Praise to Allied air support! The British airborne rolled a DE at 1023, and the XXX Corps blasted 1024 with an exchange to cross the Albert Canal. With no Germans in the way, the 11th Armoured Division raced all the way to Appeldoorn. Breda was also uncovered, so the Allied breakthrough was 7 hexes long and 1 wide, with a branch through Breda to Rotterdam (port blown).
Meanwhile, the Canadians attacked 0927, but the German cadres escaped. Walcheren will be at 16 df when attacked later. They also captured Le Havre (port blown). The commandos and 1 brigade of the 49th Division landed on Schouen Island, taking that. Strategic airpower was used to suppress the CDs on Walcheren.
Oct I 44
the Germans set up a counterattack at Arnhem, but called it off when lots of DAS appeared.
The Allies again unleashed carpet bombing on Walcheren, this time before Mud hit, so the attack was an Exchange, without partial flooding. They also captured 0926, so Antwerp is clear. Amsterdam was captured from an unsupported SS regiment, port blown. DEs were rolled for Eindhoven and 0820, so more German cadres were heading for the replacement pool.
This game was an Allied walkover, I don’t think it could have gone any better. I played it until Nov I, when the weather was Clear, and wrote it off as an Allied Decisive Victory: over 130 VP when I stopped counting. While dice were clearly in the Allied favor this time, I probably didn’t play too well as the Germans. I suppose that’s a weakness inherent to solitaire play, at least for me.
Sometime I will pull this out again, hopefully with a live opponent. I’d also like to mix it with the Bulge scenario, probably just exporting the Sixth SS Panzer Army to this front on the Dec I turn.
Going back to the original concept, it seems to me that once Arnhem is taken, going north the last 2 hexes to the coast is a good move. The Germans further west become no threat for a while, and there is nothing but clear terrain across the Ijssel River, either east towards Bremen or southeast to cut off the Ruhr. Sending the airborne forces into western Holland risks more flooding of hexes, so that seems less of a good thing. If one is playing the scenario, with the rule that Antwerp’s port is captured intact, then the Allies need to strain every nerve to get into Walcheren island before the Germans can stuff it with defense factors. Attacking it with forces quartered or eighthed looks like a bad bargain.