Advance to the Sure

This scenario pits the Allies III Corps against the Axis LXXXV Korps in a neutered version of what was intended in the real life operation. Whereas the briefing outlines the drive to the Sure and the advance onward to the Wiltz River with the 4th Armored, 26th and 80th Infantry Divisions, what you actually get is just the 26th and 80th Infantry Divisions and objectives along the Sure.

These forces represent the center and right wing of the advance and comprise of the 104th Infantry Regiment (subordinate to the 26th Infantry Division), the 319th Infantry Regiment (subordinate to the 80th Infantry Division), the 328th Infantry Regiment (subordinate to the 26th Infantry Division) and the 317th Infantry Regiment (subordinate to the 80th Infantry Division).

Also at your disposal are the 818th Reconnaissance Platoon and the 80th Reconnaissance Troop which can prove invaluable if properly used during combat operations. Reinforcements come in the form of filling out the 317th and 328th Infantry Regiments as well as providing additional artillery assets, the 180th Field Artillery Regiment (12 155mm howitzers) and the 263rd Field Artillery Battalion (12 105mm howitzers).

This post is in no way intended to be a walkthrough as some of my others for the series of games has been. I would suggest however that this scenario is almost a guaranteed failure if you try to play an “Overlord” type commander by issuing orders at the divisional level, and even at the Regimental level. This scenario begs to be played at the Battalion level with emphasis on mass assault across multiple objectives and a sickening adherence to proper artillery employment.

My plan of action was to take the six infantry battalions at my disposal and have them attack the Sure River objectives from Esch-sur-Sure (West) to Bourscheid Crossing (West). These Sure River objectives are flanked by the Bonnal objective in the West and the Bourscheid Crossing (East). The Recon assets were moved about to locate targets of opportunity and to scout approaches, and the remaining elements of the 26th were ordered to defend at Eschdorf and the 80th at Heiderscheid.

When the 328th Infantry Regiment arrived at D1, 22:50 they were tasked as follows: First Battalion was ordered to attack the Eschdorf objective (in support of the 26th element ordered to defend there), Third Battalion was ordered to attack the Heiderscheid objective (in support of the 80th element ordered to defend there) and the headquarters component were ordered to secure the Bonnal Crossing objective.

When Second Battalion arrived at D2, 12:36 they were ordered to attack the Kaundorf objective through the Bonnal Crossing objective. Later that evening at 19:25 when all elements of the 317th Infantry Regiment had arrived, I ordered First Battalion to attack the Eschdorf objective, Second Battalion to attack the Heiderscheid objective and Third Battalion (remaining attached to the headquarters element) to defend at the Bourscheid objective.

Only the 104 Infantry Regiment had any success with the battalion level efforts to secure the bridges along the Sure, with First Battalion having taken the Esch-sur-Sure (East) objective and Third Battalion holding the Heiderscheidergrund objective. All other crossings running from the Esch-sur-Sure (West) objective to the Bourscheid Crossing (East) were blown by the Axis AI.

As each crossing was blown, I would re-deploy the forces committed to securing it to the next nearest objective along the Sure, and if there were none left they would be tasked to attack south to disrupt the Germans who were flowing in through the Bourscheid Crossing (East) objective.

When that objective was blown sometime on day seven, it actually hurt the Axis forces as they were left to stream all the way across above the Sure to either Heiderscheidergrund or further out, Esch-sur-Sure (East) and finally Bonnal Crossing. None of their reinforcements could make those crossings in time to advance across the river, let alone challenge those objectives.

The end result was a disappointing Marginal Victory with a score of 85-44 in terms of Victory Points. In regard to pure personnel numbers, it was a disaster for the Axis as they lost 5,627 men whereas the Allies came out bloodied with 2,820 killed but still a formidable fighting force. This 41 point difference was 10 points shy of a Decisive Victory outcome that could have been had if the Bourscheid Crossing (East) objective had been taken (it was worth 13 Victory Points).

After-action report

Review final situation screen

Other thoughts: One of the things that have always been a disappointment with the Airborne Assault series of games is that there is no check-off that you have completed a scenario. In Rainbow Six you were awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal for completing a mission in a specific mode on any of the three difficulty settings. You could clearly see what you have accomplished in the game. Not so in BFTB (or RDOA, HTTR or COTA); In these games once you win a scenario (or lose it), there is nothing retained in the game to even remotely suggest you even looked at the scenario, much less opened it up, played it like Patton himself and whopped some Axis Ass.

Also, the way the scenarios are ordered in the game menu (alphabetically) induces the casual war gamer such as me to play the scenarios out of historical context. While I might have played the first scenario in the list after the tutorial, in reality the scenario (Advance to the Sure) is actually part of the Group 3: Battling the Bulge section and is overall mission number 25 out of 27. Surely there has to be a better way to arrange this information so that in game the player can find the historical play order.

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