Drive on Loenen

"The 504th Regiment has been tasked with opening the route to Loenen. Only light opposition is expected, but can you do it in the 12 hours your superiors have given you?” So goes the briefing for this extremely short and deceivingly challenging scenario featured in Red DevilsOver Arnhem and later Highway to the Reich, although it did not make the cut to be included in the HTTR expansion pack for Command Operations: Battles from the Bulge.

Much like the HTTR version of this scenario, it is tricky if not improbable to score a Decisive Victory (similar to “Joe’s Bridge”). Although I have achieved a DV a few times, it is very difficult to replicate even using the same tactical approach to the problem. Personally I believe that this is a credit to the Airborne Assault game engine and what it has become today. Anytime a game AI can produce a different result increases replay-ability and ultimately the longevity of the product.

The tactical problem that I am referring to is that of time. Twelve hours is possibly the shortest official scenario produced for any of the games, and it presents the player with some unpleasant choices: take an avoidance route around known enemy positions at the cost of slower travel or smash right through the German deployments and quite possibly get bogged down in unwanted skirmishes. For me I always prefer to avoid inconsequential combat and to save my men and ammo for the objectives.


D01 06:00 This is the mission starting situation where I issue orders to the entire regiment consisting of 2,385 personnel with an anti-personnel firepower rating of 468, an anti-armor rating of 1,293 and a bombardment rating of 129. My tactical approach is to use the cover of the woods on the right side of the map to advance two battalions up the side while using the third battalion grouped with the regimental HQ to attack the western most objective.

1st Bn 504th is augmented by D Coy 2/504 and ordered to attack the Loenen Objective (75 Victory Points, all on completion) using a route going through the woods on the extreme right hand side of the map, with a forming-up point just before the break in the forest southeast of their objective.

2nd Bn 504th (less D Coy) is refitted with H Coy 3/504 and ordered to attack the center objective (25 Victory Points, all on completion) using a similar route as 1st Battalion but breaking off of the route well south with a forming-up point just before a break in the forest southeast of their objective.

3rd Bn 504th (less H Coy) is left grouped to the 504th Para Regt HQ units and that group is ordered to attack the western objective (25 Victory Points, all on completion) using a route through a clearing in the tree line to avoid direct contact with an Axis unit that appears on map from the intelligence reports.


D01 09:01 The entire force is in movement towards the objectives with no visible holdups at this point. This should allow the forces to reach their forming-up points unmolested by enemy contact.


D01 12:00 All combat groups appear to have reached their forming-up points and have shaken out to begin the assault phase on their assigned objectives with some minimal enemy contact made.


D01 15:00 Things are not looking all that great as each combat group has reached their objectives well before scenario end (a difficult thing to accomplish in my honest opinion) but have not captured and secured them.

After-action Report


D01 18:00 The scenario completion after-action report reveals the outcome of the short battle: a Decisive Defeat for the Allies. This is the direct result of the compressed time window and the inability of my AI units to wrestle control of the objectives from the Axis units.

As mentioned above, this tactical approach has worked for me a few times in the past, and although I am always open for suggestions on how to improve my game play and decision making, I am happy with the Decisive Defeat because it solidifies my faith in the engine developed by Panther Games.

Review Final Situation


D01 18:00 The scenario completion review final situation shows how close (yet so far away with the 12 hours given) I came to securing at least the western objective and the center objective (both poorly name “Secure”, as is what I call in this AAR the Loenen Objective).

Western Objective Analysis


3rd Bn 504th and the 504th Para Regt HQ units appear to have firm control of the objective however the German units to the north in the woods are within the radius and are thus preventing it from being captured and secured. If there were more time in the scenario (such as six hours) I would have ordered the infantry battalion to detach from the regimental HQ and perform an attack north to drive the Axis forces off of the objective.

Center Objective Analysis



2nd Bn 504th and the attached H Coy from 3rd Battalion appear to be in control however the Germans have a say in the equation. Again, I wish there was more time to finish the assault (but that is what the Scenario Editor is for, so members of the community can fix these grievous errors! Just kidding…)

Loenen Objective Analysis


This is where things get a bit iffy: 1st Bn 504th is certainly not in control of the Loenen Objective (at least not yet). Although they are augmented by D Coy from 2/504th, they had the longest distance to travel to get to their forming-up point in order to begin the assault phase of their attack. I am not sure another six hours would have changed this result.


3 comments:

  1. I don't own any of the older Panther games prior to Command Ops, so I unfortunately can't give this a try. I'm wondering how a "hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle" approach with two battalions up and one back in reserve hitting the center objective first and then Loenen might play.

    Hrm. Now I need to go look for a used copy of the game...

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  2. Hey Doug, check out my scenarios tab at the top of the page - I have a custom made version of this scenario for Command Ops that I made last year (it does not require any mod). When they released Highway to the Reich, the scenario was renamed "Advance on Loenen" which is what I called it. It is the same mission as this from the original game Red Devils Over Arnhem (I just have the demo which this play through came from).

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    Replies
    1. Very nice! Grabbing this right now to give it a try.

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