Highway to the Reich Eindhoven Historical Campaign Day Ten

The following post is Day Ten of the Historical Campaign for Eindhoven, a nine day nine hour scenario in Highway to the Reich by Panther Games. Breaking the blog post up into structured segments for each day should allow for better tactical analysis and reassessment of the battle plan based on the situation on the ground (as well as a more organized approach to writing an after-action report for a scenario as long as this).

The Eindhoven scenario is one of three historical campaigns (Arnhem, Eindhoven, and Nijmegen) that form the backbone of the Operation Market Garden representation in the Airborne Assault engine at that time (preceded by Red Devils Over Arnhem and followed by the HTTR expansion pack for Command Operations). The missions feature various elements of the Allies 30 Corps fighting against the Axis 1st Fallschirmjäger Army and 2nd SS Panzer Corps.

Please refer to the previous entry covering Day Nine action for detailed information about how the battle progressed to this point. Note: all links used in this post are to actual articles containing additional information about the subject matter referenced and are not any form of automated link advertising.

Day Nine Analysis


I am currently in control of all 16 location objectives.

The total force strength is 19,658 personnel, 950 armored fighting vehicles, 360 gun units, a 6,197 anti-personnel firepower rating, a 10,486 anti-armor firepower rating, a 3,696 Armor rating, and a 1,310 bombardment rating.

There are no reinforcements remaining in the scenario.

I currently have four artillery batteries under my direct Fire Control: 377th (12 X 75mm/out of ammo), 321st (12 X 75mm/out of ammo), 907th (12 X 105mm/out of ammo), and the British 26.7 (8 X 5.5 inch/out of ammo).

All batteries are on call with “Rest After Bombard” deselected so as to allow the various AI commanders use of these assets.


If the scenario were to end right now, I would have killed 9,542 Axis personnel, 162 armored fighting vehicles, and 346 gun units (17 destroyed by fire and 13 by surrender).

Allied losses would be 3,227 personnel, 131 armored fighting vehicles, and 104 gun units. There have been three units destroyed by Fire and one by Surrender.

From this point forward combat power values will be abbreviated (armored fighting vehicles=AFV, etc.)

Combat Action


At midnight going into the second day of battle I am in control of all known threats, the largest being the contingent of Germans attempting to cut the road between Koevering and Veghel. While there is some action around the outskirts of Eindhoven, it is not perceived to be serious at the moment, and the area around Son and St. Oedenrode has been largely ignored by the Axis forces.


Some of the notifications are circumspect such as this one where C Company 1/7th Queens Infantry has surrendered at 05:51 in the face of one nearby Axis unit while surrounded by multiple other British units (C Coy is the yellow cross partially obstructed by the chit for C/65).


At noon in the Veghel sector there are no current reports of Axis forces (using the Intelligence Filter) however there is a boatload of crosses indicating their destruction, surrender, or merger with another unit.


In the St. Oedenrode sector it is likewise relatively quiet with a sole contact at Best.


In the Eindhoven sector there are no serious threats as well. I see no need at this point to issue any new order to any unit and I am content to ride it out until the end of the scenario.


By 18:00 the only real development in what is shaping up to be a sleeper of a final day is that the Best Rail Bridge changed hands back and forth. Other than that the entrenched Allied units kept slaughtering the Axis units moving out in the open.

This has been a bloodbath for the Germans to say the least.


By 21:00 a couple of more Axis units realize the effort is futile and surrender with an hour to go on the battlefield (union rules: everyone has to be home by midnight).

After-action Report


The scenario ends in a Draw outcome with the Allies leading 100 Victory Points to 90 over the Axis forces. Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery issues his disgust with the result of the overall operation but there is a great deal more going on here than meets the eye.

The Allies claimed 10,304 personnel kills, 187 armored fighting vehicles, and 359 gun units (18 having been destroyed by Fire and another 18 by surrender).

That is the equivalent of an entire division evaporating on the battlefield.

The Axis claimed 3,545 personnel kills, 151 armored fighting vehicles, and 119 gun units (three having been destroyed by Fire and two by surrender).

Review Final Situation


Click here for a full sized image.

The Devil is in the Details

While this may seem perplexing given that I held every objective for the majority of the game play, the answer lies within the configuration of the Axis objectives.

There are two types of victory point allocation: Occupation and Completion. To understand the first, the latter should be dealt with initially.

A Completion objective that would award all of the VP for that category alone would produce a situation where the Allies could hold an objective until the last minute of the last hour of the last day then be completely blown off of the location by the Axis who seize it just in the nick of time before the scenario ends.

In such a situation the Allies would receive 0 VP for holding the objective for the entire length of the scenario except for the last minute when the Axis came in like gangbusters and stole it away from them, at which point the Axis forces would receive 100% of the Completion VP.

Occupation VP accumulates over time and once they are earned they cannot be lost. In the same theoretical situation above, 100% Occupation VP would produce the exact opposite result: the Allies would achieve (quite possibly) 99% of the VP and the Axis would get 1% (or none) for taking it over at the end.

This disparity when dealing with 100% of one mode or the other is what makes using objectives like this in the scenario design a poor choice. Blended objectives such as awarding the VP for 75% Occupation and then 25% Completion are a much better design decision.

I scored 100 VP (the maximum amount that can be scored in the game engine for any scenario), but the Germans almost did as well, resulting in the Draw outcome (only a 10 point difference).

So what happened? Did the Axis have secret objectives that were unknown to me?

The answer is no, they had the same exact objectives active for the same exact time frame and scored in the same exact manner (all Occupation VP).

The issue is that the German player (AI or human) technically cannot lose this scenario as the amount of VP available is substantially larger than what is available to the Allied player (AI or human):

 

For example, the Eindhoven Objective for the Allies awards 17 VP all through Occupation. I would have to have immediately seized the objective at the beginning of the scenario and not lose it one time for the entire duration to be awarded 17 total VP.

The Germans however are awarded 113 VP for Eindhoven all through Occupation. If they held it for a day and a half (say the beginning of the scenario when I had no forces down there) that would achieve 17 VP alone (that could never be taken back).

There is simply no way that I could compete with that setup across the board with what they were sitting on from the beginning (their top five objectives).

All of the other objectives are jacked up in a similar fashion compared to what is made available to the Allies. I would have had to have some force at each location and in control of the objective (or at least contesting it) as close to the very beginning of the scenario as possible so as to deny the Axis the ability to accumulate VP.

While this may simulate the necessity for the rapid taking of all of the bridges, in terms of game play and scenario design it is a cheap device that weakens an otherwise stout representation of the 101st Airborne area of control in Market Garden.

Did I really lose?

I effectively “lost” the scenario at the very beginning when I did not send individual units to each objective to take them, if not prevent the Axis from automatically calculating Victory Points from the start. In real life there were several companies that were dispatched to various objectives (such as H Company, 2/502 at Best) whereas I approached all objectives at the Battalion level (and attacked Son at the beginning with an entire Regiment).

I effectively “won” the scenario (in my opinion) by taking both the Son and Best bridges, and holding all bridges at the end (even having one blown and rebuilt during combat). In real life both Son and Best were blown by the Germans which presented significant complications that had to be dealt with. In my effort I was able to keep the road open enough to transit sufficient force strength to the far north rather quickly.


I win in terms of body count.

3 comments:

  1. Great AAR, Tim. Really enjoyed it and only found it by chance. I think you should post about those AARs you've done on the LnL website, with a link. I plan on doing this scenario soon. I think the map is phenomenal. I wonder who did it. And as for the draw - I would be more than happy with that. Looks like a win to me. there's a good case to be made for making all the objectives completion only objectives, I think, for this kind of operation. Though with those nearer the start of the XXX Corps route I get the idea in encouraging early control that could also be dealt with by the timing of completion.

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  2. Further. In fact, given the key thing is that you exit XXX Corps through the objectives I definitely think the objectives should be completion only (or primarily) for the Allies. But it makes sense to have them occupation for the Axis, and that might still lead to the problem of the AI getting a score quite near your own, and depriving you of a clear win, even though you control everything you should at the end. Tricky problem.

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  3. Thanks for the feedback. The map and scenario are from the second game in the series, “Highway to the Reich”: it is a stock map and scenario so I do not know who the original creator was, but more than likely someone working for Panther Games in an official capacity. A few years later when they released “Conquest of the Aegean” that iteration of the game engine introduced a proper exit type objective.

    Further on down the road when they released “Command Operations: Battles from the Bulge” and the “Highway to the Reich” expansion pack, the “Screaming Eagles over Hell’s Highway” scenario was completely revamped (including changing the various objectives from all completion to a mix of some being only completion while others were a combination of completion and occupation).

    That along with the exit objective type introduced in the COTA engine went a long way in making the scenario a fairer challenge.

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