Cobra – A Battlegroup Overlord AAR

Rob was kind enough to host us at his house and set up a big table with plenty of great looking terrain. It featured a sizeable village, long rail road embankment and great changes in elevation. All of which made a major impact on the game. The board itself was 13 feet long and 5 foot wide with a section that extended another 5 feet. It was massive with plenty of room for the 150 BR of Americans and Germans on the table.

The Full Table

The historical inspiration for this game was Operation Cobra; specifically the fighting in late July and early August. American forces were based off of the 2nd Armored Division fighting around Saint-Denis-le-Gast. The Germans were based off of the 2nd Panzer Division, who after smashing the British at St. Martin were thrown into the line to halt the American advance.  

Pak 40’s LOS

The forces were large but with 6, and when Stephen arrived 7 players, each commander had about 500 points to control. The American players each got the same basic battlegroup, one platoon of infantry, one platoon Shermas and one platoon of Stuarts and it was great to finally get all of on them table. In support I included some M10s, plenty of Greyhounds for recon work, a battery of priest and a Piper Cub for spotting. The list was built with the idea of everything being on board and keeping to the basics. This would avoid any issues with book flipping or just forgetting about off table assets. I have had a lot of success with US troops in smaller games. The mechanized platoons are great, with a nice mix of MGs, mortars and AT capabilities.  The Shermans, well, they played how they did historically but I included the faster moving Stuarts to work the flanks and the M10s to support.

Alan’s troops hold the church.

The German list was a little more fun; the 2nd Panzer Division had spent the spring reequipping in France and were close to full strength, so we took some liberties with equipment. At the core of the list were a company of Panther’s. For those of you who haven’t used these before they are alpha predators of Battlegroup.  In most cases they need a 3 or better on 2d6 to knock out tanks and 9 or 10 on 2d6 to be destroyed. I have played against and with Panthers in several games and the only successful tactic against them is to run them out of ammo or hope for breakdown counter.  If the Allies went paying attention these cat would dominate the table. In support of the Panthers were two battlegroups of infantry. The first group was made up of two platoons mounted in Sdkfz 251’s tooled up for offensive actions. Armed with two MGs per squad, Panzerfaust and a pair of Sdkfz 251/10’s they would be the tip of the spear. The third group was also two platoons of infantry this time motorized and more of a defensive force. I added a Puma, for fast objective grabs and attached a Pak40, MG42 HMG and Panzerchrerk teams to help hold the objectives. This combination worked well and I was impressed by how long the Pak40s stayed around. The fourth group was an armored recon platoon from the Bulge book.  I wasn’t sure if 2nd Panzer even had 250s but I can’t get enough of those little platoons. They also work perfectly with my Flames of War guys because they are four man teams.  I addition to the recon platoon they got the Wespe battery, a first ever with that unit, a Wirbelwind, why not and two more Puma’s.

Because of the size of the game each player was assigned a separate battlegroup, orders and sector of the table. These would keep things moving fast, almost like three separate games on table next to each other. The only overlap would be a call out for artillery assistance. The mission would be a meeting engagement with recon deployed and the rest of the troops entering at random. A few objectives were set up along the center line of the table. Deployment was fast for the Americans since all of the list were the same and the Germans put the motorized infantry in the town, the recon group in the center and the 251’s, which I commanded, on left and we spread the Panthers around.

Panther’s engage the Shermans will the Infantry wait.

The game also moved a a brisk pace and had plenty of notable moments, including a P-47 rocket attack, plenty of breakdown counters finding their way to Panthers. The immobilization of the Bergepanther was a low point of mine and sadly can’t repair itself!

The Germans hold the railroad embankment.

Terrain played a major role in the game and Rob always does a great job setting things up.  The Germans had a major ridge line on their side of the battlefield. This played a big part in the German success since they were able to mass, hide and take hull down behind it. It also provided some elevation to fire down onto the American. On my side it really made the game for me because my halftracks were able to mass behind it and them when the Americans Shermans were destroyed I was able to attack.

Immobile!

On the right flank, under Alan’s command, the Germans were able to move rapidly into the town. He dismounted them from their Opels and he moved one platoon into the church which he ended up holding most of the game against repeated US attacks. The second platoon along with the Pak40s ended up behind the railroad embankment laying down fire into the Americans stopping them cold as they entered the town. In the center, the German recon company was last to arrive but they were able to take up positions along a hedge row and ended up pushing the Americans back down the hill and recapturing one of the objectives. Alex even brought up the Wirbelwind to support the counter attack blasting the US infantry with 20mm fire. Alex was also able to keep the US tanks at bay and ended up being my savor with his contingent of Panthers firing down the ridgeline. For me, after spending most of the game out of sight I was able to finally rush over the ridgeline with the halftracks and cross the river to push the US troops off the river back.

The game was a great fight and both sides had plenty of opportunities to use everything on the table. Even the 251/10s and the AA were able to blast at the Greyhounds. But the Germans were able to cripple the Allied tanks in a grueling gun duel which left 25 Allied tanks burning and 7 disabled Panthers. Mostly due to mechanical breakdowns and mine strikes but it only takes a few Panthers to dominate the battle.

Check out more pictures and Alan’s video here.

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