The Houston group tried their hand at KGP III CG, that monster one that nobody seems to like. Does conventional wisdom make the assessment unfair?

[Robert's Advanced Squad Leader page]

La Gleize or Not La Gleize, That is the Question.

by Dirk Walker



[Historical Context]

[Our Game]

[Game 1 - 19P] [Game 2 - 19N] [Game 3 - 20A] [Game 4 - 20P] [Game 5 - 20N] [Games 6 and 7 - 21A, 21P] [Game 8 - 21N]

[Post-Game Reflection]


Many people who have looked closely at the OB for KGP III (La Gleize) have wondered why it would be worth committing any of their time (much less the months required) playing this game (unless, of course, they were going to play the Germans). The most casual of glances shows the massive firepower at the German’s disposal and the complete lack thereof available to the Americans. Further, the map is crossed with streams and contains tight clusters of stone building within the German set up area. And with all this firepower and defensive terrain on their side, and the lack of any serious men or materiel to threaten them, all the Germans need to do to satisfy the victory conditions is to hold territory.

To perhaps give potential players some insight into what this game is like before they take the plunge, this article describes what happened when three of us were so foolish as to commit time to this venture. The article also contains information that, hopefully, potential players might find useful if they do decide to play. But first, about the game itself:

Historical Context

KGPIII attempts to recreate the fighting that took place in the immediate vicinity of the Belgian city of La Gleize, which served as Peiper’s base of operations as he probed forward at Stoumont and Cheneux (the farthest reaches of his advance). When Peiper realized that further advances could not be made without further supplies, he held those two forward posts as best he could while keeping a large body of his reserve strength in La Gleize. Although La Gleize itself was pummeled by American artillery, the fighting around La Gleize was basically limited to the outskirts (the ground between La Gleize and Borgoumont, and the area around Marechal’s Mill). The Americans made no significant headway against La Gleize until the German’s evacuated their positions and abandoned their vehicles. Why then a scenario surrounding this reserve depot? I remain unclear. However, for those who just love to kick major ass with all those great German tanks and troops, and for those that would like to test their ASL skills to the limit as the Americans, the game has its virtues.

Our Game

By way of disclosure, I would like to admit that I have only played KGPIII once, and that as the Americans, and, with my teammate, crushed the Germans. Whether this knowledge affects a reader’s perception of what I have written, I cannot say, but I thought it best to reveal this information beforehand nonetheless.

Game 1 - 19P

An interesting aspect of the opening scenario is that to “win” the scenario you are required to seize otherwise useless objectives. My teammate and I naturally ignored these scenario victory conditions and went straight for locations that would help us with campaign victory. Unfortunately for our opponent, he defended against scenario victory instead of campaign victory. Campaign victory is achieved by taking victory point locations and the only ones in our vicinity on the first turn are some doosies. They consist of Marechal’s Mill (worth 3) and the stone bridge nearby (worth two). Due to being spread out in defense of different areas, the Germans lost these two locations near game's end. Why are these so big? The American’s objective is to earn 160 victory points by campaign’s end. By taking these two objectives in game 1 (and holding them of course) the American will generate 65 victory points over the course of the game. Wow! For this reason it is imperative that the Germans not allow this to happen. In addition to defending the Mill and the Bridge, the German should also use foxholes and strategic locations to make his defensive position for the next game. These SLs should link the Mill to the city, should connect the various building clusters (such as the Werimont Farm, l’Homme’s House and Borgoumont), and should allow a forward set up area along the Roannay or the Nabonru (or both). Without doubt, the Germans should be thinking of game 2’s set up when buying and placing for game one.

Game 2 - 19N

Perhaps recognizing the importance of the Mill (but more likely just smarting over losing any ground at all), our German opponent spent all of his many reinforcement points for on map set up and came screaming out of the night at our measly defenders. Several things worked to our advantage. The first was the fact that we had managed to obtain a .50 caliber HMG from a purchase of jeeps, the second was that, in his haste, he sent his attackers at us piecemeal as they could reach the front (allowing our HMG to concentrate on each in turn), but far and away the most significant factor in our successful holding of these vital locations was the attacker’s decision to launch starshells into which his troops charged. These starshells had the effect of activating all of our units (otherwise frozen by night rules), stripping all of his concealment, and giving us great attacks against his moving units (which were otherwise beyond our night vision). The carnage for the Germans was senseless and horrific. In fact, by night’s end we were even able to run a few guys forward to take some foxholes on the high ground just the other side of the Nabonru (this proved critical as will be seen). This massive blunder on the part of the Germans and the incredible death toll that resulted has long convinced me that nothing of future value could be obtained by describing this game. However, further reflection (and the pestering of my good friend Robert Delwood) has convinced me that some nuggets of information gleaned from this experience may yet be useful to other players. For example, one thing this game showed was that a player Idles at night at his own great risk. If for any reason you feel compelled to so Idle, then use all of your counterintelligence efforts to get your opponent to Idle as well. If the Germans have any weakness it is that they have few chits and must be ready at all points along the line for the American attack. Add to this burden the “freezing” of units due to going Idle at night and the Americans might make huge undeserved gains.

Game 3 - 20A

Our plan all along for game 3, which was undoubtedly shared verbally with our opponent, was that, come the 20th a.m. game, my teammate would have his own units and attack into Borgoumont (until then we had too few units to have a split command that was any thing but silly and contrived). The plan was to have him bring his task force in at Borgoumont while I tried to hold onto the Mill etc. In studying the map late the night after the catastrophe that was game 2, my teammate conceived a brilliant plan. This plan was to largely abandon the Borgoumont offensive (against which we knew our opponent would have spent many, now wasted, defensive efforts) and to build units on map (including five Sherman tank-alternatives). These on map units would be placed just the other side (German side) of the wooded fringe of the heights bordering the Nabonru using the set up area we seized at the end of game 2. Thus, in a single stroke, our units and tank-alternatives would have crossed these two substantial obstacles. Their goal would be the quick seizure of the Werimont Farm, which we coveted and knew to be the single most important hex of the game, and if lucky, the Dinheid Heights as well. Although in my zeal we suffered an early setback, we nonetheless captured both, although the latter only by the skin of our teeth.

In fact, we all but took l’Hommes House as well, sacrificing the chance to fully take it in exchange for isolating the German units in Borgoumont. My teammate’s efforts in Borgoumont, with his now greatly attenuated force, was crushed painfully, but he did manage to have a few rogue units achieve the isolation mentioned above. As can be recognized immediately, the game was now all but over for the Germans if they did not immediately take back the Werimont Farm and Dinheid. With these two locations (aggregating eight points per game), we would generate 88 more points by game’s end (which together with the 65 for the Mill and Bridge, would total 153 of the 160 needed!). I say again, Wow! As will be seen, however, by the events of turns four through seven, our opponent had yet to grasp this significance.

Game 4 - 20P

Knowing what a coup we had just pulled off, and assuming that the Germans would lunge at us to take the ground back, we spent a huge amount of our reinforcement points on defense (mines, foxholes, the 90L gun for the Dinheid, pre-registered OBA etc.). We also had an important decision before us: should we play a chit and ensure he had the ability to attack us, or should we risk an Idle in hopes that we could convince him that we would be playing a chit and he need not play a chit himself? We knew we were too weak to hold any of our ground against an attack, and we knew that his playing a chit to our Idle would not make it much worse. We therefore adopted the plan of discussing our impending attack while intending to go Idle. Our jaws dropped somewhat in disbelief when he Idled as well, giving us another game of victory points and another full game to beef up the defense of our gains. Our goal was to mine the entire front from the Dinheid to l’Homme's House. As will be seen, this minefield became immense, but also immensely underwhelming.

Game 5 - 20N

With the night now upon us we knew he would definitely play his chit, just as surely as we knew we could not survive being frozen by being the Idling player at night. Thus we played a chit but were again stunned into disbelief when he Idled again. We therefore used the opportunity to do some clean up of the line, being careful to activate as few of his units as possible. We captured the evacuated l’Homme House and sent a unit running out to take the La Venne Crossroads to aid in the onslaught we expected on the 23rd (as well as to give us another point per game). My teammate used this opportunity to set up positions from which to attack Borgoumont (but, I might say, kept blundering into minefields and unnecessarily activating enemy units). For all his blundering about, however, I will credit my teammate with seeing so clearly (as I could not) the fact that we were firmly in control of this game.

Games 6 and 7 - 21A, 21P

As mentioned above, we were (or at least I was) unaware of the extent to which our opponent was failing to calculate accurately the way in which the victory points would be accumulating over time. At the end of game 5, we now sat on sufficient victory locations (with the addition of l’Homme’s House and the La Venne Crossroad) to win without taking another hex. So what does the German do?, he continues to Idle for two more games. In addition to the victory points, it gave us four straight games to build up our minefield and to get our defensive positions as strong as any would-be Rommel would have desired for his Westwall. Each hex had two AT mine factors (with a few exceptions of one or three) and many key infantry avenues had 6 AP mines as well. I had my 90L in place on the Dinheid Heights, two groups of 100mm OBA with four pre-registered hexes along likely attack routes, and three hidden 57Ls placed for flank shots. In my ignorance, I was confident he would pay for an attack.

Game 8 - 21N

On the eve of what would be the last action of this game, our opponent made it clear that he still believed holding the town’s center would give him victory. Nonetheless, he finally elected to attack out of La Gleize for the Dinheid. Although he asserted afterwards that his plan was a great two pronged attack at the Dinheid and l’Homme’s House, meeting in the middle at the Werimont Farm, all we saw was a thrust at the Dinheid and a little movement up the middle toward the Werimont Farm. As anyone who plays KGP will attest, good fortune alone will stop German heavy tanks, and the German had them in skads for this attack. While my teammate collapsed the isolated Germans in Borgoumont, I rained what fire I had at the waves of German armor (he had largely left his infantry behind). Two tanks were destroyed by the pre-game bombardment (each rolling a two), one was killed after being immobilized on a mine adjacent to my 90L, a third malf’d its MA (under low ammo) and a fourth received a critical hit by OBA and died. Our rolling was crisp but not lucky and his rolling was lackluster but not unlucky. Although American losses were the worst of the campaign, three turns into this campaign date, our opponent capitulated. Apparently, sometime during the days preceding this last night of game play, he finally became aware that he had delayed too many games in launching his counter attack and could not now win without taking a lot of ground. Having met some reverses on his first attempt to take this ground, he decided he would rather start fresh with a new game.

Post-Game Reflection

So the game is now over. What have I learned from the experience that might be useful to other potential players? In addition to the notes on German play above, I would add that the German should be willing to use his chits to counter attack when he has lost important ground, but should avoid going Idle at night unless he can cajole the American into doing the same. As the Germans, you are too thinly spread to allow the American to keep large portions of your units frozen by idling at night while they get behind your lines. For the Americans, I can offer little advice because our game was such an oddity. You have next to no units and will be greatly outnumbered and outgunned until the last two games of the campaign (which we failed to reach). Nonetheless, you must take ground to win. At all costs, conserve your infantry. You will always be outnumbered by the Germans but can achieve local majorities if you have enough infantry units. You really can’t afford any infantry losses whatsoever. Resist too prolific a use of chits because this will just give the Germans more games to crush you. Pick your time and your place to focus your strength on a limited area of the German defense. In deciding whether to attack, consider whether the gains you can achieve against his weak area will offset the losses you will surely suffer when he attacks out of his strong area. Build, but don’t rely too heavily on, mines to protect your gains. His 8 or 9 morale will allow him to walk through AP mines and his heavy tanks can rarely suffer anything but immobilization due to AT mines.

To future American players, I wish you the best of luck, you will need it. To the German players, I offer my congratulations, you at least will have great fun.