HF1 Black Day in Hatten AAR

Adrian Carter

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Daytime temperatures are currently between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius in North West Europe so we decided to cool off by moving to winter in the twin villages of Hatten-Rittershoffen in Alsace for our next game. We chose HF1 Black Day in Hatten because we had read a lot of favourable comments about this historical module in general and this scenario in particular.

Elements of the American 242nd Infantry Regiment supported by 3 M18 GMCs of B Company of the 827th Tank Destroyer Battalion launched a local counterattack to take back parts of the village that had been recently seized by the German Panzergrenadier-Regiment 35. The action takes place on the north western section of the Hatten map and the Americans have 6 turns to seize the required building hexes. Before we reported our games, ROAR had registered 38 wins for the Americans and 44 for the Germans. I attacked with the Americans and Johan defended with the Germans.
  • American advantages: Firepower, leadership, M18 GMCs
    American disadvantages: LV hindrance at start, time
  • German advantages: Terrain, concealment, leadership
    German disadvantages: no long-range AT assets, only LMGs
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Figure 1 shows the troop positions at the start of the game. After seeing the broad German setup I decided to also attack on a broad front with a platoon in the west, two platoons in the middle and a platoon in the east. I planned to use white phosphorous (WP) from the mortars (spoiler alert, it didn’t go well) to cover the attack and hold my M18 GMCs well back until I knew where the 7,5-cm-leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18 (leIG 18) and Raketenpanzerbüchse (aka Panzerschreck) were hiding. I would then fire from a distance and look to get behind the German defence to cut off rout paths. Given the propensity of the Americans to break easily, I always tried to keep my leaders ready to rally the troops as necessary. At the start, I also planned to use some deployed HS to draw fire and mark some of the MMGs with Opportunity Fire counters.

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Figure 2 shows the troop positions at the start of turn 3. The WP10 for the first WP to hit attempt sounds good, but not if you roll more than this both times. The Americans must have left all the WP grenades back in camp. Apart from this, my American attack had progressed slowly but surely and I had secured 4 of the required 6 building hexes without losing any M18 GMCs.
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Figure 3 shows the troop dispositions the start of turn 5. The German defence on the western side of the map had collapsed, thereby allowing two M18 GMCs to start outflanking the rest of the German defence. I had several broken American squads in the middle but with the negative modifier leaders I was confident of rallying some of them back quickly. Johan had originally placed the leIG 18 in the I4 building and ended up manhandling the gun out the building which allowed me to break the crew with small-arms fire. I still only had 4 of the required 6 building hexes by this stage but was reasonably confident of securing at least 2 more in this turn.

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Figure 4 shows the troop dispositions at the end of game during the Axis turn 5 at which point the Germans conceded. Although one M18 GMC had been recalled due to a sniper hit, I still had two left. They had successfully worked their way around the back of the defence and were lobbing shells into the German hexes and cutting their rout paths. The Americans had occupied the necessary 6 building hexes and had broken most of the German squads whilst they attempted to take back the buildings. Overall, this was a very enjoyable scenario, although I find it difficult to see how the Germans can win this if the Americans play a sensible game of fire and manoeuvre. I’m happy to hear any other thoughts though.
 
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Hovned31

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I played this as the Germans and my experience was similar to yours. Once my line cracked my opponent sent the TDs in to get behind me and cut routs. It was hard to stand up to American firepower as the game went on. Still, I enjoyed the scenario a lot and would play it again as I would most of the Hatten scenarios.
 

Adrian Carter

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Hovned31! Johan and I are planning to play our next scenario from Hatten in Flames this week. Stay tuned.
 

Tuomo

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Overall, this was a very enjoyable scenario, although I find it difficult to see how the Germans can win this if the Americans play a sensible game of fire and manoeuvre. I’m happy to hear any other thoughts though.
I've played this a few times and seen it played a few more times. Definitely winnable as the Germans: ROAR has it 44-39 in favor of the Americans, and the ASL Scenario Archive has it 18-13 the same way. I can't comment on what happened in your game, but I will say that the at-start German defense seems a bit more spread-out than it should be; not enough strength in the I-J-K hexrows, and what's there seems to be more of a defense-in-depth than an up-front defense. Not enough Germans on the front line to support each other.

There also is usually a bit more drama associated with the German reinforcements; the US usually doesn't get as much freedom with their AFVs as you're showing here. Shrug?
 

Eagle4ty

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The Gun in the VC building at K5 is a good gambit and just enough infantry on the flanks to preclude a rapid flanking of the position to the North. The church and stone buildings in the center are a bugger for the Americans to clear while the U.S. armor is certainly quite vulnerable to both small arms and A-T assets. After about three playing myself I rate it about 53-55% pro-American with a bit of luck and a good American attack plan involved. Seems as if the record bears this out. I would play it again as either side with no balance given/taken and feel I had a decent chance for victory. Nice AAR BTW.
 

Adrian Carter

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I've played this a few times and seen it played a few more times. Definitely winnable as the Germans: ROAR has it 44-39 in favor of the Americans, and the ASL Scenario Archive has it 18-13 the same way. I can't comment on what happened in your game, but I will say that the at-start German defense seems a bit more spread-out than it should be; not enough strength in the I-J-K hexrows, and what's there seems to be more of a defense-in-depth than an up-front defense. Not enough Germans on the front line to support each other.

There also is usually a bit more drama associated with the German reinforcements; the US usually doesn't get as much freedom with their AFVs as you're showing here. Shrug?
Thanks for the helpful ideas. Much appreciated. The Americans cut through the first line of the German defence quite quickly and then carried on plodding through the I-J-K hexrows.
 

Adrian Carter

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The Gun in the VC building at K5 is a good gambit and just enough infantry on the flanks to preclude a rapid flanking of the position to the North. The church and stone buildings in the center are a bugger for the Americans to clear while the U.S. armor is certainly quite vulnerable to both small arms and A-T assets. After about three playing myself I rate it about 53-55% pro-American with a bit of luck and a good American attack plan involved. Seems as if the record bears this out. I would play it again as either side with no balance given/taken and feel I had a decent chance for victory. Nice AAR BTW.
Glad you liked AAR :) I also like the idea of placing the IFT gun in K5. My opponent set his much further back at the start. With respect to the US armour, despite keeping their distance to the infantry Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck assets, the tank destroyers can still be vulnerable to IFT because of their CE OT status. I did suffer a STUN result with one of them :(
 
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