We just wrapped up the Agile SCRUM PR (Pull Requests) for the changes made from the last play test of the BtM (Breaching the Moselle) scenario in the AttM (Advance to the Moselle) game module. There is no better way to see if the game system and its rules stand up than to play test it. The good news is, once again, nothing major came up. Most of the changes were to clarify rules sections and to add DRM (Die Roll Modifiers) to tables, and add some tables to the DocPack. This play test used the new AttM metadata that defined the scenarios, which resulted in some work to define new data properties.

About the play test. I played the 80 ID Commanding Officer and Ken played the German 553 ID Commanding Officer. My mission, assigned by 12th Corps, was to perform a river crossing of the Moselle River (near Nancy, France), establish a bridgehead, perform a breakout, and then exploit into the German rear area. As the American Commanding Officer, the 80 ID is almost at full strength with three days of rest and supplies stockpiled, will have to make a contested river crossing against a prepared defense. Not only has the 80 ID been tasked with making the crossing, it has also been tasked with clearing out any remaining Germans still on the near side the river. However, having objectives that don’t support each other means that I cannot focus on a single objective. Having two objects that can’t support each other is not desirable, but those are my orders.

I decided to allocate resources accordingly, just enough to accomplish each mission objective. The river crossing commenced as soon as it was dark, the weather mostly overcast with fog meant that observation from the heights on the far side of the river were negated. Engineers along a stretch of the Moselle constructed infantry footbridges and single-lane pontoon bridges, while ferrying units quietly to the far bank. By dawn the first of the bridges were in place to allow vehicle traffic to traverse to the far bank, at the same time the units previously ferried performed reconnaissance, followed by the first ground attacks. Enemy concentrations became priority targets for the artillery.

The attack to clear the Germans West of the Moselle River, was allocated the bare minimum forces for success, roughly two infantry battalions and supported assets and a few tank, a tank destroyer platoons and and an engineering company. The area that needed to be cleared was heavily wooded with several small hills, north of the Moselle River bend above the city of Nancy. I knew the area would be defended, but as my units pushed forward, I quickly realized that the enemy force was larger than expected, perhaps an entire regiment, and they were deployed over a larger than expected area. As it turned out the Germans were, in my opinion, overextended and performed a fighting withdrawal. Both American and German Artillery Interdiction was heavily used to pin the Germans from retreating and keep the American from pursuing them. With our two forces locked in this deadly embrace it was a tedious process to attempt to outflank the German units that very skillfully withdrew. In the end the steady relentless progress compressed and pushed the German unit back towards the river and the only bridge that offered a method of egress.

The attack fed four Infantry Battalions with supporting assets and several vehicle platoons across that created enough momentum to force passage around the German right flank, ascend the first set of hills and exploit across a small bridge on the far side. Within 6 hours (of game-turn time), the 80 ID was in a secure bridgehead that would have been difficult for the Germans to evict them from. The play test stopped there because it had satisfied our objective to testing a river crossing.

The extreme right flank of the 80ID held positions on the big bend of the Moselle River near Toul and extended for about 8 to 10 miles to the south. I had established a bridgehead at Toul perviously during the first scenario, so now I had the daunting task of expanding it into a prepared enemy position. Reconnaissance quickly determined that the area was covered with minefields and roadblocks and that the enemy positions were set up further back. Targeting these discovered enemy positions with artillery was enough for them to pull back further, while the infantry slowly breached the minefield with the support of engineers. The single infantry battalion with some tank support eventually traversed the minefield belt and cautiously advanced. No major actions were fought in this area. South of the river bend on my extreme right flank was heavily wooded with hills, and was held by a single infantry battalion. This was also slow going and the enemy delayed progress with minefields and roadblocks. Our closest engineering company was assisting in the fight to north clearing the Germans from that area, so there was no means of removing the minefields, which resulted in breaching the minefield belt the old fashioned way, slowing probing until it was crossed. Once the engineers were freed of their support role, they force marched to Toul to clear the minefields.

The takeaway was that we found a lot of small fixes to the rules, charts and metadata from the effort, which we have fixed in the latest code just checked in. I am certainly looking forward to the next play test, which is to test the river crossing again based on all of the new changes. The TOCS system is so much fun to play, it is so unpredictable, and so many tools in the arsenal to unhinge any defense, or frustrate any attack, I can’t wait until it becomes available. Every time we play test this, it plays like it is a new game, no two playings ever seem to be the same.