This last Sprint (34) we pivoted slightly to bring the third TOCS Game Module “Utah Beach” up to the level of the other two modules (Advance to the Moselle and Operation Market Garden Nijmegen). By focusing all Stories and Tasks on UB, we made significant progress defining the Utah Beach OOB and the GameBox.xml scenario metadata. We also extended the counter sheet generation to produce the counters for the Utah Beach module, which gave us the first glimpse as to what they would look like. Ken ported the vehicle silhouette code into the new TOCS repository, so that the counters now sport very nice vehicle images. This effort continued into this Sprint (35) where we are finishing the research to complete the OOB. The UB map and metadata have had improvements and clarifications, mostly changing the town names to their French spelling and adjusting the location of some villages for geo-spatial accuracy. Hopefully by the end of this Sprint (35) we will have all the map and metadata complete, the OOB complete and at least the first scenario metadata complete.
Our first impressions of Utah Beach was that we “just have to finish this module”, as this is going to be a blast to play. It is big, not going to lie, but there is so much that the TOCS automation will do to help manage the system and reduce the play complexities. The game concepts allow you, as the Commanding Officer to focus on the “fight” while your computerized command staff handles most of the logistics. The first scenario follows a historically accurate sequence down to the minute, so that naval bombardments, aerial bombing, rocket barges, paratroop and glider landing all occur in the proper order, followed by the successive waves of troops performing the seaborne invasion.
UB is ideally suited for multi-player collaboration, with Commanding Officers controlling the 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division and 4th Infantry “Ivy” Division. Problems due to the cloud cover, Path Finders that failed to set up their beacons, enemy AA fire, and inexperienced pilots resulted in a widely scattered drop. As an Airborne Commanding Officer achieving your mission objectives will be challenging, requiring adaptation and improvising, as you are dropping into the “fight” with little cohesion. As Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry, you need to get your troops ashore and fight your way into the hinterland as quickly as possible, before successive waves of reinforcements and supplies create a logistical problem on the beachhead. Casualties are less of a concern than it is to make room for the following waves. This will not be an easy task, the area immediately behind the beaches is flooded, with only elevated roads acting as causeways to exit. The Germans will have every path out covered by weapons nests and artillery interdiction. All while the German coastal artillery will be firing on Utah Beach. Once inland the hedgerow country and narrow roads restricts movement and causes traffic jams. Armored dozers and tank dozers can help clear the beach of obstacles and help facilitate the flow of vehicles in the hedgerow country, but they are back in the queue to land. Managing the landing queue is a balancing act of troops, vehicles, supplies and bringing in the logistical facilities.
As the German Commanding Officer, your job isn’t easy either. Allied paratroopers and gliders have landed within your area, to assist the beachhead breakout and to block your counterattacks to eliminate this lodging. The Allied airfare is roaming freely, targeting anything that can be observed. Allied naval artillery support is pounding known positions. Your troops are a mixture of different types and weapons systems, some dating back to WWI. While not all are “old men and boys on bicycles“, many units do have bicycles and many other units have no vehicles at all. Your armor forces are an eclectic combination of modified French tanks from 1940, and those best suited for AT ambush roles. Your artillery and AT capability is reasonably good, but will it be enough to offset the American advantages? Keeping the supply routes open and keeping the units supplied is just as important as keeping the Allies from accomplishing their objectives, and making them pay for each and every hedgerow. The logistical situation is a big concern, the only railroad serving the Cotentin Peninsula came through Caen, Carentan and St. Mere E’glise both likely to be top Allied objectives. The only other supply routes are the road network to the Southwest and landing supplies along the Western shore. You are ordered to hold the major port of Cherbourg until the last bullet, can your reinforcements keep the supply route open and keep the Allies from capturing the port?
There’s only one way to find out, but you’ll have to wait until Utah Beach is available for play test or for purchase before you can play the part of, the Commanding Officer.