Comments on KampfGruppe Peiper (KGP) Mini Campaign
By Warren PetersonI was asked to prepare a few remarks in retrospect on the KGP Mini Campaign. Visitors to the MEGA website unfamiliar with the campaign can view the Game Log reports starting with April 6, 2002 (Terry insert link here).
During the campaign I played (commanded) SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper's forces. Consequently, my comments will be from his perspective and limited to the battles in the table top campaign. Comparisons with actual history will be left to the reader. The forces at my disposal were in most instances quantitatively and qualitatively superior to anything fielded by the Americans. After all my job was to attack!
Without going into too much detail or re-hashing old Game Log reports let me summarize my thoughts as follows:
Stavelot: The control of this town, which was part of several campaign battles, was to have far reaching effects on KGP's spearhead. While the initial assault to capture the town was successful the forces left behind (a security company) to protect this important supply junction (with its critical bridge over the Ambleve River) were inadequate. This resulted in further delays as KGP was required to dispatch additional forces to the rear to deal with American counterattacks.
Stoumont: Finally at this stage of the campaign I have the Americans on the run. However, the varying visibility conditions created problems in identifying and neutralizing targets. Loses were not in surmountable, but it cost KGP more than I would of liked.
Stoumont Station: The approach to this battle was more coordinated and I think the results were much more pleasing. With a steel wall to our front composed of King Tigers and Panthers we could advance in a more relentless fashion against the Americans. With KGP's overwhelming superiority in tanks it was just a slow methodical process to grind down the Americans. However, our advance was not without losses.
Taragon: A new approach to taking these bazooka-infested towns is to reduce them to rubble. The use of flame thrower equipped half-tracks with HE firing tanks appears to be a winning combination.
Other observations on the campaign:
- Guns to the Front - It always seemed to be the case that KGP's attack column was strung out along some road with the tanks unable to deploy along a wider front. If battles were not delayed at the outset to allow adequate firepower or forces to be brought forward, things tended to be fed into battle piece meal. This problem is largely the result of the terrain over which the campaign was conducted. The campaign terrain typically consisted of lots of woods with few roads and KGP always in a valley with hills on either flank. There was very little open ground on which I could press the advantage of numbers.
- What's the deal with those bazookas? - Although probably not true, it seems like I lost more vehicles to bazookas than anti-tank guns or other tanks. These guys were always a thorn in my side. Tanks and mechanized units could never assault past or thru towns, villages, single houses or woods without taking one in the side or rear. Bazookas even managed to knock out a King Tiger. It wasn't until late in the campaign that I finally arrived at the solution…American GI Flambé.
- De Plane, De Plane! - Although aircraft did not play a major role in the campaign, their one time appearance during our counterattack at Stavelot caused havoc. From the campaign perspective I was glad that their role was limited.
- The Great American Equalizer is Artillery - Good grief! Did these guys have enough artillery or what? American artillery was responsible for slowing or halting our advance more than any other factor. Entire companies of troops were killed in trying to cross the Ambleve River and assault Stavelot. Searching for, limiting their effectiveness with smoke, and of course killing FOs became an important task. American artillery was also extremely effective in stopping mechanized assaults because even though very few vehicles were destroyed, quite a few were rendered immobilized. This meant that troops had to walk, or tanks were effectively out of the assault. As for German artillery…KGP never seemed to have any, and when it did results were disappointing.
- My kingdom for a Bridge - Where were the German engineer companies with their bridging equipment? With the Americans destroying them everywhere, this served to limit KGP's tactical flexibility in fire and maneuver. The lack of bridging capability also damaged KGP's ability to successfully counterattack (recapture) Stavelot.
- Stay on Target - Because some battles became very involved (requiring multiple evenings of gaming time), players for both sides would come and go over the intervening time periods, as a result it was easy to lose track of objectives. Forces became focused on eliminating enemy units instead of the larger strategic or tactical picture. Although I am not sure of the extent to which it affected the campaign, I know that more than once KGP had to revisit its objectives.