This past Memorial Day weekend WR attended the regional Strategicon Gamex convention based near the Los Angeles Airport or LAX (Hilton hotel). Joined by his son Daniel as GM, the scenario for the convention was the much awaited Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen 1945 Flames of War (FOW) MRB Ver3.0 project. Details for the FOW scenario, hints and notes, and the preparation of 20mm (1/72) miniatures / terrain have been covered in previous articles links below.
Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario, including the basic and “Hollywood movie” scenario versions: Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) March 1945 and the Ludendorff Bridge Preparation.
The starting American set up: Pictured below, the Pershing heavy tank platoon, the leading Armoured Rifle platoon (without transport), the Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, and the defending VolksGrenadier platoon guarding the RR ramp leading to the bridge.
The defending German starting position: The 2cm Flak36 gun pit battery up on the Erleper Ley mountain, the Flak38 3.7cm battery along the riverbank, and a portion of the Volks Artillery battery lower right corner seen. Not pictured below, behind the Erleper Ley mountain at tunnel portal, is the German Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, plus the VolksSturm platoon.
WR refers the reader to the Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario and note links about the terrain modeled on the tabletop.
Turn One: This scenario is fast paced….. as the American must move rapidly to secure the bridge far bank. Delaying a turn or two is quick recipe for American defeat as the bridge blows up before your miniatures eyes. Daniel played the Americans as Jose and Andy covered the defensive Germans being new players to the FOW MRB Ver3.0 system. Later on additional players joined in or discussed the rolling tabletop battle….Alan, Tim with Mathew, Steven and others.
Rushing forward the leading Armoured rifles (AR) platoon, across the open ground or concealing fields, heading towards the VolksGrenadier entrenched position. Pershing heavy tanks crews calmly loaded 90mm HE shells into the gun breeches, then sent the shells, along with the hull mount machine guns bullets, into the German infantry around the RR raised ramp. The 1st or leading AR platoon LMG teams, station on the 2nd floor of the nearby building, fire belts of 30cal bullets into the German earthen foxholes while the sole M2 60mm light mortar team drop fused shells into the tube. Two dead German VolksGrenadier teams litter the broken ground as a result.
As the American infantry rush forward, the arriving reserve (zone 3) march (doubletime) quickly across the rear tabletop, except for the Sherman M4a3 tank platoon. The two M4a3E8. or “Easy Eight” tanks, joined by two late M4a3 Sherman tanks, formed a combine tank platoon. These tanks drove along the Rhine river bank, firing upon the 3.7cm gun pits across the river. Two 3.7cm Flak cannon and the crews blasted by the 76mm and 75mm shells, fired from the cordite smoking cannon.
Note: The scenario has eight 3.7cm and eight 2cm Flak cannon. WR used four models for each battery, counting each miniature model with double hit capability. See the scenario notes article for more detail on this game mechanic.
German reply is somewhat mute. Seeing the American break cover, the 3.7cm gunners couldn’t remain silent and hide in their gun pits, Several conscript Flak38 3.7cm crews target the American infantry, scoring hits, but the veteran American infantry ducked, dove, or crawled to cover with no loss. The trained VolksGrenadier platoon keep their heads down, pinned but avoiding the American bullets for now. In the German rear zone, the Volks Artillery 10.5cm leFH18/40 battery opens fire after the gun crews spot the American movement across the river. Several spotting rounds later the gun crews never saw the round impacts…. hence no ranging in to Fire for Effect (FFE) the exposed American infantry.
Note: The Volks Artillery has no observer teams attached so either the actual gun teams spot the target team or the German Co. HQ CinC team at the tunnel portal dialed in the spotting / ranging report.
Turn Two: Firing on the move, the American Armoured Rifle (AR) platoon close in on the VolksGrenadiers, sheltering in their foxholes. The Sherman tank platoon further their movement and firing along the river bank, targeting the 3.7cm gun pits. Four more 3.7cm cannon and their crews are removed from the tabletop causing a morale test (over platoon 50% team loss). Being Reluctant Conscript rated and quick morale test failure, the gunners bolt for the rear, abandoning their remaining 3.7cm cannon. One platoon destroyed…. four more to go for company morale tests (eight platoons in total for Germans).
Back at the bridgehead, the German VolksGrenadiers are getting pounded by everything the Americans can fire or chuck in their direction. The Pershing tanks move forward, ready to assault the foxhole pinned Panzerfaust tipped R/MG teams after sending 90mm HE into their ranks. Even the AA H/T platoon section joined in with the quad .50cal mount. Infantry Garand rifles, bazooka rounds, LMG 30cal, even the stray 60mm mortar round (the kitchen sink effect joked one player) reduce the VolksGrenadiers to under 50% platoon strength…. die roll please with drum roll…. they scatter or surrender in place, failure of another morale test. Two platoon destroyed…. and the bridge path is open for business.
With the 3.7cm Flak38 AA battery gone and the VolksGrenadiers scattered, only the Volks Artillery battery can extract revenge. Ranging in on their first spotting round (someone read the manual), the 10.5cm shell destroy the Engineering platoon’s M4 dozer tank and two teams. Pin markers please….
Turn Three: After destroying the 3.7cm AA battery, the Sherman platoon redirects their firepower on the hiding VolksSturm platoon across the bridge. The German 2cm Flak36 battery still remains behind the forward edge of the Erleper Ley mountain so cannot be targeted. American platoons rush towards the bridge, up the RR ramp or hide under the black stone lined archways.
Again a quiet German turn except for the Volks Artillery doing their FFE mission. Two more American teams blasted apart. The turn three delayed reserve roll yields no arriving heavy panzer platoon (d6, 5+ required).
Turn Four: Rush the bridge? ….. the fuse is lit for turn four explosion. Team America discuss and hold up for the explosive show in front row seating. More shelling of the VolksSturm platoon…. who either save themselves or avoid a direct hit. The 60mm mortar drop smoke rounds on the far end of the bridge for practice.
Start of the German turn four….. a big blast or fire and smoke, with an occasion steel beam sailing through the air sees the Ludendorff bridge go up then back down…. just like the Remagen hollywood movie. WR places his “damaged bridge overlay, with the golden cigarette case as center point target, on the bridge. The pale blue staff car is blown into the Rhine, or France… where it landed is unknown. The sound of heavy panzer motors is heard. A Jagdpanther platoon arrives to aid in the defense of Germany. Their long 88mm cannon will soon seek the steel hulls of American tanks.
As the smoke clears….. the German CinC commander is horrified to see the bridge still standing. Quickly he redirects the 10.5cm Volks Artillery battery on the far end of the bridge to shell the gathering American infantry teams. First attempt fails to range in. The second attempt… fails. Finally the third spotting round lands on target. Two more AR teams disappear from the 10.5cm shell bombardment. Bazooka team step up as target selection….. these choices will haunt the Americans later in the scenario.
Turn Five: Smoke clearing and ears drums deaf to the sounds of battle, the nearest AR platoon charges across the bridge in the folk art but really using the scant cover provided by the steel beams and structural girders. Ahead the smoke clouds puff repeated from the M2 60mm mortar team, trying to conceal the American approach from the popping heads of the VolksSturm platoon. Suddenly the ripping sound of two HMG nests stencil the wooden planks with bullet holes. Then a single crack of sniper aimed rifle fire, a team drops dead on the bridge. Meanwhile the Pershing platoon reacts to the HMG nests…. sending HE shells into the black stone tower walls while the Shermans pound the VolksSturm platoon infantry, who wisely dig deeper into their foxholes.
Seeing the exposed Sherman besides the bridge, the Jadgpanthers line up their long barrel 88mm cannon. Two shells whistle over the startled American tankers. Another salvo of 10.5cm HE shells pound the American side of the Ludendorff Bridge. American medics tend to the wounded G.I’s… setting up a makeshift treatment area in the tower ground floor.
Turn Six: Now or never. The American AR platoon teams cross the final distance and assault the VolksSturm platoon in their foxholes or garrisoning the twin towers. One HMG nest is blasted by the Sherman platoon 75mm cannon. The other is pinned back by concentrate firepower at the firing silt. Smoke rounds screen somewhat the final American charge with grenades, rifles, and rifle butts. Old German rifles, with old and young trigger hands, open fire on the darting, smoke cloaked Americans. Two American teams end their invasion of Germany on the broken wooden planking.
A savage melee with grenades, rifle butts, pistols, submachine guns, and bare hands punching / grabbing grows on the RR ramp and dark tower doorways. One VolksSturm team down, the counterattack barrage of grenadiers and SMG bullets drops American seasoned men alongside the fallen Germans. Crazed teenagers stumbled about while grim old men, who last fought in the Great War trench battles, bayonet the youth of America. The fighting continues for several rounds, both sides adding more teams to replace the fallen. Finally the American make the final effort, forcing the VolksSturm platoon back after their last counterattack and clean out the HMG nest in the tower with grenades. A shallow cheer from the American AR platoon, reduced to three teams now, holding a shallow bridgehead in Germany. For the VolksSturm men, likewise fewer in number, undefeated in thought as they retire some distance, release their hold of the two blood splashed towers.
As the savage bridge melee recedes in history, the Jagdpanthers approach the Rhine River, targeting the opposite bank Sherman platoon. One Sherman brews up in a black tipped flame, no surviving crew member escaping.
Another German delayed reserve heavy panzer platoon arrives. A King Tiger this time which drives to the narrow roadway up the Erleper Ley. A string of bogging skill tests are in their future for every turn of movement up the steep road grade.
Turn Seven: Since the Germans had no teams within 6″ of the bridge center point on turns five and six, the scenario notes for turn seven allows them to set off the bridge charges if within six inches of any portion of the bridge model. To prevent any chance and die roll, the American tank platoons blast with shell and machine guns the remains of the VolksSturm platoon. Just the platoon commander survived the American firepower… soon last seen running down the tunnel to safety. The German company HQ CinC and 2iC SMG teams still man the tunnel portal position, just beyond the six-inch radius to the bridge model. Reacting to the situation, the surviving teams of the leading AR platoon charge forward to clear the tunnel portal position. The “schoolmaster” leader and his fellow German officers man the position and cut down two teams with the SMG. The sole American team whiffs their assault roll, soon followed by the final burst of German SMG bullets to remove the Americans from German soil.
Turn seven is the 1st turn of the Arado 234B bomber attacks. Every turn hereon the German jet bombers fly in to bomb the center point of the bridge, hoping to hit and drop the damaged bridge into the Rhine. WR glued Major Krueger’s the “golden cigarette case” to marker the targeting point. But first the Volks Artillery land another FFE mission on the American infantry moving across the bridge.
Note: German jet bombers cannot be intercepted per the Remagen supplement book. WR also increased the skill test to hit roll (AA fire) by one, to increase the difficulty of hitting the fast aircraft.
Well positioned near the bridge RR ramp, the American M15 and M16 AA H/T teams open fire and destroy or deflect the German jet bombers. As long as those two AA H/T teams are nearby the German jet bomber should be kept at bay….. till the H/T draw long-range fire from the German tanks.
Jagdpanthers draw blood and brew up another Sherman tank across the river. The slow King Tiger climbs the slope to the 1st level, careful with its overstressed transmission using very slow going movement and stormtrooper rolls. Finally the Germans player team have to advance the 2cm Flak36 guns to fire upon the Ludendorff bridge below, trying to stop the horde of American infantry surging across to avoid the German Volks artillery bombardment chasing them. What the German CinC commander team is shouting in their artillery phone is left to the history writers.
Turn Eight: Another flight of German Arado jets are inbound. Seeing the exposed 2cm Flak cannon appear last turn on the Erpeler Ley edge, the American armor opens fire with shell, joined by M2 60mm mortar smoke rounds. Three flak crews are wiped out, totally exposed to the American firepower. More American infantry (2nd AR platoon) dart and dodge the wreckage on the bridge span, seeking cover from the German 2cm shells in reply. The King Tiger arrives on the 3rd Erleper Ley level without delay. Germans players see hope for a win.
Rolling the aircraft number, the German Arado jet bomber flight has one plane…. it tried but was shot down again by the American AA fire.
Turn Nine: Again another now or never charge! The leading American 2nd AR platoon teams charge home against the German HQ company teams. SMG bullets cut down one team on the exposed RR ramp. Point blank firefight across the impoverished barrage position cuts down the 2iC team. Glory counterattack for the Iron cross? No, the German CinC team bolts further into the tunnel, disappearing in the darkness. American control the tunnel portal now just as the two Jagdpanther near the left side.
Before the German turn, the American armor blast away the 2cm Flak36 gunners. Four more crews are removed, causing a platoon morale test. Being true Reluctant Conscripts the surviving crews bolt for the rear, waving to the veteran (but Reluctant themselves) King Tiger crew as they pass by. Not amused, the King Tiger crew drives forward to reach the mountain edge and see the field of American targets below. Over the American tanker radio net the words “o’…..hit” is heard as a 88mm shell flies past the Pershing tanks.
Turn Ten: Can we win now ask the American players? Charging up the Erpeler Ley steep forward slope, the American 2nd AR platoon climbs the rocky face. The Engineer platoon is following as they cross the bridge, dodging sniper fire pinging off steel beams. Last turn one of the sniper teams made their “lair relocation roll” to disappear for the turn. This turn they reappeared beside the tower and prepared to set off the bridge charges again on turn eleven, protected by the two Jagdpanthers look of menacing action. The zoo of Jagdpanthers, King Tiger, and now the Jagdtiger open fire on the bridge exposed American infantry. A huge difference between bullets and now 88mm or larger shells raking the bridge. Dead American teams dot the wooden planks.
Turn Eleven: Can we win….. the 2nd American AR platoon reaches the top of Erpeler Ley and see the waiting King Tiger tank nearby. The AR platoon commander asks for the bazooka team…. but all the bazooka teams have been killed or wounded. With top armor 2, the German panzer crews laugh at any American assault on the stationary panzer. Suddenly the American players realize they have no ability to damage, assault for success, or tank cannon which can harm any of the German panzers. No bazooka teams are left in all the platoons. So the scenario is called at the start of the German turn…. just as the sniper team pushes down on the plunger handle to set off the 2nd bridge explosion.
Scenario end: The 2nd explosion blasts drop the Ludendorff Bridge into the Rhine river. Scenario end now as no American vehicles can cross, leaving only the American infantry… sans bazooka teams. With no AT capability across the river, taking any objective marker is beyond their ability.
Wow…. a great scenario game. First a thank you to all the players for this and the following “Hollywood version” Remagen scenario. Tim, David, Andy, Jose, Daniel, Alan, Mathew for cheering his dad, Steven, and WR overseeing the scenario play. A good turn out for active and new FOW Ver3.0 gamers…. even with the gamer interest for the concurrently scheduled Battlegroup / FOW Ver4.0 North Africa game. WR’s notes from the scenario have been added to the Ludendorff Bridge scenario notes to encourage the future gamers to reflect on how to win the scenario, especially for the “need to move fast” American side.
Cheers from Gamex 2108. Later this upcoming weekend, the second “Hollywood version” of Ludendorff – Remagen bridge AAR hopefully will be posted.
What a great game and write up! I felt like I was watching the movie again. Great to see all the home made terrain. Love it.
The scenario was fun for all the players. A bit different from the typical “line up and charge forward ” convention games I see all the time. The “Hollywood version will soon be posted with a slightly different cast on the tabletop. I yes, I saw the Remagen movie several times to add in the flavor bits….
its a cracking movie and i enjoyed the hollywood report too. I am dreaming of doing a similar thing with A Bridge Too Far. Although in a campaign kind of thing. Too many fun projects! Need to give up work….
A very cool scenario and game, even if way out of my eras!
Could be a Roman bridging scenario…. just toss out the steel bridge and RR. Add in some wood huts, starry eyed barbarians, and build the Roman bridge to “nowhere”. Sorry Peter, I seem to be in a FOW fix these last few months. The ancients collection inventory process burned me out so FOW is easy and minimum work… maybe not. Back to the FRW and Imperial Napoleonics in summer months. Maybe a 1809 scenario for late summer or back to the Sardinians of 1793-1796 period for a change of scenery.