Sunday, April 13, 2014

Losheimergraben: Prelude, a Flames of War Scenario

This is the second of three scenarios that cover the fighting around Losheimergraben on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. This action takes place around the same time as the fight at Buchholz Station. It happened in the woods southeast of Losheimergraben, about a mile or so east of the fighting at Buchholz.

B Company, 394th Infantry Regiment, was located in prepared positions in the woods east of the crossroads. At 0530, the German artillery barrage began, beginning far behind the lines and slowly creeping eastwards. The artillery hit the company's positions between 0700 and 0730, wiping out the weapons platoon, but leaving the rest of the company pretty much intact. Luckily for the Americans, the artillery also caused casualties in the 1st battalion of the 48th Grenadier Regiment. The German attack was delayed while they withdrew the 1st battalion's casualties and repositioned the second battalion to attack. Around 0800, the volksgrenadiers of the 2nd battalion started encountering the men of B Company in their dugouts in the forest.

Scenario Description

American Forces - Confident Trained

  • Company HQ: ­ 1x CinC Carbine, 1x 2iC Carbine
  • Rifle Platoon: 1x Command Rifle, 4x Rifle, 1x LMG
  • Rifle Platoon:­ 1x Command Rifle, 4x Rifle, 1x LMG
  • Rifle Platoon: 1x Command Rifle, 4x Rifle, 1x LMG
  • Rifle Platoon: 1x Command Rifle, 4x Rifle, 1x LMG

German Forces - Confident Veteran

  • Company HQ: 1x CinC Assault Rifle, 1x 2iC Assault Rifle
  • Sturm Platoon: 1x Command Assault Rifle, 4x Assault Rifle, 1x MG42 HMG team
  • Sturm Platoon: 1x Command Assault Rifle, 4x Assault Rifle, 1x MG42 HMG team
  • Schutzen Platoon: 1x Command Rifle/MG, 6x Rifle/MG, 1x MG42 HMG team


  • The game is played on a 4' x 4' board.
  • The Americans set up on the  on western 24" of the board while the Germans set up on the eastern 16". There should be an 8" gap between the two areas, which is enough to move and assault on the first turn. 
  • The Americans set up one objective representing the company command post within 8" of the American rear edge and at least 8" from side edges.
  • The Americans start the game Dug In.


The left side of the map is a dirt road. The squiggly lines on the right side represent a stream. The green areas represent woods. We played the stream as rough, concealing terrain that only blocked line of sight to/from units inside of it. The idea was that the stream was slightly below ground level, so it would not interfere with units shooting over it.

Scenario Special Rules

After setup but prior to Turn 1, the Germans conduct two preliminary bombardments. The German player selects any American team on the board as the aim point of a 105mm bombardment. The bombardment is assumed to range in on the first attempt. The players then roll for hits, saves, and firepower as normal. The process is then repeated for a second team. The second target team must be different than the first. Note that this means that American units can begin the game pinned, as the Germans move first.


The Germans win if they can capture the American HQ by the end of turn six. They also win if they force the Americans to fail a company morale check. The Americans win by preventing the German victory conditions.


The order of battle deviates from the "standard" platoon listings in the book. We split the Americans into four platoons to better simulate their isolation in the woods. This does give the American a bit of flexibility, but the smaller platoons are also more fragile. The initial bombardment better simulates the actual battle, as the Germans did not have artillery on call due to a wire being cut. We also tweaked the setup so the Germans are in range to move and assault on Turn 1. Again, this better reflects the situation as the Germans stumbled into the American positions without much warning.

The 48th Grenadier Regiment received a lot of replacements over the autumn. The NCOs and officers were all combat veterans, but many of the soldiers were pretty green. To better reflect this, you can represent the German troops as Confident Trained instead of Confident Veteran. If you do that, you should double the number of German troops to two companies and play on a normal sized board.

Playtest AAR

We played the game three times. One was a smashing German victory, one a smashing American victory, and the third went down to the wire with the Americans passing a crucial motivation test to win in the end. We were pretty happy with the results.

The German tactics were to use the initial bombardment to pin an American platoon or two, then assault with the Sturm platoons. After that attack, the Germans would continue to force their way through the woods. The American tried a few different setups, generally setting up in depth, but varying platoon frontage. That seemed to work well, as the German was only able to assault one platoon at a time. The American would move to reinforce a weak area, but quickly dug in when possible to avoid casualties from the abundance of automatic weapons.

I think that six turns might be a little short, but it does make sure the Germans are aggressive. The small American units are fragile, so a few well coordinated assaults can quickly push the Americans to take a company motivation test. If that seems a little short to you, feel free to increase the game length to eight turns.


The Americans stopped the initial assault with heavy small arms fire. The woods forced the Americans to fight in isolated groups, and the sheer weight of the German attack eventually took its toll. Company B eventually withdrew to the crossroads, suffering over 60% casualties. The resistance disrupted the German time table, as they had planned on taking the crossroads on the first morning. Now they had to wait another 24 hours before they could attack again.

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