Sword to Caen

Bie

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I've been moderately happy about how my Pegasus Bridge scenario turned out. But, to me, it feels like a quite railroaded affair. This is obviously due to the limited scope and timeframe. So I started adding to the map and I'm about to quadruple it in size. This way, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 6th Airborne Division can be positioned on the map as a whole. As for the Axis: the 21st Panzer Division should also be completely playable and just about most of the 71th Infantry Division as well

I'm quite confident in my mapmaking ability, but less so in my ability to create scenarios. I'm hoping to create a scenario where you can give direction to your troops more and shape things more your way. I'm aiming for a two to three day timeframe, but we'll see I guess.

Once done, I'll include it in my Pegasus Bridge file in the resources.

Here are some screens of the map as of the moment:

Caen to Sword overview WIP.png
The whole map (18 x 18km)

Ouistreham WIP.png
Sword Beach and Ouistreham

Caen WIP.png
Caen
 

hubee0

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I love your maps and devotion to D-Day scenarios. You are certainly able to create great ones. But for me, there always will be a serious drawback - lack of naval gunfire in CO. Historians as well as soldiers taking part in Normandy campaign agreed that the overwhelming gunfire from ships was one of main factors in the success of invasion.
Maybe it should be simulated by placing heavy artillery 'units' in the sea? Not ideal, but it might work.
 

Bie

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I love your maps and devotion to D-Day scenarios. You are certainly able to create great ones. But for me, there always will be a serious drawback - lack of naval gunfire in CO. Historians as well as soldiers taking part in Normandy campaign agreed that the overwhelming gunfire from ships was one of main factors in the success of invasion.
Maybe it should be simulated by placing heavy artillery 'units' in the sea? Not ideal, but it might work.

Indeed, I've had a though on that as well. I've thought of putting in more airstrikes as to simulate the naval bombardment, but ultimately I decided against it. The idea of putting artillery units on sea might work. Make a couple of "islands" and put static guns on them. For the moment though, I'm going to finish the map and see what comes of it.

I'm planning to let the scenario start at noon on day one. This does away with some difficult things like the assault on Sword Beach, the wait of the 21st Panzer Division for orders and the assault at Pegasus Bridge. This way I also neatly divide it with my other scenarios so there is not that much overlapping.
 
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Indeed, I've had a though on that as well. I've thought of putting in more airstrikes as to simulate the naval bombardment, but ultimately I decided against it. The idea of putting artillery units on sea might work. Make a couple of "islands" and put static guns on them. For the moment though, I'm going to finish the map and see what comes of it.

I'm planning to let the scenario start at noon on day one. This does away with some difficult things like the assault on Sword Beach, the wait of the 21st Panzer Division for orders and the assault at Pegasus Bridge. This way I also neatly divide it with my other scenarios so there is not that much overlapping.
I'm rebuilding an Invasion of Saipan scenario I did in CO1. The battle involved the US Marines and later Army units invading a Japanese-held island cut off from any resupply. Considered using more airstrikes to simulate the naval bombardment, but decided against it because weather affects the frequency of airstrikes, and is not so limiting for naval gunfire.

In the CO1 Scenario, I ended up siting heavy artillery (ranging from 5-inch through 12-inch batteries) on islands in the ocean. Rather than replicating each ship that could have provided support fire, I elected to use a subset of each size, roughly 1/3 the total available naval gun barrel strength to replicate constraints on shipborne supplies on the idea that 1/3 of the ships would be replenishing ammo, 1/3 may have ammo but would be servicing their guns after sustained firing, and the remaining 1/3 would be on call for support.

Each "island" had a supply entry point, and I adjusted the flow through the point to the available guns, reducing the ammo after the initial invasion, and cutting it off entirely for a few days when the support fleet was threatened by an attack by a Japanese naval strike force and had to evacuate the support area. Other than marring the ocean map, it worked reasonably well.
 

john connor

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Sounds great, Bie. And on that map I think you've got in nearly all the GOODWOOD territory to the east of Caen - so maybe you could do Goodwood next! That would be a fantastic scenario, I think. Kursk in Normandy, as they say.
 

hubee0

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(...)That would be a fantastic scenario, I think. Kursk in Normandy, as they say.
My doubt about creating scenarios for later stages of the Normandy campaign is, that recreating historical German OOB and deployment seems nearly impossible.
Defense positions around Caen were scattered, consisting of many combat groups from various units. Often there were small but strong defense points with just few tanks, assault guns or 88 guns. One cannot ignore it creating a scenario, but on the other hand it is hard to reproduce them without cluttering the map and making German forces unmanageable (for AI as well I suppose).
Another thing is, battles around Caen in operational scale are actually quite boring. Just pressing head on and hammering enemy with artillery. No place for any maneuvers or unorthodox solutions.
But I may be wrong.
 
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Bie

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The map is almost done and I'm leaning towards putting artillery units onto the map. I'll put them on a "taskbar" (artifical island) in the sea to the North. I've been looking into the amount and type of ships that were operating in the area and I've come to the conclusion that quite a bit of abstraction will need to happen. Turns out that for Sword Beach alone there are 20(!) ships with dedicated bombard duties. Also not all ships would be firing/available all the time as within their sector they also had specific targets to hit. Then there is the mix of ships with different size guns to take into account. So all in all there is still quite some research and thinking to be done.

Anyhow, I hope to finish the map today. If anyone is interested at taking a peak I'm willing to put it up for you guys to take a look.
 

Bie

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I've finished the map and will be testing it to find any faults. It has a standard grid, so I'll have to take a look at the outlines of the Caen canal and Orne river.

Caen to Sword overview WIP V2.png
The whole map

Sword Beach WIP.png
Reworked Sword Beach

Merville WIP.png
Merville (battery)

Troarn WIP.png
Troarn to the Southwest
 
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The map is almost done and I'm leaning towards putting artillery units onto the map. I'll put them on a "taskbar" (artifical island) in the sea to the North. I've been looking into the amount and type of ships that were operating in the area and I've come to the conclusion that quite a bit of abstraction will need to happen. Turns out that for Sword Beach alone there are 20(!) ships with dedicated bombard duties. Also not all ships would be firing/available all the time as within their sector they also had specific targets to hit. Then there is the mix of ships with different size guns to take into account. So all in all there is still quite some research and thinking to be done.

Anyhow, I hope to finish the map today. If anyone is interested at taking a peak I'm willing to put it up for you guys to take a look.
Bie,

Take a look at the part about "planning considerations" on this link. Though it focuses on more modern times, it was derived from World War II experiences, and it may provide some insight on how to align the sea-based artillery to replicate shore support for land combat operations.

https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/docs/C1031.htm#fires

It's an excerpt from a larger document regarding naval shore support for amphibious operations (https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/docs/C1031.htm).
 

simovitch

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Nice work! I can remember crossing that bridge in Caen and heading up the main road toward the citadel, then turning right on the highway toward Pegasus Bridge... brings back memories of Day 1 of an awesome 3 day tour of Normandy in 2014.
 

Bie

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Nice work! I can remember crossing that bridge in Caen and heading up the main road toward the citadel, then turning right on the highway toward Pegasus Bridge... brings back memories of Day 1 of an awesome 3 day tour of Normandy in 2014.
Yeah, I've been there this summer. So it's all still quite fresh in my memory .
Caen is an interesting city and Normandy is a definitely beautiful region.

Anyway another update: i've added about one kilometer to the east of the map. Turns out not all of the objectives for the 6th Airborne were on the map.

Which brings me to a problem: the 6th needed to blow five bridges to the East of the Orne. As far as I know we only have the deny crossing option in Co2. Which would mean that I'd have to keep at least some units there to actually blow the bridges once the enemy arrives. In reality they just blew them up and retreated back to the rest of the division. I'm not sure how to solve this.
 

hubee0

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In reality they just blew them up and retreated back to the rest of the division. I'm not sure how to solve this.
If they blew those bridges without any opposition, then start the scenario with all (or some) of them destroyed.
 

col.sanders

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This sounds really good Bie,Nice change of pace like the N
ormandy area, looking forward to seeing this one.
 
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Yeah, I've been there this summer. So it's all still quite fresh in my memory .
Caen is an interesting city and Normandy is a definitely beautiful region.

Anyway another update: i've added about one kilometer to the east of the map. Turns out not all of the objectives for the 6th Airborne were on the map.

Which brings me to a problem: the 6th needed to blow five bridges to the East of the Orne. As far as I know we only have the deny crossing option in Co2. Which would mean that I'd have to keep at least some units there to actually blow the bridges once the enemy arrives. In reality they just blew them up and retreated back to the rest of the division. I'm not sure how to solve this.
Bie,

Deny Crossing on Pg. 103 of the game manual describes priming crossings with engineer units including a table indicating the length of time to prepare each crossing from a totally unprimed situation. Though it doesn't say it directly, the description starts "If the crossing is not completely primed . . .", perhaps indicating that the bridge could be partially primed via SceneMaker and thus in a position to be destroyed in less time once the engineers / sappers arrive to complete the task. Also, if I recall correctly, there was some discussion that the more units in the vicinity with the capability to prime a bridge, the quicker the task is completed.

If there were no dedicated engineer units with the 6th Airborne, it may be you'll have to develop some combat units with the necessary added engineering attributes in the Estab for your scenarios.
 

TMO

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I think adding engineering capability should be straightforward. Open a unit in the Estab Editor and you can add an engineering value.
Regards
Tim
 

Bie

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I've come to the conclusion that a purely historic scenario is just about impossible. Either I start from the very beginning D Company's coup-de-main at 00:16h or I let it start from the point that all of the five Eastern bridges are destroyed, which is at 15:00h.

I like the first option as it will be the most engaging, giving you the whole operation to play out for yourself. The disadvantage is that the Eastern bridges would need to be "guarded" with the deny crossing order. As said before, this did not happen in real life. The assigned battalions just blew them up and retreated to towards the division to take up better defensive positions. So, in game terms, you'd have to put the deny crossing objectives at each of the bridges and indeed let the airborne troops have some engineering value. I'm willing to give this a try as I think it might actually make for a quite challenging scenario.

The second option would allow me to make the scenario purely historical. The last bridge, the one at Troarn was blown at 15:00h. But letting the scenario start at 15:00h will obviously cut out some of the action. This is why I don't really like this option. Also I'm not sure of the positions of all of the units by that time. The Allies' positions are still quite well documented, but the Axis' positions are quite difficult to figure out. So either way I'd have to make some guesses and this would also make it not that historically correct.

How do you guys see this?
 

hubee0

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If, from 00:16 until 15:00 the bridges in question were undefended and could be blown up without a fight, it means there were no German units trying to cross them during the period right?
If it is correct, setting them as destroyed since 00:16 doesn't make a difference.
 

Bie

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If, from 00:16 until 15:00 the bridges in question were undefended and could be blown up without a fight, it means there were no German units trying to cross them during the period right?
If it is correct, setting them as destroyed since 00:16 doesn't make a difference.
I think most of them might not have been that well guarded and didn't take to much fighting to blow up. The exception is the one at Troarn, which had 200 men guarding the vicinity of the bridge. This is also why it took so long to actually blow the bridge as it took multiple attempts to penetrate the defenders' positions. By about 08:30h the other four bridges were destroyed, the one at Troarn took until 15:00h.
 
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I've come to the conclusion that a purely historic scenario is just about impossible. Either I start from the very beginning D Company's coup-de-main at 00:16h or I let it start from the point that all of the five Eastern bridges are destroyed, which is at 15:00h.

I like the first option as it will be the most engaging, giving you the whole operation to play out for yourself. The disadvantage is that the Eastern bridges would need to be "guarded" with the deny crossing order. As said before, this did not happen in real life. The assigned battalions just blew them up and retreated to towards the division to take up better defensive positions. So, in game terms, you'd have to put the deny crossing objectives at each of the bridges and indeed let the airborne troops have some engineering value. I'm willing to give this a try as I think it might actually make for a quite challenging scenario.

The second option would allow me to make the scenario purely historical. The last bridge, the one at Troarn was blown at 15:00h. But letting the scenario start at 15:00h will obviously cut out some of the action. This is why I don't really like this option. Also I'm not sure of the positions of all of the units by that time. The Allies' positions are still quite well documented, but the Axis' positions are quite difficult to figure out. So either way I'd have to make some guesses and this would also make it not that historically correct.

How do you guys see this?
You're falling into the trap of attempting to make the scenario replicate history.

The scenario should adhere to history for the start, and then let the player address the issues that the commander(s) faced as it progresses from that point. It means that the same resources, and goals are in place at start, but the commander on the ground has the latitude to use those resources to address the goals as he sees fit.

As the air landing unfolded, the Axis had no idea how important the five bridges were to its defenses. Keep in mind, that for the first few hours of the invasion, particularly during the airborne phase, the Axis believed the attack was a diversion to draw troops from Pas-de-Calais, where the Axis commanders believed the main allied invasion was aimed. Between the confusion of identifying where the airborne units were sited, and the belief that troops were needed to defend beaches to the north, the Axis response to the air drops was weak and uncoordinated during the first period of the scenario.

In terms of Axis AI, you can replicate the confusion over taking action with unit health attributes that make the Axis less aggressive. You can also address it by defining making the bridges less important for the Axis AI to defend than for the Allied AI (or human commander) to take and destroy.

If I were to create Axis goals, they would revolve more around destroying a nuisance in the rear area rather than holding ground tactical advantages in the region. Any hard objectives would be derived from the need to isolate the landing forces, and compress them into an area where they could be destroyed in detail.

In the case of the Allies, who were privy to the strategic plan, the goals should be taking objectives and holding them until the bulk of the invasion forces arrive.
 

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