Kampfgruppe?

Forum for the Panzer Campaigns games series
John S
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Kampfgruppe?

Post by John S »

I am in the middle of turn 42 playing the Rumyantsev campaign game solo. When playing the German, I am pulling units that are behind the lines in the currently quiet Northwest sectors to reinforce the units defending the Soviet breakthroughs in the center. The result is that I sensibly break off and separate, let's say 4-5 units, and move them quite a distance from their division commander.

To the developers. Have you ever considered allowing the Germans to create Kampfgruppe ???

This could be done at the midnight turn at the same time that you can change the corps attachments. Essentially the idea would be that the German could take and assign a limited number of units (6 units?), create a small headquarters with a very limited span of control (3 hexes?) and then have this small unit act independently and distant from the division but still with a reasonable chance of exercising the command functions such as recovering from disruption etc.

You might consider this as an optional rule and create some limitations so that players don't go nuts but, let's face it, for the Germans a newly created small independently led force consisting of a mounted infantry unit, a panzer company, a mobile artillery unit, an engineer and an AA unit would be entirely accurate from a historical standpoint. From a game balance standpoint, it might make the most sense to make it available only when the German is on the defensive but historically this aspect of German operations goes back to the start of the war and was not limited to defense.

My point in focusing on only the Germans is the historical point that they were really the only ones who regularly used this operational approach - the US combat commands headed in the same direction but were not, in my view, as embedded in the organizational doctrine.
John S
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by John S »

One interesting nuance/limitation would be to provide that once the KG is formed, the units within the KG can no longer spot for the artillery of their former parent units. This would reflect the diminution in communication with the division and the corps. Might also say that no artillery other than Self Propelled guns can be assigned to the KG. This would mean that any player who chooses to go nuts and create 20 KG’s does so only by essentially nullifying his artillery support. Also, just to fill the picture out, the KG could be dissolved at the midnight turn.
Dion
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by Dion »

In a sense you can already do that. You can already breakdown designated units, but if you wanted to breakdown any type of unit during the game to create kampfgruppe, you would have to use the OOB editor before the game started to create the units, otherwise if you could do it during the game, you would be able to create new units with specialized equipment, that didn't exist before the game started. Even if the kampfgruppe dissolved at the midnight turn they would have untold abilities until then.

Simple Solution - Just move your units in stacks with the various types of units you feel is important for a successful kampfgruppe, thereby being able to breakaway the needed units from the rest whenever you feel the need. If the desired types of units aren't available, just figure your guys weren't trained for such a mission or they don't have the proper equipment.
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Geyerfalck
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by Geyerfalck »

Very interesting topic. Trying to find a way thru it for a while, thanks to OoB / scenario edition... A hard nut to crack - to keep things simple to handle - for sure.
You may want to check this website out, introducing "The German way of war" book. It deals with German Auftragstaktik and Kampfgruppe cases more generally.
https://www.germanarmy.eu/
“In war, the moral is to the material as three to one.”
N. Bonaparte
J_Irons
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by J_Irons »

I agree, it’s a good point but consider that Gefechtsgruppen or Kampfgruppen were not brand new groups but existing groups (Rgt./Div./Kor.) with an addon used to pursuit a specific mission and they had the names of the officer leading the group.

I’m playing France 40 and historically were used Gruppe Kleist (K), Gruppe Hoth (H), Gruppe Guderian (G) as examples at Korps level
Gefechtsgruppe Lüttwitz, Gefechtsgruppe Apell, Gefechtsgruppe Sponeck at Rgt.(+) level (these groups were the split of the 9.Panzer-Division)

The devs can help us, giving us the possibility to change the OOB 2 times a day (the midnight turn plus a new “midday turn”) and allowing the attachment at all levels (till the battalion).

So, as example, it will be possible to create the proper Gefechtsgruppe Sponeck (the commander of SR 11) as SR 11 + II./PzRgt.33 (to be attached)
Bill-Peters
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by Bill-Peters »

I noted in one of the El Alamein '42 scenarios for the Gazala campaign that Kampfgruppe HQs were included. Its nice to attach some of the Panzer formations to those. Makes it easier to keep them from going Low or No Fuel/Ammo.

Something I never thought of for the Kiev '43 game. I have not seen HQ range a problem in that one as the Russians have plenty of Corps HQs and the Germans too. Might be more of a problem in some of the other PzC titles. Not sure.

The US formed Task Forces. They were not Corps sized units but more like a German KG. Probably more for something like the Panzer Battles series than this one.
John S
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by John S »

J Irons, I haven't played France '40 in years but I think that you and I are talking about the same thing. For the sake of other readers, I realize that there can be a misunderstanding in this area so, for proper consideration, let me separate two different sides of sort of the same coin.

As J Irons notes, the Germans sometimes created large ad hoc formations at the army or the corps level (examples - KG Kempf and KG Hollidt in 1943) and left them in place for a fairly long period of time before either moving them into established formations or converting them into long term formations such as the reconstructed 6th Army. These are essentially operational level formations and I understand that you would expect a formation such as this to be in the order of battle at the start of a campaign or created by the designer at a later point as a reflection of a historical event...but....this is NOT what I am referring to in my post.

The Germans also created task-oriented kampfgruppe units at the regimental level or lower. They were created in response to a short term situation as a less than optimal but fairly effective force - essentially a stop gap measure. When you see references to "fire brigades" on the eastern front, this reference is sometimes a reference to a corps or divisional grouping (example - Balck's battles on the Chir River in December 1942) but again, this is not what I am referring to.

There are often references to a much smaller grouping of units operating temporarily as a "fire brigade" at a lower tactical level.

Prit Buttar notes in "Retribution" (p354) re the 14th Panzer Division that the division was opposed by Soviet armor heavy formations and "following what had become almost standard practice in panzer divisions, the division's main armored assets - the armored battalion of its artillery regiment, its half track panzergrenadier regiment and a company of combat engineers - were attached to the panzer regiment, creating Kampfgruppe Langkeit." He continues "Such operational deployment had been rehearsed many times in France prior to the division's moving to the east."

Note that even this Kampfgruppe is fairly large and my point is that other KG's were often created for counterattacks or to plug a whole and left in place for days (not weeks and certainly not a month). I can't find the source for this but my reading at one point indicated that the German division commander, sometimes at the order of the corps commander, often started with the commander of the recon unit (because of his skill and experience in operating with little direct supervision) and built outwards based upon the anticipated needs of the distant tactical situation. The command training of German officers allowed and encouraged a lower level officer to use initiative and grab assets from all over and use them wherever needed in order to plug a hole or create a counterattack.

Let me give a couple of concrete examples as to how this might sensibly function within the Panzer Campaign world. As I mentioned, playing the campaign game in Rumyantsev, it becomes clear that units in the northwest (and arguably in the deep southeast) are not under immediate pressure and can be moved towards the locations where a Soviet breakthrough has happened or is about to happen. This is not without risk but decisions like this are what the game is all about. As I recall, though I have not played it in years, a similar situation exists in Korsun where the northern face of the defense line has a fair number of units who can be stripped away and moved to the Soviet penetration points. Under the current structure, unless you move the division headquarters with these groupings (and there may be only 4-6 units) these units will suffer greatly when it comes to disruption, low ammo and (if there are mobile units) fuel. Their ability to defend and counterattack are similarly reduced....and these are units which have been sent to the area for the specific purpose of plugging in the defense and counterattack. A similar situation exists if the Soviet offense succeeds in splitting a division and then widens the gap. You may argue that these disadvantages are actually reflective of real life but I would counter by saying that throughout the war the Germans, unlike the other powers, consistently succeeded in overcoming these loss of division-level leadership issues through their time honored doctrinal approach of creating Kampfgruppe. (Bill Peters - you are correct that the USA used task forces but my opinion is that this was not a reflection of tactically trained doctrine).

Bill Peters - you note that the KG would help re unusual out of fuel situations. Let me give you a concrete example there.

In Rumyantsev, the Grossdeutschland Division begins arriving by rail at 6:00 on August 5. It continues arriving by rail on a consistent basis throughout that day and into the next day. Their movement by rail makes it is really easy to form them up (in the manner described by Buttar) and send then into the hot spots to counterattack. BUT WAIT - the Grossdeutschland headquarters does not arrive until 22:00 on the next evening - August 6. In essence, the units spend two full midnight turns without access to a headquarters unit and in practice they inevitably suffer the consequences that you would expect. As Buttar suggests, historically the German lower level commanders would not have sat around waiting two days for the HQ to show up - they were trained otherwise - and it is hard to believe that, when the higher level German command knew that their performance was crucial to turning the tide on the Soviet advance, they would have been allowed to suffer the debilitating logistical and leadership effects that necessarily occur in the game.

Sorry for the long post. Obviously I think that there is room for a very interesting add-on re the creation at midnight (or twice a day as J Irons suggests) of a relatively small KG which would have the attributes of a standard divisional HQ (perhaps consider as a possible optional rule and see how it works).
John S
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by John S »

Funny coincidence. My copy of "World at War" magazine (Issue #95) arrived today and it has a short but quite interesting article on "German Battlegroups" (i.e. Kampfgruppe). If you are interested in the subject, I would encourage you to purchase a copy.

As an aside, let me say that the foundation of wargames has always been based upon the dedicated work of the game designers and writers who regularly and actively further the hobby. I would encourage you, first, to support Wargame Design Studio by purchasing their products and, second, for those of you who are seeking to enhance your wargaming related knowledge you cannot do better than the publications of Strategy & Tactics Press - their publications being "Strategy & Tactics", "World at War" and "Strategy & Tactics Quarterly". I bought my first copy of Strategy & Tactics in November of 1971 (God, has it been that long?) and have been a regular subscriber ever since. I can honestly say that I have never read an issue without learning something interesting or important from it.
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SuperIke
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by SuperIke »

John S wrote: Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:06 pm
Sorry for the long post. Obviously I think that there is room for a very interesting add-on re the creation at midnight (or twice a day as J Irons suggests) of a relatively small KG which would have the attributes of a standard divisional HQ (perhaps consider as a possible optional rule and see how it works).
This is the answer. The midnight turn should allow you to create a new HQ unit acting as a the KG HQ, and then it should allow you to attach actual combat and support units to this new HQ.

Of course that's easy in theory, but I suspect this would open a can of gameplay worms and could disturb the balance of the game engine, AI and impact historical realism, or just introduce plain weirdness situations. Limits and constraints to creating KGs would have to be coded, and most importantly it would impact existing scenarios. It might be a lot of work and trials and errors to implement properly.

Another aspect to take into account is the actual timescale of the Panzer Campaigns games, at 2h day/4h night. Other wargames that allow you to create KGs (I played recently Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes which allow you to create KGs) have typically longer timescales which make it more acceptable. In the Panzer Campaigns system, I'm not sure it makes sense to implement KG functionality except in the largest scenarios, where a scenario runs over multiple weeks. It could then be historically realistic to allow for a few KGs to be created. But for medium or short scenarios, I don't think it's a good idea.
Dion
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Re: Kampfgruppe?

Post by Dion »

I tell ya, it's already there, all you have to do is use stacks more efficiently. Not only will you be able to better conceal unspotted unit types better, especially the units you'll need to form kampfgruppe and their accompanying weapon types, but your opponent also won't know "who's who and where their going". Plus, you also won't have to worry about "if the KG rules are working as intended", or if their even having any effect at all, when you could be using the time to put into effect other operations. You'll also will be able to create surprise situations better, by spreading units out at a moments notice, while it will appear as if you only have half the number of units on the map before you actually move them into position, thus your assaults will be more effective, which is what kampfgruppe are known for! You'll be able to both, advance and move faster, because your stacks will be condensed with multiple units, and you won't have to slow-up and wait for reserves. You'll be able to react to opportunities faster, again because your stacks will be condensed with multiple units and you won't have to slow-up and wait for reserves. You would also be able to easily surround enemy units without having to wait for reinforcements, because all the extra units you'll need will already be there. The more you use this method, the more uses you will be able to think of, which will lead to more and more decisive opportunities.

Anyway if there were KG rules, you would have so many units with untold abilities, it would be unrealistic and make things even more confusing. Even common ordinary units could transform into extra powerful "commando units", and when they revert back to normal, they would be reduced to so little combat power they would become a liability.

Stacks, simple solution, no extra rules needed!
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