|Boot Camp: Positioning Yourself for the Win|
|by Robert Mull|
As we noted last week, the “objective rush” tends to force a player to use the terrain they find at the objective, rather than making use of the best terrain the map has to offer. This week we look into making use of natural fire lanes on the map and positioning your units effectively to control the pace and flow of the battle.
Denying your enemy access to the objective is one of the easier ways to set yourself up for the win and it doesn’t require you to have a unit on the objective initially. It’s important to study the map and identify the areas around the objective that will be used by your opponent to approach the objective. Even if your forces have a relatively low probability of destroying an enemy unit outright, their presence in a strong defendable position can frequently deny the enemy an avenue of approach. If you cause your enemy to take a different route, hesitate or slow down, then you have begun to control the battlefield and you have given yourself more time to further position your units.
When you control your opponent’s avenue of approach, you are controlling the flow of battle. You are picking where the battle will take place and under what sort of conditions. This is a tremendous advantage, but is very difficult to accomplish perfectly. Your first priority should always be to cover your flanks with sufficient firepower to discourage your opponent from attempting to get behind you. It is alsowise to attempt to force your enemy to use routes that will favor your units in the final battle around the objective. In effect you want to deny your enemy access to terrain that favors him, while controlling the terrain that favors you.
A sound plan is to have your units in cover with clear overlapping fields of fire so they can support one another. Then when your opponent moves to take the objective, you can pound them from relative safety and continue to fire on them until you are ready for your own assault. With any luck, your enemy will be disrupted and damaged and unable to defend against your assaulting forces. If you can disrupt your opponents units in the open, their defense drops, their ability to hit you decreases and they can no longer move or change facing. If your opponents units cannot advance as coherent force, then he is faced with the option of keeping units together (and continuing to take fire), retreat (abandoning units in the open) or closing with the enemy in a piecemeal fashion.
When you build your army, think about how you might want to group complimentary units together. A single PAK-38 Antitank Gun when combined with a MG-42 Machine-Gun Team can control a very wide area and create problems for both vehicles and soldiers. One possibility is to position a SS-Panther Ausf. G sufficiently far behind the AT-Gun and MG-Team so that if the enemy wanted to engage the Panther at long range, he would have to come within medium range of the other units. Since the Panther can engage the enemy at up to 12 hexes, this means it can sit in safety behind its screen of supporting units and fire on the enemy with impunity. Your opponent is then forced to either take the long range fire, withdraw to 13 hexes, or close to a range where the PAK-38 will become a critical factor in the battle.
Always remember, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Follow your plan as well as the situation allows, but always be prepared to improvise. Next week we will look further into building and using fire teams.