Martinville Ridge is the second scenario in the “Breakthrough” campaign in Campaign Book 1, by brumbarr44, for Memoir ’44. It’s a quick and nasty battle in which the Axis player has the resources to come back from almost any situation – just like a number of the Normandy scenarios from the first Campaign Book, actually.
On July 15, the 116th Regiment started a flanking maneuver around Martinville in an effort to outflank the town’s defenders. The lead elements made good progress but Allied Command didn’t have a clear picture of the situation on the ground and ordered the units to halt and consolidate their positions.
The order didn’t reach the 2nd Battalion in a timely fashion and by the time its commander got the order, the Battalion was already far ahead and overlooking the town of La Madeleine. Rather than call the unit back, General Gerhardt decided to keep the battalion there and try to reinforce it. On July 16 he ordered Major Bingham to hold his ground so he could move forces up to reinforce and hopefully push the Germans off the ridge at Martinville.
German command, unaware of the situation developing on the right, put a concentrated effort into gaining control of the Bayeux Road and the recently lost Hill 122 that overlooked it. The German XI Parachute Corps made a strong attack to seize the hill but was eventually repelled, largely because of American air cover. German command’s failure to recognize and capitalize on the opportunity to smash the isolated battalions of the 116th helped put to an early end to the fight for Saint-Lô.
The stage is set, the battle lines drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
Here’s my photo of the map.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this opening setup is the Allied infantry out by the Axis baseline. This will most likely be the center of the opening engagement, as the Axis player rushes to stomp a vulnerable unit, while the Allied player rushes units forward to engage.
The Allied player has a distinct advantage in overall force composition, with more tanks and more infantry than the Axis player. The Allied forces are also evenly spread across the map, allowing advances in any sector. Any coherent advance by the Allied player will put them in the lead.
However, the Axis player also has some advantages. The Axis force is composed entirely of special forces, making it incredibly dangerous. On top of that, the map is only to 5 medals, and there is an Axis medal on the map that is fairly easy to take. A quick counter-attack in the center can be enough to turn the game around entirely. This map leads to fast battles in which a lucky Axis player is incredibly hard to stop.
This is exactly how both of our games went. The Allied player moved fast and hard, and looked on track for an easy victory. Then, the Axis player took a few shots, moved a few troops, and snatched a last-turn victory.
Overall Evaluation – 4/5 – This is a fun fight, but the endgame can turn into such a luck-driven see-saw that there’s a good chance one player will walk away feeling burned.
Balance Evaluation – Generally Even – From the position of force composition, the Allies should have the advantage, and a little bit of luck in the opening infantry engagement can put them in a pretty solid position to win. However, the Axis player’s ability to turn things around on a dime prevents me from giving the Allies the edge on this one. DoW Online has it at 60%/40% Allies, but I have to wonder if that is at least in part caused by unskilled Axis players who don’t know how to turn the situation to their advantage.
Plink-Fest Danger – None – Neither side has the force to accomplish much with long-distance fire.
First-Turn Win Possibility – None – Neither side can put together much of an attack in their first couple of turns.