Grand Operational Simulation Series – The Fine Points

It’s been a little quieter here recently. I almost feel like I should apologize. But then I realize, we are all affected by COVID19 in one way or another. And in my case I just don’t have as much time for the things I like doing as I would like to have. But I’m still here, I’m still playing wargames and I intend writing about it.

Let’s continue with the introduction of Hurtgen: Hell’s Forest and the Grand Operational Simulation Series (GOSS).

We talked about Movement, Mode and Observation Rules, I showed you how the GOSS Logistics work, we had a very first taste of combat with Fire Support Description and then jumped into the Ground Assault Procedures (all GOSS articles). While those cover probably the big chunk of the rules, there are still some ‘smaller’ rules left we haven’t looked at yet. When I say ‘smaller’ I don’t mean ‘less important’. On the contrary, as we will see, those rules have a purpose and add flavor to the system. We start today by introducing Engineers and their capabilities.

Engineers

I have mentioned it before. One of the things I like about Hurtgen: Hell’s Forest and GOSS in general, is that units of different types differ in more than just Movement Allowance and Attack/ Defense Factors. Recon units, in most games are simply smaller, weaker and maybe a little faster units without any particular purpose. In GOSS you can utilize their agility to ‘draw hits’. Artillery units do not just move. They need to change into movement mode and might even need to be transported. And so does every type of unit have a role to play. And engineers are no exception to this. We have mentioned engineers before and the benefits they provide during a Ground Assault on a fortified location. It probably shouldn’t be a big surprise to learn that there are more ways in which engineers can be useful. Here’s a little overview:

Crossing Water Obstacles

Engineers can ferry leg units across water obstacles. The amount of units that can be ferried depends on the amount of engineer steps available and the size of the river. GOSS distinguishes between four different water obstacles.

Streams

Each engineer step ferries one leg unit (of any size) across a stream. Obviously the engineers need to be adjacent to the hexside that’s being crossed. Movement penalties for leg units are reduced to zero when using a ferry across a stream.

Minor Rivers

The situation is identical to streams, but leg units will have to pay 1 movement point for the crossing.

Major Rivers

The wider the river the more personpower is needed. In case of major rivers you need a complete unit (any size) to ferry a leg unit (any size). And while smaller waterways don’t restrict the starting hex of the unit being ferried, major rivers don’t allow for any additional movements prior or after the ferrying. The movement allowance is fully spent for the ferry.

Great Rivers

Great Rivers can’t be crossed by ferries but require the construction of a bridge. (In Hurtgen: Hell’s Forest the Rhine is categorized as a Great River, whereas the Meuse River is considered a Major River.)

Building Bridges

Now the principle mechanic behind building bridges is identical to the one used for ferrying troops: engineers need to be adjacent to the water obstacle they want to bridge. And the more engineer steps participate in the construction, the wider the river they can bridge in less time.
To give you some examples: one engineer step can build a bridge across a minor river within three Game Turns (GT), while three engineer steps can do the same job in just one GT. Use the bridge construction markers and the multi-purpose markers to keep track of the construction process. Should during the construction any of the involved engineer steps become fatigued, run out of supply or an enemy unit moves adjacent to it, the construction timer is reset.
Repairing a bridge follows the same procedure.

In case you are wondering whether you *really* need those engineer units, the picture shows the situation around Liege on the first day of the September Rush scenario.

Other Construction Works

Engineers can of course build more than just bridges.

Field Works

In GOSS Field Works is the collective term for Improved Positions (IP) and Entrenchments (ET). Each of these constructions comes in various levels indicating their strength: IP-1, ET-2, ET-3. Field Works do not necessarily require the present of engineers, any non-HQ/non-artillery unit will do, but engineers of course do a more efficient job.

So, two steps of regular units will finish an IP in the next friendly Construction Phase. The same can be achieved by a single engineer step. If you use two steps, one of which is an engineer step, the IP is completed at the end of the immediately following Movement Phase in the Quick Construction Segment.

ET-2 constructions follow the same procedure. However, ET-2 constructions must start with units unobserved by enemy units.

Construction and placement of ET-3 Field Works follows the instructions provided in the scenario rules.

If any construction work of Fieldworks is interrupted due to Ground Assaults, retreats or simply because the units ran out of supply, all prior work is lost.

Stronger Defensive Works like Forts and Fortified Areas can’t be constructed during a game. Scenario rules specify the placement of the former ones. The latter ones are printed map features like the West Wall in Hurtgen: Hell’s Forest.

Engineers 2.0

As it was pointed out by Tyler on the GOSS page on Facebook, with the upcoming release of version 2.0 of the rules set engineers gain an additional ability: upgrading roads.

17.7.0 Road Improvement
Players may use Eng units to improve the quality of trails and roads for supply purposes only. Road improvement is temporary and only valid as long as the conditions apply. Important: Improved roads do not affect movement costs, nor do they confer any other benefit gained for the improved road.

Yet another reason to look forward to the iteration of the GOSS rules.

Tank obstacle of the Siegfried Line nearby Aachen in Germany (image source).

Final Thoughts

By now it should be obvious that engineers play a crucial role in the GOSS system. I kind of like the idea that engineers are not just counters with a different combat factors printed on them. Admittedly, I was taken aback a little by the amount of details and thought it’s a lot to digest. Not necessarily complicated stuff, but it’s easy to forget the various points. But I started making notes before each game turn. Similar to the Orders in Multiman Publishing’s Battalion Combat Series. Among the things I jot down is the assignment of engineers to various tasks. Not perfect, but it helps me quite a lot. The administrative overhead for this is miniscule.

We are almost done with the GOSS rules overview. Come back next time!

Stay safe!
Carsten

Change log

2020-05-02: Added a paragraph concerning engineers in the upcoming v2.0 of the GOSS rules. Thanks to Tyler for pointing this out!