This first one in the Market Garden campaign is a fun little mission that's not too, too big of a challenge, though some skill is still of course required. The first thing that struck me about it was the cool renderings of the Airborne gliders, the rain, and the dead cows scattered across the fields.
I could see straight away that the American player is presented with a classic Scylla/Charybdis problem: That is, the player needs to allocate maximum forces to first capturing one or more of the AA guns to get reinforcements and then move on the primary bridge objective to the north, but at the same time leaving adequate troops to defend the drop zone. Not being an expert player, I opted to be conservative and just go for the eastern AA gun and not try for the western one as well. In any event the western gun is in a small village and it was my guess that it was the tougher of the two optional objectives. Anyway, with 3-4 squads I took the eastern AA gun without too much trouble.
The bridge VP square turned out to be not that hard either. Although there is a bunker guarding it to the south of the river and a redoubt on the north side, the adjacent woods were very convenient as it allowed me to sneak up on the bunker and assault it without suffering excessive casualties. Then, from the bunker and woods I was able to plaster the redoubt across the river and the infantry there routed after two turns. The only other issue was the machine gun nest covering the clear ground to the southwest of the bridge, and it took out my scout. Fortunately though the nest was not close enough to cover the bridge crossing, so I was able to easily cross it and grab the VP.
The big challenge in this mission is the German counterattack coming from the south. The Germans initially do light probes that are easily beaten off, but latter they hit you with Stugs and halftracks. Fortunately the wheat field provides excellent cover for ambushes. My two bazooka teams inflicted losses on the Germans, but the Germans targeted them and ended up destroying both. My machine gun team in the glider, however, inflicted frightful losses on the German infantry. To be critical of my playing, on hindsight I can see now that I was a bit too quick to give up that house at the southeast corner. My reasoning was that I wanted to keep my forces in a more central position to better respond to a possible direct German attack on the drop zone VP square from the west. Also, I wonder now if I would have been better served to abandon the wheat field and setup my main defense around the drop zone VP. Although the cover was not as good as the wheat field, there were two choke points (the small bridge to the west and the hedgerow entrance to the south) that might have been easily defended. I'd be curious to hear if anyone else opted for this approach.
Anyway, a good (if not great) start to the campaign on my part, although I hope I don't end up missing those two lost bazooka teams that I'm assuming would have been carried over to Mission #4. Also, it is nice to be back to BA after a break of about a week. Bring on 'Hell's Highway'.
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." - 'Mars' Robert E. Lee