G38 Castello Fatato – Extreme Winter at Night

G38 - Starting-proc

It was December 20 1942.  The Italian Bersaglieri Regiment approached the Russian town of Meshkov in their retreat.  The Russians got there ahead of them and used its “fairy tale castle” ie. catello fatato cathedral as a strongpoint.  It was dark, it was extremely cold and yet the cathedral was illuminated by a portion of the building that was on fire.

The scenario opened with 20 squads of Italians doing a human wav across the snow towards 2 squads of Russian SMG units plus 6 rifle squads of the Russian 1st Guards Army.  The above is my defensive layout and where my machine guns were positioned.  Typically in a night scenario, support weapons and leaders are HIP’d (“hidden initial placement”) as are 25% of the defenders.  The Italians win when they control the cathedral (the hex with the “Blaze” counter and the hex to the upper right of it. )

G38 - IT01 - Defensive FF Fire Lanes-proc

Italian Turn 1 After the Movement Phase : The NVR (“Night Vision Range”) was 5, so the screaming Italians were spotted.  The Russians tried to break as many Italian squads as they could.  Italian squads have a moral level of 7 and a broken side morale of 6.  At night, units don’t get to remove their “DM” status until they roll less than its current printed morale.  Running with 4 leaders (2 of them 6+1), these Italian should be very hard to rally once they break.  Turns out it was the Russians who couldn’t rally for most of the game.  The Italian 6+1’s were rather successful in convincing their troops to get back into the fight.

G38 - RT01 - After AF - Sniper, Gun hits Church .. choice between hitting and skulking sniper knocks off 8-1-proc

Russian Turn 1 After Advance Fire Phase : The Russian should perhaps have skulked at least part of their forces but I was determined to break a few more Italian squads.  The Italians fired their Austrian made Cannone da 47/32 (ROF3), broke a squad on the ground level of the church and the heavy machine gun (“HMG”) team in the trench next to it.  The HMG was later lost to the Italians and never served under Russian use again.

Katya, our Russian sniper did miracles though!  She identified an 8-1 leader from a stack of brokies and put a hole through his head.  He was the highest ranking leader the Italians had and the only one with a negative modifier!

G38 - IT03 - End - It got in, melee, tieup, one gun down-procItalian Turn 3 : The Russian couldn’t find any star shells!!  Since illuminated units cannot see into the darkness outside the zone of illumination, it was safe for the Italians to move around the rim of blaze illumination and sneak an Italian squad into the cathedral.  The Italians had also jumped both of my flanks and tied them down in mêlée.  Given the huge disparity inmanpower, the Russians should have done a fighting retreat and leverage on their advantage in troop quality.  Once the Italians closed, the difference in morale level was gone and they could keep reinforcing any mêlée.

Case in point : the Russian’s right flank got a little agitated and turned fanatic along with the production of a hero (I promptly named him after my esteemed opponent .. heh heh), the Italians jumped on them immediately in the Close Combat phase, nullifying their qualities.

G38 - RT03 - End - 8-1 dead sniper wnd 7-0 cellar 628 cc kill IT-proc

Russian Turn 3 Close Combat Phase : There wasn’t a lot to do in this Russian turn.  The fellas steadfastly refused to be rallied.  Since one of the Italian guns malfunctioned and the Russian SMG squads hid in fortified cellars, there wasn’t much damage.  One of those Russian SMG squad decided to come out of hiding however, advanced up to see if it can ambush the Italian squad up top.  It didn’t, but it took out the Italian squad anyway in close combat.  In face of all the firepower and the important job it had to do, advancing up was a risk.  However the act might burn more time from the Italians.

The sparky Katya (sniper) continued to work hard, she found a 7-0 in another big stack of brokies and wounded him.  The Italians had 2 healthy 6+1’s left.  Both of the Russian flanks continued to be tied down in mêlée.

G38 - IT04 - After MPh-proc

Italian Turn 4 After the Movement Phase : There were only 3 functional Russian squads left : 1 rifle squad and 2 SMG squads in the cellars.  The rifle squad spit out a fire lane with the Italian Breda M30 LMG, just to deter the Italians from rounding the building on the right.  As luck would have it, the Italian squad on the lower right in the dark would be hit and broken by Katya, who was obviously making it a late night tonight.

G38 - IT04 - After CC . Melee stays, Sniper hits 347 on right, 2IT in Y5-proc

Italian Turn 4 later in Close Combat : Two Italian squads made it into the left side of the cathedral.  There’s still a concealed SMG squad in the left cellar. Since the cellars were fortified, they would need to pin or to break the Russian SMG squads before they could go in for close combat!

G38 - RT04 - Sniper pins Melee continues not much-proc

Russian Turn 4 : The Italians continued to rally quite well, although they had some casualties from the cold (Extreme Winter E.3.742).  The Russians on the hand were still hanging on with a few squads.  To make matters worse, the German sniper showed up an pinned the fanatic Russian squad in the midst of their mêlée on the right.  Fortunately they survived and the fight continued, tying down that flank still for the Russians.

G38 - IT05 - Sniper broke fanatic hero died in CC 2 iT got into cellar pin 628 CC night closing in -proc

Italian Turn 5: Again, the Russians had no luck with star shells, and the Italians moved in.  The Italians managed to pin the Russian SMG squad in the cellar on the right and so two Italian squads advanced downstairs to say hello.  The mêlée on the far right was hit by German snipers again!  The Russian fanatic squad was broken and they were all killed when the hero found himself fighting the Russians alone.  The Russians outside were beginning to rally but listening to the sounds around them, SMG squad in the cellar on the left felt the darkness rolling rapidly in.

G38 - RT05 - Other gun broke 6+1 rallies Russians coming back more people in church-proc

Russian Turn 5 : The Italians got star shells in some choice positions!  Nonetheless the rallied Russian troops started to move back.  Fortunately, the other Italian gun broke as well, adding to the Russians’ fighting chance.

G38 - IT06 - Another Gun gone - Italians piled in-proc

Italian Turn 6 : GUSTS!!  The burning first floor of the cathedral collapsed!  Good thing it didn’t crash into the cellar.

The Italians had to think defence now.  The Russians were getting back into the fight from the lower left of the map.  The Italians had to get into blocking positions while continuing to reinforce the mêlée.  The Russians couldn’t do much about stopping the Italians from reinforcing the cathedral.  You might also notice that the remaining Italian gun was operational now and again tried pounding the cellars.

G38 - RT06 - Russians rushed the building. Ldr OVR look for ambush-proc

Russian Turn 6 : The Russians plodded towards the sounds of gunfire inside the cathedral.  First up was the 7-0 who looked to pop into the church hex on the left.  The choice for the Italians was either to spend firepower on him or to let him get into the ground floor and make the Italians do a +3 task check for “Infantry Overrides” in next turn to get in.  They shot him.  Next up is a Guards rifle squad that broke against the fire lane on the far left.

It looked even tougher on the right.

One squad got pinned and finally the last squad moved in with the 8-1.  Russians elites are stealthy and Italians are lax.  If the Russians could get an ambush they could infiltrate into the cathedral.  Unfortunately, it was the Russians who got ambushed, and the Italian squad withdrew into the cathedral.

At this moment, the cathedral cellar on the left was held by a good order Russian SMG squad and in the right, there was a mêlée raging on between a Russian squad and two Italian squads.  The Russian counterattack could only watch from outside the cathedral.

G38 - IT07 - Italians can't break guy in the cellar-proc

Italian Final Turn : It all went down to one question (read : dice roll) – whether the Italians could break or pin the Russian SMG squad holding out in the left cellar so that the Italians have a chance in close combat.

The Italians moved, trying to focus more fire power into the cellar during advancing fire.  The Russians outside managed to pin one of the 3 squads that got into the cathedral, directly above the stubborn Russian SMG squad.  The Italians mustered up a firepower of 6, so that was a FP6+4 shot.

The Italians rolled an 11.

The Russians won.

DB081 Lack of Discernment AAR – Defending!

DB081 - Start-proc

Here’s the AAR of when I played this scenario as the attacker against Carl Nogueira.

Now that I got a chance to see how the grownups do it, Carl gave me a chance to put my learning to the test.  He let me play this again, with me defending as the Red Chinese this time.

The above is my attempt to draw a pentagram with imaginary fire lanes when setting up the defence.  Carl put his defence all upfront.  I am not so confident.  Just so everyone knows, this scenario has a variable ending depending on when the GMT can capture enough multi-hex buildings to get the points required by the end of Turn 4 to 7 while  suffering no more than 24 CVPs.  The multi-hex buildings on the south of the canal are worth 1 point each, the ones to the north are worth 2.  The two bigger buildings on the south I labelled “Factory” are worth 2.  The first target for the GMT is to get 8 points by the end of Turn 4.  However if the Reds reinforcements come in south of the canal, that requirement for the GMT falls to 7.

Carl put his defence up front.  I wasn’t so confident.  I thought the weight will come from the right and that the GMTs would be crossing the canal up the top right corner to grab at the 2 point buildings.  I couldn’t give up the use of the single hex multi storied building on the left, that was where I placed my HMG, a quick fire 37* gun and ground level fortifications.  I put another fortification in the middle of the factory where my commissar sat.  I got another fortification hex behind him as “the Alamo”.

He would expect the Red Chinese “death star” on the left so I didn’t bother HIPing it.  I did however HIP’d two half squads on the right to help with the defence.  The MMG and the 70* gun were across the canal to the North.  In a way the longer the big gun laid unfound, the better it is.

Notice Carl got a nasty death star : 2 MMGS + HMG + 9-2 on level 1 of a building.

Okay, talk is cheap, let’s see how all these work out.

DB081 - T1 RC 02 Deathstar duel-proc

Red Chinese Turn 1 : The GMT pushed very aggressively into and in some case past the first line of buildings.  The Reds death star exchanged shots with the powerful GMT one and didn’t fare too well.  The GMT staged for the attack on the (middle) factory.   Yes, the Reds “sulked” and skulked as well into the factory and later advanced back out.

DB081 - T2 GMT02 CC'd-proc

GMT Turn 2 : GMT attacked across the street!  They quickly found the 37* gun on the fortified ground floor in the building to the left.  The broken attacker was taken prisoner and was ushered into the building quickly.  The Reds position in the factory and in the building to the right looked shaky.  Broken Reds quickly piled up.  There were two close combats.  The 2 GMT squads to the left was ambushed by the Reds and were both KIA’d.  The GMT squad to the right fared better, it killed the Reds squad and flanked the building.

DB081 - T2 RC01 UnHIP right Leader ran Deathstar dead-proc

Red Chinese Turn 2 : The GMT had pretty much captured the building on the right.  The Reds leader decided to make a run for it with the LMG and head for the canal!  A HIPpie on the right popped out and headed for the factory on the right, going after the broken GMT squad and absolutely intend to be a nuisance.  The factory being 2 points, Carl had to comeback and root the little Reds squad out.

I hope to survive past Turn 4 and receive the GMTs across the canal.

DB081 - T2 RC02 New Prisoner-proc

Red Chinese Turn 2 (contd) : The Reds took another GMT squad prisoner and dragged them into the (middle) factory.  The broken Reds squad ran after their leader to the right.  The GMT now had 5 points against the required 8 needed to win the game in Turn 4.

DB081 - T3 GMT01 Left DD rush Encircled FT blew out RightTop squad ran-proc

GMT Turn 3 : The GMT went back into the factory to the right to reclaim it.  A GMT Dare Death squad led the charge to the left!  May be the GMT was looking to cut off the middle factory from the left as well.

DB081 - T3 GMT02 DD snakeeyes CVP19 GMT7 need factory-procGMT Turn 3 (contd) : Prospects for the Reds weren’t looking up.  Their “death star” on the left was slowly getting cut off and surrounded.  The GMTs were all lined up outside the middle factory.  The canal was ready for a cross over.  The GMT got squads lined up against the left in case the Reds send reinforcements in from south of the canal.

DB081 - T3 RC01 CC Ambush CVP24 then CVP 26 Bldg 7 Req -1-proc

Reds Turn 3 : Turn 4 was coming up and doing the usual was not going to help me survive.  I need some GMT CVPs fast.  The GMT armoured trucks hadn’t been moving from the bottom left at all.  Trap or not, I had to go for it.  Each armoured truck gives me 5 CVPs.  The one with the armoured leader gives me another 3 CVPs for a total of 8.

So the Reds moved in concealed.  One of the Reds squad survived Defensive Fire from the GMT death star (broke one of the guns as well), passed the PAATC check, placed its demolition charge properly and ..

Blew up one of the armoured trucks with no survivors.

Too bad the armour leader was in the other truck!  Another Reds squad moved in, ambushed and killed a GMT squad in close combat.

All these gave the Reds 22 CVPs.  However, since the Reds had 2 GMT prisoners squads and prisoner CVP bonus counts at game end, the Reds stand to get 26 CVP if the game end right there.  (The GMT are only allowed 24 or less.)

This created a funny situation.  Since the Red Chinese reinforcement entered south of the canal, the GMT build points requirement in Turn 4 dropped from 8 to 7 which the GMT now had.  The GMT would need to rescue the prisoners before the end of Turn 4 to win the game.  Otherwise if the game “ends”, the Reds would realise 26 CVPs (+4 CVP bonus from the prisoners) instead of 22 and 2 CVPs more that what the GMT were allowed to lose.

DB081 - T4 GMT01 Sniper 9-2, CVP26 Bldg 7-proc

GMT Turn 4 : GMT squads started off a new turn prep firing away.  One of the shots invited a Reds hot sniper that hit the GMT death star.  A round of random selection nailed the GMT 9-2 leader in a stack of 4.

This gave the Reds the 3 CVPs need to reach the 25 CVPs to win the game (29 CVPs with the prisoners).  Great game! 

 

DB081 Lack of Discernment AAR – Attacking

This scenario took place on Dec 15th 1927, a full 12 years before World War Two.  It’s based on some of the earlier conflicts between the Red Chinese and the Nationalists (Guomintang, GMT or Kuomintang, KMT).  The conflict took place in Canton 廣東, not too far away from Hong Kong.  The Canton Red Chinese overestimated their strategic position, started a general uprising on Dec 12th and the Nationalist Chinese came for a brutal visit.

DB081 Starting position-proc

Carl Nogueira and I played this scenario twice.  I was the attacker – KMT Chinese and Carl the Red Chinese.  We then switched sides and played it again, you will read about the second one from a later AAR.

The victory conditions of this scenario is structured around the multi-hex buildings on the map.  The ones north of the canal are worth 2 points.  The ones south of the canal are worth 1 point except for the two building designated as factories.  The game ends on Turn 4 if the KMT Chinese get 8 points, Turn 5 for 9 points, Turn 6 for 10 points and Turn 7 for 12 points.  The KMT has to accomplish that while losing no more than 24 CVPs.

I planned to focus the main body of my troops to the right.  They are to capture the building on the right.  From there they can attack the factory immediately to the south of the canal, meeting up with a smaller force on the left flank.  Capturing the right building also allows for the possibility of forces wading across the canal for the higher value buildings on the north bank.  The small force on the far left is to protect the buildings from possible Red Chinese reinforcement  on Turn 3.  You see, the Red Chinese can choose to introduce their reinforcements from the north (top) side of the map, or the west (left) side of the map.   However if they come in from the south side of the canal, the VP requirements for the KMT drops by 1.

Anyway, that’s the plan .. until bullets start flying.

DB081 KMT1 DF-proc

KMT Turn 1 : The KMT rushed across the street.  A fearful death star appeared on the left flank in the single hex two storey building I never paid attention to before.  On the 2nd level, there was an MMG, a HMG and an 8-1.  On the ground level, there’s the 37mm gun sporting an ROF of 3.  These guys shot up a few of the squads on the left, rendered my HMG team useless for the duration of the scenario and made the rest of the folks very nervous.  The fortunate bit was that the elite Chinese squads were well placed to offer smoke grenades in support.

I was perhaps too careful with the armoured cars.  They are 5 CVPs and 7 CVPs (with a 9-1 armour leader) each, points that I hope won’t contribute to the Red Chinese 25 CVP goal.  Fearing a gun on the right side of the board, I planned to sneak around the side of the roadblock.  However when we ran into the death star, we froze.  In retrospect, the 37mm infantry gun has little more than 6% chance (HE only) of killing the KMT Type 22 armour truck (Chris Edwards’ Kill Calculator).  Granted, MGs can kill these vehicles but freezing in place is not the proper tactic either.

DB081 RC1 Sniper killed RC 8-0 GMT Ldr wound malf deathstar-proc

Red Chinese Turn 1 : Folks in the Red Chinese death star probably didn’t get their ancestors properly lined up.  First, a sniper killed the 8-1 .. and then both the MMG and the HMG malfunctioned on the same shot!  The concealed squads in the factory advanced out to the walls, which was brilliant.  I am not entirely sure why I never made use of the upper levels of the buildings I had to negate the walls.

DB081 KMT2 Sniper broke crew fire lanes-proc

KMT Chinese Turn 2 : KMT attacks!  The turn opened with squads advancing into the smoke that the élite squads laid down.  A 8-0 leader on the right went across the street and kicked the door in with the squad behind him ready to fire.  Other squads moved up and found the second gun at the rear of the building to the right of the map, as expected.  You can see the  laid and the Red Chinese squads putting down residual fire very efficiently.  The deathstar saw the HMG fixed but the sniper returned and broke the crew!

DB081 KMT2 End CVP 4-proc

End of KMT Chinese Turn 2 : This showed how ineffective the KMT attack was.  Losses was light fortunately, the Red Chinese accrued 4 CVP so far.

Red Chinese Turn 2 : On the right of the map, the KMT squads in front of their target building hope to  survived enemy fire and return a massive Defensive Fire back.  The KMT got a MMG team together with a 9-2 and kept the MGs in the death star suppressed. The KMT Chinese were getting ready to attack again.

DB081 KMT3 MPh-proc

KMT Chinese Turn 3 : KMT troops advanced forward on the right into the building.  LMG fire from across the canal came straight down the street.  On the left flank the KMT Chinese figured they should take advantage of the crippled death star and tried to rush the building, only to find the bottom floor fortified.  Worse – it’s fortified with a building full of self rallying crew!

DB081 KMT3 End-proc

End of KMT Chinese Turn 3 : We got into the building on the right. The rush on the left failed as the squad got shot up and bounced off the side of the fortified building.  The centre was pretty decimated.  The leaders were working hard to convince a few to get back into the fight.

DB081 RC3 End-proc

Red Chinese Turn 3 : The reinforcement came in from the north.  Things were not looking up for the KMT Chinese.   We only had a foothold on the right.  The troops on the left and in the middle were broken in huddled masses.  KMT didn’t seem to have enough people to make a third try.

DB081 KMT4 MPh All Shot up-proc

KMT Chinese Turn 4 : The KMT made an all out attack for the factory and the rightmost buildings.  Whilst they would get the right most building, the KMT Chinese got shot up everywhere else.

DB081 KMT4 End CVP18-proc

End of KMT Chinese Turn 4 : The KMT Chinese captured the gun on the right although they haven’t quite secured that building.  The force in the middle were almost entirely reduced into broken stacks.  Folks on the right who were there to guard against the Red Chinese reinforcement decided to move north to have a go at the death star.  I really like Carl’s demonstration of high level tactics.  Here we have a position where, if I attack, makes no contribution to the CVP.  However if I don’t, it will always interfere with my attack elsewhere.

DB081 RC4 End-proc

Red Chinese Turn 4 : The Red Chinese counter attacked!  Can you see the stack with the “DM” counter on top and a grey dotted line that extended to the left?  There’s an MMG in the stack and I should have laid a fire lane down that path to stop the Red Chinese from counter attacking.  However instead I was distracted by the first squad that rushed up.  Now I got 2 big stacks of broken troops threatened by marauding Red Chinese troops.  Since the Red Chinese already racked up 25 CVP, the scenario ended and Carl Nogueira won as the defender.

Notice the 2 fortified locations Carl revealed after the game.  He had the commissar situated in a fortified location in the middle of the factory.  He also had the other fortified hex immediately behind.  That last hex would be his “Alamo” before the Red Chinese bow out of the building.  Capturing a building like so was going to take a few turns more.

I would have the opportunity to improve my play by being the Red Chinese defenders against Carl’s KMT Chinese.

That will be in the next AAR!

 

 

 

 

Shanghai 1937 in Flames!!!

"Shanghai 1937 - Stalingrad on the Yangtze" by Peter Harmsen

(This is an interview conducted via email, where I talked to Peter Harmsen, the author of “Shanghai 1937 – Stalingrad on the Yangtze” about Advanced Squad Leader.)

Iacta Alea Est!

Wargaming is a method for historians, professionals and hobbyists alike, to get inside the minds of the actors of past conflicts. The games, or simulations, can take place at the grand strategic level, as described in a previous post about the game Dai Senso. They can also offer a more intimate look at combat, putting the player in charge of just a handful of soldiers and facing him or her with difficult tactical decisions. The Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) system is an example of the latter. It has thousands of fans around the world who use its flexibility to play scenarios from a range of theaters during World War Two and the years just before and after – including the Second Sino-Japanese War. We asked Jackson Kwan, a veteran Hong Kong-based ASL player, to introduce the system and especially describe how its versatility facilitates scenarios from the war in China. (The Q & A was performed by email, with special thanks to Jon Halfin for editing.)

Very briefly, what is the Advanced Squad Leader system?

Advanced Squad Leader is a detailed tactical gaming system that models company to battalion level combat in the Second World War period.  It simulates an amazing range of combat parameters: from weather to terrain, national characteristics, leadership and morale, different weapon systems and artillery support.  This allows the examination of engagements from the Pacific theatre to desert terrain, to European theatre and even tundra conditions.  It’s detailed enough to have rules for night battles and for vision effects under differing moon phases.

A short synopsis can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Squad_Leader

How do you generate new scenarios?

Scenario designers from all over work with Multi-Man Publishing and other third party publishers to produce scenario packs and/or entire new modules (settings) that includes map boards and new counters that represents new nationalities, troop types or weapon systems that did not already exist in the system. Scenario designers combine detailed research of certain engagements and various elements including weather, terrain, troop types, conditions and morale, weapons available and ammunition supply into an abstraction that may or may not completely parallel historical outcomes. The best scenarios often have a creative feeling of the historical events, yet balance out asymmetric conditions, allowing both sides equal chances of winning the engagement.

How good is the system at simulating the Second Sino-Japanese War? Are the results realistic, i.e. are they similar to what really happened during the war?

This is a game system that reflects the feel of the position the opposing commanders faced. It seeks to address asymmetric conditions that battles often are while giving both sides a balanced opportunity to prevail through specific winning conditions and other parameters.

T6 Axis Move-procFor example : if you look at the battle at Shanghai’s Sihang warehouse*) alone, you will find at least four scenarios from different designers that put their own interpretation to the events.  My favorite of the four is a scenario named “Shanghai in Flames” where the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) battles top quality Chinese troops (who were still around at the time) across a generically represented map reflecting the terrain styles, into the warehouse. Some of the buildings start already on fire and may spread according to wind conditions as the battle progress. As the Chinese fight a desperate withdrawal through the streets against the IJA pushing aggressively in, as the spreading fire almost becomes a third player, routing friends and foes alike.

Producing realistic results is not the primary objective of Advanced Squad Leader designs.  Putting players under similar decision making parameters and operating constraints to reflect the feel of combat command is the bigger goal.

But making these battles competitive and fun is the biggest objective!

What are the main differences between scenarios based on the war in China and, say, scenarios from Europe 1939-1945?

Obvious differences are weapon systems that the IJA uses (vs various European combatant). Differences in national characteristics, leadership styles, training and morale level – of the Japanese, Chinese, Gurkhas etc vs the Germans, Soviets, partisans plus the myriad of Allied and Axis minors. Differences in weather and terrain – jungles, kunai, caves, beaches, marshes, palm trees and huts in the Pacific Theatre of Operations vs woods, brush, buildings, rubble etc in the European Theatre of Operations.

If people want to get into the ASL system, what should they do?

The heart of the Advanced Squad Leader system is the Advanced Squad Leader Rulebook (version 2).  There are various modules for different nationalities and theatres.  The more modules you have therefore, the more variation you will have in the scenarios you can play.  The best thing to do however for new players is: Get in touch with Advanced Squad Leader players in various cities (and there are tournaments held almost every month around the world  http://aslladder.com/asltournaments.html) and/or on online forums.  Advanced Squad Leader is primarily about the chap across the table and definitely not meant for solo play.  (Although a well-developed Solitaire ASL system does exist, it has been out of print for some time. It does indeed make solitaire play possible.)  Most people in the ASL community are willing to teach new players and proficiency in the basic rules usually requires 3 to 6 games before you are ready to move into the various spectra the system can provide.

The Advanced Squad Leader Starter Pack 1 is designed as an initial step to see if this game’s for them. The Starter Pack is a small, self-contained system that will help any new player make the decision as to whether to dive into the full system headfirst, at a minimal cost – and was designed to replace the long out of print original “introductory” module for Advanced Squad Leader “Paratrooper”.

*) An incident during the 1937 battle of Shanghai when during a general retreat about 400 Chinese soldiers stayed behind, defending the Sihang Warehouse next to Suzhou Creek. The decision to make the stand at the warehouse was mainly motivated by a wish to demonstrate to local and foreign opinion China’s willingness to continue the fight.

(Original of this interview can be found : China in WW2)

Roger B. MacGowan & Wargames

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Growing up with Avalon Hill wargames, I have long noticed the same signature on the boxes of some of the most loved wargames : The Russian Campaign, The Longest Day, Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader ..etc.

That signature belongs to a prolific designer and game publisher, Roger B MacGowan.

Please see his design gallery.
Please see the list of his art designs.

J116 Brigade Hill AAR, a PTO classic!

 

J116 - Setup-procThis is a game that I setup earlier in the year when I found that J116 Brigade Hill was going to be one of the scenarios in the Malaya Madness tourney.  Erwin & I managed to do a few turns before the Malaya Madness and sure enough, Brigade Hill was my last game at the tourney.

The Battle for Brigade Hill was part of a campaign where the IJA pushed the Australians along the Kokoda trail towards Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, during the Second World War.  The IJA setup a blocking force between the Australian brigade headquarters and its forward battalions.  The cutoff Australians were therefore asked to reestablish contact with their headquarters.

I played the IJA and my buddy Erwin from Belgium, the Australians.  The Australians had to take 3 or more of the hill tops marked with “V”s.  The fourth “V” that you can’t see from the map above was under the foxhole on the top right.  This setup is taken from Chris Doary (of BattleSchool).  The Australians came in from the right.  The big hill was tough to defend apart from a reverse slope setup.  In this instance the big hill was left bare and covered by 2 medium machine guns from the hill on the top left and a mortar from the bottom left.  This channelled the Australians through the jungles on both sides of the big hill, ideal IJA country.  I put a HIP (“hidden initial placement”) in the second most likely frequented clump of jungle on the big hill.

J116 - T2 IJA - End Vol Breaks-proc

End of IJA Turn 2 : The Australians advanced carefully to their first VC position and probed the right IJA flank.  The mortar from the top right hill opened fire but it broke on the first shot.  The IJA chucked it down the hill in frustration.  The IJA on the right flank voluntarily broke and melted away into the jungle, looking to use the gully as the second line.

J116 - T3 IJA - Blocking on right Shoot Brits off Hill top Reinforcement entered 02-proc

End of IJA Turn 3: Guns and mortar from both of the small hills start shooting Australians off the big hill-top.  Reinforcements from both combatants entered.  The IJA chose to enter in the “back field” to help defence on the left flank and to tie some Australian units down.  The units on the right flank got into a blocking position and would gain concealment before the turn was over.

J116 - T4 IJA - ? 237 ambush 458 squad-proc

End of IJA Turn 4: The IJAs got aggressive on the right flank.  An IJA half squad was sent to unconceal an Australian squad.  It was killed in the process but the Australian squad was ambushed and killed in the subsequent close combat when a concealed IJA half squad moved in.  The IJA was pressured on the left flank however, the forward units pulled back and the reinforcement group pushed forth to the Australian hilltop.

J116 - T5 Bri - Mortars fight Leader wounded berserk-proc

Australian Turn 5: The opposing mortars continued to duke it out, the IJA finally caught a lucky shot that wounded its leader and made a half squad go berserk!

J116 - T5 Bri - HIP-proc

Australian Turn 5 (still): The IJA revealed a previously HIP’d unit in hex W7 when an Australian squad left its 9-2 leader behind.  We didn’t do this correctly though as the HIP’d unit should have appeared concealed.  Either way as such, the adjacent Australian squad piled in (which I was happy about) but they managed to roll an ambush against the IJA (which I was less delighted about).  The Australians decided to take their leader and withdrew.

J116 - T5 IJA after MPh-proc

IJA Turn 5: The last Australian turn put the IJA left flank under pressure.  The IJA reinforcement group decided to shift back to threaten the Australian rear.  The previously HIP’d IJA squad continued to pursuit the escaped Australian 9-1 (and the 458).  See that stack I noted as “Dummies” in the foxhole?  That hill would have been Australian quickly had Erwin know this.  The IJA stepped up their counterattack on their right flank.  The IJA broke the other Australian squad on the lower left of the map and the berserker piled in!

J116 - T5 IJA CC Entire Stack killed-proc

IJA Turn 5 (still): An  IJA HS jumped back into the 9-1 & 458 stack and managed to annihilate everyone in the hex.  The brokie routed away from the berserker on the bottom left at the moment, for a little while longer.

J116 - T6 Bri Mortar + Snakeeyes killed 8-1 breaks squad .. both MMGs broke-proc

IJA Turn 6: The hill on the bottom left was threatened by a slow-moving concealed Australian stack up the middle.  The wounded 8-0 in the lonely foxhole decided to grab the mortar himself and took a shot at the approaching Australians.  A snake eyes shot along with fire from the previously HIP’d IJA squad on the big hill broke the Australian squad and killed a leader.  This squad would then be eliminated for failure to rout.  Our death star on the top left tried to hold off the hoards and broke BOTH MMGs together!  Baadddd timing …

J116 - T6 IJA CCPh -procIJA Turn 6 (still): This was the last IJA turn before the final Australian onslaught.  The IJA made an unsuccessful effort to take the Australian fox hole on the top right.  The IJA berserker chased down and killed an Australian brokie on the far left.  A concealed IJA squad, determined to clear the field, advanced onto and killed a half squad in the middle right.  The MMG crews and some half squads stacked up on the top left hill.  Since IJA crew stripes instead of breaks, one round of gun fire would not be able to push them out of the hex.  If the Australian half squad moved up the hill and engaged the stack in close combat, the Australians wouldn’t be able to own the top left VP hex without another squad stepping in.  The IJA right flank resumed its blocking position.

J116 - T7 Bri End CC-proc

Australian Turn 7: On the top left of the map, the Australian half squad refused to be broken by IJA gun fire. It advanced up and engaged the IJA stack in close combat.  Since Hand to Hand combat is not an option for the Australians, the likely outcome here was that the units would be locked in a perpetual mêlée.

We rolled.  The Australians failed the “To Kill” number by 1!

The IJA got a Critical Reduction result, thereby killing the Australian half squad.

The IJAs won.

Other AARs:

 

 

“Crossing the Moro” by Lone Canuck, Pictorial

Got up on this fine Saturday morning after two days on the road and decided to give the mailbox a peep … found this delivered by Helen & Chris at BattleSchool today!  George Kelln’s (Lone Canuckdescription of the scenarios therein.

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