A55 The Cat Has Jumped – AAR on Seaborne Assault!!

This scenario reflects the seaborne assault by the IJA on a relatively lightly held beach in the Philippines. The landing took place on Dec 22 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Conditions were not ideal on this beach – the wind’s heavy and so’s the surf. The Japanese launched their attack on these “shohatsu’s” (or “LCs” for landing crafts) which were really big steel boats.

Shohatsu

As such, neither the crew nor the passengers get to button up.  They were therefore subjected to a +2 CE DRM (Crew Exposed DR modifier) at all times.  The Filipino defenders had problems of their own as well : they were using MGs that were stored since the 1920’s.  The defenders’ machine guns were therefore a lot less reliable than usual (X11 instead of B12).

The IJA wins immediately if they manage to exit 25 or more VPs (“victory points”) off the right edge of the map and/or gain that number in CVPs (“casualty victory points).  The entire IJA force had 22 squads, 3 crews and 5 leaders – a total of 58 VPs which meant they needed to exit half.  The entire Philippines force was 29 CVPs should the IJA decides to focus on CVPs instead.

A55 Start-proc

IJA Turn 1 : This was a humid day at a peaceful beach.  I could almost see people frolicking in the shallow waters (almost).

The terrain on the top of the map was very restrictive, especially compared to the bottom of the map.  It would be difficult for the IJA to exit the map via there.  The terrain was more ideal on the bottom half of the map.  The orchards provided a degree of hindrance whilst requiring only 1 MF per hex to move through.  Defence looks pretty sparse on the bottom of the map and I suspect that’s because the Filipinos stationed their 4 squad equivalents there.  The way this was setup, the bottom of the map looked too inviting for me.  I therefore aim the IJA landing forces towards the top part of the map.  My opponent had gracefully given me the balance, so there were 2 MMGs and 1 HMG instead of 3 MMGs and 1 HMG, but those MGs still encouraged me to head for the jungle. Jungles are ideal banzai terrain after all.

A55 PT2 Prep - Lose both MMGs-proc

Philippines Turn 2 : The 9 IJA boats were still coming in okay.  None of the boats were lost in the heavy surf yet.  The Filipinos started shooting at the incoming LCs.  Stunning the LC crew would cause the boats to flounder and throw the IJA off their landing schedule.  Unfortunately both MMG clogged up and random selection designated both for the junk heap (and there was much cursing).

A55 JT3 MPh - Broached No Survivors-proc

IJA Turn 3 : It was difficult to beach the LCs properly in the heavy surf.  One LC was swamped and ran aground.  One LC’s crew struggled hard with the waves and wasn’t able to do much.  One LC broached against the swells and was destroyed, no survivors.  One LC got shot up bad and was floundering in the shadow seas.  The 5 that beached okay, started to unload its passengers.  Infantry on the beach are fanatic.  However, if they fail morale checks they casualty reduce.

The 5 LCs that beached, started to unload.  However being a first time seaborne assaulter I was concerned about pushing entire stacks out on the beach risking -2 shots on everyone.  So I decided to offload the heavy weapons first, those chaps would need to assemble their toys on the beach away.  This decision would cost the IJA a few more platoons as more LCs got broached in the heavy surf.

I asked my mentor Witchbottles about it afterwards, and he said to get off the boat absolutely as fast as we can!

A55 PT4 End - P moving into blocking positions-proc

Philippines Turn 4 : The IJA got inland on the left flank.  It’s great news apart from the fact that they could get boxed in with a few Filipino squads against the board edge especially with this terrain.  The remaining  Filipino MG, the heavy machine gun expired as well.  The defenders were caught with a beach full of fanatic IJAs and no high rate of fire weapon to do anything about it.  However, they had moved inland methodically to key locations.  The IJA got a bad feeling about what was to come as they couldn’t stop the Filipinos from slipping away.

A55 JT5 Another boat broached 11 squads 10-2 10-1 9-0-proc

IJA Turn 5 : The IJA got another LCs broached!!  The IJA had lost a total of 11 squads and the best 3 of the 5 leaders.  Considering that the IJA started with 22 squads 5 leaders ad 3 crews, that was almost half of the force!

A55 JT6 Banzai 02-proc

IJA Turn 6 : This is Turn 6 and the IJA just got off the beach.  Witchbottles’ advice to always read the scenario victory conditions at the start of every turn definitely helped here.  The IJAs couldn’t move fast enough to get 25 VPs off the board, especially not with the Filipinos shooting at their backs.  The IJAs decided to change tack and to round them up in the jungle instead.

BAAAAANNNZZZAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!

This was the second banzai attack of the game.  The first one was almost exploratory.  The aim ws to catch and kill the blocking force in front.

A55 JT6 Banzai 03-proc

IJA Turn 6 (contd.) : This is the third banzai to catch the bulk of the Filipinos in the woods.  The jungle was just perfect banzai country!

A55 JT6 End CVP16 IJA 13 sqs 4 ldrs-proc

IJA Turn 6 : This was the aftermath of Turn 6.  The IJA lost a total of 13 squads and 4 leaders but have scored 16 CVPs in total.  They needed 9 more to win the game.  The Filipinos were wiped off the top of the map.  However, there were still enough Filipino troops retreating into blocking positions.

A55 PT6 Using FLs to stop the P from retreating-proc

Philippines Turn 6 : The IJAs used fire lanes to delay the Filipino retreat.  Meanwhile, the left flank looked to be clear all the way to the goal line!

A55 JT7  Banzai 04 IJA 13 Ldr 4 CVP 18-proc

IJA Turn 7 : The IJA sprung their 4th banzai.  It was a big decision considering they had only 1 leader (8+1) left.  However the way he was positioned he definitely didn’t need to get too intimately involved.  You can see by the red arrow, how the IJA looked to catch the rest of the defenders.  The IJA now had 18 CVPs.

A55 PT7 Firelane Hero-proc

Philippines Turn 7 : The Filipinos got themselves a hero!  The hero, when coupled with the remaining 8-1 produced a fairly respectable stack with a HS and an IJA LMG.  Either way, the IJA moved into positions where they could lay down fire lanes to delay the Filipino retreat.  My opponent had already seen the bottleneck on the top right of the map where there was a lake.  To get to the board edge, the IJAs on the left flank had to run through the one hex that was 4 hexes from the top and 2 hexes from the right.

A55 JT9  Banzai 05 Need 5 more CVPs stop FL-proc

IJA Turn 9 : The Filipino leader / hero / HS / LMG stack got into a position to lay a fire lane down on the IJA exit.  The first fire striped the lead IJA squad.  The IJA had about 7 VPs worth of squads who could exit off in this very turn and we needed only 5. We had to get rid of that fire lane and one good way was to force the enemy squad into Final Protective Fire.  The Filipino leader-hero stack’s collective hearts must had skipped a beat when they looked away from their gleefully laid fire lane and saw the bunch of IJAs looking menacingly at them from their left.

Uh oh.

The fifth banzai attack had no problems crashing through the open  and into the fire lane stack.  There was nothing the Filipinos could do.   The fire lane stopped after a quick struggle and the 7 VPs worth of IJA squads exited at their leisure.

A55 JT9 Ends-proc

IJA Turn 9 : This was the end of the game as the IJA killed and exited more than 25 VPs.

As my opponent warned me, seaborne assaults are not for the faint of heart.  The attackers should expect to lose more than half the force to the elements and to casualty reduction until his troops hit the hinterland.  For the IJAs, only 4 LCs managed to head back to the ships.  4 others were wrecked and 1 went aground.  Half the force was dead at turn 6, mostly to broaching LCs.

I got to remember to get EVERYONE off the LCs immediately next time.

 

 

 

 

Gin Drinkers’ Revenge 2014 – Hong Kong Advanced Squad Leader Tournament

Gin Drinkers Revenge 2014Saturday, Sept 20 2014.  I found the corner table just like George Bates did when he was the tourney director for the Malaya Madness tourney in Singapore and I set my bag down.  The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers has 2 rooms booked at the KITEC (Kowloon International Trade & Exhibition Center) regularly for their meetings.  Today, however is unlike any other day.

Today is the day for the Gin Drinkers’ Revenge 2014.

Twelve arrived.  We had them divide up into three categories :

  • Former HK ASL Tourney winners
  • 5 years experience and above
  • Newbies

We had 8 hours, 2 rounds, single elimination, 4 hours per game.  We wasted no time in deciding on scenarios and bidding for sides.

Round 1 : J59 Friday The 13th

Aris Avi

My first round was played against Aris Avi from Greece.  He lived in Hong Kong for a little while and will be going back to Greece shortly after the tournament.  He said however, that whilst he used to play Squad Leader, he’s more into miniatures back home.

I was hoping for J12 Jungle Fighters as some folks here are less versed with (or are even adverse to) PTO.  We decided on J59 Friday the 13th instead.  I have never played this but Aris said since he played the defenders last time, he would like to be the attackers.

Friday 13 01

If you would ignore the blue arrows for a moment, this was my defensive setup.  The Germans had 3 JgdPzIVs that came in with 10 5-4-8 paras and 3 leaders from the left.  The objective was for the Germans to capture all buildings around where you see the Russians concentrated.  The Germans had 6 turns.  I had my antitank gun (57LL with ROF3) pointed at where it could most likely take a side shot on the Jagdpanzers.

Aris opened up with an armour assault on the top part of the board.  He had a small contingent heading towards where my AT gun was emplaced together with some wire.  My AT gun fired during the Defensive Final phase, got a hit even though I lost ROF.  YES!   I will take one out of three.  Side shot, TK looked great, I rolled.

BOXCARS – BOOOOOIINNKKKKKKKKKKK!!!

The round glanced off the Jagdpanzer closest to me and then of course the entire German force was then aware of our gun’s presence.  Too late now, the paras closest to the AT Gun started to move towards it.  On the top side of the board the Germans started getting shot up by the Russian HMG on the first level of the big house.  The Russian HMG team held out moderately well and when it broke the half squad on the ground level advanced up to help, except that it couldn’t find the HMG of course (“What do you mean you can’t find the gun??  We left it standing by the WINDOW!!!”)

The Germans para were unable to reach the hedge.  At one point most of them even low crawled back to the tree line.  On Turn 3 or 4 two Jagdpanzers decided to jump the hedge.  Believe it or not, I planned for it.  That’s why I had a squad in a fox hole with an ATR looking for an underbelly shot when Jagdpanzers jump the hedge.  However as the Jagdpanzer rolled over, I forgot.  The first Jagdpanzer overran the foxhole.  The good news was that Jagdpanzers with FP1 bow machine guns don’t offer much fireworks.  The better news was the squad survived and killed the tank hunter in close combat.  At this point, I started to move my Russian infantry up for a counter attack.

Gin Drinkers Revenge 2014

I was in a bit of danger on my left flank (bottom) though as the Germans killed the gun crew.  One German squad was however caught in the wire and my opponent wasn’t sure whether my other wire was some where in the woods as well.  The Germans stopped coming through the Russian left flank.  Katya (the Russian sniper) once again came by and broke the remaining German squad for me.

The second JagdPanzer that jumped the hedge stopped with its gun pointed at the HMG farmhouse.  I got it caught between two ATR squads as shown and blew it away from behind as my opponent was perhaps too focused on taking out the big farmhouse to let the German paras in.  There were no survivors.

My opponent conceded.

Round 2 : T4 Shklov’s Labors Lost

My next opponent was Ted Kwong.  Ted said he bought his Advanced Squad Leader modules a long time ago.  It’s only recently that he started learning the system.  He told me how terrific a teacher Erwin Lau is.  Erwin is a local grognard who plays a variety of games and has been winning (multiple?) championships in past Advanced Squad Leader tournaments held by the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers.  As a testament to how much Erwin has done in pushing ASL locally, Ted is the third person who told me recently as to how immensely patient Erwin is as a teacher.

Ted Kwong Christopher Chu (1)

Here you can see Ted Kwong on the left after rolling a pair of snake eyes on his opponent in ASL126 Commando Schenke.

We decided on T4 Shklov’s Labors Lost (Ted didn’t want to do PTO, so no AP84 Double Trouble).  I would be the attacking Germans.  JR Tracy told he they used to call this scenario “Gandalf vs the Balrog” because each side gets a 10-3.

Shklov's Labors Lost-proc copy

This was the setup from memory.  I got the Germans who had 9 4-6-8s with a star-studded leadership team : 10-3, 9-2, 8-1 with 2 armor leaders 9-1, 8-1.  There were also 2 STuGIIIB to help them with taking 5 designated Russian buildings in 6 turns.  The Russians had 7 and a half 4-5-8s led by a 10-0 and a 10-3.

The placement of the Russian 10-0 made me wonder if they had their MMG up front.  The HMG was probably with the 10-3.

Ted just won his last game against Christopher Chu and he was in a pretty good mood.  We shook hands and the game got underway.

Shklov's Labors Lost-proc copy 2
First matter of the day : the Germans prep’d their deathstar – FP16 flat versus the commissar stack.

Snake eyes.

We opened the game with a 2KIA!  Great omen I’d say, I gripped a little tighter my pair of lucky dice that saw me through Malaya Madness as well.  The commissar stack vaporised before the commissar had a chance to rub his eyes.  The STuGs led the way with armoured assault, chucking smoke out of their smoke dischargers at key points down the left and the right.  The Germans had no intention of doing frontal attacks.  The Germans entered the commissar building from the Russian right flank and went slightly behind the first building on the Russian left flank.  The STuG from the Russian right came across, discharged smoke immediately before reaching the MMG building and did a bypass freeze on the MMG hex (froze the ground level only).  The Germans then piled in through the front and from the side under the cover of a timely smoke grenade.

Shklov's Labors Lost-proc copy 3

The German deathstar later moved into commissar building and joined the 9-2 and his team.  At around Turn 3 the Russian 10-3 was pinned and the Russian HMG squad went berserk!!  They dropped the HMG, ran into the street and the berserkers were UNSTOPPABLE.  All the heavy German firepower had assembled in the commissar building at that point but apart from bring critically reduced, the Russian berserkers made its way across.   It was only when the deathstar final fired at it from an adjacent hex.

The Germans then looked up and met the eyes of the lonely Russian 10-3.  The Russian quickly grabbed the HMG, admirable but futile.  The STuG rode by and put down smoke from its dischargers.  The Germans 9-2 led 2 squads across the street into the Russian 10-3 hex.  The STuGIIIB continued its way and got behind the VC buildings.  Four buildings down and I would take the Russian HMG as well after we shoot the 10-3.

Ted gracefully conceded.

Aftermath

 

20140922_54b305d9a0cd84ec01284qW9l8oE0wLa-1

So here we go.  We have a front runner from each of the 3 groups :

  • Tourney winners – Erwin Lau
  • 5 years Experience and above – Anthony Leung
  • Newbies – Jackson Kwan

There will be games arranged at a later date to determine the final rankings amongst these three, subject to Hong Kong Society of Wargamers’ scheduled events and venue availability.

Watch the video!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnqXRFauZFA

IMG_8125IMG_8126

 

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

906629_828688150475781_3266142249287560170_o

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.