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.

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“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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AP90 Smashing The Hook (an AP9 “To The Bridge!” scenario)

I was chatting online about Gary Fortenberry’s new Advanced Squad Leader Action Pack “ASL Action Pack 9: To The Bridge!” when Sam Tyson offered to play.  The next thing I knew, I was experiencing a truly action packed scenario, well designed and well “interpreted” by Sam. This was February 1942 in Burma.  Patrols from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry discovered IJA roadblocks around Danyingon.  So elements from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 1/7th Gurkha Rifles set out to evict the IJA from the area.

There were 2 roadblocks in predestinated positions on the map.  The British goes from the bottom of the map to the top.  They get an instant win when they clear both roadblocks or if there are no good order IJA troops around either roadblock after five and a half turns.  The British got a mix of armoured cars and (scary) Gurkha ladened carriers.  The IJA got to hide (always good) plus a Mountain Gun. 001 AP90 BT1 Start-proc

British Turn 1 : You can see where the IJA gun was hidden and where it was bore-sighted.  There was an MMG on the hill to the top left bore-sighted to a path through the jungle.  There was an IJA half squad hidden in the brush hoping that the British would pass him by and another IJA half squad near the first roadblock in the middle of the map.  There’s a scenario special rule that requires all hidden IJA to reveal themselves via Banzai attacks in Turn 4.  I figured that might be where the British would be by then.  The British were very aggressive in their first move given the short time frame.  My foxhole on the hill on the bottom of the map was immediately overran.  Nothing but a human speed bump!  The carrier hooked around the foxhole and made sure there was no escape for the IJA half squad therein. 003 AP90 BT2 AFPh Start-proc

British Turn 2 : The British methodically beat down the brush and found our first hidden IJA half squad.  A British armoured car headed straight for the defending IJA at the roadblock.  IJA’s LMG scored a hit and a lucky kill.  The IJA started backing off. 004 AP90 BT2 RtPh Vol Break-proc

British Turn 2 Rout Phase : The IJA started melting away before the British could engage them in close combat.  The IJA looked to delay and to collapse into the last roadblock gradually.  They formed a line right before the tree line where the hidden IJA half squad was. 005 AP90 JT3 DFPh Cleared Roadblock-proc

IJA Turn 3 : The end of the turn saw the IJA melting away again, collapsing towards the last roadblock.  Before the MMG team on the hill on the middle of the map did, they vaporized a British half squad coming down the jungle path.  The Brits then decided to use a carrier to create a trail break in the jungle nearby.

006 AP90 JT3 CCPh Jumped the Brits-proc IJA Turn 3 : The IJA MMG team from the middle of the map repositioned to around the last roadblock, MG trained onto the road.  A big stack of British troops successfully removed the first road block.  A British 9-1 and a Gurkha squad walked into the hidden IJA half squad in the last turn.  The half squad should have popped up in the earlier British Turn when this happened.  Hand to hand fighting nonetheless ensured immediately and they were all killed. 007 AP90 BT4 Gun appears carrier immo-proc

British Turn 4 : The Brits were out to chase down the routing IJA squads.  The first carrier sped down the road and the IJA gun roared from behind the second roadblock.  The carrier was hit and immobilized.  Meanwhile the hidden stack on the bottom of the map tried to get the British armoured car’s attention by slowly creeping towards the British backfield. 008 AP90 BT4 MG hit but bounced Int Gun kill carrier-proc

British Turn 4 still : The action heated up as the second carrier comes running down the path.  The MMG managed to score a hit but the bullets bounced off.  This carrier managed to hook around and cut off the IJA brokies’ rout path.  The third carrier went straight for the roadblock!  The gun crew intensive fired  and killed that one too.  The rest of the British troops moved in quickly.  This was Turn 4, the British had 2 more Movement Phases to go.

009 AP90 JT4 WP and formed a line-proc IJA  Turn 4 : The IJA mortar crew laid a white phosphorous (WP) round on the carrier but the Gurkhas were too tough for it.  The WP round did allow the IJA troops to slip by and escaped back to around the second roadblock.  The IJA gun killed the immobilised carrier, taking more of an interest in its Gurkha crew.   However, I should have left the gun pointing towards the right for the next British round. The British were consistently great at cutting rout paths and taking prisoners.  The IJA realised they need to stop the British from getting behind them if they were to survive – hence the line. 010 AP90 BT5 IJA Vol Break-proc

British Turn 5 : While their comrades held the line, the IJA on the left melted away so they could counter attack against the British troops at the roadblock.  The armoured car on the bottom of the map finally verified that we had a moving stack of dummies.  It was a miracle that the IJA kept this armoured car out of the battle for so long! 011 AP90 BT5 CC 2 Melees Big stack on Roadblock-proc

British Turn 5 still : The British were unlucky in that all four close combats started with IJA ambushes.  However the IJAs were killed around the gun and 2 of the fights resulted in melees.  Only on the right did we see a solitary but concealed leader slaughtered a British half squad and slipped deeper into the jungle. 012 AP90 JT5 Counter Attack!!-proc

IJA Turn 5 : The routed IJA again rallied and attacked towards the roadblock.  The British were assembling around the roadblock at this stage.  If they manage to clear the roadblock, they get an instant win but if not, they would need to makes sure there were no good order IJA troops around the area marked with a big red hexagon. 013 AP90 JT5 -9 Roadblock Clear mod-proc IJA Turn 5 – Game End : The close combat phase was a good one for the IJA, they reclaimed two of the hexes around the last road block.  However, the British were able clear the roadblock by rolling less than 10.  (You need to roll 2 or less on a pair of dice, but the Brits had enough people to get a -7 modifier.)

Mr. Sam Tyson won!!

A44 Blocking Action at Lipki AAR

I love PTO.  However, jungles do not present decent tank country.  Too much time spent in the PTO as a newbie can result in lopsided development that is short on armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) experience.

This scenario took place near Borisov (Russia), mid-1941 – the opening stages of Barbarossa.  Elements of the 1st Moscow Motor Rifle Division was sent to block the spearhead that was Guderian’s 18th Panzer Divison.

001 Turn 2 German Rally-proc

North is on the right of the map.  The Germans deployed on the top map (west) and the Russians came in from the bottom (east).  The Russians win when they exit more than 15 victory points (VPs) off the top edge of the map between the road on the top middle to the road on the top right. The other way to win was to kill enough Germans.  The KV2 was worth 7 VPs, the T-34 was also worth 7 points and each squad was worth 2 points.  As you already know, the Russians had a KV2,  a T34 M40 and a couple of BT7s.  The Germans had a couple of PzIIIGs, a halftrack sporting a 37mm gun with a high rate of fire (I forgot about the ATR that it also carried) and a couple of halftracks with the usual machine guns.  They were backed by a 28mm antitank gun and further reinforced by a pair of PzIVEs in Turn 4.

The above was the German Turn 2.  You can see the two Panzers on the left lying in wait and hoping to get a first shot at the Russians.  The antitank gun was towed to a clump of woods near the exit for a last-ditch defence.  The half track with the 37mm gun was on the right and they could hear the speedy BT7s and a convoy of trucks rumbling towards them.

002 Turn 3 Russian Move HT37L blew up BT-7 rof-proc

 

This was the Russian Turn 3.  The T34 came up the left and the PzIIIG fired, looking to scoot behind the woods quickly afterwards.

I rolled a 1,1 .. and  a 1.  Critical Hit!!

The T34 exploded into a burning wreck, and the German tankers sat stunned as bits of Russian tank rained down.  On the right, the 37mm gun pumped shot after shot into one of the BT7 and killed it.

001 Turn 3 German Idiot Move ATR-proc

This was the German Turn 3.  I am very inexperienced in tank warfare so you won’t see an end to idiotic moves in the near term.  This was one of them. I backed a PzIIIG up over the bridge on the left in the hope of being able to get away faster when the Russian tanks appear.  Not only did I presented my rear facing to the Russians, I forgot to button up.  The tank was immediately stunned by infantry fire and then killed by a Russian antitank rifle (ATR).  Things worked out better on the right as my 37mm gun shocked the other BT7.

005 Turn 4 German DPh Capers abound-proc

This was the German Turn 4.  To the left you can see another one of my moments.  The Germans were hoping to crash a halftrack through the woods on the left, get back on the road and circle around the back of the Russian trucks on the right.  However, they realised that trail breaking took a little time and by the time the half track emerged from the woods, it was looking down the barrel of a KV2!  So instead of breaking to the right of the map, they sped towards the left to escape.  The KV2 fired but the halftrack speed and its size saved it.  The surviving BT7 recovered from its shock and killed the gun-toting halftrack.  Unfortunately the reinforcing PzIVEs arrived and got it bracketed from two directions.

008 Turn 5 Russian DFPh Truck immo-proc

This was Russian turn 5.  Our escaping halftrack on the left had a Russian ATR squad on its tail.  The KV2 on the other hand laughed and used the trail-break created by the charitable halftrack to get to the “inside line” of the Germans.  The BT7 blew out its gun in a shootout with the PzIVe on its left (which also malf’d its gun) and was killed by the PzIVe on its right.  The right PzIVe proceeded to shoot up the Russian trucks one by one.

009 Turn 5 German MPh Berserk Charge Killed by Sniper-proc

During German turn 5, one of the German half squad had a berserk moment.  They got tired of the shooting and concluded that the proper thing to do was to charge the Russian medium machine gun.  So off they went.  They ran through Defensive First Fire, then Subsequent First Fire … jumping into the MMG nest, they survived Final Protective Fire!!  “.. and THIS is how it’s done!!” they yelled.  Meanwhile, Katya, the peasant girl sniper rolled her eyes, spat and muttered “Men” before shooting up the marauding German half squad and ended the lunacy.

011 Turn 6 Russian DF KV2 moved up German shot up trucks-proc

This was Russian Turn 6.  During the last German turn, the only Panzer with a functioning gun sped into its final position while its colleague proceeded to kill all the Russian trucks with its MGs on the right of the map.  However,  the KV2 killed the halftrack that tried to escape from in front of the wooden house.  The escaping halftrack to the left survived another shot from the Russian ATR and ran.  The KV2 crew watch incredulously as the crazy halftrack ran across its covered arc.  Then it realised that KV2 can’t intensive fire.  The halftrack disappeared behind some woods.  In this turn, the KV2 followed.  I can only imagine the commotion on the halftrack as the KV2 reappeared on its “rear view mirrors”.

012 Turn 7 Russian AFPh KV2 Malf-proc

This was Russian Turn 7.  The mighty KV2 lumbered towards the goal line.  The PzIVE and the antitank gun bounced shot after shot off its front armour.  The KV2 went to a “fork” position, threatening the German truck with its rear MGs while shooting back at the antitank gun with high explosives from its terrifying “bunker busting” 152mm gun.   The antitank gun crew worked as fast as they could, dreading the massive fireball that the next moment must bring.

Then for a moment, there was silence – the 152mm gun malfunctioned.

HS8 Bailey’s Demise AAR – fighting the Marines in the jungle

JT1a-proc

Learning jungle terrain in ASL153 Totsugeki is one thing.  Learning about Marine Raiders in the dense jungles of Guadalcanal is another matter entirely.

This is HS8 Bailey’s Demise, from MMP’s Operational Watchtower Historical Study.  The date is September 26 1943.  This scenario as with the whole History Study, is centered around Guadalcanal.  The river depicted on the map represents the Matanikau river.  The Marine Raiders were looking to cross the river to the west bank to complete an encirclement.  Unbeknownst to the Marines, the IJA had crossed the river and was on the east bank when the engagement occurred.

The Marine Raiders came in from the top left into a wholly hidden (HIP) deployment of IJA troops.  The Marine Raiders, like the IJA 1st-liners, were also stealthy.   They were to cross at least 6 CVP (3 squads or other combinations) to the west bank of the river in 7.5 turns.

All interior jungle hexes are dense jungle.  All jungle hexes next to non jungle hexes are light jungles.  The difference being while light jungle are similar to woods, dense jungle has a terrain effect modifier (TEM) of 2, does not permit fire groups and allows a stacking limit of only two.  This map’s marked with “crags” (4 point stone formations) merely to remind ourselves that the marked hexes were dense jungles.

The map above was my IJA setup, units unhidden for your perusal.  The mortar team down on the bottom left was largely ineffectual against American counter-battery fire.  I should have spread them out.

AT2b-proc

 

This was the Marine Turn 2.  The Marine made contact with the defenders and withstood IJA fire rather well.  Taking the risk to move in stacks (given the +2 cover of the dense jungle) their Advance Fire was devastating round after round for the IJA.  The IJA looked to block the Marines as much as possible, rout back (squads breaking “automatically” into half squads in the process) when in doubt and take advantage of their leader’s “Commissar-like” ability to rally them without (DM) penalty.

As I expected, the Marines avoided the bamboo patches on the right and came in from the top down.

Please keep in mind that IJA counters in faded yellow were hidden units that the Marine player couldn’t see.

JT2b - After MPh-proc

This is the IJA Turn 2.  Some of the frontline IJA routed back.  The IJA mortar team on the left was completely shot up.

AT3c After MPh-proc

American Turn 3.  The rallied IJA put up a fight in face of the advancing Raiders.

JT3c After MPh-proc

IJA Turn 3.  The IJA rallied and reconstructed a respectable line of defence.  In retrospect this approach didn’t work well.  The IJA, even concealed, could hardly withstand the withering Marine gunfire.  Perhaps a better strategy is to pair up the half squads.  One half squad would go aggressive, knocking off US concealment counters and drawing fire.  The other concealed half squad will close and either hope for an ambush in close combat.

JT3c HIP CC-proc

Talking about close combat, the Marines with their overwhelming firepower are deadly in normal CC (plus the IJA has no favorable modifiers).  Here you have a HIP squad that sprung out in the hopes of assassinating the Marine 8-0, they were promptly killed in CC.

I should have avoided normal CC with Marines to start with.  Hand to Hand (HtH) combat, when done with sufficiently lopsided odds (IJA half squad vs one or two Marines squads) offer a good trade for the IJA since the results of most are mutual annihilation!  Other than that, I should have ran!

AT4a Ambush by IJA-proc

Marine Turn 4 : here you can see how the Marines were already crowding the last passage way towards the river.  A Raider squad jumped a concealed IJA half squad and was ambushed and killed.  That was unfortunately the only time when close combat went happily for the IJA in this game!

JT4b Am Vol Rout-proc

IJA Turn 4 : The situation doesn’t look good for the IJA but they were still fighting hard.  Here you can see a Marine stack breaking voluntarily and routing away from possible IJA close combat.  Here’s a thought : had I not used the hidden IJA units in close combat, they could have sprung up now and kill the whole stack!

AT5a MG-proc

Marine Turn 5: the Marines started to cross the river!!  A repositioned IJA machine gun put the west end of the bridge squarely in its sights but it couldn’t stop the flow.

JT6a End-proc

IJA Turn 6: This was how it ended for the IJA, decimated and encircled.

The next time I play as the IJA against Marines, I will try :

  • Using my HIP units largely for cutting rout paths.
  • Pair up units (half squads), keep one concealed and use one for knocking off enemy concealment, with the hope of trading half squads for bigger stacks of Marines in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Rush IJA squads through openings created by successful hand-to-hand combat and go for encirclement
  • I thought of stacking IJA units to give them heavier fire power since I can’t create fire groups in dense jungles but I think that will just create bigger targets for blistering Marine firepower.
  • While retreating and blocking as the IJA might be a good idea at times, I should keep at least a 1 hex distance from the Marines.  That way the Marines would need to use advancing fire against my concealed units.
  • What happened to Banzai charges?

What’s your experience with fighting cardboard Marines in the jungles?  What are your thoughts?

 

My First Foray into PTO terrain : ASL153 Totsugeki! AAR

I played ASL153 Totsugeki! a while ago with Brian Y.  I played a few PTO (Pacific Theatre of Operations) scenarios before but this is my first foray into full-blown jungle terrain.

The usual Chinese vs Japanese (IJA) or Canadian vs Japanese scenarios occurred in China or Hong Kong, both of which are not in PTO terrain.  ASL153 Totsugeki! however, took place in northern Burma.  “Totsugeki” is Japanese for “Charge”.  Chinese gunners, working with the Americans, were cut off in the jungle with fields of fire still uncleared.  The IJA 55th Regiment pushed in and everyone in the 6th Field Artillery Battery found themselves fighting for their lives.

 

A60-JT1a-proc

IJA pushed in from the top of the map.  There are three Chinese guns in specified hexes.  The Victory Conditions for the IJA is to eliminate or to capture all three Chinese guns and to occupy their hexes with good order crew/half squads/squads (“MMC” in ASL parlance) in 6.5 turns.  The Chinese has 14 first liners vs the IJA’s 11 but they were understandably shaky (ELR 2).

This is Japanese turn 1.  The IJA wasted no time in rushing both flanks.  They showed that the IJA squad will almost always get to where it wants to go.  The jungle hindrance of course helped a great deal.

A60-CT1 AFPh-proc

End of Chinese Turn 1 : you can see the IJA was successful in turning both flanks.  The Chinese 2 squads stack with the leader posed an issue though since it occupied a key position in the center of the map.   Approaching IJA units invariably got shot up.

A60-JT2 MPh CANDYGRAM!-proc

Japanese Turn 2: The IJA decide to get the party going with a DC Hero (“CANDYGRAM!!!”, a phrase favoured by one of my ASL mentors, Witchbottles).  Unfortunately the Chinese weren’t ready to go wild yet and promptly shot the messenger.

A60-JT2 CC Ambush Kill-proc

Japanese Turn 2 still : IJA forces slid down the left flanks, ambushed and killed the Chinese medium machine gun (MMG) team.  This flank looked shaky but the Chinese held firm in the middle.  That double squad Chinese stack in the middle were still chuckling over their DC hero kill.

A60-JT3 Banzai-proc

 

Japanese Turn 3 : The IJA was getting frustrated about not being to make much inroads in the centre and on the right flanks.  On top of it, trotting through the jungle was a very slow going affair.  So they decided to do a banzai attack!

 

A60-JT3 End-proc

This is my first banzai attack in jungle terrain and I started to appreciate how well banzai attacks go together with jungles.  It is got to be terrifying to have IJA troopers crashing out of the trees and falling into the ranks with bayonets and swords waving!  This charge allowed the IJA forces in the centre to link up with the right flank.

A60-JT5 End DFPh - both Chinese guns malf-proc

Japanese Turn 5 : The IJA spent turn 4 bringing the troops together for the final assault on the guns.  The IJA mass assault moved through the jungle.  The two guns on the flanks fired pointblank at the incoming IJA and they both malfunctioned!

A60-JT6 MPh Banzai Charge-proc

Japanese Turn 6: The IJA came into contact with the Chinese troops around the gun and one last banzai ensured!

A60-JT6 AFPh .. DC Hero shot-proc

Sensing that the game was almost over, a DC hero decided to gave it another go.  He too was shot before he could deliver the payload.  On the other hand the last banzai piled a few IJAs into the last gun hex.

A60-JT6 End-proc

The IJA captured the last Chinese gun and surrounded the defenders.

Totsugeki is a great introduction for me to the PTO terrain.  Going toward I’d very much like to explore the best ways for DC Heros  to play together with Banzai’ers.

I’d also like to commend Brian Y as a terrific ASL player.  Thanks for a great game Brian!

Please see also my friend Joss Attridge’s experience with Totsugeki : “Totsugeki (ASL 153)”

Banzai

 

 

ASL 105 Going to Church AAR

French Canadians from Les Fusiliers Mount-Royal met up with German SS troopers at St. Martin-de-Fontenay on August 1 1944.  The Canadians were to clear the SS from a church in the area.  I played the Canadians and Robert Zinselmeyer, the SS .   This was a 6 turn scenario and the Canadians win immediately when there were no unbroken SS in the church.

ASL105-CT1b-proc

This was the Canadian Turn 1 : the Canadian death star contained a heavy machine gun (“HMG”) that went on a long rate tear, obliterating the east side of the church  A team of Canadians rushed forward from the northeast.  Another team moved around to the south-west of the church to catch Germans routing to that side.

ASL105-GT2a-proc

This was the German Turn 2 : the Canadian death star continued to work on the east of the church.  Canadians move closer from the northeast and the southwest.

ASL105-GT3a-proc

This is the German Turn 3: a half squad attempted to approach the church with a demo pack earlier but was routed.  This was the first attempt to retrieve it.  The half squad (“HS”) was then KIA’d, as were a number of other Canadian units afterwards.  The Canadians never got this demo pack back.  The Canadian death star decided to relocate for lack of targets.

ASL105-CT4a-proc

This was the Canadian Turn 4 : The Canadians didn’t do very well on the east side.  The lone intruding HS crashed into the church but was immediately met with the SS in close combat!

ASL105-GT5a-proc

German Turn 5 : Even though the odds of that mêlée was turning because of reinforcing Canadians from all sides.  The Germans were still blocking one of the staircases while the rest raced upstairs.

ASL105-CT6a1 - KIA Demo-proc

Canadian Turn 6 : A valiant Canadian 8-0 made a desperate try for the dropped demo pack and was killed as well.  The mêlée hadn’t ended.  Scores of Canadians were held up by a wounded German 8-0 at one of the staircases!  Someone suggested an infantry overrun on the wounded German but the Canadians failed to act.  It was just too crowded and they were afraid that they might shoot their own.  The Canadians rushed up the other staircase in frustration.

ASL105-End-proc

Last German Turn : the Canadians were able to dispatch the wounded German 8-0 at the end of the previous turn.  All German upstairs were then immediately encircled!!  The Canadian laid heavy firepower on the Germans inside the church.  The HMG went on a rate tear as well!  However when the smoke settled, one German HS remained.

The Canadians ran out of time.