FT139 Ride of the 200th

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BPF30 Melee Near The Coast AAR – the superior mobility of the IJA

The time was 25 August 1937.  This was the second time the IJA attacked Shanghai.  The IJA Shanghai Expeditionary Forced landed troops around Liuhe (浏河), Wusong (吳淞) and Chuanshakou (川沙口) as a diversionary to draw GMT troops away from Shanghai.  This scenario depicts an engagement where the IJA troops pushed rapidly inland to encircle Shanghai.

This was a 7 turn scenario in which the IJA needed to control 10 or more buildings at the end.  The GMT (Chinese) had 13 first liners, 1 MMG and 1 LMG led by an 8-1 and an 8-0.  They were reinforced by 4 elite squads with 2 other leaders on Turn 4.  The IJA started with 13 first liners led by 3 leaders.  They were reinforced by a platoon of elite squads plus another leader on Turn 3.

There was an eastern approach for the IJA (top of the map).  That approach led through jungles paths and onto a hill before a group of target buildings.  There was also a western approach where the IJA had to navigate across a shallow stream and fight their way out of a depression.  I guessed the eastern approach would be guarded heavier as the trek was slightly easier and targets richer.

I deployed with 60% of the IJA troops on the east side and 40% on the west with 2 squads HIP’d.  Hopefully that would cause the GMT to lean a little towards the east.

IMG_1089

Chinese Turn 1: Calamity hit the attackers almost immediately.  An observant GMT sniper seek out the highest ranking (10-0) IJA officer amidst a concealed stack and put a round through his head.

Not that it bothered the troops too much, they stayed out of sight a little and continued moving on.

IMG_1090

Chinese Turn 2: As the IJA approached the Chinese forces, an IJA HS was indignant that these brothers of the Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere shot at them.  They went berserk but their target GMT squad routed away.  A concealed GMT squad then moved in but failed to ambush the fuming mad IJA berserkers.

IMG_1091

IJA Turn 3 : The IJA decided to Banzai through the bottleneck on the left flank around the lake.  They almost immediately ran into a dangerous “Banzai” trap – a previously concealed stack of high fire power GMT that killed the led Banzai troops and threaten to suck in more.  Good thing I was able to avoid having an IJA leader sucked into that hex.

IMG_1092IJA Turn 3 still : The IJA on the right flank begin the second Banzai to motor across the shallow stream!

IMG_1093

IJA Turn 4 : The turn would see the right flank of the IJA banzai the rest of their troops over the shallow stream.

IMG_1094

IJA Turn 4 still: The left flank answered with a Banzai to the center of the board and not directly up the hill itself.  This was where I channelled my inner IJA and looked to infiltrate!

IMG_1095

IJA Turn 5 (errata – picture is wrong): The right flank banzai’d over the hill and looked to encircle the GMT defenders.  Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out.  Always an issue banzai’ing in the open.

On the otherhand, the left flank got up (and around) the hill and encircled the defenders there.

IMG_1096

Chinese Turn 6 (errata -picture is wrong) : Quick as you might think the IJAs were, I began to run out of time. I shift the IJA troops from the right to the left in preparation for the final push.

But look – the GMT ran a couple of squads and a leader around the IJA right flank and threatened to reclaim the buildings again!

IMG_1097

IJA Turn 7 (errata again!) : The IJA did a massive Banzai charge on the left flank into the cluster of target buildings behind the bamboo forest.  GMT troops in the jungle to the west put up a ferocious volume of fire! The IJA couldn’t get into all of those buildings (missed 1, IJA pinned).

IMG_1098

The End : At the close of IJA Turn 7 – the IJA got 9 buildings but stood to lose a few more in the counter attack – plus looked to lose 2 to 3 more to the GMT troops reclaiming buildings to the north (left of board).

It was a great game played with Peter-James Palmer in Australia.

ITR1 Debacle at Sung Kiang AAR – Not my brightest moment!

John Knowles and I recently purchased the few “Into the Rubble” packs (Bounding Fire Productions) that Sam Tyson found laying around.  So we decided to play the pack out one by one over the next year or however long it takes.  The first one in the pack is Scott Holst’s “Debacle at Sung Kiang“.  There are a few places called 松江, but since Scott mentioned “the city of Sung Kiang”, I take this as the area to the southwest of present day Shanghai.  This scenario takes from a battle on November 8th 1937 when the Chinese GMT still had their German trained & equipped elite troops.  As with all the scenarios in the “Into the Rubble” pack, it’s all about city fights.  What I didn’t realise until the first Prep Fire was how unversed I am with city fights – I have definitely been running around jungles too long!

So here’s an account of my miserable loss (not an infrequent experience for me of course, but I don’t blog about my losses often enough) :

There are 16 multi hex buildings on the map.  The IJA’s task is to capture 11 or more of them with 16 first liners, 2 elites, 4 leaders and 3 armoured cars in 6.5 turns.   The Chinese fielded 9 elites, 7 first liners, 3 leaders, 2 76 guns and 2 of their funky Type 22 dual MG armoured trucks.

Chi Turn 1 01 End - Pulled 2 LMG & crew out-proc

Chinese Turn 1 : This is what it looked like at the end of the first Chinese turn.  The Chinese decided to use their “armoured” trucks a different way.  Instead of running the trucks around with “0” armour, they decided to rip the 2 LMGs and the crews off them.  That’s 4 new LMGs with 2 elite units that self rallies.  The Chinese now have 8 LMGs, fantastic news to the IJA I am sure.

IJA Turn 3 04 End of MPh w: FL-proc

IJA Turn 3: The action exploded.  First the IJA Banzai’d down the left edge of the board.  Several fire lanes sprang up but the IJA made it across the open ground at acceptable losses.  I then figured this was going to take too long : I should have an armoured car behind the Chinese lines to interdict routs and to limit Chinese movement.  Therefore I ran an armoured car down the streets (just follow the blue dotted arrow that emanated from the concealed counter on the top left quadrant of the map).  It survived one shot from the Chinese MMG that laid down a fire lane.  Then the AC sped due south and made a right turn, surviving another LMG shot at close quarters.  It then arrived at the center of the map.  Another AC decided to do the same but via another route.  This is the blue dotted arrow that encircled the top part of the map from right to left.  Unfortunately it discovered one of the Chinese 75’s the wrong way.  It was still hoping that its speed was going to save it.  Boom – no hit, it laughed.  The gun then went for Intensive Fire as the car came closer. Boom – Critical Hit!!  The AC bursted into flames as car parts careened down the middle of the street!!

Chi Turn 3 04 End-proc

Chinese Turn 3: The Chinese moved folks over from the left, one of which CC’d my AC.  The IJA uncovered a fortified position and strangely, a 75 gun popped up in the middle of the building complex on the right.  That, together with the interior wall in the stone factory (see the hex side on the hex in “direction 2” of the gun) made it a little difficult to clear it out.  The Chinese sped a unit to the far right to close the flanks.

IJA Turn 4 01 End of MPh-proc

IJA Turn 4: Check out the middle of the board – here’s one of my extreme moments of stupidity: with a Chinese squad in the hex, I decided that it would be good idea to back the AC up to the Embankment Railroad.  So I stopped the car meaning to go in reverse.  The Chinese folks promptly declared CC Reaction Fire and disabled the car.  A subsequent LMG shot killed it.  *Brilliant*

All the action on the right were the IJA trying to pile more troops into the factory.  The Chinese started shooting a lot better than they did a turn before unfortunately.  The good bit was that the IJA finally broke the folks in the Fortified hex.  The IJA folks in the top part of the map were starting to appreciate how exposed their positions were.  Having said that, the Chinese MMG malfunctioned the turn before and so they were having a go at crossing the street.

The IJA then ran the last of their armoured cars down the middle of the street to help take the building complex on the right.

Meanwhile on the quiet left side, a couple of Chinese troopers pulled out a bag of marshmallow and strolled over to the bonfire ..

IJA Turn 4 02 End-proc

IJA Turn 4 : This is end of IJA Turn 4.  IJA managed to capture the big factory on the right.  In retrospect I should then have “spilled” more forces down the right edge to turn the Chinese flank.  That would perhaps take me to the buildings to the lower half of the board.  The folk in the center had to rout back.  The MMG that malfunctioned was fixed prompted in the next Rally Phase.  Meanwhile, the AC got into a threatening position but it had to get on an embankment to interdict any Chinese movements.

Chi Turn 4 02 End-proc

Chinese Turn 4 : Two Chinese squads went berserk and both targeted the striped IJA squad sitting in the Fortified hex on the right.  One of the berserkers was underneath the Pinned squad next to the green Fortified hex so you can it imagine it doing the zombie dance against the wall.  The other Chinese berserker rushed up (blue dotted arrow), spotted the IJA elite through the smoke to the right and switched directions.  The IJA elite squad threw their DC at the crazies but only managed to CR the berserkers while ELR’ing itself to a first liner.  The berserkers rushed in and got wasted by gunfire but it caused enough damage by taking the one squad the IJA had with a decent smoke component plus used up their DC!

The Chinese shifted their forces to the right as other sectors were not under threat (a street party was in progress around the bonfire by now).  Notice also the 2 LMG squads closing in on the lone AC sitting in the middle of the board.

IJA Turn 5 01 End-proc

IJA Turn 5 : With all 3 mortars out of smoke and the one elite squad ELR’d to a first liner, the IJAs were not able to put more troops into the factory on the right as the Chinese had an MMG under an 8-1 in the middle of the map.  Tried as they might, the IJA group in the middle couldn’t put much pressure on that MG, apart from discouraging it from putting up a fire lane.  This is the end of IJA’s Turn 5.  The troops inside the IJA’s hard won Fortified hex was steadily reduced.  The fact that it should have advanced into the HMG squad (with the 9-1) long time ago to take them out by CC only occurred to me now.  (Urgh..)  Meanwhile, the 10-1 came forward to rally the troops.  The 1st liners grabbed the flamethrower they recovered, vol broke and routed it back to the 10-1 in the hopes that the 10-1 would know how to use it.

I was definitely not at my best!

Chi Turn 5 02 Dare Death-proc

Chinese Turn 5 : It’s increasingly evident that the IJA were getting bogged down at the first factory.  The Chinese reoccupied the Fortified hex and a Dare Death squad successful took back another building.  While the retaking of the occupied hex didn’t mean immediate reversion of control, it did pretty much put the IJA at where they started with a lot less troops and only 2 Movement Phases to go.

This was where I conceded.

Review :

  • In retrospect I should probably have approached from the left side of the board where there were more cover.  The center group should be anywhere BUT center in that wide open space.
  • I didn’t fully appreciate the threat that the MMG with the 8-1 poised on my operations either.  We should have at least wrecked an AC in front of that building if nothing else.
  • Running the Armoured Cars around to the enemy’s back field was the right idea but they should not be left on their own for too long.
  • I should also have focused more efforts on sliding my troops down the right side to turn the Chinese flanks.  Had I done that earlier, the dynamics would have been different.  Instead, all the IJAs where bogged down in front of the big gun (of all places) and in the Fortified hex next to the highest ranking enemy officer and their HMG.  The first thing IJA should have done was to advanced out of the Fortified hex and CC that HMG stack like there’s no tomorrow.

These are some of the major points I should have done better.  In real life the IJA prevailed (and the ROAR was 15:11 Japanese:Chinese).  As with real life, this is how much damage a bad leader (yours truly) can do!

What else could I have done better?  What are your thoughts?  Please comment.

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.

 

 

 

 

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!!