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