CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

It’s 24 May 1944 near Namkwin, Burma.  “Blackpool” was the hill in the scenario that served as a blocking position against the Japanese.  The 111th Indian Infantry Brigade constructed an airfield against it.  However on this day in the Monsoon rain, the IJA cut inside the perimeters of Blackpool.  Elements of the King’s Own Royal Regiment, the King’s Scottish Rifles and the 3/9th Gurkha Rifles mounted a counterattack in the torturous terrain, dense jungle and heavy rain.

Physical Map of NamkwinPhysical Location Map of Namkwin
Physical Location Map of Namkwin
Physical Map of Namkwin

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

The IJA wins at game end if they have Good Order units who can lay down >= 4FP on the Flooded Pool you can see on the top right of the game map.

IJA 01The IJA starts in two groups.  The first group of 6 squads setup in the airfield (no Smoke in the rain) in the face of a 75* Artillery, a murderous Bofors AA (IFE 8 ROF 2) and a leader who can make it rain 70mm OBA.  The second group of 9 squads setup on the east side (lower side on the map) of the hill.  To counter that group, the King’s Own Royal Regiment and the King’s Own Scottish Rifles setup on the hill top.  A group of Gurkhas setup within 3 hexes of the Flooded Pool.

The IJAs in the airfield have a short trip over Open Ground, barely protected by the falling rain drops.  So I had them spread out as much as possible.  The biggest task was to guess at where those ordnance were.  Their task was to not have British ordnance shooting at the back of the group of IJAs making their way up the hill.  The group of IJAs on the hill had a tough time ahead of them still.  Going up the hill is 5MF per hex.  Unless they were with a leader, that would make them go CX, which of course prevents them from Advancing further.  Of course, if they managed to go 1 hex per turn they would theoretically make it to the Bamboo on the west (top) side of the hill.  (Note: going downhill is 3MF, but there are Abrupt Elevation Changes which takes 5MF.)

On the other hand, there were concealed Scotsmen on the top of the hill and Gurkhas moving up the path.  Being CX’d wasn’t the best thing to do, considering concealed Scotsmen would get -1 vs 0 on the CX’d IJA’s on Ambush rolls (+1 for non first line troops).  Concealed Gurkhas would do -2. (Assuming the CX’d IJA would get advanced on.).

I thought about having a band of IJA making an end run around the hill long the path on the left, but they won’t come into play until Turn 3 or after.  I set that aside as an option.

After Action Report

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The Bofors went on a rate tear and wiped out half the IJAs (and their 8-0) down at the airfield.  As a matter of fact, it tore up folks on one side, turned CA and continued to tore up folks on the other side!  Their 7-0 got so emboldened that he ran out with his radio to get a better view of the IJAs going up the hill.  The 75* ART came out on the left and shot at the IJA coming down the field.  That prompted one of the squads from the hill to come down behind to help kill the crew.  We killed the gun as well so as not to have a gun shoot us in the back later.  The folks on the hill started to head up the path on the left, pushing some of the concealed enemies to respond.  We hoped to get into the jungle before the Indian units in the airfield free themselves up.

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The Gurkhas went up the west side of the hill path and really started shooting the IJA up with their heavy inherent firepower (12 pointblank!), HMG & MMG.  Heavy Rain started which gave an addition +1 to the Dense Jungle’s +2 but the IJA forces kept shedding away.  The Scotsmen on the left came into contact with IJA units and gave the CX’d IJA units an excuse to Banzai up another level!  We needed to hit the Scotsmen on the flank quickly before our troops melt away like ice cream.  Down in the field, we decided against making an end run around the hill but instead, move to tie down the Indian assets in the airfield.  The Brit with the radio went into the Jungle after an IJA brokie, so we went after him and send a squad after the Bofors, which decided to move into the airfield for a better shot up the hill.

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

It’s Turn 4 and we were getting shot up at every fire phase.  This could not be allowed to continue!!  The Commonwealth troops were in contact still, so we triggered off 2 Banzai’s to propel IJA forces up the hill.  The Commonwealth line was still holding.  Three more MPh’s to go and their HMG/ MMG teams were still intact.

Down at the airfield we caught and killed the radio guy (no OBA!), meanwhile the Bofors moved further into the airfield.

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario
The Commonwealth forces got smart and studiously avoided contact with our folks, so as not to trigger off more Banzais.  At this point, I was pretty sure the defenders had more people than we do.  We kept their brokie stacks under pressure but continuing to bash ourselves up against the Gurkha wall didn’t seem viable at this point.  Things were not going well, the Indian troops even ambushed and killed our mortar team and stole our toys – the NERVE!  Our folks at the airfield rushed up the hill in a bid to keep some of the Commonwealth forces on the airfield (east) side of the hill.

We realised however, that we didn’t have to get up close.  We could bring our MMG/ LMG to the right side down the road and hit that pond (Flooded, hence at Level 0) with 4FP from a distance!  (Credit goes to my opponent.  We have been playing regularly for years.  He’s the smart one.)

At this point, I told the scenario designer – Joe Leoce – that the IJA’s getting wiped out and that the Gurkha HMG & MMG were still there.  He answered “you know where they are”.

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We started to slide towards the left with our 2 leaders escorting our MMG & LMG squads.  Other full squads piled in as well but half squads stayed on the ridge (abrupt elevation in a lot of places) to screen the Commonwealth off.  We maintained a continuous line so as to threaten a massive Banzai.  Some of the enemy forces filed down the hill path, looking to shoot us down on the road no doubts.  We stripe but not break so we should be okay but hey, that’s what half of the dead on the airfield thought.

CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We moved onto the road with our 2 leaders.  The Gurkhas opened fire in their last Prep while our folks closed their eyes and cringed!!  They wounded the 9-1 and striped the crew but the MMG remained operational.  With 10 FP on the pool, the Commonwealth conceded.

How is this scenario interesting?

We got tired just thinking of the 4 level hill, the Dense Jungle and the Heavy Rain!!  Both sides battled the terrain as much as each other.  As unforgiving as the terrain was, once you are committed to one course of action, there’s hardly any turning back.  Sure, playing against the IJA can be nerve wrecking but so’s the IJA player’s need to manage his rate of attrition as the turns roll by.  Putting the Gurkhas on the field also give the IJA something to be scared about.  I think this scenario showcases the best elements in the ASL PTO experience.  The IJA 28 vs Brit 25 scoring on ROAR suggests I am not alone.

This is a great scenario done by a talented designer no doubt: Joe Leoce.  I met Joe back in 2014 when I dropped by the Albany tournament for a day.  He took such great care of me that it shaped how I feel about the whole global ASL community to this day.  Here’s a video I cut from that beautiful day:

Advanced Squad Leader scenario DB131 Thorn in the Side (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario DB131 Thorn in the Side (AAR)

Scenario Background

A buddy and I continue to play the excellent series of “Dispatches from the Bunker” scenarios backwards.  After DB132 One Last Victory, we were on DB131 A Thorn in the Side.  This scenario puts us in February 1 1944 Kangaw Burma.  The No 1 Commando “Royal Marines” took a hill (Hill 170) that oversaw a vital road junction in the path of Japanese retreat.  The Japanese found that unacceptable.

The first map is from Combined Operations and the photo of the “salamander badge” of the 1 Commando is from Commando Veterans Archive.

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

So here we have a 4.5 turn scenario in which the Japanese wins at the end of any Player Turn if all British AFV are eliminated/ recalled/ not on level 3 hill hexes.  It’s never good to meet the IJA in close quarters.  I hope to take advantage of distance, higher firepower and all the leader mods.  It would be hard to keep the IJA off my tanks for 5 IJA Movement Phases.  I thought about this and I realized there’s a clue in the Victory Conditions.  I had 3 AFV’s and AFV’s can move.  The Victory Conditions say “If ALL British AFVs .. not in Level 3 hill hexes.”  There are 3 Level 3 hill tops on the map.  I could start on one side, delay the IJA for as long as I could and move the tanks to the other level 3 hexes.  I would be fine as along as 1 of the 3 Shermans stayed on level 3 at any given time!

So that was my plan.

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario DB131 Thorn on the Side (AAR)

The IJA moved up to my positions from the south (bottom of the map).  Most of them succeeded in keeping their Concealment but we weren’t shy about opening fire.  We were not going to find out whether we could survive IJA ambushes even though we were Stealthy.  We simply didn’t have the numbers to swap them bodies for bodies.  The time to reduce the IJA was now!  We were mindful about keeping rout paths open but that wouldn’t last as the IJA close in.  We also made sure that we keep HS’s between our main forces and the IJA.  We didn’t want our main force caught in a Banzai or even in a friendly HtH.  The idea here was to block them, to induce MC’s and to waste their time.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario DB131 Thorn in the Side (AAR)

Post Allied MPh, Turn 3 (of 4.5), the British got a line of HS’s blocking off the IJA from their foxholes (FH).  HtH’ing these guys would take one of the 2 Movement phases they had left.  The AFV’s moved to the “3rd” Level 3 hill top to the North.  Some infantry went as well as the last line of defense.  The 2 Level Jungle helped here as you need to see a target to initiate a Tank Hunter Hero or a Banzai.  Our 10-2 ran off successfully but we had issues moving the MMG squad out of their FHs.  The squad broke under IJA fire but a Hero came by to pick up the MMG.  We figured we could do a Minimum Move and pass it to some friendies nearby (but we were wrong, as per A4.134 we need to have at least 1 MF to do a Minimum Move, best we can do was to send a HS back in and hand the toy over during the Rally Phase).  Those guys were also looking to CC the Wounded IJA 8+1 nearby since he couldn’t vol break.

The IJA conceded.

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

It’s interesting when I remembered Guderian insisting that an AFV’s engine is as much a weapon as its guns.  This scenario a delightful “return” to the PTO for me.  It takes discipline to minimize CC contact with the IJA in the Jungle.  More to screen off Banzai attacks, to keep my distance and to shoot to get MC’s.  This is a very tight design: terrific troops on both sides, tight mapboard and a tigher 4.5 turns.  This definitely reminds me why PTO is my first love.

We are on to the next: DB130 Tigers and Flames!

Gavutu-Tanambogo CG, 3rd Assault Period

Instead of using one regiment in this Assault Period and the remaining regiment the last, I decided to go all in and land all the remaining forces in Assault Period 3.  At least the IJA won’t be able to focus their fire on either one.  Will it work?  (Losing all those demo charges in Assault Period 1 continues to hurt us .. )

img_3531

Here’s the whole series:

(Sand & Blood CG is an Advanced Squad Leader campaign about Gavutu-Tanambogo that comes with MMP Rising Sun)

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.