RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

This is the Mokmer Airstrip (today’s Frans Kaisiepo International Airport) on the island of Biak, 15 June 1944.  The IJN had 3 airfields built and captured by the US 41st Divison.  The IJA decided to recapture them, aided by the remaining 4 IJA tanks on the island.  

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(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/US_landings.jpg)

Google Earth: Biak

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(Credit: Google Earth)

(“Soldiers of the 41st Infantry Division, after emerging from the jungle, overcoming Japanese resistance, advance on an open field on the South Pacific island of Biak, off the New Guinea coast; May-August 1944.” Credit: https://www.ww2incolor.com/)

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

The IJA broke out of the Dense Jungle with 12 squads and 4 leaders, which included a 10-1 and a 9-1.  They had 4 LMGs and 2 MTR that could pump WP out to 6 hexes.  There were also the 4 x Ha-Go’s described in the Historical Perspective.  The Americans had 11 squads: 3×667, 7×666 & 1×546.  They had 3 leaders, which includes a 9-1 and a 8-1, plus 1xHMG, 2xMMG, 4xBaz44 and a 60 MTR.  The IJA win at the end of any Game Turn if they have 7 CVPs or more than the Americans (unbroken) on/adjacent to any runway hex, and they had 7.5 turns to do it.  

The IJA didn’t really have an advantage in manpower (so no unnecessary CC), and the Americans outranged and outgunned them.  They did have an advantage in leadership and morale, plus they could get to where they wanted to get to if they want it bad enough.  The 4 AFVs were key for preventing the Americans from backing off into the airfield.  These bazookas had a range of 4 but the Ha-Gos were small.  So TH on a moving Ha-Go is 6 @ 1 hex, 5 @2, 4 @3, 1 @4, ie they were effective at 2 hexes at best unless they catch you stopping.  The 2 knee mortars had WP and these Ha-Gos had vehicular smoke grenades, apart from being able to provide Armor Assault or vehicular hindrances if needed be.  

The IJA setup on row 3 while their tanks come in from offboard.  Americans setup near the bottom edge of the top map, however in doing so, would have to retrograde across plenty of Open Ground, first to the tree line on Board 14 (bottom) and then across the airfield (where you get an additional -1 to incoming fire).  We needed to back up before the IJA tanks got behind us! 

I took on Brian William’s US setup in his AAR from Jan 2000.  The idea here was to defend the left and the center where it’s closest to the airfield.  We would try to hold the line for as long as possible before backing off onto the airfield.  Having the IJA AFV hooking behind us would definitely be an issue.  Hopefully our bazooka’s would deter some of that.   The HMG (plus 9-1) and the 60 MTR were in the trees located in the center of the board.  One MMG was in the middle with the 8-1 and the other MMG guarded the left side.  

After Action Report

RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The IJA wasted no time moving in.  Too fast perhaps, they already made me felt like I’d made a mistake and gave them too much ground upfront.  On the left, they prodded my lone squad (which promptly broke and ran) and was well on their way hooking around to the airfield.  In the middle, an IJA tank ran into the dense jungle in a bid to freeze my MMG.  We killed it in CC.  Slightly to the left of it, another IJA tank did the same with another MMG team and was unfortunately bogged in the jungle which only made it easier to kill.  Its partner AFV pivoted and stopped right in front of a HS bearing a Baz but they wouldn’t be able to hit a thing this whole game.  A couple of squads came through the middle with their knee mortars.  They weren’t able to do much damage to the HMG-Mortar team but they laid down smoke for their comrades to the right.  On the right, a body of IJAs came through the dense jungle unmolested.  That gully in middle of the field would be an ideal jump off point.

RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

In the middle, the concealed units that sat behind the MMG team were in fact, a Baz team!  They slid up under the wreck, shot the other AFV and immobilised it.  Given where it was, we figured an immobilisation was as good as a kill.  The remaining IJA tank (that stopped in front of the Baz team) started up!  The Baz team immediately fired but missed again.  The other Baz team fired but couldn’t connect either!  That Ha-Go waltzed all the way down to the HMG team (with 2×666 and a 9-1, no less!).  The HMG fired and got snakes!!  Pity you can’t CH with a 50 cal.  However, the TK’s 7 (AF1) at that range and the last AFV was put down as well.  The hoard of IJA on the right decided not to wait and did 2 Banzai’s (over OG!).  Meanwhile on the far left, the IJA platoon continue to make their way down south.  The Americans were fortunate enough to keep a team in front of them.  We couldn’t win most standing gunfights though, we had to always try to get the first shot in.  

RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We were able to decimate enough IJA troops to be able to pull a big withdrawal on the right.  We ran to the end of the airfield and hoped to advance across the runway (add’l -1 to incoming fire).  The IJA tried another Banzai on the far right but some pretty heavy firepower got in the way (and killed the IJA 9-1).  The IJA pulled another Banzai through the kunai on the left towards our MMG as well.  We had a flanker harassing that Banzai but it got hit by the IJA sniper halfway through.

Jungleers on Biak by Keith Rocco COMMENT

(“Jungleers on Biak by Keith Rocco”, https://www.militaryimages.net/)

RbF I-4 Used and Abused After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

IJA Turn 6 – they had lost a good number of troops to the Banzai’s already.  The broken MMG HS from our first position finally managed to self rally!  So even though the IJA tried to run some troops up from the back, they didn’t get too far.  They did a final Banzai attack to get to the edge of the airfield, and lost their 10-1 in the process.  This was when they decided to call it quits and started pulling out RbFI-5 (ATF1) Paper Line .. 

(“1944 Biak- Japanese Prisoners being fed” https://www.ww2incolor.com/)

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

I think movement across Open Ground was key for both IJA and US troops.  The IJA had 4 tanks to help hook around and to interdict American movement (their 4 LMGs would have extended the 4 hex IJA range nicely).  Plus their cover / smoke grenades should have provided protection for IJA troops in the face of heavy US firepower.  The Americans couldn’t win standing firefights and as I mentioned before, we had to always get the first shot in.  We would have a very hard time with our low morale if we had to retreat through opposing fire.  We lucked out early on when the first couple of Banzai’s didn’t leave the IJA with enough troops to see beyond the tree line, thus allowing US escapes.  Once we settled into the buildings around the airfield it’s all open ground for the IJA, those AFVs would have been helpful.  

I really like Brian William’s setup.  The bazooka teams in particular were looking over the narrowest places (and/ or where those AFVs had to turn).  I couldn’t have done something as good as that.  I might have made the mistake of setting up a little to forward, increase the difficulty of my retreat and enabling Banzai’s through those jungles.  

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!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

This is the third time I am playing this scenario.  This is a great scenario that confers the heart pounding excitement of a PTO scenario without having to deal with PTO terrain.  As far as China battles go, this is perhaps the most famous one (internationally) and hence also the most over covered by ASL designers!

There’s even a new movie on the battle “The Eight Hundred”!  

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The IJA are to control the building with 3 Fortified hexes on the bottom left of the map in 6.5 turns (GMT has the balance), a representation of the Sihang Warehouse no doubts.  Clearing a large (fortified) building is a time consuming task!  Hence I race my IJA forces down the board where I can.  Being able to cut off retreating Chinese forces would be good too but so far I hadn’t been too successful.  On the otherhand, I am not as keen as my earlier self in running Banzai’s through the map.  As a matter of fact, I did none so far.  IJA’s are great in their ability to go wherever they want to with striping.  However one they get reduced, they don’t recover.  So I want be very deliberate in any losses via striping.  The “IJA HS strategy” of course hinges on having IJA leaders who behaves like Commissars.  Unfortunately, they had been replacing units over half of my rallies so far.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

We were almost all at the Sihang factory after 3 Movement phases.  Not the quickest really.  Let’s kill the gents in the rowhouse and figure out which hex is fortified!  The IJA has unfortunately broke though the Chinese right flank and was last seen streaking down the length of the map.  I, on the otherhand, should deploy more IJA to stop them from (unnecessarily) striping.  

145 Shanghai in Flames Advanced Squad Leader ASL AAR

 

The IJA ran through the rowhouse and came in front of the warehouse itself!  The massive firegroup broke the MMG stack in the fortified C6 hex (where you see an IJA 2-3-7).  The IJA were now in the house!  The platoon of IJA Banzai’d in from the right and fortunately broke the defenders in the “courtyard” and even trapped a defender at the wall (G8).  

Oh and the GMT sniper drilled a hole through my 10-0’s forehead.  His neighbours described him as nice, quiet and unassuming.  He will be missed.  Painful.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

The GMT promptly counterattacked and took that MMG back.  Unfortunately, an IJA Death Star assembled (2 x MMG + 1 x HMG) and broke the GMT MMG team!  The IJA HS’s decided to do two Banzais into the factory, forcing GMT squads to FPF as much as they can.  The other IJA squads came in the right and left nowhere for the GMT squads to rout.  

It’s over.  

Gavutu-Tanambogo, Assault Period 4

This is it!!  The last of 4 Assault Periods in the “Sand & Blood” CG.  All Marines have landed.  The Americans win by controlling all land hexes on both islands (IJA has to surface to get land hexes) and not losing more CVPs than the IJA.

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So I (as the USMC) lost the equivalence of the entire IJA OB in CVPs.  That makes it impossible for me to fulfil the 2 fold Victory Conditions : to hold all land (aboveground) hexes and to not lose more CVPs than the IJA.

I believe landing the first wave on the south part of Gavutu (bottom island) behind the hill was a good decision.  Landing all the remaining groups in Assault Period 3 was a good decision as well because that effectively overwhelmed the defenders with targets.  I was lucky in that we took out the 2 x AA guns on Gaomi early.  That took out the guns from behind our backs as we attacked Tanambogo.

I would have used my fighter bombers more effectively though, to hit the island early as the landing crafts were approaching.  Sighting on units that broke from NOBA would have brought more devastation.  Oh, DCs are precious.  Sinking a few boatloads of DCs in the first Assault Periods resulted in a lot of Close Combats and manpower wasted to guard IJA exit point.

This is a great little CG.  I learned a ton about ASL seaborne assault.

Here’s the whole series:

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

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 .. )

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Here’s the whole series:

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

Those Ragged Bloody Heroes CG, Nov 29 PM

This is December 1942.  The Australians are looking to dislodge the IJA from the Gona mission in 5 CG dates.

This is not looking good.  I forgot how in Platoon Leader (CH’s “standard” campaign) rules, you need to put a slew of foxholes in as strategic locations.  In this case I need to link up my troops with the 3 entry points.  The good news is that I might still have one Prep Fire left.  The bad news is obviously that FHs usually need a couple of turns to prepare, turns that I don’t have.

Gavutu-Tanambogo CG, 2nd Assault Period (Night Landing)

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Here’s the whole series:

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

“Big Data Analysis” on ASL Scenarios

This is nothing that is as sophisticated as the title might suggest.  It’s just that I got a free trial to a data visualisation software called “Tableau”, so what better data to play on it with than ASL data?

First, I took Tom Kearney’s excellent “Master ASL Scenario Listing III” from the Texas ASL website.

Years vs TO

1944 wins out.  We got a couple of ETO scenarios at around 1919!

Years vs TO 2

We clearly have a lot more Western post-Normandy scenarios.  “MTO” is the Mediterranean, in case you are wondering, this theater comes in 3rd in front of PTO.

Years vs Publishers

The tall blue line is of course Avalon Hill / MMP.  What caught my also is the very long (light blue) lead that Le Franc Tireur (LFT) has early in time.  We are probably talking about their Russian Revolution scenarios here.  The red line running along LFT is Dispatches from the Bunker (DB) and the orange Bounding Fire Productions (BFP).

Locations

No surprises here for the most part, but I didn’t know we have that many scenarios on events that took place in the Philippines!

The following are the Nationalities featured by different Publishers, ie get BFP if you want to play more Chinese OB, BFP & SP for more IJA (assuming that we all get core modules by default).

AlliesAxis

 

Finally I took the 100.000+ records we accumulated on ROAR and worked out the Percentage of Wins minus Losses per Nationality.  (Get the IJA, don’t take the Canadians .. )

ROAR

 

Again, I am a novice when it comes to the science of Data Analysis, so please take everything with a grain of salt.  It certainly interests me though!  I hope this is entertaining for you as well.