Sunday, August 26, 2007

AAR: OA7 Celles Melee

Tom Gillis
Americans: Tom Gillis
Germans: Steve Miller
Quick AAR of this enjoyable slightly medium sized 7 turn scenario. Steve Miller, (yes the famous one...) ;-) and I have been playing a lot of scenarios lately. He had bested me in the last two matchups going in to this one. Was it going to be a hat trick? Anyway, we both liked the look of this one, and it seemed pretty close on ROAR so we went after it. Steve took the Germans and I the Amis. The German force consists of a vanguard patrol from the 2nd PanDiv on Christmas day in the Bulge, with 3 Panthers, 3 Mk4s, an Stg, and 4 HTs. Also a tough looking 10-2, 8-0, and 4x548s w/ a Psk and an LMG. ELR 4 SAN 2. Nasty! Fortunately for the defending Amis, the Germans have to exit 78 EVP/CVP!! Thats a lot. Plus they have to exit from either 19GG5, 17GG5 or 17Y1. But the Germans are generally speedy, and anytime you have Panthers with smoke making AFVs watch out! The American force consists of 2xM36 GMC, (the 90L kind with ROF 2!), 2xM4A1 (76L)W, and 2x those speedy M5A1s entering on T1. Nice group of Tanks. Plus the Shermans have gyros. They're protecting an American platoon from _their_ 2nd ArmDiv consisting of a 9-1, 8-0, MMG, and 4 Baz and 4x667s, ELR4, SAN 4.

My plan was to use the 90Ls to cut off the exit roads. Great gun and ROF, but OT. Always dangerous being CE. (As proved to be very telling in the game...!) Keep 'em outta sight.The Sherms were each to pair up with a M5. These speedy little buggers are great. 17 MPs, C7, decent MA. I was going to be really aggressive on my T1 because the Germans can actually exit quite a bit of their force on their T1 MF pretty much entirely out of the Amis LOS. To my surprise Steve didn't move to exit any units on T1. Instead coming up the middle of the two bds, (19 and 17, the long way across,) with several AFVs, some of whom dropped off infantry units. Also he sent most of his panzers down bd 19 and stopped them in an effective semi-circle. Kind of a circle the wagons thing. End of my T1 saw the flaming destruction of an M5 to a Panther, and the knocking out of an Mk4 to one of the 90Ls. Also several American HS were broke, and one surrendering and giving the Germans a Baz. (Thanks guys...! Not!) T2, the Germans are the ones who get aggressive. Steve wants to fight it out. Cool, I've got gyros. We have a bit of a belgium stand off on bd 19 with a Ger HT going down and an Am 90L, (Flaming...) In the middle is a muddle of German ?s who sneak up to the woodline. And now in a daring, (crazy...?!) move Steve pulls out his big guns. On the south part of bd 17 comes a Panther. It stops with good LOS to some concealed Amis in a wooden building. Next comes a HT with, lo and behold, Herr Teufel the 10-2 and an LMG/548. (It did not sink in to me that the sqd had the LMG and _not_the Psk. I would be shown the Psk shortly.) What a powerful little force in a very thinly armored AFV. Juicy target says I...Various DF and AdF broke the HS I had w the 9-1 and MMG. I managed to survive pretty unscathed as the Germans took some low odds shots. With sniper 4, that can be dangerous. Within another turn my sniper hit three times, two of which were 1s! Of course being CE helps when you need that crucial TH #. But a sniper 1 entering a CE AFVs hex is deadly. I recalled a HT, and a malfed MA Panther! Nice. All this happened when I sent one of my gyros Sherms hunting Herr Teufel, supported by a concealed 667 w Baz. The Baz had a good shot on the HT and rolled an 11. Gone. X'd out. My Sherm had got behind the HT, but I elected to stay in motion so my shots were not that good. I was nervous about the Panther, until if Malf'd. Recalling it made my task against the HT easier. Or so I thought. I couldn't hit him. I forced the crew to BU, and the 548's LMG broke. (To be repaired after a turn or two.) Herr Teufel pulls away to futile American direct fire, moving into the courtyard of the central bd 17 village. I get more troops broken and somewhere I lost my 8-0 for FTR. I haven't broken a single German inf unit. The Germans now control or deny me two Baz, I lost one, And the one I have left is in melee with a 548 and a Ger 127 crew! I lost the other M5 to the Psk in the center woods line. Completely missed it being there. I had had great plans for those M5s...( I lost the other Sherman, (flaming.) Needless to say, Steve started to BU his AFVs. So what does my sniper do. On another 1 sniper try it selects his sniper. Zap, now no Ger sniper counter! Cool. My sniper is the only thing keeping me in this game as I have now lost all but one 90L and one Sherm. I have one go 667 and the 9-1. There are AFVs crawling all over the village and woods of bd 17. A 548 w a Baz comes to cover the HT with Herr Teufel. The 10-2 is in a precarious situation, but he's still got some good IFT FP with that minus two modifier and its forcing me to stay concealed and CE as I try to approach him. Wow. Very wild melee going on here. Generally with a Ger edge thru turns 1-3, a mixed bag in the middle game and a shifting of Ger strategy as the game moves on. My sniper wounds the Ger 8-0. Yes, he's scored quite a bit of CVPs, but he needs to exit some stuff to reach 78. His force on 19 is in great position to exit off, but instead he move's on to 17 to chase down the 90L. This will actually keep them in a good place to exit. But alas it left a Panther giving a side shot to the Sherm that I didn't notice until it turned its turret and fired at me, hitting the wall. I'm the one worried here. T5 he makes a jump at the retreating 90L tank. Moves a Panther right next to it, stops, prepare to BF. I shoot first, hit in the turret, need a 7 or less TK. Roll an 12. (I rolled one over on shots at least 3 times, maybe 4 during the game also!). Panther gets ready to pounce...shoots, hits, flaming tank! Down to one gyro Sherm. He's still mixed up in the imbroglio in the center bd 17 village. Fortunately for me I was able to become HD, and stay in motion. Very important because Steve hit me 4 times with Panther and Baz shots that all hit the wall! He moved a Mk4 down to help Herr Teufel, still trying to blitz right thru the main Amis defence in a blur of automatic fire and AP shells dropping all over the place, augmented by auto/MG fire from both sides. Wild. All this fire breaks another American HS, but generates a Hero for the 667 squad. Cool! Lets go tank hunting! The melee of my 667 and the Ger 548 127, and prisoner HS finally is over with the 667 and the 127 eliminated. The survivors load into a HT, and some more Ger inf manage to load onto the STG. A HT exits for points. The Panther who killed the last 90L ditto, A Mk4 with a Mal'd MA exits. The point amt is rising...Can I kill that DAMNED devil 10-2 in that HT?! Steve moves his last remaining Mk4 to get a shot off at the Sherm behind the wall in AdF. Should I turn my turret to fire on it? I'm obsessed with killing the 10-2. There's a lot of points in that HT. I wait for the HT to move, It will be able to pull out of LOS after one hex. I shoot, need a 4 and roll a 5!!! ugh. I shoot the now rallied HS with my MMG at the HTs rear facing, miss. It gets a way to exit for points! Good move Steve. Gutsy choices on both sides. My turn 6 DF finds me returning shots with the side exposed Panther, hitting him in the hull and knocking him out. That was a big turning point. Up to losing the Panth, Steve had more than enough pts to win thru just exit. Now he had to get everything lift off minus a squad or two to win. Turns 6 and 7 see German manuever to finalize their exit places. On bd 19 he has a HT w 548 and prisoner HS and another 548 loaded on the Stg. I move the Sherman as close as I can moving all 13 MPs from bd 17 to get LOS to these guys. The Stg goes for D7 smoke and gets it, the Sherman AdF at it. Miss. Last T of the game. Steve has managed to get 74 exit points with the last Mk4, HTwSqd/Prsnrs and Panther exiting. Actually he had to have had 76 points because he exited the captured HS and there's no SSR not counting them...Anyway, its all up to the Stg. The Sqd on it doesn't even have to exit now. The Stg can just make it, but it'll have to become CE for the last four hexes! Remember, my sniper has been wicked. (He had also broke a 548 with Baz that could have threatened the Sherman on this last German turn.) So its gutsy, but Steve has to do it. He moves, the now CE Sherman shoots with MA and misses. Moves another hex, intensive fire from the Sherm, miss...! Ugh! Steve moves to the hex he must become CE at and I figure well I can use my AAMG and CMG for a combined "4+2." I shoot, Steve is a mere 4 hexes away from Victory. I do not have a very good chance but I roll: a 4! NMC. Well we all know German Panzer crews were the cream of the Wehrmacht's crop. 8 morale, no prob...Well Mr. Sherman commander has been around NWE for a bit himself. Steve rolls the MC. A 10! Stun! Game over 200 yards short! What an awesome time we had. Wild swings of luck. Dramatic choices and results. Bad mistakes and great moves each...! Steve played a top notch game and forced me to play my best game and still it was luck with the sniper that kept me in the game. Great time! We both rated it a "Must Play" on ROAR.



Monday, August 13, 2007

AAR: TEF1-2 The Last Waltz

Nick Drinkwater

SS: Chris Buehler [ELR 5, SAN 3]
Russian: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 4, SAN 4]


We're off to Vienna in April 1945 for this one, in to the ruins of
one-half of Board 20. SSR means that the walled compound containing the
small outhouse next to the "factory" (I think you know the one I
mean) has been replaced by an additional "factory" overlay –
note these are megabuildings 1 and 2, and NOT factories in this
scenario. In addition, several other bits of soft terrain have been
eschewed for their replacement by huge stone buildings overlays, and all
wooden buildings are replaced by Stone Rubble – that is a huge
amount of rubble and really restricts access and escape routes as all
those small alleys between buildings for VBM are sealed off by piles of
broken stone.

In this scenario, the last desperate remnants of the 2nd SS Panzer
Division have to prevent the Russians from exiting 24 CVP from the north
edge of the board AND prevent their control of the two mega-central
buildings. They must also try and prevent too many excessive VP being
inflicted on them, as each one the Russian scores means the Russian exit
requirements drop by one. The SS receive a standard late war force of
6.5 548s, a solitary Mk IVH and the ability to use sewer movement and
hide a half-squad with a Shrek from the get-go. Chris set up mainly in
the east and central area with stacks of concealed units dispersed in
the rubble and then left a screen of two "?" stacks in the west
to try and block off that side.

The Plan

Looking at this, I saw there was an opportunity to send a flanking
platoon (7-0, 2 x 458s, a Sherman) to hook around the far west edge,
though I suspected the HIP hs trap was lurking out there somewhere too
– I would try and flush him out by the infantry moving fast and
furiously through most of the likely spots. In the middle, the rest of
the force would push through the east central area – I had two 628s
with a FT and a couple of DCs to escort 5 more 458s, a couple of LMGs
and a 9-1 and 8-0, together with two more Shermans and their fantastic
ability to place smoke in all manner of ways.

AAR - getting in position

Turn 1 was cagey as I slowly got everyone in to position to rush forward
protected by smoke to start probing for dummies and real units. Chris
clearly had his MMG and 9-1 leader in an overwatch position from the
eastern of the central mega-buildings and the defense was designed to
slowly collapse back on that – I needed to ensure there were no
cheap losses to that bad boy by injudicious moves through the open

Where did I leave that match?

Turn 2 started poorly for me – the flamethrower pulls out a 10 on
shot one to burn out a stack of dummies on its one and only shot. I am
able to get one smoke down in the street and that helps me start to pour
across the road and threaten Chris' front line. Chris has done
nicely with his use of dummies as what I think are merely empty
"?" hexes both turn out to be real units and I am bounced back
– unfortunately for Chris he rolls high on their attacks and my
tasty engineers break both on assault fire. One of the SS squads escapes
to fight again, but the other gets whacked in a spate of shovels and
grenades as they get wiped for FTR. At the same time, in true Tom Gillis
style, I push one of the now smokeless Shermans aggressively straight up
the middle into the teeth of the defense where at worst he will provide
a burning wreck cover access point into Mega-building 1. Brilliantly,
this bold piece of capitalist motorized steel then proceeds to whack the
MkIVH on a "3" bounding fire shot – ouch for Chris and his
resultant burning wreck is really going to help me get into the first of
the factories. Love it when that happens!

On the west side, Chris unluckily makes the wrong decision on a tough
call defensive fire attack and drops concealment to try and take out one
of my "?"s. My adjacent 458 stays concealed after the fluffed
attack and then proceeds to ambush and destroy the 548 in Hand-to-hand
(allowed by SSR) – tasty! That is two of Chris squads dead out of
the six. Instant karma is restored however, as I park a Sherman adjacent
to the hidden 238 hs which of course puts a big, superfast shell through
his exhaust pipe. Ouch, but I now know where the HIP is the hard way I


Turn 4 is the critical one – I bum-rush everyone into Mega-building
1 against the 9-1 and a couple of 548s in there. Again, Chris rolls high
when he needs to low roll and breaks his MMG and hence misses both a
16+1 and 8+1 series and they end up with a Russian DC fizzing in their
laps for their troubles. He is able to break another 458 squad with FPF
when I get careless and move adjacent in the open, but their days are
numbered, and they clearly know it, don't they?

The other 548 in Mega-building 1 also fluffs all its defensive fire and
I am able to maneuver the Shermans and other units around to encircle
people. We're all waiting for the DC to go "BANG" which it
duly does – a K3 is the result, which wounds and breaks the leader
but of course generates a Fanatic squad + hero of the survivors. Hmmm. I
leave these guys alone as they've just got a lot tougher, but
proceed to wipe out in Hand-to-hand the other squad as Chris rolls high
yet again and fails to touch me.

Take no prisoners

On the western side, I have now marched my two flankers into
Mega-building 2 and have again pinned and then successfully ambushed and
wiped out the last defender there. By Turn 5, all Chris has left is the
238 and Shrek, a broken 548 on the back line and the heroic fanatics in
Mega-building 1. Despite me gacking three 20+3 shots in a row, these
guys get wiped out to a man in a huge Hand to Hand and I again come
through unscathed. I have also managed to stack up enough bodies in
Mega-building 2 in Turn 6 to prevent any shenanigans from the 238. My
only scary moment came when the broken 548 self-rallied and shrugged off
a 8-2 shot on a suicide charge…another lucky die roll or two and
they may have been back in Mega-Building 1 and it could have been
interesting, but they couldn't survive a 4-2 and that was that.


Very solid, convincing win for the Russians, ably assisted by the huge
motion bounding fire shot to destroy the MkIV and Chris' propensity
to dice himself wickedly on a flurry of key rolls in Turns 4-6. Thanks
Chris – it was a lot of fun! Nice evening-sized scenario that is
just big enough not to be flawed by bad dice. We were done in about 4

AAR: HP34 Big, Bad Gun

Nick Drinkwater

Italian Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 3, SAN 5]
British Player: Zeb Doyle [ELR 4, SAN 4]


The urban-country transitional board 49 forms the backdrop for this
sharp little action set in Sicily in the summer of 43, and it is a
classic little `take the stone hovel village' scenario, the
biggest challenge of which will be the time issue. The British have 5.5
turns to eject a tough and determined detachment of Italian marines out
of four of the six multi-hex stone buildings in which they are holed up
in and at the same time they must capture or eliminate a large AA Gun
that dominates the centre of the town that has been proving particularly
difficult to the Allies.

The action is set on rows M-GG, a little bit bigger than the normal R-GG
arrangement that we normally get to see; this pulls in a couple more
multi-hex stone buildings for the Italians to work with. SSR means the
75L , ROF 2 AA gun has to set up emplaced on the central crossroads (or
at the Four Corners) in hex Q8 in the middle of four of the six critical
buildings. The fifth stone building lies adjacent and west of this
crossroads on the northern edge of the board, whilst the sixth is a
`gimme' for the Brits being outside the initial Italian setup
area in the British approach area.

The buildings in the village are close enough together to make lines of
sight actually quite limited for the gun which can dominate the roads it
looks down but that is about it – despite this, it is still the most
potent weapon on the board, and if given the chance should make a
particularly tasty Swiss cheese out of any of the British armor.

British Analysis:

Why is that? Well, its London Bus day for the Brits – they have been
given two of the fearless Daimler Scout cars (with a 4FP CMG, SD and the
trusty 2 pounder Gun), a Bishop, which despite being a 25 pound gun on
tracks, was truly one of the most poorly designed vehicles of the war
(limited traverse and prone to low Ammo), and an AEC II Armoured Car
which is the king of this particular battle (elite boosted S9, a SM and
a 6 pounder gun allied to some relatively tasty armor). To add some
`oomph' to this motley crew, the British also receive four
leaders of varying vintages (8-1 to 7-0), two 648s, two 458s and five
457s, together with LMGs, two DCs and a Lt mtr. SSR means the 648s are
Assault Engineers – of course they are.

That lot with combined the awesome mobility of the Armoured Cars
(we're playing mainly on paved roads) and the massive potential for
Smoke will mean the Italians will be receiving attacks from every side
and there will not really be the potential for a fallback retreat here
as rout paths will be threatened everywhere. The Brits approach from the
west in scattered terrain from Turn 1 whilst the vehicles come on from
the south on Turn 2. The best the Italians can probably try to do is a
die-in-place defense and just hunker down even more tightly in their
trusty Sicilian stone villas and make every bullet count. If they do get
an opportunity to fall or rout back, they clearly need to take it, but
with those pesky Armoured cars nibbling at their ankles at every
opportunity, that is clearly unlikely. No, the Italians have to make a
`festung' of the four buildings at the crossroads and hope they
can annoy and delay the British enough so that they can retain bodies in
three of them.

Italian Analysis

This is where the Italians "Armoured" asset comes in – they
have been given a turretless, MG-less L40 with a mighty 47mm gun to
assist the defense. Wow. Mind-blowing. There are options with this in
its initial placement, but its ability to sally out and damage the Brits
is, shall we say politely, limited. I think it is best if it used to
mutually support the AA Gun. It can be used as a bridge to cover
infantry crossing the roads between the crossroads buildings to help
reinforce a particular axis of the defense where necessary, and of
course even offers assistance to do this as a wreck. It is unlikely you
will get any good shots in against the armoured cars, as they will most
likely be coming in from your rear and flanks, but if lucky, it may
still be alive to offer point blank shots against the final British
assault groups in the last two turns.

As well as this mighty piece of Italian techno, the Italians do get an
8-1, two 8-0s, a hero, an HMG, MMG and a couple of LMG plus a couple of
the bad ATRs to go with their twelve (yes twelve) 347s. SSR tries to
reflect that these Italians woke up feeling particularly mean and nasty
this morning, by making two of the squads secretly Fanatic assault
engineers – they also receive a hidden MMC option and this should be
used creatively to make sure you annoy the Brits by making them search
or walk through every single location along the way. You could also try
and find an out of the way place somewhere and maybe uncover yourself in
Turn 4 or 5 and make a dash back to the gimme Building in the British
entry area and really annoy them! There is some potential here.

AAR - run like bunnies!

Zeb is an outstanding player and I knew I was going to need to be on my
toes in this, especially with such a brittle force – the prisoner
counters will need to be at the ready from the start. He started by
deploying as much as possible to form a half-squad blitz (the bunnies),
which became even more important when his Bishop and Lt Mtr both failed
to find Smoke on their first shots of the game. Like it! He pushed hard
on from the western side, but his Schwerpunkt was really formed by the
two Engineer squads and the 8-1 pushing adjacent to the northern board

Real soldiers?

The Italian defense was desperate and dogged and, all things considered,
they put up a fair imitation of being real soldiers by delaying the
British at one of the big lateral avenues until Turn 4 which really
helped – one outlying squad proved to be a real thorn in the British
side by hanging out to Turn 5 which was nice to see. However, all was
not well on the northern side of the board, where an extremely useful
set of Vehicular Smoke Grenades blocked off most of the lines of sight
to advancing British infantry by my AA Gun and tankette. The British
engineers continued to push on hard, and I had to slowly give way - they
made even greater progress due to the ability of the British to cause
encirclement through great use of the Armoured Cars, for which I had
little defensive options.

"Aim at them, not over them!"

My biggest problem was just the complete inability to touch the British
in defensive fire – I missed a street fighting opportunity which had
implications and I continually failed to hurt Zeb in -1 and -2
situations where I rolled the numerous tens and elevens. I did manage to
ambush and kill a squad and escaped ambushes elsewhere to slowly retreat
backwards, and until the very end I was able to suck up several good
morale checks, but I just couldn't scratch him back in return. My
two fanatic engineers were never offered a chance to do any vehicle CC
and they went down in a welter of British assault fire.

The start of the end was marked when his engineer stack survived a 2MC
and normal MC on respective 16+2 and follow up 8+2 shots with only one
broken squad as a result. One of my fanatic boys failed to survive their
FPF shot as I attempted to stop a DC-placement and that cracked open a
small chink in the defense. The next turn was even worse however –
my little tankette fluffed its point blank shots at the 8-1 and 648, the
AA Gun missed both its normal shot and the Intensive Fire shot at the
same target and my 8-1 and HMG missed them too in a horrid sequence of
9s and 10s with no rate at all (neither of my ROF weapons got extra rate
or made barely a meaningful attack all game).

This is the end...

I survived the return defensive fire relatively unscathed but in British
Turn 5, it really went arse-up: the tankette, having destroyed one
Daimler Scout Car (see, they can do it!), went up in flames to
successive snakes from the AEC from Zeb, and then to add insult to
injury, my AA Gun immediately rolled a boxcars on only its fourth shot
in the game. The real clincher was when my 8-1, two squads and the HMG
all failed their morale checks from a measly 8+3 prep fire from the
machine gun of the other Scout car. That completely cracked the defense
wide open and despite some (literally) last-gasp suicidal charges from
the two squads I had left, my pinned gun crew went down in a hail of
grenades and that was the win for the British.

I played this pretty solidly but the combination of the killer
consecutive snakes and the complete inability of myself to roll an
effective attack or morale check especially when really, really needed
was in huge contrast to Zeb. Its got to be such a joke between us over
the last two weeks that he even donated a spare set of precision dice to
me to see if I can sway this in the future – an offer I gladly

If those odd events at the end hadn't happened and the 8-1 and say,
just a single squad with him had survived then I think it would probably
have come down to the very last turn, though the Brits would still have
been heavy favorites. The Bishop played virtually no role in the game
and the bulk of the British infantry played a supporting role to the
virtuosos of the assault engineers – if they had gone down to the
2MC like they were supposed to then we may have had an even closer game
still as the Brits would have been behind on their timetable even more.
Well played Zeb as ever though, as he sees every option and exploits all
the weaknesses. Great fun to play with.

Recommended as, despite quite large numbers of squads, we completed this
in about four and a half hours and it was tense (almost) to the end.
This scenario is large enough that even with the odd flukey shot, it
should go to the end.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

AAR: A101 The Drive for Taierzhuang

Matt Schwoebel

Japanese: Rick Reinesch
Chinese: Matt Schwoebel

Rick and I matched up in The Drive for Taierzhuang (A101), a scenario pitting Japanese attackers (Rick) against Chinese defenders (myself). This was one of Rick's first forays into the PTO. The Drive features non-PTO terrain on boards 11 & 19 and is 7.5 turns long. The scenario is played on a wide front (~80% of a board length) with the Japanese entering from offboard, crossing open ground, reaching a forest belt with ~5 gaps for vehicles, and then driving across two low hills to exit 50 VP. They have 18 1st line (4-4-7) squads, four leaders, 3 crewed MMG, 2 knee mortars, some LMG, and an amazing 10 armored vehicles to accomplish the task (about 98 total VP). The armored vehicles include 6 armored cars (slow, but with radios), 2 tanks (radioless), and 2 tankettes (radioless). The Japanese vehicles had armor factors in the 0 to 2 range. The Chinese defenders set-up 6 hexes or greater from the entry edge and had 20 1st line (3-3-7) squads, 3 leaders, 1 MMG, 3 LMG, and 4 all important guns - 3 x 37L AT (3 ROF) and a 37* ART gun (3 ROF, no AP). They also had 3 HIP squads, 3 Dare Death squads (voluntary berserkers with a melee advantage), a roadblock, 12 foxholes, and 8 dummy counters.

From my defender's point of view, the limited lines of sight and clustered terrain on the two hills of the second board looked difficult to defend on such a broad front. The best chance of winning for the Chinese seemed to be inflicting maximum losses on the Japanese as they crossed open ground, especially their high VP vehicles (5 VP each), and then try to shift infantry to the side of the Japanese schwerpunkt. The armored cars were so slow (14 or 19 MP with truck movement), they needed roads to exit in time. It looked like my right flank was most vulnerable with the fewest open group hexes to cross and some forest cover where the Japanese entered. I set-up most of my units at the forest edge including all MGs, 2 of the 37L guns, and the 37* gun. A few sacrificial squads were in foxholes ahead of this forest line. The 3 range of the Chinese infantry meant most squads could not hit the Japanese when they entered from offboard, hence the picket squads hoping to damage any banzai before it reached the main defense line (of later importance). The less likely defender's left flank included all of the dummy counters. I had 1 HIP squad in the center and 2 HIP squads on the right behind the main defense line in ambush positions. Each flank had a reserve 8-0 with 2 x 3-3-7 squads. The Dare Death squads were with these leaders (1 on the left, 2 on the right). On the right a 37L was in ambush position behind a non-road gap in the woods. Since my defense was aligned on the right side, I put the roadblock on the left along the best exit road and out of sight hoping to keep the Japanese from flanking me with vehicles. All of the squads in the front line were either in foxholes or buildings.
Rick came blazing onto the board, mainly on my right flank with 2 armored cars and 2 tankettes probing my left flank. Only a few of my weapons could reach out and say hi early on. I revealed a 37L on the right, which took out an armored car. In the first turn, I usually revealed units and shot when possible, relying on the foxholes to help protect them from counter fire. The Chinese defenders did some damage, but the shots were mainly 1 down 1 or 2. A particularly good shot from a picket squad took out a Japanese leader and striped a couple of squads. It quickly became apparent that the Japanese range advantage and MG advantage was considerable. The Chinese guns and MG preferred not to get ROF during the early stages of the game. Ominously, a massive line of Japanese squads formed up after the advance phase on my far right flank. A few of my squads broke, especially the pickets, during advancing fire and during the defender's turn. A sniper wounded another Japanese leader. The 37L took out a tank. The 37L crew broke from MMG counter-fire. My two reserve squads on the right flank, both Dare Death, moved up into position on the tree line. I already had to started moving some units from the left to right, but that was a long haul.

When Rick started counting how many Banzai counters he had, I started to get worried. He prepped with two knee mortar squads, otherwise every Japanese squad sharpened their bayonets and yelled Banzai! Yes, 11 stacks of counters were flowing forward towards my now meager looking defensive line in a wave of red tide. My picket squads had all broken before the charge, but at least required a squad to jump on top of each of their foxholes. I tried to use the standard anti-Banzai measures - residual, firelanes (my LMG broke trying to create one), and adjacent 6 down 2 shots followed by in-hex tripled & halved shots. The Empire's troops ground forward. It became a swirling melee along the forest edge. A few good Chinese shots did damage, but the Japanese between the Banzai charge and subsequent advance phase entered every occupied hex save one. A Dare Death squad managed to mutually annihilate a Japanese squad and leader. At the end of turn 2, the infantry battle on my right flank was collapsing and it didn't look like many reinforcements from my left would arrive in time.

However, the armor versus gun battle on Turn 2 took a big swing in my favor. In Rick's turn, the 2 Japanese tankettes probed along the best exit road only to find the roadblock, turn around, and attempt to VBM freeze my 37* gun. This gun could have damaged the Banzai charge he was preparing to launch. So, my 37* gun with a 4 HE to kill number matched against a moving, double-small target in-hex with a 0 side armor factor. I needed a 4 to hit the tankette and rolled a 4. I then needed a 4 to kill it and rolled a 5. A quick check showed that HE>1 results in immobilization. The tankette crew bailed out and jumped into CC with my gun crew. Two of his armored cars sat on two of my squads (VBM freeze of a building, CC lock of a foxhole) and stayed in-motion. The 37L gun I had on the far left flank preventing an end run spun around in forest, missed its first low odds shot on the remaining tankette, got rate, hit the tankette & burned it, kept rate, then hit an armored car and destroyed it. The same gun would destroy the remaining armored car on that flank in the next turn.

Rick was now down to one real tank and three slow armored cars. On Turn 3 his forces penetrated my far right flank with ease. A HIP squad revealed itslef only to fire a completely ineffective shot. The ambush 37L succeeded in taking out the remaining Japanese tank before the crew was killed by Japanese infantry fire. The Japanese were reaching the high ground before my defenders and had a clear path to the exit with plenty of time. The Chinese would be running fast to shoot at withdrawling units and likely taking massive losses from Japanese troops in superior positions. Despite Rick being in a great position to exit all or nearly all of his remaining forces, there were simply not enough VP remaining for him to win. I had succeeded in taking out 7 of 10 armored vehicles and his squad losses were sufficient to leave him 42 VP total left on board.

This was a fun scenario and Rick a great opponent. I had never experienced such a massive Banzai charge (about 16 squads & crews with 3 leaders). It succeeded in getting troops across open ground quickly with moderate losses. We talked it over afterwards and agreed the armor could have been held back longer allowing the Japanese infantry to clear a path for it. The Japanese armor in this scenario is extremely vulnerable to the PAK 37 guns of the Chinese (9 to kill with 3 ROF against 0 to 2 armor). It is also a rare scenario where the Japanese have the infantry firepower advantage. Rick sat 4 hexes away firing 6 FP shots (squad plus LMG), while my squad fired back with a 1 FP shot. An extra turn prepping my front line with knee mortars and MMG would have left few Chinese squads left to defend the against the Banzai. In hindsight, I think my defense was good overall. A few exceptions were the limited use of the 9-1 with MMG on the left flank and having no infantry on the far, far right flank to defend the ambush 37L gun. Perhaps at least one squad on the right-flank hill to fire at the first Japanese squads penetrating the defense too.

Thanks for reading!

Matt Schwoebel