Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tournament AAR Scenario 6: SP125 Numshigum

Nick Drinkwater

Japanese: Rob Purdon [ELR 3, SAN 4]
Ghurka: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 5, SAN 4]

Pre-Game Thoughts:
The last of the weekend's scenarios was one of the shortest but a complete blast to play. Rob was my opponent and this was the third new player I had played in less than three days - this is the great thing about Tournaments in that you get to play new folks and this gets you out of playing style ruts and makes you think about new challenges and be outside the proverbial box. Also Rob was my fourth opponent from Austin - I only dodged Roy, Matt, Brian and Jeff during the weekend.

Scenario Analysis:
This fun little scenario is set on one half of Board 50, and involves a very tasty but lightly armed force of Ghurka Paratroops (9.5 648 squads) with moderate leadership and an all-important airborne light mortar with its nice smoke option (note these are elite so the depletion numbers are raised by one - we missed this). These gutsy guys need to evict all good-order Japanese MMC from an L-shaped hill mass between hexrows X-DD, south of the stream. One arm of the hill projects down to the south board edge whilst the other projects to the east board edge with light jungle masking most of the approaches in the 'elbow' between the two. The hill has a wooded Level two location on the east arm and a bare level two plateau at the join between the two arms and this will probably be where the Japanese make their last stand. To the north of the stream is another Level two hill - from here the Japanese reserve of a 9-1 and HMG can dominate both the wooded eastern knoll and the approaches to the central bare knoll. The Japanese have 6 squads in total to play with, a Lt Mortar, a MMG, the HMG but importantly, no HIP by SSR.

Ghurkhas attack plan:
Thus its a fairly straightforward run and push assault for the Ghurkas and their biggest issue is going to be time as they only have 4.5 turns to get the job done. The assault fire bonus and the H2H option plus modifier means the Japanese are not scary to these bad boys at all (BRING IT ON!), but the thing they need to watch is leaving a gap in their cordon that a sneaky Japanese half-squad could sneak into in the bottom half of Turn 4. It will be tough going in this terrain and there may be some advances in difficult terrain and the ability to keep concealment will be hard due to the problems with not being able to do assault move uphill in jungles. However paths along the axis of the east arm of the 'L' and another through the jungle into the elbow of the 'L' offer some fast routes into the core of the action - only problem is the Japanese know this too and can respond accordingly.

Japanese Defense:
Rob set up a very dispersed defense to clearly offer me a bunch of targets that I was going to physically have to chase down and check for dummy status. I pushed on hard and fast with six squads and the mortar entering on the south and three squads and a 9-1 climbing directly onto Level one of the east arm to face the three "?" stacks Rob had there. My first shot of the game was an assault fire bonus 6-flat and I roll a nice juicy three. Rob immediately rolls a 12 on the two check - scratch the first 447 squad who drop the Knee Mortar to the ground cold and unfired! Sweet!

The Ghurkas Push on...
I peel a squad and a half off to the 'point' of the southern arm and remove the first dummy while the core of the force pushes hard into the 'elbow' - I have misplayed my Airborne Mortar which is out of position, but no matter as my super hot dice continue to cause Rob all manner of problems. DFF versus a Ghurka squad causes them to go berserk adjacent to their Japanese tormentors which is perfect for me as I was CX before that - no ambush needed and straight into H2H CC! Kill, dispatch, destroy and that one's all over. After striping a nasty 2 x 447 stack, I jump into CC with another Ghurka squad - if I can win this, I've virtually won the scenario in two turns as I will have killed four of Rob's six squads - for once, I get ambushed and killed, but I am able to get these guys later with more aggressive assault fire, stripe, ambush, kill tactics later on.

Give that man a medal!
Rob's two MGs are my biggest headache and are really the only things keeping him in the game. I am able to Smoke in the MMG in its Level Two plateau hex foxhole with my only Smoke shell from the Mortar, but the HMG north of the stream is dominating my platoon on the eastern knoll as it goes on a nasty ROF3 streak (3 ROF weapons - sheesh! Don't get me started...). My sniper goes hot but picks a dummy and I move, bump and remove his last dummy, but I am still stymied on the east where Rob now has me pinned and broken. This is now serious as all three squads and the 9-1 are broken over there and I am reduced to a sole hero....Victorious Cross to this guy though, as he shrugs off about three 1MC and MC unscathed and he is left in Japanese Turn 4 as the only unit I have who can stop an adjacent 447 from running around the north side of the hill for a last-ditch win. By this time, I have whittled away the main hill defense to a half-squad, a striped crew and a leader. My sniper gets hot for one last time and stripes the HMG crew (I was lucky in this one), but I am hopelessly out of position with my unbroken units to stop Rob's end run.

Rob does the 'manly' Japanese thing and starts to run his brave 447 away from my lone hero - I have one shot only as he moves these guys under the adjacent heroic Sten Gun and I have to kill them all - a CR or a Stripe is not going to be enough here. We both know the critical importance of this one roll as otherwise, this will be the biggest escape since Clint swam out from Alcatraz - roll the dice.....drumroll....SNAKES!!!! Bam, bam, bam, twitchy bodies everywhere and a lone Gurkha pensively smoking a Woodbine...ten dead Japanese, all in a good days work.

I love this game...!!! Did I say that I was lucky in this one?

Still not over:
BUT wait, there's more! The desperate Japanese limpy types on the main hill could still win this one yet...the way to go is to dash over to my eastern flank, where now of course the hero is isolated and alone, smothered in cigarette smoke and with a First Fire counter on his head. Rob could still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat from this one yet. Only two squads of my main force can see these guys at all as they go on their mad dash for victory and they will be firing into the jungle. Hmmm. To make it worse and to get even more MF, Rob declares Banzai with the hero as the target and runs headlong into the hero's hex. I fire off vainly but these bad boys are in there screaming and they are mighty PISSED OFF! Of course, as we're in Banzai no ambush is possible for me or Rob (which would have been -2 in my favour (Stealthy, vs Lax) and my hero is simply going down.

And then we both wake up. The banzai is a cool trick with its extra MF, higher morale and lack of chance to be ambushed, and Rob has gone and shoved them into the face of my hero. However, the hero is currently one hex north of the area stipulated for the VC, and with no ambush possibility, there is now no way that Rob can now get a MMC into the victory hexes!! Its all over. Good guys win. Ooops.

Strike one for Nepal's finest!!

Post-game thoughts:
Big bad error, but didn't offset the fun the two of us had playing this - this was a blast and Rob was great as he smiled through the complete dicing I had inflicted on him from the beginning until Turn 4. We talked it through and realised that instead of being hero-fixated and banzai-ing, he should have motored his guys along the eastern 'arm' path to the very eastern board edge. This would have DMed my eastern platoon again and left my main force facing the unpleasant notion of crossing a -2 firelane from the HMG and then a batch of -2 moves in the hexes adjacent to Rob's last few guys; this would have been almost impossible for me to pull off. I got lucky again at the end! Overall, even though this may look a bit dicey at first with only 4-5 Japanese squads, it actually isn't - the 2 and 3 ROF MGs are great levellers so even if the Japanese get hurt hard in the first couple of turns, they will still have a chance to win, especially if they have retained a leader and a couple of MMCs at game end...just make sure you know where hexrow X is!!!

All in all then, 4-2 for the weekend with a 3-1 record against Austin's finest (smelliest??), including that scorching victory against the Owlcon champion himself, Mr. Doyle. Awesome weekend and awesome gaming and awesome gamers. Thanks all!

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