Monday, June 23, 2008

Texas Tourney AAR: WCW10 Stand and Die

Nick Drinkwater

Chinese Player: Zeb Doyle [ELR 3, SAN 4]
Japanese Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 4, SAN 4]

A company of first line Japanese has to cause more CVP on a very well-armed company of 1st Line Chinese defending the Board 24 village, with every building location held at game end counting as extra VP. Simple eh? Well, yes and no. The huge rice paddy overlay is in play (drained, so they are nice and simple) and a long stream protects access to the village from the west - also the Japanese have only seven turns to achieve this and there is about a board width of approach to be made before they get to the village proper and there is a lot of ground for the Chinese to spread out. The Japanese, despite being the attackers, are numerically at a disadvantage in this (11 squads vs 12), but they do have the better armour with two Type 97A, two Type 95 Ha-Go and a Chi-Ro (with a 57* mm gun) competing against some rusting relic Axis cast-offs in the form of two 221 ACs, three Mark 1s and two L3s. These all have red MP numbers and are mainly hampered by Platoon Movement, but then, so are the Japanese! The Chinese also receive a 75mm field gun, two MMG and an all important 9-2 (over and above the 9-1 and 7-0). This is a very tough Chinese force and they are helped by having all huts and buildings treated as Level one wooden buildings. Light PTO is in effect so we will be hacking through the kunai at some point.

Looking at the board configurations, due to timing issues, it became clear that there were really only two approach routes into the village: the obvious frontal assault up the central 'corridor' lightly speckled with a bit of kunai and palms with some scattered buildings, or the eastern board-edge approach that by-passes the paddies but pushes you through the big jungle and bamboo thicket east of the village on Board 24. Zeb had outlier "?" on the central approach corridor and some more guarding the jungle/bamboo thicket. The SE quadrant of Board 35 is dominated by the huge rice plantation and it became clear that this was not a viable approach route due to the huge number of MP involved or the risk from hazardous movement when moving from Bank to Bank. Similarly, in the SW corner of the board, the two parallel belts of banzai backed by the stream were seriously going to impede all movement from there, so I decided to play it simple and go with a fairly large big push up the middle, supported by an engineer-led flank attack from the east.

Nice plan. Crap execution.

We were both pretty tired when we kicked this one off after some intense afternoon match-ups and it showed in our general ring-rustiness, and for me, less than optimum pre-game board analysis and setup. Of course, playing Zeb you really need to bring your "A" game along, but to be honest, I only really got into third gear at best in this one, and it showed from the beginning. I mis-balanced my start-up forces a little bit too much and a bit more time on setup could have easily worked this back into my favour. The hard part of the central assault is when you emerge from the "corridor" into an open ground turkey shoot on the Board 24 seam, due south of the village, covered by every matchlock and catapult muzzle the Chinese can dig up. Even Banzais get badly chopped up in open ground and so it is imperative that both knee mortars were ready in place to cover this assault with as much WP and Smoke as they can pump in as there are two or three nasty empty approach hexes that the Japs just have to cross, in the face of murderous withering fire from MGs and the field gun. Unfortunately one of my mortars was with my engineers and hence out of place and the other was destroyed by a KIA from Zebs' now revealed field gun which was in a really nice place with a great covered arc. All of my sudden my frontal Japanese tough boys were having to inch along in tortuous assault movement and they started to go down like flies. Some fairly average dice on my part didn't help my cause and things began to crumble quickly. I only managed to take a single building in this attack, and even this was quickly counter-attacked and my guys went down in a hail of bullets.

On the flank, things progressed pretty well before I ran into Zeb's 9-2 and hidden 8-1, both with MMGs. I got lucky and dodged any serious casualties here, (especially my FT guy who survived the -4 shot from the hidden 8-1 / MMG), but again poor initial setup and brainless moving meant by 10-1 had become detached from his accompanying squads, and hence was a little isolated with only a HS and crew for company with their SW. This was compounded by the orientation of the bamboo thicket which was a complete obstacle to progress, which funnelled the leader away from his platoon. The problems became even more compounded by the way I'd split my armour forces - the really threatening tank for the Japanese here is the big gunned 57*mm version, but this is also the slowest. I had stupidly assigned this behemoth to the flanking attack which had the longest distance to go, in a Platoon, and which also got sidetracked by the 9-2 on its way (dumb, dumb, dumb). This beast should have been with the central force where its FP was desperately needed and it had the least straight-line distance to travel, but of course it was stuck out on the flanks, toiling in the afternoon sun. Sigh.

Luckily, Zeb wasn't quite playing his "A" game either and, despite realising from the off the complete uselessness of his armour and their easy VP potential for me, insisted on sending his L3 platoon over to my flank on some kind of magical mystery tour (think Beatles), where they wandered directly into the path of my 37 and 57* mm armed tanks. Scenting the blood lust of easy VP, I fired off my acquisition shots (yes Zeb, I like them!), confident of breeding some Swiss cheesed, corned-beef cans in the next turn. At that point of course, I entered one of my notorious horror rolling streaks and missed with the tanks (ten), and then missed with a nine from the Flame Thrower needing an 8 to toast them, plus a batch of other grim shots which malfunction more support weapons. Sigh. Two tanks and 10VP that should have been mine, all gacked. Sigh.

To try and remedy the situation, the survivors of the central attack, re-directed eastward slightly and banzaied an outlying squad to death and a couple of other Chinese went down in MADCC (mutually assured destruction CC), but I was being attrited very hard, especially when I box-carred two 447s on simple 1MC. I kept pushing on and even managed to despatch a Mk 1 tin can and recalled another due to a broken MA, and my sniper shot a 7-0 and a dummy, but I was still on a losing curve for overall VP as 75% of the buildings were still in Zeb's Nationalistist hands. Also, I just could not damage his 9-2, who was making all my finest Imperialistic street-crossing assaults in the village perilous. I was still just about in the game, helped by collecting some prisoners who willingly wanted to become a full part of the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, but I knew in the last two turns I was going to need to have about 70% of it go my way to have any chance of a very fortuitous win. Of course, the very next shot was a boxcars from my FT and a complete turn's worth of acquired defensive fire and other shots that did nothing whatsoever. In total desperation on my last turn, I lined up the tanks for a batch of VBM in a vain attempt to at least capture the big factory building and the two wood-yards, fully accepting the risks of CVP damage, but as was typical all game, Zeb pulls out snakes on his very first reaction fire and my hopes went up in smoke, much as my tank crew did.

Its not a bad scenario, but I definitely preferred its newer cousin in the "Into the Rubble" pack with which it shows some similarities, A more competently handled attack would have been a lot closer result, but the 9-2 was a massive force in this and I think the Japanese are a little undercooked to achieve their aim: their main tanks have no ROF so they are 4FP one-shot wonders or have 2FP MG's, but the Chinese are all going to be hunkered down in wooden buildings and so are tough to damage. Only some mutually assured destruction CC achieved any CVP for me in this game and Zeb failed his first MC in Turn 6 (who then promptly surrendered!) as I just couldn't get co-ordinated to inflict enough damage for him to worry about. I was even at risk of having a Chinese squad steal back into the backfield and regain the huts and so I was definitely going to come up short. We did wonder however if it was really the intent to have all the Chinese armour effectively hide in out of the way positions due to the risk of handing the Japanese 35VP off the bat?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, Zeb's ELR is a 5. However, he has the lowest
likelihood of shooting an opponent of anyone in the club, so his SAN
is a 0.
Bryan Register