Thursday, December 02, 2010

AAR: BFP42 Bukit Full of Trouble

Zeb Doyle

Australians: Matt Schwoebel
Japanese: Zeb Doyle

Anyway, moving onto actual ASL content, work and the flu have kept me away from doing much lately, but I was fortunate enough to get in a game with the redoubtable Matt Schwoebel a few days ago. We went with BFP-42 Bukit Full of Trouble, one of the many good-looking offerings from Bounding Fire’s Blood and Jungle pack. The scenario is set in 1942, one of the darkest periods of the British Empire, and pits some desperate Australians trying to hold a vital Singapore crossroads against a Japanese onslaught.

The Australians have a simple enough task; to hold a single building on the village boards of 42 and 43 for the 7.5 turns of the scenario, and they have a very solid force to do it as well: a company of mostly elite troops, a -2 with several HMGs, some DCs, a 40L AT gun, lots of dummies, and some roadblocks, wire, foxholes, and mines. It’s the makings of a very solid defense, but it pales in comparison to what the Japanese bring to the table: 18 squads, half of whom are elite, a 10-2, two HMGs, two FTs, lots of DCs, Ha-Go tanks, 70mm OBA
with a PR hex and lots of ammo, and even a Ki-48 Lily bomber.

With all that combined arms goodness, I volunteered to take the defense, but Matt wouldn’t hear of it. He’s had more success defending against me than I care to admit, and perhaps he was trying to keep his streak alive. We did end up giving the Australians the balance, however, which downgrades the Japanese 10-2 to an 8-0…just eyeballing the scenario, it appeared that the Japanese had plenty of tools even with that change.

Matt proceeded to add to his reputation as defensive wizard, putting together a very interesting set-up that would never have occurred to me. There were a few units placed in the forward compound on board 43, a fair number of troops in the main village on board 42, and a lone building far in the rear of board 43 was protected by an entire platoon. That last building was protected by a huge thicket of bamboo, leaving me to approach it directly through a ton of kunai or via a long and indirect route of open ground. Not fun.

Looking it all over, Matt had certainly make things tricky for me, but one downside to his gambit was that no single area was especially well-defended, and the Japanese are the best nationality in the game at taking advantage of that situation. I decided to swarm over the defense in the forward compound and the village as quickly as possible, and only then turn my attention to that last building.

The game started with my pre-registered OBA trying to dump WP on the forward compound. Matt had a bunch of concealed units there, but I figured the risk of the extra chit draw was worth it with a 7/2 draw pile. This worked well, with the WP revealing a single Australian squad and a bunch of dummies, and was the start of a game-long trend of aggressive Japanese play being rewarded with good luck.

That single Aussie squad was swiftly overwhelmed, and I then started to push into the main village. My dice weren’t great, and Matt’s weren’t terrible, but there was a definite pattern where everything I tried typically worked and most of Matt’s tricks came up empty. For example, my OBA pulled four straight black cards (one of which was replaced) and always scattered to a decent spot. Meanwhile, when some of my Japanese hit a wire/mine hex, Matt rolled 10’s on both mine attacks and I rolled a 2 on my wire MF dr, allowing me to avoid the trap painlessly.

As it turned out, Matt had other issues as well. He’s a die-hard Michigan graduate, and his alma mater happened to be playing The Ohio State football team that day. We had the game on…background noise for me, life and death for Matt. This led to a few surreal moments: “OK, my Aussie 4-5-8 and HMG will fire at your DC guy, 8 flat shot…snake-eyes, goddammit, FML!” “Huh? You killed my squad and kept ROF.” “Yeah, but Michigan fumbled AGAIN!”

Between my dice and Matt’s distracting Wolverines, I was easily able to envelop the village. Here, the full Japanese toolkit was put to use, and OBA, DCs, and FTs tore apart the defense. Since the scenario is early in the war, No Quarter is not automatic, and I was able to capture everyone pretty much as soon as they broke. After the entire Australian village force had been bagged, I tidied things up with a quick Massacre and turned my attention to that final building over on board 43.

At this point, I was in a good position to get the win. One reason the village had fallen so fast was that Matt had protected his final bolt-hole with mines, the 40L gun, his 9-2, an HMG, and several squads. That meant I had my work cut out for me, trying to come through kunai and open ground, but also meant I still had three turns and a largely intact force to do it. If the village had held out for even one more turn, the end-game would have been much more interesting.

As I brought up my tanks, called in the OBA, and rushed my troops through the kunai, Matt’s remaining troops suddenly started fighting as well as his Wolverines were playing. A 12+1 attack from the OBA took out the 40L, a sniper broke an LMG squad, an Aussie squad whiffed on a 2:1 HtH CC roll, and a Ha-Go hit the 9-2/HMG stack and rolled snake-eyes on the resulting 4+0 attack to break everyone. Suddenly, there weren’t any good order Australians left, and the game ended with a whimper.

Despite the anti-climactic finish, Bukit Full of Trouble is a solid and enjoyable scenario. It’s hard to comment on the balance, given my good dice and Matt’s distractions, and the 4-0 Japanese W/L record on ROAR is too premature to offer much insight. If playing it, I’d try giving the Australians the balance and make sure the more experience player takes the defense. Regardless of whether you tweak it or not, it offers up the full Japanese combined-arms experience, which is always a lot of fun. The Australians get the challenge of trying to stop it, and as Matt demonstrated, they have more than one way of going about doing it. I think his unorthodox defense is certainly a viable way to win, and a more conventional ‘pack the village’ approach could certainly succeed as well. Good times for both sides.

Thanks to Matt for the game and the hospitality, and thanks to you for reading.


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