A tale of two seaborne evacuations

Michael R

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Feb 4, 2003
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La Belle Province
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It is always interesting for me to compare two scenarios by different designers that depict the same battle. I don’t know how many there are, but I was surprised to find that the seaborne evacuation of marines on Guadalcanal in 1942 is one of them. The short background is that a marine force lands behind a Japanese force that is being attacked frontally by other marines. Instead of blocking the Japanese retreat, the landing marines find themselves surrounded by unexpected Japanese forces.

One designer is Brian Youse. His version first appeared in BackBlast #2 in 1995. This version was later reprinted as part of Operation Watchtower from 2001. There is only one significant difference between these two iterations: BB16 has twelve turns while HS9 has thirteen turns. In ROAR, BB16 shows two Japanese wins to one American win. HS9 shows four Japanese wins to six American wins.

The other designer is Mark Porterfield. His version appeared in Critical Hit Magazine #2, also from 1995, back when Critical Hit had a better reputation than they do now. He did a lot of designs published by CH; one early scenario was a tournament favourite, CH6 Armored Probe. CH21 has a ROAR record of two Japanese wins to one American win.

I played HS9 Ambitious Plans a short time ago. I am about to play CH21 A Ridge Too Far. The differences between these two scenarios is fairly large.

I have made VASL maps for both of these scenarios. Their images are below.

HS8 has 13 American squads set up on a ridge (board 39) more than ten hexes away from the beach. Six landing craft enter on turn two to come to their rescue. The Americans receive one FB as air support and a NOBA module of 120mm. The arrival turn of the Air Support affects the Exit VP required by the Victory Conditions. There is an unusual SSR that has a hero controlling the Naval OBA without a radio, to recreate the marine who communicated with a destroyer using signal flags.

The Japanese set up even further away from the beach. They have ten squads and two crews to interfere with American evacuation. An SSR does an abstract representation of flanking fire that the Japanese had historically affecting the beach. The scenario specifies PTO with light jungle.

CH21 goes to the effort of making a map to do the flanking fire for real. Board 2 supplies the "ridge" on which the Americans start. They must cross one board to reach the beach. Both sides in this scenario have a lot more assets than in HS9. The Americans have an 81mm mortar, a .50 cal HMG, two other HMG, two light mortars and 24 squads. This force is equipped to dish out some punishment while some of its troops run to the beach. They are supported by an OBA module of 75mm directed by an off-board observer in the east and a Naval OBA module of 120mm with a shipboard observer.

The Japanese have three groups to spread around. The first group sets up before the Americans. It consists of four squads, a HMG, a 37mm AT gun and a 12.7mm AA gun. This group can set up directly in the path of the Americans and/or cover the beach. A second Japanese group sets up east of the Americans with a stream between them. This second group has eight squads with a HMG and other support weapons. The third group for the Japanese enters from west of the Americans on turn one. It adds nine squads with support weapons. The scenario specifies PTO with dense jungle.

HS9 gives ten turns for the American to exit 35 VP, including the landing craft, which count for 4 VP each (G12.84). CH21 gives the Americans 11.5 turns to exit 50 VP. There are ten landing craft. An SSR overrides their normal exit VP of 5 to 3.

The two scenarios use different types of landing craft. HS9 uses LCP(L) which has 4 MP, is partially armoured, has no ramp and can carry 30PP. The lack of a ramp means 50% of MF to load instead of the usual 25%. CH21 uses LCVP which have 5 MP, are fully armoured, have a ramp and can carry 39PP.

HS9 has 13 ocean hexes for the LCP(L) to cross, so they will need 4 turns to reach the beach and the same number to exit, assuming no running aground. CH21 has 13 to 14 ocean hexes for the LCVP to cross, so they will need 3 turns in each direction.

I will provide illustrated after-action reports for both scenarios in the near future.





The Magnus

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Jan 2, 2019
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Flavius Magnus Maximus Augustus II
This will be interesting to see how they play out.
I know how HS9 endes, and I will soon know how CH21 ends, but I am not telling 🤪🤪🤪.

The advantage of playing Michael is that he makes such excellent AAR’s so that you always can go back and remind yourself how a scenario played. The disadvantage is that all your mistake are documented for prosperity!!!😎


Feb 12, 2007
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llUnited States
On this note there are other multiple scenarios covering the same action If I'm correct Ramsey's Charge has 3 versions 1 MMP, 1 BFP, and 1 CH like to hear how they compare...same battle with different names by each producer.


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Mar 3, 2005
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Taipei, Taiwan
I played HS-09 quite a few years back with Tom Jackson.

It was a lot of fun, but my Japanese definitely enjoyed the blessings of the dice gods - especially when I completely forgot about the American FB and tried a Banzai charge along the beach ...... pretty much without suffering a scratch !!!