Japanese on Defense?

Chas Argent

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OK, I'm lost.

I'm finally starting to get a feel for how to play the Japanese on the attack...but a recent playing of Wetlet made me wonder: how do you take advantages of their strengths on defense?
 

Sparafucil3

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Well for one thing, they can FPF and not break. They will step reduce but getting close to the IJA can be painful. Other than that, I am as lost on this as you are. -- jim
 

Jazz

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Chas Argent said:
OK, I'm lost.

I'm finally starting to get a feel for how to play the Japanese on the attack...but a recent playing of Wetlet made me wonder: how do you take advantages of their strengths on defense?
I try to salt away packets of squads with a leader just behind my front for Banzai counter attacks or deversions to suck up fire so your main force can pull back in the face of big-time fire power. A good use for 2nd line Japanese. A DC hero or two don't hurt none in those roles... I've actually seen people try to have the Japanese actually try to place a DC with a hs in the "normal" way....whats up with that?

Japanese Leaders are ultimately around just to die....I've seen a single wounded leader take out a squad in HtH CC....

Don't forget the 8 hex range Japanese PF called a TH hero.....no DC required, but it makes it easier to generate'em.

Also, you can probably budget an additional turn or sometimes even two for the attacker to reduce a Japanese MMG/HMG/ordinance position due to the fact that you have one break on the crew before the gun stops firing. Even though Japanese leaders don't direct fire very well, the do act as commisars, raise the morale level by 1, and every now& again they do have a -1 leadership modifier.

Don't forget your automatic HIP allotment.

Make sure you're playing to win the scenario VC and not to keep your force alive. You can win as a Japanese defender with none of your force left alive.

Set up pill boxes where they're hard to get to....CC is the prefered way of taking them out and make him take time and/or get tired getting someone into the hex. HIP a HS on top of the PB to ambush the guys trying to CC the PB. Bamboo (I think they can set up there?) or covered by swamp.

All this from the one or two scenarios as a Japanese defender that I have won....:smoke:
 

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Japanese on defense in late warPTO=Bug hunt...............I really do not like the feel of PTO for this reason.
Just me... Jimfer
 

Jazz

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jimfer said:
Japanese on defense in late warPTO=Bug hunt...............I really do not like the feel of PTO for this reason.
Just me... Jimfer
To each his own.....<shrug>.

I guess I don't figure 10% HIP is all that much of a bug hunt, especially when one considers the sort of firepower the Allied player usually gets in late war PTO scenarios.
 

countermanCX

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That 'HIP HS on top of a Pill' idea is evil - I like it! Since enemy fire will likely be directed at the Pillbox Location, the HIP guy is unlikely to be exposed by combat-result PTC/MC until it's 'too late'.

Human PF are also useful as 'designated targets' - launch 'em in your MPh to threaten enemy AFV. Since T-H H might be packing an ATMM, the enemy can't afford to ignore them & must expend his DF against them rather than against other targets. The down-side is that generating T-H H is a ?-loss action.

I guess any scenario featuring well-equipped 8ML troops against lesser-value squads could be termed a 'bug-hunt' regardless of what the Nationalities or Theater of Operations. If your IJA / IJA soljers are fighting Commonwealth Elite or USMC, they must resort to their National characteristics (HIP allotment, T-H H, Commissar-effect, step-reduction, Stealth, H-t-H CC, etc.) to put up a good show. However against 6 or 7 ML USArmy troops, I like the Japanese chances in a 'stand-up fight'.
 
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Jazz

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countermanCX said:
That 'HIP HS on top of a Pill' idea is evil - I like it! Since enemy fire will likely be directed at the Pillbox Location, the HIP guy is unlikely to be exposed by combat-result PTC/MC until it's 'too late'.

Human PF are also useful as 'designated targets' - run 'em in to threaten enemy AFV. Since T-H H might be packing an ATMM, the enemy can't afford to ignore them & must expend his DF against them rather than against other targets.
Any Banzai unit is the "designated target" at least half the time.....

I am particularly proud the the HIP HS on top of the PB gambit. You just need to remember to start shooting and reveal the PB ASAP to preclude stripping the HS concealment with recon by fire. Once he sees the PB, it will attract his fire. Usually, the PB is set up to start shooting pretty early so it's not that big a deal.

The best way to play the Japanese in defense it to strive to piss-off your opponent in every possible way as often as possible. That way even if you lose the scenario there is some fulfilment and personal growth to be had in the experience.....
 
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countermanCX

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Jazz said:
I am particularly proud of the HIP HS on top of the PB gambit.
Justly so, it's a fine idea.
You just need to remember to start shooting and reveal the PB ASAP to preclude stripping the HS concealment with recon by fire.
Now that's even better.
The best way to play the Japanese in defense it to strive to piss-off your opponent in every possible way as often as possible.
Yamato damashi! I just love playing the Japs because they have all this wild stuff built-in.
 

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The Japanese are a formidable opponent when on the defense. As with so much of the Japanese, the key to success is often attrition management. The wonderful thing about the Japanese is that one has so much more control over them than one has over other nationalities. You don't have to worry that one of your flanks will collapse because a key squad broke by a lucky shot. That unit (barring unlikely results such as rolling a 12 on a MC or rolling a 2 and going berserk, etc.) will be there, and will protect that flank, until it attrits down to nothing.

Because no Japanese position will collapse early, the key is typically managing Japanese casualties until the end game. If enough of your forces survive until the end game, you will likely win. If you have been attrited to much, you will likely lose. This is particularly important to take into consideration because typically the U.S. is the opponent of the Japanese, and has huge firepower.

So how do you manage the attrition? First of all, the Japanese player does not want a stand-up fight. He wants situations where either he can manage a slow retreat or situations in which he can skulk like a maniac and avoid most defensive fire. Open ground is the deadliest enemy to the Japanese, because even a lucky 1 (-2) shot can cause a CR on a Japanese unit, bypassing the whole striping process. Similarly, *unsuccessful* close combat is tragic to the Japanese player, again, because it bypasses the striping process, so the Japanese player must make sure that close combat typically only occurs when the Japanese player has some sort of advantage.

The key here is mobility, whether it is the ability to retreat or the ability to skulk. When you are engaged in a retreat through the jungle, you want to avoid being so close to the enemy that he can do the old "assault moved concealed adjacent to you" move, because this puts you in a bad position. Your low firepower does not give you a really great chance of stripping concealment, and of course, automatically reveals your own concealment (one reason to leave a unit, even a leader, concealed in that hex). You do not want a 6-6-6 squad successfully getting into close combat with you, especially a concealed one!

So, on your retreat, you need to be able to move back far enough that your opponent, to get adjacent to you, cannot assault move, thus guaranteeing that he will not be concealed, and you will be able to have a better shot at him. Or two shots at him. Or three shots at him--final protective fire is very often a viable option for the Japanese, especially if stacked with a leader. You have to manage your fire discipline, because a good player will be maneuvering multiple units to absorb your fire and attract your attention, with the end goal of being able to get that one last unit successfully adjacent to you, concealed if possible. For this reason, it is often desirable to have units adjacent to each other, so they can better support themselves and each other against this sort of approach.

If you have reached your "last ditch," so to speak, and really can't retreat any further to avoid the assault move/advance tactic, sometimes it is even desirable to sacrifice a half squad or leader to "bump" enemy units in the movement and advance phases to strip concealment, so that they won't be able to take advantage of that concealment in their following movement phase.

Keep in mind that some terrain is your friend and some is not. Bamboo is definitely your friend, as long as you are in it, because your opponent can't advance into it without automatically being CX'ed. Being uphill of your opponent is your friend, again because of the CX advantage. Foxholes are typically NOT your friend, and this is important to understand. The LAST position you want to be in is in a foxhole adjacent to an American squad at the start of your movement phase. If you stay, you will be looking at a 12+2. If you leave, however, you will be looking at a 12+1 (assuming other terrain like jungle in the hex) if you assault move, or worse if you do not. In many cases, entrenchments like foxholes and trenches are far better placed NOT on the front lines, but way back, in your "last ditch" defense position, where you can't retreat any further anyway.


Sometimes you don't really have the option of retreat; all you can do is Hope Not To Be Seen. Typical skulking tactics apply here, of course. Once more, foxholes are NOT your friend, because you cannot skulk without exposing yourself to fire. Trenches are better if arranged correctly. Pillboxes are are great if they are HIP, and not too bad even when revealed, simply because they will have a minimum of +3 TEM, which is great in PTO (caves obviously good). Tunnels are also often useful for getting out of a position.

HIP is obviously great for skulking, since it is an automatic skulk. I have written a whole long article about HIP for the next ASL Journal, so I won't go into detail on the many tactics and strategies with HIP. Let me mention one technique, though, more often used by Japanese players than players of other nationalities, the "poison pill" technique, whereby you HIP a squad (or more typically halfsquad) in a position designed to be bypassed by the enemy, so that later you can emerge and destroy broken units, cut off rout paths, etc. HIP Tank Hunter Heroes are also very useful, even leaving aside their anti-armor capabilities, because (defensively) they can even be used in close combat and have a fair to middling chance of killing even large enemy forces in close combat.

Just remember, don't reveal your HIP units too quickly. HIP is like quantum physics--until your opponent "observes" the HIP unit by you revealing it, that HIP unit is potentially anywhere. Revealing a unit narrows its potential locations from many to one. Also, always know WHY you are HIPing a unit in a particular place and know WHAT you hope to achieve with it (see my article for much more on this).

The goal in this is to minimize casualties to oneself and to force the enemy to take risks in order to close with you.

Some minor things:

--DCs. DCs are awesome on the defense for the Japanese. First, they can be used to create DC heroes. Inexperienced players often send DC heroes against tanks, but this should never be done. Use THH for that. DC heroes are more devastating against infantry targets. Make it count when you use a DC hero. Don't send him on a death ride, where his likelihood of making it to his destination is minimal. The only reason why you would want to do something like that is if you are in a position from which you absolutely cannot retreat, and you have to do something to suck up enemy defensive fire that would otherwise be applied against your main line.
However, DCs are useful with more than just DC heroes. There are two reasons for this. One is that Japanese units can always detonate a DC. A Japanese leader doing a single man banzai charge into an adjacent hex while holding a DC is one nasty threat! The second reason is that it is very easy for a Japanese unit to THROW a DC. The squad stripes, while the opposing units break or die.

--leaders with crews. A Japanese leader and a crew together are a turtle. They can move around very well protected, as long as the leader survives. A -1 Japanese leader stacked with a crew gives that crew an effective morale of 10. That is hard to fight. Plus, since even Japanese crews stripe before the break, a Japanese HMG position can be pretty darn hard to winkle out. Keep this in mind as the Japanese. Also make sure that they avoid close combat, if possible, since that is the easiest way to take out a crew. Even a Japanese leader without a negative modifier really can help a crew survive.

--squads with mortars. Many players will deploy a squad and give a knee mortar to one of the deployed half squads. Assuming the mortar is likely to be useful in the scenario, this is a bad idea. Half squads are too vulnerable. A squad with a mortar, on the other hand, means that you have the ability to stay there and continue to get air bursts on your opponent for an extended period of time before you are rendered hors de combat.

--single man banzai. This is an amazing Japanese weapon. It is better when attacking, but even on the defense it can be useful. Typically, your goal when launching a defensive single man banzai charge is to tie up lots of enemy firepower in order to let other units escape or to soak up firepower that would otherwise be used against them. Got a wounded 8+1 leader adjacent to a fat American stack? Banzai that sucker into the stack and effectively negate some or (if you are lucky) all of that firepower.

--voluntary breaking. This is more subtle, and only really experienced Japanese players take advantage of this. However, it can really save your ass. Sometimes you need to set this up, but often you will just happen to be in a position where you can take advantage of it. The key is being able to rout to or next to a Japanese leader. Let's say, despite your best efforts, huge American stacks got up next to you. You survived the advancing fire phase, but now two American squads and a concealed 9-1 leader are going to go into you with close combat. Not only are you not concealed, but you are pinned. You will likely die in close combat. So voluntarily break. You are replaced by two broken half squads, you rout away to a 9-1 leader. Next rally phase, the half squads each rally on a 10 or better (7 normally, 8 for morale bonus, 9 for leader bonus, 10 for rally terrain). Not bad, huh? Much better odds than 3-1 (-2) ambush CC.
 

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Pitman said:
The Japanese are a formidable opponent when on the defense. .
What he said....

Mark seems to have hit a number of nails right on the head....and with much more eloqence than I could ever summon....
 

Mike Murphy

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Thanks Mark!

Something this good deserves (nay, demands) to be copied into Word and kept on file long after the computer is shut down.

For those of you who might not have seen it, Mark also wrote a well-thought out piece in J5 "The Jungle Isn't Neutral". I have read this one and highly recommend it.

Thanks again Mark for your tactical insights.

Mike
 

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Thanks for the kind words, guys. I wonder if it might be worth my expanding this as an article for some ASL magazine...?
 

SamB

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Pitman said:
Thanks for the kind words, guys. I wonder if it might be worth my expanding this as an article for some ASL magazine...?
IMO, YES

Always need more articles with good tactics.
 

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Great post here Mark. This is very good stuff and gives me a lot to chew on. Thanks -- jim
 

Honza

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The tactic I like the best for Japanese defenders is the element of surprise.
Because of their HIP allotment, stealth & concealment, and the chapter G rules for HIP/concealment loss & detection, the Jap defense can often surprise the attacker. Even a static defense with many fortifications can be set up in unexpected positions, be virtually invisible to the attacker,& hence ambush him.
 

rdw5150

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As has been said, great post Mark!

I'd "pip" your Rep, but I must spread some around first...

Peace

Rog
 

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Agreed that Mark's post was excellent, but one point that he missed.

One bad thing about the IJA in the defense is the depletion of fire power. Rather then breaking, they get stripped. You just lost 25% of the squads firepower and it will never come back.

In some situations it might be helpful to deploy more than usual. While you lose range a failed MC does not mean a reduction in fire power. Typically other nationalities deploy and have the hs man the heavy and med machine guns. Of course for the IJA the crews take care of these weapons. So your deployment allotment could be used for other purposes.

Dusting off the cob webs here, but can't the IJA do a set DC? Plant it at a choke point, rally station or prime kill stack location and it could cause serious problems.
 
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djpeteski said:
Agreed that Mark's post was excellent, but one point that he missed.

One bad thing about the IJA in the defense is the depletion of fire power. Rather then breaking, they get stripped. You just lost 25% of the squads firepower and it will never come back.
I agree with this. I've never looked at reduction as a Japanese advantage. Whereas other nations can break & later rally + return at 100% full strength, the Japanese squads just get permanently reduced to half squads over the long run .. not a very good state of affairs. I think the best the Japanese have is their advantages of stealth, concealment, being able to declare H-H CC (+ the -1 HH mod), banzai, and T-H heroes. Max out their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Deploying Japanese squads is a good idea, especially when all their leaders act as commissars & their HSs can just as easily kill enemy squads in HH CC as everyone else's squads can.
 
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