Leatherneck 2 #1 Airfield Fracas - AAR

von Marwitz

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Leatherneck 2 #1 Airfield Fracas - AAR

17395

Almost 4 a.m. when I finished this scecario totally exhausted as the Marines. Our playing was rife with absurdities leading to utter frustration as well as amazement and disbelief. Our playing went until the last APh of Japanese Turn 7.

Now after a couple of days of recovery, I'll get to it...


Scenario Overview:
Situation is after the the U.S. landing on Peleliu on 15. September 1944. The Marines have gained a foothold on the shore close to the enemy airfield which is one of the early objectives. There they run into unexpectedly tough resistance. The Japanese attempt a counter-attack supported by HA-GO tanks across the airfield to push the Marines back into the sea. So it's going to get nasty. Nuff said.

The objective is to blast the airstrip and its immediate vincinity free of Good Order Japanese MMC.
A full 7 Turns seems quite long for this halfboard scenario at first glance.

The playing area is merely a halfboard dominated by the airfield. Players alternate placing Shellholes untile 12 of them are on the board. Importantly, a Mild Breeze blowing form the West i.e. from the US entry area across the airfield is in effect. The Americans have a module of 80mm OBA (HE/Smoke) with Plentiful Ammo and receive Air Support in the form of one 1944 FB with Bombs, which will arrive on a dr smaller than the current Turn number and will be recalled after two Turns. Contrary of what we are used to, neither Japanese nor their fortifications may set up HIP. Japanese may enter as Riders - if they're feelin' lucky...
Both the Marines and Japanese should consider carefully, where they place the Shellholes. Probably more carefully than we did in our playing. What is notable about the terrain is that there is virtually no place to hide for the Japanese. The Marines will basically always be able to establish a LOS to any Location if they so wish, however Smoke and the Mild Breeze might change things.
The Marines enter from the West (top), while the Japanese enter from the North (right). Despite this being painfully obvious, I had this wrong in my mind because I was aware of the greater historical picture and thus thinking the Japanese coming in from the East - which is wrong.

The Japanese begin with only a small force to defend with: Four elite 448s, two 228 crews, two Leaders, one HMG, MMG, LMG, and a knee-mortar which may set up in Foxholes. Earlier or later, the Japanese will wish they had more of those Foxholes.
Another 10 elite squads with two leaders, four LMG and (importantly) two knee-mortars will enter from the North (right) supported by six HA-GO tanks on or after Turn 2.

The Marines may enter on or after Turn 1 from the West. They have a dozen powerful 768 squads plus four 348 HS led by four Leaders, one being a 10-2. Two HMGs and MMGs along with two M2 60mm MTRs and three Bazookas up their firepower. The OBA is dependent on a Radio, whose Contact Value is one less for being in the PTO (G.7). Armored support consists of three Sherman M3A4s.

I should take note of one technical aspect:
With numerous squads and likely a significant amount of Smoke around plus the 12 Shellhole counters by SSR along with nine 5/8" AFV counters, the halfboard might get quite clogged and taking LOS checks could become a pain. For that reason, my opponent and I were quite happy that ours was a game played by VASL rather than face-to-face.


Preliminary Assessment:
The Marines have fearsome firepower for their task which is enhanced by the 80mm OBA. The HA-GOs are no match for the Shermans and the Japanese have hardly any means to come to grips with them. The FB ground support is worth further scrutiny: By G17.41 it has a 50% chance to be equipped with Napalm instead of regular Bombs. This is notable, as the EC are Dry, the Mild Breeze is blowing, and Napalm will automatically place a Terrain Blaze where it hits. If given the chance, this ferocious firepower will have surely whittled away the Japanese substantially by the end of the game.

The Japanese are tough and being elite squads, their morale will be 10 while stacked with three of the four Japanese Leaders, which means they are likely to stand some punishment. Yet, they have to attempt to avoid as much of the Marine firepower as they can. But how? No good TEM around, the best being the few Foxholes and possibly some wooden buildings if these have not been 'shellholed' during setup. It might be a reasonable idea to deploy the at-start Japanese force to be able to set up in an extra Foxhole.

Then, the Mild Breeze provides a clue. It will create Dispersed Smoke downwind from Smoke sources. Some of these will likely be provided by HA-GO tanks - that is buring wrecks of them after they are blazed with their measly armor of 1 for the hull and 2 for the turret. In fact, if hit by the Shermans with their TK of 14, this happening can be counted on. Furthermore, the three Japanese 50mm MTRs might not have much punch, but they have S7 and WP6. Smoke will very likely be a key factor in this scenario because it will probably be the primary factor of providing cover. This is, however, a two-edged sword (or shield as you may) as it also perfectly capable of enabling movement as it is of curtailing firepower. Depending on how much Smoke is out there, Firelanes might become important.

It could happen, that the obligation to move in order to win lies with the Japanese to get onto or into the vincinity of the airstrip hexes. But if the Japanese are lodged there, that same obligation might fall onto the Marines to eradicate them. With Hand-to-Hand combat possible if initiated by the Japanese, weird things might happen if things get close and personal. Furthermore, it is not forbidden for vehicular Crews to Abandon their fast small HA-GOs - albeit the crews would have to survive Marine fire.

From the Marine perspective, the only real base they have is the small patch of Light Jungle close to their area of entry from which they can blast virtually the entire terrain. If the Marines can clear the southern (left) part of the board of Japanese, the invaders can also keep of of LOS of the Japanese in the North (right). They should attempt this if for the sole purpose of elimiating Japanese meddling with Rout Paths should the Marines venture out onto the airfield. Should the Japanese contrieve a way to stay put and to survive in their area of entry in the North, they will force the Marines to be coming at them to avoid a loss. So the Marines might want to think about how to dislodge the Japanse from the vinicinity of the northern (right) board edge. The OBA might be just the tool for it putting the Japanese between hell and a bad place. The Fighter Bomber might be another, especially if it is carrying Napalm.
If the whole area is shrouded in Smoke, this might enable the Marines to approach the Japanese and to cut them off from swathes of the airstrip & vinicinity. The Marines have to keep in mind the possiblity of a Banzai Charge across a thoroughly Smoked area which might bring the Japanese into a position to win. Smoke might also create opportunities for Japanese THHs. For all these issues, deploying some of the Marine squads might be a remedy - nice to remember, that Marines can freely deploy during setup and deploy/recombine without Leader presence in their Rally Phase per G17.11.

Let's see how this played out.


Situation at Game Start:

17454

The Battle Plan:

Marines, Japanese, lots of Open Ground - not much room for subtleties, eh?
My Marines would take firm control of the western patch of Light Jungle close to their board edge of entry. From there, they would blast away at the Japanese whittling them down. Any Japanese attacks would be basked in American Fire Lanes. The OBA would be called down either as a concentration or as Harassing Fire either to reduce strongpoints or to pin down Japanese Movement. The Shermans would venture out onto the airfield with some Bazooka carrying Infantry as cover vs. outflanking HA-GOs or THHs. Before that, any Japanese in the South (on the left) would be eradicated to keep my back and routing options clear. The FB would be used to strafe the Japanese with the Bomb or Napalm falling on an important target.


Situation at the End of American Turn 1:

17455

Before I begin my commentary, a short note:
I now realize that the counter density and high stacks will make it difficult at times to expand the stacks in a way that makes it easy to dicern it for the readers here to see what's going on. I might resort to merely expanding some stacks instead of all of them. Refer to prior/later picture to get a rough idea what might be found in non-expanded stacks.

I first entered the flanks to be followed by the center, starting with the South (left). The objective there was clearly to reduce the single Japanese unit there. As I still had on my mind that the Japanese reinforcements would enter from the East (bottom), I overcommitted resources there. For all my firepower there I could not affect the Japanese 448 there but contrieved to roll Boxcars for my Marines losing CR'ing a squad and leaving the surviving HS broken. In any case, the 448 was swamped in place.

On my Northern flank (right) I first Assault Moved in a HS to M1 in the hope that Japanese LOS to the Open Ground hex might be blocked which indeed proved the case. This allowed me to move in more valuable troops there retaining Concealment which would subsequently advance to L1 from where it was in a splendid position to lay down Fire Lanes. A Sherman covered by a 768+BAZ took position in K1 (hidden from view by the other expanded stacks here), from here it could cover the Kunai area in the North (right).

In the center 10-2 Gayle ended up with three 768s, two HMGs and a MTR do dish out lethal damage with the option of putting down Fire Lanes towards the North (right) and the North East after some screening units had moved in front of him The Radio-man advanced Concealed to I3 with a view towards the Kunai next to the Japanese entry area which I intended to deny by OBA.

Advancing Fire striped the Japanse lurking in the Bamboo in J4, some further Japanese positions were acquired by the Shermans.


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 1:

17456

During Japanese Turn 1, there was not much my opponent could do. The most important thing, though, was successfully laying down Smoke in L1 which drifted nicely in the AFPh to substantially lessen by firepower by Hindrance.

That bit of Prep Fire that the Japanese had broke another Marine HS and I contrieved to roll Boxcars again for a squad costing me a HS eliminated and the surviving one broken.

Only due to my vast firepower I could eliminate the Japanese squad on the southern (left) flank and reduce the central one in the Bamboo, the survivors going down later for Failure to Rout. The MMG position on the Eastern (bottom) board edge was broken and the Japanese Leader there went Berserk though not being able to convice the MMG to join what would become a very lonley charge across the vast and wide airfield... To my chagrin, I malfed the MA of one of the Shermans. And I had forgotten to roll for Radio Contact which I would come to rue.

During the first game-turn, my rolls had been exceedingly shitty. A chance to dish out much more serious damage on the Japanese at-start force had been wasted and Marine morale was found wanting with the average (!) MC being a 10:

17463

To be continued in a subsequent post.

von Marwitz
 
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Actionjick

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Lol! That's the way uh huh uh huh I like it!!🤗🤗 Who needs sleep when there is ASL to play?

Well done! Looking forward to the AAR. 🤗🤗
 

von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of American Turn 2:

17466

My American Turn 2 somehow didn't feel right.

During the RPh, I attempted to repair the Sherman's MA without success, no Marines rallied.

In my PFPh, I was very confident that I would eradicate the Japanese position in the Bamboo on the eastern (bottom) board edge with my killer-stack consisting of the 10-2, 3x 768, 2x HMG, and a 60mm MTR. I shouldn't have... To begin with, I malfed the MTR. But I had a 23FP @-1 shot with a 50% ROF, no? No joy. But at least I re-DM'ed the MMG crew enabling it to rout away. This time I had thought of attempting Radio Contact but failed by one - had I not forgotten my roll during the DFPh of the previous Turn and been able to establish contact then, now I could have brought down the OBA in time to mess up the Japanese entry area. But as it was, this was not to be.

With hindsight, I feel that I have been too reluctant to move this turn. But I felt that a possible Firelane by the Japanese HMG in P3 was not to be trifled with and somewhat naively thought there would be no reason to expose myself to the Japanese MTR in the Kunai or long range fire from that Japanese squad. Some of the reason was my fear that a HA-GO rampage might catch me in the open. So I merely shifted the Marines on the southern flank (left) a bit to open them fields of fire without Hindrances. In the center, my valuable units were shielded by a screen of bodies so that even the most vicious Banzai Charge would not really be able to hit home.

Hindered by their own Smoke, the Japanese Defensive Fire that there was had no effect.


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 2:

17469

Japanese Turn 2 would allow the enemy to enter his reinforcements.

During the RPh, the Japanese MMG crew in N10 achieved what my death-star had failed to do: It killed itself - while rolling boxcars on its self-rally attempt. The Marines, on the other hand, failed to repair or rally anything but one squad.

There was not much Japanese Prep Fire, but what action he took was important: His 50mm knee-mortar went for SMOKE and found it to shroud my Sherman in the center next to the Bamboo, not yet exhausting its stock. This particular Sherman was not well covered by Infantry and being smoked in severely hampered its defensive capabilities.

Sergeant Tanaka was very enraged and determined to cut that very Sherman to pieces with his sword. As his cowardly MMG crew had first refused to join him in his lonely charge and now irrevertably lost face by dying of heart-attack just by looking at him setting off, he would see the honor of his unit redeemed by his personal action. So he set off across the airfield towards the shrouded Sherman while the Marines on the southern flank (left) began chuckling in disbelief about that g**k blurting out the usual prejudices of that stoopid thick-glassed dude not even being able to see the shrouded Sherman, much less ever contrieving to get close to it. They should not have... That very determined Berserker dodged every -2 shot the Marines threw at them and against all odds his charge reached the Sherman, whose TPBF was futile. Then, however, his luck deserted Sgt. Tanaka as he rolled boxcars for his CC attack thus being killed my the Sherman crew's small arms fire. A platoon of HA-GOs now closed in on the Sherman entering from offboard, popping a sD in J6 along the way. Now the Marines looked quite stupid: The Sherman close to the southern (left) board edge missed his shot at the HA-GOs. So did the assaulted Sherman at much lower odds out of his Smoked Location. The third Sherman had contrieved to malf its MA at the first opportunity and since then unable to repair it. A Bazooka shot at 3 hexes range went predictably wide. That done, the HA-GOs cold-bloodedly stopped to fire Point Blank into the side of the shrouded Sherman. They missed and calmly went into Motion again.

The second HA-GO platoon moved close to the western (upper) board edge, re-DM'ing a broken Marine HS there. The third HA-GO platoon merely took position at the northern (right) end of the airfield with the intention to provide cover for the Infantry. One of its tanks was taken out by a CH of a Marine 60mm MTR. Somewhat to my surprise, no other Japanese reinforcements entered during the MPh.

During the DFPh, at last I established Radio Contact and brought down a Spotting Round after an extra Chit draw. I was seriously in doubt, though, if I would be able to convert it later where it ended up. What Marines had not fired yet and had enemy units in sight failed once more to have any effect.

Nothing much happened during AFPh besides the Dispersed Smoke drifting in the breeze.

Now, the Japanese reinforcements advanced onto the board, retaining Concealment. A 448 and the HMG+228 advanced beneath the HA-GO wreck to make room for off-board reinforcements by leaving their Foxhole.

By the end of the turn, most of the Japanese Infantry was concentrated in a few hexes on the northern (right) flank where most of my firepower could not reach it for the moment.


Situation at the End of American Turn 3:

17471

My American Turn 3 started with the timely arrival of Air Support in the form of 1 Fighter Bomber with Napalm (G17.41) which was determined by a secret dr. The Japanese don't know what awaits them. The Fighter Bomber will stay for two turns.

With regard to rallies, I've got my Marines back to order with the exception of one HS. Despite daring the MA repair of one of the Shermans for I believe the third time, the crew does not manage the trick but luckily, the Sherman is not recalled either.

As the Japanese Smoke greatly impedes the effectiveness of my fire, I do not consider shooting Smoke at the start of the Prep Fire Phase. The story of my OBA remains a sad one, as the Marines lose Radio Contact and the Spotting Round remains in place and unconverted. Due to Smoke and my rather defensive deployment of the Marines, there was not much other Prep Fire which could harm the Japanese in the North (right). But of course, I tried to get rid of the audacious platoon of HA-GOs which had challenged my Sherman in I5. In vain, as it turned out.

During my MPh, I extricated the threatened Sherman in I5 by reversing back a bit and brought forward two squads with Bazookas along with the Sherman with malfunctioned MA to provide some cover. In my mind - maybe against the historical background - I still expected some sort of Japanese rabid charge against my positions which I was to stop in the next Japanese MPh when the westernmost Smoke (top) would clear. I should have realized that as it was the Japanese were better off to stay where they were, but instead I kept a defensive stance.

Advancing Fire failed to effect the central platoon of HA-GOs as well, but I was pretty confident to despatch them in the next Japanese half-turn as there were now plenty of AT capable weapons at hand and they were both acquired.

After some minor shuffling during the Advance Phase, I felt 'ready' to meet the Japanese onslaught - which would not come.


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 3:

17589

In Japanese Turn 3, my Sherman crew conscientiously worked on the repair of its MA. That is to say, they worked on it, not repaired it...

Japanese Prep Fire saw, well, 'to see' might be the wrong word... The pesky little knee-mortars of the Japanese obscured pretty much everything I hoped to see. Not content merely to keep ROF, they kept on popping SMOKE. I believe one of them fired SMOKE three times - and this was before drifting... Then the MTRs kept on with their ROF spree until they had K/2'ed and double-broken one Marine 768+MTR squad in K3 into oblivion.

In the Movement Phase, the central HA-GO platoon realized that caution might be the better part of valor and tried to pull out of harms way - beginning with successfully popping one Smoke Dispenser while BU rolling a 4 for yet more Smoke. Despite many Marine AT-assets hurled at them and their being aquired, I could just barely kill off one HA-GO while the other one escaped.
Meanwhile, my Fighter Bomber was circling above waiting to hurl itself in a Strafing Run and Napalm drop vs. the massed Japanese. I was especially keen on hitting O6 with Napalm to create an automatic Terrain Blaze which would in short order create an inferno in the Kunai with the Dry weather condition and the Mild Breeze. But whichever approach I looked at, the only way to get at O6 would be by a Point Attack vs. Concealed units. The accursed Smoke or Blind Hexes prevented anything else despite me patiently observing and countenancing some Japanese movement in the hope for an opportunity. Alas my opponent was apparently too clever to present me with one. Eventually, my FB made a Point Attack vs. the Japanese HMG in O4 striping its crew and a squad but holding back its Napalm Bomb for this turn.
With all the Smoke around which severely impeded my vision, the Japanese just waltzed a stack led by their 10-1 Leader just across the airfield towards my jungle positions. The surviving HA-GO of the northern platoon also moved forward towards the center, albeit somewhat uninspiredly.

My Defensive Fire began with Marine failure to establish Radio Contact - again. The SR still remained unconverted. Most fire concentrated on the western (top) platoon of HA-GOs by means of an MMG, two HMGs and a Bazooka to no effect. Pretty much everything else was so shrouded by Smoke that even the vicious Marine firepower could not effect anything.

And then, during the AFPh, all this friggin' Smoke drifted with the effect that many of my units weren't even able to see adjacent hexes any more, much less the Japanese still massed close to the northern (right) board edge. It was very frustrating. The Japanese could just sit there and would win while I could not even see them. If this went on like this, it would be the Marines that would have to charge across the airfield against the Japanese.

Due to all the Smoke, the 10-1 led Japanese stack in L3 even contrieved to gain Concealment. My problem was that where I was situated, for all my firepower I could not even see, much less affect the Japanese. But if I moved closer or out of the Smoke in order for my fire to become effective, I would be first subject to enemy fire without cover. I was quite at a loss how to tackle this.


To be continued in a subsequent post.

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of American Turn 4:

17590

By my American Turn 4, it had dawned on me, that the Japanese did not need to do any charge across the airfield at all to win this scenario. In fact, if they just sat there, they'd win unless I would be able to reduce them and push them back from being on or adjacent to the airstrip hexes. With the Japanese moving last, they had the option to go for a final Banzai charge in their last turn and if any one MMC would survive this on/adjacent to the airstrip, I'd lose.

With the Japanese Smoke being seemingly inexhaustible - of his three 50mm MTRs, two still had Smoke and one still had WP, the danger of killed HA-GOs going up in flames if hit by a Sherman, and even these pesky things being able to pop their sD as evidenced in the previous Japanese half-turn urged the decision on me to move forward.

In my Rally Phase, finally the Sherman could fix its MA! Not sure if it was worth the risk of getting him recalled. Anyway, it worked...

For once, my observer maintained Radio Contact. However, I did not believe to have LOS to the SR hex, thus my intention was to correct it to a Location close to the observer just to be able to see it for once. It was inaccurate and landed way off - but in a quite a nice place. Maybe finally I would be able to bring down the arty at long last - next turn... Looking at the Japanese units I have done some damage to some Japanese units but I can't remember if it was during the PFPh or during AFPh.

Moving about across the airfield is not trivial. One has to keep in mind which Smoke might disperse at what point and finding oneself out in the open is dangerous against Japanese fire. Furthermore, of course, there aren't many places to rout to on an airfield. I also thought it would be cheap for the Japanese to launch a couple of their Tank Hunter Heroes, so I tried to provide my tanks with an infantry escort. At the same time, the tanks would provide cover for my infantry when the Smoke would vanish and I would hopefully be able to bring the Marine firepower to bear.
Since my experiences with the obnoxious Japanese Smoke to far, I moved the Shermans out quite a bit to the East (bottom) in the hope that the enemy would not succeed to Smoke my Infantry in the West (top) and the Shermans in the East (bottom). Fingers crossed. I felt that I took quite some risk to create quite a large stack in K2 consisting of the 10-2, 768+HMG, 768+BAZ, 348+MTR. But if I didn't I would never be able to bring their firepower to bear.

In any case, I hoped to be set to take on some more of the Japanese HA-GOs in the upcoming Japanese turn.


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 4:

17609

Japanese Turn 4. What is the theme of this f*§% game? You can't see a thing!!

Yet again, the Japanese MTRs gleefully shot Smoke rounds. Did they lose ROF? Nope. Did they exhaust their Smoke special ammo? Nay. Three new full strength Smoke rounds fell, effectively blinding my carefully placed armored flank and the Infantry to boot. Just have a look at that mess in the screenshot!

There was so much Smoke that Marine firepower was almost entirely neutralized. So the Japanese were impertinent enough to move one of their HA-GO's right through three Shermans and two Bazookas into my rear with the intention of taking out the Observer. It took about half a dozen shots until it was finally taken out by MMG in H2.

The Japanese stack consisting of a concealed 10-1, 448+MMG, 348, 238 was just as brash beginning to move right into the middle and adjacent to my Infantry - which still couldn't see it. But I still had an ace up my sleeve... My Fighter Bomber was still loitering overhead to scream down with its Napalm Bomb. So far, I had held it back waiting for the Japanese stack in O6 to become unconcealed. As it had not done so until now, I went for a Point Attack on the moving impertinent Japanese stack instead. I needed only a 10 or less to pass the Sighting TC before sending the evil Japanese into fiery oblivion. I rolled 11.

Good thing that for all the Smoke hardly any Marine had a chance to witness this sorry display of Ground Support. The Japanese evil stack ended up in J3. Something I would not be able to ignore and which would distract me from the Japanese in the North (right).

In the DFPh I managed to bring down a Spotting Round in a Location I could actually see - due to all the Smoke sort of an achievement in itself, albeit it was far from doing harm or impressing any Japanese unit. With most of my units blinded, I was reduced to some MG shots vs. the Japanese HA-GO in M1. It was either a BAZ, an MG or a MTR round that blazed it. So at least, I had reduced the surviving Japanese tanks to two.

Still, this turn was absolutely frustrating for the Marines: Theoretically they could have dished out some serious fire - if it hadn't been for the Japanese knee-mortars and their Smoke that seemed to win this engagement all by themselves.


Situation at the End or American Turn 5:

17611

Some Marines always seemed to be broken and not in postion to rally. But it seemed not to matter it a way since if they had rallied, then they could have hardly affected anyone for the Smoke.

During Prep Fire, I did not roll for Radio Contact. Once more, it would have been for no gain for all the Smoke. Instead, I would move the observer to some Shellholes way back in E6 - at least there he was safe from the audacious Japanese stack that had been next to him. With repeating frustration I had to bear not being able to bring the massive Marine firepower onto target due to all the Smoke. The one thing I managed was to finally hit the HA-GO in K5 blazing it. Now, the Japanese were down to a single tank, but there was yet more Smoke.

During the MPh, beside the redeployment of my Observer, a 768+BAZ moved to the cover of the Burning Wreck in M1 in order to have a go at the last Japanese tank. The HA-GO rolled low, my Marines rolled high - break, thank you, next one...
The Japanese Sniper killed off a BAZ-toting HS which was - you guessed it - shrouded in Smoke. I felt the frustration simply not to get anywhere with time running against me.

For that reason, I something reckless which I would never have ordinarily done: I advanced into CC against the Japanese stack consisting of a concealed 10-1, 448+LMG, 348, 238 with my 10-2, 768, 768, 348, 348. Actually, I only realized how reckless it was after it was too late: As the Location contained no Concealment Terrain, I thought I was free from the danger of Ambush - having completely overlooked that the danger was more than real because of the Japanese having a Concealed unit - their 10-1 - involved... However, the Japanese were in for their share of frustration when they failed to ambush the Marines despite a net -2 drm advantage. Thus, in the ensuing non HtH-CC, the Marines were looking at a 2:1 @ -2 for Leadership, needing 8 or less to eliminate the entire Japanese stack. They rolled 9 in this game of mutual frustration, CR'ing one squad I believe. In turn, striking back at 1:2 @ -1, the Japanese effected nothing and Melee ensued. Uh-oh...


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 5:

17616

In Japanese Turn 5, some of their Smoke disappeared but there was still more than enough around for them to carefully move a few of their units onto/adjacent to airstrip hexes.

After having relocated, during the DFPh my arty observer was unable to etablish Radio Contact. So after a full five game turns, not a single FFE had been brought down despite the usual American Plentiful Ammo. Again, other US fire was completely ineffective, so I felt that once more the game was tilting towards the Japanese.

The CCPh had the Melee turn into H-t-H as it was now the Japanese attacking. With 7 vs. 21 points led by their 10-1 Leader, the Japanese were looking at a golden opportunity at 1:4 @ -2 to pretty much decide the game by eliminating the Marine 10-2, 2x 768, 2x 348 on a 6 or less, while a 7 would be a CR result. Frustration being the name of the game, they gacked their roll and were in turn annihilated by the Marine return attack. Certainly a key-moment of the game.


To be continued in a subsequent post.

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of American Turn 6:

17617

In American Turn 6, my objective was to 'get ahead' of the Japanese Smoke in my ceaseless attempts to finally bring the Marine firepower to bear.

I dunno what my half-assed arty Observer was about back in his shellhole in E6 - maybe listening in to Tokyo Rose. In any case, he wasn't doing his job. No Contact for the umpteenth time...

During the MPh, I had not much choice but to move my Shermans forward ahead of the enemy Smoke as well as I could. Either by Armored Assault or by later Advances, I attempted to provide them with Infantry braving the Japanese fire in the scant TEM that my tanks offered. By now, there were so close to the Japanese that THH's could be a real danger.

In the 'Marine-Jungle' area I had not much choice as to move forward as well which was immediately punished by one 348+HMG+MTR, 348, 8-1 being pummeled by the Japanese MTRs which had so far contributed out of all proportion to my problems in this scenario. Luckily, one of the hellish devices malfunctioned along with the Japanese HMG.

A Marine 348+BAZ edged up to the last remaining HA-GO where before a squad had failed in the attempt.

Despite the crucial hex K3 being under (double) Acquisition of two Japanese MTRs, I advanced in with my 10-2, 768+HMG, 768+LMG (capt.). Considering the other broken Marines and equipment in there, this was pretty much throwing all eggs into one basket, but I felt I needed the fire support and to get forward.

The relative exposure of a number of Marines prompted the fire of a couple of Japanese units that had until now remained idle and under concealment. Luckily for me, besides that one stack I did not suffer major damage. What would happen in the upcoming Japanese turn might be another matter.


Situation at the End of Japanese Turn 6:

17618

In Japanese Turn 6, my 10-2 Gayle managed to rally the 8-1 Leader and a HS, however the other HS possessing a HMG and a MTR did not recover.

Given the choice of firing the Japanese MTRs vs. the juicy K3 Jungle hex squirming with Marines, being acquired and providing Airbursts in case of hits or to go for Smoke, the Japanese opted for the latter. After all, this had worked well in all the previous turns so far. Incredibly, it worked AGAIN... I couldn't believe it! Two Sherman tanks plus Infantry escort were shrouded in +3 Smoke, fire by my killer-stack in K3 would have to fire through +4 Hindrances against any Japanese.
This was good news as it could at least see the enemy. I have lost count, how many Smoke rounds the Japanese contrieved to get out of their three 50mm MTRs - it must have been 10 to 12 to this point. They did not find any WP, though.

During their MPh, the Japanese managed to non-platoon move their remaining HA-GO, dodging a BAZ-shot from the ADJACENT hex, to place itself squarely in front of two Shermans, one of them already shrouded in fresh Smoke, the other one soon so when Drift would set in. I ignored the tin-can, because as long as one Sherman 'happened' to be unhindered by Smoke, I rather wanted to fire it at enemy Infantry which was my real problem.

Marine Defensive Fire was comparably successful. My killer-stack in K3 annihilated a Japanese HS, destroying one of the hated 50mm MTRs in the process. The sole unobstructed Sherman CR'ed/broke a 448 with a second 50mm MTR. Another Sherman malfed its MA. At this point, all three of the Japanese MTRs were out of Smoke or destroyed - finally! My concern was that this was too late. You ask what became of my 80mm OBA? Don't! No Radio Contact...

By now, the Japanese were bleeding. But they still had three full 448s, one 348, three 238s (one of which broken), and a 127 Crew along with two Leaders. Four of these units were on Victory Hexes, all the rest of them could advance adjacent to Victory Hexes to meet the Victory Conditions. The Leaders could start Banzai Charges. All THHs were yet unused.

At this point I found it very improbable to win this game with only one MPh left and the Japanese moving last.


Situation at the End of American Turn 7:

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Well, my last American Turn 7... What American brokies there were did rally, what malf'ed equipment there was did not repair.

There was very little Prep Fire because firstly it would have been quite ineffective firing out of Smoke and secondly I had no choice to move/advance out into the open to form a wall of bodies to prevent the Japanese getting on airstrip hexes or adjacent to these - and if so, to expose themselves to Point Blank Marine fire to hopefully kill them. I was very much hoping that my 'wall of bodies' would not become a wall of dead bodies...
You are asking: Hey, what of your Observer? That loser finally found the frequency and contrieved to bring down a Spotting Round which he could actually see. Mind me, the closest Good Order Japanese unit was three hexes away. But hey! After 13 half-turns without an FFE, theoretically in the last and 14th half-turn there was at least a chance for one. What could possibly go wrong?

On to the crucial MPh. I used two Shermans for Overruns, one of them even managed two in a row. To my great satisfaction, these were successful in eliminating two Japanese 238s and the Japanese 127 Crew in Victory Hexes. Only the 238+MTR (without !! S/WP) in O4 was left in a Victory hex now. And the Shermans were menacing positions with regard to Point Blank Fire for the final Japanese Turn. The third Sherman scared away a Japanese HS by re-DM'ing it. Moving/Advancing forward, I merely lost two Marine half-squads, one of them having previously battle hardened to become a Berserker just to miserably fail his first MC. Altogether, though, Japanese Defensive First Fire had been comparably ineffective.

After my APh, for the very first time in this trying game I had my Marines in position without being shrouded in Smoke.
The question now was, if my Marines would be able to fight back any surviving Japanese who would try to to get on/adjacent to airstrip hexes. The biggest difficulty would be the 448 full squads which could stripe twice before breaking and merely needed to survive an advance in Good Order as any from of MMC.

In my CCPh, I vainly attempted to take out the last HA-GO, which was a pity because it denied me the firepower of a 9-1, 768+MMG to fend of the Japanese in their last turn.


Situation at the End of APh Japanese Turn 7 - Game End:

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For their Final Turn 7, the Japanese just needed a single Good Order MMC on/adjacent to an airstrip hex (i.e. the actual runway artwork, but not runways by SSR btw). But finally, the full array of Marine firepower was in position to await them. Because I needed to stripe/reduce/break the 448s several times to stop them, I had to pay very close attention to the order in which I fired my Marines in order to prevent a Japanese victory. In fact, I needed to be very lucky despite all of my firepower.

I remember there being only very little if any Japanese Prep Fire at all for obvious reasons. The only shot were the 9-0 led 448+LMG in O6 vs. the CC of the surviving HA-GO with my 9-1, 768+MMG, which broke the Leader and pinned the squad.

So came the last MPh of the game. The HA-GO attempted a non-platoon movement but failed. Then, the Japanese 9-0, 448+LMG tried to move into a Victory Hex, emerging from their Foxhole in P3 where they had snugly sat since the start of the game. It was the two Marine 348+MMG and in N2 and 348+BAZ in ADJACENT O3 that contrieved to stop them by first lethally wounding the Leader and striping the squad by a lucky low roll. Then the next attack resulted in a PTC on the surviving 348 - the most 'dangerous' result in the given situation. Sure enough, the Japanese 348 gacked its roll to Pin. With this, the likely most dangerous enemy units were out of the game. More importantly, the Marines were not required to use their stronger units to stop them which were now still free to fire elsewhere.

Next the Japanese 238+LMG from O7 for a reason I did not understand Assault Moved to O8. It was eliminated due to a double break so I must have fired on it with more than one unit, likely the MGs of the Sherman in N8 among them.

Sure enough I soon learned what was behind that move. My opponent now pulled his ace from his sleeve: He had one 448 ENTER from offboard into P7! When he placed a unit offboard beneath concealment, I did not realize what he was doing and thought it were some discarded Concealment counters or so. But entry options for the Japanese reinforcements allow these to enter on or after Turn 2. So his move was perfectly legal and pretty clever! Now, I had an extra totally unexpected 448 to deal with. I can't remember exactly which units I fired to stop it when it entered O7, but the Main Gun of the Sherman in N8 was involved. In the event, I was able to stripe the 448 twice, but a Good Order 238 remained in position to Advance into a Victory Hex after the end of the MPh.

At the start of my last DFPh, the Japanese now had one 238+MTR in a Victory Hex in O4 and another 238 in O7 ready to advance into a Victory Hex. By far the toughest to stop, though, would be the 9-0, 448+LMG in the Foxhole of O6, which were also poised to advance out into a Victory Hex. These were the units I somehow had to break or stop from advancing.

What about that Observer of yours? Ah, that one... Well, he actually maintained Radio Contact, and requested the SR to be converted to FFE:1. Despite the conversion could not be accurate, it came down in the almost perfect hex of N6, where it would attack the HA-GO (which was not really of consequence any more), and the Japanese in O6 and O7. The concentration killed the HA-GO but alas had no effect on the important Japanese Infantry in O6 and O7. With the HA-GO dead, the pinned Marine 768+MMG in that hex were now free for Advancing Fire, though. Besides this, the OBA also killed a friendly 348 in N7. Not to forget, the FFE:1 also created a Hindrance in favor of the survivin Japanese for the rest of my Defensive Fire.

The easy part was done first: breaking the Japanese 238 in O4. This left the Japanese in O6 and O7. I threw the 'big' attacks at O7. But without effect. There were not many remaining attacks left to care for the 238 in O7 and those that were did nothing.

As my last possible DFPh shot I used the Pinned (by Sniper) 348+HMG led by my 8-1 which had to fire through Smoke, through the OBA Hindrance, a Sherman hindrance, and vs. Foxhole TEM - it was a 3FP @+5 shot so I said to my opponent half-jokingly: "First I will roll Snakes and then you will Pin!" Guess what - this is exactly what happened! Chances for this were less than one-half percent... My opponent was agonizing!

Despite my extrodinary luck, I had not won yet. There still was that 238 in O7 which could advance into N7 for a Japanese win. So it did - but was eliminated by the OBA.

American win.

Later, the American OBA Observer was busy bragging til the end of his life: "Gee whiz, boys! It was me alone who won that battle, you know. My profound proficiency with that radio called in the mortar barrage where it hurt most. That was swell! You want an autograph or take a picture with me?"


Review:
This scenairo for sure played entirely different than expected.

Instead of the Japanese charging across the airfield as they did historically, it was in the end the Marines that did so in this playing. Instead of the Japanese being mowed down, the latter could almost never bring their full firepower to bear, primarily due to the absurd amount of Smoke these three hellish Japanese 50mm MTRs managed to consistently shoot just where it hurt the Marines most. Instead of dealing death by its Napalm payload or creating a terrain blaze, the Fighter Bomber did nothing except a single MG Point attack due to rolling above 10 for its Sighting TC. Instead of bringing down the OBA on the northern (right) board edge to force the Japanese out, impede their reinforcements, and to whittle them down, it was almost totally absent. After no less than 14 phases attempting to bring it down its one single beneficial effect was to eliminate that one Japanese half-squad which would otherwise have altered the outcome to a Japanese win.

For these reasons, it was quite nerve-wracking for me to play.

From the Japanese perspective, it seemed to hold quite some potential of frustration as well. What if the Japanese had not managed to produce these absurd amounts of Smoke with their Mortars? What if the American OBA had not been absent for almost the entire game? How long would the game have lasted then with virtually no place to hide for the Japanese from the fearsome Marine firepower? My opponent felt, that he was first kept in the game by luck with regard to all that Smoke and then was finally sort of betrayed by my extrordinary luck of the last turn.

It was quite nerve-wracking for him, too.

This scenario had originally been planned for a friendly mini-tournament as part of GRENADIER 2020. It has now been scratched from the list partly due to the Japanese concerns described above and partly because it would have been quite a PITA to handle face-to-face for practical reasons: Small playing area with numerous big stacks, lots of Shellhole counters, Smoke counters, etc. This would have been a pain for LOS checks and so on.

In any case, our playing was a battle...


von Marwitz
 
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