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Subject: Jungle Meeting Engagement rss

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Marty M
Ireland
Fermoy
Co Cork
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Have just finished playing the second scenario of Banzai - 'Jungle Meeting Engagement' - with one of my regular Up Front opponents. I have owned Banzai for a couple of years now, but have mostly used it to add the British to the ETO scenarios in Up Front, and for using the Germans in the excellent 'Paratroop Drop' scenario included in Banzai.

I had played as the Japanese on only one previous occasion, in the first Banzai scenario - 'Patrol'. This was an interesting, but not particularly inspiring initial game. I had declared a Banzai attack at long range with disastrous results at a far too early stage, and hadn't felt inclined to play again as the Japanese until this evening.

My opponent played as the British. I set up first as the Japanese - I had two strong, mostly high morale groups with 5 and 6 PCs respectively in groups A & C. I also had a weak two man group, both with morale of 2 in position B. All the Japanese PCs in this scenario have bolt action rifles, except for one with an LMG, which I placed in group C.

The British set up with three groups - 3 men with high morale in group A, a fire team of 5 men including their Bren gun in group B and the two weakest PCs in group C.

We were both familiar with the British in Up Front. They have a useful firepower bonus, requiring one less firepower factor per attack in order to play a fire card. They have a five card hand, and have lots of available cards to play, being able to use both the American & German split action cards. They have a discard capability of two cards, but only on turns in which they perform no actions.

The Japanese have only a four card hand, and discard two cards per turn, provided they perform no other actions. They have two interesting caveats to this rule, however - they can play movement cards for any purpose without affecting their discard capability, and they can also discard printed or scenario-defined cower cards in excess of their usual discard limit, whether or not they have performed any actions. I actually found the four card Japanese hand very flexible with these two exceptions to the usual rules, and I felt that the cards were flowing through my hand favourably, compared with the other nationalities.

Also, the Japanese do not break after 50% of their PCs are eliminated - you have to kill/rout 75% of them before they will give up. This translates to 10 out of 13 cards in this scenario. The Japanese are tenacious in Banzai.

Jungle rules were in effect in this scenario. In simple terms, this means that Buildings Terrain cards become the equivalent of Woods cards, retaining their TEM.

Marsh cards cannot be rejected in Jungle rules. This had a significant influence in our game, as shall be seen.

In addition, fire attacks have to reduce their Fire Strength by one. This had a much bigger effect than we expected, and at the end of the first deck there had only been one casualty - and that was due to a sniper! We didn't realise at this stage that things were going to get much more bloody........

There are a couple of other Jungle Rules relating to AFVs and Infiltration, neither of which featured in our game.

The game started.

The first deck saw me move groups A & C forward to range 2. The Japanese bolt action rifles do not have any firepower until RR 2, so I was only able to use the LMG for the occasional weak attack (even weaker due to the Jungle rules) until I got into range. The British standard weapon has available FP factors at RR 1, and they managed to get a couple of shots at my groups on the way forward, pinning some men. I took a bit of time to get appropriate Terrain and Rally cards at this stage, but the British were unable to follow up successfully on these fire attacks and this proved to be only an inconvenience.

I got off a couple of shots at the enemy, but did not pin a single British PC during the first deck.

Amazingly, the British managed to use all four Sniper cards against me during the first deck, The first three had no effect, and I performed an unsuccessful Sniper Check after the third attack. The fourth Sniper card eliminated my SL. Disaster! He has a morale of 6, and had survived three consecutive fire attacks resulting in a final fire strength of 5, so I was most disappointed to lose this hard and hardy man. I pulled myself together after this unfortunate event, and comforted myself with the knowledge that I still had to lose 9 more PCs before the British could declare victory. I also had 5 unpinned men at range 2 in Jungle Terrain and 5 at range 3 for a massive 25 VPs for aggressive action at this early stage. The British had five men at range 1 in Jungle Terrain.

Deck 2 saw the game swing towards the Japanese. The British Fire group in position B advanced forwards and I managed to discard a Marsh card onto them. I then played a Flank Movement card on my group C and dropped them into a -3 Jungle Card on the subsequent turn. I had three usable high strength Fire Cards in my hand as a result of the double firepower from the flanking bonus, and killed two of the PCs in this group and kept the rest pinned for several turns while my group A advanced forwards. When the enemy finally moved out of the Marsh, I discarded a second (non-rejectable, as per Jungle rules) Marsh card onto them. Fantastic.

In the meantime, I had lost another PC from group A, who were at range 2 in Jungle Terrain. The weak group B were at range -2 in Brush, safely out of harm's way. Group C, with 5 PCs were at range 3, having just forded a stream, directly opposite a British two man group of low morale in a gully at range 2. Now was the time to declare Banzai!

Once a group has declared Banzai, all they can do is play movement cards and enter automatic Close Combat, without checking for Infiltration or having to play movement cards.

The British group C immediately retreated after the Banzai declaration, sparing them from certain annihilation in CC for at least one turn. I was immediately able to discard a stream onto the retreating group, guaranteeing that they would face CC on my next turn.

What happened next was the turning point of the game. The British had just drawn a Fire card with Fire Strength 2. Not a strong card, but he drew high black numbers, and eliminated three of my five man group - PCs in Banzai mode are eliminated on a Pinned result, unless they are wounded. Two men left to attack two men. Nightmare.

CC started next turn. My CCV 6 PC attacked his PC with CCV 7 and lost and was eliminated. My CCV 10 PC attacked his CCV 6 PC and won. Down to one man each.

The British were able to discard a Wire card onto my remaining man, reducing his CCV from 10 to 9. In the next turn I drew a 0. The British PC with CCV 6 drew a black 4. Disaster.

To compound matters, I had now lost my ASL as well as my SL. The Command Control rules mean that you have one less card in your hand than usual for the rest of the game in this situation. This is particularly hard for the Japanese and the Russians, reducing you to a three card hand.

I was in big trouble now, and spent the third deck desperately moving my two weak PCs in group B forward from range -2 to 2. Group A took out a couple of the British PCs from groups A&B, but were steadily whittled away.

I survived to the end of the third deck with four PCs left - one short of the sudden death 'broken squad' victory condition, but lost the game 28 to 16 VPs.

This was a really enjoyable and exciting game. All of the scenarios of Up Front feel and play very differently to each other. I was cursing myself after my disastrous Banzai charge, but it could have easily turned the game in the other direction. I would be interested in hearing other people's experiences and opinions regarding declaring a Banzai charge.

I have said before that Up Front, with its static cards sitting on the table in front of you, somehow feels more realistic than any other tactical wargame I have ever played. I love this game, and it keeps getting better and deeper every time I play it. This was a great session, and it was interesting returning to a simple infantry only scenario after using AFVs, ordnance and artillery over the last few games.

It always tells an excellent story.

Up Front is an unusual, extraordinary and wonderful game.
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Mike NZ
New Zealand
LOTR
New Zealand
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Thanks! That was an excellent read! Your right UF is an unusual, extraordinary & wonderful game & I might add it has never been bettered in all the years I have had/played it by any other wargame in my humble opinion. coolcoolcool
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Peter Haslehurst
United Kingdom
Oxford
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Thanks Marty, excellent report. It never ceases to amaze me how flexible and rich and satisfying Up Front is with just a deck of cards and a few chits.
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Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
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Yep, a Banzai charge is usually a game winner.


The only question is, for which side?
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Roar Stensrud
Norway
Tolvsroed
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Barbarossa wrote:

Yep, a Banzai charge is usually a game winner.


The only question is, for which side?


Indeed!

I have rarely experienced a Banzai charge that has saved the day for the Japanese. If I play the Japanese, I very rarely Banzai unless I'm at RR5 already. And then it's mostly to save time on infiltrating and subsequent CC. When the Japanese reach RR5, the game's usually over anyway with a Japanese victory.

As I mostly play campaigns, Banzai-charges are even more rare. One thing is to use Banzai to win a scenario. In campaigns, however, there is no use in winning the sceneario for 12 campaign victory points if you loose 7-8 men in the process. As the Japanese rarely rout, that means the 7-8 men lost is most likely 7-8 negative CVPs after that particular scenario. And then you'll have to replace a number of men for the next scenario for -1 CVP per man. I've played campaigns where the Japanese have won 7 or 8 out of 10 scenarios and still loose the campaign in the end...

R.
 
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Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
Worcestershire
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stroar wrote:


In campaigns, however, there is no use in winning the sceneario for 12 campaign victory points if you loose 7-8 men in the process. As the Japanese rarely rout, that means the 7-8 men lost is most likely 7-8 negative CVPs after that particular scenario. And then you'll have to replace a number of men for the next scenario for -1 CVP per man. I've played campaigns where the Japanese have won 7 or 8 out of 10 scenarios and still lose the campaign in the end...

R.


Absolutely. I've thought for some time that nations like the Japs and Russians, who tend to take more losses even when they win, are at a disadvantage in campaign games for this very reason - as you say, each loss basically costs you 2 campaign VPs when you consider the cost of replacement, so if the Germans average a 2-man loss for a win while the Russians average a 4-man loss, a win is worth 8VPs for the Germans but only 4VPs for the Russians.

There's a further one-off handicap for the larger squads in that they have fewer "spare" non-specialist non-NCO infantrymen for replacements, so they start having to pay for replacements earlier - it's a difference of 2-4 VPs per campaign.

There's perfectly good historical justification for this - these two nations were known for their willingness to take losses - but it makes them uncompetitive in campaigns, and I could well see a justification for giving them a lesser penalty for losses, or cheaper access to replacements. You could perhaps use some sort of factor based on base squad size ... so taking the German/British 10-man squad as a basis, a Russian loss would be 10/15 or 2/3 of a VP, a Japanese 10/13. Although that would put the Japs almost on a level with the Americans in their attitude to losses.

An alternative approach would be to base the cost of replacements on DYO points values, since these take this effect into account by giving these more prodigal nations lower values for individuals.

H'mm. What do you think?
 
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Roar Stensrud
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Barbarossa wrote:

There's perfectly good historical justification for this - these two nations were known for their willingness to take losses


Yep, and their disregard for human life was most likely a result of the fact thet they had a comparably higher number of soldiers to sacrifice. And thus, as you point out, they should have a smaller cost for replacements. The last few campaigns I have played with the Japanese, I have lowered the cost for losses and replacements down to 0.5 campaign victory points. That evens out the odds and I feel it makes the campaigns more histrically accurate. The "western" nations are still forced to be careful with their soldiers, but the Japanese can spend more lives without being penalized too much. In effect you can afford an occasional Banzai charge.

I am tempted to try the same with the Soviets too, but I fear that might unbalance the game too much in favor of the Soviets. I record some simple statistics for my campaigns. And with 40+ campaigns played, the statistics should be quite good. And considered that the Soviets have won 8 of 14 campaigns they have participated in, 0.5 CVPs for Soviet losses and replacements might make them too strong.

Barbarossa wrote:

An alternative approach would be to base the cost of replacements on DYO points values, since these take this effect into account by giving these more prodigal nations lower values for individuals.

H'mm. What do you think?


This sounds like an excellent Idea! This is really worth looking into. Its basically just a matter of coming up with a correct sum of starting CVPs for each nations. That's most likely just a question of math. This would also give some interesting choises. Like do you replace the lower-morale guys to save points and increase numbers or do you gamble on "a few good men" to carry the day? Thanks for the idea. This looks like a solution as clever as it is simple.

BTW: I see you are British. Want to try a VASSAL-game sometime? Occasionally I play with North American-based players, but that takes a lot more doing. I wish I could come up with a good solution for recording campaign-information in VASSAL, but I'll have to face a few system-challenges to acheive that.

R.
 
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Edward Kendrick
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Redditch
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I expect you've read the article in AHG 26.5 "The Long campaign" - the author talks about DYO campaigns. The system he followed seems to have been that they took the standard scenarios and played them with DYO forces, buying replacements at the standard cVP rate.

So here there are two situations in which you "buy" soldiers:

a) When choosing troops for a scenario, where you are picking from the survivors and paying DYO points (here you may want to pick a number of cheap, weak soldiers, keep them out of harm's way, and hope they gain elan and eventually a morale increase), and

b) When you are buying replacements using cVPs. Obviously here you want to use your 1 cVP to buy a high-value soldier rather than a low-morale guy. (Although I always use random replacement - it's not as though the platoon sergeant could go to the depot and pick the replacement he wants.)

Are we considering something different here, with some sort of "conversion rate" between cVPs and DYO points? There might be a common rate based on the value of a German/British M3P4 rifleman (1cVP = 15 DYO), so that the Russians or Japanese paying 1 VP for replacements would get 15 DYO when their standard M3 rifleman is 10 DYO.

One snag here is that you would end up needing to calculate the DYO value of non-standard soldiers (once their M and P values had altered) - I expect most of use have worked out rough values but there is no universally accepted rule as far as I know.

Another might be if you had to replace an LMG or mortar man - would you have to spend 3cVP to get 45 DYO to buy a new LMG?

More subtly, the advantage of building experience in your platoon would diminish, since as your soldiers got better, they would cost more DYO. This might actually help the balance of the campaign, as under the standard campaign rules once you start losing you tend to slip further behind (although normally when one of my guys gets really good I just know he's doomed to die in the next game!).
 
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Roar Stensrud
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What I would try is to follow the rules for replacements as per the standard rules, but still pay the cost in points on each original personality card. This would in effect not be a DYO campaign, but a campaign in which DYO points are used just like CVP points. If one man dies, you loose a sum equivalent to his DYO points and the cost for replacing him is also equal his DYO point value. So, DYO points come into play only with respect to losses and replacements. Further, I would not adjust a soldier's DYO value when he gains or looses morale/panic. The guy's cost is the same regardless of his morale when he is KIA.

As for the starting sum of points, I think we'd have to come up with a base-sum, for instance 500 points, and adjust that sum, percentage-wise, to reflect the relation between the starting CVP-sums in the original campaign rules (The Long Campaign/Deer Valley historical campaigns).

R.
 
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