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Memoir '44: Pacific Theater» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The Battles for Wake Island and Matanikau River rss

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John B.
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Bothell
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My brother and I sat down to some Memoir'44 action and decided to wage war in the Pacific Theater. I bought this expansion when it was first released and it felt good to finally play it. We fought through the first two scenarios. In both cases, I played the U.S. and he played the Japanese.

Scenario #49A - Wake Island - Dec. 23rd, 1941

As we set up the board for our first match, my brother's Japanese roommate approached and asked what we were doing. We told him we were preparing to fight for Wake Island.

"Ah," he said. "World War II." We nodded and he pointed at the Japanese infantry my brother was setting up on the beach. "Fascists must die."

I had to agree with him since I was playing the U.S. side. Anyway, he retreated to his room and we began.

The Japanese mobilized in all three sectors of the map, storming my flimsy barbed-wire defenses and overruning my puny forces, crying "Banzai!" as they stabbed my men with bayonets. I managed to inflict only minor casualties as they quickly took control of all the central and left-flank field bunkers. Before long the score was 4-0 Japan. My artillery managed to take out a couple of reduced units, but the battle never was much in doubt. Final score was 6-2 Japan, and it was probably one of the briefest Memoir conflicts I've ever experienced.

The Imperial Japanese Army Command rules are quite stunning. With nothing to slow the Japanese infantry down but barbed wire, this scenario seems designed to showcase their powerful "rush 'n attack" melee powers.

My brother's Japanese roommate checked in on us at Wake's conclusion. I told him the Fascists had won.

"Oh," he said. And then, after a moment, "I can't believe we were a fascist country. We are such a typical capitalist society now."

Scenario #50A - Matanikau River - October 23, 1942

After the slaughter at Wake Island, I was relieved to see a dense barrier of jungle and river between me and the deadly Japanese infantry in Guadalcanal. Once again my brother opened the game with rapid mobilization, this time on my left and center. I thinned his forces a bit with artillery but not enough. His powerful close-combat infantry destroyed my left-flank and forward center infantry units. Before long, he had a 3-0 lead. This initial surge from the Japanese proved unsustainable, however. They held on my left flank, but their center offensive evaporated over the course of the next few turns under the heavy bombardment of my artillery cannons. We were soon tied at 3-3.

My brother retreated his surviving, but severely depleted, central infantry back across the river and into the jungle, hoping to reduce the effects of my artillery. Then, finally, and perhaps desperately, he engaged his tanks. They churned up the soft, sandy earth on my right and earned a light hit on my sandbagged infantry there. My artillery returned fire, picking off one of his 1-strength infantry units in the center and then reducing his lead tank unit down to 1. On my next turn, I finished off the damaged tank unit and won the battle 5-3.

The key to our second match, it seemed to me, was my brother's inability to bring his artillery into the fight. He never moved them from their starting positions and each unit fired only once during the entire battle. Also, his tanks didn't wake up until the final two or three turns. One likes to think a better use of his hardware could have earned him the two points he needed for victory.

Overall, we were very pleased with the feel of the first two Pacific Theater scenarios. Wake seemed extremely unbalanced but it was fun anyway, especially as an introduction to the new Japanese infantry rules. You really get to see them in action in Wake, and as I believe this was the designer's intent, I find no fault with the scenario. Matanikau is a much more evenly-designed conflict, and it was fun to see the wave of Japanese infantry crash against a powerfully dug-in U.S. defense and break like so much foam into the air.

Total play time was just under an hour including setting up the scenarios and familiarizing ourselves with the new infantry and terrain rules.
 
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