Rolling Sixes all the way!
The second vaguely exciting instalment featuring the adventures of Danevilparker VS Carlz in Memoir 44 land, bickering over plastic soldiers and drinking some sometimes still lukewarm tea. The fun filled sequel to -
(part I - https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1748460/tightening-noose-m4...)
Ok, at this point the wife and I had already bloodied each other's noses on the first half of this BoKG Breakthrough map, and had I just scraped a win after grinding her Japanese army out of their dug in positions on her weaker right hand flank. A centre section all out punch up granted me enough to swing what had seemed an unwinnable situation into a glorious victory! We had both learnt lessons, and now it was time to settle the score – and hopefully remember whatever it was we had supposed to have been learning from those lessons… The boy was at nursery, we had the house to ourselves, it was to bring on some passive aggressive bicker-tennis, and put the kettle on of course.
Looking down the other end of the gun barrel this time around, I couldn't help but feel rather vulnerable with just a few Japanese scattered about on my left, mostly standing directly in front of a lovely row of T24s. In the centre, whilst I did have a couple of dug in positions and an artillery unit, the space between them and the rest of my forces made them feel like fresh fruit ready for picking – and subsequent pureeing. On my right, and where I knew she would probably strike first, I had of course the three or four dug in Japanese army units just waiting to be flushed out (and lose me my 2 x temp' medals). This is where I had attacked during my run as the Soviets, and fully expected to have to the same punishment doled out in no half measures this time around. Where to start? hmmm…
I quickly decided that facing off against the Russian armoured hulks might be a bit silly for my infantry units on the left flank, and instead sent them running, split between to left and centre flank hills/cover. The left flank guys could hang out and make the occasional pot-shot, and the others could leg it to the centre, and hopefully eventually make it the right flank where they could cheekily hang around the back line and bolster numbers. I had to keep in mind retaining ownership of that weak right flank, or it would game over – just like it was for her last time…
The inevitable happened and she advanced on that weaker right flank, but she got there way faster and closer than I had expected. Right up in my face, I could pretty much hear the enemy breathing on the other sides of the sand bags at the distant front line ahead of me. She was also closing in on my rear right flank dug in positions, and not intending to take any prisoners. She had infantry numbers on me, but if I was lucky, maybe my cover would allow me to hold out long enough to do some damage – somewhere – hopefully... My back up centre units weren't going to be near the right flank for a few turns, even with a good wind. I wasn't sure it would be enough.
Employing experiences from her turn as Japan, she ensured she peeled a few men off each of my individual infantry units, to deny them the 1+ dice full strength bonus should they dare to peek from behind their mounded sackcloth hidey holes. My right hand side was disintegrating fast. They were giving a reasonable account of themselves, but only picking off the odd unlucky Russian here and there. She'd also managed to use the movement benefit of the cavalry to reasonable effect, but had been unlucky on gaining any horsey overruns. Probably too much vodka in the nosebags.
Elsewhere I was manoeuvring further into cover on my left, and creeping those 2 backup infantry units from centre to right flank to bolster numbers. They felt pretty safe, mostly out of range, and were making reasonable progress despite now being stuck in the fordable stream.
I was amazed that her forward tank line on my left/centre-ish flank hadn't really moved an inch, or fired a shot. It seemed a little too good to be true, so being slightly suicidal I edged my 2 measly tin can armour units into firing range, and began making the occasional punt into the Soviet face of death, pushing them slightly back here, killing the odd figure there. Maybe if I lived long enough they'd bring something to the party later on, and it would be Sake all round by tea time. Not many of my infantry units were really safe enough to be walking in the open at this time anyways. But I had a vague plan for this area that might come into play later - perhaps.
She now had some real strong plays in hand and vanquished my beleaguered right flankers in their nests one by one. It was hard fought, but she got 'em in the end. With just one guy left I desperately needed to get those 2 infantry back up units into position asap to retain the temp' medals. Still stuck in the stream they were painfully close, but they may as well have been on another continent for the good they were doing. Couldn't shoot anyone, and weren't contributing to occupation numbers either…
Fortunately I received cards to rectify this, and began the desperate dash onto the right flank – almost precisely at the same time as she revved up her armour engines and came careening down the road to pounce, card after card. My final dash transformed from a brave sprint towards the back line cover into a bloody Sushi-in-a-barrel shooting competition where it appears I brought only water pistols and misplaced enthusiasm. Her tanks hadn't really previously shifted on the right flank all game, and I'd kind of forgotten quite how fast they were going to reach me! Pushed back into the river and back towards the open base line, I was risking being made almost entirely extinct. Some backup they were turning out to be, grrr. Her troops had extinguished my dug in infantry positions, my back up was all but pushing up the bamboo, and now 2 medals were about to fall. Unless…
Miles away from me up at the dusty end of the map sat my lonely little centre artillery unit, largely ignored and trying its best to be inconspicuous. I guess it was just pretending to read the newspaper whilst whistling innocently or something. One quick step or two and 'pop', over the line into the right flank! Her Soviet infantry forces nearby were largely expended from clearing my nests earlier, her armour was now well on its way to my right flank base line, and her infantry far too far away to cause a threat, I had now re-secured the right flank! And only just in time! My back up infantry were just 2 men now, in separate units, and one right on the last hex! Medals wise we were pretty balanced. This was end game time, probably only a few turns left to make a difference. I had to cash in my chips asap because losing the temp' medals would be instant death to my chances of winning this battle. Whilst my Mr Arty was pretty safe, I also had to bear in mind that her little armoured car was not tooo far away, and pretty damn fast, although he'd not done anything so far.
Bang! She managed to pull something out of the bag and from a nearby-ish central unit and miraculously remove one of my artillery figures. I didn’t have a lot left at all holding down that right flank. Just need to hold on a little longer… argh! I could sense the armoured car testing the tyre pressure and changing the fluffy dice ready for the off. Could-be-any-moment *terrified face*
Do or die time, and time to hope that half baked plan from earlier might just work now. I moved my previously buried away full strength left flank infantry machine gunners towards her slightly muddled mass of slightly damaged centre tanks, and moved up my own tiny armour units, and let off some volleys. Pushed her back a little. Next turn I broke a couple of infantry units from mid area central section nests and actually brought them back towards myself. Fired off a couple of volleys. All my guys were now in the potential firing line, but they were mostly full units. They could roll with a few punches in absolutely needed – probably.
Meanwhile in 'right flank town' the Russians were choking me hard, and still threatening my extremely tenuous hold on those temp medals. Still, provided they were busy over there… they weren't bothering my plan.
Last card time. Crunch! The Soviet tank line now wedged firmly between my infantry to their rear, and my machine gunner and armour to the front. Nowhere to run, and no realistic hope of holding out against that many dice, and so it was done! Boom, and with some dice left spare to roll!
Victory! Second half to me as Japan, 8 medals & 26 dead VS Carlz as Russia, 6 medals & 28 dead. I win overall 16 medals to 11!
Some swearing and begrudging congratulations later we looked at our remaining cards. Sure enough, it looked like Mr Russian Armoured Car was indeed just about to go an explode Mr Japanese Arty on the next go. With only one figure he would have probably been a goner. Nothing else was holding the right flank, so that could have quite easily have seen me spat from the jaws of victory into the burning maw of defeat if things had fallen differently.
Overall we agreed it's a great scenario, and pretty well balanced it appears. There's really not a lot of room for making any mistakes in this one. Looking back I think that neither of us really understood the proper value or potential benefits of the armoured cars, and it's a shame the cavalry didn't get an overrun or a time to shine. Maybe next time perhaps.
I'd definitely play it again, and I'd recommend this to anyone who's a fan of the M44 system. We had a small quarrel over the precise wording on the Breakthrough version of the Medics and Mechanics card, but the Days of Wonder card index sorted that one out (in my favour fortunately – although I'm not sure how happy she was about that…). Aside from that though, no problems with how the game worked.
Hope you've enjoyed reading and get to have a go yourselves on this great map
Husband Bushido Spirit Victory FTW!!
Yep. Suppose I should say congratulations. It may have been different with just one more turn, or if you hadn't had medics and mechanics or if I'd been lucky and killed both your artillery figures in one roll. But what ifs don't matter. You did well, but just you wait until we aren't playing friendly.
Great game though, very good scenario. Well balanced and some nice new units to play with giving it a different feel to other scenarions and theatres played. Lots of fun.