- Craig BennUnited Kingdom
So Damien suggested playing one scenario a month in historical order. It is of course a crazy six year commitment which real life issues will interrupt at some point. But of course I accepted because who hasn't wanted to refight all of world war two at company level? Only wierdo's and commies. Eurogamers. Zombies. The Skrull.
But is a July 1939 scenario part of WW2? Some people say the war really started in 1937 in China, or even Spain in 1936 or Manchuria in 1931. Some stupid people. Clearly it wasn't a world war until the French and British Empires came in- because at that point a large chunk of every continent is involved. Plus a lot of ocean. Everything before was just provincial squabbling.
But...September is too long to wait. And if we didn't do Russian/Japanese combat now, it's August 1945 before you see them again.
May-June saw some small scale border clashes between both powers proxy armies (Mongolian and Manchuko). In endless steppe desert/grasslands and before sat navs it's easy to see how that could happen. Neither party agreed where the border was anyway.
Both sides then brought in reinforcements, the Soviets under some obscure nobody called Zhukov. In early July the Japanese attacked with a reinforced infantry division and two 'regiments' (battalion sized really) of armour in the Yasouka detachment. There were quite a lot more Russians - as usually seems to be the case...
Yasuoka's Tank Experience (FrF25) is from the Friendly Fire 4 pack. Three desert boards, but sensibly hammada is brush by SSR cutting down on those immobilisation rolls.
The Russians defend one sand dune with 6 squads, a 45mm anti-tank gun and a MMG. A second has 4 squads and 2 LMG's. The Japanese have to clear the first dune of unbroken non-crew MMC in 4.5 turns. They attack from the camera's point of view with 7 squads and 6 Ha-Go tanks on Turn1. Then another 4 squads from the north (right) on turn 2. The Russians then get five tanks (four with 45L guns) from the west. Finally on turn 3 another four Japanese tanks come in. As well as taking the dune, the Japanese have to end the game with more mobile AFV's with working guns.
This is the starting Russian position;
One thing about doing a scenario every month, you get out of your comfort zone. It's been a long time since I played desert so ChapterF got 'dusted' off (I'll get my coat). That 45mm A-T gun with ROF3 and a TK10 is a veritable death ray against my tin cans.
Looking at the map, and the turn limit, I don't see much room for subtlety. There's a lot of open ground for my infantry to cross, and I don't have either numbers or support weapons to supress the Russians. Vehicle dust is going to be the only cover. Ideally by Turn2 my tanks will be able to start overunning or freezing units, while my infantry banzai the gun. A decent rate tear and I could be in a world of hurt though...I expect to lose 2-3 tanks going in, and need the remainder to help fight the infantry forward rather than get in a tank duel. My Turn3 tanks will have to take out the Russian BT's and BA-6's.
We start...and the first DR makes a mild breeze from the South East. That will turn out to be wind from the wings of a big fecking chaos butterfly...but initially it just causes a rules headache. Does the vehicle dust - otherwise treated as dispersed smoke - spread in the AFire phase? We played it did but then it goes as soon as the tank moves so has limited affect.
My initial tank charge goes okay. When the 45mm gun is revealed, I dance between covered arcs so he has to pay +3. When he gets acquisition, the rest of the platoon goes in front so the acquired tank is covered by the vehicle dust. I am smooth baby.
One tank is immobilised but the crew stays in because they really are that cool. The rest reach the Russians, including one in the guns hex, but without the MP's to overun. The bad news is, I'm not able to banzai on Turn2 as I'm just outside of the maximum 8 hex range. Damien has foregon the -2 shots to do this but as I only have 5 turns it's a big deal. Here's the situation at the end of Japanese Turn2. So far noone has died but that's about to change.
Russian 2 prep - the 45L burns the Ha-Go in his hex, which is the desired result. I'm actually happy as the mild breeze will spread the smoke. At the back a Russian squad and Commissar dig a foxhole. Very sensible as it changes any overun attacks from 6-1 to 6+1 (+4 TEM for a foxhole but halved in sand to +2 and still gets the -1 mod for open ground). Should have done some more given the russian special mole-like powers.
Damien then does some of the worst armour play I've ever seen and frankly I've seen quite a lot (contributed a fair amount myself). He splits his armour on both sides of the hillock where they can't support each other. Then despite the fact my mediums come on from the north edge next turn, points his turrets in the opposite dirtection and fires at my HA-Go's. Being a gentleman I totally fail to inform him of how inept these tactics are. One of my Type 89's goes on a ROF1 tear bags two BT tanks and shocks the other, killing it the following turn. Of the BA armoured cars, one is recalled with a disabled MA and the other gets whacked. All the Russian AFV's gone for no Japanese losses.
While that's one of the VC conditions sorted, ASL is of course an infantry game. The sand at 2MF plus 1MF for the dune crest means even with a banzai I can't get to the gun by the end of Japanese Turn3.
My Ha-Go's are super busy overunning the Russians but without huge effect. I start to break a few guys slowly, but only get to kill one plus a leader for failure to rout. On the other hand he misses all his close combat reaction fire and his MG's fluff all the underbelly shots when I come over dune crests. I thought this was a pretty nifty idea on his part but on reflection think its a mistake. The armour on the Ha-Go's is so bad, the aerial armour factor is not much worse, but going for an underbelly hit reduces your chances of hitting significantly. Factor in the one man turrets, so stun = recall and best to take normal shots.
My northern pincer loses a squad and a half coming in, but the lead half squad reaches two Russian squads and all die. Some other hand to hand kills the gun crew, and a squad and a commissar for a half squad. I'm up on the exchange but on the last Russian turn, there's a stack of three Russsian squads on wadi crest status waiting to advance onto the dune. Pretty much everything else is accounted for. I try and overun them for a 6-1 and 4-1 but only temporarily pin them.
On the last Russian turn, they advance onto the dune, right into two hexes of smoke from my burning tank, due to that *&^% mild breeze. In my final turn the smoke protects them from my fire and I can't break them. It comes down to close combat in two hexes. 3 Japanese squads vs 1 Russian squad and 3 Japanese vs 2 Russian in the other. I need to roll an 8 or less, and a 10 or less to win (a 60% chance).
I fluff the roll. Damn...snatching defeat from the jaws of victory much to the surprise of Damien who said he felt like he'd lost. ROAR has this 14-7 in the Russians favour which takes a little bit of the sting out of losing...but only a bit. I reckon the Japanese could do with another turn to even it up but it was good fun nonetheless. There's an interesting tank battle potentially and visually quite appealing. I suspect there's limited replay value though.
Damiens overall strategy to hang back and run the clock down was pretty effective really. My big error was not stopping a tank or maybe two in the 3 squad Russian stack at the end. My instinct was to keep them in motion for the +2 in close combat, vastly increasing their chances of surviving. My instinct was wrong. Firstly there was nothing in the VC's about losing tanks, and you should be much more sanguine about doing so with only one player turn left. Secondly even stopped the 3 squads needed 3's or 4's to kill (rather than immobilise) to avoid being tied up in melee. That gave me a better than 50% chance of winning the game right there. So increasing my overall chances from 60 to 80%ish. Dumb.
More evidence -if any was needed - that in ASL you should always play to the end and never give up, and if it comes down to last turn close combat, it's a crapshoot.
Ah well...next up for August 1939 is Mount Akayama from Tactiques - Infantry only but also desert and a Japanese Night attack. It's a long war yet...
- [+] Dice rolls
- Gabriel Gonzalez Pavón(Rauxa)Spain
80th Anniversary Games - July 1939 - Yasuoka's Tank ExperienceExcellent AAR indeed, tense game. Well played by both. Thank you very much and congratulations!
- [+] Dice rolls