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Subject: Island and Calendar Hopping in the Sweltering Pacific rss

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Mark Buetow
United States
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Combat Commander Archivist
Move! Advance! Fire! Rout! Recover! Artillery Denied! Artillery Request! Command Confusion...say what?!
Got to my regular gaming group today, a good friend, Marc, and his son, Risdon. We played four games, each of them playing two against me. I had already played against Risdon this week. We decided to make our games into a play through series of all the scenarios. Against Marc, I'm the Japanese. Against Risdon, I'm the Allies. Off we went!

Scenario A against Marc, Mindanao 1945 - Won
I put my bunker in Obj 5. I put a forward unit with an LMG in at the end of the trail along my right (through the bush). That's the way the Americans came. It was a slow slog for them. The eventually took that first foxhole but I was able to keep them moving slowly with the battalion gun and mortar fire.

On my left, the Phlippino guerrillas began appear. One managed to dash over to control my leftmost object near my board edge. But Bam! I used an infiltrate order to bring in another team with another Battalion gun. It began to pound the guerrillas. It was at this point that tons of fire traded between forces brought us to sudden death at 7. Marc passed the Initiative Card and rolled again, getting a six and ending the game!

This scenario is really tough for the Americans. I'd like to hear how others have succeeded with the Yanks on this one!

Scenario B against Risdon, Burma 1944 - Lost
Here is a long trail that passes through a collection of huts with a road snaking though crosswise. My Commonwealth forces set up bases on hidden placement of Objective markers. Being somewhat in a fog from my previous evening's Christmas party (and that was WITHOUT alcohol!) I really didn't pay close attention to my setup. So, instead of getting my units near the end of the trail, they were scattered all over. The Japanese are required to set up all along the trail.

The main result of this battle was that Risdon got lots of units off the board via the trail and had a couple of other leaders who came in. There were battles all over but my units were slowly overwhelmed. Supposedly there were worn out Japanese troops who were ambushed by the Commonwealth. It may as well have been the other way around!

My units near the end of the trail were picked off slowly. Finally I had pretty much nothing but my collection of green teams with my "2" leader. They advanced and then tried to head toward the trail end to cut off more troops. But those Japs were sooooo strong in melee that I was finally beaten down into surrender. The embarrassing thing was that it took 16 of my guys to get killed to surrender. The Japanese had only four units dead! I thought this scenario was pretty weighted toward the Japanese with their awesome melee skills. Until I switched sides...

Scenario B against Marc, Burma 1944 - Lost
Marc set up his CW soldiers (they're strong and dangerous Gurkhas!) near his edge of the map in order to cut the head off the snake, as it were. I managed to get some units off the trail and map quickly but that was the end of that plan! I had one successful melee after which He advanced several squads onto me and took care of those guys.

I tried to bring some other guys up the trail but by then his green teams had been rallied and were on the move along the road into the collection of huts. He had a "1" leader and three Green Teams. Here is where this scenario turned absolutely insane. He marched those four units into the huts and down the trail, over the course of most of the game, and thereby eliminating six hexes of my troops in melee! IN MELEE! Did I mention his GREEN TEAMS killed my JAPANESES SQUADS in MELEE!? Incredible. I brought in a Team with a Battalion gun but it was eventually overrun.

Near the end of the game, I was down to three squads, two of which were broken by fire and then killed in melee by that same group of GREEN TEAMS. That left me with one SNLF squad which was down in the corder. He scooted around, trying to avoid several hexes full of determined Indians. Finally, in the very last corner hex on my right, they were surrounded. They were fired at and broken. Revived. Fired at and broken. Revived. Fired at and broken and revived a third time. But then Marc got his Advance card and killed my last unit with a 30 to 12 melee!

So I have concluded, like most Combat Commander scenarios I have played, it is not biased toward one side or the other. It's biased toward me!

Scenario C against Risdon, Guadalcanal 1942 - Lost
This is the Ilu river. The Japanese have a Banzai posture! A tiny batch of Marines are defending, until the Japs hit the river and they get some reinforcements.

It seemed to be starting so well. I was able to pick off a few units using my MMG and Pack Howtizer. But there were so many Japanese that I couldn't seem to get a good fire lane. And clumps of swamp on the American side of the river block LOS.

Then it finally came: the Charge Order. HOLY MACKEREL! What a rush...of Japanese soldiers! In the Charge Order (only playable during Banzai posture), all units not activated that turn are activated, all suppressed Japanese units are unsuppressed, and all broken units rally. Plus, in Banzai posture, eliminated units go to the time track to come back on the board. The Allies get all of their units (not yet activated) to Op Fire. Boy, talk about a fast way to burn cards. It was because of the Charger Orders that the time track advanced so quickly.

While the free Op Fire is nice, I just didn't have the units to do much difference. I got two HMGs on the board, neither of which was ever able to fire. He brought in an HMG (reinforcements) which were able to blast away at me from across the map. Then, a stack of a leader and two Jap squads finally got in close and personal and was tearing up my Marines in melee.

I had thought I was doing well during the charge orders to be eliminating some units. But then when the Japs were able to start exiting units off my lower right edge, it was pretty much over. The VPs went shooting to the Japanese side and when Sudden Death hit, that was it (though the IC had to be passed a couple of times).

That, dear reader, is what is called an overrun!

Post Game Thoughts
I don't claim to be a good player. I learn lessons but slowly. But I don't think I've ever played a game of Combat Commander that I didn't enjoy, even if I lost. The storylines are just so great.

That Banzai posture with a charge order is pure craziness. It just keeps going and going. It think one Charge Order took, like, 10 minutes to complete, what with all the Op Fire. And, since they're just going on the time track, the whole "human wave" bit is quite frightening. Of all the games we played, the Guadalcanal with the Banzai charges was quite a visceral and draining experience.

I know that the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations) was a very different beast than the fighting in Europe. From what little I have read and learned, CCacific does a masterful job capturing the unique aspects and the horribly violent and vicious nature of the fighting during our island hopping Pacific war.

I am not surprised that CCacific is as good as it is. After all, CC:E & M are great games. But I am very pleased that CC is so good and yet such a different animal that there is really a feeling of something new and exciting in playing it It's also my first PTO game.
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