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Subject: Shanghai in Flames AAR rss

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October 27, 1937



There was fire everywhere. I had eliminated many Japanese squads but they were here, with a toehold in the warehouse and it was only turn four. In building B3, a lone half-squad accompanied by a Chinese Hero held a Japanese leader and two squads at bay, fighting amidst the ever-rising flames. I had lost nearly 40% of my fighting force and the Japanese had three more turns to go. As the Japanese mustered in the rowhouse across the street, preparing to make their final push, the Chinese heavy machine gun crew waited in the woods, eager to hurl lead through the street. This was the penultimate moment, where my hopes of slowing the Japanese down long enough to survive would be realised or dashed. This was Shanghai in Flames.

The scenario had begun auspiciously enough. My original setup as the Chinese had denied any LOS to the Japanese—the only units he could see were a concealed stack at K1, surrounded by Blaze, and a squad toting an LMG pointing its guns down the street, through the busted-out windows of the building in I3. The Japanese were situated on the western half of the board, north of the street on board 1. Chris, my opponent, had opted to deploy all his strength against my left flank. I had worried about this, because I'd covered the entire front, spreading out my forces: I would have to rush the units from the right over to the left, and I'd given my heavier support weapons to those troops on the right and center. Yet on the other hand, it meant the Japanese would have to cross some open ground to get to the first line of buildings (C1-E1-G1), opening themselves up to fire.

Turn one. The Japanese advance to the tree line on the extreme flank but also make a push against F1. I lay down some devastating fire, both from the light machine guns in the large central building but also from defending squads on the ground, who opt to drop concealment. The Japanese respond in turn. Their best leader, a 10-1, directs two MG crews to fire. They fill the stone building with pockmarks but the Chinese do not flinch. Instead, a sniper catches sight of the glint of sun from the Japanese leader's sword and slays him with a single bullet, leaving him dead in the street.

Chris' shoulders sagged at that one. Best leader gone, three left. Turn One was not good for the Japanese. On my side, I mostly skulked around and began moving my right flank troops over, under cover of buildings in order to preserve concealment. Sgt. Wan, commander of my left wing, directed a squad to kindle C3 and fall back, while the front line held in place.

Turn two. Chris bumps a few of my concealed squads on the front line then BANZAI!!!!! At the end of the turn, he's killed three squads, captured a light machine gun, and mostly cleared the buildings, except I've still got a concealed squad in C1. He eventually blasts away at it and takes them prisoner. I think he made a mistake here—he didn't No Quarter them, but the scenario is all about taking a building, no CVP to be gained here.

For my part, I keep skulking, moving reinforcements over to the warehouse, and Sgt. Wan kindles B3, falling back to B4 but leaving a concealed half squad behind to slow the Japanese down.

Turn three another Banzai charge after bumping the half squad. This charge is potent. The Japanese swarm past my meager forces, up into the large central building, through the streets and into the rowhouse, then even across the street and into the factory. A few squads were bumped back and slaughtered by gunfire when they ran into the Chinese fortifications, but they had a toehold. They also dragged the prisoners forward with a gleam in their eyes. “You can watch as your comrades burn to death in the Four-Bank Warehouse,” they said as they pushed them to their knees in a small crop of woods just in sight of the warehouse. (hex A4). The Japanese fired on Sgt. Wan's position, testing the morale of his soldiers. But one of them, Shen by name, stood forth and called on each man to be brave and not shirk from the fight. And with that he plunged himself into the raging melee in the next building. Sgt. Wan silently wished him luck and led his squad against the Japanese guards in the woods. “We must free our brethren!” he insisted, despite the fact that he would be abandoning an excellent firing position. The guards were overwhelmed and the prisoners took their weapons, rearming themselves for the fight.

After this point, more and more Japanese flooded into the building. They could not mount an effective banzai, however, since another leader had been killed and the third was locked in melee. Instead the Japanese approached with care, assault moving across the street. The Chinese HMG laid down a firelane, and Sgt. Wan was able to conduct some fire. But inexorably the Japanese ground forward, encircling the fortified position in C6 and killing the Chinese just as they surrendered.

I experienced an extremely tense moment in all of this. Chris had units in D6 during his Advance phase. It was then that I looked at my card on which I'd written the three fortified locations. One of them was D7! It was unoccupied! I had forgotten and thought that I had fortified D8! I sweated for several long seconds as he deliberated on whether to advance to D7 or C7. He finally settled on C7 in order to encircle the one fort.

Things were getting bad. The newly-rearmed conscripts had advanced into the Melee, but flames of Shanghai would not abate. In turn five, they exploded into a roaring Blaze, and everyone—my half squad, my Hero, my rearmed conscripts, and the surviving Japanese and leader—were killed. I'd lost a key position. My HMG had malfed and then broken. It was time to counterattack, to beat the flaming hordes back. But I had to be careful. I couldn't risk committing everything, getting slaughtered, leaving nothing behind to defend.

During this entire time I had reserved a dare-death squad in the recesses of the warehouse. It was now, in turn six, that I unleashed them. They charged forward, with their leader, into C7. Half of them were killed by withering gunfire, but it was enough. I declined to declare Hand-to-Hand in the hopes of tying the Japanese up in a Melee. My scheme worked. I also advanced two squads from my other fort into D6, catching the Japanese there in Melee as well, while reinforcing the fort with a tired squad who'd run the length of six American football fields in ten minutes in order to stop the Japanese advance.

The next turn the Japanese reinforced the melees. The last surviving Japanese leader stepped into the street with his men, picking out a path through the maze of dead clogging the warehouse's frontage. And here Sgt. Wan directed his men to open fire at the foolhardy Japanese. The squad dropped and huddled low, finding cover amidst the bodies. But Sgt. Hana was unafraid—and moreover, angry. How dare these Chinese resist him! He could see them fighting hard within the building, how they stubbornly refused to yield. Drawing his sword he berated his men for cowardice, urging them on, inciting himself into a frenzy.

But his men had seen enough; they could bear no more. And so Sgt Hana charged alone and berzerk into the Melee.

And so the scenario ended with two melees in progress, the Chinese still in control of the warehouse.

(For my setup/pre-game analysis, go here.)
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Dan Owsen
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Redmond
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Nice AAR. This one has been on my to play list for a long time, and it sounds like a good one!
 
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Lee Massey
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Teachey
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That's one of the best AAR's I've ever read! I like the human touch that you add to the cardboard units! Well done! Do some more AAR's!
 
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Jason Johns
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As usual, GREAT AAR. thumbsupthumbsup I have one question.

Rindu wrote:

Things were getting bad. The newly-rearmed conscripts had advanced into the Melee, but flames of Shanghai would not abate. In turn five, they exploded into a roaring Blaze, and everyone—my half squad, my Hero, my rearmed conscripts, and the surviving Japanese and leader—were killed.


Why did these guys die? I thought you had one round (ie. ADV or RT Phase) to get out of a blaze. Is that not correct? Thanks again.
 
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United States
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iamspamus wrote:


Why did these guys die? I thought you had one round (ie. ADV or RT Phase) to get out of a blaze. Is that not correct? Thanks again.


If you are in melee, you just die. Vide 25.4, fourth sentence.
 
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Jason Johns
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Doh! Missed that they were in melee...whistle
 
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