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Subject: Recon (July 1937, CG Mission #1) rss

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Dave Terhune
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This is a blatant example of frivolous geek gold spending.
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I spent 100 geek gold and all I got was this lousy overtext.
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For my first Pacific campaign, I decided to go all-out and fight the entire war on the Asian mainland with a Japanese infantry company. This would be an incredibly long campaign, and I expected it to take several real-life years to complete. On the bright side, by the time it was finished I figured I'd be an expert with both the Japanese and the Pacific theater in general.

If I got the urge, I figured I wouldn't mind playing another campaign simultaneously as a change of pace. But I intended to try to play at least a few turns a week, no matter what.

After rolling for initial squad and leader quality, I ended up with 1x9-1 leader, 2x9-0 leader, 4x4-4-7, 5x3-4-7, 2-2-8, 2x1-2-7, 3xLMG, 1x.50-cal.

I counted myself lucky to start with the .50-cal and no conscripts, but I wasn't happy about the ratio between first and second-line squads. I intended to make them my first priority for squad seasoning, assuming I didn't end up with any conscripts due to ELR failure.

First mission, July '37: Recon

Knowing very little about this theater, and not wanting to play a game of World in Flames just to give me a strategic context, I figured I'd start on Offense, and let my performance dictate how long it stayed that way.

I rolled Airlanding (16). However, since Japanese paratroopers didn't exist prior to 1942, and they're not among the nationalities with gliders, I couldn't be given that mission by high command. Rerolling, I got Recon (3). The subsequent dr for Partisan ENEMY was 1, so I would be facing Partisans.

Because these Partisans were in China, that meant they'd be Red Chinese. I decided to make the following modifications to the Partisan ENEMY rules:

* All squads would automatically be 3-3-7, as the only squad type available to the Red Chinese
* Swap 8-1 and 8-0 leaders for Commissars, as allowed for Red Chinese
* Use tables C4 and C5 instead of P4 and P5

I also intended to use the same rules for any later missions vs. Chinese Partisans.

Setup

Initial boards were, from FBE to EBE: 6 (board number to the south) and 8 (board number to the north). A roll of 5 on A9a indicated no bridge across the river. No bridge meant that I would have enough rafts to transport my entire force across the river.

PTO terrain was in effect, with Dense Jungle. Weather was Clear, and EC were Wet with Heavy Winds to the southwest. The river was deep, with a heavy current to the south.

I rolled no VPO locations on board 8, so there were no S? at start. I took a look at the terrain, and decided I'd try to land my boats in the vicinity of 8M5 so as not to activate another mapboard until I was finished crossing the river. As there wasn't anything on board 8 to shoot at, I skipped the transport and scout vehicle rolls, since none of them would be able to cross the river.

Everyone went on or north of hexrow K as close to board 8 as possible. The leaders were evenly spread out among the front units, with the .50-cal near Yamada on the left and the mortars ready to follow behind Shoji on the right.

I read the river crossing rules to make sure I was going to do it correctly, and then I got ready for the first turn.

Turn 1

Several squads made it into the river, and the current pushed me downstream. Crossing in this current was going to be a bitch.

Turn 2

Since everybody already in the river was immune to CMD DR, I moved all of them first, alleviating the overstacking condition that had occurred due to the current. Everyone else made it to the river, and then they all drifted downstream again.

Turn 3

The wind dropped to a Mild Breeze. Three sets of rafts, including the .50-cal and Kasai, managed to Beach in the Advance Phase, but everyone else was still on the water and continued drifting.

Turn 4

Kasai and the other Beached units unloaded from the boats and abandoned them at the water's edge. Everyone else except the mortars got close enough to either Beach or unload in the Advance Phase, which they did. The mortars actually drifted in the correct direction, and I'd be able to unload them next turn. It looked like it was time to actually advance far enough to activate another mapboard.

Turn 5

I received a vehicular recon patrol as reinforcements, but since they were on the wrong side of the river and wouldn't do me any good, I left them off board.

The .50-cal crew assembled their weapon. Everyone moved away from the river, but stayed more than three hexes from the EBE. In the Advance Phase, I triggered the new board and rolled 19 (board number to the north). I rolled one VPO location, which turned out to be the stone house in K7. A single S? went in the building. The mortar crews assembled their weapons during the Chinese Defensive Fire Phase.

As it was the end of a turn divisible by 5, I had to roll to see if the enemy RE# increased, and it did.

Turn 6

I received an Airstrike consisting of one FB with bombs. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it yet, but I planned to milk that plane for all it was worth.

Shoji, accompanied by an entire platoon, ran over to the gap in the jungle at 19S10. I didn't think I'd need him to take care of the S? in the VPO location, so I figured I'd set him up to cross the wide-open expanse as soon as it was safe. Everyone else advanced forward behind the jungle to avoid activating the S?, except for the .50-cal crew, who panicked. In the Advance Phase, Yamada and Kasai advanced into the jungle, from where they could both see the building.

In the Chinese Defensive Fire Phase, I decided to see if I could expose whoever might be hiding in the building. Kasai went first, and only succeeded in breaking an LMG. Yamada did the same exact thing. The thought that I might need Shoji over here after all briefly crossed my mind. But since all of my units that were within four hexes of the target were in dense jungle and couldn't be seen by aircraft, I decided to try to hit the building with the FB. I failed the TC, but given the angle of attack I was completely safe, as the FB could see none of my units at all.

Turn 7

I received artillery support in the form of 70+mm with WP, IR, and normal ammunition. I gave the radio to Kasai, as I didn't feel like waiting for an FO to cross the river. Kasai's squad also managed to fix the LMG.

For the shooting, I again decided to start with Kasai, and had him direct the fire to prevent cowering rather than wait to see if the OBA would be useful. Neither Kasai's nor Yamada's fire had any effect. I was starting to think that I needed to force activation by movement if I was going to get anywhere.

Since there's no time like the present, I looked to see what conditions would activate the S?, and ran a 3-3-7 squad behind some palm trees at a range of 3 to force activation. A squad and a half took the bait, but the scout was prepared to be shot at and escaped unharmed. The .50-cal crew panicked for the second turn in a row. The scout and another squad returned the Chinese fire, but had no effect.

Chinese resistance stiffened, and the AC# increased by one. The VPO defenders fired at Kasai, but couldn't seem to shoot past the palm trees. Yamada and Kasai combined everyone with them into a huge fire group, but only managed to break the half squad. Since I could arrange for all of my troops to be either in blind hexes or dense jungle, I lined up the FB for an attack run, and made the TC this time. Because of the +3 TEM of the stone building, I decided to not use up the bombs. The two MG attacks managed to eliminate the broken half squad, but only pinned the squad.

Turn 8

Yamada's squad broke its LMG in a rather more permanent fashion. I went ahead and repeated the big fire group attack, and this time broke the squad. Shoji ran around behind the building to the back side, cutting off their retreat. The .50-cal crew panicked for the third straight turn. I was starting to not care if they ever moved. I wasn't sure I needed them right now anyway. The broken Chinese squad low-crawled out of the VPO building, and Shoji advanced into it behind them, capturing it. The hapless Communists were gunned down in the Chinese Defensive Fire Phase.

Turn 9

The .50-cal crew finally decided to start trying to catch up to everyone, although they weren't going anywhere fast with the weapon assembled. I was going to have to dm it again in the Chinese Defensive Fire Phase. I decided to leave the mortars assembled, however, as their crews only lost 1 MF instead of two. Everyone took off at a reasonable clip toward the EBE, but when I got to my Advance Phase, I had to stop and decide whether to activate another board. I decided to go ahead and do it, and rolled 32 (board number to the north).

Board 32 is a woods board, and PTO terrain was in effect, so that moved the first possible end of game turn off to 11. I wondered briefly whether that should change the even-numbered turns in the end of mission conditions to odd-numbered turns, then decided it probably should in order to meet the spirit of the rules rather than the letter. I rolled up two VPO locations: the pair of buildings C3-C4, and the path intersection W5. After the S4.13 woods dr, only three S? remained by the intersection. There were four over by the buildings. A couple of the unconcealed units grew back their concealment.

During the Chinese Defensive Fire Phase, the .50-cal crew dmed their weapon.

Turn 10

Everyone advanced toward enemy positions, Shoji toward the road intersection and everyone else toward the buildings in the northeast corner. All of my unconcealed units regrew their concealment.

Turn 11

Everyone continued their advance. Yamada and Kasai ended the turn in the 32E5 and F4 buildings, from where I intended to attack the VPO location. Shoji was very close to assaulting the road intersection as well, but he would have to make a movement DR to avoid straying from his interior dense jungle location.

An HMG position in the nearest VPO building opened fire. Fortunately, the very poor leader hindered the fire more than helped, and they shot the jungle behind the buildings instead of where my men actually were. I decided to return fire with the OBA that I hadn't even attempted to contact yet, but couldn't reach anyone at the battery. The troops had slightly better luck, and between them broke both the leader and the squad. Because all of my troops were in blind hexes relative to where the FB would start its attack run, I gave it a shot at eliminating the HMG position, but it failed its TC by one.

Turn 12

Kasai still couldn't raise anybody on the radio. His men managed to keep the Chinese HMG unnerved, at least. Yamada decided to recon the other VPO location with a bit of gunfire. He still wasn't sure if anyone was home, however. (I needed to roll an Original 6 or less to have any effect. I figured it was a decent enough chance and took it. However, I rolled a seven and barely missed.)

Shoji successfully passed his Movement DR without straying, and assault-moved adjacent to one of the intersection guard locations. It successfully activated, but turned out to be nothing. In the advance phase, he advanced adjacent to the intersection itself, activating a squad and another crappy leader.

The squad with the HMG rallied itself, and barely missed creating a leader. It managed to pin all the unconcealed troops in Kasai's location. Kasai still couldn't reach anyone on his radio, and his pinned troops couldn't even manage an effective counterattack. The FB still couldn't spot the Chinese HMG position. Yamada fired on the HMG position this time, killing the leader and breaking the squad again.

The squad on the path intersection didn't even strip Shoji's concealment. Shoji's return fire did, however; and with no gain, as the Chinese weren't even fazed.

Turn 13

Wind gusts occurred, but with nothing on the board for them to effect, they didn't do much. Shoji fired at the Chinese guarding the path intersection, but only managed to break his LMG. The third squad near him advanced in support, forcing the Chinese to fire on him instead of returning fire at Shoji. Neither First Fire nor Subsequent First Fire had any effect.

Kasai still couldn't reach anyone on the radio. His men, at least, reduced the broken squad manning the HMG to a half squad and put them back under DM. Yamada fired on the other VPO location again, and wasted a pair of snake eyes on what turned out to be an empty position.

The HMG crew panicked yet again; that was either the fourth or fifth time this game. It shouldn't be that hard for a crew with an 8 morale to make a CMD DR.

Shoji and his stealthy squad, plus the still concealed squad, advanced into CC with the Chinese on the path intersection, ambushed them, and cut them down to a man. Several of my squads regrew concealment at the end of the turn.

The last path intersection guard S? turned out to be a squad. Its fire was ineffective. Shoji returned fire, and the Chinese sniper pinned the stupid .50-cal crew.

Kasai finally got hold of somebody back at the artillery battery, but they were busy with somebody else's fire mission and told him to call back. (I finally get radio contact, and the first chit I draw has to be red. I guess I'm fated not to drop any artillery this game.) His men, having advanced adjacent to the broken HMG crew moments ago, poured enough lead into the building to make sure nobody was home any more. If the game continued, I was going to capture an HMG next turn.

The path guard squad advanced into Shoji's location and ambushed him. Nobody killed anybody, and it became a Melee.

Turn 14

The sniper apparently lit a fire under the .50-cal crew's asses, and they staved off panic long enough to assemble their weapon. Now that all the enemy units Kasai could see were gone, he let radio contact lapse so he could move. Since I was going to activate a new board in my Advance Phase anyway, I went ahead and moved the mortars to where they might be able to fire at something, which was close enough to activate the next board.

Since it was possible for a S? on the new board to see or have a shot at the mortars, I went ahead and rolled it up before I called my Movement Phase over. I got 33 (board number to the south) with no VPO locations and an enormous field of kunai that would have prevented anybody from being able to see my units anyway.

I made a huge firegroup in my Advancing Fire Phase for a 25 FP attack onto the squad in the bamboo, and got a K/4 result. The remaining half squad made its 4MC, but then the Japanese sniper pinned it. The HoB result turned it berserk, however, negating the pin result. The TPBF next turn when it charged me was going to be on the 36 column whether I picked up the Chinese HMG in the Rally Phase or not.

Yamada advanced into the other half of the building VPO, capturing it and revealing the last defender, a half squad in the other bamboo hex. The mortar teams advanced into the kunai where they could shoot at it, and the .50-cal crew finally reached a position from which it could shoot. Unfortunately, however, the only target it had was the berserk squad which was about to disappear.

Shoji eliminated the pesky squad in the Melee and gained uncontested control of the path intersection.

Partisan reinforcements arrived this turn: 11 S? from the EBE. I was a bit worried that I might get overrun, as they had the ability to get rather close before I could see them.

I did not get to pick up the HMG prior to the berserk charge, but I didn't really need to, as the 36 FP I could already muster was more than sufficient by itself to do the job. The berserker was eliminated.

The S? in Advance Attitude moved halfway across board 33, threatening to overrun Shoji. I was hoping that I could get him to a point where he would force all the S? to attempt activation, then retreat him into the jungle where they'd have to come to him. He had enough movement; he only had to survive the fire of all the S? that activated within range of him. The FB lined up a strafing run on a stack of two S?, and managed to break one of the two squads that were revealed. The broken squad retreated to the safety of a building.

Turn 15

I received infantry reinforcements consisting of 3x4-4-7 squads and a 9-1 leader, thanks to a decent leader exchange DR. I placed them next to 32Y10 so they could go back up Shoji. Two different squads had to try to recover the Chinese HMG in order for the attempt to be successful.

Everyone passed their CMD DR this time, and moved to forward defensive positions, although only Yamada and a platoon reached a location from which they could fire in the Advancing Fire Phase. Their 1-1 attack eliminated a S? moving through the kunai in the northeast corner.

Kasai and a platoon, including the captured Chinese HMG, advanced upstairs next to Yamada. Shoji advanced to where he could see three of the advancing S?, and the reinforcements moved into the jungle in the path of the others, hopefully to ambush them.

No additional Partisan reinforcements showed up this turn, so I only had to worry about the ones that were already threatening to overrun me. Shoji's squad finally broke its LMG for the rest of the mission. I was kind of hoping that large numbers of weapon malfunctions weren't going to be the norm. On a brighter note, the one Chinese squad on the board panicked.

All but the three S? on the far right flank had to attempt activation, and only the ones in front of Shoji did so. One such unit had a 50 mm mortar it was about to assemble and start shooting, so he kind of needed to take care of it.

Kasai pointed his captured HMG at the panicked squad, and it promptly jammed on him. No other defensive fire had any effect, either. The remaining S? advanced.

Turn 16

Shoji wasn't going to win a long-range gun duel with a mortar, so I needed to relocate him to some place a little safer. Back in the jungle seemed reasonable to me. If nothing else, he could become concealed again, which would help him ambush anyone that tried to follow.

The reinforcement squads put themselves in the path of the unrevealed S? that were advancing through the jungle.

Yamada and Kasai started moving their men through the Kunai toward the Chinese in the open, accompanied by the mortars. With 2:1 odds, I figured I could win a long-range mortar duel.

I wasn't sure what to do with the .50-cal, since there weren't any really good fire positions I could give it. I sent it toward the 32J3 jungle path entrance, since that would dump it out at Q2, from where I could reposition it to someplace with a reasonable field of fire. If I wanted it to move at a reasonable rate, I'd need to dm it again. I figured I'd wait until the Chinese turn to do it, though, so they'd get a few extra hexes of movement.

None of the Chinese units had LOS to any of mine, so I skipped straight to the Advance Phase. I debated briefly whether to advance adjacent to the stack of two S? and force them to attempt activation, but I decided it would be better to force them to do it during their movement phase. That way, I would have the option of getting the first shot or staying concealed in an attempt to ambush.

All of my unconcealed troops became concealed, as they were all still out of the LOS of any Chinese units and in concealment terrain.

The broken Chinese squad that had been lying low in the 33R6 building finally decided to rally itself. Since they had no target to shoot at, the squad with the mortar started digging foxholes.

All of the other Chinese units moved. Two of them double-timed toward the path intersection, while the half squad fell back toward the 33R6 building.

The S? advancing through the jungle turned out to be two squads with a leader. (This was the third 6+1 I generated this game, out of a total of four leaders. The best leader the Chinese had received so far was the 7-0 who was with the mortar squad.) Since they weren't using assault movement, I could get a 16+0 attack on them and decided to take it, assuming I could pass my CMD DR. I did, but just barely. If it hadn't been for the -1 DRM for being a Japanese leader, the 11 I rolled would have been a failure. The attack DR was much better; it broke one of the squads and pinned the other and the leader. I decided to leave the other squad concealed, which would give me more options next turn.

The last S? was up against the edge of the board, and the only unit I had that could force it to activate before hitting the jungle line was the FB. I lined the FB up for an attack run and promptly rolled boxcars for the sighting TC, which recalled it. Fortunately, I had the last of the reinforcement squads in position to see the S? when it hit the jungle line, and it turned out to be nothing after all.

The pinned Chinese units returned fire, but only succeeded in pinning one of the two squads. The broken unit routed away.

Turn 17

The reinforcements fired on the Chinese units again, but only pinned the leader. They panicked instead of returning fire. This meant they'd suffer a +2 drm when it came to checking for ambush after I advanced into CC.

Most of the rest of my units, except for the one reinforcement squad that panicked, advanced toward the nearest Chinese, using assault movement where necessary to keep concealment.

I advanced into CC and successfully ambushed the Chinese. With 2:1 odds and a total CC DRM of -4 (Ambush, vs. Panic, Japanese in HtH, Leadership), even boxcars would eliminate the Chinese with no chance of retaliation. They died quietly.

Everyone who participated in the CC automatically regrew their concealment, as there were now no Chinese units with LOS to any of them.

I was lucky none of my units were currently being held prisoner by any of the Chinese, as I rolled the random event that would have massacred them. One Chinese squad fired at Shoji's position, the squad with the mortar finally assembled it, and the others attempted to dig foxholes; one of them actually succeeded.

Shoji returned fire and broke the squad, which routed to the jungle, closer to the FBE but not closer to Shoji. Nobody else fired, as they didn't have any viable targets.

The game end dr was a 1 this time, and the game finally ended.

Conclusion

I knew even before I added up the VP that I'd won, because I controlled all the VPO and hadn't suffered any casualties other than malfunctioned weapons. Three non-initial mapboards gave me 6 VP to start with. The three VPO I controlled were worth 3, 3, and 3 for another 9 VP. With 15 VP to the Chinese 0, I won the game handily.

Japanese and jungle were a dangerous combination. All but one of the CC I was in were hand-to-hand affairs where I ambushed the poor Chinese and killed them outright. Only once did a melee develop, and even then I had 2:1 odds in my favor.

The stacking limit in dense jungle was a little bit of a hindrance, as I was never able to get better than 8 FP when attacking out of it. The defensive positions in the bamboo were a bit tough to crack, as I didn't want to advance into CC there, because advance vs. difficult terrain puts troops under CX, which is bad in CC.

Overall, though, I didn't seem to have any trouble adapting my tactics to the different conditions. It remained to be seen if I could perform as well when I had limited time in which to accomplish my objectives, but so far I was pleased with my performance.

Aftermath

I retained everything I started the game with. My CG VP total increased to +1. Kasai was up for promotion, but it didn't come through. I rolled for squad seasoning, and battle-hardened two of my second-line squads to first-line.
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Scott Smith
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Thanks for the AAR. Good luck with your campaign and I look forward to future AARs of your progress
 
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Dave Terhune
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This is a blatant example of frivolous geek gold spending.
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I spent 100 geek gold and all I got was this lousy overtext.
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I was actually thinking the same thing, but since I'm not that familiar with the terrain in China, I went ahead and let the random terrain DR dictate whether I fought in jungle or not.
 
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