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Subject: Pockets (August 1937, CG Mission #2) rss

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Dave Terhune
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Colorado Springs
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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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Since I did so well on the first mission, and the invasion of China was still in its infancy, I stayed on Offense. The next mission I rolled was Pockets (2), my favorite mission from the first campaign. The vs. Partisan dr was a Final 1, so I was facing Red Chinese again.

Setup

I wound up with board configuration B. From south to north I got board 7 (number to the west) and 38 (number to the east). PTO terrain was in effect, with Light Jungle, so there was no bridge across the river. As I was advancing along it rather than across it, I would be getting no rafts this time.

Weather was Clear, EC were Dry with No Wind at start. The river was Deep with a Moderate Current to the east. A large section of S? was on the marshy island in the middle of the river. Another large bunch was surrounding 38W4 at a radius of 2 hexes. There was a small bunch in the kunai around 38C3.

Due to the victory conditions, I was probably going to have to get in a firefight with whoever turned out to be in the marsh. Fortunately, they were in marsh, and I would have the advantage. Still, there were a lot of them, and it would take time to clear them out. Because there were a total of 30 S?, game length would be at least 10 turns.

I decided to try something different in my deployment, and paired Yamada with the .50-cal crew. With his IPC added to the crew's, the group had 5 MF with the weapon assembled. With his leadership modifier, I expected it to be a decent long-range support weapon.

The only question that remained was where to bring everyone on. At greater than six hexes, long-range activation is the only way to get shot at by Red Chinese. Since long-range activation requires a net IFT DRM of -2, I was safe as long as I stayed out of open ground.

I put Yamada and the .50-cal off 38GG7. They'd end the turn in EE7, and start blazing away next Defensive Fire Phase. I'd have to do some LOS checks to see whether I could keep concealment until I opened fire, but I wasn't particularly worried.

Shoji and Kasai I put next to the palm grove with everyone else except the mortars. They would move through the palm trees to the huts. I wanted to assault move them, but I didn't think I'd have time. I had to trust that my troops would hold up under whatever fire came their way.

The mortars I put in the open ground just south of the palm grove. They were to move quickly to the 7E1 jungle, and lay down a suppressive fire. I wondered briefly if I should attempt to use WP to set fire to the bamboo and smoke out the Chinese, but figured I'd burn that particular bridge when I got to it.

Turn 1

It turned out that the LOS from the Chinese positions to Yamada's movement path was blocked like I thought it was, and his group kept concealment despite not using Assault Movement. Everyone else lost concealment, although Kasai and Shoji were both close enough to fire, and Kasai eliminated a S? before everyone advanced.

With no activated Chinese, I skipped to the Defensive Fire Phase. Given the way bamboo makes explosions even more lethal, I decided to fire a few HE rounds from the mortars before making a decision on the WP.

The only effect they had was to activate the Chinese sniper, who step-reduced a squad. The resulting sniper check killed the sniper, reducing the Chinese SAN to 4. (Since the striped squad was unbroken, it contributed to the sniper check at full value. Snipers attacking Japanese targets are at serious risk of hurt.)

Shoji eliminated another S?, but neither Kasai nor Yamada did anything useful. So far, the S? that activated had turned out to be nothing due to rolls of 7 on table A1. If this kept up, I was going to have a hard time accumulating any Casualty VP.

Turn 2

The mortars dropped rounds on target, but not close enough to hurt anything. Shoji fired at the same location, exposing and breaking a half-squad, but then broke his LMG on the second shot after he kept ROF. (In retrospect, taking that second shot was stupid. The odds of accomplishing anything useful with a 2+1 attack are far less than the odds of breaking a weapon or activating the enemy sniper.)

Yamada and his .50-cal eliminated three S? and a squad with a great string of attacks that kept rate, although the Chinese sniper broke one of the mortar crews in return. I was up 2 CVP to 0 so far. Kasai eliminated another S?.

The leaderless platoon moved to within range of a S? and fired at it during the Advancing Fire Phase, revealing and pinning a squad.

The Chinese half squad that Shoji broke routed behind the bamboo to 38V2. I kept the mortar crew where it was, since it was already in rally bonus terrain.

Everyone else advanced closer. I wasn't worried about advancing across open ground, as there were more than enough hindrances between us to keep Chinese fire attacks at bay. The unbroken mortar crew actually managed to grow concealment, as no Chinese unit had LOS to it.

The Chinese squad fired ineffectively. Return fire broke it, and it routed away to 38T7.

Turn 3

My broken mortar crew stayed that way. I wasn't sure I needed it right away anyway. I had a few more S? to clear out before I could set the mortars up for firing on the eastern S? concentration to clear it before game end.

Prep fire revealed a half squad, which Yamada broke with the .50-cal. It was looking like I'd made the right decision in pairing them up.

Kasai moved toward the now-broken half squad and eliminated it with advancing fire. I was now up 3 CVP to 0.

The mortar advanced into the jungle close enough to activate a S? in bamboo, revealing a squad and a half. I debated briefly whether to advance Shoji adjacent to them or not, then finally decided that even if a couple of his squads failed MC, I'd still have enough firepower to get rid of the Chinese. If he'd been concealed, I wouldn't have even hesitated.

Kasai forced two activation attempts with his advance. One of them succeeded, revealing a squad with LMG in the jungle.

The Chinese sniper suddenly became active for no reason (ENEMY RE# 54), and he put the broken mortar squad back under DM right before I had a chance to try to rally them. They failed to rally because of the DM modifier. To add insult to injury, a Chinese half squad self-rallied.

The Chinese adjacent to Shoji threw a MOL at him as well as shooting, but the results were certainly not what they intended. One of Shoji's squads battle-hardened, the second went berserk, and the last was step-reduced. Those Chinese were in trouble. I was actually kind of hoping for a KIA result when I returned fire, so the berserk squad would go back to normal before it could charge.

The squad and half squad in the jungle attempted to dig foxholes. The squad succeeded, but the half squad did not.

Shoji and the mortar fired on the units in the bamboo. The squad failed the resulting MC by enough to split into two broken half squads, but the half squad was merely pinned. The broken half squads routed away.

The leaderless platoon fired at the remaining unactivated S? in an attempt to reveal it. A leader directing a squad with a light mortar was revealed. The squad battle-hardened and created a hero, and the Chinese sniper put my broken mortar crew back under DM again. On the bright side, the Chinese units with the mortar advanced into the jungle with the units who dug foxholes, so I could shoot them all simultaneously next turn.

Turn 4

The mortar broke the half squad adjacent to Shoji's berserkers, but in return the Chinese sniper broke my still broken mortar crew, and they routed off the board. At least it was a double-break, and I'd get to keep them. However, that gave the Chinese 2 VP, making the score 3 to 2, although still in my favor.

Shoji also fired at the now-broken half squad, eliminating it before the berserkers could charge. That gave me another VP, making the score 4 to 2. Unfortunately, a double-check of the berserker rules revealed that they'd have to charge the former unit's location, which would reveal the units on the other side of the bamboo.

Kasai fired on those units and broke all of them except for the hero. That meant that they'd all have to rout away after the berserkers moved adjacent, leaving the hero all alone.

The berserkers charged into the bamboo. The hero fired on them twice, but had no effect. As it was a Minimum Move, the berserkers would not be able to advance into the hero's location. Their advancing fire was as ineffective as the hero's. All of the broken units retreated back into the jungle, leaving the hero to face the berserkers alone. (As the hero was not a leader, he wasn't allowed to rout away with the broken units.)

One of my platoons took off to chase down the broken squad to the northeast, reduced it to a half squad with advancing fire, and it routed further back into the jungle. The VP tally was now 5 to 2 in my favor.

Shoji and the mortar crew automatically grew concealment, as no Chinese units had LOS to them.

The hero and the berserkers exchanged fire, but neither of them managed to faze the other. Kasai's platoon wounded the hero, however, and he collapsed.

The other platoon fired on the half squad they were chasing, and managed to kill it. The VP total was now 6 to 2 in my favor. No Chinese units were visible from the hero's location, so the berserk squad would return to normal next turn.

Turn 5

I received motorized infantry reinforcements in the form of 6x4-4-7 squads riding in Type 98 SHI-KE jeeps. Since the passenger capacity of a Type 98 was only 9 PP, they were split into 12 half squads. They had with them a 9-1 leader and an 8-0 leader. They were well lead, but had no support weapons. I was going to have to spend a lot of time recombining half squads into squads once they got to where I wanted them. After looking at the board for a while, I finally decided to throw them at the five S? in the kunai on the far eastern edge of the board. I intended to park them 4 hexes away and get into a firefight. To that end, I put the SHI-KEs just off 38GG4/5 so they could drive through open ground all the way to the runway.

Shoji repaired his LMG. The Chinese leader failed his self-rally roll, so all the Chinese units remained broken.

The mortar crew assault-moved adjacent to a broken Chinese unit, putting it back under DM. Shoji moved adjacent to the rest of the broken units, losing concealment due to the S? in 7O5. Yamada and Kasai moved to cut off their retreat path out of the swamp they were going to be forced to rout to. The berserkers finished their charge and lost berserk status.

Shoji fired in the Advancing Fire Phase and eliminated three half squads. That made the VP tally 9 to 2 in my favor.

One Chinese squad retreated adjacent to the former berserkers, and was eliminated for failure to rout; two more VP for me, and an LMG I could capture. The others were required to rout to 38P1, but low-crawled to 7O1 to avoid Interdiction. (They couldn't retreat to the swamp like I thought they could, because routing units are required to take the shortest path in MF, and swamp is never the shortest path when there's an alternative. Were they not Partisans, they would have surrendered to Shoji, but Partisans never surrender via the Rout Phase method.)

The Chinese leader somehow managed to rally himself despite being adjacent to Shoji, but he couldn't rally his squad. The former berserk squad captured the Chinese LMG.

With no unbroken Chinese units on the board except for the leader, I skipped straight to the Defensive Fire Phase. Shoji fired on the adjacent Chinese, broke the leader, and CRed the squad. That gave me 12 VP to the Chinese 2.

The broken Chinese again low-crawled to avoid Interdiction.

Turn 6

Shoji assault-moved adjacent to the broken Chinese, and forced a S? to attempt activation, which it failed. With him gone, Yamada could move all the way into the palm trees, giving him a decent position from which to start trying to clear the S? on the swampy island in the river.

Kasai followed behind, risking a -2 shot from a S? in an attempt to reach the 7R1 building in the advance phase. A squad revealed itself, and the resulting 1-2 shot killed Kasai and step-reduced everyone else. That left them without enough movement to continue, and they stopped short of their destination. The LLTC for losing Kasai also pinned the second line squad.

As that didn't break everyone, another S? got to attempt activation. It turned out to be a 1+3+5 pillbox with a squad and 7-0 leader. It rolled the exact same result on the IFT, which reduced them all to half squads, two of which became second line due to ELR failure, and even broke one of them. (I rolled an Original 12 on the MC, which CRed the squad before applying the ELR and break results. The others merely failed their MC and step-reduced to unbroken half squads.)

As they still weren't all eliminated or broken, one final S? got to activate. Fortunately, the single squad that resulted had less than 1 FP due to being in the swamp and trying to fire at long range, so it couldn't do anything.

The leader and three half squads eliminated gave the Chinese another 4 VP, making the score 12 to 6.

That totally hosed my attack, as now I didn't have a leader over there to recombine the half squads that survived into a useful fighting force. And I had no clue how to attack the stupid pillbox, as it was on the island and I couldn't get to it for close combat.

I was pretty sure I was going to lose this one now, as I didn't see any way to eliminate enough S? or Chinese to overcome the bonus VP for activated units and S? still on the board at game end. But I wasn't ready to give up just yet, so I kept moving forward instead of retreating.

Having done a bit of math earlier, I realized the reinforcements could actually make more distance on foot than in the vehicles, so I decided to start dismounting them.

Shoji broke his LMG in the Advancing Fire Phase, so the adjacent Chinese units were able to rout to the 7P2 building.

Turn 7

That pillbox was bothering me a lot. I came up with a plan for taking it out, though, which would also free Shoji to run and take over what was left of Kasai's men. Yamada was going to take over the building from the broken Chinese, followed by Shoji's squads with the LMGs. Shoji and the remaining squad would head for Kasai's men, who would be gathering in the jungle out of enemy LOS. All I had to do was survive any fire in the open ground, although I'd be using assault movement or advancing through it instead of the previous mad dash.

Unfortunately, Shoji's elite squad broke the LMG instead of fixing it, but I still intended for them to assist Yamada. They assault-moved and dropped a smoke grenade in the hex Yamada was intending to use. Yamada assault-moved into the smoke, and the rest of Shoji's men ran there as the smoke would prevent any Chinese units from firing until the Defensive Fire Phase, when they'd no longer count as moving.

The remnants of Kasai's platoon joined their broken fellows in the jungle. The reinforcements who didn't panic moved east. The empty transports turned around and headed back toward the FBE, so they could exit without being harmed.

Chinese defensive fire pinned the .50-cal crew. Advancing fire broke the Chinese squad. The broken Chinese units in the building routed to the jungle on the riverbank. If they didn't rally next player turn, they'd be eliminated for failure to rout, as they had nowhere to go.

Yamada advanced into the building, leaving the .50-cal behind. It would be able to catch up next turn, assuming the one Chinese unit that could see it didn't rally and break it.

The Chinese units in the jungle adjacent to Yamada didn't rally, so they'd be eliminated for failure to rout.

The squad in the pillbox fired on Shoji, but didn't affect him any. Yamada reduced and broke the squad outside the pillbox, giving me another CVP. The adjacent broken units were eliminated in the rout phase for another 3. I was now up 16 to 6.

Turn 8

No fire had any lasting effect this turn. Shoji and the units following Yamada made it to their destinations. All the reinforcements dismounted from their vehicles, and the ones already dismounted made good progress across the board. All of them who weren't already concealed managed to grow concealment.

The Chinese in the pillbox fired at Yamada, but all the rounds embedded themselves in the building rather than its occupants. When it came time for Yamada to return fire, I had to decide whether to spray fire the .50-cal at both the pillbox and the unit outside. I finally decided to fire at just the pillbox, and would fire at the other squad if the .50-cal kept rate.

As it turned out, the .50-cal did keep rate. The squad in the pillbox even split into half squads due to ELR failure. I decided to go ahead and fire at the unit outside as originally planned, just so as many units were DM as possible. It failed the resulting MC, which eliminated it. That gave me another VP, for a total of 17 to the Chinese 6.

Turn 9

Shoji managed to rally the half squad with the LMG. Next turn, he could recombine two of the half squads, but he was going to do it on the move.

Yamada fired into the pillbox again, eliminating both of the half squads. That brought my VP total up to 19. The Chinese were due another 28 from surviving S? and units, however, so I was still behind by far more than was comfortable.

Aside from a few units who panicked, the troops moved east and the empty transports moved west. The Advance Phase saw the mortar arrive at its destination, so it would begin firing next turn.

The wind increased to a Mild Breeze. A broken Chinese squad rallied itself. Shoji recombined two half squads.

The Chinese squad step-reduced one of Yamada's squads and pinned another. In retalion, the Japanese sniper finally woke up and broke a previously unrevealed squad. That put my sniper in a decent location to start hitting some of the S? I couldn't see, but that would require the Chinese to roll more snake-eyes, which would not exactly make me happy. Yamada's return fire broke the squad.

Meanwhile, the mortar opened fire on the kunai, revealing and breaking a half squad, which routed into the jungle.

Since there was room for it, the squad the sniper broke routed into the pillbox.

Turn 10

Since it was possible for the game to end after my player turn, I decided to try to maximize my points by shooting at squads or stacks worth 2 or more VP if they were available, or at S? if my other targets were worth only 1 VP.

Yamada started off poorly, only putting the units in the pillbox back under DM. The mortars did even worse, panicking and losing their acquisition.

Movement revealed a Chinese squad in marsh with a mortar, and advancing fire broke them. It also got the Chinese sniper to pin one of the reinforcement squads so they couldn't advance. The game continued.

None of the Chinese units rallied. With no unbroken Chinese units, I skipped straight to the Defensive Fire Phase.

The mortar eliminated a couple S? and broke a squad it revealed. Yamada only DMed the units in the pillbox again. Shoji and the other platoon managed to reduce the broken squad in the marsh and reveal a pair of squads on the island.

I now had 20 VP, but was still losing due to all the Chinese units and S? still on the board. The game didn't end, however, so I hadn't actually lost yet.

Turn 11

My prep fire was amazingly ineffective. I managed to pin one squad. Then, due to heat of battle, a half squad rallied, became fanatic, and created a hero.

Aside from small amounts of panic, the reinforcements made it to the eastern edge of the map, and would be able to start clearing that edge of S? and Chinese. Unfortunately, the game ended before I had time.

Conclusion

I'd scored a total of 20 CVP. The Chinese scored 6 CVP, got a bonus of 12 for the 6 S? remaining, and another 13 for activated units. The Chinese total was 31. I lost by a rather wide margin.

In retrospect, I'm not sure how much I could have done differently. That mad dash across the open ground, of course, was a bad idea, and I don't plan on ever doing that again. But otherwise, I just got nailed by bad luck on my attacks against the activated units and S? on the island in the river. Well over half of the Chinese VP were from what was sitting on the island: 19 in total.

If the river had been fordable, I'd have been tempted to cross it and take out those Chinese in hand to hand. As it was, I had to settle for a firefight, and the dice just weren't with me.

The loss dropped my CGVP total back down to zero. I was more or less starting over again next month.

Aftermath

The only permanent casualties were Kasai and the mortar that ended the game unpossessed. Three squads had been step-reduced and were ineligible for squad seasoning, although I rolled poorly enough it didn't matter.

Kasai's replacement was another 9-0, Fujita. With a dr of 6, the missing mortar was not replaced, so I had a spare crew for the remaining mortar.

I'd start the next game with 1x4-4-8, 3x4-4-7, 5x3-4-7, and the full suite of crews and leaders. Equipment-wise, I had 3xLMG, 1x.50-cal, and 1x50mm MTR.
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