J. R. Tracy
Round 4, 2010 New York State ASL Championships
BFP 34 Hundred Regiments Offensive
Gary Mei - Gary and I are arch-nemeses from way back, with many good matches together including some memorable HASL campaigns. We quickly settled on Hundred Regiments, with the dice giving me the Japanese.
This is a rare beast, with a qualitatively-inferior Japanese force on defense against a raging horde of Red Chinese. Ten second line squads and four crews have to hold onto buildings with the help of an HMG, a pair of MMGs, a couple LMGs and light mortars, and the little 37* SW infantry popgun. Leadership is decent with a 10-0, 9-1 and 8-0, and some foxholes are in the mix too. The ChiComs pour twenty-one squads onto the map, including seven 447s (elite by SSR), plus two MMGs, four LMGs, three DCs, and four light mortars. The Reds also enjoy four leaders, with a 10-0 commissar, a 9-2, an 8-1 and an 8-0 (Gary swapped out the 8-0 for a second commissar for additional motivation). The numbers square up a bit mid-game when six squads (3x447s, 3x347s) and two leaders (10-1 and 8-0) arrive as Japanese reinforcements, entering from either or both flanks.
Gary’s boys had to take thirteen buildings; with seventeen on the map, that meant I had to hold onto (thinking, calculating, subtracting, checking…) five buildings to win. PTO terrain was in effect, but no huts – all building depictions were considered wooden buildings. I decided to concentrate my defense on the northern end of the map, selecting 42J5, K5, I3, J3 and J1 for my ‘last stand’. J5 and K5 were on the wrong side of the road, but the swath of bamboo in K6-M5 and O5-P4 made for a difficult approach.
Nutting up in the north wasn’t enough, though – Gary had the numbers to simply overwhelm any single position. I figured I needed to buy some time with forward blocking positions and a little deception. I put most of my dummies in the south around 32G5-32D5, leavened by a single 347 in 32H5 (with LOS to J2 in case Gary opted for an aggressive flanking move). I was much stronger in the center, with the 10-0 leading an MMG/228 and a couple second liners and an LMG in and around 42B7, and 347s in 42E7, 42F8 and G8. A couple more dummies filled out this position. On the other side of the road I had an 8-0/LMG/347 in 42B4, looking down the road and ready to redeploy as necessary.
In the heart of the defense, my 9-1 directed the HMG and an MMG from 42J5, backed up by a 347 and 37*/228 in K5. A 347 sat in H5, and another occupied a foxhole in M3, sporting both light mortars to make life exciting for any Chinese strolling through N5. It felt a tad under-defended but I felt I could not skimp on the forward screens.
My general plan was to delay the Chinese onslaught, yielding the south readily but hoping to inflict some casualties and eat up a lot of time in the center. My reinforcements were substantial, more than enough to distract Gary and perhaps capable of grabbing back a building or two.
(click for larger image)
The early turns were wild – I rolled six snake-eyes in my first twenty DRs, but Gary surged forward, overwhelming my defenses in the 42B7 area and quickly controlling the south. My 9-1 and his MGs managed to K/ a DC-toting halfsquad, but soon Gary’s 9-2 was directing laser beams against my ‘last stand’ position, and the game wasn’t even halfway over!
It wasn’t the sheer numbers of Chinese that bothered me – this was the People’s Liberation Army, after all. It wasn’t the elite 447s. It wasn’t the Chinese stealth, though my own ninja warriors lacked it. It wasn’t the kinder, gentler Maoist commissars (“Oh, you don’t feel like rallying? Don’t fret, we’ll try again next player turn”). It wasn’t even the deployable Dare Death killing machines, though they did make my eye twitch a bit. No, I could deal with all of that. What sent me over the edge was the pair of fricking ex-IJA knee mortars in the Chinese OoB. My own weapons used against me, generating a pair of perfectly placed smoke rounds that paved the way for a couple candygrams delivered right to my doorstep – gah!
Turning point/key moment
Gary was pushing through 42D5/E6/F5, preparing to turn my flank along the M3 road. All that stood in his way was a 347 in F3, but it just would not die. Twice Gary advanced in for CC, and both times my 347 emerged unscathed, hip-deep in dead Reds. This squad single-handedly (hand-to-handedly?) restored the timeline after Gary’s blistering early pace.
Still in the balance on turn six
As we entered the final couple turns I still held 42F3, I3, J1, J3 and K5, but F3 was under extreme pressure and Gary had designs on K5 from J5 and M5. Of my reinforcements, I had a 10-1 and a couple squads threatening in the south (more to pull Chinese away from the endgame than anything else), two squads on the west side of the road reinforcing the J3 area, and the 9-0 and two first liners pushing through the 42L8 woods to possibly recapture J7 and H8.
Gary in turn had a reinforced platoon hung up on 42F3 while the 9-2 directed fire from H5. He had a crew manning my HMG in J5 and a concealed 337 lurking in the bamboo in M5. He still needed to take a building while holding off my counterattack.
As noted above, my F3 347 held its ground against everything Gary threw at it. Meanwhile, my clip-fed 37* cut down anyone attempting to cross the road, getting ROF repeatedly with the occasional critical hit for good measure. It also broke Gary’s crew in J5, just as my sniper broke the 337 in M5. Suddenly the tables were turning, and once my 9-0’s group recaptured J7, the Chinese were in dire straits. On his final turn, Gary got into close combat in F3 and J7, but failed to clear them when he needed both. In my half, I grabbed H5 back to seal the game.
• I now have the utmost respect for the ChiComs – holy cow! The nifty Partisan qualities (stealth, deployment) offset traditional Chinese weaknesses, plus you get all the groovy Chinese weaponry in support, and the Dare Death capability. They have a lot of toys and it was fun (and terrifying) to watch Gary get them all to work in conjunction (smoke a position, deliver a DC, throw in a Dare Death half squad to close the deal, rinse, repeat).
• I love that little 37* - high ROF and CH potential allowed it to control a slice of the battlefield when the IJA were thin on the ground.
The tone of this scenario shifted dramatically at the very end. We had a great, tight game for five turns, hammering each other as the Chinese took acres of ground but at great loss of life. I loved the tension even though I felt I was getting the worst of it. Our dice ran through hot and cold cycles, but in tandem – when I was hot, Gary was too, and when I went cold, he couldn’t buy a roll either. However, once the reinforcements showed up, it went south for Gary. I had a single fire phase where I couldn’t miss and Gary couldn’t pass a check. Combined with the Chinese CC fiasco in 42F3, the game swung from 60-40 Chinese to 70-30 IJA, and paradoxically, though I was now winning, the game became much less fun as it degenerated into Gary crossing dangerous ground while hoping I’d roll high. A pity, as we were having a grand time up to that point.
I think the situation favors the Japanese – the Chinese are unstoppable in the early going, but the victory conditions are formidable and the Japanese reinforcements are no joke. They show up in plenty of time to influence the outcome, facing a depleted Chinese force that is likely still a building or two short of a win. Therefore, I’d consider giving the CCP the balance next time I play, but I’d still be happy with either side. Overall, despite the anticlimax of the final turn, I had a lot of fun with a favorite opponent.
4-0, playing for the trophy in the next round
Nice session report. That was a fun scenario.