Bill was round last night, but Tony couldn't make it. What else was there to then do but turn to the ever-fresh Up Front? We decided to play a random 'Patrol' scenario, which set my Japanese against Bill's Russians, a choice which immediately perked our interest: one of our most memorable games ever featured this match-up. That day, the game opened with 5 Movement cards played in as many turns, leaving the 2 assault groups immediately at RR5 while the rest of their squads looked on in wonderment. I lost that one because I was afraid to Banzai at RR3 to a full-strength Russian firebase, so that the Russians won the battle of infiltration and close combat; but oh, how we laughed!
I immediately surprised Bill with my Japanese set-up: the 2 wimps at A; Togo with the ML3 rifles at B; and Okimoto with everyone else at C- a variant I have developed from Martin, an acknowledged master of the Japanese. This moment of surprise was the last advantage I enjoyed in our 2 games, both of which followed the same painful pattern against Bill's classic 4-group Russian set-up, a deployment which will be familiar to any reader who's read the original Up Front strategy articles published in the old AH General.
So what happened? My group B was eliminated /reduced, then the game was won when Bill finished-off/picked-off my group C. I made absolutely no headway whatsoever in either game. Game 1 was noteworthy for my drawing a single Rally 1 through the whole of deck 1 (I had men pinned for most of the deck in both Togo's and Okimoto's groups). I think I increased that to about 6 points of rally in deck 2. As if that wasn't bad enough, in game 2, Okimoto and Yoruba (MG)- all that then remained of that original 5-man group- got caught in a stream at RR3 to the 16FP of the Russian firebase. Amazingly, they survived hails of fire (I was getting the Rally cards this time). Unfortunately I managed to fail 13 (yes, 13!) attempts to ford the stream, so that when Okimoto (Yoruba long gone) finally managed to get the Ford card, he was immediately cut down in a hail of fire. I conceded, which is rare indeed.
Bill insisted I blog those games, because he reckons that that run of failed ford attempts stands as a record. He conceded too that I had enjoyed appalling luck more generally in both games. This is important not so much as a consolation- especially since I know I played the Japanese hand badly at crucial periods; rather it means that Bill can still see that the variant deployment he faced last night is not invalid simply because it fared so poorly in those 2 games. You can be sure then that we'll be seeing this approach to the Japanese again in the future.
Oh, and while on the topic of runs of bad luck of epic proportions, it has to be noted that Bill's own last play of the Japanese included a classic Yoruba performance unmatched in memory. (For the uninitiated: PFC Yoruba ports the unreliable Japanese MG; so a 'classic Yoruba' is when you open fire with your firebase, the MG malfunctions, and then junks on your first repair attempt- so commonplace is this, some players prefer to assume it as part of their strategy!) Then, as last night: oh, how we laughed! ;)