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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Banzai!

A busy week left me unable to finish clipping the Commonwealth counters in my new Combat Commander: Pacific set, so that Badger and I temporarily bypassed scenario B, moving on to Scenario C, Ichiki Attacks, which features a Japanese banzai attack at Alligator Creek on Guadalcanal in 1942.

Before the batrep, I must note that the sitrep below is a geekish landmark for RD/KA!. Alert readers might already've noticed that the compass points N to the right of the map, instead of to the top, as is conventional (and has been habitual in my CC map-making here at RD/KA!). Why is this? Because, based on real locations as they are, the boundaries of CC maps are chosen according to the dispositions of forces in the firefights that are the templates for the scenario which accompanies each new map. On top of this, I choose to design my sitrep maps so that the opposing sides are at the top and bottom.

The implication of this - namely that N and the top of the maps in my graphics couldn't be assumed to be identical - have quietly been nagging away at me for months now. So I used google to check out the location representd by CC:P's map C, with the result that N is to the right on this map, not to the more familiar top.

As I was saying, Scenario C, Ichiki Attacks features the Japanese attack on the Henderson field perimeter at Guadalcanal which has gone down in history as the Battle of the Tenaru. As befits the history the Japanese in this scenario are in Banzai Posture.

Probably the single best known feature of war in the PTO, the legendary Japanese banzai attacks are certainly that feature the treatment of which will most give the Japanese their flavour in any WW2 tacsim. I had long since stopped playing ASL when the Japanese were released under that system, so I don't know how the banzai was represented, though I did see Russian human waves in action.

Up Front is the game with whose banzai rules I am most familiar. In Up Front banzai was a true desperation tactic, since the chances really were that your banzai chargers would all get mown down by MG fire before they could reach the enemy. I can only remember winning with a banzai charge once: my firebase caught without fire cards at RR5 to a British group with several SMG's, what else could I do to save the game but banzai?

Banzai is a posture in CC:P, giving the Japanese a startling 3-card hand. Startling? Yes, because banzai is about as aggressive as it gets, and yet as a posture it enjoys a poorer hand capacity than does defence. Still, there is the special Charge Order, which essentially allows an entire Japanese force to rally and move. The price for that is that the Allied player gets to OpFire for free. Oh yes, and did I forget to mention that already immune to surrender, under banzai posture all Japanese units KIA are placed on the time track and not the casualty track, so that they just keep coming.

Random selection gave me the Japanese. With Badger's marines lurking in the palms to the north, I broke my men down into 3 groups, determined by their unit quality:
  • The SNLF and Lt. Dainichi looking to make an end run for exit VP on my left.
  • The A Division and Lt. Atsuda going up the centre, where they'd be screened by the swamps on the riverbanks, and through which they'd make faster headway because of that extra MP.
  • The B Division and the 2 sergeants going up the beach on the left.
My strategy was simple: charge for close combat (what else are you going to do with a banzai attack?!).

Badger and I hadn't set out intending to record this game in any detail, but at the 1st time trigger we looked at the map and agreed that it was interesting enough to be worth recording. The same happened at the time 3 and time 6 triggers, hence the plethora of maps this time.

The map for the time 1 Trigger shows the position after a full deck of action, and with Badger standing at 13VP. With the help of a few Charge Orders I'd got most of my units into or across the river. One had even exited and had just re-entered as reinforcements (3 of my reinforcements had been KIA running up the beach). On top of all that I'd broken into the US positions on their southern flank. So you can imagine I was feeling quite confident about my chances already.

It was at this point that I made my #1 strategic blunder in this game. Caught up in the thrill of the banzai, I neglected to secure the objectives I'd captured in the centre rear of the US positions, choosing instead to use my movement to go for more exit VP. Worth a total of 9VP (and hence an 18VP shift) these were to prove crucial.

I was already paying for this blunder by the time 3 Time Trigger, when Badger was standing at 19VP despite my having exited most of those 13VP's worth of units just entering as reinforcements in the jungle on the eastern map edge. I was also having trouble getting into close combat. At this point I'd finally managed to get another Advance Order, which I'd used to close down the marine perimeter from the north (I didn't have any leaders in position for multiple activations, and I didn't fancy my chances against Sgt. Scott's stack with a single squad).

Sgt. Scott wasn't long for this world though. I finally put paid to his hash in the middle of time 5, with 2 B Division squads and 2 Ambushes. This left Badger on 13VP, but a mere 3 KIA's from surrender! Time period 5 was eventful elsewhere. I scrounged the the pack howitzer, but was never able to get it into action. Meanwhile, Badger had generated Hoss, the US hero, who promptly humped the HMG across to an objective I'd managed to reoccupy (leaders can't carry weapons with a MP penalty, I know - we just made a mistake on the night). Most 'amusing' though was when I rolled snakeyes to break a moving Lt. Dainichi on a diceroll equal to his morale, simultaneously generating a Time Trigger on my penultimate card.

The Time Trigger at this point resolved, I finished my Move Order, then played a Charge. Badger exhausted his deck for another quick Time Trigger, and then I rolled another snake eyes to bring the game to a quick end. I lost by 16VP. Remember those damn objectives? Argh!



What a game! That last untimely Time Trigger wasn't the full extent of my poor fortune. My divebomber loitered uselessly above the battlefield for pretty much the entire game. Worse than that was the fact that Badger's dicerolling was some 1½ points above the mean, whereas mine was the same 1½ points below. Even so, I might've won had it not been for that early serious strategic blunder. Dang!

Score
Badger 1
Me
0
:-(
;)
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