Having spent three weeks blundering around South East Asia I somehow managed to turn up at the venue for the Malaya Madmen tournament more or less on time to pit my cardboard warriors against the best opposition I could find (ie anyone else who turned up). The competition was held under tight security and heavy air conditioning at Swords & Stationery in Singapore which promotes education through gaming.
First scenario was J128 - Opium Hill which pitted a group of Japanese attackers backed by tanks against a group of first and second line British defenders backed by a single Marmon-Herrington armoured car. I was informed that I had been selected to face Jamie Westlake. I may have sworn rather violently at that point. Jamie has a history of stomping me into the earth at tournaments we both attend, this time would be no exception (oops, spoiler alert).
I liked the Japanese for this one and took the aggressors currently engaged in making the name "Protectorate of Malaya" a rather hollow joke. The Japanese win by garnering a combination of exit victory points and capturing certain buildings. It had been my intention to do a sweep down the left hand side of the board but Jamie set up with a very forward defence which seemed to make that distinctly risky so instead I brought the bulk of my forces (including the three tanks) on the right.
Things started badly when he killed one of my tanks with a lmg shot and I boxcarred two morale checks in the first turn. After that things went downhill. To add insult to injury Jamie rolled his armoured car up to the front and parked it directly in front of my two remaining tanks daring me to proceed. Well proceed I did, if only because I had little choice. Both my surviving tanks rolled past the Marmon-Herrington without loss and I even managed to kill the damn thing in close combat which gave me a little freedom of manoeuvre but as I rolled forward Jamie immobilised another tank with an atr shot.
By turn three it was all over, I had pushed past his initial defenders on the right and was challenging for the victory buildings but with two tanks out of the running and no hope of any exit VP even capturing all the buildings wouldn't be sufficient to give me a win. I conceded and slunk off in shame. 0-1
Having undergone remedial brainwashing to remove the memory of defeat from my mind I sat down opposite Joe Moro for the second scenario HF4 - Liehr Launches First. Again I was on the attack as a bunch of Germans who had failed to get the "the war is obviously lost" telegram launched an attack at Hatten at a time when they really should have been preparing their self exculpatory memoirs and pretending they hadn't heard about any atrocities on the Eastern Front.
Joe had ten US squads and a pair of immobilised M-10 tank destroyers to defend the lower rent portions of Hatten village. A pair of (fully mobile) M-18 Hellcats turn up a little later to bolster the defence. To attack I had thirteen squads, a mix of elite and first line and, to provide a little push to my war weary landsers, a pair of PzIVJs and two gleaming beautiful Panthers. Building control is the name of the game in this scenario (although I would also get a VP if I had more mobile, functioning AFV at game end; this I managed, just). I needed six VP, each relevant building was worth one.
A road bisected Joe's defensive position and as I looked at it there appeared to be the possibility of splitting his defence into two separate bits and dealing with each piecemeal. This kind of worked ish.
Smoke was the name of the game so naturally my first PzIV didn't have any. The other one was less useless and I managed to get at least one smoke round in a useful place. I would send a secondary force through the buildings on either side of the road to try and isolate his defenders on the (my) left while the bulk of my force backed by the panthers tried to flank him on the right. Incidentally when I say "backed" I mean it literally, I had no intention of risking the Panthers until I found out where the M-10s were. I would forget this later and pay for it.
All went disturbingly well at first. On the left I broke his defence and pushed forward. Joe fell back towards the victory buildings and my breaking of his squads actually helped with this as they routed back in the same direction, not quite my intention. On the right my Panthers won a duel with his 60mm mortar and my infantry swept forward with the panthers tiptoeing cautiously in their wake. Armoured assault this was not.
I was in a good position, I had driven Joe back to his last line of defence with very few casualties to myself and was poised for the final assault. Then I damn near through the whole thing away. Emboldened by my success so far I brought my panthers up to the front line and promptly lost one of them to a side shot from a previously hidden M-10 but worse was to come. Joe brought his Hellcats on directly in front of my remaining Panther, I missed the defensive fire shot and one of them skidded to a halt and nailed the Panther through the frontal armour with a critical hit in advancing fire. At this point I went slightly insane. Scenario objectives be damned, nothing was more important than killing that damn Hellcat. My two PzIVs were over on the left helping my troops through the village so I swarmed it with infantry which should have been swinging left to capture the victory buildings. I lost one squad killed and one and a half broken before I was recalled to sanity. Eventually I worked a PzIV around and destroyed the offending Hellcat although its brother took out the PzIV. But my PzIV also had a brother and it took out the remaining Hellcat leaving me with one mobile AFV to his none.
Back in the real world Joe had used the opportunity to garrison such of the victory buildings as he had troops left for and hoped that his M-10 (which had a line of sight down a road I needed to cross) would be able to ward me off from those in the rear. This almost worked, despite the M-10 I managed to capture a couple of rear buildings and finally managed to destroy the thing when a schreck toting halfsquad, sole survivor of my illfated attack on the Hellcat sneaked up and destroyed it. With the last turn upon us I had captured four buildings and had a point for my remaining PzIV. I needed to take one more building for the win and there was only one within range. It was garrisoned by what was left of Joe's force including his best leader. I threw as much firepower as I could against it but only gained a pin result. Which left close combat, rarely if ever my friend. On this occasion however the dice gods came up trumps. I ambushed Joe's troops and wiped them out in HtH CC for a victory at the very last. Probably nobody was more surprised than me. 1-1