Sunday, September 15, 2019

Silly After Action Report

Captain Hiroki Yabadabadu peered down the railway line.  In the distance he could see a small group of dark skinned men clustered around a mortar.

"Who the hell are they?" he muttered.

"Gurkhas," replied Colonel Matsu.  "Yet another example of English colonialism enslaving the Asian races.  In the emperor's name we will crush them."

"So we're going to attack?"

"Sort of, we'll send the Burmese first to catch bullets.  It's the least they can do since we're liberating them."

"Are you sure we can rely on the Burmese?"

"It's possible death against the Gurkhas as opposed to certain death right here.  If they object we'll liberate them from breathing.  Do you have a concern?"

"I'm just not sure its wise to place a lot of faith in people who plan their battles with the assistance of an astrologer.  It would have been better to go in before dawn but apparently 2.15pm on a day with an "r" in it was the most propitious time."

"All the more reason to let them go first."

So (briefly) leaving the Italians behind Mike Sexton and I decided to play AP 91 - Parting Shots which features a group of Gurkhas given the thankless task of making the British retreat from Burma look like slightly less of a shambling disaster than it actually was.  A dice roll gave Mike the subcontinental supermen while I took command of a bunch of Japanese generously engaged in spreading the Greater South East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere to a part of South East Asia from which prosperity was conspicuously absent.  For comedy relief the Japanese have a couple of squads of Burmese "soldiers" attached.

Victory is gained by the side which amasses the most victory points as represented by a combination of bodycount and control of multihex buildings. Light jungle is in effect and all buildings are wooden.  There's also an embanked railway running the length of the theatre doing little except forcing Mike and I to look up the hillock rules which I'm reasonably certain we got more or less right, ish.  Mike has six elite squads and an equal number of halfsquads, a pair of 51mm mortars and a single light machine gun the whole commanded by some reasonably capable officers.  Late in the day he's reinforced by another squad, lmg and leader carted around in an IP carrier.

I have ten squads evenly divided between elite and first line plus a pair of elite halfsquads, two 50mm mortars and two lmgs.  Three sword wielding egomaniacs are present to urge their hapless charges forward.  Also present are two partisan squads, a lmg and a distinctly sub par officer represent collaborationist Burmese forces.  Their principal role is as guides, helping their Japanese masters, sorry, liberators through the jungle.  The set up rules require my entire force to be clustered around the railway line because soldiers naturally gravitate to places where its easy to see and kill them.  Below is the at start set up showing my unimaginative clump of forces and Mike's troops waiting to give them a kukri lesson.  I'm sorry, that joke was bad even for this blog.

Set up
My first job was to breach Mike's forward line and I dipped into traditional Japanese tactics (charging madly at the enemy) to do so.  I had a pair of half squads up on the railway line, all jokes about Burmese bullet catchers notwithstanding the job of these guys was to die usefully for the emperor.  I weighted my attack to my right.  Here I placed all of my elite squads, both lmgs, a halfsquad with a mortar and a pair of leaders.  A 9-1 led a stack of two squads and lmgs with a Burmese squad attached to guide them through the jungle.  On the left side of the railway track were my first line squads, another mortar team and my final leader.  Stacked with the leader and his boys was the other Burmese squad.  Mike had set up one of his mortars to fire straight down the railway line and discourage exactly what I was about to do.  He must have mistaken me for someone who cares about the lives of his troops.

My first turn was disturbingly successful.  A halfsquad charged madly down the railway line cheerfully ignoring a rain of mortar bombs and bounced one of the concealed units adjacent.  Defensive fire broke him (and a subsequent mortar round would kill him) but his work was done. Another halfsquad did the same to the other rail line adjacent unit and actually survived.  That achieved I pushed my main stacks through the jungle to close up with the revealed units.  One squad I sent into CC with a halfsquad.  It was half successful, both Gurkhas and Japanese use hand to hand which makes close combat a spectacularly bloody affair.  I killed his half squad but in return he casualty reduced my squad so CVP were even.  In better news advancing fire broke the full squad he had on the right of the railway line opening up a lot of space for my Japanese to exploit.

End of my turn 1

Mike decided skulking was the better part of valour so the principal thing that happened in his first turn was my assembling of my mortars (smoke, for the purposes of). My second turn consisted of consolidating the gains I had made and moving up to where I could launch the second stage of my attack, hopefully behind a shroud of smoke.  I pushed a halfsquad forward to strip his remaining forward unit on the left of concealment.  He took his shot and striped a squad but in return I managed to pin him.  With half the population of Japan bearing down on him Mike decided to voluntarily break and get the hell out of Dodge.  Probably the best idea and it wasn't really Mike's fault that the gutless bastards didn't rally for the remainder of the game.  Over on the right some well placed defensive fire broke another of his units that fled yelping to the back of the building.

End of my turn 2
Turn three rolled around and I was ready to launch my main attack.  Over on the left an impressive looking stack garrisoned the forward multihex building.  I was certain (correctly) that it would be an lmg equipped squad guided by a high quality leader.  That's why I have mortars.  The mortar crew on the left reached for the WP shells only to find they'd left them in Thailand.  Fortunately they had been less careless with the smoke rounds and I managed to blanket his position with enough smoke to blind them.  On a side note Mike is in much the same position himself courtesy of Indonesian forest fires.  My happy experience with smoke came to an end at that point.  I had intended to use my mortar on the right to drop some smoke to cover my approach to the multihex building immediately to my front.  Unfortunately these clowns had left both their smoke and their WP behind.  Somebody's going to get it in the neck, with a sword, once this scenario is over.  With his most potent force choking I raced a halfsquad around into the building behind them.  I could babble about blocking rout paths but actually for some reason I had forgotten that I actually needed to control the building before I could claim the victory points.  Fortunately Mike had more immediate things to worry about.  I also sent a halfsquad plunging forward to capture unoccupied buildings in Mike's rear.

With smoke unavailable on the right I fell back on more traditional methods.  I herded the Burmese out into the open where Mike's defensive fire broke both leader and squad.  With Mike's defenders thus distracted I pushed troops forward near the railway line and snuggled a concealed stack up near his remaining forward defenders on the right.  Close combat was my friend for once (ok 2-1 odds with a -1 leader) and I had cleared him away from the railway line while his remaining troops on the right would have to run across open ground swept by fire if they wanted to get back to the building.  On the far left I pushed my striped squad forward to keep his brokies under DM.  This they achieved but in return found themselves under fire from Mike's other mortar.  A snake eyes on the ensuing morale check resulted in them going berserk. 

End of my turn 3
With his third turn Mike was getting desperate.  Things had gone to hell on the right and he felt the time had come for extreme measures.  He dropped concealment and fired on my adjacent stack without result.  I was very tempted to keep concealment but I had two squads and a leader for a 16+1 shot at his remaining force.  I took the shot and broke the leader.  Unfortunately the squad rolled snakes and generated a hero to replace him.  But then desperation drove Mike to the extreme.  His hero led the remaining squad into close combat against two squads and a leader.  If he was successful it might swing his fortunes.  He wasn't successful and promptly lost his last squad  on the right hand side of the board and his newly minted hero into the bargain.

It was pretty much over at this point.  Mike had taken appalling casualties while mine had been almost embarrassingly light.  Not even his vapourising of my berserk squad as they charged madly across open ground could alter that.  We played another turn in case a miracle happened but it didn't and Mike graciously conceded while I ungraciously gloated.  In retrospect Mike feels he set up his forward defenders a little too far forward and I tend to agree.  I was able to move up and beat them without the rest of his force being able to intervene then, largely unharmed I was able to move against the rest.  Mike noted that I didn't launch a banzai charge which surprised him.  I tried to make it look as though this was some cunning tactic on my part but the simple fact is I can never remember how the damn things work.  Much thanks to Mike for the game.  Our next outing will involve my favourite (Italians) and Mike's favourite (PTO) with LFT's Ciao China.

Captain Yabadabadu looked around with a sense of satisfaction.  It was all over bar the shouting and of course the massacring.  He saluted as the colonel approached.

"Well done captain.  We've liberated the Gurkhas with extreme prejudice."

"Extreme prejudice is what we're good at sir."

"Did any of the Burmese survive?"

"Actually, all of them."

Colonel Matsu blinked, "Really?  Have their astrologer report to my planning staff immediately."



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  2. Nice - I like this format of AAR, little silly write-up, quick and dirty review of the scenario (always nice to see good maps in AARs) and a witty conclusion. Well done.