Saturday, March 20, 2021

Silly After Action Report - The French Perimeter

 Capitaine Hugo de Latte de Grandcreme straightened to attention and saluted as the colonel approached.

"Ah," the colonel hesitated and fished a piece of paper from his pocket, "de Latte de Grandcreme," he read and stopped.  "Really?"

"I'm afraid so mon Colonel," replied de Latte de Grandcreme reluctantly.

"Good," said the colonel untruthfully.  "Are you prepared?  The Boche are approaching."

"Indeed mon Colonel. The invaders will not take Dunkirk this day," he looked around in confusion.  "Tell me, where are the English?"

"Perfiding their way back to Albion," replied the colonel.  "We are to keep the Germans off their backs while they do so."


"So that we can say they ran away and abandoned us to our fate."

"Can't we go with them?"

"Do you fancy spending four years in England?"

"Dear God no."

"Then see to your defences Capitaine."

After the monumental disaster that was my first ever paradrop I decided to revert to a normal ground based scenario where my defeat would be encompassed by good, honest incompetence.  Dave Wilson suggested we try The French Perimeter, Scenario U21 from the Turning the Tide pack.  This is apparently an old, updated Squad Leader scenario.  To compensate for the entire paradrop debacle Dave offered me my choice of sides and I decided to take the Germans on the attack in 1940, what could possibly go wrong?

The task for the Germans is to take seven of eleven multilevel (ie with a stairwell location) buildings in a village that has apparently been inconveniently built over the most direct route to Dunkirk where the British are currently gathering pleasure boats and making movies.  I have a powerful force at my disposal; sixteen squads, half elite and half first line with a plethora of medium and light machine guns and a pair of antitank rifles.  These pervitin munching supermen are led into battle by five officers including a 9-2 and are supported by two PzIVD tanks.  Stalwart on the defence are Dave's French, nine first line squads, a heavy machine gun, a pair of medium machine guns, a pair of lights and eighteen factors of antipersonnel mines.  They are led by three officers including a none too shabby 9-1.  Oh and guns, do they have guns?  Two 75mm artillery guns, a 25mm antitank gun (more than capable of taking out thin skinned early war PzIVs) and a 105mm artillery piece; infantry for the slaughter of.  Lest this seem inadequate Dave gets reinforcements on turn five consisting of another pair of squads carrying an lmg led by a second 9-1 leader and accompanied by a pair of R35 tanks.

Below is Dave's at start set up and my deployment for the attack.  As you can see I have dropped a lot of eggs into the one basket.

At start

I originally intended a rather straightforward attack through the centre but at the last moment I threw that out and decided to try and swing around from the left.  I would deploy as many half squads as possible and send them ahead of me like a Napoleonic skirmisher swarm.  I also had a couple of squads and a low ranked leader over on the right just so that Dave couldn't rush all his right hand squads leftward with impunity.

Although I had chosen the left for my schwerpunkt I was a little uneasy about it.  There seemed to be plenty of convenient locations where Dave could position a gun or two to slow my progress.  I was paranoid about the hills every one of which in my mind was growing  forest of guns on its summit.  My very first moves were to send halfsquads charging up those hills on missions of discovery.

Well I found a couple of guns

Guns I certainly found, two of them both over on the right facing my slender diversionary forces.  More importantly none (apparently) on the left.  Dave's hmg was in the obvious level three location which brought grief to a couple of scouting halfsquads but all in all I was satisfied with the results of my recon by suicide.

Over on the right my diverters flung themselves at the guns which resulted in a broken halfsquad, a generated hero (my first of three) and a captured gun crew.  In response Dave's other gun crew on the hill picked up their 75 and slowly started making their way left.  With the hill cleared of guns my surviving flankers (along with some prisoners) continued flanking.

On the left I couldn't quite believe my luck and proceeded somewhat more cautiously than I needed to, moving on both sides of Hill 498 to get into Dave's left flank.  His hmg team (guided of course by the 9-1) overlooked everything but I was feeling bolder now and brought forward my tanks (christened Anna and Birgit) to take it under fire.  Birgit promptly broke her MA which led to much seething on my part but nowhere near the level of seething that emanated from Dave when he broke the hmg in response.  A six on the repair die roll would assure that I had nothing further to fear from that particular weapon.

Weapons are breaking all over the place
Relieved of at least one concern my boys swept around Dave's left flank.  Having seen what happened to the hmg I declined to attempt repair of Birgit's MA and instead used her as a mobile smoke machine while attempting to menace the rear of some of his defenders.  At this point it has to be admitted that my attempts to isolate and crush Dave's defenders individually failed.  With plenty of buildings in hand he happily conceded the one on the far left and fell back towards the centre of town.  A breeze also sprang up at this time spreading my smoke far and wide.

With my first victory location taken I became drunk with success and rushed my boys forward with mixed results.  In fact I almost lost the game in one move.  I had been holding my kill stack (a pair of squads with both mmgs, guided by the 9-2) back until I could identify his main defences but now I pushed them forward into a wooden building where they could take some of his defenders under fire.  Whereupon Dave revealed his 105mm hidden in the woods two hexes away boresighted on to that location.  I had actually parked Birgit right next to Dave's gun but with admirable fire control Dave had kept quiet and awaited a better target, now he had it.  Dave's to hit and kill rolls can be described as "average overall".  He rolled snake eyes for a critical hit and then rolled boxcars on the effects.  I'm not entirely sure who I sold my soul to to get that result but it was worth it.  Return fire broke the gun crew (Dave's guncrews did not have a fine reputation of standing up under fire) and I breathed an almighty sigh of relief.

One boxcars and one minor heart attack later and Dave's 105 is out of the game

His 25mm also showed itself, nestled in a building in the centre.  Bereft of armoured targets it amused itself shooting at infantry.  Again return fire broke the crew and three of Dave's guns were down.  Pay attention to the fourth however, still ploughing its lonely journey towards the battlefield.  That particular guncrew would redeem the failures of its comrades.

For right now things looked good for the bad guys (by which I mean me).  I had lunged forward to capture the 25mm and had also managed to trap a French squad in CC on the left.  In response Dave had pulled back again leaving me with victory buildings but also thickening his lines to defend those that remained.  Over on the right a squad and a half (plus a wounded hero) were unlikely to chase Dave out of any buildings but it forced him to keep a couple of squads there away from my rampaging forces on the left.

Pushing forward but wait, is that the sound of Renault engines in the distance?

Well "rampaging" might be a little hyperbolic but I definitely felt I was doing ok.  With three guns and his hmg down, and three victory buildings already in my hands Dave was feeling the heat.  Then the R35s arrived and injected a note of caution into my previously cheerful use of my tanks.  I also had to worry about his remaining 75mm gun that his crew were herniating themselves in an attempt to bring it into the battle.  Dave's reinforcements added to his defences and slowed me down considerably.

Dave resisted the temptation to go charging into battle with his armour and settled for building a wall of steel between me and the final couple of buildings that I needed.  In response (and feeling a little nervous about the slowly arriving 75) I repaired Birgit's MA and sent her up to the centre to add some firepower to that flank.  Anna I kept down on the other flank.

Then things went badly wrong although I didn't know it at the time.  With three buildings under my belt I had pushed forward challenging for two more in the centre.  This would give me five and put me within appreciable reach of my goal.  Close combat raged in one building but in the other building, in the centre, an ambush allowed Dave's boys to slip out of close combat into some German provided (curses foiled by my own weapons) and then escape into the other building where they assisted their comrades in wiping out my guys in CC.  Of course that gave me the building in the centre but it also meant that I had to capture the other building all over again.What's more the presence of two squads and an 8-1 leader meant there was a danger that Dave could sneak around and retake some of the buildings I previously captured.

Oh crap

Guess what happened?  I'm not a complete idiot (my parents can keep their opinions to themselves at this point) I did delegate troops to the task of taking these guys out.  It worked, a bit.  With my other troops at the front I sent my most convenient troops (which happened to be the 9-2 and two mmg squads) to deal with this sudden problem.  I hoped to keep on pushing forward with my other troops while I did so.  I did indeed capture the building his impromptu kill stack was occupying courtesy of some tank supported attacks but a squad and leader survived and fled directly towards the victory buildings I had left behind in my triumphant push forward.  The only force in its way was a fanatic squad (which promptly broke and casualty reduced the moment it came under fire) and a halfsquad so burdened with prisoners that it could hardly move.  The only thing I could do was chase after them which took a couple of squads and my best leader out of the main fight.

Things suddenly look a little bad

And now they look worse

While I was failing to deal with this situation on my right flank I managed to make a mess of the left as well.  I had pushed Birgit forward to menace the next target building in what turned out to be the ridiculously over optimistic assessment that I would soon be fighting for it.  Whereupon Dave started up his little Renaults drove up next to her and blew her apart in the advancing fire phase.  This is a tactic which always seems to work except when I try it.  Of course it was my fault for having the tank unsupported but given the low kill number on the Renault's MA I thought it was worth the chance.  The tank crew survived and actually made it into the building where they stubbornly resisted all of the defenders attempts to kill them and were still there at game end.  Unfortunately they weren't able to do anything about the French currently occupying the location.

Over on the right things had been stuck in a sort of a groove for several turns.  Dave would fire at a broken halfsquad of mine, DM them but not have any other sort of result.  My squad would fire back at him with an equal lack of results.  Then I rolled a snake eyes on what I expected to be another futile rally attempt and battle hardened the halfsquad and generated a hero (my second) into the bargain.  I also self rallied the halfsquad who had been broken when I first attacked the guns that had been languishing in the backfield ever since.  With this new accession of "strength" I went on the attack.  I managed to break one of his two defending squads and actually push into the building.  Deciding that the chances of fighting my way through a pair of Renaults were reasonably low I sent units looping around to challenge for the right hand buildings from behind.  Foolishly I would send them into the very large building rather than it's smaller neighbour.

Coming to the end and I still have hope; foolish foolish man

Meanwhile over on the left things had, if anything, got worse.  I had generated another hero from somewhere (I forget how) but Dave fled the building and cheerfully occupied the one behind it.  Or rather, his squad fled.  The leader snatched an lmg and scurried upstairs in the building it currently occupied.  I would now have to recapture both of them.  I sent the hero and a halfsquad into CC with the leader while Anna sleazed the squad in the other building and my 9-2 led a squad into CC with it.  The leader slaughtered my hero and halfsquad for no loss and the guys in the other building ambushed me and withdrew.  In the next turn they fled to the other end of the building.

With one turn to go there was still a chance for victory.  If I could get units into CC in both rear buildings and I was successful in taking the building on the right I would have my seven.  I would need to be lucky in three separate close combats but it was just doable.  At which point the crew of Dave's remaining gun abandoned the weapon they had been hauling about most of the afternoon and charged for an unoccupied victory building while my remaining troops were looking the other way.  At that point I conceded.  I had wound up with three victory buildings and the most I could possibly gain was six.  There had been a little bad luck but essentially I neglected my flanks and wound up paying the price.  Still it was a very enjoyable game with swings of luck on both sides and for about nine out of eleven turns it really looked like I would do it.  Many thanks to Dave for the game and for crushing my hopes and dreams one more time.  


The end and my tears flow like a river down my cheeks
Incidentally if a unit abandons prisoners in the advance phase but another unit advances in to the same location do they automatically retake the prisoners or does some sort of CC result?  Neither Dave nor I could quite figure this out so we allowed the newcomers to take the prisoners.

Captaine de Latte de Grandcreme turned to a messenger.

"Inform the colonel that we have held our positions and the Germans have pulled back."

"I'm I can't."

"Why not?"

"The colonel is on a boat to England," replied the messenger.  "Oh look, the Germans are forming up for another attack."

"Get to your position and hold firm," ordered the captaine.

"What are you going to do sir?"

"Learn to swim."

Friday, March 19, 2021

Flood Update #1

 The heavens have opened and a positive deluge has been unloaded upon my unhappy state.  Well I say state, I mean the general Sydney area.  Apparently my adopted home town can look forward to a weekend where breathing the air could result in drowning.  For those of you not already floating downstream towards an already overburdened ocean the message is clear.  Stay home!  Do not venture out into the fearsome water, in fact it might be a good idea if we all stopped showering.

Our state's premier issued this ringing call to inaction earlier today.  For reasons which I presume made sense to her at the time she delivered it from an aquarium (or possibly a flood ravaged fish shop).  As she dwelt on the likely watery demise of the population of the countries largest city the occupants of the tanks behind her burst into sustained applause.  I haven't seen such piscine excitement since the premier of the last Sharknado movie (and sadly it was the last Sharknado movie).

While the premier fled the aquarium just before the occupants dragged her to her own personal watery grave I was hard at work simulating being hard at work.  There was certainly rain in bursts, some of it quite heavy but I didn't think we were quite at the "cow floating down the street" stage.  I did get up and close the windows at one point so my disaster survival plan is in place.  To be fair I live on the second floor so if the floodwaters are lapping at my door it probably doesn't bode well for the rest of you.  

With the premier was using a giant squid tentacle to club her way past newly emboldened fish in a desperate attempt to escape the aquarium the state's transport minister also hit the airwaves to warn the citizens cowering under their beds that they should expect delays on the trains.  To be fair he could make this announcement pretty much any day of the week whatever the weather but the rain gave him an excuse to make it look like something unusual.  He predicted a "rain bomb" would do in a single weekend what it normally takes months of budget cutting, mismanagement and neglect to achieve.

Fortunately since we're all going to be at home anyway the fact that railway carriages have joined cows in floating down the street shouldn't interfere with our transport plans.  In fact if the carriages float to their stated destinations there's a chance they might arrive on time.  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Puffin and the Plague Doctor

 There has been a recent addition to my happy if slightly disfunctional household.  My brother recently presented me with a plague doctor plush toy for my birthday (he also presented me with a bottle of Jepson's Mallort).  If you have never seen a fifty two year old man go into total fangirl meltdown over a plush toy then I have my parent's testimony that you can consider yourselves lucky.

Aforementioned plague doctor

Once the euphoria subsided however I was faced with how to introduce this new arrival to those already in residence.  The spiders in the corners and the occasional itinerant lizard would be fine but my puffin is of a violently jealous disposition.  Quite frankly I'm afraid to leave the house.  That's got nothing to do with the puffin, its just COVID inspired agoraphobia.

I thought the best way would be to have a photo session that would formally announce the plague doctor's presence (his name is Sebastian by the way) and establish his position in the family pecking order.  This order is subject to wild fluctuations but I generally wind up somewhere below the lizard that occasionally wanders through my bathroom.  My puffin agreed with hard eyes and a tight beak.

It all went quite well.  At first.  Sebastian and Tristan (the puffin, surely you remember) lined up for one of those stilted "we're a happy family" shots that tell you the next time you'll be hearing of that happy family is when the tragedy is announced on the news.

This is the photo which will no doubt appear under the headline "triple homicide..."

Relieved and somewhat pleased to have got through that without incident I was about to put the camera away when the voices in my head suggested that something wasn't quite right.  I don't always listen to these voices but since they tend to pay more attention to my surroundings than I do I don't always ignore them either.  I turned back to find puffin and plague doctor eyeball to eyeball on my dining room table.

Things are about to kick off

Before I could issue the token plea for calm that is the official signal that carnage is about to commence the trash talking had begun.

"Medieval quack," sneered the puffin.

"Poor man's penguin," shot back the plague doctor.

"Leech pimp!"

"Fish fondler!"

I didn't know whether to break them up or sell tickets.

Getting tense

My puffin crossed the distance between them in just the time it took me to pick him up and put him there but the plague doctor wasn't backing off an inch.  Which might have been unwise as I know that my puffin has a mean left wing.  I was now looking around nervously but the spiders and lizards had chosen this moment to tiptoe back to their respective corners.  I would be alone when the plush hit the fan.  I didn't have to wait long, my puffin made its move and suddenly the plague doctor was on its back under relentless puffin assault.

Oh it is on!
I watched in some distress (but more amusement) as they rolled across the table scratching and biting at each other.  Until I realised that they weren't actually fighting at which point I screamed and ran for my life.

None of the remaining photos are suitable for a family friendly blog such as this one although a select few are kept face down in my bedroom drawer.  If you're really interested a complete video can be found on one of the websites administered by my tech support.

To those of you who might point out that above is little more than the ramblings of a dubiously sane man playing with his plush toys I would just say that I've been stuck inside for a good deal of the last twelve months and cracks are obviously starting to appear.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Travelling Pathetically - High Altitude Edition*

 *Disclaimer: The term "high altitude" should only be understood in the context of the rest of Australia. The author of this blog is not intending to make disparaging comparisons between the altitude mentioned in this blog entry and the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains or indeed an overfull landfill.

I traveled to meet old friends in the Blue Mountains the other week.  I envisioned a relaxing weekend high (see disclaimer) above the expanse of Sydney surrounded by bushland.  Unfortunately I was thrown into controversy the moment I arrived.  Without bothering to give me her traditional greeting of "What the hell are you doing here?"  My friend immediately took me to task for not giving her a job.  Well not a job exactly.  The word "job" implies payment and possibly even appreciation for effort put in.  Neither of these were on offer.  What she was annoyed with was that I had managed to acquire correspondents in Tasmania and New Zealand but had never once offered her the post of Blue Mountains correspondent.

The more she talked about it the more I saw the value of the idea.  Particularly since foam was forming at the corners of her mouth and there were kitchen knives within easy reach.  But there were other reasons apart from sheer self preservation for bestowing such an honour upon her.  My Blue Mountains correspondent (as she must henceforth be known) has had a quite exciting life.  She's beaten off muggers in Rome, belly danced in the Middle East, fled furious (and slightly misinformed) anti American crowds in Mexico and more recently separated her shoulder into many more pieces than it should logically possess as the result of a motorcycle accident.  By comparison with my Tasmanian correspondent (currently on a one woman crusade to exterminate huntsman spiders) and my New Zealand correspondent (doing dubious things with milking equipment) the prospects of exciting action packed stories for this blog seemed good.

"Congratulations," I announced, "you've got the position." (I steered away from the word "job" at the last minute).  "Now what exciting tales have you got for me?"

"Let me tell you about my garden," she said eagerly.  Before I could ask questions like "Why?" she was off and racing.  After about two hours of breathless explanation as to why the acquisition of a particular bush was quite the personal coup I interrupted nervously.

"Is the exciting bit coming?"

After a couple more hours of garden exposition I interrupted again with more than a hint of desperation.

"Let's go for a walk."

"Around my garden?"


With the garden of my Blue Mountains correspondent very temporarily off the list of conversation topics we cast about for some slightly less well organised plantlife to wander about in.  Fortunately Wentworth Falls, the sliver of the Blue Mountains my correspondent calls home, has quite an abundance of such stuff.  For various physical reasons we decided on a small and gentle walk.  I was still semi crippled from playing a game corporate soccer several days ago while she had learnt that more than nine hours a day on her feet caused the tear in her achilles tendon to give her some distress.  We decided on a gentle walk of only a few kilometres to the bizarrely named Minnehaha Falls.

We started in a park that backed onto untamed bushland (well untamed except for the walking path, occasional bridge and ladders to help with the steep parts) and set off into the wild as our ancestors might have done ages ago if there had been a parks department to make a path for them first.

As you can see we weren't exactly hacking our way through the jungle

At first there were distressing signs of civilisation like roads, electrical towers and so on but as we progressed these faded away and we were left with reassuring signs of civilisation such as a path to walk on and bridges over the difficult bits. 

Given that we were heading towards a waterfall you will not be surprised to hear that water played a role in our journey.  It trickled next to us, past us and sometimes spread itself rather incoveniently over the path we were supposed to follow.  Hardened campaigners like my correspondent and myself took these trivial inconveniences in our stride without complaint.  Or at least I stopped complaining once my correspondent threatened to eviscerate me if I didn't shut up.

This isn't the falls in question, just a lumpy creek bed

We paused for photos or at least I paused for photos while my correspondent rolled her eyes and contemplated abandoning me to my fate.  The fact that we were close enough to civilisation for even me to find my way out probably decided her against it.  Where the water wasn't making the path annoyingly muddy it compensated by posing photogenically against a backdrop of trees and shrubs.

Of course the presence of a waterfall indicates that there is a reasonably abrupt elevation change in the offing and our general progression was downward.  It was gentle, indeed barely noticeable at first, but it became more emphatically vertiginous the closer we got to the base of the falls.  The occasional sign warning us that chunks of the very solid looking cliff side were known to hurl themselves at unsuspecting passersby didn't exactly fill us with confidence.

Apparently bits of this have been known to leap out and scare tourists

Despite the presence of feral cliff sides we weren't exactly exploring virgin territory.  I always like to keep a look out for animals when I go on walks but on this occasion the principal animal I saw was other human beings similarly making their way downwards to the natural pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  We managed to avoid them for the most part and got away with a number of abrupt greetings and the occasional insincere smile.

To encourage us to continue on our downward journey the scenery teased us with occasional hints of what was to come.  We needed no such encouragement, we would have descended to the gates of Hell if that had been required.

The tempting vision leading us downward

Or at least I would have.  When we reached a reasonably flat chunk of land my correspondent abruptly halted.  Her achilles tendon, it appeared, had given due warning as to how much it was prepared to tolerate and this was it.  It was obvious that the descent would only get steeper from here and having led me into the woods Hansel and Gretel fashion she was now prepared to abandon me to my fate.  Wishing her good luck (and silently hoping that she was devoured by dingoes) I set forth on the final journey alone.  I had literally walked about ten metres when I was given evidence of how sensible my correspondent's decision to stop was.  To get us down the last couple of hundred metres to the base of the falls a number of extremely steep sets of stairs had been bolted to the cliff side.  Trying to navigate those with a damaged foot would have been torture.

Looking from the bottom up

Since my feet were largely undamaged (apart from their general reluctance to haul me around) I made it down the stairs with ease and after a brief pause while I vomited, gasped and commended my soul to God I was ready proceed.  It was cooler now thanks to the shade of the trees that we had been above at the start of the walk.  Which was good as I hadn't fully recovered from the stairs and complete physical collapse was still a possibility.  After skirting some more of the unpredictably violent cliff face I suddenly came face to face with our target; a small but decided waterfall cascading into a beautiful pool.  I lifted my camera and stopped.  Where should I point the camera?  At the muslim family group with ladies in full niqab?  At the pool, currently home to two or three attractive young ladies in what I can only describe as pleasingly inadequate bikinis?  The area was small and there were quite a lot of people enjoying the surrounds.  So many in fact that it was virtually impossible to take a photo without intruding on someone's privacy.  I eventually took a photo of the falls.  There is some random guy in the background but I'm hoping the water was in his eyes and he didn't notice me photographing.

This is the fewest number of people I could hope to get in the photo.  The guy in the background is checking out the girls swimming in the pool (out of shot).

If there had been fewer people there I would have been tempted to linger, it was a beautiful scene.  As it was I thought guiltily about the correspondent I had left to die further up the track and decided to return to see if I could recover her corpse.  By the time I had gasped and wheezed my way back up the ladders it was touch and go whether she would have to carry me out of there achilles tendon notwithstanding.

However I was made of sterner stuff and after a brief number of hours to recuperate we struck out for home.  On the way back I saw a baby brown snake and a lizard without a tail.  There was a fair distance between the two and I'm not making any accusations.

For the record my correspondent's garden is lovely and she is rightly proud of it.

Silly After Action Report - The Last Drop

 The transport aircraft ploughed through the air.  In the hold Captain Ito Matahari addressed his less than enthusiastic troops.

"When the door opens you jump," he shouted above the noise of the engines.  "When you approach the ground you tuck and roll.  Is that understood?"

On his cue the door in the side of the transport aircraft opened and the wind blasted in.

"Go!" shouted Matahari.  "Go, go, go!"  Of course he shouted it in Japanese but you get the idea.

Obedient to their training the soldiers lurched to their feet, shuffled to the door and one by one launched themselves into the void.  Matahari nodded approvingly as the last one left.  Fumbling the door closed he made his way to the front of the plane to where the colonel awaited his report.

"How is the training coming captain?"

"Very well sir, I think next time they'll be ready to do it with parachutes."

I actually wondered for a while whether to bother writing an AAR about this one.  To be honest not a lot happened and the result was never in doubt.  Then I remembered I had promised a paradrop AAR on Gamesquad and if the number of hits on my blog are any indication those guys have a high boredom threshold.  Therefore by popular demand (or at least popular resignation) here is the AAR on BFP 57 - The Last Drop.  I shall command the Emperor's finest or at least the Emperor's most immediately available as the Japanese risk total US air superiority to drop a bunch of more than usually suicidally inclined soldiers on top of an American airfield in the Philippines.  The intention is apparently to burn some aircraft and knock down a few buildings, at least that's what I get victory points for.

I get fifteen squads worth of infantry who enter (or not) by paradrop over (or nowhere near) their objectives.  They have the usual collection of low grade Japanese support weapons which will also float gently to earth suspended by silk umbrellas.  Waiting on the ground is a distinctly low grade force of Americans commanded by Dave Wilson.  He has two elite squads, six second line squads and four green squads.  He also has a 40mm AA gun which was also capable of wreaking great execution on ground based opponents as well.

Below is the map showing where I intended to drop my paras.  I designated my two largest groups to drop near the airport and go for the aircraft scattered over the runways (depicted by unemployed glider counters).  The other two less significant groups would drop on board 48 to at least threaten an attempt at the buildings.

And below is how my troops actually dropped after rolling for accuracy and taking into account things like the wind.  My best leader and an elite squad were among a number that dropped off the board entirely. 

There would be little firing in the first three turns as my Japanese would spend all of that time simply gathering up their support weapons and getting close enough to the Americans to shoot.  In case there was still some slight hope of victory as soon as I landed my next wind die roll boosted the breeze to heavy for the remainder of the scenario and ensured I would have no smoke or WP to assist me.

For three turns my troops made their weary way to locations where Dave could actually shoot at me.  Obviously the buildings were out and I would have to try and torch aircraft.  Eventually my vanguard (they were the closest to the Americans so I called them the vanguard) arrived in roughly airfield adjacent locations and started trying to push the Americans away so that they could get a little closer.

End of Japanese Turn 3 and my boys are just close enough to start getting killed

There was an enforced pause as I struggled to gather enough troops to actually attract the attention of the Americans.  It was already obvious that if I wanted to get anywhere then things like tactics, finesse and subtlety would not form a part of my gameplan.  To be fair they rarely do but I like to have the option.  I think I launched more banzai charges in this game than I have in the rest of my life.  The principle result of these efforts was the realisation that neither Dave or I knew where to find the banzai counters on VASL.  We made do with human wave counters instead.

Finally by the time turn four (of seven) was done I had managed to gather about half of my force in places where they might be of use and started dropping 50mm mortar shells on a US squad in a foxhole.  Then I pushed my guys forward and launched the first banzai charge.

This is kind of where I hoped to be on turn 1 but hey

Eager to make amends for their rather dubious parachute skills my troops surged forward with a will.  The 50mm mortar even scored a critical hit on the guys in the foxhole which was a slightly embarrassing bonus as I was hoping to kill them in CC.  The Japanese advanced forward and the Americans finally started taking some casualties.  Up until turn five the sole contributor to the Japanese score had been my sniper who had killed an officer and incidentally a halfsquad when Dave boxcarred the LLMC.

Looks good doesn't it.  Pity the game's about to end

Reckless advance was the order of the day and the my boys answered the call.  Well except for the ones who got chopped up by the 40mm but hey, somebody's got to get chopped up by a 40mm and it might as well have been them.  With my troops up close and personal Dave's boys started feeling the heat.  My troops lunged towards a couple of aircraft and fumbled for their matches.  I had no expectation of winning by this point but I would consider it a personal triumph if I could set a couple of planes on fire.  With the wind whipping around it seemed like quite a good chance.

So I didn't manage to set a single aircraft on fire.  I had ground through a chunk of Dave's at start force but I was nowhere near the buildings and the aircraft proved annoyingly non combustible.  At the end of turn six I had dispossessed Dave of the 40mm and had troops crawling all over the aircraft but not one of them showed an inclination to go up in flames and Dave was rushing possibly the world's most superfluous reinforcements to the scene as if it actually mattered.  I conceded with good grace.  Well good grace for me.

This is where I conceded, frankly not before time

So there you have it.  Not a lot to be said really.  But I promised a paradrop and I have delivered.  I have also made a personal vow never to play a scenario where my troops enter by paradrop ever again.  Our next scenario will involve a bunch of thoroughly ground based French and Germans.

Captain Matahari winced as the colonel leafed through the reports of the hideous debacle.

"I hope," said the colonel, "that you're only waiting until you go off duty before committing seppuku."

"I can't, I have a stomache condition."

"Well then, what can we learn from this?"

"I think the mistake was giving them parachutes before they jumped," replied Matahari.  "Next time we'll do without."

"I'll make sure you're in the first wave."