After putting out the call for an opponent for a PTO scenario, Ken Dunn answered and said he would be up for a game. We chose WO16 Wildcat Strike from one of the Winter Offensive packs. This is an American – Japanese affair with some nice toys, played on two half boards. 6.5 turns, Shermans, M8 HMC, a flamethrower and some first line American infantry were the force I was going to work with to attack Ken’s Japanese. Elite and first line infantry backed up with an AT and AA gun to try to stop my ground pounders from getting across the last road net on the lower part of the playing area. Ken also got some mines and fortified buildings. He would get a point for the end of each turn in which he had an MMC in a building on the upper board and one for each turn I didn’t have an MMC in a building on the lower board. So two points per turn available to Ken for holding the line which would combine with the number of his infantry across the same road. I had to have more infantry points across than him, without losing 25CVP
I am really beginning to like scenarios that have conditional elements to them and Pete Shelling, a prolific scenario designer, hit the mark with this one. Each side has multiple goals and incentives for strong aggression or stingy defense.
I was hoping to learn some stuff from Ken, any squad leader player is familiar with Ken Dunn. He is a scenario creator, playtester and overall good player. He had some Japanese tricks up his sleeve and had some real misfortune with them. I decided to make my main attack down the left side of the board.
My intention was to keep my troops together, completely surrounding the tanks. Get the Japanese to unconceal, then get the tanks involved from a distance. Losing tanks was a non-starter. There is no quicker way to pile up a chunk of CVP than to start getting tanks whacked, and with all the possible tank hunter heroes available to Ken’s arsenal in 1944, the tanks were going to keep their distance unless it was absolutely imperative. Ken started up front, obviously wanting to fight a slow fall back defense and acquire as many cheap points as possible. He did a really nice job of that, keeping me in front of him most of the game.
My plan was coming off pretty good, I found a minefield on the left in the jungle the hard way, using move, advancing fire, advance as much as possible. But as we all know, American 666 units have a unique ability to break when shot at, so every move was scrutinized to ensure that the unit would have something between it and the Japanese. I was fairly aggressive with my half squads, they broke and rallied numerous times.
Obviously I was going to have to break some troops off and get them to the right to evict any Japanese in those buildings.
Both of Ken’s guns were set up forward in nice ambush spots, but they both fizzled with minimal damage to me, malfunctioning after a couple of shots each.
To this point, I am pretty happy with my play. My force looks like a cohesive unit, and the attack looks like I have some idea what I’m doing. Both of Ken’s guns have been flushed and passed. My biggest concern is that by the end of turn 3, I have a long way to go to get across the road, and he still had most of his infantry intact. He revealed a HIP unit on the right to try to hang on to the buildings over there.
After I had moved down the board, Ken revealed a HIP unit and leader on the left that I had walked through, (Wiley Japanese!) forcing me to peel off some troops to go round them up, they could get into the buildings or worse yet, kill the tank that was a couple of hexes away. It is also at this point that my attack kind of starts to become a discombobulated mess, having to spread out, chase down HIP units, go backward and forward at the same time, I look at my attack and wonder what happened. I have to remind myself that I’ve got the HIP unit on the right rounded up, and am dealing with the HIP unit on the left, and I am still very much in this game.
Ken retreated his troops back to the victory road, fighting me all the way. He did a nice job of keeping me in front of him, but his right flank was pretty open and I moved up over there in good shape. The left was a different story, it was going to be difficult to get through over there. It looked like the tanks were going to have to do some dirty work after all.
I moved the tanks up and into bypass of his infantry in buildings, very dicey against the Japanese. But while tank points were important, if I didn’t get grunts across the line, the tank points wouldn’t matter either.
He burned an M4A1 in CC, but was unable to knock the other two out, and my risky move paid off, getting just enough infantry across to get the victory. He had 7 points from the buildings earlier, two of his infantry units were stuck in melee, so not good order and unfortunately, the two Japanese squads on the left hadn’t made it across the lower road, not counting toward the total.
I was very fortunate, this scenario could have gone against me very easily. Ken was a very good opponent, and had some misfortune. He voiced his frustration once when he commented that “none of my traps have worked”.
I should have paid a bigger price for some things I didn’t do. I never used search, even though I had the half squads to do it with and it almost cost me twice. Even though I played the tanks well enough to have them available to me at the end, I feel like I really missed the boat with them. All three had White Phosphorus available, yet I never fired a single round. I think I fired the flame thrower once, and I don’t think I ever used infantry smoke. These are the kind of things that usually cost me in scenarios. I must say though, my irritation with my lack of utilization of these assets has me paying better attention now. In some of the games I have going with Americans, I am starting to remember all the tools.
While this game was going on, I picked up some games during the MMP fall sale, including Kawaguchi’s Gamble, designed by one Ken Dunn. Ken sent me the errata and I am looking forward to giving him a report when I get it played.
Thanks for reading.