Tuesday, 28 August 2018

AWI State line and other bits and pieces

While I haven't posted much on the AWI project recently I've been slowly working away on two groups of State Line. These are based on one of the uniforms for the Connecticut 4th Regiment in 1778 which features in the Perry colour guide that comes with their plastic Continental infantry.

The brown jackets and red facing make them versatile enough to pass as a number of other units (well, that's what I've convinced myself anyway). Truth be told I've discovered I have a real aversion to painting anything white and this was an excuse to find a unit with no white breeches or waistcoats. Pathetic really. What it does means is that the French have only a very slim chance of appearing on a table near me anytime in the near future.

I've painted a few in hunting shirts to mix things up a bit, but otherwise they are a fairly well turned out unit.

To add support options to the Continentals I've added another leader, an ensign and a drummer. Like the state line miniatures these are all from the Perry set.

The British have not been neglected. I needed a leader to go with my men in round hats and roundabouts and this figure that came with a Perry metal command group seemed to do the trick as I will mostly use those figures as light infantry.

Talking of leaders I've finished off a set of sabot bases for the British leaders, so I now have a set for both British and American.

The British now have a deployment point. This is another of the Perry command group with one of the Renedra tents. It's probably a bit on the large size, but I think it will work well.  The key thing is to decide what point to measure from and I'd say the miniature's head would be an ideal point. I'm thinking I'll try something similar with a tent for the Americans.

Last, but not least, I have a water cart and an ammunition wagon, both of these are from Warbases.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Malaya 1942 Scenario 1 Winning the Encounter

The Malaya 1942 pint-sized campaign appeared in the TFL 2015 Christmas Special and is a campaign I've been eager to play. This will be our first pint-sized campaign set in the Pacific theatre and only the second time we have played with Australians and Japanese in this setting.

As I was the defender in The Road to Bremen campaign we decided to reverse roles for this one and so I would be attacking with the Japanese while Dave tried his hand at putting up a stout resistance as the Australians.

The first scenario is Winning the Encounter, a Patrol scenario where the Japanese advancing forces attempt to disperse or drive back forward Commonwealth patrols so the main body can advance unimpeded.

The action focuses around a main road through the jungle on the approaches to a village at a river crossing. The basic map is given some diversity with two rolls for additional terrain features and for this we have a couple of huts near the road and some secondary jungle on the eastern edge of the table. The Japanese will approach from the bottom of the table and the Australians from the top. The rolls to determine starting points sees the Australians in the centre of the table, while the Japanese start from their right flank.

The scenario generates three support points, but with the Japanese platoon force rating at +1 and the Australians at -2, the difference of three means the Australians can draw on six support points.

My plan as the Japanese is fairly simple. I intend trying the classic Japanese tactic of pinning the Australians in place in the centre while I try to outflank their position. I want the flexibility to try the flank move from either left or right depending on how the Australians deploy and so will try to ensure I have jump off points placed accordingly. The Japanese are able to move patrol markers 14" with a 14" distance between markers, which should enable me to get my markers close to where I want them.

In terms of supports I don't have a lot of choice. I decide to take a Ha Go tank to support my thrust in the centre as the jungle terrain will restrict it to the road. With my one remaining point I add a rifle grenadier to one of my squads.

Dave will have a few more options. Knowing I could have tanks he may want to call on the 2 Pounder, but as he already has an ATR in the platoon he may not deem this necessary. Among his many options are a Vickers MMG team, an additional section or a Forward Observer, so I could have some nasty surprises waiting for me.

Force morale ends up even, with both sides at nine to start and the Australians win the roll for initiative to start the patrol phase. I opt for three patrol markers as I want to move fast and ensure I can cover both flanks. Dave opts for four markers.

Playing across the table and with the Japanese markers moving 14" means the patrol phase is fairly brief. Jump off points are as below (Japanese in red, Australians in blue) and as you can see I managed to get these pretty much where I was hoping.

The Australians deploy with a section on overwatch in the centre of the table by the road. To their rear two 2" mortar teams deploy behind the hut on their right flank. 

You will have to excuse the British 2" mortar team above and their 1944 battle dress, but I only have a single Australian 2" mortar team, so we had to fly in some support from Britain.

As planned I deploy my first Japanese squad to the centre and they take up tactical position opposite the recently deployed Australian section.   

I decide to make a move around the left flank early on in an attempt to try to put the Australians off balance and so deploy my second squad and put them on overwatch.

The line of sight rules for the jungle mean that anything beyond 12" will require a dice roll to determine if targets are visible. A second Australian section deploys in the centre and they spot the Japanese squad and open fire. A Japanese soldier is killed and the unit suffers a point of shock. First blood to the Aussies.  

More supporting fire for the Australians arrives in the form of a Vickers MMG team and the platoon sergeant who deploy into the hut by the mortar teams, taking up overwatch positions. The Sergeant has heard the firing across the road and barks an order to the 2" mortars to use some of their limited HE rounds to support the firefight, but the rounds fall harmlessly into the jungle.

Dave has now shown his hand in terms of support, with the Vickers and additional 2" mortar, so I now have a good idea of what I am going to have to deal with.

The Japanese then roll a double phase and so I immediately deploy the grenade discharger section in the centre, to the right of the already deployed squad. They can see the Australians who have just fired and so they send a flurry of HE rounds their way.

These prove uncannily accurate and their three hits result in three kills. One of those is the section corporal who suffers a light wound, but his men are unmoved and their morale stays steady. That was some very effective fire from the grenade dischargers.

The Ha Go is sent on to provide additional firepower to the Japanese centre, but with the thick jungle either side of the road it is unable to spot any of the Australians. 

The Ha Go is just visible on the road
In the following phase the Japanese deploy the platoon second in command, the Gunso, to provide direction to the units in the centre.

He rallies off some shock and orders the squad try to fire on the Australian sections. They manage to see them through the thick jungle and open fire, inflicting two points of shock on the bren team.

The Gunso directs the grenade dischargers to fire, but they have trouble seeing the Australians through the jungle and hold their fire (note: in hindsight I've realised that the Gunso, the platoon second in command, operates as a junior leader, not a senior leader, so we wrongly allowed him three command initiatives throughout this scenario).

The Australians follow this with a double phase of their own, but the roll of 66552 leaves them with limited activations. The section by the road moves forward carefully to form a firing line with the section next to it, so they both face the Japanese. With a movement roll of one, they only just make it.

The next Australian phase sees a lot more options and with that the third section deploys to join the firefight in the centre, however it has trouble seeing the Japanese grenade discharger teams.   

With all three sections of the platoon now deployed they are joined by the Lieutenant and its clear Dave is hoping to win the firefight here and inflict some casualties on the advancing Japanese. The first section can see clearly enough to find its target and inflicts three points of shock on the enemy. 

The Lieutenant orders the next squad to fire, but despite a good line of sight their fire has no effect.

At this point the ATR team deploys and takes aim down the road at the Ha Go. They are on target and inflict a point of shock taking the gunner out of action for the next phase. As the gunner is also the tank commander we played this effectively took the tank out of action for the phase. 

There is quite a firefight building up in the centre and in the Japanese phase the Gunso rallies a point of shock off the squad and then orders it and the grenade discharger squad to fire. This inflicts more shock on the Australians. 

With the Australian platoon now fully committed to the firefight in the centre I decide it is time to make a move on the left flank. I have the squad that is already deployed make a wide hook through the jungle and to my delight they move quickly through the unfamiliar terrain. 

I feel reasonably confident I can hold my own in the centre and so decide to commit my final squad to join the move on the left flank. The aim is to make a strong push to drive into the Australian flank and rear.

Dave is determined to ignore the flank move, choosing to focus on winning the firefight in the centre. To increase his chances he wants to bring his SMGs to bear, so he needs to close the range. With that in mind he plans to have the Lieutenant direct each section to move slowly forward and fire at half effect, but before that the corporals rally off some of the shock.

What follows is agonising for the Lieutenant as each squad in turn has real problems finding their way through the jungle. Dave rolled three movement rolls of 1 in succession, which meant due to shock one section failed to move at all and then to make matters worse couldn't see anything through the jungle, so couldn't fire.  The remaining sections edged slightly closer, but only managed to inflict a single point of shock on the Japanese.

The ATR team are much more successful, hitting the Ha Go again, this time killing the driver and adding a further two points of shock.

Back at the huts the platoon sergeant orders the mortars to fire smoke and provide cover for the sections in the centre. One is on target and the other falls short, but both effectively screen off the Japanese squad.  

The Japanese have another double phase and so I decide to really push hard on the left flank.  I deploy the Rikugun, the platoon leader, and he orders both squads to move through the jungle and up to the tree line opposite the hut. Both squads are quick on their feet and navigate the jungle with ease.

They have come within sight of the Vickers MMG team on overwatch who immediately open fire. They get severals hits but the hard cover of the jungle trees provides excellent cover and the fire has no effect.

The Ha Go commander has gathered his senses and rallies off a point of shock and fires the coaxial MG at the ATR crew but to no effect.

The next Japanese phase present some interesting choices - how aggressive do I want my flanking attack to be? I have two full squads against a Sergeant, a Vickers MMG team and two mortar teams. Do I want to charge into close combat? I outnumber him, but I will be attacking a medium machine gun frontally. I suspect I would 'win' the combat, but at what cost? On the other hand, if I stand and shoot it out for another phase or two will I have lost the initiative and see the Australians reinforce the flank? Decisions, decisions.

In the end I decide I need to try to soften up the units around the huts before charging in with the bayonet. There is calculated aggression and then there is rash aggression, best to hold my horses here I think. I decide I need to put some more fire in before attempting to close on the hut.

To start off, in the centre the Gunso orders the grenade dischargers to bombard the huts with HE.  

One round hits the hut and kills one of the MMG crew. That's one less Australian to deal with. I'm about to have both the squads at the tree line fire into the huts, but then decide to fire one of them first just in case we end up causing more shock and casualties than I would otherwise expect. It might just make a close assault from the other squad a possibility.

The fire is reasonably effective and inflicts shock on the Vickers and a mortar team. It doesn't give me  enough confidence to close for an attack and so I have the other squad fire instead of advance. More shock is added to all the teams. One mortar team is pinned, but the support 2" mortar team also takes a casualty which causes them to break and rout off the table. Australian force morale drops to eight.  

That has put me in a much better position. The Australians took two casualties that phase and saw another man rout off the table. That makes the Sergeant and the Vickers team a lot more vulnerable. This gives Dave some pause for thought. While the Vickers team is a support and its loss won't impact the platoon strength, the loss of the Sergeant would be a real setback. As this is only the initial patrol scenario Dave decides that this calls for a withdrawal. There is nothing more to be gained by fighting this out other than needless Australian casualties. I suspect he is right and this is a sound decision.

Things went pretty much to plan for the Japanese. As always, making the most of a double phase and some faster than expected movement did much to help keep things on track. The Vickers was not that daunting and without more support it found itself quite exposed and vulnerable in the end.  That said, with fairly light casualties the Australians have fallen back in good order.  This is important given the level of reinforcements they can expect, although I suspect Dave was hoping to cause the Japanese more losses before retiring from the table.

Casualties ended up with one for the Japanese and four for the Australians (two from the supports and two from the core platoon). With the Japanese holding the table with a superior force morale the single Japanese casualty will return to the platoon. The Australians have lost one man permanently and have another man wounded who will miss the next game.

The scenario ends with the Japanese CO's opinion at +2 and the men's opinion also at +2, it's been a good start. The Australians are a little less certain, the CO is not impressed to see the unit pushed back and his opinion is at -1, the men are less concerned as casualties were light and their opinion is at 0.

Having pushed the Australian patrols back the Japanese will now press on with a Probe action to try to find the main Australian force. Here is the after action report for the next scenario Scenario 2 Find the Enemy.

That was a fairly brief opening scenario for the campaign. Our most notable impression was what a significant difference the Japanese patrol marker 14" allowance makes. It really allows the Japanese to move fast in the patrol phase and the Australians will have take this into account for future scenarios. When you add to this the Japanese ability to deploy 9" from their JoPs there is a real threat  that their attacks will develop very quickly.

It was great to make use of my two Airfix Jungle Outpost huts. I managed to track these down on eBay a few years ago and there's a post on the blog where you can follow how I constructed them. Talking of terrain I thought that by combining my Pacific trees and my European trees I would have enough to make a fairly decent jungle table, well as you can see, the jungle on this table was a little bit sparse in places.  Looks like I might be making a few more trees then.....