Thursday, 8 November 2018

Malaya 1942 Map 3 The Japanese Attack Again

While the Australian counterattack in the last game was short lived, it did succeed in enforcing a delay on the Japanese. With the initiative back in Japanese hands they are pressing on without delay to finally clear the Australian platoon from Map 3.

At this attempt I have chosen to avoid the roads and attack via the jungle. I'm hoping the close terrain and limited lines of sight will make it difficult for the Australians to bring down a supporting mortar barrage until it is too late and the Japanese have closed in on them.

The table is covered in primary jungle with a patch of Wild Bamboo and an area of Rubber Plantation. 

I want to move quickly on the Australians and use all the possible Japanese advantages. The national characteristic Jungle Fighters allows for 14" moves and distance between patrol markers and a 9" deployment range for regular troops, so I want stretch the Australian defence and use my flanks. To help with that I will consider a Ruse for a support, as a judicious use of this surprise move of a jump off point has been effective in earlier games in the campaign.

This is another Attack & Defend scenario and I roll six for support points. This gives the Japanese seven (they receive an additional one due to the CO's opinion), so this gives the Australians six (half of six, plus an extra three for the difference in force ratings).

To support my plan I decide on a pre-game barrage in the hope a delayed Australian deployment will allow me to close quickly before they can organise a defence. To back that up I do settle on using a Ruse so that I can capitalise on any disruption caused by the barrage, alternatively it may be useful for a flank move later in the game. Finally, I bring in an engineer flamethrower team, this might be the support I will need to break any impasse in the jungle fighting. The flamethrower's ability to negate the jungle cover and inflict a lot of shock may just prove decisive. 

We begin with Japanese force morale at ten and the Australians' at nine. The Japanese roll a one to give them a single free move in the patrol phase, not the most auspicious start to my aggressive attack, but given the close proximity of markers from the start it is not a major setback either.

I want options on all flanks and so spread my jump-off-points accordingly. It appears Dave is hoping to draw me into a firefight where he has the best lines of sight and groups his JoPs around the rubber plantation.

The Japanese waste no time deploying and the grenade discharger squad and a rifle squad arrive from the right flank jump off point ready to cover the rubber plantation. The grenade dischargers are close to the edge of the jungle and so can bring the rubber plantation under fire. They are placed on overwatch. I'm hoping the pre-game barrage will cause the Australians to deploy piecemeal and I want to be able to hit them as soon as possible before they can concentrate.

Dave has learned quickly that the best Australian defence is to concentrate his sections and use them aggressively within the range of his Thompson submachine guns. I need to try to make this as difficult as possible for him while inflicting casualties.

In the Australian phase the pre-game barrage causes serious disruption and two sections and the platoon sergeant all fail to deploy. The Australian jump-off-points are eerily quiet. I'm pleased. This is exactly why I called in the barrage.

Unfortunately my luck does not extend to the Japanese command roll which gives me 54443. Only the 3 is really of use, but this seems a good moment to bring in the Gunso as he can use his command initiatives to get the two squads moving. The Rikugun can remain off table with the remaining two squads for now. The Gunso orders the grenade dischargers to edge forward to the tree line by the rubber plantation and bring more of the opposite jungle into line of sight ready for any Australian deployment. 

The squad is ordered to make its way forward through the jungle that runs alongside the rubber plantation, however the jungle makes their movement difficult and they creep forward 3".

Sensing the building pressure the Australians try once again to deploy the two sections and the platoon sergeant, but only the sergeant makes it through the barrage. It really is having a devastating effect on Australian deployment and the lone sergeant deploys himself deep into the jungle and away from prying Japanese eyes. 

The Japanese command roll now sees a moment of good fortune with a double phase. This really is the time to take full advantage of a Ruse and see if I can close down some of the Australian jump off points. Using the Ruse, the right flank jump off point moves 18" forward into the rubber plantation. 

A squad arrives at the new position and deploys the full 9", which brings it to within 4" of the jump off point on the Australian left flank and closes it down.

The lone Australian sergeant looks alarmingly through the jungle at this latest development.

The final squad of the Japanese platoon deploys from the same jump off point, but this time towards the other two Australian JoPs. Despite deploying 9" they are not quite close enough to either to close them down.

Lastly I deploy the Rikugun. While this may hinder the flamethrower team deploying later, knowing I have the next phase I want to ensure all my command options are open, because if things go well I could possibly close down all three Australian JoPs and win the scenario. With any luck the flamethrower team won't be needed.

With that the full Japanese platoon is on the table and closing in on the Australians JoPs and the only Australian present to stop them is the lone platoon sergeant.

The subsequent Japanese command roll provides a range of options that mean no matter how I use them I can activate all units. The key activation is the squad in the plantation near the central Australian JoP, if they can move fast enough they can possibly close down both JoPs. The Rikugun orders them forward and they move briskly, covering 10" and so closing down both JoPs.

This now leaves the squad on the right to inflict one last indignity on the Australians by attempting to kill the platoon sergeant in close combat. The squad moves quickly bringing it on top of the JoP and within range to take on the sergeant in close combat. In my eagerness to get to grips with the sergeant I didn't think to calculate the odds for close combat and these end up at 4:1 and so the sergeant is able to rout away and escape before the Japanese can close on him.

The key thing was to ensure I had all the Australian JoPs closed down and so bring the scenario to a close. While killing the platoon sergeant would have been quite a bonus, I will settle for this quick and bloodless victory.

The sergeant is seen disappearing headlong into the jungle, but I know this won't be the last we see of him.

Well, if the previous scenario was short, how do we assess what happened here?

The problem wasn't that the Australians did anything wrong, it was that they weren't able to do anything at all. For the Japanese it was a bit of dream run, with everything working pretty much as I had hoped. The pre-game barrage was probably the most effective I have ever seen; the timing of the double phase could not have been better, and the Ruse was the ideal way to capitalise on the opportunity. Last but not least, if the Australians contributed anything at all it was the fact Dave had clustered his JoPs quite close together. This then made it possible to close them all down with a few moves. It needed all the stars to align and that's what they did.

A single successful deployment of an Australian section may not have saved the day, but would certainly have made for a longer struggle to take the map. As it turned out there was very little they could do to stop the Japanese onslaught.

I discover one of Dave's supports was the forward observer team for the mortars. This is the one defensive option that has the potential to play havoc with a Japanese attack and was one reason I preferred to approach through the jungle. Knowing this might be available to the Australians was one reason I was eager to press hard and close quickly before a barrage brought everything to a grinding halt.

I have found the Ruse a very effective support and well worth the two points. Which makes me wonder if it is too cheap or too powerful? We did wonder whether it should have a higher points value, or alternatively be restricted to a limited number of uses during the campaign. Maybe in this game I simply got lucky.

The victory sees the Japanese CO's opinion rise two points to five. The men's opinion rises more after  achieving a cheap victory with no losses to themselves and now stands at four. The platoon leader's outlook improves and he is now affable.

On the other hand the Australian COs opinion drops down to -1 at the news of another withdrawal. The men themselves are not overly concerned as casualties are light and so their opinion increases to +3. For some reason the setback has not dented the platoon leaders outlook which is relaxed.
In terms of campaign progress this is a good result for the Japanese and allows me to take a full platoon into the next action. We will never recover the delay caused by the Australian counter attack, but at least we have the attack on a schedule that means campaign victory continues to remain a possibility.

So we now move on to Game 6 on Map 4 and you can follow what happens in Scenario 4 Cut off the Retreat.


  1. Despite mo bloodshed, this was enthralling. Well played!

  2. Sorry if this has been asked elsewhere but where did you get those MDF markers made?

    1. The grey ones used in this game belong to my opponent Dave, I'm pretty sure he got these from Olympian Games.

  3. Interesting report. On e possible way to balance the ruse might be to make the Japanese pre-game barrage less effective due to the lack of heavier artillery in the Japanese divisional organization which was one reaosn for the emphasis on the integral knee mortars and the emphasis on maneuver and surprise (e.g. what the ruse represents). Maybe have a pre-game barrage for the Japanese be only 33% effective ins topping deployment instead of 50%.

    1. Not a bad point but with only a 33% chance of being effective I don't think it would be a worthwhile support choice. I have mixed thoughts on its usefulness at the best of times. What happened here was certainly well against the odds. Not sure the barrage is supposed to represent much more than regimental or battalion assets and while you are right to point out the lack of Japanese artillery, there was most likely enough at regimental level to cause a disruptive barrage like that represented in CoC. Our thinking is that with any support that is almost an automatic choice because of its effectiveness is most likely too cheap to call on. The Ruse is guaranteed to work every time for only two support points and has the potential to be a game changer. For the same support cost a barrage has a 50/50 chance of working and even that assumes the turn doesn't end prematurely. I'd be inclined to look at changing the Ruse rather than the barrage.

  4. Very cool and well played scenario. I was rooting for you the whole time. 😀
    I don’t know if Ruse is overwhelming, it sounds more like you had hot die rolls when you needed them most and poor Dave had bad rolls at the worse moments. Such is wargaming. And kinda like last game; while this might of been a short game of it were stand alone; as part of the narrative campaign it just builds momentum and story. 😀

    1. Yes, I think the stars just aligned for me nicely in this one, just one of those games, as you say. Naturally I'll be modest and put some of it down to my brilliant support choice and stellar tactical play LOL.

  5. I have searched on your site and on the TFL sites for this adaption to the rules. I have, obviously, made an ineffective search as I have not been able to find it anywhere! HELP!

    I Love this campaign and am an obvious fan of you AAR technique!

    1. Dick, a bit tricky to find because it's not a stand alone publication, it is an article in the TFL Christmas Special 2015, available from the Lardies website.