A pretty successful day one saw Poochie and me surprising ourselves and being near the front of the pack and on Sunday morning faced another of our worst nightmare lists, Japanese. I’ve never played Japanese before but the guys said that they had a boat load of special rules and they weren’t wrong (night attacking tanks that re-roll misses while moving- and also the need to destroy every tank to break a platoon, or near enough- yikes!). Looking at the Japanese force on paper I wasn’t overly confident of our chances.
The Japanese force was played by Craig and his son Flynn who at the age of maybe 10 or 11 was by a by far the youngest player present and it was really cool to see him and his father enjoying the games together all weekend. Flynn stayed focused throughout the game we played, and from what I could tell the whole weekend too so it was really great to see such dedication at such a young age.
The Japanese had something like:
A tank company of 4 platoons of 4 tanks + command tanks
2x infantry platoons each with 3 niku (?) tank destroyer teams
2x 75mm (?) howitzers
2x 75mm (?) howitzers
2x 45mm AT guns
Being Japanese they auto attacked (and made it a night attack too) so Poochie and I deployed my panzers IIIs, supported by his command panzer III, covering the forward objective and his panzer IIs in ambush. The Japanese set up their two infantry platoons on the Japanese left flank and the tanks, supported by the artillery, in a rather intimidating mass near the centre-right. One hope I had was that the river would split their forces and give us a chance to do something.
A view of the infantry deployment.
By turn 2 I was more than a bit concerned about how close the tanks were advancing but really couldn’t afford to fire as the advancing guns combining with the tanks made it potential suicide! Poochie however relished in ambushing the far right infantry platoon with 30 dice of panzer II 2cm cannon and destroyed about 8 teams including the tank destroyer teams so that threat was neutralised (but still on table).
Turn 3 the Japanese again advanced under the cover of darkness. On our turn morning broke, Poochie managed to finish off the infantry platoon he had mauled first turn and start duking it out between his panzer IIs and a platoon of Japanese tanks that was helping the infantry. Again on my flank the pressure was on, my panzers backpedalling to cover the objective and avoid too much massed gun fire.
Turn 4+ the Game became very intense. Poochie Panzer IIs managed to destroy a couple of tank sin the platoon supporting the infantry forcing the others to hide, but he did also lose a couple of tanks to AT guns.
It wasn’t till turn 5 our reserves finally started to appear (Boris) so I had to risk double moving Boris (the T34) to try and support our now badly mauled panzers.
Craig & Flynn organised their tanks to maximise firepower (an armoured wedge) and slowly whittled us down. Poochie’s commander died first and he was down to 2-3 working panzer IIs so all but broken and I was pinned to the near objective facing massed tanks but somehow we hung on, and on and on. One my turn I managed to bail 3 tanks and destroy one but that isn’t good enough vs Japanese they just get back in and carry on and don't need to pass morale checks to do so.
[Sorry, no more pictures as the game the games was getting too intense and I forgot to take any].
By now I was down to two tanks (one from the platoon and the company commander!) and then I started rolling some obscene saves and somehow managed to keep the game alive for an extra 2 turns while we tried to get a second point from the Japanese. Both tanks survived multiple hits and luckily for us the Japanese infantry failed 2 turns in a row to pass fearless tests to assault them off the front objective.
In the end our luck held and on turn 6 or 7 an outrageous round of shooting meant we were able to finish off two badly mauled platoons of Japanese tanks and Boris and Poochie’s newly arrived panzer 3s destroyed a third. The Japanese failed their fearless morale test and broke. 6-1 to us!
That was another hell of a game, we not only used our get out of jail card, we took the whole jail and flew it to South America! Poochie and I agree that Craig and Flynn made a couple of errors later in the game that possibly cost them but really the game was theirs and would have been 9 times out of 10 on those last 3 turns and it was only incredible armour save dice that kept us in the game.
At the start we needed to whittle down those Japanese tanks but the return fire would have been horrendous so had to try to make the most of range and remained GTG to stay alive as long as possible so refusing to fire for two turns, then moving back further still in turn 3 was in the end I think one of the important decisions that kept us in it (just).
I felt bad for Craig and Flynn for somehow finding themselves losing 6-1 on a game that was too all intents and purposes theirs and in which we really only had 4-5 tanks (2 mk IIIs and 2-3 panzer 2s) for the last 2-3 turns and should have been dead several times over.
Again it was an outstanding game and was awesome to see such a young player thoroughly enjoying himself, making tactically sound decisions, and having an obvious blast gaming with his dad.