Saturday, August 31, 2013

Burma '44: The Road to Mandalay

Down by Mandalay
(sung to the tune of Lili Malene)

Out there in the jungle, down by Mandalay
A few forgotten soldiers slowly fight there way, 
They dream of the girls they left back home
And they soon hope to cross the foam
To see their land and loved ones
Never more to roam

Some of them are repat, some are time expired
Longing for their troopship, and their fireside
They often talk of Burmese plains
Of dust and heat, and Monsoon rains,
Of roads that lead to heaven
 And tracks that lead to hell.

Today Kent and I played  couple of demo games at TAGCON. Kent used the same forces as last time, I swapped the Stuart for another section of infantry- and added my bonus FOO. Both games we played Point Defence- first tie the Japanese attacked second game we swapped roles.

Burma 1944. The Japanese army is retreating towards Mandalay and the British 14th army is pursuing. The Japanese are down but not out and launch frequent counter attacks.One of these is against a platoon of the West Yorks.

Special Rules: Dug in- we let defending sections start the game in soft cover (dug in) and this status remains until the section moves from its original position (too many years of FoW). Being dug in is  -1 to preliminary bombardments effectiveness.

 The table is ready.
 Turn 1: The West Yorks are dug in and waiting for the Japanese attack. A section of infantry (vets) and a carrier are in reserve- but I forgot to make them outflank the enemy. Doh! A short artillery barrage heralds the Japanese attack but causes minimal damage. 
 A Japanese tank soon rumbles into view.
 Followed by fanatical infantry.

 The British hunker down (ambush) and hold their fire.
 Turn 2: A stonk called in by the FOO arrives, pinning several units. The infantry in the bottom left of the picture took 6 pins and remained pinned the rest of the game. The barrage upset the Japanese plans and the attack stalled as Kent tried to rally (unpin) his units.
 My vickers team in the building came in for a lot of attention from the Japanese tank and did not fire a for most of the game! It was also responsible for our first serious friendly fire incidents. The MMG failed an orders check and opened fire on the mortar team (which had managed to avoid being hit by the Japanese tank for several rounds) and wiped it out (note- we both forgot that team weapons have a firing arc and not being able to rotate to fire in other directions so the event probably shouldn't have happened... but it was rather amusing).
 The Japanese advance resumes, the cagey Japanese using jungle to cover the advance.

 Our "tank" a recce carrier arrives to assist.
 The Japanese attack seems stalled. Kent is playing a bit cautiously and cannot (in my estimation) take any objectives with the time left.
 A counter attack goes in, sweeping a way a Japanese section.
Result: Victory to the British. Kent lost sight of the objectives- to capture the and spent too may turns trying to rally. We ended up getting an extra turn and the tank was almost contesting one objective but he had left is run to late. 

Game 2: 
A British counter attack is launched on a nearby village to clear it of enemy forces.The British commander ordered two sections to outflank the enemy and having studied up on Cannae decided on a double envelopment (partially as I thought I needed to capture all 3 objectives).

How would our carrier cope vs a real tank? Due to the British barrage rules most Japanese sections took 1-2 pins from the bombardment. 
 Two sections advance in the centre so they can swing left or right as they support each other. As it turns out one swung right the other...
...met a Japanese counter attack led by the tank.
 Our "tank" leads the advance from the section that went right. 
 In a rather bold (some would say rash) move the section of infantry charge towards the hut (which hides an MMG team). 
 I get the first die of the new turn and instead of hitting the MMG charge  Japanese section but lose 4 men to defensive fire (or whatever it is called). Lets just say the odds were not in my favour but I was expecting to kill 3-4 teams  making the job of my reserves easier. I only killed 2 so the sacrifice was in vain as the Japanese finish off the section (close assaults are brutal in this game).
 In the centre I again charged and again failed to kill enough of the enemy- two underwhelming assaults in a row. Things were not looking good. So I threw in my platoon commander and promptly lost him too! The Japanese the charged and killed our medic.
 Yikes. The Japanese have crushed our centre. 
 Our only hope now is our two flank attacks (maybe this is going to be a Burmese Cannae after all). Note: The Stuart is one of the objectives BTW. Our flank attack arrives but Kent as learned the advantage of ambush so shreds the section before they can fire killing 4 men.
 The survivors kill the Japanese commander and assistant.
 Meanwhile on the other flank my final section arrives and shoots the Japanese killing one or two. If I can get the first dice in the last turn I will get to assault first but alas it wasn't to be. Kent got the first die and his assault took out 4 men My counter assault killed 4 in return but in the second round of combat I took 3 losses ad only killed 2 me so was destroyed-  and that was pretty much the end of the game.

Result: Japanese victory. 
Kent played that one a lot more aggressively, counter charging whenever he could. Once again he targeted my mortar early (it had one shot all day!). Our MMGs engaged in a bit of a fire fight as well. I learned that is really is not a good idea to charge full strength Japanese sections and that they need some preparation before you go in. I think Kent is starting to see the advantages of charging with Japanese- they live and die by assaults.

We are a bit hamstrung with options for the Japanese at present but I do have a 47mm AT gun coming and also want to get a Shinhoto tank (though a captured Stuart with a Japanese flag painted on the sides would be cool).

I really missed the Ghurkas come assault time but I aren't keen to use them- the Tough + Scary Blighters is a bit over the top for my liking so might use the commando rules (Behind enemy lines and Tough) to represent them instead. It fits in that the Ghurkas too were excellent at patrolling in the jungle and the points are the same as for commandos.  

Final Thoughts
Close assults are brutal. I paid the price for trying to do too much and should have gone for 2 objectives only. As in FoW a assault needs to be prepped properly and units need to work together. The games were both fun, fast and brutal and thoroughly enjoyable.

Japanese Special rules
I think Kent is a bit underwhelmed by the Japanese special rules- especially after being on the receiving end of British bombardments from free forward observers. The Japanese launched many of their attacks at night in Burma so I think we need to develop a night fighting rule and allow attacking Japanese to fight at night. Probably reducing visibility to 24" and having all teams count in concealing terrain at all times to represent it (will have to give it a go)

I'm already looking forward to the next game.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

20mm Buildings- help needed

I've decided to go with 20mm buildings for 28mm gaming- compressed weapon ranges meas (slightly) compressed buildings too.  As you an see in te building below the 28mm figures are slightly out of scale with the doorways (though if like me you've lived in Japan you'll know doorways in Japan are not as tall as we enjoy here in NZ and a 6'2" I had to learn to duck... a lot- so the scale is even closer for these guys). This is an Italeri building I picked up a couple of years ago.

So what I need are some suggestions of good 20mm ranges to get- kitset or premade.

Suggestions welcome.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bolt Action AAR- "Aayo Gurkhali"

Tonight Stephen, Simon and Kent popped round for the my much anticipated game of Bolt Action, once again the action occurred somewhere in Burma. Each force was upgraded to 800pts. I had a cunning plan, adding a platoon of veteran Ghurkas to try to deal with those accursed veteran jungle fighters...The Ghurka war cry was "Aayo Gurkhali" or "here come the Ghurkas". Time to see to see how the brave Nepalese troops would fare on the table top.

Simon and I fielded:
1st lt + NCO
2x regular sections ( incl SMG &LMG)
1x Vet ghurkas (SMG, LMG)
1x recce carrier
1x M3 Stuart
1x 3" mortar
1x Vickers MMG

The Japanese fielded:
Offier + SMG NCO
2x Sections with 12 infantry (icl light mortars)
10x jungle fighers (vets)
1x Chi Ha tank
1x Juku MMG

Visibility: We limited visibility to 6" in jungle. It is suppose to be impenetrable after all.

We ran a demolition mission adding a objective one each side (worth 2 VPs). We chose to keep our Stuart in reserve and use our 2nd regular infantry section to outflank the enemy. Kent chose to put everything on table.

Everything is ready for the game.
 A section advances across open ground.
 Opposite them the Japanese head for the jungle.
 Turn 2 the section crosses the dead ground before the sniper can get into position and draw a bead on them.
 The Japanese work their way through the jungle.
 The Japanese tank opens fire but misses the British infantry.
 The recce carrier moves forward.
 Kent is up to is old tricks: stalking armoured vehicles...
 The Japanese close in on the objective they intend to defend.
 The mortar managed to in a section with their first range in attempt then was almost knocked out by the return fire from the Japanese tank. The survivor managed to sneak off into the jungle to save a victory point.
 Turn 4: Our flanking force turns up  is immediately ambushed by the jungle fighter- I made a bit of a mistake in the rules here and allowed the Japanese to charge a assault first wiping out the British (memo to self ambush doesn't work quite like opportunity charges/counter charges in Impetvs does). 
 So we sent in the Gurkas ad destroyed the jungle fighters- Kent mentioning something about cutting all their fingers off with Kukris when he found out how deadly Ghurkas are in assaults.
 Our officer sprinted past the sniper and managed to survive thanks to more woeful shooting by the sniper.
 Banzai! The Japanese charge the carrier and knock it out.
 The Ghurkas clear the Japanese away from the objective, killing their commander and NCO.
End of turn 6 we both had managed to contest the objectives and both had lost 3 units so it was a draw.

Changes to the army? 
Another section of infantry. I still don't feel I have enough go forward so will try a extra section next game.


Monday, August 26, 2013

More Jungle Terrain

Last night I added a couple more stands to my Japanese force: a second juku MMG and a sniper team (placed on a round base for ease of recognition on the tabletop).

Tonight I made another 5 of bases worth of my jungle terrain- same method as last time:

1. Cut out an MDF base with a jig-saw. Then used a wood rasp to round the edges of the base.
2. Add plaster and place the jungle base into it.
3. Once the plaster is dry paint the base with PVA glue and cover in sand to texture the base.
4. Once the PVA is dry paint with black then drybrush dark brown followed by a light yellowish shade.
5. Once the paint is dry cover in static grass and add a few small pieces of clump foliage.
6. Done

 I am very happy with the way that they are looking.

Finally a bit of progress on the man cave/gaming room. Lights were finally hooked up last week and the power switches today so I finally have power. I have bought some LED lights from China to keep running costs to a minimum- about $3 ea and should last about 100,000 hrs apparently. Still a lot of finishing off to be done but the room is getting there.