(c) 2001, Wayward Publications
Japanese scenarios, more so than any other nationality, gives you a feeling that you've done all you can. It's rewarding at the end of a turn to see every unit (attacking and defending) stacked with a lot of counters. From unremarkable Prep Fire, to CX, Final Fire, Pins, DM, broken weapons, CC, Melee, Encircled, HtH, Residual, and Fire Lanes are all present. Units may have FPF; desperate ones, several times. Because the Japanese basically have to do a frontal assault, every defending unit has the chance to fire the maximum amount of times. Heroes come and go without notice from the cauldron of heat of battle, often in the same fire phase, if not the same attack. The intensity is satisfying under normal situations. It becomes downright gratifying after a hard week of work and you just want to see a lot of things die.
Such is the case with "Hell wouldn't have it" (BRT 5). It's not only a Japanese night attack but also by SSR, they have to perform an 11-unit banzai attack within the first three turns. Unlike other night actions, there is no scenario attacker or defender. The Americans are under no movement restrictions (other than having the pajeepers shot out of them as they run across the airfield) and the Japanese aren't HIP. In addition, the Japanese can set up two squad equivalents along with SW and leaders stacked with them behind the enemy lines. Both sides know where each other are, can move, and have the firepower and means to accomplish their task. For the Japanese, they have to inflict 23 CVPs which could include exiting units. The Americans are trying to stop this but for a long eight turns. When we played this, ROAR showed an even split at two for either side.
Can you say 'board edge creep,' or at least 'board edge booty haul'? The Japanese are attempting to break out from the eastern-most part of the island. The map is dominated by the air field in the center. Devoid of covering terrain, it is a good idea to stay clear of the runways. That pretty much leaves the two sides near the beaches. Considering the Americans have attempt to cover both sides and at least a small force in the middle, the logical thing to do is put all your units at one side of the other and force your way through. In anticipation of the Americans trying to reinforce the side not chosen, bunch your MGs with the good leaders and brush up on your firelane rules. Remember, your units can run through the soft sand faster than the Americans. At two MF per hex, the Polo-shirt clad, golf playing monkeys are not going anywhere quickly. In fact, the airfield benefits you more than you would think.
Placement of the two squad equivalents has surprisingly little effect on the game. The biggest advantage would be to stop rout but remember it's night. Japanese in small groups are not much a threat either. The little four FP is no match for the six FP of the Americans. The squads may be better written off as speed bumps, placing them in the middle to hinder movement. Nevertheless the occasional 4-2 attack is always fun. If the Americans are careless enough to put the stray unit by itself in a rear area, these two squads may capture a mortar. Finally, they are four easy exit points.
The bottom line is you need to stay together as a group. You four FP units are pretty lame unless you can form fire groups. 12 and 16 FP attacks are going to be useful. A broken American unit is going to be out for some time, DM does not automatically come off. The US leaders are hard pressed as it is, much less if they have to run across sand and maybe scooting across runways. In addition, keep the MGs together and stacked with a -1 leader, and you're doling out serious attacks. While the scenario is eight turns, I say push it as quickly as possible. The way the Japanese dwindle over time, a long fight is not in your best interest. Move too slowly or duke it out too long and you'll find yourself with a bunch of broken half squads.
I'm not sure what to do although I'm fairly certain what not to do. I had a strong forward set up and split my forces equally covering the either beach approach. My heavy weapons (the HMG and Mtr) were in the middle, both in foxholes on the air field. This allowed them to fire almost anywhere and hopefully for the duration of the battle. Again, the Americans can't move quickly in the sand and even more slowly if they're lugging hardware. While a center arrangement guarantees poor shots anywhere, at least you get poor shots everywhere.
Before criticizing me, consider two things. First, the Japanese in setting up after you, can always pick the weaker side. Second, if you don't split your forces, you're giving him a free path off the board. Each group had the edge of the airfield to the sea wall covered. I also set up with a depth too. The defense had as many units behind the line as on the line itself. The front units are going to get overrun so brace for it.
The obvious problem with setting up forward is the Japanese can always pick your weak area. Plus, it they ever get behind you, the game is over. The last thing you want to do is go on the attack. That leaves setting up off the main line. This strategy has two advantages. First, it makes the Japanese a little weaker in their attack. It is just a fact of ASL that the attacker always spreads out a little bit when they move. In this sense, let the Japanese come to you for a movement phases or two. Two an more importantly, it makes the Japanese commit their forces first. You're forced to move into position, but at least it's against the correct force. Either way, moving, much less on the airfield, is no pleasant task. Rally is going to be a slow process. Needless to say the tank is your best friend. Keep it back a ways, reacting to the ebb and flow of battle and protected from tank hunting heroes, and it will serve you well. No doubt it will eventually get overwhelmed but such is the fate.
The game will be over before the full eight turns. Japanese scenarios tend to do this. The Japanese either have the force they need to win in the first or second assault. Otherwise they just lose steam as units get whittled away. My game was really over by turn two although I gave it the old college try.
My best strategy I leave to the last: I completely abandoned my artillery. Since I never have luck with OBA, I assumed my night OBA will be even less effective. The time saved from thinking it was going to have an effect. In truth it did have a marginal effect. I did place a SR and it made the Japanese move around it for at a cost of 1.5 MF. Beyond that, the OBA was as effective as any other time.
I wish more night scenarios were like this one. Both sides can move, both have a lot of fire power, and both sides have plenty of options. It seems in too many games the defending side is a static force and simply reacts to the attacker. More so in Tarawa the defender is in pillboxes and can't do anything more than just fire. This may be realistic but it is largely uninteresting for the defender.
Also with a NVR of two, it wasn't too long before star shells begun to fly. There were turns the entire playing area was lit for daylight. One thing to watch out for is a unit in an illuminated location can't see out of the illuminated area except for another illuminated area. That means, they can't see a moving vehicle or gun bursts. Consider placing a star shell over the unit you don't want to attack. Bad thing is both sides get enough star shell opportunities it may not matter.
I think this scenario is slightly pro-Japanese. It's also one of the few times when attacking across an airfield benefits the attacker rather than the defender.
Set up allows the Japanese to place two units in the American's set up area provided the hex is empty. Since the US can place SMCs HIP, what if the Japanese places the unit in the HIP SMC location? Is the unit bounced? Is the HIP concealed, can both units be re-placed?
SSR 1 states: See BRT SSR [EXC: The first sentence of BRT 7 is NA]. BRT7 only has one sentence.
As always, I encourage discussion. If you agree or disagree, feel free to write me.