It’s the end of September and I haven’t done my monthly Combat Commander ladder post!
Yes, sorry for the delay. Too many video games.
Anyway, I played this scenario a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting to the AAR.
That’s on me.
This is another tale from the Combat Commander ladder run by the sublime Patrick Pence of Youtube’s Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials (if you haven’t checked the channel out, you should).
This is my monthly Combat Commander fix (though I did manage to actually get a non-ladder game in this month! Thanks, Noel) and I really enjoy it.
September’s game was a rematch against the dastardly Joshua G (I call him that only because he beat me handily in June).
We’re back to the Pacific for two months (September and October) and this month’s scenario was West Tank Barrier, where the US Marines (me) were facing off against a totally entrenched (but not very numerous) Japanese foe (Joshua).
(You can click on a picture to blow it up to full size)
The Japanese have a fairly small force but they also have to put a bunch of their units in “Infiltration” boxes to come out later via card play.
The Sogeki Hei (a kind of Japanese sniper who can kill a unit with a good shot) and the battalion gun along with its firing team have to set up on the board. The other units are up to Japanese discretion though at least some of them do have to set up on the board.
Joshua chose to not have too many units out but instead he had an overloaded kill stack ready to infiltrate into one of the many Sighting markers that litter the American play area.
How did it go?
Well, you may be able to guess by the fact that this AAR is so late, but let’s take a look anyway.
I started out by trying to make him regret his paucity of units with a massive firepower attack!
And promptly drew a “2” Time trigger.
Not good when you’re the attacker! At least in Combat Commander: Europe, when you draw a Time trigger it’s also a massively good roll. Not in the Pacific! It’s a 2.
This was not a good start.
The US started their move along the south, trying to attack while resistance was slim.
Japanese defensive fire broke a moving unit but it was quickly rallied.
The US started to move forward in the north, facing some light defensive fire. Two units broke…and another Time!
The US really wanted the initiative but didn’t have it.
We were getting way too close to Sudden Death and the US had barely moved.
Part of the subsequent attack and defense rolls caused two White Phosphorous smoke events in the south and Japanese air support!
What is this sorcery?
Of course, the US had a Revive-4 card, so all of those broken units were rallied.
But it was still annoying.
Withering American fire broke the Japanese units on the hill and the then the movement continued.
Things weren’t looking too bad, even with the quick Time triggers!
The Japanese quickly revived them and moved one of them to the top of the hill, out of line of sight of the American forces.
Since there was no leader there, Joshua couldn’t activate both of them to move, so the US tried to pounce with another Fire card.
And promptly rolled a 3, dispersing one of the smokes (thankfully it was behind them anyway) and making the Japanese laugh at the pitiful pop guns of the US forces.
The advance continued in the south, all the way up to the Wire barrier!
(US Tactical Mistake #1) – The Rifle Marines are the ones who can destroy fortifications, like Wire and a Bunker and stuff like that, as per the scenario special rules. So of course I have the Rifle Marine squad in the south trailing the other units.
The Japanese responded by doing a little maneuvering around the hill and moving the sniper (I’m sorry, I’m not going to keep typing that name out) away from the southern advance.
The US did try to break the sniper but it was ineffective.
But the advance continued in the north onto the hill!
Then the Japanese Battalion Gun finally opened up.
And promptly missed the short-range shot.
The sniper backed into the jungle while the Japanese dive bomber finally attacked!
And suppressed one unit.
The US, in the defense rolls, promptly drew one of probably three or four Air Support events that were from the wrong year and thus didn’t count.
The southern group advanced onto the Wire, and one unit stumbled into an ineffective mine field.
This is where Joshua took the first of his three inspired calculated risks.
The team on the hill advanced into melee with the lone US squad!
That totally took me by surprise.
The Japanese are vicious in melee.
He didn’t have any Ambush cards, but neither did I.
He did have Bayonets, though! That made his combat value 5 to my 6. That is a risk!
But he promptly drew an 8 while I drew a 4. The US squad died horribly.
I think that set me off a little bit, because I started taking risks too, including trying to blindly get a radio.
Thankfully, that worked! The US received 81mm artillery support (costing 4 VP but I really wanted that radio)
Another Asset Request brought some artillery fire!
A lone squad was the victim, but I was hoping to take out the bunker too.
It didn’t do anything, but it felt good.
The Battalion Gun fired again, to no effect. And the US got another useless Air Support event.
The northern advance continued, minus a squad. No ill effects occurred. Dueling Asset Denied orders broke the Japanese Battalion Gun and the US radio.
Then some good luck for the Americans!
Sgt. MacGowan, in his new position up on the hill, fired at the sniper twice from long range.
The first shot broke it and the second shot killed it!
The sniper did nothing all game.
Meanwhile, the southern advance moved off of the Wire.
(US Tactical Mistake #2) – for some reason, after moving off of the Wire and killing the sniper, I became obsessed with knocking out the Battalion Gun and its crew instead of just exiting for VP.
That came back to bite me in the ass.
Asset Requests fixed both the artillery and the Battalion Gun. Artillery fire on the bunker did nothing, though.
A lot of maneuvering occurred with the US trying to melee the gun crew and them advancing first outside of the bunker and then back inside the bunker.
Part of this was because the US suddenly stopped getting Move cards.
Seeing an opening, the Killer Japanese Team decided to make a run for some points!
The US tried to knock it out with artillery later in the game, but they unfortunately made it off the board.
The Battalion Gun opened up on Lt. DeMoss and his men, and finally did something, breaking all three of them.
I decided to split them up since I had no Revive card and I didn’t want them all dying at the same time.
Of course, another Fire order killed DeMoss and the one squad that stayed with him.
(US Tactical Mistake #3) – US fire trying to break the Battalion Gun crew before that happened brought the US Hero out. I could have had him rally DeMoss. But instead I put him in the other hex and rallied that unit.
That was stupid.
The Japanese gave up the Initiative because it rolled a “2” Time trigger on the to-hit roll. Joshua thought killing DeMoss and friend was worth not having Time advance.
Not a whole lot more happened.
The Japanese hero showed up behind the US lines, threatening Sgt. Savage until a US squad joined him. The Japanese team made it off the board (though Savage’s artillery call did break it, another artillery strike missed) and then came back on the next Time trigger, making US exit more difficult (though they could have if I had wanted to).
The US did try to advance further in the north to maybe do some damage, threatening the lone squad.
(Japanese Inspired Calculated Risk #2) – Instead of retreating, the squad advanced into melee against the US flamethrower squad!
That was unexpected too!
Both sides had an Ambush card, but the subsequent rolls resulted in another dead US squad (and heavy weapon that had done nothing).
On the next turn, the US fired on the squad, killing it in revenge.
But the damage was done.
The US still had a chance, though.
Until Japanese Inspired Calculated Risk #3 – Joshua finally had drawn an Infiltrate order!
Remember that big kill stack that was in the Infiltration box? Joshua had not drawn an Infiltrate order since the beginning of the game.
(US Tactical Mistake #4) – I had MacGowan and his big stack sitting on a Sighting marker in the Jungle. I was going to move them off in the next turn, but the Jungle was where I wanted to be with that squad there.
Of course, that’s where they big kill stack came in.
In hindsight, the 2 Cover was probably not worth the chance of that happening, but I honestly didn’t realize that he would do that (which maybe is Tactical Mistake #5?)
This was a big risk. If I happened to win it, most of the Japanese forces would be gone.
If Joshua did, the US force would just be decimated.
It was a risk, but he had an Ambush card and I didn’t. He also had Bayonets! But thankfully so did I.
The ultimate firepower ratio was me with 14 and him with 17 (before Bayonets).
He drew a 6.
I needed a 9 to have mutual annhilation.
And I drew a 3.
With the Japanese having Initiative, there was no reroll and MacGowan’s whole stack died terribly.
I decided that I was going to keep going for a little while to see if I could salvage anything, but it was pretty much over.
The US Hero and squad made one more attempt to melee the Battalion Gun. But they stumbled into a Minefield. One of the final defense rolls resulted in a Time trigger, which brought on Sudden Death.
There, the game mercifully ended.
The final result after objectives were revealed was a 16-point Japanese win, made closer than it should be by Joshua’s hidden objective being every Objective hex being worth 3 points. I had four of them.
Joshua was a great opponent, but he sucks because he’s beaten me twice (I’m just joking…he is great).
I made a few major mistakes, but I still might have won. Joshua’s calculated melee risks really won him the game. They could have lost him the game, but he had the courage to take them.
And he made me pay.
I really enjoyed playing with him and hope to play him a third time and finally win one.
For the Ladder itself, I’m on a losing streak that I hope I can rectify in October with the next Pacific scenario from the New Guinea Battle Pack.
If you find these AARs interesting, consider joining the Ladder! It’s a great group of guys and one of the most fun games I play.
Stay tuned next month (it’s almost next month already!) for another exciting tale from the Combat Commander ladder.
Combat Commander Ladder – After Action Reports
May 2021 – Scenario #112 – Sonnenwende
July 2021 – Scenario #23 – No Man’s Land
August 2021 – Scenario #34 – Encircled at Hill 30
September 2021 – Scenario A – Grassy Knoll
October 2021 – Scenario M6 – Breakout
November 2021 – Scenario #35 – Spartakovka Salient
December 2021 – Scenario #51 – The Uneasy Wait
January 2022 – Scenario #65 – Road Trip
February 2022 – Scenario #75 – Sturmgruppe Beton
March 2022 – Scenario #90 – The Man Who Would Be King
April 2022 – Scenario LoM9 – Operation Mercury
May 2022 – Scenario #119 – Sky Fall
June 2022 – Scenario #9 – Rush to Contact
July 2022 – Scenario #14 – At the Crossroads
August 2022 – Scenario #30 – Red Skies At Night
September 2022 – Scenario E – West Tank Barrier
October 2022 – Scenario M4 – Templeton’s Crossing
November 2022 – Scenario #41 – The Commissar House