Friday, March 19, 2010

AAR BFP 29 Hueishan Docks, or Gone With the Wind.

GUSTS. Sonofa...

After a marathon ASL session with JRBrackin, I will never again think of the wind change DR as a perfunctory ritual.

Jim has been unable to play for the last several weeks, and like a starving man at a buffet, he wasn't in the mood for anything light. So he suggested BFP-29 Hueishan Docks and asked for the defending Japanese. I cleared my schedule.

The Chinese start out with 20 squads on map and get another 13 SE on/after turn one. They also have a whopping 13 AFVs and 3 trucks to haul men and equipment. The Japanese start with only about 17 SE on map, but get a very tough turn four reinforcement group of 10 1st line & elite troops with 3(!) flamethrowers and 6 tanks.

The Chinese have to control 6 of the 10 multi-hex buildings north of the river on board BFP G. My strategy was to attack mainly via the shortest route, on the Chinese left. I would push south and then turn west, and hopefully approach the last victory building before the Japanese wets edge reinforcements could get there.

The initial street crossing was a bit hairy as Jim set a little HIP trap in the DW-1a C5 building. A hip squad popped up and smacked an assault mover. Then another squad was turned back by fire. I was able to force the crossing by firing three Dare-Death squads (the Chinese get 6 by SSR). All three made it across and the C5 and F5 buildings would soon fall.

The Japanese INF piece in G-F9 flipped one of the lightly armored Chinese tanks, and kept some infantry pinned down for a turn and a half. In the bottom of the 2nd the Japanese right was going down, and the crew tried to push it out, thinking they were out of range of Chinese pouring through the C5 and H3 buildings. They were not. The crew was vaporized.

The Japanese start clearing out and crossing the I1-I8 street. Many did not make it. Through turns three and four the Chinese turned west and got firmly established across the I1-I8 road. Four victory buildings were in their hands and the fifth was close to falling. On the downside, the Chinese artillery had pulled two red cards without getting off even a single mission.

As the Japanese reinforcements entered, a bit of a stalemate had developed around the open ground between hexrows L and N. Feeling the urgency of the approaching combat engineers I pushed five tanks around the corner and start up the road along the river bank. I was aware that the big Japanese 75* ART gun was in a sanger in R8 staring straight up that road, but thought I might be able to give him more of these small targets than he could hit.

In defensive fire, he immob'd one tank. In the following prep fire he burned two more. Another had a malf''d MA, the fifth thought it best to stand off and try to shoot it out with all the traffic problems now arising from burning wrecks. It was costly, but the tank assault did dislodge the Japanese HMG in the J9 building, and give the Japanese infantry in the southern buildings and woods some trouble.

Meanwhile, I decided to try to break the infantry stalemate like any good Chinese commander, with the bold stroke of a human wave.

Eleven and a half squads started on their way, across largely open ground. Only 5 made it across in good order. To complicate matters more, the wave was slowed down by an accidental overstacking. ( I made this mistake at least two other times). In my defense, there were a huge number of squads in a very small area, and this was an easy mistake to make. With the counter density around the final victory building in P9, it was starting to look more like Pavlov's House.

Turn seven came and the Japanese reinforcements were firmly established in the P9 building and the buildings just north. I still had many squads and all my DCs left. The two burning wrecks on the river road had created overlapping drifting smoke in N9 and O10. It was one of those ASL situations where the smoke is so thick you can't see the next location. I was able to move a big stack into N9 unmolested. More troops were moving into the N10 woods without too much trouble. After 10+ hours, the stage was set for an epic last turn slugging match. And then.......

I didn't even watch as my opponent dropped the dice for the wind change die roll. It's just a rote exercise. Nearly meaningless in a daytime scenario. Why, there isn't even a chance of rain or snow. Not even civilian interrogation. I was intently surveying the destruction when Jim calmly declared “gusts.”

It took a minute for the meaning of this to truly sink in. I sat in abject horror as Jim began removing the smoke counters from the board. The previously blind massive Japanese kill stack in O10 was suddenly sitting with a clear field of vision. During prep fire, the two big Chinese stacks were systematically destroyed by flamethower and small arms fire. Game.

Perhaps I should have made it to the building sooner. I lost track of my Dare-Death squads after the initial crossing, an obvious blunder. I was never really able to get the Chinese heavy mortars into play, as the battle kept moving away from. The OBA problem was just an unlucky deck.

The sheer number of counters in play made for an at times tedious going, and with all their AFV's the Chinese really have to manage traffic flow.

But those are trivial criticisms of an otherwise terrific scenario. Though the ending was disappointing, the stage was set for a hugely entertaining final turn before “boxcars Jim” made that roll. Jim and I both gave it very high rating on ROAR. If you and your opponent have a dozen hours or so someday, I recommend.