A67 - Cibiks Ridge

My games against FargoGamer continued in the pacific with this Japanese vs US Marine fight firs posted April 3rd 2014

"The Sun was rising on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and Lieutenant Akira Takeda was seething. Not visibly  – that would be inappropriate, but internally.  In the distance the somewhat corpulent form of Captain Ashiro Kando could be seen. Eating again, Takeda thought. Things just sucked generally and if there was a tree of ‘suck’ then Akira appeared to have fallen out of it and hit every branch on the way down. His best friend Isamu was somewhere in Burma and he was here under the command of a blimp. The man was so focused on food that he was making the company leave its defensive positions nightly to return to camp so he could eat. It made no sense – the Americans were here with all their guns and rations and ‘gung ho’.  Plus did the man know anything about the threat of ambushes? – the column should send scouts out not walk up and down the same path like lemmings.
He had attempted to mention this to the Captain earlier and been laughed at for his attempts ‘ Americans are poor soldiers and anyway an army marches on its stomach. You see everything through the prism of your ancestors – have faith Captain’. From what Akira had seen these Americans were anything but poor soldiers. He shook his head. Dwelling on it would get him nowhere.  Instead he waved over his senior Sergeant, time to put a damage limitation plan into place. Just in case the Americans were not as dozy as the Captain thought they were.
Aha the joys of the PTO again. My opponent quite fancied (in a totally non-sexual manner) the marines so I had the chance to take on again his Imperial Majesty’s finest. As always I started by looking at the designers intentions. The disparity in force (even with Marines) means that the designer thinks the Japanese needs those troops. Now with the column restriction and limited paths for the Japanese it means he is almost begging for two machine guns to set up in a forward location. What I would do is to place a heavy machine gun with a 6-6-8 and the 9-2 on P5. The Japanese player must either expect this and attempt to break the column early (for 1MP and losing that turn) and avoid that hex thus not moving so quickly (losing another turn) or have a thin column at the front (One squad per hex for the lead two hexes) which means that some of the force will be further back. When the front squad hits the HIP unit they will bounce back to the previous hex. At this point it will have cost them 3 Movement and they would receive a 24 -5 ! (-2 leader, -2 bore-sight, -2 hazardous movement +2 dense jungle TEM, -1 non assault movement) which on an average die is a 3KIA!! Once the column disbands it then cannot move allowing the U.S officer to help carry the heavy machine gun off to a new position on the ridge.
I would expect the same sort of tricks on the ridge itself. If you look at the terrain there are three routes up that do not involve squads without officers getting cx’d and they are the path and the open ground sections to North and South. Anywhere else and the Japanese are either very slow or at risk. So I would expect a further bore-sighted heavy machine gun trick on the path (this would ‘only’ get a 24 -3) the open ground is obviously intended to be protected by the mortars so I would expect these to be on W6 and W4 (there is a small chance they would be by the river at the back but I doubt it). Here they could have a half squad ‘spotting’ for them next door allowing them to cover both the open ground and woods just out of their three minimum range. You will note that if the Heavies get a 6-6-8 each you can give two medium machine guns to half squads and two to the mortars leaving two half squads to function as spotters.
The other two machine guns would probably function as HIP traps on steep approaches unprotected by the other weapons or as second lines to cover the retreat of the first line.
If the defender utilizes the advantages that being HIP and using bore sight provides then they can do a lot of damage to the Japanese (I am less certain about the mortars though). If the attacker attempts to avoid that damage early on then he restricts the time to capture all the required squares and if he does take the damage then it restricts his tactical options later on…
 The Plan
I don’t want to risk losing time so I shall have to expect to trip the trap I expect on the road and to lose two units early on. My plan is to split my force into three. The central and right flanking formations will be on paths leading Eastwards and will be responsible for clearing up the expected local machine guns (if the enemy does not pull them back). Both columns will be led by sacrificial single squads with larger forces behind. When contact is made I will attempt to drop into the jungle and avoid fixed covered arcs for the bore sighted guns. My smaller left flanking column is on the North facing Path on row K. This should allow them to work around the back of the ravine in the dense jungle and thus maybe cause some issues for my oppo who I think will be expecting a strong drive straight up the hill. Finally this is my first game with overlays and they seem quite cool. I like the way this one has given a very different interpretation of the map…
 Japanese/US Turn 1
It rapidly became apparent that I am too clever for my own good. My cunning outflanking of the forward Americans hit empty air as my opponent obviously decided to not waste any units in forward defence. It was only when I left the jungle and started up the hill that the enemy appeared. As an additional positive the main road column was able to use five movement to get well along the path before disbanding. On the U.S turn I was confused to see movement on the ridge itself as I was expecting lots of HIP units surprising me and preventing movement.
Japanese/US Turn 2
Things go fast when you don’t manage to see anyone when but I tried to move up the hill Americans started to be seen all over the place. A medium machine gun squad pinned both squads with the 10-1 leader but battle hardened him to a 10-2 in the process. Other units appeared in foxholes along the ridge and missed. A Mortar squad also showed inside the v7 foxhole but inside minimum range. Before I advanced into combat the mortar squad voluntarily broke (leaving the mortar behind) allowing me to get into their foxholes instead.
On the U.S turn two the half squad plus medium machine gun in U6 moved to W6 to skulk but my oppo had not recognised that my large stack (who had advanced into the foxholes) had line of sight and they caused a morale check which they failed. Elsewhere more movement could be seen and suddenly a concealed single squad appeared down the road next to the 10-2 stack. Fire was thrown at this squad with the mortar (forgetting to use WP pfff) rating twice but failing to cause a pin check. In the end the last squad before the 10-2 (a lone 4-4-7) took a 4+1 and caused a pin check which the marines failed. The 10-2 then took a juicy 20-2 and rolled a 10 with a resultant 1 MC which they passed. Cannot complain though as the Dice have been fairer than last game (rolling low and high, which I am happier with)
End of US Turn 2 with the Japanese pushing hard up the hill
Stopped for the week here as I was feeling under the weather and my oppo had had a less than stellar day himself.
Japanese turn 3
All the speed from the first two turns leached out as stacks started slowly manoeuvring. It started well when the  marine squad that had advanced next to my 10-2 leader broken on the first! point blank shot from a single squad. This then allowed me to Banzai onto them with my -2 super stack though the resultant defensive fire from the machine gun next door  wounded the leader back down to a 9-1.  Elsewhere I moved a crew with medium machine gun to draw fire which it did exceptionally well but unfortunately breaking and ELRing in the process. Whoops. On the other hand I managed some good shots against the 9-2  U.S leader in the woods breaking both him and the medium machine gun squad and pining the heavy machine gun.
Things carried on nicely with the 6-6-8 being wiped out in combat and a further Marine half squad dming again as I advanced next door (it would be destroyed for failure to rout next turn).
Position at end of turn 3. The concealed US squad next to the top of the ridge is about to skulk back allowing the eventual destruction of one of the heavy machine guns. The 10-0 and the single squad close by are about to sacrifice themselves to allow this to happen.
On the U.S turn the bloody heavy machine gun decided to counter balance my luck and went on a rate tear and half squaded then broke a squad next door and then striped a further two in the foxholes. A rallied 6-6-8 moved back in to pick up the medium machine gun without risk whilst the rest of the Marine force skulked .
Japanese turn 4
That heavy machine gun was scary so I moved the southerly  squad next door to attempt to draw its fire but was instead striped by a revealed 6-6-8 in the hex next door. My oppo was far to canny to use the Heavy Machine Gun early so I resolved to force his hand and banzaied a striped squad plus the 9-0 into its hex to fix its covered arc and thus to allow my main combat stack forward. It did not work as well as I hoped with the striped squad dying along with the officer when he (just) failed his second wound roll. No matter, the covered arc of the guns was now set in a Southerly direction so I now moved the assault stack next door. Elsewhere my other officer tried to draw fire and unfortunately found the 9-2 with the other heavy machine gun and was fortunate to avoid much damage.
My advancing fire phase was excellent. First the 9-1 stack broke the heavy machine gun half squad who were promptly eliminated for failure to rout and pinned the 6-6-8. Good odds for advancing into combat so I did exactly this. With my other officer I was less certain as against the 9-2 I would be down 2 on the ambush and against the concealed down 2 on the ambush. Neither odds were good but neither was standing taking fire the next turn.  I left them there hoping they could cope with the heavy machine gun. We were a bit tight for time at this point so I had little time to consider my options.
The combat phase did not go quite as well as hoped for with my excellent ambush roll of 2 (dropping to 1) versus my oppo rolling a one (raising to a 2) so no ambush. But he was still pinned and I rolled an 8 with the -1 leader being just enough to kill the 6-6-8 he failed to do any damage by one on the dice (needed 5 got 6).
So another weekly stop with me having captured six squares and lost 5 casualty points so far. Next turn I have good chances of hurting more Marines and if I do do damage then I could probably just capture the squares I need ignoring the heavy machine gun from hell…
Things are starting to look bad for the marines. The Japanese 9-0 and squad is unlikely to survive the attentions of the 9-2 and HMG next door but equally one US half squad is almost surrounded as is the other southerly force.
U.S Turn 4
It was time for the last ditch effort. Firstly I managed to pick up all the dropped marine heavy weapons but then had to face the heavy machine gun (with 9-2) from hell (it is an official title). It lived up to billing rating around 5 times and eventually killing my officer and breaking the squad as it eventually dropped to a half squad. The remaining full marine squad (with a little concealed half squad) then opened up on my ‘death star’ next door – this was really the most important roll of the game as if I could get into this hex by my turn I could win the game and only my Death Star had that capability. With a 16 flat though he forced a 2MC which my officer and the ‘new’ U.S armed Heavy Machine gun team passed and the remaining squads pinned. Not brilliant but not a disaster. Then my defensive fire occurred the death star took a 30 flat shot (thank heavens for those good U.S weapons), I did not rate but did not need to the result was a K4. Random selection took out both the officer and the full squad and then all failed the resultant morale check. These boys would rout to the Y row and be joined by the 9-2 officer.
Japanese Turn 5
The U.S really needed those broken squads back but only managed to claw back one half squad (which turned fanatic). Then my death star prep fired breaking the concealed squad (who had moved next door to try to protect that oh so important victory hex) with a 20 flat – this would be destroyed for failure to rout in the rout phase allowing me to advance in this turn to claim my eight victory hex. I needed one more to win outright this turn. I took the squad in the bamboo forward and next , gulp, to the Marine Heavy machine gun. Striping on the first shot it then survived the subsequent and two shots from the fanatic squad also at point blank. We stopped there as I had won without needing to do anything else. If I had needed more I could have advanced the two squads over the heavy machine gun (which would probably cause all to die) – the still broken officer and half squad had just been re-demoralised as my striped squad had moved next door so that would have left one officer with one half squad and no heavy weapons to stop my forces. The reinforcements would have turned tail and ran.
The end position. You can see the DM’d marine will be destroyed the two striped squads can advance over the last hmg position and the prep marked stack can take the other victory hex without much need for the remaining forces to do much at all.
Akira  moved slowly through the last ditch marine defensive position. He had been correct;  the ambush had occurred but Akira’s tactics had paid off to counter it. No thanks to the Captain who was still puffing up the hill. They had rapidly swarmed through the jungle, surrounded the static marines and then re-taken the position with minimal casualties.
He paused by a dead American officer who was sprawled over a  heavy machine gun that was still steaming slightly in the damp environment. Crouching down he rolled him over and stared at his opponent for a few minutes. Young, he thought, looks fit. The man’s name was ‘Cibik’. He tried it a few times rolling the strange syllables around his tongue. Standing he scowled. These marines had been anything but push overs and if his senior officer had had his way then this ambush would have worked. Ahead of him the bay was already full of enemy ships. Their work was just beginning..
I enjoyed the game and the key for me was my officers all surviving long enough to get enough flanking forces up that hill. My opponent had (fortunately for me) apparently forgotten about the bore sighting and with that I would have been under a lot more pain and closer to the casualty cap. I would be curious to eventually play again as the marines just to try out the defensive plan I had thought optimal. Anyway as ever thanks for reading and Akira Takeda lives to fight again!


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