|(Attacker) Japan||vs||United States (Defender)|
|Japan||1st Independent Tank Company|
|Japan||4th Infantry Regiment|
|United States||1st "The Old Breed" Marine Division|
|Overall Rating, 10 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 74 of 586|
|Visibility||Day & Night|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 55 cm
33 x 22 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Guadalcanal||maps + counters|
In support of yet another attempt to capture the airfield, Japanese forces on the Matanikau were ordered to launch attacks on the night of the 23rd October. A large operation was planned, but difficulty in traversing the jungle resulted in only the coastal portion of the attack on Marine positions on the Matanikau actually occurring.
The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines held the east bank of the Matanikau. Unlike previous battles, significant artillery and air support was available and the merciless application of both disrupted the Japanese attack before it began. A spirited defense at the mouth of the river (the sand bar was the only place the Japanese tanks could cross) halted the Japanese advance after the loss of a few Marine positions.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|Guadalcanal, Scenario #20, Diversion I|
Diversion I, scenario #20, Guadalcanal was an interesting play as my first scenario in the Pacific Theater! When you first look at it, you think the Americans will wipe the Japanese out, with all the artillery and air support but the Japanese do have about twice the forces. The air cover only last the first three turns as darkness starts to set. In fact if you are the Japanese, it is better to mass your force in two of three locations, hidden in the jungle and wait it out until turn 6 when visibility is down to one hex. I couldn't control myself and started attacking or positioning for attack by turn three, which exposed my Japanese forces to attack but at the same time, allowed my lone Japanese artillery battery to get in some shots as well. In fact, I was surprised at the dice rolls. I did paste the Japanese a couple of times with a good combined Marine artillery dose. After that, my rolls were poor, 6,7,8 and so on, while the Japanese with their smaller artillery allotment, managed to roll some 2's & 12's against my Marines in the coconut grove, figure that one out? By turns four and on the assaults combat started. The fire first jungle feature was a nice rule and helped my Marines at first but with the smaller forces, they started to wear down. This scenario actually included some vehicles and there were five units that had AT fire capabilities, which added a little twist of fun in how to move around and position the little bit of armor and AT guns that were there. By turn 8 I had quite a few assaults going on and it was clear to me that my Marine forces were not strong enough to push all the Japanese back across the river, to get my victory conditions met. I could still get a victory by eliminating 10 steps of Japanese or more. This lead to me to be more aggressive with my Marine forces and many left their dug outs to reinforce assaults or start their own. In turn, this caused more casualties among the Marine, helping the Japanese get their victory conditions of 7 or more Marine step losses! Some where between turns 15-18 I stopped play, as the victory conditions were clearly met by both sides and could not be changed. This means it was a draw. By this time, the battle field was scattered, even within the 15xx boundaries. Disrupted, Demoralized units were abound. It was a fun play over all, touching in a lot of different areas. I lost a leader to the event chart, from sniper fire, resulting from a tied activation dice roll. A few of those random events are a nice twist. I almost had a wreck in the only town hex but the tank managed to survive the die roll until latter down the road. This is a scenario I will rank high as a replay for me down the road. Just thought I would share!
|Guadalcanal, Scenario #20, Diversion I (Third Play)|
I had to get another game in with Guadalcanal, Diversion I.
I found that pulling the Assault counters off the map and using those large Assault Hexes, that were provided by someone here (sorry I forgot who did it) and marking the board with number 1,2,3 mine markers or other markers really speeds handling those assault hexes up.
American Victory today! I guess I still have not mastered Scenario #20, Diversion I (Guadalcanal) as to this date, I now have One Draw, One Japanese Victory and today one American Victory. 1/1/1. My American Marines did an excellent job of holding a pretty good solid line, moving units around only when necessary. It sure helped them, when believe it or not, their first combat dice roll, from the Air Force was a 2X result. Not a good start for the Japanese. One thing to remember with this scenario, is that the Japanese actually enjoy a higher morale factor of 9/8 vs. 8/8 which they will need in those Assault hexes because the American have higher valued Infantry, just not as many counters. With the Japanese, try to get a combined Infantry/Armor factor if possible but don't push your armor Type 97’s & 95’s ahead without Infantry, until you can cover the American 75mm Halftrack & the 37mm-AT gun with some sort of fire. In the End, The Japanese only controlled one little hex East of the Matanikau, number 1623, not enough!
This scenario is a tough nut to crack! After playing it three times, do the Japanese really have a big enough force to attack, do the Americans really have a big enough force to defend and cover all the area? Thankfully nothing is playable in hexes 15## or after, so the board is really smaller. After three plays, it's still in my top five scenario list. Funny when you consider that I am really a tank guy! But this scenario does give each side a little armor, which makes this puzzle more interesting. I recommend this one!
|Best in the box?|
In this scenario, the Japanese tried for one final assault on the airfield in late October. The attack was to start with a breakthrough against the western Marine perimeter bound by the east bank of the Matanikau. This assault included tanks, and was supposed to be concurrent with another assault on the southern perimeter just east of the river. The complex plan did not go off as scheduled, a common occurrence when Japanese forces tried coordinated assaults through the jungle. And this time the Marines had air and artillery support in quantity. The real battle saw the artillery and air disrupt the Japanese assault before it got into full swing. The Japanese took a few Marine positions before being forced back across the river. The other part of the attack occurred the following night, and managed to take the ridge before the Japanese were pushed back. The resulting casualties effectively wiped out any chance for another Japanese offensive, and the initiative went over to the Marines.
Lt Col Riggs looked across the sandbar to Matanikau village. Intel reports had shown a buildup of Japanese troops across the river. His lieutenant on the ridge indicated he could spot advancing Japanese troops moving into position. At least this time he was prepared. His one battalion might have problems with the opposing forces, but he had been promised air and artillery to fend off the attack. With sunset less than an hour away, his men finished their defensive positions and awaited darkness.
Lt Col Tada moved his two battalions up into position as the sun sank in the west. He placed his mortars on the ridge behind, and directed his infantry to move into the jungle opposite the American positions. His tanks waited on the path to Matanikau Village, now empty of signs of life. While he expected the assault to be costly, a foothold across the river would force the Americans to divert manpower to prevent a breakthrough and allow the three battalions moving into position in the south to break the Marine line.
Lt Hollister sat on the ridge defining the southwestern point of the perimeter. Behind him sat another battalion guarding the jungle to the south. Looking into the sun as it set made spotting hard, but he could catch the glimpses of sun off Japanese troops moving through the elephant grass just past the riverside jungle. He was bound and determined to make life miserable for the approaching Japanese. With full authority to call in the divisional heavy artillery for as long as he could spot, he picked up the field phone and spoke to fire control.
Seeing no evidence of the promised air support, Lt Col Riggs swore under his breath. He stopped only to listen to the outgoing artillery arcing in overhead. He rang Lt Hollister for a report. He swore again. He might never understand protecting an airfield for aircraft that never lend support, but he could sure as heck ream the artillery commander for failing to bring about any effect with that many guns available. Getting Maj Smithers, currently commanding the artillery, on the field phone, he explained in no uncertain terms to the Major that he expected future barrages to bring on better effect. Maj Smithers promised better support forthcoming. One thing about Maj Smithers, a liar he was not.
The southern flank of the Japanese continued to move through the elephant grass to take positions in the jungle. While the incoming artillery forced them to take cover, their advance was barely slowed. The Americans would have to do better than that. Maj Matsuda was in charge of the southern battalion, and was determined to lead a quick assault against the Marine line. He would have his troops attack the apex of the line, hoping to drive the entire American left flank in on itself, allowing his troops to drive up the west edge of the ridge that his compatriots to the south could use as an anchor. Besides, it was probably the spotting position for American artillery.
Lt Col Tada directed his tanks, supported by infantry, to move just west of the village. He would wait until almost night to move his troops forward. Perhaps Maj Matsuda's advance on the southern flank would pull forces from the north, allowing his tanks to cross the sandbar and drive deep into the American rear.
With about 30 minutes of daylight left, Maj Smithers came through. Marine artillery found the Japanese advancing through the elephant grass into the jungle to the south. The advance became disrupted, but unfortunately for the Marines, it was the back end of the battalion that got caught. The lead elements were already approaching the river, preparing to assault. Spotting Marine positions across the river, Capt Wachi called in Japanese artillery to soften the American line. This included support from the mortar platoons on the ridge to the rear of the Japanese forces.
Watchful Marines dug in beside the M3/75s pointed Lt Col Riggs' attention to the ridge in the distance. Sure enough, fire from Japanese mortars. Lt Col Riggs picked up the phone and overrode Lt Hollister's fire call. In what can only be called horrific, the combined barrage of divisional artillery assets with the battalion mortars immediately to Lt Col Riggs' rear turned the entire ridge into a churning maelstrom of explosions. Pouring it on for fifteen minutes, nothing was left when the last shell fell. If there was one thing Lt Col Riggs' men needn't worry about, it was Japanese mortars...
The diversion of artillery left the Marines on the southern flank momentarily vulnerable. Capt Wachi ordered troops to cross the Matanikau and assault Marine positions. Two things doomed the attack. First, the Marines caught the Japanese in the open and Marine training combined with semi auto rifles peppered the charging Japanese. Second, as the doom of the Japanese mortars was sealed, all the American artillery retargeted for the jungle along the western shoreline of the river. As the assault reached desperation levels, nearly overrunning one position, the troops looked back for reinforcements. The Marine artillery caught the Japanese before they could cross, and Maj Smithers made good his promise. Entire Japanese formations disappeared in a thunderous roar. Those who dove for cover died in place. Those who ran died tired. The troops who had already crossed the river hugged the shore, unable to continue the assault without risking the same end. The southern battalion was ripped to shreds.
Meanwhile, as twilight settled over the river mouth, Lt Col Tada ordered his tanks and infantry into the village, and himself led two platoons to the jungle line just south of the village. Two hundred yards of elephant grass separated Lt Col Tada from the river's edge. What Lt Col Tada didn't know was opposite his position were two platoons, one a heavy machine gun platoon, commanded by Lt Finch. Lt Finch was known as one of the best natural tacticians in the division. His ability to set up and direct fire was one of Lt Col Riggs' best assets, and envied by the other battalion commanders. As Lt Col Tada led his troops into position prior to complete darkness, he examined the Marine position opposite the river. At this point, Lt Finch took advantage of the rule of combat Lt Col Tada forgot: if you can see the enemy, they can see you. Lt Finch directed his platoons to fire on the Japanese, expertly directing the fire of the heavy machineguns into the biggest concentration of Japanese troops. Japanese soldiers fell in large numbers, the remainder desperately diving for cover. The death and disruption of so many Japanese troops would have been devastating enough, but one event overshadowed even those losses. Lt Finch on this day was not only skilled, but also lucky. The first burst of fire caught Lt Col Tada in the neck, and he fell instantly. The loss of their commander shook the Japanese up and down the line. Despite the fact the forces in the village drove away the Marine infantry supporting the M3/75s, the loss of their commander, anti-tank fire from the Marine M3/75s, and a heavy barrage of artillery directed at the village was too much for the northern battalion. The attack began to crumble.
Maj Matsuda found himself in command. The Japanese were effectively down 40% in strength, their commander was dead, Marine anti-tank fire was threatening his armored units, and his remaining infantry was in disarray, and American artillery was devastating. Making matters worse, his radioman was dead, as was his radio, and he had not yet found Lt Col Tada's radioman, so no supporting artillery was available. Taking advantage of the total darkness that had finally arrived, Maj Matsuda ordered a withdrawal of his forces.
The Marine line had held. Casualties on the Marine side were amazingly light given the devastation the Japanese suffered. And Lt Finch received the Bronze Star.
Observations – The Japanese made a couple mistakes up front. First, they set their mortars on the ridge rather than behind. The moment they fired the Marines spotted and destroyed them. The Japanese mortars were half their bombardment strength, and their loss combined with a random event cut radio wire left the Japanese with no bombardment capability. Tough to soften up a prepared defensive position with no arty.
Second, the Japanese began moving forward while there was still light. Wasting a few turns in this scenario is little risk for the Japanese, but getting spotted while moving towards the Marine line allowed harassing fire by plentiful Marine artillery support. While the front line of Japanese troops were still able to reach the assault points, reinforcements were held up and prevented the Japanese from taking advantage of any footholds on the Marine side of the river. The Japanese who made it across got torn up without being able to dish it back to the dug-in defenders. The straggling reinforcements got blown to bits as they reached the river.
On the Marine side, initial arty fire was useless, but as the game progressed so did the lethality of the Marine arty. Air support was a failure, but later arty easily made up for it. The Marines had attempted to lay a crossfire with the M3/75 and antitank guns pointed at the village, but the Japanese smartly kept the tanks out of town until dark when the guns were too far away to spot. M3/75 fire failed to do anything to the Japanese armor, but the Japanese likewise failed to hit the Marine M3/75s. Finally, killing the Japanese Lt Col (as well as inf) doomed the Japanese from having a shot at more offensive action. While they could have pressed and maybe taken a Marine position, the likelihood of holding it with nearly half their strength gone (including leaders) vs a still intact Marine line with arty support was miniscule.
|Assaut dans la jungle|
Dans « Diversion I », les Japonais doivent reprendre pied à l’est de la rivière Matanikau. Les Marines sont enterrés tout le long de la rivière, qui coule dans la jungle. J’avais choisi le scénario car c’est le seul qui utilise des chars dans Guadalcanal ; ils peuvent traverser à l’embouchure de la rivière, sur les bancs de sable. J’en avais aussi lu du bien dans Consimworld. Mais en regardant le scénario, on remarque qu’il se passe de nuit, et on voit tout de suite qu’il se limite à passer à l’assaut pour les Japonais. Plutôt bourrin, donc. Une fois installé, je n’ai plus eu envie de jouer pendant pas mal de temps.
Finalement, je l’ai fait au retour des vacances. Les Japonais attendent la nuit, puis passent à l’assaut à deux endroits : en pleine forêt d’un côté, à l’embouchure de l’autre. Quatre hexagones d’assaut en simultané. Les pertes japonaises ont tendance à s’accumuler, les Marines sont enterrés et ont toujours l’avantage du premier tir mais à un moment les Japonais ont deux assauts chanceux successifs sur un hexagone, et les Marines ne l’ont pas renforcé entre ces deux assauts chanceux. Les Japonais franchissent la ligne à l’embouchure du Matanikau ! Plus tard, les Marines essaient de se dégager d’un assaut pour emmener des renforts à l’endroit percé, mais les Japonais en profitent là aussi. Je n'ai pas dû utiliser assez l'artillerie Off-Board des américains, mais il aurait fallu tirer sur mes propres lignes (conseil vu sur Consimworld, et je ne m'y résolvais pas). Les Japonais ont donc bien pris pied à l'est de la rivière, mais ils ont perdu 25 pas sur la quarantaine de départ. Match nul même si je donne la victoire morale aux Japonais. Je me suis pas mal amusé finalement, mais je trouve le Pacifique trop statique, sans possibilité de vue large.
The Marines set up along the river line as the victory conditions involve Japanese occupation of hexes east of the river. The Japanese set up in a line along their entire front to advance on the Marines. As the scenario starts, the Japanese advance along the southern edge against the Marine left flank. The Japanese keep the tanks and a force near the Marine right flank to keep them occupied. Tha Japanese right flank continues to advance and eventually enter into assault with the Marine leaft flank. The dug-in Marines get first shots, but they are ineffective. The Japanese get some effective rolls in assault and the Marines suffer some casualties. The Marines try to send in some reinforcements, but that just weakens the center. The Japanese take advantage of this and begin to pour into the center. The Japanese maintain pressure on the Marine left flank using assault, and the Japanese center moves to assault the Marine center. The Japanese now occupy five hexes east of the river, and the Marines no longer have an effective counter attack force. The Japanese win!
|A very thin red line|
I have to admit that this one was probably more enjoyable for me playing the Americans against Wayne's "Sons of Nippon". The marines are tasked with holding a very sparsely defended line on the east bank of the Matanikau extending to the sea. There are just enough units to keep this line reasonably solid but every step loss suffered will keep the marines on their toes more and more as the battle progresses, trying to plug in gaps or reinforce positions on the verge of collapsing from the incessant Japanese assaults.
The battle begins right before sunset and the Americans get a few turns of air support before visibilty decreases. The Japanese advance with some caution before nightfall, mostly staying in the cover of jungle and attempting to get some hidden units in closer to the American lines. Unfortunately for Wayne all of his hidden units were discovered before they could get too close or get a surprise attack in. On the last turn that air support was available I had the most successful air strike result to date eliminating a whole platoon of Japanese infantry in one strafe. This seemed to stir the Japanese up more than cripple their morale and they decided to close in for assaults a little earlier then planned instead of waiting for the night to settle in. The next blow to the Japanese came in the form of some very nasty OBA blasts inflicting even more losses. After the first few initial assaults had got under way Japanese losses had reached 10 steps. Now the best Wayne could hope for was a draw before midway through the battle; if I was lucky as the Americans I could still get a victory.
However, as Wayne pointed out in his report, I had made a few tactical errors. First off I don't believe I deployed my AT capable units in the best possible areas. The M3/75 halftracks were intially away from the one point where the Japanese tanks could cross the creek areas and pose the biggest threat. There was the 37mm AT gun covering that area paired with a HMG unit but believe that the halftrack should of combined with it there instead of the HMG. Also, in near panic I extended two parts of my lines over and across the Matanikau, leaving their dug-in positions and forfeiting the river assault defense bonus. With so many superiorly moraled screaming Japs threatening to overrun my lines I became more concerned with them breaking through and gaining control of two of required hexes acros the river to force the draw. This was an attempt to delay what seemed to be inevitable but the Japanese did not need to take those hexes as long as they were able to eliminate 7 American steps. The other error occured after the armored engagement took place. It was a very quirky battle at start: 37mm AT gun eliminates a reduced Type 97 tank; Type 98 tank eliminates 37mm; then the M3/75 halftrack moves into place but misses the the Type 98: Type 98 eliminates one step of M3/75s but the remaining halftrack step passes its morale check; and then for 3 whole turns and until battle's end, at point blank range, both remaining armored units would keep missing each other. All this time I had a full unit of marine INF and a leader that could of assaulted the Type 98 across the creek and kept the Japanese tank from using it's AT firepower while the M3/75 could of continued to use it's AT fire to assist the assault without taking any return fire. Meanwhile, all of the American lines on both sides of the Matanikau managed to hold out until battle's end but only after desperately rallying and moving units just in time to reinforce them before they collapsed. Ultimately the Japanese assaults were able to eliminate enough American steps to reach one of their VCs just in time to end it all in a draw rather than an American victory. This was very much like how a lot of the early Guadalcanal battles went for the Americans, just barely keeping very thinly stretched lines intact, holding on to the last and this scenario simulated that desperation very accurately.
Anyway, rated a "4" for the sheer intensity of the battle and though it ended in a draw it was a moral victory for the marines to keep their line intact against a flood of attacks. I joked with Wayne about how this scenario should of been entitled "Restore the Line" instead of the earlier scenario because that is exactly what I spent most of the battle doing unitl there were no more units left to reinforce the lines with.
|A most strange scenario|
Played against Brett in two smallish Skype sessions. This scenario shows a Japanese night assault with tank support v dug in Marines with both excellent OBDA and before darkness falls, aircraft support. The Japanese mission is to force the river line or at least inflict heavy losses on the defending Americans the Marines simply have to hold the line. I was the Japanese commander and although I realised that there was no point in attacking in any great force before darkness fell, the OBDA would be too punishing, I could not just do nothing for the first 5 turns and probed the US lines with a HMG & INF platoon the result was three step losses from OBDA, aircraft and accurate OF. Not a good start. As night fell the Jap line rolled forward to engage the dug in US marines, Japanese losses started to rise and it was soon obvious that the US had done enough not to lose this scenario. This though meant that losses were less important to the Sons of Nippon and with a scream of Banzai they threw themselves on to the US lines. One downside to this was that once a Japanese units has initiated an assault they can not leave the assault hex unless demoralized or victorious, when I mentioned this to Brett he said his rule book said I could withdraw by rolling 4 or more though of course the US would get a free hit, this led to the realization that we were reading differing versions of the Guadalcanal rules. As my set was the newer we stuck to those rules. We soon had 4 lots of assaults going on, here the US first strike was causing causalities, morale issues which nullified the Japanese advantage in numbers and close combat skills. Even so though US losses began to slowly mount up, I needed to inflict 7 step losses to get the draw, it dawned on me that although I would never break through the line I might just scrape 7 step losses. I decided to move the tanks forward even though they would be exposed to A/T fire at least they would force the US Commander to use an activation to deal with them. Well Brett missed with the 37mm and I got lucky with DF from the tanks and blew the pesky thing up next GT. Brett then made a tactical error instead of assaulting the offending Japanese armour he moved a 75mm armed half track adjacent to engage in an armour duel. He did take out one tank but I hit back and also took out half of his half-tracks then for the next three turns we blasted at each other without any effect, (Brett needed just a 6 on two dice to get a hit but threw 3 4's on the trot, I need 8's and threw three 7's on the trot) However by then I had gotten lucky at last and two 9 strength assaults and hit the Marines with two more step losses I had got the draw which I can felt like a win to me. **Why was this a strange scenario well, there were many strange die rolls for a start, the US line is almost impregnable if set up right, which in this case it was, the Japanese player should wait for nightfall then charge, with the map restrictions there is no room for any fancy flanking outmaneuvers from the Japanese and for most of the game I was bashing my head against a brick wall. Brett made two errors in my humble opinion, the first was advancing across the river ( I am not sure why he did this ) but it did help me getting some early assaults in. The second error I have already mentioned. I too made as many if not more errors but these perhaps were less damaging the the US ones. I was going to mark this as a 2 but the last few turns were fun and tense so that pushes the mark up.*