Defending the Ilu
|(Attacker) Japan||vs||United States (Defender)|
|Japan||228th Infantry Regiment|
|United States||1st "The Old Breed" Marine Division|
|Overall Rating, 4 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 607|
|Visibility||Day & Night|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 55 cm
33 x 22 in
|Enter & Exit|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Guadalcanal||maps + counters|
The Japanese intended on several occasions to attack the eastern flank of the Marine perimeter, but for a variety of reasons were unable to do so. If one of the large reinforcement runs had been landed east of the perimeter instead of west and an effort made against the Marine positions behind the Ilu River, it would have threatened Marine supply dumps and HQ.
The Japanese did not attack the eastern portion of the perimeter after the failed Ichicki Detachment attack, believing it to be too well defended and the ground not favorable for a night attack. This assessment was certainly correct. The clear fields of fire and lack of cover would have hindered an Japaneses attack. In addition, such a force would have undoubtedly been discovered and mercilessly attacked as it approached the perimeter.
|Defending the Ilu|
Flush with success at taking the ridge south of the airfield (we played Henderson’s Ridge last time with a Japanese victory), Japanese patrols quickly surmised that the Marines reinforced the position and a follow on attack would most probably lead to failure. Instead, the Japanese would land an attack against the eastern perimeter of the Marine positions in an attempt to destroy the Marine supply depot.
The Marines, now in heavier strength, had formed a thin yet near continuous line on their eastern perimeter. Artillery support had also improved, as more radios allowed dynamic strike support as opposed to the limited target sets on the southern perimeter. Two full battalions backed by significant artillery sat in their foxholes along the perimeter as darkness fell.
The Japanese had landed two full battalions further up the shore, and the attackers moved west through the jungle to assault the Marine positions. Some artillery of their own stood ready to support the attack. The strategy was to attack the center of the Marine line and send an under strength company of infiltrators through either end to go after the Marine supply.
Realizing something was coming, the Marines started calling in star shells to illuminate the jungle line (burning activations to roll fog of war). Things seemed calm along the Marine line until the jungle exploded with charging Japanese (we left a one hex kill zone between the jungle and dug in positions). Half a battalion hit the Marine line. Marine gunfire erupted from foxholes and cut a swath into the Japanese. The charge wavered, and the Japanese troops dropped in the elefant grass and set up gun positions. Marine artillery units opened up on the stationary Japanese and ripped through the attackers. The Japanese continued to send in troops, largely piecemeal, but all came to a halt against the Marine positions. Marines from other parts of the line began to reinforce the center and add their firepower into the maelstrom. Entire Japanese platoons began to disintegrate. Still the Marines held the line, but the Japanese firepower was starting to tell. Unfortunately for the Japanese, their artillery was not as accurate as American artillery. Japanese infantry soon found itself shelled by Marine and Japanese arty support.
Meanwhile the two infiltrator companies moved to the flanks. The left side company found the jungle too dense and began to pull back as a reserve for the center attack. The right flank company, however, found wide fields of elefant grass and advanced quickly on the Marine left. About half the Marine left had pulled to the center to help fend off the Japanese attack. The infiltrating company stole up on the Ilu River and prepared to launch an assault. Two Marine squads noticed the movement towards a weak part of the line and charged the river to contest any crossing. The Japanese company opened up on the Marines as they approached the bank and obliterated them. The sacrifice, however, was not in vain. Now the entire Marine left knew the Japanese position. The Japanese troops made for the coast and tried to push through the platoon guarding the shoreline. Alert to the threat, the Marines opened up on the Japanese and caught them cold, halting their advance. The captain commanding the position placed in a priority request for all artillery support, and was quickly rewarded with a massive barrage by the just reloaded Marine guns. While the Japanese managed some effective return fire, the company was broke and few lived long enough to withdrawal.
With the total failure of either company of infiltrators to penetrate Marine lines, and the main attack being held in check with massive casualties, the Japanese decided that they could not break the weakening Marine line with enough support to carry the assault against even a hasty secondary Marine defense line. Having lost the better part of a battalion, the Japanese withdrew back into the jungle to take the long way back to friendly lines. The Marines heaved a sigh of relief. While their position had held, the point of the line was weakening, and any attempt to further reinforce or create a second line of defense would have weakened the flanks against further infiltration efforts. Casualties were surprisingly light given the ferocity of Japanese attack.
For the Japanese part, the loss of manpower for so little gain crippled any chance for a renewed offensive effort. The Japanese were now on the defensive waiting for the Marines to make the next move. The momentum had shifted.
Observations: The Marines won this one handily. No Japanese exited the board, and the Marines only lost one step. Casualties on the Japanese side were heavy, with approx 1/3 of their force eliminated. The hidden rules kept the infiltrators from having a real chance to decide the game since they became visible too often while still far from the Marine positions (during the night!). Recommend some changes to the hidden rules (only check when within three hexes or in line/range of sight).
Japanese players did not assault. Their view was op fire combined with Marine artillery caused too much disruption to develop a good assault. My opinion is when playing Japanese, assault is your only reasonable chance to affect Marines in defensive positions (as I demonstrated during our last game when I was Japanese). Japanese direct fire is too weak when adjacent to dug in Marines supported by artillery. While the Marine line was severely weakened in the center, it held with no step losses. A successful assault might have punctured the line while there was no significant reserve behind it. Might have been able to race some units through and exit them. When Japanese troops are expendable, the Japanese player has to risk expending them.
Speaking of artillery, Japanese arty was a failure. Friendly fire caused as many casualties to the Japanese as it did to the Marines. Usually when a Marines hex was targeted multiple Japanese hexes had to check for friendly fire. Little damage done to either side in the final analysis, but that amount of damage hurt the Japanese more than the Marines by further reducing Japanese assault capability.
Admittedly, the Marines did roll a bit better than the Japanese, but failure to execute a single assault combined with massive Marine artillery stopped the Japanese attack cold.
|Hit and run|
Another tough one for the marines where they must prevent Japanese from infiltrating their lines and exiting units off a certain portion of the west edge while somehow managing to not lose more than seven steps in the process. Setting up a solid, unbroken and effective line is next to impossible without spreading units too thin so I stacked up marine units leaving a few gaps through the line but never more than one hex apart in order to catch units attempting to pass through with heavy opportunity cross-fire. Should small-arms fire not slow the enemy down then there was a good amount of OBA (3 x 18; 3 x 10) available as a back-up. There were also a few platoons of reserves deployed further west of the line to try to catch any Japanese units that manged to get through but it was a very wide area to cover.
Right from the start at 19:45 a thunderstorm began lasting for an hour which slowed the Japanese advance to only being able to move one hex each turn regardless of the terrain. This was a benefit to the marines as they were prohibited from moving the first three turns so that by the start of turn 4 they were able to manuever a little before contact was made at the front line. Once the storm cleared up the Japanese began to hurl themselves into the marine positions in the south and went straight for the HMGs. Opportunity fire immediately takes out a whole platoon's worth of advancing infantry but more kept on coming, seemingly unphased by the punishment. At 21:15 the first Japanese assault is made and though first-fire takes out one step one of the defending American HMGs in turn becomes demoralized and has to flee the assault, leaving just one HMG behind. Then another thunderstorm began at 21:30/turn 8, literally putting a damper on both side's recovery efforts. Meanwhile, another Japanese attack group begins to near the coastal postions further north before movement is again slowed down to one hex becasue of the storm. This second thunderstorm in fact would last almost three hours (10 turns). Japanese losses continue to mount and soon they also lose both a Captain and Lieutenant along with more INF steps but they keep on coming. Then tragedy strikes when American OBA friendly fire reduces a HMG platoon defending in an assault while another assault is carried out on the other HMG that was forced to flee earlier. Marine reserves are moved up to try to reinforce but again the ongoing storm slows them down before they get to the lines in time. Japanese stragglers have passed through and bank north through the jungle to reach the elephant grass and palm groves in hopes the storm will clear up in time to make a faster get-a-way.
Meanwhile contact is made by the coastal positions and they too are soon assaulted at the weakest point. Soon enough a marine postion falls at the cost of a 37mm and a platoon of MAR infantry. Now there are two breaches in the American lines both north and south. Fog of war becomes a huge problem for the and to make matters worse OBA is way off the mark. With American positions tied-up in several assaults the floodgates are opened for a good amount of Japanese to make a run for the west edge in more than one area at a time. There is not much that the marines can do about it but they do manage to get a raiding party together to try to stop them by the border after the storm clears just in time. More OBA is called down but it is again ineffective. In desperation an assault is made on Japanese units poised to escape and goes awry resulting in the Americans losing their LT.COL, furher resulting in decapitation and catastrophic loss. The Japanese counter-assault with brutal efficiency and wipe-out their remaining attackers and at 00:45/turn 21 the first Japanese unit is able to exit the map preventing an American win. Even worse there are many other units just hexes away from exiting and by this point the marines can take no further step losses. Privy to this every available Japanese unit in close-quarters range either initiates or resumes on-going assaults to force that needed loss while all others keep running. All at once it happens at 01:15/turn 23; a total of six Japanese units manage to exit the west edge and one of the many assaults takes out the eighth American step making the Japanese victory clear and decisive with 13 turns left remaining in the scenario. There was no point in going on further with not even a chance of an American moral victory to be had; they had been thoroughly shamed and utterly humiliated.
The Japanese kept up attack after attack; assault after assault, rarely ever using direct fire or their OBA. This cost them many losses with: 3 leaders (CAP, 2 x LT), 13 INF and 2 steps of HMG eliminated but still managed to reach both of their VCs with ridiculous ease. As for the Americans they were really let down by their OBA, especially with the friendly-fire step loss. Also, though they had superior DF and first fire in most of the assaults the higher Japanese morale continued to prevail. Even just one full, good ordered platoon of INF and a leader got through to assault after passing their morale checks it was enough to make a mess out of the defenders. I don't know what I could of done differently with the American deployment other than to of spread out units thinner but don't see how that would of made things any better but far worse. Again, early, night-time fog of war played a huge role in this one and even the thunderstorms (14 turns worth) seemed to benefit the Japanese attack. It's tough to say whether this one was imbalanced or not due to the many random occurences but for what it's worth rate it a standard "3". On a good day (night), weather and fog of war permitting the Americans will be able to do a lot better, at least with a draw but this time it was clearly not their night.