The Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy Gaming Club met today for a World War II battle. An infantry battalion from the Americal Division had to clear Japanese spotters from Hill 87 on Guadalcanal. The Americans had three trained infantry companies, a platoon of trained Stuarts, and an experienced jeep recon platoon. The Japanese had only one veteran infantry company defending the hill, but they had an attached heavy machinegun platoon and a 70mm battalion gun. The Japanese would be reinforced by another veteran infantry company and a company of elite combat engineers, their arrival to be determined by dice rolls.
Initial US Setup
Sam looks over his initial dispositions. Howe Company was on the Americans' left with one platoon forward and two back. Item Company had the center in column of platoons. King Company moved up on the right with two platoons up and one in reserve. The Stuart platoon was between Item and King Companies, and the recon platoon was to King Company's rear.
The Japanese held Hill 87 in force. Their infantry all started in prepared positions. The spotter stand could not move or fire, and would immediately be destroyed once an American squad touched it. The Japanese guarded their flanks by deploying some infantry in the jungle to the sides of the hill.
Although the Japanese started the battle outnumbered 2:1, they had some heavy weapons on the hill that would make it a tough nut to crack.
The American battalion started its attack in style, making a double move toward the enemy. Sam sent the recon platoon for the supply trail, intending to turn the Japanese rear, but the jeeps quickly bogged down in the jungle. The recon platoon would not see any combat until the last turn of the game, when they were checked by Japanese engineers moving up the trail.
The Japanese would be reinforced by an infantry company if they rolled a 9 or 10 in any of the first five turns. After that, the infantry company would come in on a roll of 8-10 on turn 6, 7-10 on turn 7, 6-10 on turn 8, and automatically on turn 9. As it happened, the Japanese rolled a 9 on their first turn, and the infantry reinforcements came on the board in Howe Company's rear.
Howe Company commander spotted the Japanese coming on the board and called for battalion mortar support. He passed his call for fire roll and placed his mortar templates over his target stand. The mortars needed to roll a 10 to kill, but a lesser roll might have suppresed or disordered the Japanese, giving the Americans time to redeploy and meet the threat to their flank. The mortars rolled seperately for each template, and each roll was a 10: a 1:100 chance! The Japanese company lost four of its nine stands without firing a shot.
Jonah, in command of Howe and Item Companies, move Howe to check the Japanese.
Item and King Companies continued their advance on Hill 87.
The Japanese, dug in and hidden from view, held their fire to preserve their ambush bonus.
Two of the three recon platoon jeeps had managed to extricate themselves from the jungle undergrowth and move up the trail to the Japanese rear. They moved 12" off the road, bogged down again in the jungle, and stayed bogged down for the rest of the game. Poor Josh, who commanded the recon platoon, must have had a frustrating game.
By now the American main force was in position to strike the main Japanese line. But the Japanese were strangely quiet. Should the Americans send forward a few squads to spot the Japanese, or should they sieze fortune by the forelock and charge right in?
Meanwhile, the Japanese players (Matt and Zach) were facing troubles of their own. How should they handle their mauled reinforcing company?
They chose to charge! The two infantry squads that were in range fixed bayonets and made a run for the American infantry. It was a rash decision. American machineguns tore one squad to pieces, and the other Japanese squad was destroyed in close combat.
Now it was the Americans' turn. Howe Company made a counter charge, hitting two Japanese squads with four American squads. The Japanese lost one squad, the Americans lost one squad, and the two companies drew apart. By now this poor Japanese Company was down to two stands. In just 20 minutes of game time, they has lost nearly three quarters of their strength. But they had inflicted some losses on Howe Company, and the two veteran Japanese squads passed all their maneuver rolls and retired in good order.
Now began turn six, the turn on which the battle would depend. After an hour's steady advance, the Americans had two infantry companies and their Stuart platoon in position to assault Hill 87. The Americans decided on the bold stroke, sending their squads in blind in hopes of overwhelming the Japanese with pure brute force.
On the American right, King Company rushed forward into the jungle, pitting their nine sqauds against the Japanese three. The Americans overran the first Japanese position, killing one enemy squad, but lost heavily against the other two Japanese squads.
At the same time, Item company rushed the jungle on the other side of Hill 87. The Japanese heavy weapons on the hill opened on the attacking Americans. The defending Japanese infantry sprung their ambush . . .
And by a series of stunningly high dice rolls, the Japanese killed seven of Item Company's ten squads. Flush with victory, the Japanese left their foxholes and charged the remains of Item Company, sending the Americans running for the rear. This same turn, the Japanese received their elite combat engineers, who quickly overran the stalled American recon platoon.
Item Company failed its morale roll and began running. Howe Company failed its morale roll and began running. King Company failed its morale roll and began running. The American attack had failed with heavy losses.
We played this game to completion in just under two hours. The American players might have done better by probing the Japanese line, spotting their infantry, and suppresing them with machineguns, mortars, and tanks. But this game was really decided by the Japanese dice rolls. In the decisive turn six, Zach and Matt rolled nine kills in eleven chances, an amazing stroke of luck. The Japanese may well have prevailed without the intervention of the dice gods, but as it was the American attack was a complete failure.