After a lot of procrastination, although, to be fair, we have been both distracted by other projects, which I will post about later, my regular and long-suffering opponent, John, and I have finally started our attempt at the Tabletop CP Saipan pint-sized campaign, we have been discussing this particular project for almost 18 months, and our rules of choice is Chain of Command by the Too Fat Lardies. We plan to finish the campaign by the end of the year, but let’s see how that goes. Two weeks ago, we started the first table. This simulates the initial landing of the Marines and the dogged resistance put up by the Japanese. I don’t propose to give a potted history lesson here, but needless to say, it was chaotic and messy. As I mentioned, the campaign was designed by Tabletop CP and consists of 6 tables. For me to win, I need to get to the final table and win within 8 games. Wish me luck.
The first table of the campaign is the initial beach landings by the marines, and the first turn of the game simulates the initial bombardment of the US navy and the Japanese counter-bombardment during the landings. The initial bombardment from the US navy did little to upset the Japanese. Also, the orderly deployment of the Marines and subsequent landing was not to be. The landings were messy and difficult. And our game proved to be no different.
As part of the initial deployment, there is a Japanese initial bombardment in play. This had the rather annoying effect of making the deployment of troops onto the table unpredictable. For those unfamiliar with Chain of Command, the deployment mechanics are fairly simple, roll some dice, and depending on the result, a leader, squad or team may deploy. However, when an initial bombardment is in play, there is a roughly 50% chance that the selected troops will fail to deploy. Obviously, I needed to try and get overwhelming force into the smallest amount of terrain as fast as possible, and the initial bombardment made that impossible.
The only counter to this was to delay my deployment until the bombardment had finished, and the only way to do this was to end the first turn. So I patiently waited and annoyed John by passing on my turn and letting him deploy while I built up enough CoC points until I had a full CoC die. This is done by rolling 5’s during your command rolls when it is your phase. So phase after phase passed as I waited for the correct moment to start deploying. Meanwhile, John was deploying his Japanese troops and placing them into overwatch. This allowed troops to fire if an opportunity presented itself. I could sense John’s growing frustration as I passed on each phase and waited. Finally, after at least 15 phases, I had enough CoC points to end the turn and not only that, I rolled a double six on my command dice. This allowed me to retain the phase! So the bombardment ceased, and as a nice bonus, all of John’s overwatch markers came off, and his deployed troops were no longer in Overwatch. So on we came!
My command dice were reasonable, and I was able to deploy both my landing craft and a squad of Marines onto my deployment points. during our patrol phase, I was able to get a reasonable foothold on the beach, and as a result, the marines didn’t have to wade ashore under fire.
As soon as the first marines deployed, they opened fire on the entrenched Japanese. This, combined with the 75mm howitzer in the LVT-4, gave the Japanese something to think about. Shock was added, and the HE from the howitzer lowered the cover value of the Japanese. I had two LVT one carried the 75mm howitzer, and the other carried two squads of marines and boasted an onboard armament of two 30 cal machine guns and a single 50 cal machine gun. all commanded by the Platoon staff Sergent. The combined firepower of the second LVT was phenomenal.
Over the next few phases, the Marines were winning the firefight. the Japanese were slowly being attrited, and I thought I might be able to pull off the impossible and win the first game. I had landed a second squad and a second 50 cal in support to add to the Japanese woes.
However this was to be in vain. On my right flank, the LVT landing, two squads of Marines had come under fire from an Anti Tank gun hidden in the bunker. It was hit as it landed on the beach, and the two squads were forced to deploy from it. However, the combined firepower from the left flank made a dent in the Japanese line and morale. At this moment, we had both reduced each other force morale and things were looking fragile on both sides.
The Marines and the Japanese had suffered casualties, and each looked at the other, waiting for them to blink. However, disaster struck the Marine right flank. in two quick turns, first, the junior squad leader and then the senior leader looking after that flank was hit and killed in action. this caused a final collapse in the Marine force morale, and they were forced to withdraw, leaving the beach still in the hands of the Japanese.
To add insult to injury, because of the sudden collapse in morale, the Japanese recovered all their dead and wounded. On the second game, the Marines will face a strong undamaged foe. How will it go? Chain of Command again fultilled its promise of a hard fight. And the beach landing at Saipan was definitely a tough nut to crack. It was a fascinating game with lots of to and fro, and the outcome was not a foregone conclusion. The Marines did have the opportunity to win, but fate is a fickle mistress. The tension provided by the game mechanics was fantastic. Every time John picked up the dice, I was nervous, and I suspect he was the same when I also had my turn. Anyway, onto the next game, and let us see what happens.