I plan to run a Combat Patrol(R) scenario at the Florida wargaming convention, Recon, in April based on the Americans defending against a Japanese advance in 1942 on Bataan. In preparation, I have run a couple of play tests, tweaking the scenario along the way.
The stream is fordable as rough terrain. The vegetation along the steam blocks line of sight unless the shooter or target is at a higher elevation. The pond is impassible terrain.
The figures are a mix of Steve Barber miniatures and Pulp Figures. Pulp makes a couple of packs of between-the-wars Americans that are suitable for the early war in the Philippines. I (and a couple of others) commissioned Steve Barber to sculpt additional poses to make up a whole platoon of Americans. (The are available now from Steve Barber.) The Japanese are a mix of manufacturers that I don’t remember. The first two things to go when you get old are your memory and… I don’t remember the other thing.
The Japanese have four full-strength squads, two Chi-Ha tanks, and a command element. The Americans have three under-strength squads, two water-cooled .30 cal. machine-guns, a 37mm anti-tank gun, and a command element.
In this scenario, each side receives one victory point for each enemy figure incapacitated. The Japanese receive five victory points for each 18″ of table they achieve. They start 18″ from the edge. When a Japanese infantry figure advances another 18″, the Japanese get five victory points. When they advance another 18″, they receive five more. And so on. The tanks do not accrue victory points for the Japanese this way; only infantry. The Americans receive five victory points for knocking out a Japanese tank.
The first time I ran the scenario it was a blowout for the Japanese. I thought that was because the Americans didn’t have long enough fields of fire, so I added some hills on the American left to let them fire over the vegetation at the stream. It didn’t help that the anti-tank gun missed three times. I also broke up the vegetation on the American right to give them more fields of fire. Finally, I added an M-3 Stuart that arrives after a few turns. The second time the game was closer, but I am going to make two more tweaks before the convention. I will give the Americans a fourth understrength squad that arrives after the Japanese have incapacitated five American figures. This squad will arrive from the back table edge, forcing the Americans to have some defense in depth. When ten figures are incapacitated, the Stuart will enter the table. This should make the game a more evenly run affair.
Below are some pictures from the two play tests.
Because the Americans have not defended in depth in either instance of the scenario, it feels very much like a hard shell with a soft interior. Adding the fourth under-strength squad that enters late will give the Americans some enforced depth. If the third running is still a decisive Japanese victory instead of a more even fight, I might give the Americans a couple of extra cards in the Activation Deck. I envisioned the Americans firing a turn or so and then withdrawing to a second line of defense. Retrograde is difficult to execute in real life and and on the tabletop.