Brett Simpson has reached the 2nd Anniversary of his venture into Crossfire in the Pacific. Brett sent through a battle report and his reflections on his two year journey. I continue to be impressed by the visual spectacle of Brett’s table top. All words are his.
This week marks the two year anniversary of when I started painting miniatures for Crossfire in the Pacific, so I thought it only fitting to organise a game in celebration.
It has made me reflect on a few things, which I thought might be valuable to share…
I decided to go with 20mm/1:72 scale (although 15mm was a close contender). The bulk of my miniatures for this theatre are from the Eureka Range, but these have been supplemented with a variety of other manufacturers. In particular, the Platoon 20 SNLF (Japanese Marines) were a great find and work very well with the IJA miniatures from Eureka, but other manufacturers such as WarTime, War-Modelling, Britannia, and SHQ have all played an important role. AFVs have come from S-Models, Hasegawa, and Fujimi, and I hope to expand on this with some additional vehicles from SHQ soon.
I wanted to stick as closely as possible to the Crossfire Rulebook, and this began with basing (increased in scale for 20mm as opposed to 15mm, with 40x40mm being the standard size I use for rifle squads). I went with metal stamps for base markings, and have found these quite good. I started off by using the suggested method for Company Commanders, but in the end rebased them on circular 40mm stands, which I much prefer aesthetically. I have based forward-observers singularly on 30x30mm stands for clarity. Guns I have based on 40x40mm whenever possible, but some of the larger guns I have based on longer stands.
I have made very few changes to the rules. For the most part, I treat Japanese HMGs and Knee Mortars much the same as the equivalent hardware of other nationalities (albeit granting the latter fewer fire-missions due to their lower point cost). I have drawn up my own list for the AFVs used in the Pacific (based closely on the examples given in the rulebook) and allow vehicles one move action/pivot per initiative, in addition to one shot with their main gun and/or machine gun and a turret rotation of up to 90-degrees. This has worked quite well, as it makes vehicles formidable without taking the emphasis away from infantry.
I am a big advocate of the Pacific Theatre for Crossfire. It works well, with the focus being on Infantry and there generally being quite a lot of terrain. Most of the time, one or two AFVs per side are all we have used.
Once again, we used my dining table for this latest game, which is 5’ x 3’, and played along the wide edge. The Australians entered from the west below the road (lower and central left-hand side of the photo), and their force consisted of a standard AIF Company reinforced with a platoon of engineers, two Matilda Tanks (rolled randomly as a Matilda CS and Frog Flame-thrower), a captured Japanese 75mm Gun, and a FO to call in fire from a 25-pounder. The Australians were classed as regulars, but 1st Platoon had a superior (+2) commander.
The Japanese had control of the north (topmost) and the east (right-hand side), and their force consisted of two platoons with knee mortars, a company commander with associated rifle squad, an 81mm mortar, dug-in Chi-Ha, and a woodpecker machine gun and ATR squad, both of which were holed up in single-squad log-bunkers. All Japanese but the AFV crew were classed as veterans.
The objective was simple, knock out as many enemy stands as possible. Standard fighting stands were worth a single-point each (rifle squads, MGs, CC, and artillery) and AFVs were worth two points, as was the Japanese HQ building to the southeast, and the fuel dump to the northeast (note the burned-out Stuart Tank next to the fuel dump, which posed no threat, but could provide cover). A bunker stood at the junction looking along the road to the south (to the southeast of the burned out bunker beside the road), and second bunker lay in the jungle to the east between the dug-in Chi-Ha and the Creek (the former houses the ATR, the latter the HMG).
The Japanese actually consisted of two veteran forces: the SNLF platoon and company command to the southeast, and the IJA platoon and 81mm mortar to the north.
The Australians deployed their 2nd platoon, and the captured Japanese gun behind a thick bamboo grove (which we treated as bocage) beside the road running north-south; the 2-inch mortar team was positioned to offer fire support and had a good view of the north bunker, although they stood outside of the bunker’s line-of-fire. The engineers deployed along the Creek. 1st platoon, the Vickers-gun, and FO occupied the crops to the southwest, and close at hand was the Matilda Troop. 3rd platoon was kept in reserve together with the Company Commander.
The Australians began their assault at dawn by dropping a 25-pound shell into the field opposite, suppressing an SNLF squad. They then dropped 2-inch mortar smoke to obscure the vision of the north bunker (housing the ATR) and mobilised their Matilda CS across the road. The Vickers-gun opened up on the field, pinning down another of the SNLF squads.
The IJA dropped a knee mortar grenade clear in the middle of one of the sections of the AIF 2nd platoon, and advanced across the road to the southwest, drawing “no-fire” from the remaining two sections. They captured the 2-inch mortar team and then rushed in to close assault 2nd Platoon and the captured Japanese gun. This was a bold move, which should have worked to the Japanese advantage, but they failed to realise the extent of the Australian firepower (with their Owen- and Tommy-guns) and the Japanese were beaten.
The Matilda CS continued to advance, and this was followed by the Flamethrower Tank, which was fired upon by the Japanese ATR up the road (thoughtlessly putting a nasty scratch along the left side of her turret). The CS opened up on the SNLF in the field, but they were keeping their heads well down at that stage.
A bugle sounded, and the SNLF platoon (attempting to take advantage of the CS being inside the field) rushed forward to close assault the tank, only to be gunned down by very fine marksmanship from the AIF 1st platoon and Vicker’s gun in the field opposite.
Meanwhile, the Flamethrower Tank advanced forward and rolled straight over a mine (which thankfully failed to detonate). The engineers advanced northward, outflanking and overrunning the bunker housing the ATR squad. The 1st platoon advanced across the road, only to be opened up on by the Woodpecker in the bunker to the east.
The Chi-Ha opened up on the 75mm gun-crew, managing to suppress them, and the Woodpecker fired upon 2nd Platoon, but they had gone to ground under cover of the bamboo grove.
The Tank Troop advanced toward the HQ Building and (assuming that the Japanese would realise the hopelessness of their situation) gave the commander the option of surrendering. He was defiant, and so the Matilda CS opened up with its machine gun on their bodyguard squad, killing them outright.
3rd platoon was called forward, and it wasn’t long before they harried down the remnants of the SNLF platoon. By lunchtime, it was all over for the Japanese…
All in all a very good game. I think things may have gone quite differently for the Australians if the Japanese had have won their first assault (in fact, they were very unlucky not to). I have wanted to run a game where the defending force were veterans for some time, and found it quite interesting. The use of the Matilda Tanks felt very realistic — they played an important role, but didn’t dominate the game. It was good to see the engineers perform so effectively against the north bunker; this opened up the road for the AIF 1st and 3rd platoons.
With regards to the future of my Pacific War endeavours, I have enough miniatures on hand to complete an SNLF Company (sans HMGs), and two more platoons of AIF, but would be happy to paint and base one more platoon of each (I want to mix slouch hats and tin hats for my next lot of Australians). I plan to purchase a couple of Ha-Go Tanks from SHQ, and some Australian ATGs (a 2-pounder and 3-pounder with crew from Britannia). A Japanese 47mm ATG and crew would be useful as well. Terrain and structure-wise, I have a few ideas, but I need to find a bigger playing area before becoming too ambitious.