Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Jan IV 1942: The Allies


That was really, really dumb

Attention to detail. It has never been one of my strong suits. When I come up with a plan, I never consider what to do if something goes wrong.

Take the Allied attack on Tarlac a few turns ago. The attack was successful, and I thought it would put pressure on the Japanese supply train. But it didn’t. Instead, as the Japanese, I chose to continue to drive towards Manila, thus cutting off the Allies strongest forces from their supply base. Had I chosen, as the Allies, to fall back towards Manila (as I seriously considered doing), the Japanese would likely not be at the gates of Manila, and the Allies would be in a stronger position for a counter offensive.

But I didn’t. I chose to attack because I thought it would make better reading.

Even so, at the point that they were being cut off, instead of trying to make it back to re-establish contact with Manila, I should have taken the group and captured a port on the west coast in order to establish a supply base there. The Japanese are very thin in their rear areas, and most of the ports would have fallen one by one.

Which leads me to why I thought it was a good idea to leave the Pensacola and company sitting in the middle of a sea box, completely exposed.

It never occurred to me (until I was playing the Japanese turn) that the Japanese would seek them out. The idea came to me when I was reading through the rules and came across the rules for night naval operations. I knew, prior to this, that the Japanese did perform a lot of naval operations at night. It was at that moment that I started counting sea boxes to see if I could get the IJN near the USN at night. They got a lot closer than I ever anticipated.

In keeping with the lack of attention to detail theme, I should have had the American fleet harbor at either Zamboanga (where they are now), or Iloilo. Never sitting in the middle of the sea with a big neon sign that says “SINK ME!”

But why? Why did I do it?

I knew that they would be low on fuel the next turn anyway. I was trying to make sure they could make the run to Manila by the end of the turn, considering they would be moving at half the normal rate. Of course, they can make it from Zamboanga and Iloilo, but I never thought about that.

I think I am achieving a perfect example of how not to play this game.

The Allies have ambitious goals this turn.

Initial Phase

Supply

The Allied units that opened up a supply route to Manila were actually in supply last turn. This has no bearing on the outcome of the last turn because in the end the Japanese chose not to attack into the wooded rough occupied by the 1st Filipino infantry division, but does impact this turn.

The units in question go back to being out of supply as the Japanese have sealed off Manila from the rest of the island. This is the start of their first turn out of supply. What this means for these units is that while their attack strength is halved (and if they attack, halved again if no attack supply is available) , their defense strength is still full, as is their movement rating (except for any combat/motorized units, for which the movement rating is halved).

The Allies have come to the realization that they are not going to reach Manila. They have to establish a supply base somewhere else. The downside to their position is that they are in the Japanese rear areas and cut off from Manila. The upside is that they are in the Japanese rear areas. Finding a port to establish a base from is not a given, there are several to target.

Manila

Now is the time for absolute careful consideration of whether to declare Manila an open city or not, what with the Japanese at the gates of the city and all. Let’s take a close look at what both sides have available.

The Allies (in Manila, and the city is defended):

  • four construction units (3 x 0-1-4 & 1 x 0-1-8 (US))
  • one light AA battalion (1-6)
  • one light AA regiment (2-6), supported by an artillery battalion
  • one artillery battalion (0-1-6)

The supported unit defends at full strength, while all others (excluding the artillery battalion) defend at half strength. The Allies have a total of 5.5 defense factors defending the city. Also, no unit in Manila exerts a zone of control outside Manila.

If the Allies choose to declare the city open, the Allies receive another unsupported infantry division (9-11-5), along with 12 Filipino replacement points (enough to replace 6 x 1-2-5 infantry battalions).

If the city is declared open, everything changes, and the units defending the hex will likely look like this:

  • 2nd Filipino infantry division [unsupported] (9-11-5)
  • artillery battalion (0-1-6)
  • one light AA battalion (1-6)
  • one light AA regiment (2-6)
  • 3 x Filipino infantry battalions (1-2-5)

The defense factors of an open city hex would jump to 12. It could jump to 19.5 if the artillery regiment in Zamboanga can make it through to Manila, but I am not going to run through every possible scenario, as I have some ideas for the defense of this city that I may attempt.

The Japanese (at the gates of Manila):

16th corps (18.5 attack factors if the Allies are going to defend the city,  19 if city is declared open):

  • 65R unsupported infantry division  (8-12-6)
  • ‘A’ construction regiment (1-2-5)
  • 1DJr+ siege artillery battalion (4-2-6)
  • 1YJ artillery regiment (4-2-8) supporting all units in the hex
  • 9YJ artillery battalion (2-1-6)

Eastern edge of Manila (4 attack factors if the Allies are going to defend the city,  8 if city is declared open):

  • 33rd and 20th light infantry regiments, 16th division; supported (4-6-6)

Cavite [across the river and south of Manila](1 attack factors if the Allies are going to defend the city, 1.5 if city is declared open):

  • 24Dr combat engineer battalion; unsupported (1-2-6)
  • 15HC static brigade; unsupported (2-4-4)

Manila is a full hex city.The defensive advantages are that Manila has a -2 DRM, plus, all attacking units are halved in strength, except combat engineers, and artillery units. The siege artillery unit is doubled in strength.

Taking only these base units into account, the Japanese have an attack strength of:

  • Manila defended: 23.5 (combat odds: 4.28:1)
  • Manila declared open: 28.5 (combat odds: 2.38:1)

There is another brigade and two artillery units nearby that could contribute to the attack (3 attack factors if the Allies are going to defend the city, 4 if city is declared open):

  • 15th Mt. Mortar battalion (2-1-8)
  • 20D mountain artillery battalion (0-1-8)
  • 43HC static brigade (2-4-4) [supported by the two artillery battalions]

If these two are brought into the attack, the combat odds change to this:

  • Manila defended: 26.5 (combat odds: 4.82:1)
  • Manila declared open: 32.5 (combat odds: 2.71:1)

Adding these units does not change the odds column, but there is still air support. If both Japanese bomber squadrons make it past the cities antiaircraft, they can contribute 1 point of ground support (instead of the printed strength of 2) because ground support is halved when attacking a full hex city. Adding this in, the odds become (final tally):

  • Manila defended: 27.5 (combat odds: 5:1)
  • Manila declared open: 34.5 (combat odds: 2.88:1)

There is still one more Japanese static brigade lurking in the area of Clark Field that could conceivably jump into the attack on Manila, but it may be busy trying to hold off Allied forces trying to establish a new supply base.

Declaring the city open at this point would probably be the wisest thing to do, as the combat odds cannot exceed 2:1, but the -2 DRM is lost, and the -1 DRM for the fort is still in effect. However, such low odds does not mean the Japanese cannot take the city, but it does mean they are likely to take a lot of damage doing so.

So what are the Allies to do? One would think it was a no-brainer. If the Allies declare Manila an open city, but stay in the hex, the city apparently generates a magical force field around it that protects it from artillery, as there is no rule that I can find that requires the Allies to abandon the hex, which would make sense if the Allies declare they are not going to defend the city…..

The Allies finally declare Manila n open city, and take all of the forces that go with it.

Reinforcements and Replacements

The Filipinos now have 14 replacement points to play with.I’m hoping that I am not interpreting it wrong, but it looks like infantry guns are not classified as artillery, and thus can be replaced with just infantry replacement points. This could make the defense of Manila more stout, as the combination of 6 x 1-2-5 infantry battalions and a pair of 1-4 infantry gun battalions can assemble into infantry brigades. Hmmm……

That’s the route the Filipinos choose to go, spending all 14 of their replacement points to build a pair of 5-7-5 infantry brigades. The brigades immediately assemble. The Americans choose to spend their pair of replacement points on the 2-1-8 cavalry battalion in hopes that the armor replacement point makes it to Manila so it can be upgraded.

In order to make room for all of these units, the four construction units are going to have to be shipped out of Manila. They could simply move into Taytay, but that would put them at undue risk.

Several more American units arrive in Australia, but due to the blockade, they cannot get to the Philippines.

The Allies call up all three landing barges at Manila for operations. The city must be emptied in order to make room for the new forces arriving.

Both landing barges are called up at Iloilo for possible operations.

Miscellany

The fort that the Allies started constructing in Manila is completed.

Movement Phase

Naval Movement Sub-phase

Based out of Zamboanga on Mindanao, the transports can replenish their fuel. The Pensacola, however, cannot. It is still low on fuel, and can only move at half the normal movement rate. The transports have to move at the same pace to stay with the escorting cruiser.

In order to get the artillery regiment to Manila, the transports have to make a run for it, but there are two obstacles in the way. The naval group must pass through the Corregidor sea box, which is within the reaction range of the IJN battle group based out of Lucena. The waters are also mined, making passing through doubly dangerous, but it has to be done.

The Douglas A-24 "Banshee", the army version of the SBD-3A Dauntless (click image to enlarge)

The Douglas A-24 “Banshee”, the army version of the SBD-3A Dauntless (click image to enlarge)

Before any of that happens, the air units just outside of Cagayan, Mindanao, take flight flying to Manila, exactly 33 hexes away (the maximum range for the P-40s). The group consists of 2 x P-40E squadrons and one A-24 squadron. The P-40s are landing at Nichols Field, but the A-24s are staging out of Nielson. Once armed, the A-24s take off bound for Lucena.

Over Lucena, the Banshees are met with some pretty heavy flak (10 points), but are able to ignore it and continue their mission. Over the port, the pilots are able to locate the Waka-1 and attack, but miss their target. The Waka-1 was selected because it has the best torpedo strength of the remaining IJN fleet.

Several naval operations occur at once. The transport fleet leaves Zamboanga, but is moving slowly.

Allied naval movement, part one (click image to enlarge)

Allied naval movement, part one (click image to enlarge)

At Iloilo, the 5-7-5 infantry brigade loads on the two landing barges, and heads off to the east, hugging the coastline, staying out of reaction range of the IJN 3rd Fleet. It maneuvers around the southern end of Negros, up the Bohol Strait, and the brigade lands at Cebu City, to recapture the naval base. It lands unopposed, but gets disrupted in the process. No matter. Cebu City has been recaptured, and will be fully functional next turn.

In Manila, the four construction units are loaded up onto a barge, and transported to the rice fields outside of Malolos. While crossing the bay, Japanese raiders appear and both squadrons find the barge, Fortunately for the Allies, they also miss their targets. The barges proceed to the rice fields and deliver the construction units. The barges do not need to return to Manila.

Quick note: One of the design principles had talked about landing barges coming in two flavors, towed and self-powered. The rules do not specify whether the LBs in the game are self-powered or towed, only that they cannot enter a sea box that has no coastline in it. So I am assuming the LBs can move under their own power as long as they remain in sea boxes that have coastlines adjacent to them.

The transport fleet from Zamboanga moves north until it reaches the sea box just south of the Corregidor sea box. Once there, it switches to night movement. The IJN was on alert and on dedicated reaction, but failed to detect the group twice as it passed, but only barely. Had the group not switched to night movement, they would have been detected moving past Corregidor.

Allied naval movement, part 2 (click image to enlarge)

Allied naval movement, part 2 (click image to enlarge)

Night movement doesn’t make navigating the minefield any more dangerous (in this case), as something is going to get hit regardless.

The USS Pensacola leads the way and is struck by a mine, doing only one hit of damage, not enough to sink her. The group makes it to Manila with no further incidents, and offloads the cargo: 1 armor replacement point, three resource points, and an artillery regiment.

The Pensacola‘s part in this story has come to an end.

Movement Sub-phase

Manila is now more secure than it has been. It may still fall to the Japanese, but there will be a heavy price extracted for such an assault. Meanwhile, Allied forces north of Manila have to establish a new supply base, and they must not allow themselves to be distracted by shiny objects.

Like the Japanese transport counter to the north.

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Allied movement (click image to enlarge)

The 1PGp light armor cadre (US) heads out north through Cabantuan, crossing the Pampanga River and into San Jose, before turning towards the northeast coast and ending the move at Tayag, near the banks of the Agno River.

The 71d Filipino infantry brigade (5-7-5) and the newly landed construction battalions also cross the Pampanga River at Manila Bay and enter the southern town of San Fernando, south of Clark Field, preparing to attack the Japanese construction regiment at the airbase. To the north, the US Philippines infantry division and the Filipino 301 reserve engineer battalion crosses the mountains back into the Pampanga River lowlands. The US division crosses the Pampanga River, and ends just southeast of Tarlac, on the outskirts of Clark Field, also preparing to attack the airfield. The 301r engineer battalion stops after crossing the mountains.

The Filipino 11d infantry brigade and the 301 Filipino artillery regiment cross the Pampanga and move into Tarlac, to attack Clark Field from the north. This position also blocks the Japanese 48HC static brigade from moving south. Now the Japanese need to decide whether they are going to defend the northern town of San Fernando (a marginal port) or the port of Dagupan.

Keep in mind the Japanese stack in the swamps just south of the Pampanga is occupied by a 2-4-4 static brigade, which has no zone of control, so the Americans don’t have to worry about paying ZOC penalties.

The 1st Filipino infantry division moves away from Manila, and back into the jungles to the north. After paying ZOC and terrain costs, they can only move the one hex. They don’t have enough movement to cross the mountains.

South, on Mindanao, two infantry battalions recapture the Malabang airfield. All three airfields on Mindanao are now under Allied control.

Combat Phase

Jan IV 42 post-combat positions (click image to enlarge)

Jan IV 42 post-combat positions (click image to enlarge)

The attack at Clark Field comes from three directions at once. The Allies are attacking without the benefit of attack supply, but still manage to achieve combat odds of 6:1. The Allies roll poorly (a ‘1’), but the result is still a DR (Defender Retreat). Clark Field is again Allied owned. The Japanese construction regiment is forced to retreat into the mountainous jungle, but is eliminated due to Allied zones of control. The Japanese receive 1/2 infantry replacement point for this unit.

The four construction units advance to the airfield, as does the US Philippines division. The Filipino 11d infantry brigade and 301 artillery regiment stay put, holding off the Japanese 48C static brigade.

Exploitation Phase

Naval Movement Subphase

The Allies have no naval movement this phase.

Exploitation Movement

Allied exploitation movement (click image to enlarge)

Allied exploitation movement (click image to enlarge)

The rules state that any combat/motorized unit can move during the exploitation phase up to 1/2 of its printed movement rate. Being out of supply, its regular movement rate is halved. Does this mean that the c/m unit gets 2 1/2 movement points, or 5? I’m going with 5, since it benefits the Allies.

The 1PGp light armor cadre makes a break for the coast. On their way, they pass through Baguio, capturing the airstrip and almost catching the Japanese Ki-27b fighters on the ground. The fighters escape, however, and flee to an airstrip at San Pablo, south of Manila. The cadre continues to the coast and captures the port of San Fernando. The supply link has been established.

After the Japanese fighters have been driven off, the B-18s and B-17 bombers are loaded with a resource point, and it is flown to Clark Field. The Allies now have access to attack supply.

To the south, the US Philippines division pushes south into the southern (non-port) town of San Fernando, in an attempt to threaten Mariveles. The Allies are trying to re-establish contact with Corregidor.

Finally, the Filipino 1st infantry division crosses the mountains, and back into the Pampanga River lowlands, joining up with the 301r engineer battalion.

Final Thoughts

At this point, I feel the Allies are beginning to gain the upper hand, through attrition if nothing else. The Japanese are in a position where they simply cannot replace their losses like the Filipinos can. Make no mistake, the Filipino replacement pool runneth over, but more units have come out of it than have Japanese units out of the Japanese replacement pool.

There are now more Allied fighters and bombers on the island, and more may be coming.

While the Japanese have a well established supply chain on the southern end of Luzon, it is likely to have lost the northern end of the island. From there, it is only a matter of time before the Japanese are driven off the island.

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One thought on “TDDH: Jan IV 1942: The Allies

  1. This looks like one of the better Allied games I’ve seen. The Japanese withdrawals soon are going to hurt, but the March reinforcements should help them, and I don’t think any more Americans are going to make it through the off-map blockade. Also, the Japanese terrain advantages and sea mobility are going to make it hard to run them completely off Luzon, IMO.

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