Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines Game 1
Kenneth Li (Americans) vs Jason Neff (Japanese)
After Action Report (by Ken Li)
Back in the summer of 1996, I remembered my first and last time to attend an ASL tournament - ASL Wild West Fest, at Park City Utah; back then I was still a learning player, and after much confusion and slaughter, dragging through the whole event, I finished in the last place and humorously obtain the title – “Tail End Charlie”. Well, that was an embarrassing piece of memory…
Fast forward back to today, I got the same gut feeling when I first joined MMP’s Ironmen tournament. Playing against all the well seasoned grognard, with me being the fresh newbie, has bring back all those old and embarrassing memories some 15 years ago… My first game and first match – Game one of “Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines” does not relieve my original prediction…
Both I and Jason are new players, although I have bought the game awhile back, I have not played it once before and the practice game we have right before this match did not help me out a lot.
As the Americans, I know that time is not in my favor. In order to gain VP, the Americans have to get off the beaches early and control the airfields which are 2 VP a piece, acuminated each turn. Eliminating Japanese units does not give me any VP at all. Beside the airfields which is the major source of VP, Mount Suribachi is a risky gambit (3 defense with additional caves, with the usually strategy of putting 2 caves in there by the Japanese), and the VP is a onetime gain of a dice roll. It seems like too much work with little reward attacking Mount Suribachi…
Generally speaking, the Japanese set up and American attack plan is a mind game on its own. It devolves to guessing where the defense forces are, and daring what the other side will not do. American bombardment is the strongest in the first turn and will deteriorate from there on, until a beachhead can be maintained to bring in the artillery units.
1st Turn American bombardment, I targeted 16 dice at Funami Dai, 12 dice at Motoyama Airfield and 10 dice at Mount Suribachi. The 10 dice at Suribachi is probably a waste there, my thinking is to see if I am lucky enough to catch a low defense setup in Suribachi. Results are: 2 caves revealed with 2 hits and no damage in Funami Dai (what a waste of 16 dice), 2 caves revealed with 5 hits and 1 damage in Motoyama Airfield and 2 caves revealed with 4 hits and no damage in Suribachi. That concludes the first turn bombardment.
The major mistake here is I don’t anticipate any defenses on the beaches and thus did not spend any effort in bombarding it, and you will see later on why I say it is my major mistake…
1st Turn American movement: 23/4 of the 4th marine division land on old man beach, Japanese revealed his 125 red (1st marine) assault gun unit and roll for defensive fire – 7 dice, and obtain 3 hits (ouch). Since it is a landing movement, 23/4 cannot retreat and have to take the heat, a 4 steps units reduced to 1 step with the Japanese player gaining 3 VP.
Continue movement, 26/5 of the 5th marine division land on Warbler village, Japanese reveal his 20/21 assault gun unit and roll for defensive fire – 7 dice and 3 hits (ouch again, is the electronic dice biased?), another reduction like the first one, 3 more VP for the Japanese.
I continue my stupidity and keep landing my marines, thinking in the back of my mind that my superior steps and marine pride will eventually plow through this hardship. That is totally not true…
24/4 of the 4th marine division continues to land on Old man beach, Japanese 12 AT unit revealed and roll for defensive fire, 4 dice, 3 hits, (what on earth? Are they superman? Ouch and this is really hurting) another 3 step reduction like the first two landing, 3 more VP for the Japanese.
The marines match on, due to my incompetent leadership… 27/5 of the 5th marine division land on Warbler village, Japanese 8 AT/9 AT unit revealed and roll for defensive fire, 4 dice, no hits (yep, they run out of luck this time).
Another landing, 25/4 of the 4th marine division (my last regiment of the 4th division) land on Old man, Japanese revealed yet and other unit – 2/145 infantry, defensive fire with 4 dice and score 3 hits (yet again on their superior marksmanship… or my super bad luck…) another marine unit almost bleeded dry, another 3 VP for the Japanese. Situation in Old man beach becomes really old and dire now…
I have one marine unit left, 5 have landed, 4 get reduced to 1 step. Not much I can do. I should have stopped way before, but I continue to drag on and bluntly move forward, like a bull which eventually got slaughter…
28/5 of the 5th marine division (last regiment that can move this turn), land on Old man, fortunately, there is no more defensive fire.
The Japanese now, after American movement, revealed all their caves and units in areas which have US units- 2 caves at both Old man and Warbler village, one more infantry 3/145 unit at Warbler.
American assault phase – Japanese player declare Kirikami charge (yep, they can do that, and try to kick the marines while they are down, not a pretty sight…) Japanese 3/145 infantry unit loss a step for Kirikami.
Old man beach assault - 5 dice, 2 hits, no damage (caves) and Warbler village assault – 5 dice, no hits, at this point of time, I really feel that the virtual electronic dice really hate me…
Now it comes to the fun part, Japanese turn. After playing the game, we found out that bombardment is king and really hurt if there is no defensive bonus, also during bombardment, the defender can never retreat, that is the deadliness of artillery…
Japanese bombardment phase – revealing 2nd mortar and 3rd mortar at Funami Dai, they are aiming at Warbler village. Jason also reveals 145 art at Mount Suribachi (this is the only Japanese that can shoot anywhere) and bombard Warbler village. Furthermore, the 3 units of 109 art popup at Chidori airfield and aim at old man beach. To further the injury, the one use wonder Japanese rocket unit appeared in Chidori airfield and rain destruction on old man beach… My doom is coming…
Warbler village have 10 dice and obtain 3 hits and 3 damage (newly landed marines have no defense, plus the beaches have a defense bonus of 0 even if the US control it), Killing the one step marine and reduced the remaining full strength marine to a two steps unit.
Old man beach: the rocket score 2 hits, the other bombardments of 15 dice score 4 hits to a total of 6 damage, the three one step marines are gone, and the remaining full step one is reduced to only one step.
I am disheartened...
In the Japanese movement phase, Jason used his 2 moves to hide the just revealed mortar units in Funami Dai. A good move, as it reduces some chances of damaging the artillery units in future bombardment.
Japanese assault phase, 11 dice in Warbler (remember the Kirikami charge), which score 3 hits, enough to remove the lonely two step marine unit. While the 12 dice in Old man beach assault result in 7 hits, way more than enough to eliminate the one step marine unit there.
End of turn 1, there are no US marines on the island, both divisions’ marines units have been wipe out. Japanese have gained 24 VP…
Start of turn 2, basically, I have two choices, bring in the 3rd division and sacrifice 3 VP or bombard and wait. Since the Japanese is at the max of their VP already, there is no sense of bringing in more meat to the grinder and giving them free VP. Bombarding them is the sure way of going, but the downside is time is running out for the Americans…
Turn 2 weather phase – die roll result: 1, as I said before, I think the dice hate me and all those bad luck does add up to a painful US progress. Bad weather means that I have 2 less plane for bombardment.
I allocated 10 dice in Old man and 16 dice in Warbler village, which result in 5 hits in Old man with 4 damage and 2 hits in Warbler with no damage at all. I have to say it again, although it kind of became winey already – the dice hate me. The 4 damage remove the 125 1st marine assault gun unit and reduce both the 12 AT and 2/145 infantry.
No movement and no assault go straight to Japanese bombardment which they also have nothing to bombard with. In the Japanese movement phase, Jason can move 2 units and he retreated 3/145 and 2/145 infantry into the hills. End of turn two as there is no Japanese assault.
Start of turn 3. Weather phase, die roll result: 3, not as bad, but still it is cloudy and American marine air force have one less plane to bombard with.
Here is my bombardment allocation: 10 dice in Warbler which have one cave left, 6 dice at Old man which do not have any cave left, thus no more defensive bonus and 8 dice at Chidori to reduce the artillery there, and 6 dice in Double root beach. Both Chidori and Double root beach have 2 caves each which are revealed before rolling for bombardment. Results are: 5 hits with 4 damage in Warbler which eliminated all the Japanese units, 2 hits in Old man which also eliminated all Japanese units there, in Chidori I have got 7 hits, but the cave and terrain bonus reduce it to only 3 damage, enough to reduce all 3 artillery units there, the 6 dice in double root got me 4 hits with 2 damage and successfully eliminated the 132/149 of the 1st Japanese marine unit.
Seeing the good result in my bombardment, and with time pressing to get some points, I made the decision to activate the 3rd marine division and give the Japanese 2 more VP. This might not be a good idea, which I should have waited for more bombardment to soften up the opposition…
3rd Turn American movement: 9/3 of the 3rd marine division move to Old man, then moved into Chidori, Japanese 190 AA revealed and take a shot, 7 dice and 3 hits with 3 damage, he goes my luck again, 9/3 reduced to a one step unit and 3 move VP for the Japanese player.
21/3 of the 3rd marine division move to Old man then move into Funami dai, Japanese revealed 43/44 assault gun with 7 dice of attack and get 2 hits and 2 damage, better than before, but it still hurts very much, 21/3 reduced to a 2 step unit and 2 move VP for the Japanese.
3/3 of the 3rd marine division move into Old man and stay there, the simple reason is so that I can take control of Old man beach and later on build a beachhead this turn.
At the end of the American movement phase, Japanese player need to reveal his units in Chidori and Funami dai: 26 Tank in Chidori, 109 HQ, 1 Ind, 2 Ind and the two mortar units which have revealed before to bombard my remaining Marines in Funami dai. To my horror, these seem like the whole Japanese army on the island.
American assault phase and the Japanese declared Kirikami charge again (no surprise there), declaring that the 1 Ind will take a hit for that.
Since I have just 1 unit of 2-3 marines in Funami dai that can make an assault, the other unit is 0-3 one step marine in Chidori airfield, there is just one area to resolve my assault: 2 dice, 1 hit no damage (enough to remove the remaining cave there). All three of my marines are looking very grim.
American get control of Old man beach and build a beachhead there.
Japanese bombardment: 6 dice in Funami, the 2 mortar cannot fire out of the area if there is an enemy unit there. Result in no hit, I am a bit relieved, but the worst have yet to come as Kirikami charge is a force to behold.
The 9 dice (again, the three 109 art cannot fire out of the area) at Chidori resulted in 3 hits, which is enough to kill the one step 9/3 unit there.
The remaining 145 art at Suribachi bombard Old man with 4 dice and got 1 hit, reducing the 4 steps 3/3 marine unit there to 3 steps and enough to remove the beachhead just built there.
Japanese movement: Jason had a bad roll and can only move one Japanese unit, which he move the 26 tank from Chidori airfield to Old man beach. My 3 steps Marine unit, 4-3, got the chance to defensive fire with 4 dice and got 2 hits. The Japanese 26 tank needed to retreat in order to save his life and retreat back to Chidori airfield, taking one hit.
Now the fun part, began as in the Japanese assault phase, they got a Kirikami charge. First in Funami dai, 14 dice and got 7 hits, enough o kill the 2 steps 21/3 there, even if I retreat that unit is a goner, Funami dai is no fun at all.
That ends the 3rd turn, with my 3/3 of the 3rd Marine division, just 3 steps remaining making a last stand in Old man beach, feeling a little bit lonely there… Japanese have a total of 35 VP gained. No beachhead for me which means I cannot do much besides sitting there and wait for my demise.
Start of turn 4: Weather phase – die roll of 2, cloudy again, not my luck this whole game…
Bombardment placement: 14 dice in Funami dai with no cave, burn bady burn, 10 dice in Chidori airfield with one cave. The 14 dice results in 6 hits and 4 damage which I reduce the 2 mortar units and the 43/44 assault Gun and take the HQ with me (eliminated as it is worth some points at the end of the game for the Japanese). The 10 dice in Chidori resulted in 2 hits and no damage, again, not the best of luck there.
I have no movement and no assault as the Japanese bombard will take care of me eventually…
Japanese bombardment: 17 dice in Old man beach resulting in 5 hits and 5 damages, enough to end the miserable life of that lonely marine unit…
The game ends at this point as there are no units on the main board and there is no way that the American can bring in more units to the board for replacement/reinforcement. The rules are a bit hazy for how the game ends, so we have to consult Ken Dunn for a ruling.
Game ends with 48 VP for the Japanese and 0 VP for the Americans.
Note: I have intentionally written this AAR in pain strikingly details in order to make the reader feel the same pain as I did when I was playing this game.
This AAR also can act as a lesson to any player who is learning this game as the Americans. This AAR truly illustrated what not to do and what to avoid.
Well, the name of the game – “Rage against the Marine” should have given me a hint on how tough the American situation is. It is not an easy landing and don’t be fooled by the 4 steps each Marine units have. Bombardment is very powerful and the Americans should use it wisely.
Things that I have done wrong are plenty. First, I should have hold back my landing after I find out that there are Japanese defenses on the beaches. After the first 2 units got reduced to one step in both beaches, I should have leave those alone and concentrate on bombardment to reduce the beaches defenses before I land more units. Second, I should have concentrate on landing on one beach first instead of putting my units into two beaches and get them divided in strength. Third, bombarding the beaches to “investigate” first will be a good idea to see if there are defenses on the beaches.
Also, I have committed the 3rd Marine division too early, I should have wait until I do more bombardment before I move them onto the beaches. Although time is running out for the American, it does help to be caution and patient is a virtue.
Here are several more important points to consider. 1) Artillery is king in this game, as said before; bombard can hurt a lot as there are no retreat options for units being bombarded. 2) Leave a retreat route, controlling at least one or two areas before moving forward for the Americans can save their skin and get one less damage to each units, as you cannot retreat into uncontrolled areas, which the Japanese have the control of the whole island at start. 3) Beachhead is a must for the Americans to survive.
Now, lets move on to the next game…