Finally, I'm getting down to writing the AAR for MMP's Ironman, Round One. I (Bob S.) played Japan (JP), and Gary P. was US.
Some feel that Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines (RATM) (found as a game in the Special Ops #1 journal) is unbalanced for the Japanese (JP), those playing RATM needed to play twice with each player flipping sides (alternative was ASL for which I'm not ready yet). I'm actually thinking now that the game is unbalanced slightly pro-US, but it's a fun enough "puzzle" to noodle over 4-6 playings. I've now played this 6 total times (including this and the next game) which is a lot for any game, for me. Definitely got my money's worth.
Based upon my past plays, I thought US would bombard and then take all the airfields to go for auto-victory - if you take all 4, with bonus, that's 10 VP per turn. In the attached picture below, YELLOW commentary provides rough idea of what I thought Gary would do: bombard/attack Chidori and then roll-up the pork chop (Suribachi as a mop-up operation). Of course, Gary appropriately did something that I didn't expect.
In RED are my thinking of how my set-up was done to defend against "what I thought Gary might do". Of course, I also thought that it would defend best against landings at Old Man and/or Warbler, and subsequent attacks into the air fields.
JP positioning has to take some gambles, as it's very hard to move around hidden units and some units can't move. The game depends so much on the US bombardment rolls for US to have chance ... or some big wiffs by JP attacks, but with 33% chance of hits (which almost directly equals VPs) ... tough US road against any reasonable JP defense.
I have the following JP units to set up hidden (26 total units):
1. 5 JP Navy (revealed at end of turn 1; 3 arty units) - placed where there's no question that JP units are located there
2. 1 HQ (worth 5 VP at end) - hidden away from the action
3. 4 Anti-tank - set up tank trap
4. 3 Arty - need to overlook beaches and air fields
5. 1 Long-range arty (key unit) - place on hill by itself since it's a bombard magnet
6. 1 One-use rockets - place near beaches to maximize step hits
7. 11 Infantry; gun placements
1. Defend in depth, since I wasn't willing to take risk defending the 0 terrain beaches
2. Caves are my friend; US needs to have 5 hits+ to cause reductions in 2 terrain areas and 6 hits+ in 3 terrain areas (hills) - defending with 2 units will likely wipe them out; defending with 3 units will allow survival against bombards
3. Need to have short-range arty able to bombard beaches and air fields; when engaged, they can't fire out of space
4. Hits on 5&6's means very bloody battle; JP units can fire in defensive fire, reset and fire in JP part of turn during assault -- that's a lot of firepower that the Marines have to brave through
5. Surprises add 2 dice to reaction fire coming out of hidden status, if no US observers in nearby hill - need to maximize this
6. Only way for JP to get VPs is by killing Marines. There are 9 US regiments of 4 steps each and 3 tank units with 2 steps each: 42 total steps - each hit taken is 1 VP for JP
7. IF no Auto-Victory before game end, need to keep as many areas under JP control and the HQ alive
8. Funami, Motoyama, Ohsaka and Tamana Hill are absolutely critical to the defense of entire island
9. Look for opportunity to end-run US line or let slip US unit past hidden JP unit(s) to take back air fields cheaply or hit weaker units
To the game ...