Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Banzai! Fireball Forward and the Pacific War
Last night the lead elements of the Ichiki Detachment clashed with a combat patrol from the 1st Marines west of Henderson Field. The Marines, led by Captain Charles Brush (played by Doug Austin), had a report that a Japanese patrol was headed his way and set his command of two under-strengthed rifle platoon and a machine gun section in a cordon defense to prevent Japanese infiltrators from reaching the airfield. The north part of his line covered two trails that led through a coconut grove while one platoon covered the jungle to the south. The Marines hunkered down and waited with fingers on triggers for the Japanese to appear. The platoon guarding the coconut grove (played by Bruce Weigel) decided to move out and either clear the area or make contact. They were making steady progress with no sign of the enemy until suddenly the sound of rifle fire broke out from the jungle to the south. The lead elements (played by Tom Garnett) from the Japanese force had entered the jungle in an attempt to outflank the Marine position. Here they ran into the USMC platoon commanded by Lt. Jacym (played by Latham Fell). Lt Jacym had been moving through the jungle himself and in doing so got his platoon strung out and disorganized in the unfamiliar terrain. But luckily one squad was in position to meet the Japanese. A firefight erupted which drew more Marines towards the action. Just then Capt. Shibuya (played by Tim Tilson) burst into the jungle leading two squads of crack troops. (see photo above) After firing a quick volley, Shibuya screamed BANZAI! and led his men forward into close combat with the Americans. A few BAR men in the jungle opened up on the screaming mass of Japanese but the fury of the charge was not to be stopped. Shibya's men overran the Marine squad giving them the bayonet. Stunned by this assault the Marines were unable to react and the lead elements of Colonel Ichiki's Detachment successfully navigated their way through the jungle and on to Henderson Field. Captain Brush realized that his line had been penetrated and decided to retire back to the Marine perimeter.
So went the first Pacific War scenario using Fireball Forward. Everyone had a great time and agreed that the game 'felt' like it was a Guadalcanal fight. Up until now we have been playing mainly Normandy, Russia and Sicily scenarios. Although they each have unique terrain features they are similar. Normandy had hedgerows, Russia has thick woods and fields and Sicily has cactus hedges....but other than that they are the same. Guadalcanal is totally different. Jungle, Coconut groves, Banyan trees, Kunai Grass and bare slopes all conspire to make the environment of the fighting a completely different experience than Europe and Russia. In fact that was the case during the war...the US was unprepared to fight in the jungle, at least at first.
Our goal in Fireball is to get at that 'feel' of a totally different environment without having to create alot of new or special rules. We are trying to tackle this as we develop the main rules and not do the Pacific as an afterthought in a supplement created later. The rules should work across the board for all types of terrain. (Which is why I am preparing to do North Africa scenarios next...North Africa being another place with totally different terrain challenges.) I think the way we are approaching Guadalcanal terrain is working and in the end we will have a great set of rules for jungle and a fun Guadalcanal scenario book. I also plan to try out some later Pacific stuff (Tarawa or Iwo) to make sure that works. And Jonathan Miller is creating a scenario book of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, 1941. Can't wait!
PS - We do have rules of Banzai charges which everyone loved...even as I was explaining them the gamers could hardly wait to try them. (Eyes widened and I swear I saw the Japanese players starting to drool.) Congrats to Tim Tilson for launching the first successful Banzai charge of Fireball Forward!