|Co. B, 5th Marines, upper right, and Co. L, 5th Marines, lower left, prepare to advance|
The twin scenarios are unusual, as each half of the scenario has the same OB. There was no need to adjust the Japanese OB, which is comprised on one Imperial Sergeant, four Arisaka Rifles, one Type 89 mortar and one Type 92 machine gun per group.
The American side, on the other hand, had a couple of appropriate substitutions. First I substituted Marine Riflemen for the M1 Garand, now that Marines showed up in Contested Skies, which seems appropriate as the two American forces involved are Co. B and Co. L of the 5th Marines. THe North Africa set finally gave us the M1919 MG to replace the Vickers MG that did so much duty as a proxy for Allied machine guns in so many scenarios. Each company is comprised of six Marine Rifleman squads and one M1919 MG section. Rounding out each company is the one piece that didn't need changing from the originally published scenario -- the Mortar M2 at one per company.
As the Marine Rifleman cost the same as the M1 Garand and the M1919 MG just on emore point than the Vickers, I daw no need to adjust the Japanese OB for balance.
The maps are the basic Able-2, Baker-2, Charlie-2 and Dog-1, but heavily modified by scenario special rule to turn almost the entire map into LOS-blocking, cover roll-providing terrain. While some hills and town hexes remain unchanged, many others and all clear terrain are turned into forest hexes. As the Forest (Jungle) terrain type had not yet appeared when the scenario was published I left the terrain effects unchanged as "Forest," judging that the mobility hindrances of the later terrain type would have made the scenario unplayable.
This unusually close terrain meant that the mortars and machine guns on both sides lost most of their utility as there were few places where they could fire more than one hex away. The same factor robbed the Marine Riflemen of most of their advantage over the Arisaka Rifle units. The game was going to be a knife fight.
The SA of the Marine Riflemen -- Gung Ho -- seemed to have some promise as it might deter some Japanese attempts to close into close combat due to defensive fire.
The marines have to set up first, so I took that side. I set up the L Company on Baker-2 next to the pond, figuring it was the only place where I might get some ranged shots. B Company set up at the edge of the Hill on Charlie-2. One Japanese platoon set up in Matanikau Village on Dog-1, while most of the other platoon setup just east of the edge of Matanikau in the hexes of Charlie-2 that looked like village but were scenario defined as more woods. The only exception was one Type 89, which set up in the march next to the pond to get a first turn pop shot at the Marines across the pond.
The close terrain, limited mobility of both sides and objective-oriented victory conditions meant there wasn't a lot of fancy maneuvering. Both Marine companies advanced to contact, while the Japanese platoons avoided it until Turn 3, except for the Type 89 mortar by the pond, which was quickly eliminated. Turns 4-6 saw the Marines and Japanese in a heavy firefight along the edges of the villages and the Marines slowly attempted to surround it in order to get Enfilade Fire bonuses (We used the Expanded Rules except for the deadly defensive fire option. ). The Marine succeeded in getting the bonuses but didn't succeed in rolling well enough to take advantage of them. One particularly bad turn of fire saw the Marines fail to do any fatal damage at all and I considered this the turning point of the game, as the Japanese slowly won fire superiority.
The last couple of turns saw desperate attempts by the Marines to salvage something but they fell far shot and, as it turned out, the final outcome as the Marines were left with a sole surviving Marine Rifleman squad facing three Arisaka Rifle and one Imperial Sergeant at game end.
It was a good scenario and seemed very evenly matched. When I had played it out solitaire a couple of time each side one, so I it appears well balanced.