Road to Avanti! Japanese in Early War + AAR: Vs Czech Panzerkompanie

Late last year, our local group decided to jump into Early War, with our newer players looking to build up their first early war force, as well as the more experienced players needing a good excuse to build / paint new armies. I myself was going to do Strelkovy, but the prospect of painting up THAT much infantry made me feel sick, I’d been previous tempted by the Japanese, and a trip to Element Games one evening with most of the range in stock let me take the plunge.

The plan for the escalation campaign is to start at 750pts, play some small games then move to 1000, 1250 and finishing at 1500pts.
I drafted out my starter 750pts, 2 full Infantry platoons at Fearless Trained, all the trimmings (banners etc), then 2 AT guns (1 captured to make up the points) and 2 “Mortars”, this gave me a solid 4 platoon start to build on….

…Then the lure of playing tournaments started to loom, as with 2 platoons of Type 95 tanks and bumping the entire army up to Fearless Veteran, I would have 1500pts which is the standard for most Early War events these days.

After trying to scrape a 6th tank, I ended up having to buy 2 boxes (side note: 4 Type 95 tanks for sale!),

So, here is my full 1500pts list;

 Fearless    Veteran Hohei Chutai (7th)
Infantry Company
Japanese Early-War
Infantry Company
Platoon Qty Unit Points
Headquarters
Hohei Chutai HQ (7th)  p.21
1
1
Cmd Sword team
2iC Cmd Regimental Standard Sword team
125
Combat Platoons
Hohei Platoon (7th)  p.21
1
9
3
Cmd Sword team
Rifle team
Light Mortar team
Banners
360
Hohei Platoon (7th)  p.21
1
9
3
Cmd Sword team
Rifle team
Light Mortar team
Banners
360
Weapons Platoons
Hohei Battalion Gun Platoon (7th)  p.22
1
2
Cmd Sword team
Type 92 70mm gun
70
Regimental Support
Hohei Rapid-fire Gun Platoon (7th)  p.22
1
2
Cmd Sword team
Type 94 37mm gun
90
Divisional Support
Light Sensha Company  p.19
6 Type 95 Ha-Go 490
Company Points: 1495

And here is the first infantry platoon. Banzai!

Hohei Platoon

After the first platoon was done I got a real breakthrough and was able to knock out the 2nd infantry platoon and both tank platoons.

Infantry Platoon 2 and Type 95 Ha Go Light Tanks.

Then a few days later I finished the final two platoons, the guns, and the Nikuhaku teams to complete the army.

So, having painted the Army i’d sorted my ticket to head to Stafford Games to play in their Early War Spring Avanti, Avanti is a series of 3 one day events over the year, going Early War, Mid War and Late War, 1500pts, no Warriors, no PDFs, easy enough to get into.

But first, I needed a game, any game, after some faffing about, I secured the punching bag that is Fraser for a game against his Czech Panzerkompanie.

This was Frasers list, pretty tough to get through all those tanks.

Confident    Veteran Czech Panzerkompanie
Czech Armoured Company
German Early-War
Tank Company
Platoon Qty Unit Points
Headquarters
Czech Panzerkompanie HQ  p.73
2 Panzer 38(t) B 175
Combat Platoons
Panzer II Platoon  p.67
5 Panzer II C (early) 225
Czech Panzer Platoon  p.73
5 Panzer 38(t) B 440
Czech Panzer Platoon  p.73
5 Panzer 38(t) B 440
Divisional Support
Heavy Panzerspäh Platoon  p.83
2 Sd Kfz 231 (8-rad) 95
Air Support Allied Platoon  p.102
5 Limited Air Support Ju 87B Stuka 115
Company Points: 1490
www.EasyArmy.com Source document: Blitzkrieg Book

 

We rolled up Hold the Line, I opted to use Always Attacks and attack at Night, this would give me the best chance of making a dent in Frasers list before the reserves arrived.

 

Deployment

Objectives went in a fairly standard place, Frasers centrally at the back and mine off to the southern table edge, there was a lot of cornfields so easy ambush bait, but I figured I wanted a clear run at the objectives rather than using the buildings, not sure whether more concealment for me once daylight broke vs some bulletproof cover was better but we’ll see.

Because I had no recce, and mostly infantry, Fraser opted to keep both units of Panzer 38ts on the board in ambush, the 1Ic went at the back of the board and the 2IC was used as a speed bump to stop me from galloping to the objective.

German deployment….where are they hiding?

I opted to throw everything at the front objective with tanks on the flanks and both infantry platoons central, the AT guns and Mortars going dead centre to push up the middle, an Infantry and tank platoon on either side.

Japanese Deployment

Turn 1

My turn was fairly simple, I pushed forward everything, the Infantry moved at normal pace as I didn’t fancy doubling, nothing shot at the 2IC as I didn’t want to give away my position.

Banzai!

Fraser didn’t choose to pop his ambush, and moved the 2IC back to cover the objective properly, a very straightforward turn 1 from both of us.

Turn 2

With nothing to shoot at, I continued my advance, my Type 95s got round the first cornfield, so if the ambush went there, a flank would be exposed to my AT guns or tanks, the central platoon moved and used a rocky outcrop for cover as best as possible. Everything else pushed up at normal pace.

Banzai! Again!

Fraser now decides to pop the ambush as the tanks are getting pretty close, both platoons pop out to ambush the Type 95s, the southernmost platoon opened fire and destroyed two Japanese tanks and bailed the 3rd, the northern platoon could only see two of the 3 tanks but nevertheless, destroyed them both. Both Japanese platoons passed their morale tests and continued to fight, the bailed out one could also use his turret MG if he failed to remount…

Surprise! BOOOM!

Turn 3

With something now on the board to try and kill, I pushed the infantry forward, I need to punch a big hole in both tank platoons quickly otherwise Fraser would be able to drag them in towards the objective all the while machine gunning them. Both platoons moved up to assault with the nikuhaku teams pushing to the front. The Type 95 remounted and opened fire but missed and the 37mm guns opened fire at the panzer 38(t)s and managed to destroy one which would make getting there a lot easier.

On the move!

Onto the assaults, starting on a positive, the southern platoon (without 1iC or the banner) failed their tank terror test, so the nikuhaku teams had to go in on their own, they took the first round of defensive fire which knocked out 2 teams, then the Banzai charge kicked in and they went in again, taking all the firepower from the Panzer 38(t)s, killing the last man.

Nikuhaku teams try to assault!

The platoon in the north had the Regimental standard, so didn’t need to take a tank terror test, Fraser scored more than enough hits to push the platoon back, and again on the 2nd attempt, but under the Human Bullet rules, the nikuhaku teams were able to make it in, 2 of them had survived all the fire from the Panzers, and score 6 hits which resulted in 3 dead tanks for the loss of 1 nikuhaku team, Fraser passed his motivation to counter assault, and failed to hit the remaining team, who then counter assaulted and punched another tank to death, killing himself in the process. After an interesting rules query about what happens next when there are no assaulting teams from the assaulting platoon, but Fraser failed his platoon morale and the first platoon quit the field.

8 Attacks, 6 hits. Boom.

Fraser now started to pull away with the Panzer platoon back towards the objective, he got a platoon of Panzer 2s in reserve who rushed up to the objective to support, but he was able to contest the objective for the moment, machine gunning an infantry platoon to little effect.

Come and secure this!

Turn 4

Dawn broke on my turn but I’d closed the gap on the objectives so I had to continue to push on, the infantry platoon in the south followed the panzers back toward the objective, with a few of them in assault range, whilst the platoon on the north side went towards them in a pincer move, so both of them were able to assault the Panzers.  The first platoon went in using the corn fields for cover, however Fraser scored enough hits to push them back, so they went in on the banzai charge and this time Frasers dice fell by the wayside and only 4 hits were scored.

Reserves arrive!

In the assault my infantry scored a bunch of hits and bailed a tank, the counter assault reduced some more of their number, another counter assault gets another tank and my luck is swinging, Fraser again counter assaults and kills a couple of teams, but again the japanese keep going, another tank gets bailed and then Fraser misses in his counter assault, the final tank is also bailed and the japanese can consolidate and capture the bailed out tanks, thats 2 platoons down. At this point Fraser probably should have been on company morale but I don’t think we remembered to take one. My first infantry was on platoon morale which they failed, so the next turn, they needed to move directly towards the objective until they’d gotten within 8″, they couldn’t shoot but if there was something within assault range, they had to assault it.

Starting to bag tanks using good old fashioned tank assault 2

Got them all.

 

The Panzer II Cs now needed to assault the japanese to get them off the objective, both Japanese infantry platoons had no nikuhaku teams left, so Fraser went in, he crushed a couple of teams from the infantry platoon covering the northern objective, but this team had the banner so would automatically counter assault. They pushed back and scored some hits but these were saved, the panzers counter assaulted and destroyed another couple of teams, but again the Japanese kept coming, on the third attempt, Fraser failed his re-rollable counter assault roll and the Panzer IIs retreated from the assault, the Japanese consolidated but they were also on a platoon morale test, they passed this test to win the game (not that they would have lost had they failed, mind).

Panzer 2 Cs try and get that objective…to no avail.

“Do you have a flag?”

 

Thoughts

The special rules look quite scary on paper but my first feeling post game is that the Japanese are an aggressive army with no smoke source and no recce which makes them easy to ambush, the Banzai charge rules are quite nice but cannot help you get into an un-assaultable position. Against an infantry company it would have been a bit more of a struggle to take out any HMGs before going in, however against tanks it was not too bad due to the nikuhaku teams being able to assault even if the rest of the platoon is pushed back.

The nikuhaku teams themselves are pretty insane and I would be tempted to get an engineer platoon in place of a tank platoon so I could run more of them, that being said, they are the only real answer to a tank horde as the type 95s and 37mm guns didn’t prove the most effective tank killers.

night is absolutely essential and I am thinking in Meeting engagements if I don’t win the “attacker” roll then it might be difficult to make a real dent on an opponent if I am advancing and he stays in his foxholes.