Mantanikau is another TCS title delving into the world of platoon scale combat. The game ostensibly is an extension of Bloody ridge due to scale and combatants featured. Mantanikau differs however in that the range of battles is more diverse and there are some scenarios that feature daylight actions. Bloody Ridge was bloody indeed but also mostly featured night fighting. The 5.2 scenario here features a meeting engagement which is also somewhat of a rarity in TCS land. So we will use this scenario as our means to further explore combat actions in the Pacific theatre.
By doing this we can gain a good feel for the majority of the actions that occurred during WWII in the pacific barring actual seaborne landings which will have to wait for Adam Starkweathers GTS title.
Lets re cap the historical action real quick then we can deal with the nitty gritty of forming Operations Sheets for both sides.
After Ichiki’s failure and “Red Mike’s gallant stand at the aptly named Bloody Ridge, General Kawaguchi’s forces retreated towards the games namesake river. Late in September elements of the 7th Marine and 5th Marine Regiments were engaged to patrol in force. After some SNAFU’s forces of the 4th Regiment 2nd Division crack Sendai division were identified and the Marines prepared for a renewed assault on Mantanikau Village and surrounds. Infact the IJA had reinforced Kawaguchi with units from the 38th Hiroshima Division as well. They were destined to secure the Sand Spit – the main arty and tank transport route.
Both sides had planned attacks and reinforced regiments at hand. October 7th the Marines attacked. Heavy rains halted proceedings on the 8th, when both sides had planned attacks.
On the 9th, 2 Marine Battalions crossed the river at Nippon Bridge and advanced, where Chesty Puller’s 1/7 found and ambushed IJA’s 3rd Battalion 4/2, wiping it out with Arty and mortars. The action migrated then back towards Bloody Ridge where the IJA spent themselves in a touch and go affair for 3 days. At the end of that time 3,500 IJA were killed.
Action then moved onto the ocean in the “Slot” where decisive naval confrontations that sunk reinforcements headed to Guadalcanal, and destroyed air and naval forces sealed the fate of Guadalcanal bound IJA troops.
The battle we are about to re enact was pivotal in preventing Tanks and Arty to be used on the new assault on Bloody Ridge and Henderson Field scheduled for October.
Battle plans for solo play
When I solo I like to build two or more feasible plans for each side to attempt. This scenario is actually much bigger than I thought and I’ve possibly bitten off more than I can chew as the intent was to play something small…but hey its just 34 turns. The Historical Orders for IJA are to attack basically, though what is uncertain. Given that the Government track is worth 10 VP if ALL hexes are controlled at least attacking down the road to deny the Marines the VPs seems like a plan. The 29th can defend the 20VPs of Village, while the Reserve Bn can idle over to the Log Bridge and support forces their protecting a mere 5VPs. Additionally each Marine step killed in close assault is worth a VP.
Assuming that most VPs will come from either the Village OR killing lots of steps in Close Assault being offensive should work for the IJA. The Banzai rule may help us attrit the Marines in one for one losses if we are lucky, but I somehow doubt it. Similarly by pressing across the Log Bridge and taking Hill 67 we protect the village flank while covering our VP location. The IJA have 4 Battalions of men, but one 2nd Bn 4/2 has no orders and they may take a while to get into the fight.
Our second set of orders uses the Log Bridge area and company 9 from 3rd Bn as a holding force along with 10 Coy. The rest of the forces sweep up North to cover Flanks and reinforce the Village.
Rather than advance along the road 1st Bn will simply cross the spit and assume positions in place at the Eastern stream. Holding one hex is as good as ten for VP condition denial. This may mean the Bn ends up no orders as they will end their Operations Sheet in success, and need to stand in place until defend orders (prepared defense in game terms) can be given….Or we could give that job to 1Bn 29th /2 and force them up to take those positions while the rest of 4/2 retires to the village and gets new orders……hmmm.
I need to add fail instructions to each Bn and each plan. What would you do if you were the Japanese?
Lets put the Marines in the next post.