Memoir’44 is getting better and better with every expansion. It allows you to explore different theaters of war, play in various formats – regular, breakthrough, overlord, multi-map – as well as with many specialized units, not available in base game. My fellow buddy in the world of this title – Lukasz – is always eager to test new things. And now we decided the time has come for the Pacific Expansion! Unfortunately, due to the lockdown limitations, we had to play online via Vassal but as soon as it will be possible we plan to have couple of sessions face-to-face.


Other interesting Memoir'44 session reports:
D-Day Landings – Utah & Airborne
D-Day Landings – Omaha & Utah
D-Day Landings – Juno & Gold Beaches
Memoir’44 – Winter Wars in Breakthrough format!
Memoir’44 – Winter Wars Campaign – Part 1
Memoir’44 – Winter Wars Campaign – Part 2

The idea was to play a breakthrough format Guadalcanal 1942 scenarios, featuring Bloody Ridge, Lunga Point and Matanikau clashes. They can be combined into a multi-map game giving a really great and grandiose experience.

We decided to play it in kind of mini-campaign, Lukasz leading the US Marine Corp while I would have Imperial Japanese army under my commend. On a side note, both have very interesting characteristics, important to know before reading through the session reports:

Japanese forces are deadly in close combat and when at full strength – but also sometimes inflexible as they often cannot ignore flags. They to some extent remind me of warriors in C&C Ancients – there are some resemblances here. On the other hand, US Marine Corp is much more flexible, being able to activate almost always one additional unit. How those strengths will play – we shall see.

NS07-Guadalcanal-Bloody Ridge

General Guadalcanal battle historical background:

The Japanese did not expect an invasion of Guadalcanal in 1942. On August 7th, the 1st Marine Division landed unopposed and occupied the partially built airfield. The Japanese defenders, caught by surprise, fled into the jungle. From there, Japanese commanders on Guadalcanal began planning a counterattack to recapture the strategic airfield. It would become known later as Henderson Field.

The counteroffensive began in October. The Japanese buildup finally matched the strength of the invaders. The Marines were ready, but the ferocity of the Japanese Banzai tactics came as a surprise. The Japanese onslaught was finally stopped by close range artillery fire and the firepower of the Marines in their final defensive positions.

Scenario historical background:

When the attack came, the Marines were prepared. While the Japanese awaited reinforcements, the Americans expanded their perimeter into the jungle. Edson’s Raiders carried out ground operations against the Japanese before taking positions on Bloody Ridge. The 3rd Defense Battalion’s two batteries of 5-inch guns were dug into emplacements near Henderson Field and the village of Kukum ready to meet the Japanese offensive.

Session report:
Click on the image to enlarge the animated report

This is one of the most famous clashes during the Guadalcanal battle. An epic defense till the last line of trenches. Let us see what happened in our game. Key actions:

  • My Japanese army starts very strong, with Infantry Assault activating the whole center.
  • While my units have to survive the counter-attack – some will not – another great card, Assault Center, allows for second wave to arrive. The ability to charge 2 hexes and attack is deadly weapon in hands of the Imperial Army.
  • The ferocity of attack and relentless waves of soldier charging with Banzai on their lips prevent Lukasz from bringing any troops from the bottom of the map.
  • In the end the defense of the ridge starts to crumble and dozens of my soldiers start to pour through the hills, capturing their center and VP objective. Still, Henderson Airfield is in no danger at all.
  • After heavy losses, my Japaneses soldiers in the end prevails, bleeding out the opponent.
  • Michal (Japan) 10 Lukasz (US) 7


NS08-Guadalcanal-Lunga Point

Scenario historical background:

This is the left flank of Japanese attack from the previous scenario. Lunga river is clearly visible – it separated the attack on the Bloody Ridge from the push against the Lunga Point (so the estuary of Lunga River into the Ocean).

Session report:
Click on the image to enlarge the animated report

The map here features beaches and Beach Control Objectives – while there are no Japanese units on / next to the beaches US player gets 1 VP for each section. Scenario also features Jungle Warriors – specially trained units for the fight in tropical conditions.

Key actions of the game:

  • I am slowly progressing in the center when an Air Power cards hits my forces. Lukasz and his US Marine Corp has dominance of the skies so this is pretty painful.
  • Thus I am slightly changing the attack plan, initiating approach on flanks – with special focus on Japan left / US right flank. That proves to be pretty successful as one of my tanks even reaches the beach!
  • Just after this my whole center moves again, swarming the last line of defense before the beach – jungle terrain. And although valiant Imperial Army soldiers will manage to pus the enemy out of the rain-forest, they will be too exhausted to repel the counterattack. Lukasz wins with 4 points gained for terrain objectives.
  • Michal (Japan) 10 Lukasz (US) 7

NS09-Guadalcanal-Matanikau

Scenario historical background:

A four-pronged Japanese plan to attack and recapture Henderson Field on Guadalcanal was scheduled for October 22nd, 1942.

The main force, 7,000 men under the command of General Maruyama, planned to approach the airfield from the South, but found itself quickly bogged down in very difficult jungle terrain, forcing a two days postponement of the attack.

Unaware of the delay, the tanks and infantry of Major General Sumiyoshi, at the mouth of the Matanikau River, and Colonel Oka’s forces, positioned upstream, crossed the river on schedule and soon found themselves stuck in the river bed, under a withering crossfire of US artillery and anti-tank gunfire that wreaked havoc on them.

On the Western flank, Lieutenant General “Chesty” Puller and his 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry in support, held ground once again. By battle’s end, over 1000 Japanese soldiers lay dead.

Click on the image to enlarge the animated report

Visually, Japanese forces are in pretty good situation for an attack. Especially the flanking armor force looks like an enemy to reckon with – having in mind they can easily deprive US soldier the points for beach control. That will be one of our most memorable Memoir’44 games and a thriller keeping us engaged to the last roll.

Key actions of the game:

  • What? Air Power again? Lukasz gets in habit of devastating my units before they can even attack!
  • Despite that drawback, a precise Japanese artillery attack – coordinated with strong push in center – manages to slowly eliminate well-dug US defenses. Both MGs will be destroyed.
  • As an follow up, the armor force is being activated twice in the succession – allowing my forces to reach the high water mark winning 9-5. Only one VP needed to win. All goes according to plan – what could possibly change the situation?
  • Everything of course. Two very strong counter-attacks from US soldiers eliminates ALL my tanks as well as some of the infantry. Lukasz regains his terrain objective, scores for tanks destruction and despite losing 5-9, wins in the end 10-9!
  • Michal (Japan) 9 Lukasz (US) 10

Summary

Campaign score: Michal (Japan) 26 Lukasz (US) 27

What a close campaign! 1 VP victory by Lukasz and US Marine Corp. The scenarios are really well balanced, interesting and close. As mentioned, there is a way to play all three above clashes together. Then the full scale of operations is clearly visible then:

The full Guadalcanal Oct 1942 campaign (click to enlarge)

I hope to play the full, multi-map scenario some day. For now, I am really happy that despite unfavorable conditions for playing boardgames (lockdown), we found a way to play! More to come!