Burma, the end of February 1944, men of the 5307 Composite Unit (better known as ‘Merrill’s Marauders) embarked on an incredibly arduous march of about 1200 Km through the Himalayas to emerge behind Japanese lines in Burma. The three battalions operated as six distinct teams, conducting raids, demolitions and generally making themselves a thorn in the side of the Japanese 18th Division.
This scenario is taken from the Burma and India section of Empire in Flames is perfect for modifying to your own collections, from the winter forests of Finland to the Jungles of the Pacific. Here we’ll look at Merrill’s Marauders ambushing a marching column of unsuspecting troops of the Imperial Japanese Army!
This scenario, like most Bolt Action scenarios, is designed to be played along the length of a six by four feet gaming surface.
A 6”-wide road stretches from the south table edge to the north table edge, roughly bisecting the table into two equal halves. This road, being not much more than a dirt trail, simply counts as open ground and not as a road.
Place a road block, like a large tree trunk, in the middle of the table – this counts as an obstacle that is impassable to vehicles.
The rest of the table should be covered by a very high density of thick wooded and broken terrain, representing the jungle and rough going surrounding the road. All of the area outside the road counts as rough ground.
Although this scenario is designed to be played between a British (and Commonwealth!) force and a Japanese force it’s perfectly modifiable. Why not give it a go with the rolls reversed or in this case take a special formation such as the Australian Commandos (Empire in Flames page 81), Ghurkha Paratroops (Empire in Flames page 81), Chindits (Armies of Great Britain page 25) or Merrill’s Marauders (Empire in Flames page 80) up against the Japanese
The Marauder platoons (attackers in this example) should follow the standard Reinforced Platoon selector from the Bolt Action rule book. They may not include vehicles, nor any artillery units except for light anti-tank guns and light howitzers (as the only artillery these small parties could carry had to be broken down and carried by mules along the small jungle paths).
The Japanese platoons (defenders in this example) should be taken from the 1942 – The Fall of Singapore selector in the Armies of Imperial Japan book. They may not include vehicles with a Damage Value higher than 7+, nor any artillery units except for light anti-tank guns and light howitzers (as the only artillery these small parties could carry had to be broken down and carried by mules along the small jungle paths).
Why not try this scenario with forces of different nations to represent an ambush on an enemy column anywhere else in WWII. In this case agree or roll a die to randomly determine which force is in ambush and which is being ambushed. If you use vehicles with damage 9+ or higher, these can smash trough the obstacle moving through it at a Run, in which case the obstacle is removed.
The attacking player (The Marauders in our case) must deploy half of his force (rounding down) in his set-up area more than 12” from the road south of the roadblock. North of the roadblock, he can set up anywhere, except that his units must remain off the road and more than 6” from the road block. All attacking units can use the hidden set-up rules (see Hidden Set-up Bolt Action rule book page 117), and of course can start the game in Ambush.
The defending player (the Japanese) must deploy half of his force (rounding down, representing a vanguard) on the road south of the road block, more than 6” from the road block and more than 12” from the south edge of the table.
Japanese and Marauder units that are not set-up to start with are left in reserve (see Reserves Bolt Action rule book page 119).
The Japanese (defending) player must try to move as many of his units off the north table edge. The Marauders must try to stop him, and inflict maximum damage. Note that in this scenario, Japanese units are allowed to deliberately move off the table from the north table edge.
Keep a count of how many turns have elapsed as the game is played. At the end of turn 12, roll a die. On a result of 1, 2 or 3 the game ends, on a roll of 4, 5 or 6 play one further turn.
At the end of the game calculate which side has won by adding up victory points as follows. If one side scores at least 2 more victory points that the other then that side has won a clear victory. Otherwise the result is deemed too close to call and honours are shared – a draw!
The Japanese (defending) player scores 1 victory point for every enemy unit destroyed. He also scores 2 victory points for each of his own vehicles and 4 victory points for every infantry and artillery unit that has moved off the north table edge before the end of the game.
The Marauder (attacking) player scores 2 victory points for every enemy unit destroyed.
Japanese Reserves can begin rolling to come on the table from Turn 1, and do not require an order test to come on to the table. However, they can only come onto the table along the road from the south edge of the table, and only two units per turn can enter the game, all remaining Reserves must be ordered Down.
When Marauder Reserves become available, they come in from anywhere along the west or east edge of the table.
This ambush scenario can be modified by using the Night Fighting rules (Empire in Flames page 110) to represent the density of the terrain off-road or a night battle. One of the best methods is to count this scenario as a Longest Day, so limited visibility will almost certainly apply in the last turns. This is, however, entirely optional as the scenario plays just fine without it.
The original scenario can be found on page 74 and 75 of Empire in Flames the Pacific and Far East. Packed full of ideas, history, scenarios, army lists, and special rules;