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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 7:23 a.m. PST


1700 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Utah

The squad crept northeast through the rice paddies, hustling from cover to cover as best they could, the sounds of gunfire to their front, right, and rear. It felt very strange hugging the west side of Hill 50, knowing NVA were still up there, somewhere, but they were in a hurry. They had to get up, through the village, and into contact with Fox Company, knowing the NVA had probably infiltrated between them and the Marines on the far left flank. Not to mention, they really didn't want to get caught out in the rice paddies, all alone, knowing the battalion had precious little troops available to send to bale them out, and pretty much all the air and artillery assets were being used in support of the rest of the battalion, with all three companies in contact. "Let's go," Sergeant Garcia hissed, "keep it moving."


Overview, north is up. The village of Khanh My (1) is at top right, the northwestern tip of Hill 50 runs from right to bottom center right, with enemy trenchlines, which appear to be abandoned, and craters from earlier air and arty strikes visible, along with several patches of dense jungle. In the northeast (top right) is a similar patch of dense jungle, which leads to the isolated Marines of Fox Company, while the left side of the table is nothing but rice paddies dotted with a few hedges. The squad will enter from the southwest (bottom left).

You can see the squad moving across the rice paddies in the southwest (bottom left), some Marines from Fox Company in the northeast (top right, in the jungle), in a fight with NVA off camera to top right, while the NVA involved in this fight are coming down off of the north end of Hill 50 and occupying the village of Khanh My (top center).


The Marines push north (you can see the pointman, Rivera, in the narrow paddy at left top, followed by the rest of the squad), nearing the ville (top right). Private White (bottom left) is 'tail-end Charlie,' and he's keeping a nervous eye cast up Hill 50 (far right).


And, after all the nervous, tense waiting, it happens: NVA in the trenchline running through the village open fire on 1st Fireteam (top left)!


Nikki gets into position (bottom right) and gets the M-60 going, sending a steady stream of tracers into the village (top center), which allows 1st Fireteam to pull back into cover behind a paddy Bleeped text (far left).


Nik (center top) continues laying down fire as Danny (bottom left) moves up the slope of Hill 50, looking to flank the NVA positions in the village (off camera to far right).


Nik and Danny take a quick breather next to the body of an enemy soldier.

To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:

Next fight coming soon.


Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 8:15 a.m. PST

Well done as always, Jack.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 6:45 p.m. PST

Thanks Cardinal, I appreciate it!


boggler25 Feb 2021 4:32 a.m. PST

Excellent report Jack!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2021 6:54 a.m. PST

Thanks Jim, glad you liked it!


Bismarck27 Feb 2021 3:52 p.m. PST

Sorry to be UA again, Jack!
This had to be the toughest challenge our boys have faced
yet. Tough terrain and the NVA fighting true to form. It
was one of those miracles where nobody was wounded or KIA,
in spite of some darn tough opposition. Not sure what you did, but both the teddy bear fur and the rest of the terrain just
looked rougher going than in some of your earlier work. It
is getting harder to decide on which battle is my favorite.
This campaign rocks. Have to repeat myself, your writing is
wonderful. Keep 'em coming! Another great chapter!
thanks Jack!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2021 8:20 a.m. PST

No sweat, Sam, your comments are always appreciated.

The fight certainly had all the ingredients to be a real ass-whooper on the Marines, but poor shootin' dice on the part of the NVA saw the Marines able to recover and push through.

The campaign was a blast for me, I hope everyone is enjoying it. I'm nearly ready for the boys' second tour but I've been sidetracked painting WWII stuff.


Wolfhag28 Feb 2021 10:05 a.m. PST

the sounds of gunfire to their front, right, and rear.

You know it's going to be a tough day.

Is the game an IGYG system?


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2021 9:05 p.m. PST


Sort of. Here's how it works: individual troops activate one at a time. Each troop in good morale shape can act and react each turn. Guys that are pinned can shoot in their action phase but can't move or react, and guys that are suppressed can't do anything but rally in their action phase, and guys that are panicked can't do anything, someone else has to move over and kick'em in the ass to get them rallied.

And then, on top of all that, is an interesting (at least in my opinion) activation mechanic where you roll 1D6 for each troop (except panicked guys) during your action phase, and the rolls will give either a ‘normal' activation (move-shoot/shoot-move, sprint, rally, etc…, within the bounds of their morale state), or you can roll a ‘scurry' or ‘firefight.' These two are key because they allow you to act without drawing react fire, though a bit more limited in that ‘scurry' means you can move but not shoot and ‘firefight' means you can shoot but not move.

So, it's my turn and I've got six guys, so I roll 6D6. I roll 4 x normal, 1 x scurry, and 1 x firefight. So one guy gets to move without drawing fire, but not shoot, and one gets to shoot without drawing fire, but not move, and the other four can move and shoot but any enemy troops that are in good morale and can see them can react fire. We do all that and then it's your turn. You have six guys so you roll 6D6 and we do it all again, in reverse. That's one turn, then we move to the next turn. And it's also got a random events mechanism to throw some stuff in the game (booby traps, indirect fire, reinforcements, non-battle casualty, etc…).

I really love it for short, intense firefights, but it becomes a bit painful when you try and put too many guys on the table, which I'm certainly guilty of, on occasion. It really shines in a 7 vs 5 point-blank gunfight.


Wolfhag01 Mar 2021 4:00 p.m. PST

That all makes sense, I see how it can work at the level you are playing.

Darn it Jack, now you've got me motivated to drag out my infantry rules and update them.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2021 9:28 p.m. PST

Certainly works for me man.

I was always interested in learning more about the rules you used for Tarawa.


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2021 6:52 a.m. PST

another great battle with your mediocre reporting. well done as always.
how do leaders influence your game? obviously they rally but do they allow allow a quicker reaction? the system sounds neat just curious.

Bismarck02 Mar 2021 7:23 a.m. PST

I too have been interested in your activation and reaction
mechanics. On reading your first AAR, it almost was like
the THW Nuts or FNG rules. I have both and they allow a lot
for individual action/reaction, but I am put off by all the
reaction rolls. Particularly the in sight process. Still have not played them for that reason. Yours sounds much less cumbersome, but still
giving each character a chance to react differently. Is this something you have modified from the rules you use are they part of those basic systems. Your approach is perfect for
a small solo skirmish. It sure avoids the usual total
control a gamer has over his squad or unit. Much more
true to life. Meant to ask this a long while back.

Bismarck02 Mar 2021 10:26 a.m. PST

Hey Jack,
Just checked out Five men at Kursk. Between your solo games and what I just read, I really liked what I saw. I have one
more question, compared to Nuts how do the rules handle spotting vs the "in sight test".

Am thinking of using this for USMC in the Pacific. Have you
ever done a scenario on a 4'x4' table? The biggest table I can set up here at home is 4'x6'. I would be using 20mms for Nam, but 28s for WWII. Sorry to stray off topic.

thanks again


Wolfhag02 Mar 2021 12:09 p.m. PST

I think NUTS! has a good 1:1 reaction system but I have not had a chance to play it.

Jack, regarding the Tarawa game. There are two parts, getting ashore and then reducing the defenses. I tweaked the rules in an attempt to get a fairly historical outcome. If the defensive fire is too deadly the Marines lose before they hit the beach. If too light and most of the Shermans hit the beach then it's a cakewalk. There is an AM, PM, and Night Turn. It works best as a board game if you want to do the entire battle. Since the Marines rarely saw a live Jap you only need dead figures or snipers.

The units are platoons with individual squad leaders and officers. Platoons have 3x steps, one for each fire team plus an LT and Platoon Sergeant as single figures. Teams suffer causalities as KIA, WIA, and Walking Wounded.

The Marine player can choose to have his infantry units wade to the beach taking fire or go to the pier for shelter but will need leaders to "motivate" them to hit the beach. Historically, on Day 1, all of the flamethrower igniters were wet (except the Scout Sniper unit) and didn't work and only one radio was working (a radioman had the initiative to wrap it in plastic).

Supply is a big problem on the first day and improves slightly the second day. The Marines need flamethrowers, demo charges and WP to assault the bunkers and there is not enough. This forces teams to assault with rifles and grenades.

The size of the assaulting force is limited depending on the defensive position. You can't have an entire platoon attack a foxhole. Each turn Marine platoons can attack as much and as they want, however, causalities and lack of supplies will create enough friction for them to eventually halt in place and consolidate with adjoining platoons. This allows the Marine player to alternate attacking with different platoons and coordinating a Company/Battalion advance reinforcing units that are falling behind. Pulling a platoon out of the line at the start of a turn will allow it to go back into the fight rested, resupplied, and reinforced.

Marine units come under fire only when moving or assaulting. They can Hunker Down and be protected when not moving or assaulting unless targeted by indirect fire. Assaults on defensive positions are somewhat abstracted. It starts with suppressive fire and then the assault team of 1-4 guys does their close assault. The Jap defensive fire determines how many of the assault team are causalities. Walking Wounded can continue the assault. Then the defensive position is reduced. Each assault is met by a Jap Counterattack randomly generated from a table. It could be a Knee Mortar barrage, local counterattack, tree snipers, fire from a mutually supporting position, etc. If the assault team needs to fall back from the counterattack they need to take their WIA and not leave them behind.

We had a situation where a 4x man assault team took out a bunker but was reduced to one OK and 3x WIA and then were counter-attacked (the rest of the platoon moves up AFTER the counterattack). He decided to stay put and successfully fought off the counter-attack single-handedly but was KIA in the end. The platoon then moved up and recovered the 3x WIA's.

Ideally, a two-man Combat Engineer Team goes in with a flamethrower and demo charge. However, you may only have rifles and grenades. After a successful assault, the rest of the platoon moves up. They used the early flamethrowers with a 25-yard range and a "billowing" flame which mainly had a suppression effect allowing the demo man to place his charge effectively rather than throwing it. Later in the war, they have the ones shooting a napalm stream 50 yards.

Corpsmen have a chance to convert a KIA to a WIA. All WIA must be evacuated to the rear CCP during the same turn or they become KIA the next turn. That can mean a good team from the platoon being used as stretcher-bearers further weakening the platoon. Walking Wounded can "walk" to the rear CCP and return in the next AM turn. The player can choose to keep the Walking Wounded with the platoon but they can only take part in the defense, not assaults.

During the PM turn, the Marines need to make sure there are no gaps in the lines and the lines backed with reserves because the Japs own the night. Every platoon on the line receives one or more Probing Attacks which may generate a gap if weakly defended. On the second night, it culminates with a large and sustained Banzai Attack.

Each AM and PM turn starts with naval gunfire and airstrikes on objectives for the turn which will help suppress them. There is a chance for friendly fire. Each turn starts off with a supply phase. The Marine player can take some of the Shore Party Teams to fill in for platoon rifle team causalities but this will slow the supply rate.

Leaders can have specific functions and actions in combat, for supply, command, and control, etc. You can send the company Gunny to the rear to "appropriate" additional supplies or round up straggles to reinforce the platoon. Leaders have a better chance of assaulting and can go it alone if need be.

Sherman tanks are good to have but are artillery and mortar magnets so you may not want them to have an infantry escort. Scout Snipers have special assault ability making their own demo charges (a block of C4 with a grenade taped to it). They can be designated as snipers to help with suppression or as counter-snipers to reduce the chances of causalities from Jap snipers. The 37mm anti-tank guns and Shermans are great when firing canister. Also in the weapons mix are WP grenades, shaped charges, Bangalore torpedoes, demo charges, thermite grenades. Teams can make their own Molotov cocktails or carry a 5-gallon jerry can of gasoline in an assault to burn out the defenders. Each battalion has a "Supply Depot" the platoons can draw from. The Marine player rolls for supplies that arrive at the pier modified by how many Shore Party Teams have landed. He then distributes them to the battalion depots. The Gunny goes here to "appropriate" what he wants for his company before distribution.

The Marine player needs to shepherd his resources and supplies as he'll never have enough. The Marine player alternates attacking with his platoons until enough "friction" builds up or he runs short on supplies and he stops. If you get too worn down the Jap Probing Attacks will get you. If a gap is created a fresh platoon can be fed through. It's best to use the "two up and one back" tactic for his Rifle Company by having a fresh platoon in reserve. At the end of the PM turn pull his weaker one out of the line to refit and put the fresh one in. Now at the start of the next PM turn the platoon that was pulled back will have their Walking Wounded have recovered back to normal and maybe with some replacements and re-supply too and ready to go back into the fight.

That's probably more than what you need to know. Since there are no activations, reactions, initiative, opportunity fire rules, limited movement, etc the game generates a lot of action.


Bismarck02 Mar 2021 12:50 p.m. PST

Your Tarawa game sounds awesome. I have played two Red Beach scenarios with COC. First one, run by a retired Marine MSGT
was true to the first day. We never got off the beach and lost 50% casualties. The second, was a test game for one run at
Cold Wars a few years back that won best game award. More
troops, and game board detailed beyond belief, including
a latrine built out over the Ocean. There should be pics
of that one still around the net.

Sounds like you covered every aspect. Boy, would I have
loved to play in that. Are there any earlier posts on your
game here on TMP?


Wolfhag02 Mar 2021 4:06 p.m. PST

I posted something just last year:
TMP link

I still have the boards. Maybe I'll set it up when I get to Tennessee. My wife promised me a bigger man cave than I have now.

I always found the battle very interesting because there are many aspects to it and many "what if" situations that you can design into the game. Intel correctly predicted the number of Jap defenders by counting the out houses around the island. I guess in their sanitary engineering manual they had to build one for every so many troops.

In high school, I read everything on the Marines and especially Tarawa. That picture of the Marines on Red 3 by the pier with the amtrack stuck on the sea wall was especially burned into my memory. The Marine Corps Museum in Quantico has a life-size diorama of it on the ground floor.

I still remember as a young PFC when I checked into the 8th Marine Rgt HQ at Camp Geiger and saw the battle standard with the Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa battle ribbons. Wow, talk about a feeling of inadequacy and the pressure of what's you are going to be expected to live up to. 2/8 was the unit Major Jim Crowe commanded on Red 3. I was assigned to Echo Company. I found out many years later that picture at the pier and amtrack was of Echo 2/8, the same company I was assigned to at Geiger. I got to meet a Marine vet that was in the first wave of amtracks on Red 2.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2021 10:00 p.m. PST

Holy Hell, what happened here? ;)

Joe – I really love the game, but I must say that leaders don't really factor into the game, they're just another dude on the table. You mention rallying, but the rules as written allow guys to self rally (except the panicked ones, they must be rallied by someone else), and anyone can move into base contact to rally someone else. I generally house rule that so that guys can't rally someone of senior rank.

Sam – I have NUTS! as well, have had a hard time getting it what I want it to do. I occasionally read the rules and give them another go, but they just don't seem to work for me for some reason. 5MAK doesn't have the equivalent of an "In Sight" test, I'm doing that on my own with the cards to determine when the enemy engages.

The reaction system I described is pretty much straight out of the book, just more to the point, my buddy Ivan can be a bit verbose ;) 4' x 4' is plenty of room, all these fights are on 3' x 3', and I've played plenty of 15mm skirmish games on 2' x 2'.

Wolf – Thanks man, I need to save all that somewhere and work through it. If you guys don't know, I'm also running a USMC WWII campaign over on one of my other blogs, and this will be very useful once I get to the latter stages of the war. Still a long way to go to get there, but these look very useful.

And I know what ya mean, spent time with C/1/2 and A/1/6 there at Lejeune. Nothing made me feel like a bigger sissy than visiting Iwo Jima though, absolutely surreal what those Marines did.


A bunch of knuckleheads screwing around back in '98 or '99.

I'll post the next fight in the morning.


Bismarck03 Mar 2021 12:51 p.m. PST

Jack and Wolf,
Interesting Tarawa comments from both of you. My friend who is the ret. MSGT, was in 3/2, joining back in '74. His comments paralleled both of yours. Wolf,thanks for sending the earlier link. I had seen it and commented before. I have always liked more simple rules, just an FYI, I use Rapid Fire for larger games. Fast, simple, but still producing a decent game. But keep in mind I am an old Sword and Flame
fan, having gamed with the late Larry Brom for years.

Jack, a question on Five Men at Kursk. I see that it is PDF
only. I do not have a printer and it sounds cost prohibitive to have printed. My son, also a fellow Texan, could print it for me if you can do that on a more modern laptop. How many pages are those rules? Any comments?

Jack, thanks for the Iwo pic. I was surprised that the soil
was not that famous black sand. A coworker was an 0341 and
while at Okinawa was able to accompany some brass and vips
to tour Iwo. He was a big, strong fella, served back in the
late 90s. He mentioned how hard it was to walk in that sand and climb Mt. Suribachi, only wearing utilities. He could not imagine moving through that under fire and wearing 782
gear. One last favor, I would like to see your WWII Pacific blog. Can you give us a link, but such that it does not dissappear to the links section.

Again, sorry to be OT.

Semper Fidelis,


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2021 5:31 p.m. PST


It's funny you mentioned Rapid Fire. I've never played it before, but some buddies recommended the new Rapid Fire Reloaded rules and I picked them up, am currently working on forces for it, can't wait to get to into it for some large-scale WWII gaming.

I'm not sure I'm following with 5 Men at Kursk; it has 109 pages, is that all you were looking for? Regarding the rules, there is a lot of stuff in there, a lot of it really useful, a lot I don't use. I'm a simple man, so I always 'field strip' my rules ;) The rules are kinda built to get really into the individual, almost like a role-playing game, but I just ignore all that, and I strip out anything I deem too fiddly. The heart of the rules is the activation system I described and the fire combat rules, everything else is just fluff ;)

Regarding Iwo Jima, the beaches are black sand (I've got a bottle of it in my living room), but once you get to the center of the island there is regular dirt. I was in Iwakuni for a couple years, and as a Sergeant I was an instructor at the base's Corporals' Course, and each course we would fly the students to Iwo Jima for a battle study, so I had the good fortune of getting there quite a few times (plus a few more times on the MEUs).

And yes, what you're buddy said is exactly my point! We used to take the students down to the surf line on the invasion beaches, then move up the shelves, onto the hardball, then up Suribachi, only wearing an H-Harness with two canteens and a first aid kit, and it would still wear your ass out. But those men did it under fire, carrying everything they owned. Quite incredible.

No problem about being off topic, and I don't understand what you're talking about with disappearing links. Here's a list of my blogs:

-Blackhawkhet, for showing my painting and terrain, though there still lurks a few batreps there.

-Cuba Libre, my modern alt-universe where a second Bay of Pigs-style assault by Cuban exiles in 1990 was successful, and now Free Cuba roams the world, fighting for freedom.

-Old Lead Breed, my WWII in the Pacific blog

-Little Lead Crusade in Europe, my WWII in Europe/Med blog

-Sword of Gideon, my Arab-Israeli Wars blog

Careful, you could spend weeks in there!


Bismarck03 Mar 2021 6:27 p.m. PST

Thanks, Jack!
Nice thing about being retired and stuck home following dr.
orders during the pandemic is that you have excess time to
kill. Number of pages was all I needed to know on FMAK.
Looks like that will go on my hint list for my son.
If you find Rapid Fire Reloaded too simple, the print version
of RF second edition is available from Dennis at On Military
Matters. It has a lot more detail and is worth the $40 USD asking
price. Their website has free downloads for Vehicle and Gun charts for just about any wwii nation. The gun and
vehicle charts for Reloaded are different. Those are on the website. Just a thought if you were looking for something with more teeth.

As to disappearing links, Bill changed policy on posts
just showing links. They are delegated to the links section
and you cannot comment on them. They do not show up on the message boards anymore. This was based on all the ones that Tango posted. Looking forward to reading your blogs. Just be prepared to be flooded with questions.

thanks as always,


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2021 9:31 a.m. PST


I hope I last long enough to retire! ;)

And like I said, being a simple man, I doubt I'll find RFR too simple! ;) And yes, I've already downloaded a bunch of stuff from their website, and bought some from WargameVault. Lots of great scenarios for Normandy (need more East Front!), and I'm working on getting forces ready. They're much bigger games than I'm used to, but I'm jumping in with both feet.

Still not sure I understand the whole ‘links' issue, hopefully I don't need to ;)

Regarding questions about the blogs, flood away! And same goes for 5MAK.


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