The port of Enfield (note the roadblock and entrenchments in the background)
The night passed relatively peacefully, both sides were too ground down to contemplate a night attack. The board also changed somewhat as we added six hexes to the end so represent the port of Enfield, which would hopefully be full of US Marines before too long. The PRC were able to deploy any troops that "fell off the edge of the world" because of the board change in the same section. They also got reinforcements in the shape of additional infantry, armour and a fearsome T-55.
The Soviet Super Tank
Now as it happened, one the players wasn't very impressed with this as he'd watched a documentary on the T-55 recently. However, it was brought home to him that if your opponent is only fielding 75mm Shermans that are probably twenty years old, a T-55 is a daunting prospect indeed. Donogh rated it as a Tiger in Memoir '44 terms - a single very powerful tank with extremely tough armour. Now as it happened that he forgot to bring the model, so we ended up substituting a T-35 instead that had seen service during our Finland games a couple of years ago, but it still made a significant impression.
Comrade Donogh readies himself to take the Lyons Tea Plantatation at last
One of things that became very clear as soon as the ball opened on the second day. John's troops in the Lyons Tea Plantation were overextended and the PRC were well placed to bypass the town and cut them off. After the hard fighting of the previous day, it would be a hard to surrender the town without a fight, but holding it would simply sacrifice troops that could hardly be spared.
The Flying Farmers put a Sturmovick in the air to devastating effect
As it turned out, John didn't get the opportunity to pull back as he was hammered by a combined ground and air assault. This was the first time we'd used the Air Rules from the Air Pack in a multi-player game. The Commonwealth had managed to get a plane into the air earlier in the game, but lost it to engine trouble (failed Air check) before it managed to accomplish anything.
The Sturmovick above caused devastation, using "Ground Support", which didn't effect the Commonwealth troops directly, but negated the benefits of terrain, which allowed the supporting PRC ground units to pound the defenders. One armour unit was wiped out and the infantry roughly handled. I had been disappointed by the showing put in by planes so far, but this was in a way a vindication of my decision to include them.
A burning, murderous vindication.
Speaking of aircraft, the Royal Air Force had an airfield outside of Enfield, from which they'd put in a rather poor showing so far. However, it was worth an important two victory points to the PRC and they dropped a three unit stick of paratroopers on it. This put them right on the route of retreat from the Lyons Plantation and put them almost on top of two victory points and within striking distance of a third. In one turn, the PRC had managed to go from one victory point (the Barry's Tea plantation) to four, taking them half way to victory in one fell swoop.
The sole survivors
John's troops in the Lyons Plantation had been whittled down in a single stand. They had been shelled by tanks, assaulted by infantry and strafed by fighters, but they kept fighting. Now with only one stand left, they decided to evacuate. Unable to move back to their own lines, they struck out and assaulted an undefended battery of 203mm guns.
And wiped them out! That was an astonishing feat in a game that did not lack for them. John continued pulling them back and duty done, they continued to retreat for the rest of the game.
The Beast (t-35 masquerading as a T-55)
One of my regrets is that I didn't get enough pictures of the left flank as there was some hard fighting over there. The PRC had managed to chip away at Dom's entrenched infantry, but he'd extracted a high price. Consequently, the PRC decided to send their T-55 unit away from the port, sweep into our centre and finish off the few Commonwealth infantry units that were still standing after an epic battle with the PRC. These infantry had had to come out into the open to see of the Para's. This left them vulnerable to the Red Menace that came rattling and clanking across the plain.
Contrary to all expectations - the T-55 wiped out a single infantry unit and got nailed by a lucky bazooka shot. An event that was 36 to one against. This finished the last of the PRC armour, something I hadn't noticed at the time, because I was trying to hunker down under shelling and send reinforcements to see off the PRC paratroopers. As it was five o'clock in the morning and Dom had to be up for church in nearly four hours we called it a night.
It was a gruelling, hard fought game and I don't think the score line does the PRC justice. Comrade Donogh, Sydney and Pedro gave us a hard, hard fight and we were lucky to hold them. The collapse would have been sudden when it came. I think it is a testament to the ferocity of their onslaught that I just didn't notice that they were using their armour up.
I think I'll have to spare some time to gather my thoughts about what worked and what didn't - but I think more things worked than not. Donogh's rules amendments were remarkably robust.
The background was workable enough and might support another game or two, though I rather like the Commonwealth and I'm not sure I'd wish to subject them to continuous war.