Americans see action in the Philippines (finally)

I don’t know how seven months of COVID restrictions have affected your gaming life, but mine has changed a great deal. Definitely a different way of doing things from pre-COVID and not all for the worse.

I have a role-playing group that meets every Thursday night from 7-10 on Zoom. I’d guess we’ve missed two meetings since we began in June. I like it; it’s been fun. We could never have pulled it off in-person.

I’ve played a few games in Steilacoom with George and Michael at both of their homes. Again, I’ve had a great time. I sense there will be more to come soon.

However, the highlight has been the Summer Series in Dave Schueler’s front yard. Masked and under a pop-up a tent, Dave, David Sullivan, John Gee, Bill Stewart and Michael Koznarsky have included me in a variety of naval games using ACW Ironclads, ancient galleys and pre-Dreadnaughts in a glorious summer-long series of naval games.

However, with the receding smokey skies replaced with the onset of rain and wind, it was apparent that our Schueler pop-up series was likely nearing an end. A couple weeks ago I offered to host my Enfilade Philippines game on the 19th, and it has, thankfully happened.

The game featured about two-thirds of my figures for the period and had everything I wanted to see. Americans attacking Philippine Republicans while the latter piece together a crazy defense. Mad attacks by fearsome-bolo armed troops. An amphibious assault by sailors and marines. Some fun play, and as John said anus-clenching moments for all.

The scenario was entirely fictional but took place in the Batangas Bay with Republican forces retreating, but caught between advancing American forces. Their goal was to withdraw as many troops and supplies as possible. There were two commands of Republican troop, three units each. They were bolstered by local tribal militia with a fiery commander.

They faced a force of Washington State Volunteers to the north, U.S. Regulars to the east and a force of Marines and sailors about to land in the rear to the west.

The game began with the David’s Volunteers using a machine gun and gunfire to inflict a dose of reality on Bill’s Republicans. The Philippine troops, being poor shots, did less, but when the Centralia Company of the Volunteers failed a pin check, things slowed down a little bit.

On the east side, John’ irregulars advanced against Eric’s Republicans, hunkered down in some rice paddies. Despite an effective opening volley, the American response sent the poorly led Republicans reeling. Things were not looking good.

I commanded the tribal infantry in the center and I busied myself trying to collect supplies with two my units. These were supplies we could carry off the south edge of the board to earn victory points. I left one unit with commander in the woods to back up Bill’s Republicans facing the Volunteers.

Meanwhile, Dave’s amphib group headed for the beaches, still a turn or so away from being in the fight.

Bill and Eric’s Republican forces fought gamely, but mostly on the losing end of exchanges with the Americans. I successfully gathered supplies from one of the caches, while a second unit headed toward another about the time Dave disembarked the Marines from their steam launches.

I turned my unit on the Marines and launched a vicious attack that inflicted 50% casualties. But with their excellent leader present, my celebration was short-lived. The Marines recovered. The bolos took fire, and, far from their leader, were immediately pinned. They were a non-factor for the rest of the game.

Bill’s Republicans fell back through the woods, and were at least able to escape fire from the Volunteers, but knew a good push would finish him. Eric surrendered the paddies to the regulars and took shelter in some buildings, only to begin taking fire from Dave’s Marines.

I moved my tribal infantry at the double, out of my safe woods zone down to help Eric’s troops, pounced on one of John’s regular units and destroyed it. But the inevitable gunfire replies killed the tribal leader, and devoid of command, they quickly became pinned and unable to move.

The Philippine army was doomed. We called it good.

I had fun. I hope others did too.

We used the Men Who Would Be King rules by Daniel Mersey. They were quite fun, but each set of his rule are a little different so there were things I would have done differently. I made the Republicans bad shots, but in return I could have given them fieldcraft which would have allowed them to Go to Ground as a tribal unit and let them avoid terrain costs. I also could have given the Republicans the initiative in each turn, so they would always have the option of moving ahead of the American gunfire, so the game would have become a lot more like the running gunfight I wanted.

5 comments on “Americans see action in the Philippines (finally)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, my granduncle used to swim that bay as a younger man! Excellent aar! Hope you get this at an event in the unforseeable future!

  2. Sgt Guinness says:

    Outstanding AAR, awesome table and troops as well! I second the desire to see this at a con in the near / unforeseeable future, I’d love to play in this game. I too use the boats from the Last Stand Boatyard, highly recommended, great boats for a great price.

    • kgsmyth55 says:

      Thanks. The project was truly a labor of love, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to play with it. Can’t say enough nice things about Dan Gurrule and his vessels. I’m a fan.

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