Bloody Ridge is the second scenario in the Guadalcanal Campaign from Scenario Book v. 2, by Richard Borg, and uses the Pacific Theater expansion to the base Memoir ’44 game. This is another bloody infantry assault map, and is both reasonably balanced and fun.
Bloody Ridge consisted of a series of grassy ridges south of Henderson Field where Col. “Red Mike” Edson had positioned his troops. The Japanese attack began with a bombardment, followed by a powerful thrust that pushed back the Marine companies near the Lunga River. The next day an attempt to drive the Japanese forces back on this flank failed. A strong effort by Major General Kawaguchi’s infantry on the second night drove the Marines back again.
The Japanese onslaught was finally stopped by close range artillery fire and the firepower of the Marines in their final defensive positions. Kawaguchi forces were defeated just short of their objective of Henderson Field.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
Reserve rolls were not kind to the Imperial Japanese Army, granting me nothing of use. The US Marines, however, got a Veteran Star, and elected to use it. With Leathernecks, Jungle Troops, and Veterans placed, the game was underway.
The Japanese forces can reasonably make an attack on any sector. Their path is perhaps easiest on their left flank, but there is an argument to be made for moving up first in the center and right before the Americans can plink the Japanese infantry into normality with their artillery. Depending on cards, the Japanese player has a real shot at winning this map. Conversely, a slow Japanese start or a few good Firefights can turn this in the favor of the Marines rather easily.
Attentive readers may have noticed a problem with the setup in the picture above – I forgot to place the Japanese artillery on the left flank!
Our game got off to a roaring start, as I moved up units on the right. I hoped to position them for a second turn firefight, but the American player was motivated by an odd hand into a berzerk Leatherneck assault on the left/center. I had hoped to push the Americans on the left back and then ignore that sector, because I really had cards to move up on the right side. The American insistence on forcing an engagement on the center/left was incredibly frustrating. However, the tide turned when I drew an Infantry Assault, and used my Jungle Troops on the right to completely destroy the Leathernecks and their support. I was then able to advance to the objective medal, and kill an infantry in the backfield for the game-winning medal. The American player suffered from a mediocre hand all game, and felt his only option was to push forward and break me on my line. It didn’t work.
General Evaluation – 4/5 – I really enjoy straight-up infantry assault maps, and this is a good example of the genre. Both sides have a good chance, and both sides have interesting decisions to make.
Balance Evaluation – Fairly Even – Whichever side has the better opening hand will get a pretty strong advantage, given the close quarters fighting that will take place right off the bat. The Battle reports at Days of Wonder have it at 55/45 Americans, which sounds about right. All things being equal, defenders usually have the advantage.
First-Turn Win Possibility – None – There’s too much blocking terrain to make that a worry.
Plink-Fest Danger – None – The Japanese don’t have the firepower to survive a long-distance exchange, and their various bonuses don’t certaintly don’t encourage it.