Scenario Review – Guam Landings

Guam Landings is a scenario from the Pacific Front expansion for Memoir ’44.  The Pacific Front expansion may well have the best collection of official scenarios yet released, with a number of fun and well-balanced battles to enjoy.  While Guam Landings is not a highlight of the set, it’s still a decent map.  Check out the video of particularly miserable playthrough of this scenario here.

On July 21st, the first wave to hit the northern landing beaches off the island of Guam in the Marianas, were amphibious tank units. Most of the Japanese infantry had pulled back from their beach defenses during the heavy naval bombardment that preceded.

But the rough terrain and broad rice paddies slowed the tanks’ advance. The 21st Marines cleared Asan Town and made some progress on the Japanese-infested ridges and jungle that overlooked the rice fields. Difficulties getting their artillery ashore and limited armor support placed the burden of establishing a beachhead squarely on the shoulders of the men of the 3rd Marine division.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.

Guam Landings Map

A quick inspection of the map shows the difficult position the Japanese are in.  The Americans have a TON of armor already on the beach, and three artillery waiting offshore.  The majority of the Japanese units are separated from the beach by a fordable river, rice paddies, or both.  This puts them in a really tough position.  Any forward advance is going to be into the teeth of heavy firepower, but unless they advance the Japanese forces will be mauled by ranged fire from the Armor and Artillery.  The Japanese bonuses are almost entirely negated by the terrain, and their force is simply outclassed.

The Japanese player really only has one major strategic decision to make – when to go berserk.  The only hope for the Japanese player is that he or she can move enough forces into close engagement range to weather the first turn of fire, and then get lucky on dice.  It’s worth waiting a turn or two, to see where the meagre frontline units have done the most damage before comitting to the major assault, but the closer the American gets to moving his or her artillery onshore, the closer this scenario gets to game over.

Now, the Japanese forces in the Jungle on the American player’s left flank can certainly be annoying, and lucky dice may well allow those forces to do enough damage to stall the American advance.  But it takes really lucky dice, and ideally an American player who is hosed for cards on that side.  Barring that, it’s hard to be more than an annoyance.

Overall Evaluation – 3/5 – This map is too imbalanced to be really interesting, but the terrain is unusual enough to make it worth a play.

Balance Evaluation – Strongly American Favored – DoW Online Battle Reports peg this scenario at 67/33 in favor of the Americans, and that matches up pretty will with this analysis.  There’s just not much of a game for the Japanese side.

First-Turn Win Possibility – None – Despite the imbalance, the terrain makes this a slog for the Americans.

Plink-Fest Danger – Moderate – After the frontline Japanese units are cleared out, the Americans have the forces to finish the game at range.

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