By Jay Townsend
With Panzer Grenadier: Saipan 1944 I wanted to create a game with sharp engagements that were fast and tense, with a couple of slugfests to balance things out but concentrating more on fast-playing battles. I also wanted to introduce new unit types unique to the Pacific theater, and show gamers that at this scale Panzer Grenadier can be exciting in the Pacific, even more than other theaters. Saipan was the prefect battle to model in the Pacific, as there are so many different situations and scenario types. At first I wasn't sure which battle in the Pacific Theater would be best but after I started reading about Saipan, the light-bulb clicked in my head, that this was the one. I know Panzer Grenadier players will love this game and that’s what I wanted to achieve, a boxed game that Panzer Grenadier players couldn’t get enough of.
There is a nice variety of battle types and situations. You have three American divisions (two Marine and one Army) all fighting in different locations on the same island at the same time. I never concentrated on the same location day after day. For example, I touched on all of Hell’s Pocket, Purple Heart Ridge or Death Valley, just the highlights and not the same battle played out day after day. No one wants to try and take the same hill in 10 scenarios; one or two are plenty. Otherwise this game could have had 100 scenarios, but with 40 I hit all the major actions and some smaller ones as well.
There are 29 scenarios with Americans attacking and nine with the Japanese attacking. I would only classify four scenarios as large, requiring over 100 counters, with the largest using 158. The other 36 scenarios are small or medium in size. I believe there are only two scenarios that use 4 maps; all the rest fall into the one- or two-map range. The actions include amphibious landings, a counter-landing, tank battles, infantry battles, cave and entrenchment clearing, urban fighting, hill control, jungle fighting, cane-field fighting, mountain fighting, banzai charges, night and day actions and some odd situations that are hard to classify.
With the game limited to 330 combat counters, not counting the markers, there was no way to include every type of unit that participated on Saipan, but the most important ones are all there. I had to limit the types of landing-craft and ships to the one that were most important, so I cut out the ones that didn’t play large parts in the scenarios. DUKWs were cut but at least four new types of amphibious or landing-craft units were added to the Panzer Grenadier armory with Saipan. Some sources called for Japanese SNLF Paratroopers but my research into this proved they hadn’t functioned like this in almost 2 years and were basically SNLF troops. The Japanese had so many gun types that I couldn’t add them all, so again I included the ones I could actually determine played a bigger part in combat. This still will add about six new types of Japanese artillery to the Panzer Grenadier series. In all, there must be at least 20 new types of units and that will make it a lot easier to add future Panzer Grenadier supplements.
LVTs, Landing-craft & Ships:
Ships of opposing sides cannot be in the same hex (no assault combat in the water). Landing craft and amphibious units can be in assaults with ground forces when then hit beaches.
LVT 4 = APC
LVT A1 and LVT A4 = AFV
LVT 4 and LVT A4 are open top.
LVT A1 is closed top.
LVT 4 = 1 step units.
LVT A1 and LVT A4 = 2 step units.
LVT A1 and LVT A4 both have inherent leaders.
Ocean-traveling LVT 4’s do not suffer leader decapitation while at sea: other landing-craft would still head for the landing beaches regardless if the Colonel in another craft was killed or not and most likely his death would not be acknowledged for some time.
LVT (A)'s should have been given an amphibious armor symbol.
Units inside caves do not get First Fire against the attackers. The attacker in an assault gets a -2 column shift for units that are inside the cave only. This means a split column assault resolution similar to direct fire. The side with worst combat results, including Morale checks, must leave cave hex, this includes units in or out of the cave. The other side gets a Free Shot.
Notes on Caves:
Between, Mike, John and myself I think we finally have the cave rules that make the most sense in Saipan, correcting the Guadalcanal cave rules. I really like them as written in Saipan. They are similar to entrenchments as stated but not exactly as I never put the fire-first rule into them. My reasons were this: caves are already too strong and all types of Engineer units (FLM, ENG & Satan) cancel the fire-first benefit, also caves are limited to an enemy approach to only the opening of the cave, so in reality some units could find a cave before the unit occupying it could see their attacker, unless there is a unit in the same cave hex but not inside. Caves now only receive a -2 modifier.
Hidden rules as optional notes:
One of the most important things for me was making the Hidden Rules optional, which allows both Face-to-Face or Solitary/Solo players to pick either method of play.
Counter names do not align with the scenario counter lists.
* HMG = WPN
* ENG = PIO
* MK7 = M7
• Scenario #3: Probing the Marines
Under Victory Condition the Japanese section should state:
(The Japanese win if they eliminate three or more American steps)
• Scenario #7: Throw Them Into the Sea!
The Japanese setup should state: (Enter anywhere on the north, east or south edges of map 82). Not map C.
• Scenario #10: Tanks in the Jungle
Under Victory Conditions:
(Hex 0610 is considered on map 80)
• Scenario #12: Aslito Airfield: The Army Arrives
Shows a Marines symbol but should be an Army symbol in setup.
• Scenario #13: The Marines Try Aslito Airfield
The scenario should be 20 turns long not 10.
• Scenario #15: Counter-Landing!
Japanese setup should include “at any ocean hex” at the end of the sentence.
• Scenario #25: Armor After Dark
Japanese setup, Enter anywhere on the north edge of map 82 on Turn 1, not board C.
• Scenario #36: Shifting The Line, states 30 miles between Tinian and Saipan which is incorrect, as it only 3 miles.