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The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3 The Solomon Islands by GMT Games  The South Pacific Islands are some of the most beautiful and desirable pla...

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3

The Solomon Islands


GMT Games

 The South Pacific Islands are some of the most beautiful and desirable places to live on earth. They can also be one of the most inhospitable places that you would want to be in. Heat, humidity, and some of the most impenetrable jungles are present on a lot of the islands. Of course, the soldiers had to do their fighting on the latter and not the former. It was a campaign where your uniform rotted while you were wearing it. These islands also had their fair share of nasty critters, like poisonous snakes and crocodilians. The Japanese and Allied soldiers that had to fight on these islands considered the climate and terrain as much of an enemy as each other. Once the Allied forces decided on the 'island hopping' strategy, many Japanese soldiers were left to starve to death. The Allied command of the air, in the latter stages of the campaign, sometimes led the Japanese to cannibalism while they were still fighting the Allied troops. The US Marines were always knee deep in many of these battles. However, the US Army and its Allies also had to fight in these green patches of hell on earth. The sheer size and mileage of the campaign is breathtaking. For most airmen, their flights during World War II were measured in hundreds of miles. In this campaign it could be sometimes measured in a thousand or more one way.

 The Pacific Theater in World War II has had many games devoted to the full campaign and smaller parts of it. These are usually strategic in view or based on the separate campaigns. Most of the tactical level games are based on the naval war.  There are not too many that are tactical that are based solely on the island battles. One would assume that some grognards are not interested in being the hunkered down Japanese in most of these battles. With this game we have the early battles of 1942-1943, with one scenario from 1944. This is mostly before the Japanese would dig in and dare the Allied forces to take their defenses. So, let us go back to the years where the air would be rent with the yells of Banzai (literal translation 'may the Emperor live for 10,000 years). Notice it is not Bonsai, a small shrub or tree.

American Counters

 This is a blurb from GMT Games on The Solomons: The Last Hundred Yards:

"The Last Hundred Yards Vol. 3: The Solomon Islands is the third game in the Last Hundred Yards Series. This game focuses on the vicious and brutal Solomons Campaign, including actions to control the islands of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and New Georgia.

When you play the Solomon Islands Campaign missions, you will experience some of the fiercest small unit actions in the Pacific Theater. The game will focus on actions involving the 1st (The Old Breed) and 3rd (Fighting Third) Marine Divisions, as well as the Army’s 25th Infantry Division—the unit that finally drove the Japanese off the island, earning them the nickname “Tropic Lightning.”

Take to the jungles of Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division as they begin the first ground offensive of the war. Landed onto Guadalcanal and with intermittent naval support as the struggle for naval supremacy raged offshore, the Marines fought tooth and nail to secure their small foothold around Henderson Airfield. They fought against Japanese Reinforcements coming from all over the South Pacific area. Engage in bitter jungle fighting with the 3rd Marine Division as they attempt to hold and expand the beachhead on Bougainville Island against the Imperial Japanese 6th Infantry Division.

Finally, serve with the 25th Infantry Division’s famed 27th Regiment, the “Wolfhounds,” as they try to reduce Japanese positions on Guadalcanal’s Galloping Horse Ridge (an action that is portrayed in the movie “The Thin Red Line”). You will also fight with the Wolfhounds in the jungle around Munda Point for the airfield on New Georgia. Each of these actions involved tense jungle warfare and the routing out of fanatical Japanese units from hidden bunkers and pillboxes. You will understand the nerve-racking frustration of clearing an enemy position, only to have infiltrators attack you yet again from a different direction, at night!"

Japanese Counters +

 This is what comes with the game:

4 double-sided geomorphic maps (8 total)

4 full-size counter sheets

1 half-size counter sheet

1 full-color Rules booklet

1 full-color Playbook

5 Mission Cards (10 missions)

2 Combat/Terrain Charts

1 Game Turn Track

4 10-sided Dice

Assorted Counters

  "How do I love thee?" Let me look at your counters. I am pretty sure that Mrs. Browning would not approve, but it seems appropriate for our beloved hobby.

 The game comes with four two-sided hard stock maps. This means you get a total of eight maps in total. The maps are numbered instead of lettered as in most games I have played. The colors on the maps are a bit muted, but they work just fine with the dank and dark areas that they represent. The hexes are 1 1/4" in size. This is really big for most wargame hexes. Each hex represents 50 yards across. The only thing that put me on edge with the maps is that they come with terrain height lines, with some of the hexes being at multiple height. I will explain later how the game deals with this in the rules. The counters are nicely done. They are also large at 3/4". The numbers on them that you need to resolve combat etc. are large enough. The numbers and letters that are used for setup are small. Each counter that has a gun or an armored vehicle has its actual name underneath it. Those are very small. The pictures on them are well done, so that if you know anything about WWII weapons, you will have no need of trying to read the names beneath. The counters are somewhat muted also to fit in with the maps. Setup for the units is almost always by Company or Platoon. As I mentioned, those numbers are small but still readable. 

 The Series Rulebook v2.0 is thirty-nine pages in length. It is also in full color. There is a two and one-half page Index included as well. I love when companies add that in. As this is the third iteration of the Last Hundred Yards games the rules are clear to me. The only part I had to go over a few times is devoted to the use of mortars in the games. The designer has tried very hard to mimic their use in real battles. That is why those rules are more involved than others. The Playbook is simply amazing. It is thirty-six pages in length. The first twelve pages show full color examples of most of the rules in the game. This part made even a dolt like me understand any rule that had some nuance to it. From page thirteen to twenty-seven there is a play example of four full turns. If the first part of the Playbook didn't help you to 'get it' these certainly will. The last pages of the Playbook are the Designer Notes. These are a full nine pages in length. Once again, this is incredibly in depth. It is almost like the designer, Mike Denson, invited you over for coffee and you talked at length about the game and his design decisions. 

 There are five double-sided Mission Player Aids. These are made of hard stock and have a picture of the map that you use with that scenario. That map picture also shows you north (don't laugh I have seen maps that didn't), and what sides your troop consider home territory. Being double-sided, this gives you a total of ten missions. The next two Player Aids (one for each player) are a four-page fold-out that have all of the charts and tables for resolving all of the combat etc. They also have the terrain effect table on one page. The last Player Aid is a fold out; this has these on it:

Casualty Track

Random Event Table

Time Track

Fate Table

Coordination Table

Time Lapse

Mortar Support

Sequence of Play

 This is the Sequence of Play:

"I. Initiative Phase: Both players make a die roll. The player having
the Initiative on the previous game turn applies their Initiative die
roll modifier, if applicable, to the Initiative die roll [each mission lists the Initiative die roll modifiers for each player.] The player with the higher modified die roll wins the Initiative and becomes the active player. The losing player is the non-active player. In the case of ties, the Axis player wins the Initiative if the modified die roll is odd, while the Allied player wins the Initiative if the modified die roll is even. The Initiative marker is adjusted on the Game Tracks player-aid card to reflect the side that won the Initiative. A player without a Platoon Leader or an AFV in play at the end of the Initiative Phase — and after any Random Event results — automatically forfeits the Initiative to the other player. If neither player has a Platoon Leader or AFV in play, play proceeds to III. Fire Resolution Phase. In all cases, if the unmodified Initiative die roll is 1 or 10, that player must consult the Random Event Table on the Game Tracks player aid [18.0].

II. Activation Phase: The active player conducts Actions with units
of friendly activated platoon(s) [7.0], followed by both players
conducting Reactions [8.0]. Units of an activated platoon without
a Platoon Leader in play are restricted in their Actions [].
Once all platoon Activations and Reactions have been completed,
play proceeds to the Fire Resolution Phase.

III. Fire Resolution Phase: Fire attacks are resolved in any order.
Each DRM marker in play represents a single Fire attack. (Fire attack die rolls are based on the DRM markers in the hex at the beginning of the Fire Resolution Phase, even if players find an error was made when the DRM marker was originally placed.)

IV. Assault Resolution Phase: The active player determines the order
in which assaults are resolved [14.0].

V. Mortar Fire Adjustment Phase
1. Remove MDRM, Smoke, and Illumination markers.
2. Determine Mortar Recovery [11.4.8].
3. Forward Observers (FOs) that elect not to extend, or are currently
on their Final side, or in a hex without a friendly unit, are removed
— along with the corresponding Primary Impact marker — and
placed in the Mortar Support Pending Box on the Game Tracks
player-aid card.
4. Conduct Mortar Fire Extensions [11.4.9].

VI. Determine Time Lapse: The active player makes a die roll on
the Time Lapse Table to determine the Time Lapse (in minutes) and
adjusts the time on the Time Lapse Track accordingly.

VII. Clean Up Phase
1. Remove Overwatch and Motion markers from all vehicles that
did not conduct an action during the game turn.
2. Place returning Platoon Leaders [].
3. Recombine squads [10.3.3].
4. Conceal any units not in LOS of an enemy unit.
5. Reset counter orientation and record earned Promotion Points
6. Check whether the Mission Objective or Victory Conditions have
been met."

 It is the designer's contention that all battle is first and foremost confusing to the participants, especially at the tactical level. Many games try to take this into account, but others give you 'God mode' like powers to change your units mission and orders on a dime. As Mr. Denson writes in the Designer Notes "This has always bothered me about tactical level games, and one of the goals of LHY is to at least give the 'eye in the sky' cataracts." In this I believe that the design has done exactly what they started out to do. 

 The next important difference of this game to others is the 'Time Lapse System'. The game does not actually have game turns in the usual sense. In most games you will see each turn listed as 'X' amount of time as in fifteen minutes etc. After the turn is done you actually roll a die to see how much time has elapsed. This is meant to put the players on the proverbial hot seat. The amount of time it takes a player to complete their goals is added to their final score. So, dawdling is not encouraged. The only trick to this is that you have to roll the die at the end of each turn to find out how much time has passed. This could be anywhere from two to five minutes. This is to simulate the one factor that is completely out of your hands, which is the time it will take your units to do any action. To add to this, if a player rolls a one or a ten for initiative, they must consult the Random Events Table. If the player rolls a one, they are allowed to remove a concealment marker from an enemy unit that is five hexes away and in the LOS of a friendly unit. If you roll a ten you must consult the 'Fate Table'. These naturally are either a good outcome for the player or a bad one with some being worse than others. 

 Initiative is also done differently than other games. With LHY it is treated more like momentum and is slightly difficult for the opposing player to regain the initiative. So, it is not just the standard die roll at the beginning of a new turn. It sort of makes it like you need to wrest the initiative back from your opponent. If you have the initiative the game allows you to more easily go for broke.

 One other thing to take into account is the actual map size. Most are only 650 yards long. There is no maneuvering before battle really. You are dropped right into the midst of a knife fight. The terrain elevation of each hex is measured by what terrain height the actual center dot of each hex shows.

 What is the verdict, you ask? I believe the designers have hit one out of the park. They have achieved what they set out to do which was to make a tactical game with many new ideas and nuances. Playing this game made me go out and buy the other two volumes. If that isn't an endorsement, I do not know what is. The rules really give you some immersion. You are at times both happy with your units and then mad. You even take the Time Elapse roll as a personal affront at times. 

 Thank you, GMT Games for allowing me to review this game. Count me as being very impressed by this new system. The game volumes are:

The Last Hundred Yards:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 2: Airborne Over Europe:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands:

Coming up are:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 4: The Russian Front:

The last Hundred Yards: Mission Pack 1: