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Subject: Operational Scenario Five rss

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Andrei Shlepov
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We played Star Fluxx, Star Munchkin, Dixit, and, of course, Bomb Alley.
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Operational Scenario Five

Apparent Equality

February 1904

Me and Pavel began playing operational scenarios of RJW starting with scenario five, Apparent Equality, which finds Russian fleet better prepared to the commencements of hostilities. I took Yamato's sons, as per usual, while patriotic Pavel hoisted cross of St. Andrew. It was my third GWAS operational scenario played FTF (and Pavel's second), so please keep this in mind while reading the following.



The task is really daunting for the Japanese player: there are no unsuspecting Russians, Russian fleet isn't bottled up in Port Arthur, and troops still have to be transported to Chemulpo. The Russians face their own problems, though, since they got no leaders save epauletted bureaucrats, which greatly hampers their operational and tactical flexibility.

The onus of winning the scenario is upon the Japanese, since they have to score at least 25 VPs more than the Russian player in order to win, and any other result is a Russian victory. The Japanese receive VPs for unloading troops at Chemulpo (more if prior to Turn 20, less if afterwards) or at Fusan (less than for unloading at Chemulpo), blockading Port Arthur or other Russian ports, and bombarding Port Arthur. The Russians get VPs for keeping ships on station in port at Chemulpo, blockading Japanese ports, and sinking enemy merchants ships and transports (with a premium for loaded ones in the latter case).



Game Day 1 (Turns 1-6)

Weather: Mist/Mist/Fog/Squall/Fog/Fog

Hostilities start right off the bat as Chiyoda and Yaeyama duke it out with Sivuch, Korietz, and Mandjur at Chemulpo (1). The Japanese lose all their ships but sink Sivuch and Mandjur, and cripple Korietz which is forced to abort for Port Arthur (5). Meanwhile, Japanese main battle fleet (1) sails for Chemulpo preceded by Kamimura's squadron (2). Transports from Shimonoseki go to Fusan shadowed by a squadron which includes Chin Yen (5). Russian main battle fleet also aims for Chemulpo screened by Pallada (3). Decoy fleet (6) sails from Vladivostok to unnerve the Japanese player.



Game Day 2 (Turns 7-12)

Weather: Mist/Mist/Fog/Fog/Mist/Mist

Event of the day is sinking of Pallada, which blunders into the Japanese main battle fleet amid night mist, tries to flee but is run down by Japanese cruisers (2). Her sister ship Diana (4) runs ahead of main Russian forces (1) to Chemulpo where she begins scoring VPs for being on station. Kamimura’s squadron (2) is nearby, though. Japanese empty transports unloaded at Fusan return to the Inland Sea (4). Meanwhile Japanese fleets (5) and (7) begin reacting to the Russian decoy fleet (6) movement.



Game Day 3 (Turns 13-18)

Weather: Clear/Mist/Clear/Clear/Clear/Mist

After expending extra fuel chasing Pallada, Togo (1) decides it's now time to fall back to his secret advance base and refuel TBs, with Kamimura (2) following him. Decoy fleet (6) is removed after entering enemy coastal zone.



Game Day 4 (Turns 19-24)

Weather: Mist/Mist/Fog/Mist/Mist/Fog

After refueling at advance base, Togo decides to launch a nighttime torpedo attack at Chemulpo and sails forth, screened by Kamimura (2). Russians unleash Variag (3), Novik (5), and Boyarin (6) to raid Japanese commerce.



Game Day 5 (Turns 25-30)

Weather: Mist/Clear/Clear/Clear/Clear/Clear

Upon seeing Russian fleets (3), (5), and (6) parading south and not knowing whether they are real or dummies, Togo (1) sends Kamimura (2) after them to protect the troop convoy which is due to appear soon, and himself proceeds to Chemulpo.



Game Day 6 (Turns 31-36)

Weather: Clear/Clear/Clear/Mist/Mist/Clear

Day 6 finally sees big battle at Chemulpo (3) between opposing major fleets, and it goes badly for the Japanese right from the start; after winning the initiative and getting what amounts closest to “crossing the T” per series tactical rules, six Japanese battleships hammer four Russians for two impulses to no avail! And to add injury to insult, return fire sinks Hatsuse! Togo decides to disengage and throws his light forces into banzai charge to cover retreat. Out of 15 DDs and TBs, no one survives to report no enemy losses were exacted. Togo decides not to abort and luckily for him manages to escape the enemy (1). Meanwhile, Japanese Imperial Army convoy (3) sails forth, with (6) being a decoy, … right into the path of Novik (5)!



Game Day 7 (Turns 37-42)

Weather: Clear

Imperial Japanese Army convoy meets its doom in Novik (4) being escorted only by a lone gunboat Oshima! Her tertiaries are quickly brought to silence before she could manage to knock off Russian cruiser’s guns. After that, since no one is able either to fight the enemy off or run away, it becomes a carnage of transports for a 120 Russian VPs gain! Togo can only unite with Kamimura and sails to Chemulpo once again, seeking death or redemption in a final battle (1). Russian main battle fleet (1) heads forward not so as to meet him but rather to find the Japanese advance base. Meanwhile, Variag (3) sinks two Japanese merchant ships.



Game Day 8 (Turns 43-44)

Weather: Clear

Another battle ensues (5) which takes an entire gaming session to play out. With many ebbs and flows of luck for both sides and another banzai torpedo attack by Japanese light forces, when the smoke clears out, the Japanese lost Yashima and Idzumo with Kamimura! With Fuji and Shikishima crippled, they once again seek disengagement. But the Russians take a heavy beating this time, with Peresviet, Tsessarevich, Petropavlovsk, Sevastopol, and Retvisan all crippled! Both fleets have many ships which must abort to friendly ports, and this finally gives some sort of sea control to the Japanese. The problem is, there’s no one to unload! So that’s how things are standing:

The Japanese player receives 4 VPs for troop points unloaded at Fusan; he also receives 18 VPs for Russian ships sunk, 84 VPs for Russian ships crippled, and 2 VPs for hull box crossed off Poltava, which is neither sunk nor crippled, for a total of 108 VPs.

The Russian player receives 34 VPs for each turn a Russian ship has been in port at Chemulpo, 7 VPs for merchant ships sunk (Variag (3), Novik (5), and Boyarin (6) sink five Japanese merchants between them these last two turns!), and 120 VPs for hull box hits on loaded transports; he also receives 161 VPs for Japanese ships sunk, and 29 VPs for Japanese ships crippled, for a total of 351 VPs.

With no way to win, the Japanese player surrenders the scenario.
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Jim S.
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Great write-up, Andrei!

This is indeed a tough one for the Japanese. Sounds like very bad luck for the Japanese off Chemulpo, though.

In testing, I found it was often better to leave the transports at home (or run them to Fusan, and unload as much as possible before the Russians show up), and go for points against the Russian ports (blockading / bombarding Port Arthur, blockading other ports).

Getting the Russians off Chemulpo, and keeping them off, is key; six points per game day otherwise.

-Jim
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Andrei Shlepov
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Well, the Russians are tough to dislodge from Chemulpo once they're there, indeed.

This scenario does a great job showing just how important it was for the Japanese to neutralize Russian fleet, preferably without having to fight a major naval engagement.

My main problem was I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I'd need every last ship to oppose Pavel's expected concentration of force. As it turned out, I think now that a pair or more of unarmored cruisers won't make a difference in a main battle fleets engagement so it's possible to free ships for secondary missions.

Of course, I should've given IJA convoy an adequate escort, and/or probably split it, take a less direct route, and plot choke point passing to occur at night. I also shouldn't have thrown away my light forces in such a reckless fashion, for their losses alone cost me 72 VPs.

Anyway, I've seen the elephant, and I'm now better ready for the next scenario to be played, which is destined to be Operational Scenario Seven. Will Togo unload Imperial Guard at Chemulpo without them wetting their feet? Will Makarov be able to stop him?
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