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Subject: Carrier Battles in the Pacific rss

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Frank Riepenhausen
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Session report for a 1941 campaign game from the Japanese perspective

We played the historical variant, so the Allies got Arcadia for turn 2 and the Japanese (me) a strong hand.

I did not feel ready to come up with my own 1941 set of moves, so I shamelessly copied an opening by Mark Herman. I believe I did just one minor modification. This is the end of turn situation.

The turn worked out well for Japan:
• Pearl Harbor was a one result
• Singapore and PI air destroyed ==> PI + Malaya HQs out of supply
• Just one ground step lost

1942 turn 2
The turn starts nice for Japan. All three air reinforcements go to Europe. This will prove significant very soon.

J Card 1/7 was Kondo: Dutch Air, CL Dutch and US Asia DD get killed

A Card 1/5 was a 1 OP shuffling Indian divisions.

J Card 2/7 was a 2 OP moving units out of Japan to Attu, Miri, Batavia(KOR) and Bangkok(2AD)

A Card 2/5 was a 1 OP moving China units forward.

J Card 3/7: Surprise attack from Col. Tsugi taking three more important DEI hexes without any chance of resistance except for a reaction card, which luckily did not appear.

A pass

J card 4/7 was a 1 OP which sunk the US Asia CA and took Wewak

A card 3/5 was ‘Sextant conference: Burma Road’ strengthening the CBI and building the Jarhat road.

J card 5/7 was the paratrooper event taking Balikpapan, Palembang and killing the AVG air in Rangoon. This finished the DEI capture.

A pass

J card 6/7 was a 3 OP to take the Solomons and Gili-Gili, isolating Port Moresby.

A play a card into FOQ and both play one War in Europe card.

End of turn

Status of the war from the Japanese viewpoint

DEI captured
Solomons captured
Port Moresby cut off
SW Pac still stuck in the Philippines
Almost no Japanese losses so far
No CBI progress
Wake + Guam still Allied

1942 turn 3
The Allies placed their HQs and US reinforcements/repl. in or near Australia, reestablishing supply to Port Moresby, but the three Air units that had gone to Europe in turn 2 were making a difference. Japan HQ felt that the Allies wouldn’t be able to do much outside the CBI without medium or long range air, so the plan was born to further increase that weakness by going for the only good air assets in the pacific: the carriers in Oahu: Get them to hide in Alaska or kill them.

South Pacific after replacements:

J card 1/7 was a 3 OP creating a killer stack in Eniwetok actually overstacking the hex, so the 8-8-3 Junyo had to go to the turn track. But this way you get 91 attack and not 89, which threatens to kill a carrier even on a half result. (Oahu force is two 12-12-2 and one 10-10-2).

A card 1/6 was New Submarine Doctrine improving submarine chances for the rest of the game and drawing a card. It seems at this point the Allied HQ was trying to improve their hand and maybe hoping that the attack would not materialize early.

J card 2/7 was a 3 OP attacking the carriers. It was a bloody battle. 91;0 vs. 34;0 and a one-one result. Allied naval and air forces in Hawaii eliminated and the two best Japanese carriers limping. No light carrier support to transfer a hit. PBM back to Eniwetok. Japan HQ was satisfied. It was possible that the Allies hold the carrier repair card, so at this point eliminating the whole US fleet was deemed too costly.

A card 2/7 was PT boats, another long term play and another new card for them.

J card 3/7 was Burma offensive (only air+ground): 8 activations with South Fleet HQ to invade New Guinea, but only 3 ground units in range. Japan HQ thought that the armies did not need any protection while landing and so sent all air units to harass the navy stack which surprised the Allies. The result: US navy reduced to one limping Northampton [6-8]

A card 3/8 was a 3 OP to strengthen Port Moresby and hide the Northampton in Townsville.

J card 4/7 was a 2 OP to AA Singapore with an 18-12 and carrier support. No reaction possible, so should be an easy win, but the Australian [3-12] defenders repulsed the attack without losses.

A card 4/8 was another 2 OP move to strengthen Port Moresby actually bringing in one of the 22-12 US armies and starting a march on Gili-Gili.

J card 5/7 was Big Tokyo Express which tried to do everything at once: Kill the air unit in PM to destroy allied AZOIs, take Cape York to maybe cut off PM and kill the last remaining US ship. Well, the US ship survived, but otherwise the offensive was a success.

A card 5/8 constructed the Ledo road and moves troops toward Rangoon.

J card 6/7 was played into the FOQ (Anti-ISR card)

A card 6/8 was a 2 OP to help Mac Arthur finally escapes the Philippines

J card 7/7 was a 1 OP to finally kill the Northampton (38 vs 18). It achieves surprise, killing all three air/naval assets. At this point the lone Marine 211 was the only Allied air/naval unit outside the CBI.

A card 7/8 and 8/8 were two 2 OPs which punished Japan for being single minded and neglecting port defense. Saipan is assaulted and taken from Wake and Mac Arthur is repositioned to Australia to save the R corps in Manila and prepare for next turn

End of turn

Status of the war for Japan
US navy dead
No supplied Allied base in New Guinea
PI and Malaya still not taken
Several airfields on New Guinea under Allied control
soblue Saipan!

1942 turn 4
After reinf./repl. the map had changed quite a bit. Saipan and Darwin had turned into major bases, most of the Japanese reinforcements were used around Saipan. It promised to be an interesting turn!

A card 1/7 was a 2 OP surprise attack on Cape York, to save Port Moresby. Japan held a reaction card but needed it later, so the 1 AD air unit died and PM was back in supply after PBM.

J card 1/6 was a 2 OP to put Saipan out of supply. Wake had to be taken to close the AZOI ring around Saipan and some carriers were needed to keep Saipan from being activated during this offensive. The op succeeded in neutralizing Saipan but also binding many Japanese air units and allied subs hit in reaction, killing one Japanese carrier.

A card 2/8 was Operation Forager hitting Biak and taking Amboina to work on PoW. Japan HQ decided this was the right moment to start Operation Sho-Go, a powerful reaction card and to try to kill the only activatable naval unit in the Pacific. The reaction succeeded with a half result.

J card 3/6 brings the Tainan air unit into play in Ponape

A card 3/8 was ‘Hurricane Taskforce’ forsome repositioning in Burma, including an approach towards Hanoi.

J card 4/6 was ‘Naval Battle of Guadalcanal’ to finally take Manila, recapture Amboina and protect Hanoi from the Indish in French Indochina. Manila and Amboina are Japanese again.

A card 4/8 counters by spreading the news of the ‘Bataan Death March’ near Manila increasing PW to 6.

J passes

A card 5/8 was a war in Europe card, moving it to +0

J card 5/6 was a 1 OP to take Kuantan without interference from SEAC. It had to be an AA (Kuantan is a ‘mixed’ hex) and it turned out to be a bloody one: Attacker and defender eliminated. Kuantan stays Allied for now.

A card 6/8 was a 3OP to reinforce Port Moresby and to approach Cape York.

J card 6/6 was a 2 OP to take the undefended Kuantan with the last ASP and to close a hole in the AZOI line.

A card 7/8 and 8/8 were two 3 Ops which took Cape York and Gili-Gili. Unfortunately I had messed up the Allied ASP marker before and so we had some invalid moves.

At the end of turn 4 the Philippines surrender, Attu makes headlines in the US and the Allied progress is slow: PW moves from 6 to 3.

Status of the war for Japan
US navy out of supply
PW going down quickly
Japanese fleet still mostly intact
Malaya still not taken

Turn 5:
The Allies did not get many reinforcements in turn 5 and with the strong Japanese naval forces and the isolated Saipan it was not a fair fight. The Allies killed several elite air units in an ambush but Japan just threw everything at the US ships and managed to once again sink all carriers, bringing PW to 0 (CVs + Malaya + POW). The Allies had enough and started peace talks.

The game felt quite different from all the session reports/replays I have seen: No unit ever fought in the CBI, everything happened in the Pacific. It was mostly about air/naval superiority and I learned in this game that if Japan has good cards, some lucky rolls and can keep the US fleet down and stays out of the CBI, there is simply not much the Allied player can do with all his cards.
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Mark Herman
United States
New York
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Very interesting game, nicely played by all. Thanks for posting it.
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John Steidl
United States
New Hampshire
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Thanks for the great AAR; they are always fun to read.

For balance, I would normally suggest that the Japanese not use the historical hand in a 1941 start. It's shown as a legal variant, but the historical hand is extremely strong by itself and the 41 start also benefits the Japanese.

This game also illustrates a common challenge for new players as the Allies; that is, how aggressive to be on turns 3-6. It takes some experience to learn how to be annoyingly aggressive without risking any PW. Force levels are obviously a factor; there's a huge difference between a situation where reinforcements are delayed and all your army air is sent to Europe (as here) vs. a case where WiE is at +1 and you actually get the turn 3 reinforcements on turn 3.

Thanks again for sharing.

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