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Subject: Disaster at Kwajalein (short campaign) rss

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Ferro Ostil
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We played the ’42 Campaign scenario. The Japanese (JP) chose the historical hand, Allied (AP) took Arcadia. Before the year 1942 was out, disaster struck at Kwajalein and the AP conceded. Here is a short report on the course of the game.

1. Turn 2.
The AP limit their ENM to moving CA US Asia to Kendari. The JP kick things off with VADM Kondo in classic style, going after Manilla and Singapore for air supremacy, and also attacking DD Asia in Tarakan, landing with reduced armies in Tarakan and Batavia, and sending CA Nachi into Kendari. The AP is asleep and and surprised (9 Intelligence roll).

The AP pass, and JP follow up with Central Force: Conquest of Borneo. They go after Palembang, move the KOR army to Batavia to prepare for the assault on Tjilatjap, attack [DD Asia] in Tarakan, and drop CA Mogami + 2 SN Bde into (unoccupied) Soerabaja. AP avoids surprise but is unable to react.

After AP’s second pass, JP plays a Kamikaze (2OC) card on Comb Fleet for 5 activations, and spreads out further without declaring any battle hexes to Biak and Lae.

AP places ABDA in Kendari. JP responds with another Kamikaze card and takes out ABDA right away; CV Shokaku, CA Mogami, 1 SN Bde are enough to take the hex, which is important to prevent reaction as JP clamp down on DEI. [27 Army] heads to Attu/Kiska.

AP play into the FoQ, and JP brings out Col. Tsuji, Unit 82, activating S HQ. the great value of this card is the automatic final +4 DRM in Malaya or any Jungle or Mixed terrain. The [19 Army] goes after Bangka (from Palembang), the [25 Army] attacks Tarakan, and the KOR and [17 Army] assault Tjilatjap, even though it means that the Dutch Air and CL have a chance to inflict a critical on the JP ground forces.

The AP use Operation Ash for the OC to bomb the 15th Army at the Burmese border with AVG and FEAF, but just miss the necessary 1x result to flip it.

The JP use Chiang Kai-shek (2OC) to spread out further, taking Buin, and Guadalcanal, while reinforcing Kwajalein. Note that Jap, Palau, Ulithi, and Saipan are all unoccupied by JP, which turns out to be a mistake later… And in fact the AP use their last card play to start their Pacific counteroffensive, by taking Eniwetok and reinforcing Wake from Oahu. JP play their last card into the FoQ.



Here is the situation after the Jan-Apr 1942 turn. The JP are on track, having grabbed all of DEI and the Solomons. Nothing has happened yet in the CBI, and the AP are very properly biding their time, although they took the opportunity to grab a toehold in Eniwetok that is sure to annoy the JP.

To be continued.
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Ferro Ostil
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2. - Turn 3 May - Jun 1942

This was a turn of some rules confusion and frustration, but we managed through it. The AP had not yet had a chance to gain a better defensive position in the CBI, and the JP clearly tried to capitalize...

Because the DEI fell, PW drops from 8 to 7. All Dutch units are removed. The Solomons have no effect on PW, and nothing else has fallen yet. Attrition affects the AP.

Only 13AF if diverted to Europe. The JP start with 7 cards, the AP with 6 (surviving the Submarine Warfare roll). Both players have cards in the Future Offensives Queue. The US reinforcements go mostly into Gili Gili, and the Commonwealth fleet to Ceylon (Indomitable, Warspite, Hermes).

AP declines to take the initiative by playing an EC out of FoQ, and so the Japanese begin the Action Phase by playing Tinian Raid for 2OC, the Combined Fleet is activated for 5 activations. The ED Army is sent to Lae by strategic movement, and the rest of the effort focuses on CBI, where the 15th Army makes a lunch at the 18th Brit, outside Rangoon.

The AP were holding Orde Wingate: Chindits, which permits the the AP to "cancel the activation of one Japanese ground unit that activated in Burma or Northern India..." Because the 15th Army activated in Siam, not Burma, the JP player objected to this play, and the battle was resolved normally with the result that the 18th was eliminated and FEAF was flipped.

At this point, the JP had telegraphed his intention to push into Burma - time for the AP to rearrange forces there. But we figured out that Rule 8.44 (Strategic Ground Transport) does not permit switching 2 Ind with B Ind between Rangoon and Dacca, because only AA capable units may use strategic ground transport. The AP took their pass instead.

The JP played Bridge over River Kwai - which was risky timing, I think. The AP responded by getting New Submarine Doctrine out for the event. Things in the CBI were to remain in suspense a little longer...



JP turned to the Philippines and with 2OC card and Comb Fleet took out Manilla/Corregidor and to grab Vogelkop, while shifting some units around. Manilla fell and McArthur escapes to the turn track.

to be continued...
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Ferro Ostil
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To round out turn 3:

The AP held the Bataan death march and gained +1 PW for playing it, raising PW back up to 8.

Next, JP went after Malaya with 3/Ichi-Go, taking it easily, and also moving the KOR army north to Bangkok.

The AP now played 2/Stilwell Burma Offensive to reorganize the CBI as well as setting up an air strike against JP 15th Army outside Rangoon. The JP responded by playing Weather from the FoQ to freeze the AP dispositions in the CBI in place, and promptly followed up with the long-anticipated attack on Rangoon. Using 3/Operation MO for 6 activations (no HQ activation bonus yet, since the Burma Road is still open), brought the KOR into Rangoon by AA (for 4 ASP, ouch), supporting with the CV Junyo to neutralize the AP ZOI before the landing, and bringing in overwhelming air support. The AP reacted with Warspite, Indomitable, AVG and SEAC for a major air/naval battle. The JP got a lucky crit (9) and took out both Warspite and Indomitable, while flipping AVG and SEAC. The JP elite AF were both reduced. The Korean Army was apparently sea sick from from the landing and only flipped the undersized B Ind, which was retreated north. The Burma Road was now closed (no hump).

At this point, the AP reshuffled their forces in Borneo, reinforcing Port Moresby. The JP played a Minor Axis Victory/War in Europe to drop WiE to -2. The AP burned a card, waiting for the JP to run out of card plays.

JP played a 1/Code Change card for OPs and took Singapore with the the 38th Army and the Junyo. Because the 1CP card wasn't enough to move into Singapore by land, the 38th Army had to AA into Singapore, which was risky but came off fine (defensive strength halved, so a 2x result would have flipped the 38th army. Singapore, and Malaya, fell.

The AP now had the last two unopposed card plays, and played 2/Orde Wingate: Chindits (played for OPs) to take Saipan with the Wake Bde and Ulithi with the M Bde. The US fleet relocated to Eniwetok (Enterprise, Lexington). For their last card, 3/Curtis LeMay (for OPs), the AP reshuffled their dispositions in the Western Pacific but took no further territory.

Another interesting (frustrating) rule at this point was the after the fall of the Philippines, all US naval units there have to ENM, which made moveing the Enterprise to Leyte pointless.



Here is the situation at the end of Turn 3. There is a huge hole in the Japanese flank, with the AP grabbing essential bases in Ulithi and Saipan. Historically, the seizure of Saipan lead to the resignation of Tojo and his cabinet and is seen as the turning point after which Japanese hopes of victory were dashed. On the other hand, ANZAC is weakly defended in Darwin and things are not looking good in Burma, where the AP command few resources to resist a determined Japanese push north. Because of the play of the Bataan Death March, PW is not in the critical zone, however, and it seems unlikely that the AP won't be able to make progress of war. But how can the Japanese respond to the Western Pacific threat? A significant shift of forces into the Pacific will be required to dislodge the AP bases, with Allied reinforcements pouring in.

But it would all be moot soon, in the approaching showdown at Kwajalein.

to be continued...
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Ferro Ostil
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Turn 4 (Sept - Dec 1942).

Here is another tricky rule: The AP are sitting on a large military event in their Furture Offensives Queue, while the JP have no card in their FOQ. The Allied failed their submarine warfare roll, so that both sides drew seven cards. Under the rules, the AP can seize initiative by playing a military card for the event out of their FOQ only if they have fewer cards than the Japanese - if both sides draw the same number of cards, the Japanese go first in 1942.

This wrinkle threw a wrench in the AP player's gears. During reinforcement, SW Pac (McArthur) was played into Darwin, which was thinly defended with only a LRB (meaning that Japanese air could establish an unneutralized ZOI there), and the JP player would have had the opportunity to take out both ANZAC and SW Pac on the first card play.

After grokking the initiative rule, we permitted the AP to redo the placement of SW Pac, which they elected to place in Eniwetok. We counted it as a JP intelligence success that they were now aware of a big Mil card in the AP FOQ.

The JP used that insight to place the US into inter-service rivalry on their first card play - perhaps that would slow things down. The AP didn't seem to mind much, and pulled out 3/S-Day Invasion of Luzon from their FOQ.

Disaster at Kwajalein: The AP activated SW Pac for a total of 10 activation, and went after Kwajalein. They pulled in the Enterprise, Lexington, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Northampton. The 1MAW pinned Japanese air and the Akagi at Lae.

At the same time, the AP grabbed Yap, Palau, and Kusaie for 3/3 progress of war and a frightening hold on Micronesia.

The JP player responded with an Code Change/Intercept card and activated Combined Fleet for a total of 6 reaction units, piling everything into the major battle for Kwajalein. BB Nagato, BB Hiei, and APD Kamikaze sailed into Kwajalein. CV Shokaku came within range to participate, and the 25AF and 6AD reacted to Ponape and Namu. This meant 76 Allied factors going up against 98 Japanese.



The fortunes of war: The Japanese rolled 7 for 1x result, the and Allies (who don't get the +1 for US air yet in 1942) rolled a 0 for a quarter result. Disaster.

The JP were able to flip every single AP unit participating, and to eliminate both the Enterprise and Lexington, leaving the reduced Wasp and a bare 5 steps of US fleet in the Pacific.

At this point, we called the game, since the AP player figured that there was no way to avoid the political will hits that would shortly lead to a negotiated peace (Japanese victory).

Historically, the Japanese longed for the decisive naval battle that would cripple the Allies and pave the way to a Japanese victory. In our game it happened. But could the Allies have recovered? I'd be interested to hear from experienced players whether it would have been possible, somehow, to hang on.

Assuming that the remnants of the US fleet would limp back to Oahu in PBM, how would the Japanese have followed up? To take out the reduced Wasp, the Japanese need to inflict several steps, because the AP can move the Wasp out of the battle hex and bring in air (specifically the 7AF/7AF LRB), which need to be reduced before a hit could be applied to the Wasp. The Japanese, on the other hand can't bring their air units, which made the difference at Kwajalein all the way to Oahu because they lack air bases on the way.

Here is the hypothetical: For the Japanese, the trick is to pin the 7AF and 7AF LRB, leaving the Wasp vulnerable.



The JP held 3 Western Force, which gives them plenty of activations to go after the U.S. fleet. Pinning the only air units that could react to Oahu (battles A and B), the Japanese can bring 58 strength to the Allied 35.

There is no reaction movement to relieve the fleet possible. A quarter result will be enough to take out the Wasp. And since the total defensive strength of the US fleet is 54, a 1x result will wipe out all US naval power from the Pacific. This yields -2 political will (-1 no carrier, -1 no ships).

Could the Allies have fought on despite the disaster at Kwajalein?

Of course, we've started the next game. Please let us know what we can do better this time!
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John Steidl
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It looks like you guys had a lot of fun here; thanks for sharing!

In a situation like that, I would probably split the fleet in PBM and force the JP to spend more than one card to hunt it down. They'll get the CV, but might not get both PW. With the Allies having the +1 benefit of Death March, even with -2 PW for fleet and CV, I don't think it's a sure thing that the JP will be able to win a PW victory. And the AP is in a very strong position, even with the fleet losses.

An alternate approach for the Allies here would have been to put Kwaj out of supply, along with the forces in the Solomons and eastern NG. It looks like there's also a chance to put Truk OOS temporarily and force the JP to defend very actively in the Pacific, taking strain off the CBI. The Allied position in the central pacific is extremely dangerous for the JP, and because there are so few JP ZOIs, the AP can accomplish lots of nasty things on his first card with no risk of a battle.
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Ferro Ostil
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Thanks, John, for your input. We considered Ohau or Gili Gili as potential PBM destinations for the US fleet, but didn't consider splitting it.

I was surprised in the game how the AP, although they basically sat still were able with a few well-timed card plays to tear a hole into the central pacific position, grabbing Eniwetok, Saipan, Palau, Jap, and Ulithi from the Japanese. As the Japanese player, I was focused on grabbing DEI, Malaya and the Philippines as quickly as possible, as well as taking Rangoon to close the Burma road. Obviously, I should have prevented the Allied progress in the center. What's the right strategy to accomplish this, and when should it happen?
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Riccardo Fabris
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The usual way to do it is to place AZOIs over the centpac islands as he said: you don't need one over every island since you can Special React on them if necessary, and since they are a way off for the allies and they will have to go over an AZOI, so the chances of you rolling intelligence are high.

For example, air force in Ulithi will cover Palau and Guam, but you'll need something in Saipan as well to get full coverage. You can place the air forces there either through reinforcements or if you have a spare activation. Having air over Eniwetok is also pretty important as well.
 
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Francisco Colmenares
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MGabriel wrote:

Could the Allies have fought on despite the disaster at Kwajalein?

Are you kidding me? Naturally! In my current campaign game I got smashed and lost all my carriers at a Kwajalein Battle too. I'm in Turn 8 and on the PW ropes but I have yet to concede. My opponent has all but telegraphed that he's holding Tojo Resigns, that means I'm playing my current turn with a potential PW of 0. Basically I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiation table.

The position in the Pacific is very strong for the Allies, probably enough to make prosecution of the CBI terribly difficult, you might save the Burma PW. Also in a couple of turns you might have enough reinforcements to take back the Phillipines. There's also Doolittle and you might draw it to get back a PW. Also, it seems PoW might not be an issue for you after basically putting in a vicious wedge into his defensive perimeter.

Dude. Never say Die.

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John Steidl
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Tekopo wrote:
The usual way to do it is to place AZOIs over the centpac islands as he said: you don't need one over every island since you can Special React on them if necessary, and since they are a way off for the allies and they will have to go over an AZOI, so the chances of you rolling intelligence are high.

For example, air force in Ulithi will cover Palau and Guam, but you'll need something in Saipan as well to get full coverage. You can place the air forces there either through reinforcements or if you have a spare activation. Having air over Eniwetok is also pretty important as well.


The challenging question for the Japanese is when to do this. The following comments assume that reinforcements are delayed a turn...

Turn 2: You only need to worry about the marine battalion at Wake, but they can still be a real pain if you ignore them completely. If you have a weak hand, you will have to judge the trade-off. With an average to strong hand, you should spend at least a couple of activations to start putting your Pacific ZOI network in place.

Turn 3: There is significantly increased risk with the arrival of the Marine and SF brigades. You need to get your ZOI network in place or an aggressive Allied player will take advantage.

Turn 4: This is really too late to start thinking about it.

 
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