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Pacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942» Forums » General

Subject: Use of Battleships in Iron Bottom Sound rss

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Rod Bauer
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Because the rules for AA (anti-air) during carrier combat, is based on a comparison of Air Strike (AS) points and AA (number of non-carrier units in the task force), it encourages the players to always escort the carrier task forces with cruisers (with combat ratings of "1") rather than battleships. The battleships, therefore can be saved for use in Iron Bottom Sound during surface combat.

The problem, from an historical perspective, is that battleships were not used as extensively as cruisers in the narrow waters around Guadalcanal. In the four major naval battles of Savo Island, Cape Esperance, 1st Guadalcanal, and 2nd Guadalcanal, the US only committed battleships to the final of these four battles. The Japanese did not use battlehships in either Savo Island, or Cape Esperance.

If the AA rules could be changed to say that the combat strength of each ship rather than just the total number of ships would be used for the AS v. AA calculation, it might help to remedy this historically inaccurate use of battleships. The players would be able to use a "3-strength" Battleship, for example, to escort and it would count as "3 units" in tabulating AA strength.

This may not make a difference in how the players allocate their resources in constructing various Task Forces because it is so beneficial to use battleships in the surface battles. But, it would at least give a player the opportunity to play the game a little more historically without unduly penalizing him for taking this more historical approach.

My major question to those of you have played this game is as follows: Do you believe that, if I make this change in the rules, it will unbalance the game significantly in any way that would basically ruin the game itself? The game plays very nicely as designed. I don't wish to mess it up, by trying to tinker with it to make it somewhat more compatible with history.

In each of the five games, that I have played so far, both players always assign all their battleships to TF-B forces. None are used in TF-C task forces. In game turns it makes total sense to do this. I would just like to give the players an incentive to change this non-historical pattern if possible.

Thanks for any input you are willing to share with me.
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Lance McMillan
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The main potential issue I see with your proposal is that as presently written, the AA rule is basically a threshold. If you know your opponent only has three carriers, then you only need to assign six "escorts" (typically cruisers) to your own TFs to provide the maximum AA value. You get no additional benefit from having more AA value in a TF than that threshold; you're only penalized if you have less.

By increasing the AA value of battleships (from 1 to 2), you're basically enouraging players to make their already fairly small carrier TFs even smaller. This might provide some fog-of-war utility, save for the fact that the battleships are already so much more valuable in an anti-surface role than this new enhanced AA value might provide. I'm not saying that the proposal is a bad idea, just that I don't see it having a lot of impact on play.

The biggest objection I'd have to the proposal is that it adds a (admittedly very minor) layer of complexity to what's intended as a very simple (even minimalist) design without really adding much enchancement to game play. Effectively you're now assigning all ships an AA value (when before it was a straight "all non-carriers have an AA value of 1" formula). The next obvious step is to ask why the US light anti-aircraft cruisers (e.g. Atlanta, Juneau, San Juan, etc) aren't included in the game because their AA suites were nearly as large/effective as the battleships... and then if we have those light cruisers in the game, why aren't the other light cruisers (from both sides) in the game, and what about destroyers, ad infinitum...
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Ray Freeman
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I see this rule benefiting the IJN more than the USN. The US needs all 3 BBs in action on the surface to provide sufficient firepower. My impression that it's not enough given the IJN has 6 or likely 7 BBs. OTOH, if the US BBs counted as 3 for AA, and the IJN BBs were all worth only 2 (Their AA was pretty awful compared to the NC class), that might be OK.
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