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Subject: Naval night battles in the Solomons--best tactical game? rss

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Brian McCue
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What's the best tactical game about the naval night battles in the Solomons? I've played Battleship (first edition),Iron Bottom Sound 2, and Iron Bottom Sound III, and I hear good things about Tokyo Express.

(In this discussion I want to focus on board games and not on miniatures rules in which the Solomons battles could be played.)
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Ivor Bolakov
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Solomon Sea.
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M St
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I like that one very much but it's not a tactical game about the night surface battles.

I like all games listed but I think Tokyo Express is #1, easily. It's unique in showing the uncertainty that a commander faced when going into the Sound at night - who they would meet, what their goals were, what forces they brought. The atmosphere when your ships could be hit by torpedoes from an enemy who is still invisible to your own lookouts. The unwieldiness and confusion in trying to get your own command to react to a rapidly changing situation. Even the graphics were great to create the impression of a battle line at night, guns blazing.

The various Ironbottom Sound (or, anachronistically, Iron Bottom Sound) versions are good if you want to see which turrets got taken out by which size shells from another ship. They are great to show the detailed combat execution. But they essentially omit the (for the night battles) all-important pre-battle maneuvering, the limited intelligence, and the variation in command control on both sides.

Battleship is good if you want a quick very high level depiction of the battles.
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Brian McCue
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M St wrote:
The various Ironbottom Sound (or, anachronistically, Iron Bottom Sound) versions are good if you want to see which turrets got taken out by which size shells from another ship. They are great to show the detailed combat execution. But they essentially omit the (for the night battles) all-important pre-battle maneuvering, the limited intelligence, and the variation in command control on both sides.

Good points. As you know, my preferred solution is to play these games in refereed double-blind mode. The mildest of tweaks to the initial positions puts the players into search mode, not to mention making substitutions in the Order of Battle. ("Nobody expects the [Yamato]!")

I have yet to get a chance to apply this solution to Iron Bottom Sound III, though I've prepared a set of rules based on what I used for Iron Bottom Sound 2, and I'm a little worried that the board may not be big enough for good pre-battle maneuvering under limited intelligence. OTOH I wanted to see the APDs hitting the beach and the IJN shooting up the transports (and trying to get out alive!) so I made an embiggened board for Battleship (first edition) and then I got worried that it might be so big (the whole width of the Sound, from NW of Savo Island all the way down to where the transport vessels anchored) that the players would never find each other.
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Brian McCue
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I ought also to have included the Long Lance portion of Campaign for Guadalcanal: Long Lance & Henderson Field and Dreadnought.
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L. SCHMITT
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Tokyo Express of course. Solo but fits to 2 players games.
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Paolo Desalvo
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brianmccue wrote:
I ought also to have included the Long Lance portion of Campaign for Guadalcanal: Long Lance & Henderson Field and Dreadnought.

I've Long Lance, but it is till new, while I've tried Henderson Field, someday I will read its rules.
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Jim Ransom
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Tokyo Express is an excellent solo naval game. You might also want to look into Pacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942, recently released by Revolution Games. It's a lighter game that plays quickly, but is a lot of fun.
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Sean McCormick
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As others have mentioned, Tokyo Express is what you're looking for. High complexity barrier, though.
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Brian McCue
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jpr755 wrote:
You might also want to look into Pacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942, recently released by Revolution Games. It's a lighter game that plays quickly, but is a lot of fun.


I've got it, I've played a turn or three solo, and I like it. But I don't consider it tactical.

(I do consider it of possible interest as a "scenario generator" for tactical games. If played with the aid of a referee, it could lead to plausible and yet novel tactical battles, and thus restore the element of surprise that is inevitably lacking when one plays historical scenarios.)
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Jim Ransom
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Good point -- I agree "not tactical."
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Paolo Desalvo
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I don't have a great experience of naval tactical games, but I ca say for sure that for the night scenario you need to know the correct equipment and training of the various ships.
I've the pleasure to own the first two copies of the British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WII of Malcolm Wright, and on the second volume I found a huge and detailed description of the evolution of the installation of the electronic sensors on the British ships. It is impressive how spread was 1941 the installments of radars on all their capital ships and I would be interest to know how much this aspect is covered in the various games. Another thing to see is how is considered the training to fight at night.
Nobody as reported in this list the Task Force Games game Battlewagon.
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M St
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I guess nobody considers it "the best", which is what the question was about.

Likewise, most of the games in here won't have any British ships in the first place, as there were none taking part in the Solomons battles. (Though there were some RAN and RNZN ships - HMAS Australia and Canberra, and HMNZS Leander.)

Speaking generally, British radar capability was fairly good compared to the US in 1942 and much more widespread.
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Paolo Desalvo
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M St wrote:
I guess nobody considers it "the best", which is what the question was about.

When Brian started this thread he didn't report Long Lance. And when I returned to add it he had already added it, so I reported that too.
M St wrote:
Likewise, most of the games in here won't have any British ships in the first place, as there were none taking part in the Solomons battles. (Though there were some RAN and RNZN ships - HMAS Australia and Canberra, and HMNZS Leander.)

And I think that the HMAS Canberra was at Royal Navy standards, but was lost before it could play an active role in a night battle.

M St wrote:
Speaking generally, British radar capability was fairly good compared to the US in 1942 and much more widespread.

And much more, they were used to night fighting. Anyway they could an interesting what if.
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M St
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BlackSheeper wrote:
M St wrote:
I guess nobody considers it "the best", which is what the question was about.

When Brian started this thread he didn't report Long Lance. And when I returned to add it he had already added it, so I reported that too.

Don't see how that affects the argument.

Quote:

And I think that the HMAS Canberra was at Royal Navy standards, but was lost before it could play an active role in a night battle.

Canberra got her radar in early '42. It arguably played as big a role in the battle as any Allied ship, but on that occasion the radar warn or play a big role. Possibly due to the land around? I'd have to check sources.
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Brian McCue
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BlackSheeper wrote:
... for the night scenario you need to know the correct equipment and training of the various ships.


That's right. Iron Bottom Sound 2 (and Iron Bottom Sound III too, I believe) go to the extent of having separate ship data for each scenario, which at least covers the equipment side.
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Mark Herman
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brianmccue wrote:
What's the best tactical game about the naval night battles in the Solomons? I've played Battleship (first edition),Iron Bottom Sound 2, and Iron Bottom Sound III, and I hear good things about Tokyo Express.

(In this discussion I want to focus on board games and not on miniatures rules in which the Solomons battles could be played.)


Some time ago I wrote this little piece. I hope it adds to the discussion.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/794756/three-views-savo-isl...

Mark
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Brian McCue
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MarkHerman wrote:
Some time ago I wrote this little piece. I hope it adds to the discussion.


Sure does--this is just the kind of thing that the OP wanted. I have all three games and the comparison was really interesting.

My concern about IJN has always been that the scale seems so zoomed in that one cannot portray the whole of a battle such as Savo Island, much less have room for the pre-battle maneuvering and search whose importance has been underscored by Markus.
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Brian McCue
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brianmccue wrote:
I made an embiggened board for Battleship (first edition)...

Now posted on the Battleship (first edition) page.
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