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Subject: AAR: Gato Leader - 1942 - Holding the Line rss

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Craig Tenhoff
United States
Simi Valley
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Short Campaign (1 Patrol per sub
Starting Points 30 Spent on Submarines 25 Available Points 5

First try of Gato Leader. So plan is to learn the basics of the mechanics and develop tactics that can be used in future games.
Situation: The Philippines have fallen to the Japanese. US submarines have fallen back to bases and Australia and will attempt to slow the Japanese advance by attacking merchant shipping supporting the Japanese war efforts in the region.

Four submarines are available:
USS Nautilus commanded by Lt CDR William Brockman Jr with a Trained Crew and the Searcher special ability.
USS Stingray commanded by Lt CDR Otis Earle with a Trained Crew and the Infiltrator special ability.
USS Gudgeon commanded by Lt CDR William Stovall Jr with a Trained Crew.
USS Tautog commanded by Lt CDR William Sieglaff with a Trained Crew.

Strategic Segment
All submarines are fully outfitted with standard Mk14 torpedoes. As we’ll shortly learn, they are prone to malfunction and will greatly hinder our efforts. Gudgeon is assigned a Recon Mission, with the target in the Philippine Sea. Tautog is assigned a Naval Attack mission with the target in the Caroline Islands. Intelligence assets are operating in the Java Sea to give the submarines operating their extra opportunities to encounter convoys.

Operations #1
The submarines depart from their home ports. Nautilus moves from Freemantle into the Java Sea. Nautilus encounters Stormy Weather, which causes the crew stress (2 points). Stingray moves from Freemantle into the Java Sea. Warned of the weather by Nautilus, Stingray avoids the storm, but has a Equipment Malfunction, which stresses the crew (3 points). From Brisbane, Gundgeon sets sail into the Solomon Islands, with nothing to report (Fatal Error drawn, which only impacts subs that are shaken or unfit). Tautog sets sail into the Solomon Islands, and is surprised by an Enemy Aircraft. The attack does Light damage before the Tautog can dive, but this results in a Hull Hit which will require a return to port to repair. Lt CDR Sieglaff presses forward.

Combat #1

Tautog searches the Solomon Islands and has two contacts. The first contact is a heavily escorted convoy (3 escorts and 6 merchants), so Lt CDR Sieglaff does not engage. The second contact is a pair of unescorted merchants, so the Tautog begins a surface attack. Because the submarine has stalked the ships for a number of hours, it starts with an enhanced firing solution (+1 to torpedo attacks).

Tautog begins at long range ahead of the convoy. On the surface it quickly closes to short range. The two freighters are identified as the Akebono Maru (a Large Tanker) and the Sakito Maru (a Medium Freighter). Both are lightly armed and open fire on the submarine. Two light hits result in a No Effect and Electrical Damage (knocking out the radio).
Tautog fires six torpedoes, four on the Akebono Maru and two on the Sakito Maru. The gun is aimed at the Sakito Maru, because it’s slightly easier to hit. The four torpedoes, malfunction and don’t come anywhere close to the Akebono Maru. The two torpedoes run straight and hit the Sakito Maru, doing Heavy Damage.

The Tautog moves to the convoy area, close to the Akebono Maru. Damaged, the Sakito Maru is left behind, lagging two south and it is now at Short Range. The Akebono Maru fires and misses the Tautog.

Tautog fires it’s gun at the Akebono Maru and misses. One torpedo is fired at the crippled Sakito Maru. The torpedo runs straight and hits the ship doing Heavy Damage again. The Sakito Maru sinks below the waves and is the first kill of the campaign (4 VP, 2 XP).

The Tautog continues to chase the Akebono Maru. The Akebono Maru fires again and misses the Tautog. Tautog returns fire and does Light Damage to the Akebono Maru. Below decks, the crew works to reload the torpedoes.

Next round Akebono cannot fire and cannot outrun the submarine. Two torpedoes are fired and they run straight. A direct hit sinks the Akebono Maru (5VP)! Tautog receives one stress from the battle.

Gudgeon searches the Solomon Islands, but because of the submarine warning issued after the Tautog’s attack, finds no contacts.
Stingray searches the Java Sea. Three contacts are reported. The first contact is a large convoy (3 escorts and 6 merchants). Stingray does not engage, looking for easier targets.

Stingray then detects a lone merchant. Using the Infiltrator special ability, the Stingray begins the battle in the Convoy Area. The battle will occur in a Heavy Fog, so Stingray will only have a single turn to sink the target.

The target turns out to be an Escort! CH-14 is identified by a sharp eyed lookout. Stingray dives and moves south. The escort moves away and since the submarine is submerged cannot roll for detection. The battle is over and Stingray receives 1 stress, bringing the total to 3.

Stingray continues and encounters the third contact. This is again a large convoy (2 escorts and four merchants). Stingray engages and infiltrates to short range behind the convoy, since the 2 escorts are in the front of the convoy.

Stingray maintains position (enters convoy area, but then drifts south as the convoy is faster than the submerged submarine). Stingray fires a full spread of eight torpedoes, four at the Tatuwa Maru and four at the Anyo Maru. Only two of the torpedoes run straight on the Tatuwa Maru, but they explode, sinking the ship (3 VP). Of the four torpedoes fired at the Anyo Maru only a single one runs straight. Unfortunately for the freighter that torpedo runs true and explodes under the ship, breaking it’s back (4 VP)! Half the convoy sunk in the first salvo.

The Stingray spends the next four rounds reloading while the escorts search for the submarine. In a bold move the Stingray surfaces to reposition to the port side of the convoy. As the Stingray is lining up it’s shots, the Ikuma detects the submarine and it and the Uku charge toward it.

Stingray initiates a crash dive (1 stress, total 4) to avoid the gunfire and launches its torpedoes. Three are aimed at the Katori Mura and two at the Tatibana Mura. Only one of the three torpedoes launched at the Katori Mura runs true, but the Stingray’s luck holds and the Katori Maru is hit and begins to sink (4 VP). The Tatibann Mura is luckier than the rest of the convoy, as the torpedoes aim at it malfunction.

With the escorts closing in, Stingray attempt to run silent. It fails and receives two more stress (total 6) and drifts toward the wake of the convoy. The escorts pursue, but fail to do any damage. Stingray takes the opportunity to retreat as the convoy steams away.

After the battle, Stingray’s stress is raised by one for a total of seven. Stingray’s crew is promoted to veteran, but the stress level makes them Unfit and they plan to return to port.

Nautlius begins a search for targets in the Java Sea. The Intelligence bonus cancels the penalty for the Warning sent out by the Japanese after the attacks by the Stingray. The first convoy discovered has two escorts and four merchant ships. Naulitus decides to look for easier targets. The second convoy is just as heavily escorted consisting of two escorts and six merchant ships. Again, Nautilus decides not to engage.

Operations #2
Stingray returns to Freemantle, thus ending its first (and only) patrol of this campaign.

Nautlius continues to Patrol the Java Sea and encounters Rough Seas (2 more stress, total 4) which causes the crew to be shaken. The weather quickly clears, leaving them ready to search for targets.

Gudgeon moves to the Philippine Sea. The crew hears Tokyo Rose mention the Gudgeon in her radio show, causing the crew stress to increase (total 2). The ship also encounters Rough Seas, adding more stress (now up to 4). The crew is still Okay, but any more stress will cause them to be shaken. They conduct the Recon Mission, receiving an Ultra update (+1 to contact roll in the area) and an Emergency Repair (which is a No Effect since the sub is not damaged). The recon mission is successfully completed (1VP) and the information reported to HQ.

Tautog moves to Caroline Islands to conduct its primary mission of a Naval Attack. There is a rumor of a minefield causing the crew 1 stress (Minefields are only in limited areas). Then the Tautog launches its attack on the Naval Targets. They are bombed by an aircraft (causing 1 stress), which causes an Equipment Malfunction (2 more stress), and then they too receive an Ultra intercept.

Tautog spots her targets. The Battleship Hiei, the Carrier Ruyho, and the Light Cruiser Abukuma moving through the area. The Tautog plans to fire a full spread of ten torpedoes, six at the CVL and four at the CL. Unfortunately the salvo at the CVL malfunction and the only one torpodeo runs true on the CL. The CL takes Light damage and steams away. The escorts pound the Tautog hard, causing her to lose 6 torpedo tubes from two hits and causes an oil leak. The Tautog escapes, but just barely.

Combat #2
Even though damaged, Tautog looks for targets of opportunity. She has two encounters. The first is with an escorted convoy (2 escorts, 4 merchants). Given her current damage, she retreats to look for an easier target. She finds one, since the next contact is a pair of unescorted merchants.
Tautog approaches from the front and moves two south. Only the Kunsu Maru is armed and misses the submarine. Tautog fires her last three torpedoes at Kurisu Mura, but misses with all of them. The Gun fires at the Siogura Mura, hitting and sinking it (1 VP)! With only the gun remaining, Tautog disengages.

Gudgeon encounters two contacts, both heavily escorted convoys (each with three escorts) and refuses engagement.
Nautilus encounters a single escorted convoy (2 escorts, four merchants) and refuses the engagement.

Operations #3
Tautog moves to the Solomon Islands, which is reported by Enemy Intelligence. She then enters Brisbane for much needed repairs and reload.

Nautilus continues her patrol in the Java Sea. A potentially Fatal Error causes stress on the shaken crew (5 stress). Then she is fired on by an enemy submarine! This causes two more stress, taken the Nautlius crew to Unfit. Her patrol is over.

The Gudgeon continues her patrol in the Philippine Sea. She has no events.

Combat #3

Gudgeon encounters 3 contacts. The first is a large escorted convoy (3 escorts, 8 merchants). The Captain decides to make an attack and discovers that this is a propaganda target. If all merchants are sunk, it will be worth an extra 2 victory points.

The Gudgeon approaches submerged from the port forward sector. CH21 is the lead escort and it fails to detect the submarine. The escorts continue their patrols.

The Gudgeon fires four torpedoes, two at the Keihuka Mara and two at the Peking Maru. Both volleys malfunction and miss. The torpedoes run so far off target that the Japanese aren’t alerted.

The Gudgeon continues to close, trying to avoid the escorts. It moves into the convoy area as it reloads. The escorts continue to search.
The Gudgeon remains just ahead of the convoy (move north, drifts south). However, one of the escort detects the submerged submarine! All three escorts charge the submarine. The captain decides to weather the attack so he can launch his final attack. The escorts close in and the submarine takes six hits, four heavy and two light! The light damage, is a No Effect and two stress. The Heavy is a No Effect, a Stress, Two Torpedo Tubes out of action and SUNK! The Gudgeon goes to the bottom with all hands.

With all submarines Unfit or in Port, the campaign ends.

Post game Totals
Nautilus, 0 Victory Points
Stingray, 11 Victory Points, 8 Experience Points (promoted to Veteran)
Gudgeon, -2 Victory Points (1 for mission, -3 Sunk)
Tautog, 10 Victory Points , 6 Experience Points (promoted to Veteran)
Total 19 Victory Points = Adequate Victory, 1 point short of Good.

Overall an enjoyable first game. In hindsight, given the low reliability of the torpedoes, I should not have launched a Naval Attack and instead had the Taotog focus on another convoy of merchant ships. The Nautilus should have launched an attack on one of the smaller escorted convoys first encountered earlier in her patrol, before she built up too much stress and had to return to port. The Gudgeon made the opposite mistake, attack a well escorted convoy. While she was able to get close, I learned that three escorts concentrating fire can quickly sink a submarine.

Now that I have a good feel for the system, I think the next game will be a Medium or Long patrol, which will allow opportunities to build up crew experience. The only question is do I start with Green Crews and more submarines or a smaller group of trained submarines.
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Dan Beckler
United States
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Thanks for the AAR! For the early years, I've been leaning on recruiting a small group of better trained subs. Those events tend to heap on the stress at a quick pace and the Green crews just don't have enough tolerance for it and still perform for you.
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