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Fire in the Sky: The Great Pacific War 1941-1945» Forums » Rules

Subject: The curious case of British Singapore rss

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Mustafa Ünlü
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We just played a long campaign game over the holiday (we usually play the short campaign to save time), which brought up these observations/questions.

I played the Japanese and decided to concentrate on the Solomons / New Guinea area. This meant that my transport points were used to deploy southeast on turn one and I ended up not having enough transports to invade Singapore. (The short campaign has the Japanese land an army in Singapore on turn 1).

We noticed that the RN in Singapore is in a very precarious position. The Japanese air in Saigon puts Singapore in a permanent air ZOC. Which means:

1 The Singapore ships can only react or move one hex. Which restricts them to fight in Singapore, or in Malaya but only if the Japanese player is foolish enough to invade Malaya or Singapore itself.

2 Singapore is permanently out of supply (which has no effect on the ships, but just to note), except when the RN comes out to contest the seas around Singapore (which incidentally takes the ships out of the additional AA protection that the base would provide).

3 Singapore can not receive any reinforcements by deployment. The British can not deploy into Singapore, just as they cannot deploy out of it.

4 Though they can not deploy to Singapore, the British could get naval units there by operationally moving anywhere on the map and then having to return to base there. This can actually pose a disadvantage for the British, see below. Also, they can get land and air units in by "invading" Singapore during operational movement. Finally, replacements may "invade" Malaya to "fix" a reduced Singapore garrison. The last two methods are fraught with danger on Turns 1 and 2, since the Brits do not have any ships to escort the convoys until turn 3. That means the unescorted land and/or air units will be at the mercy of Japanese subs and air.

What these observations mean is that the Japanese should not invade Singapore on Turn 1. Maybe not even on Turn 2. Here's why:

Prince of Wales and the DD are stuck there, at the mercy of Japanese air in Saigon. Japan can just keep attacking from the air using all four factors with no risk, since those air units cannot be lost even when they get shot down by AA. The British Oriental fleet poses no risk to Japan, since it cannot contest any of Japan's landings, including those in nearby Brunei and/or Surabaya. The only way it can pose any danger to Japan is when Japan invades Singapore itself.

Not taking Singapore is also slightly more attractive because it prevents any other RN ships from operationally moving anywhere lest they return to base to Singapore and get stuck. Which is a really curious case - RN ships cannot deploy into Singapore, but they must return there if they operationally move. And if they do, they are also stuck, just like the the rest of the RN.

My conclusion is this: If it were not for the VP penalty, there would be little need to invade Singapore because it is not a viable base for the British.

So sit back, chill and let the Japanese flyboys take some potshots as at the sitting ducks that is the British Oriental fleet. If you can knock out the ships based at Singapore by Turn 2 or 3, you can invade it with a lot less risk to your ships. Not needing a big escort during the invasion saves on oil as well.

Also, once Japan has taken it, the best defense seems to be moving the army to Malaya, as this thread demonstrates, so Japan does not really need Singapore to anchor its western flank.

Overall, a curious treatment of the jewel in Britain's Far East crown in this game, in that it is a useless base for the RN and perhaps Japan as well. Its only relevance* is the VP points and not its naval capacity or its location.

* - The exception is a Japanese player who pursues an India strategy. But most Japanese players will be playing a defensive game centered on Rangoon/Burma, with air units based in Bangkok and Rangoon and armies in Malaya and Rangoon and will not need Singapore's anchorage to help their defense.


Edit - added the ability to bring in land/air units during operational movement.
Edits 2,3,4 - fixed east/west errors (Singapore is west of the Solomons. D'Oh!)



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Carlo Marinozzi
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I'm far from being an expert, but this plan doesn't imply that you don't invade neither Brunei or Surabaya also?

If you don't attack Singapore but invades one of the two above the british fleet can react there, they are moving away from an air zoc, not into.

Carlo
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Brian Workman
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As the brits, I would be happy for my Japanese opponent to attempt this strategy. I'm willing to bet I could hold on long enough to cause the Japanese some VP damage.

Plus that's a few extra turns the Japanese aren't collecting Singapore oil.

I'd be eager to hear how it comes out. Please post the results.
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Mustafa Ünlü
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Carlo M. wrote:
I'm far from being an expert, but this plan doesn't imply that you don't invade neither Brunei or Surabaya also?

If you don't attack Singapore but invades one of the two above the british fleet can react there, they are moving away from an air zoc, not into.

Carlo


Hi Carlo,

No, Japan can invade Brunei and Surabaya without any interference from the British Oriental fleet.

The British in Singapore cannot react more than one hex since they start in an enemy air ZOC. See Rule 10.1, fourth bullet, second sentence.
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KillerB wrote:
As the brits, I would be happy for my Japanese opponent to attempt this strategy. I'm willing to bet I could hold on long enough to cause the Japanese some VP damage.

Plus that's a few extra turns the Japanese aren't collecting Singapore oil.


The VP penalty does not start to accrue until Turn 4. It will likely take two turns to take Singapore, barring outrageous die rolls. (The first turn to flip the defenders, the second to eliminate them). An invasion on Turn 2 will likely result in no VP loss and an invasion on Turn 3 will mean a single VP lost.

I do not see how Japanese can benefit from Singapore oil on Turn 2 since that means they saved 12 transports that turn. Given the high tempo of operations they will be sustaining in the first couple of turn, that is unlikely. The more usual scenario is that the Japanese save between 4 and 8 transports, which Surabaya and Brunei can satisfy.

Also, as I pointed out above, if Japan has managed to bomb the RN sitting ducks in Singapore from the air by the time they invade, that's one invasion that will require minimal escort, thus actually saving oil.

Quote:
I'd be eager to hear how it comes out. Please post the results.


That's what I actually did in our game yesterday. Once I realized that the Brits in Singapore were no threat, I just bombed them from the air until I sank every RN ship there and then invaded on Turn 3 with just one DD as escort and took it easily on Turn 4. Suffered 1 VP loss at start of Turn 4.

This post was motivated by my opponent's comments regarding the uselessness of the base and the ships based there. He was somewhat miffed to find out he could not reinforce Singapore, for example, by moving air units or replacements in. And he actually felt restrained by the rule that required all RN ships to return there. He wanted to try and invade Rangoon on Turn 3 but decided not to when he realized that the ships he would use in the invasion would have to return to the "death trap" that was Singapore.
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Andreas Johansson
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Two things you may be missing:

i) The Brits don't actually need to get replacements to Singapore itself to flip back a weakened unit there - getting it to Malaya will do (as a replacement marker can restore unit in a neighbouring hex if there's a land connection between them).

ii) The Brits can reinforce Singapore by operational movement, as a TF may continue one additional hex after entering an Air ZOC. Obviously, the Japanese can try and intercept any such reinforcements.
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Mustafa Ünlü
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Orcoteuthis wrote:
Two things you may be missing:

i) The Brits don't actually need to get replacements to Singapore itself to flip back a weakened unit there - getting it to Malaya will do (as a replacement marker can restore unit in a neighbouring hex if there's a land connection between them).

ii) The Brits can reinforce Singapore by operational movement, as a TF may continue one additional hex after entering an Air ZOC. Obviously, the Japanese can try and intercept any such reinforcements.


We were aware of these possibilities. When I wrote "reinforcements" above, I had naval units in mind. Naval units normally cannot change base by operational movement. But in this case, by operationally moving anywhere on the board, they get to go to Singapore, a place where they cannot deploy into in the first place. We thought this to be a bit of an anomaly.

It's worth pointing out that a replacement could not deploy to Malaya since that requires a friendly base at the other end, which Malaya is not. So, the Brits would have to amphibiously invade Malaya with a replacement.

Also, they could not bring air units into Malaya at all, since it has no air capacity. Any air units headed for Singapore would have to be operationally moved all the way there. Finally, once the Japanese put up some air in Rangoon (possible by Turn 2), no more operational movement into Singapore since the Rangoon ZOC would block such a move.

Otherwise, as you point out, land/air reinforcements could potentially op move to Singapore. We were aware of this. My opponent was not satisfied with having this option (as opposed to deploying them in). He figured op moving them (either to Singapore or to Malaya) would be suicide because the fleet sitting in Singapore could not escort the reinforcements (they did not start in the same port). Since the RN only has the Hermes in the Indian Ocean until Turn 3, those convoys would be at the mercy of Japanese subs and land-based air, since they would not even have a DD escort and at most the Hermes with its one air factor as help. Again, all the Japanese have to do is to assign subs and send their air in Saigon to blow those transports to smithereens.

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Andreas Johansson
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Japanese air at Rangoon doesn't matter; a TF starting at Ceylon can go S, SE, NE, S and only enter the Rangoon Air ZOC in Malaya, which is ZOC'd from Saigon anyway.

The one time I didn't invade Singapore as Japan on turn one the Brits did manage to reinforce it and drain VP, but I don't recall the details and as it was one of the first times we played the game it's quite possible we did something wrong. I'm certainly hard pressed now to see a likely way to achieve it.
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Orcoteuthis wrote:
Japanese air at Rangoon doesn't matter; a TF starting at Ceylon can go S, SE, NE, S and only enter the Rangoon Air ZOC in Malaya, which is ZOC'd from Saigon anyway.


Yes, but air units cannot land in Malaya, which was my point. Thus, even if the British player wanted to risk unescorted convoys, air units could not make it to Singapore after a Japanese ZOC appears in Rangoon.
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Andreas Johansson
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Er? British air steps need not land in Malay to "invade" Singapore.
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Orcoteuthis wrote:
Er? British air steps need not land in Malay to "invade" Singapore.


I don't think you are getting my point. Air steps can not land in Malaya during operational movement since it has no air capacity.* They need to go all the way to Singapore. Once there's a ZOC in Rangoon, that option is no longer available and there's no way to get British air to Singapore.

Clearer?

* - To be absolutely clear, they cannot land in Malaya during any phase, but we are considering operational movement only.
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Andreas Johansson
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Clear as mud I'm afraid.

First, what does the inability to land air in Malaya have to do with anything? We want to get air to Singapore, not to Malaya.

Second, how does Japanese air at Rangoon prevent British operational movement to Singapore? A TF starting at Ceylon will enter the Rangoon Air ZOC at Malaya, and is then allowed to continue one further hex, which takes it to Singapore.
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Mustafa Ünlü
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I finally get your point and have changes my post accordingly. Thanks for being patient.

I still think that the base is quite useless for the RN though.
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Rod Bauer
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Quote:
Mustafa wrote:
Quote:
an invasion on Turn 3 will mean a single VP lost
.


That single VP lost could mean the difference for the Japanese winning a quick victory by gaining 20 VP, or having to go the long route and slugging it out for the entire war trying to eck out a victory late. In many of my games as the Japanese player I can get very close to that sudden victory and sometimes achieve it, but just barely. Losing even a single VP for the late conquest of Singapore would doom any chance I would have. When I have won for the Japanese in this manner it is never with any VP's to spare.
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That single VP loss may be offset if the Japanese can put those 8 transport points to better use on the first turn. The best time to get into position in the Solomons/New Guinea theater is on turns 1 and 2, and surely an extra division transported into that area or an invasion that otherwise would not have happened because of the lack of transport will pay off.

A head start in the SE may allow Japan an opportunity to take Port Moresby and/or bases in the Solomons which they may not have been able to otherwise. It may allow them to get into a position to cut the supply line. It may put more pressure on the USN which would make them take risks that they may not have otherwise.

As I point out above, Japan is also likely to save the fuel she undoubtedly would have used to escort the invasion into Singapore. The RN is only a threat on Turn 1 if Japan invades. If Japan does not, all that the RN gets to do on Turn 1 is to sit in port and take it when Japanese air from Saigon shows up. If the flyboys can at least damage those ships, then the invasion only needs a nominal escort, thus saving those precious fuel points as well.

All that for a possibility of losing 1 VP if combat does not go well. Of course, it's every player's own decision to take that risk. All I am doing here is pointing out that the RN ships in Singapore are no threat to the Japanese, that it is potentially more economical to just sink them in port rather than give them an opportunity to intercept your invasion, and that Singapore is pretty much useless as a base for the British because of the Japanese air ZOC in adjacent Saigon.



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Forest Green Hobbit
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camustafa wrote:
...Prince of Wales and the DD are stuck there, at the mercy of Japanese air in Saigon. Japan can just keep attacking from the air using all four factors with...


Portions of the Oriental Fleet surving the first turn air strike could be disbanded at the end of the allies first turn to appear as reinforcements in Indian Ports on the second turn. True, they could not be used operationally before Singapore falls without returning to Singapore, but they could deploy into the ports in India for future missions. And even if they were used operationally, they could still disband after returning to base at Singapore.

Of course, the surviving Oriental Fleet could do this if Singapore was invaded or not. This is just to illustrate that there is a way that the fleet can escape subsequent air strikes in Singapore.
 
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