Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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In my most recent Axis and Allies: War at Sea game, my regular opponent and I decided to try a 200pt game with the emphasis on air power. As both our collections have expanded to include a few carriers (and aircraft) for the Pacific theatre we played IJN vs USN. 200 points is also the force size for the annual competition at Cancon and as they don't impose year limits, neither did we.

The forces as assembled were:

USN

Lexington
Saratoga
Montpelier (x 2)
Laffey (x 3)

Helldiver (x 2)
Corsair (x 2)
Avenger (x 2)
Liberator (x 2)


above: USN force at the start of the game

My opponent, the American player, went for air power and AA in a big way. Both carriers have a capacity of three. The Montpeliers and Laffeys all have a range one AA capacity so he planned to keep them together as a clump and use his aerial armada to pound the Japanese fleet into oblivion.


IJN

Junyo
Ryojo
Haruna
Haguro
Agano
Oi
Terutsuki
Matsu
A65M "Zeke" (x 1)
B5N2 "Kate" (x 3)
N1K1-J "George" (x 2)
Kamikaze Zero (x 1)


Above: IJN force at the start of the game. Note the Haruna should be facing the other way blush

For some reason, the booster packs have not been kind to us with Japanese aircraft (no 'elite zeros' from 6 tries). Still, you go to war with the navy you have, not the navy you'd like to have. Or something like that.

My plan as the Japanese player was to try to hold off the US forces by using the one carrier based Zeke and rotate the land-based Georges as CAPs while sending the Kates out en masse to try to sink the USN cruisers (to disrupt the USN flak curtain) and then work on the carriers. I also intended to close as quickly as possible with my surface fleet and hopefully bring superior gunnery (and, of course, the long lances) to bear and in so doing deprive the air armada of their floating homes.


Above: the Japanese fleet was constantly harried by numerous and potent US warplanes

The game stared well for the USN despite the George and Zeke chasing off the Helldivers, with the Liberators getting through the flak corridor and rolling a well enough to cripple the Haruna on her first turn. The only bright point for the IJN was that carrier-based flak managed to shoot down one of the B-24s. Initial attacks by the Kates were either aborted or ineffective (where had all the "6s" gone?).

The game progressed with the US fleet manoeuvring to port (i.e. going left) and staying close to their baseline. The Japanese pressed ahead where they could and for a while their air cover held and things began to turn, or so it seemed, when one of the Montpeliers was sunk by a Kate who finally got their act together to roll boxcars (thanks also to the Ryujo special ability of "expert torpedoes").


Above: Waves of "Kate" torpedo bombers assault the USS Montpelier

With a serious hole knocked in the US flak curtain the Kates upped the ante and took on the carriers. This exposed them to a lot more AA from the Laffeys (all pretty much ineffective as it happened, but their superior AA range did affect they way the battle was conducted early in the game) which allowed them to use their "carrier hunter" ability and as at least one got through each turn there were always at least five dice of torpedoes headed towards Lexington or Saratoga (three as a standard plus "carrier hunter" plus "expert torpedoes"). Sixes were still in short supply and the best that they could manage over a period of prolonged effort was to cripple the Saratoga.

The reason for the Kates being relatively unmolested was that the Corsairs eschewed CAP duty to harass the Japanese fleet whose luck with AA couldn't hold forever. Sure as eggs don't bounce, the Agano fell victim to the Helldivers and the Haruna, now in danger of catching up with the rest of the fleet had some luck using the "evade bombs" ability only to be swamped under blue aircraft the next turn. The kamikaze turned out to have been overpriced at three points as he was shot out of the sky pretty easily. I would have been better off with a sub chaser - or a couple of guys in a dinghy with a flare gun and a pig's bladder on a stick.

As the battle raged in the sky, what was left of the Japanese cruisers (and destroyers) were closing to extreme range. The Oi used her special ability to 'steal a march' and sent the other Montpelier to the bottom - all it took was a single torpedo hit from a 'long lance' to sink the cruiser - the same turn that the Kates finally cleaned up the Lexington. Of course it didn't all go the Japanese way and Oi was sunk by a Laffey and the Junyo was pounded into non-existence with a vital armour hit (and more) from a stick of bombs. The Haguro was also destroyed from the air.


Above: The depleted IJN task force attempting to finsih off the US fleet before the 'planes from the Lexington rearm and return

What turned out to be the last turn saw Terutsuki finishing off the Saratoga (hurrah for long lances), while the aircraft that were formerly based on the Lexington rearmed, with gunnery also crippling a Laffey while also receiving enough fire to cut the valiant destroyer in two. US airpower also accounted for the Ryujo and only the Matsu remained of this IJN task force. They faced a couple of Laffeys, one crippled, one not.

With all four carriers sunk and nothing larger than a destroyer still capable of floating let alone fighting we decided to call it a day. Both sides lost their carriers and their cruisers (and battleship in the case of the IJN) the US lost better carriers, which they could afford to lose, but both players were content to describe it as a bloody draw.

Surprisingly, there were very few aircraft casualties. The B-24s were shot down and the kamikaze, of course, didn't return but other than that most pilots made it back to base.

Playing a game without the 'possession' objectives in the centre really favoured this style of US fleet but as neither of us really like fighting to be the first to occupy an arbitrary stretch of sea for a short period having the goal of destroying to opposition fleet worked for us.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and very tense (at times) game and I hope to get some more games in before too long.
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Andrew Park
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Cheers for the report! Always good to see esp when they have piccies :-).

Seems pretty weird that the US side didn't have any fighters with escort - Hellcats & Wildcats are hard to come by but switching out the Liberators for Warhawks might have been the way to go. Still, looks like the Americans were right to be dismissive of Japanese fighter defense!

The US might also have been better off deploying in a diamond pattern so that a ship with Heavy AA could reach any of the other three sectors, although I guess that would weaken their surface firepower a bit.
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David Cinotti
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Nice report. I've found the Zero Kamikaze's are really only useful/threatening if you can field two or three.

I like the idea of the "no"objective" battle scenario. How often have you done it? I am wondering if the battle essentially ending in a draw would be the most common outcome?

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Murray Fish
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Thanks for the kind words. I have been meaning to get this written for a while and yesterday presented me with that most rare of commodities - free time!

Shinnentai wrote:
Seems pretty weird that the US side didn't have any fighters with escort - Hellcats & Wildcats are hard to come by but switching out the Liberators for Warhawks might have been the way to go. Still, looks like the Americans were right to be dismissive of Japanese fighter defense!

The US might also have been better off deploying in a diamond pattern so that a ship with Heavy AA could reach any of the other three sectors, although I guess that would weaken their surface firepower a bit.


Yes, I have a couple of Warhawks which I think are a bargain at 5 points a throw, but my opponent wanted to try out his B-24s. As you rightly note, hellcats and wildcats may as well be called 'hen's teeth' - neither of us has one. cry

I think the reason he chose not to go with a diamond defence was to keep all his vessels on the baseline to stay out of range of the Japanese surface ships for as long as possible.

RexDart817 wrote:
Nice report. I've found the Zero Kamikaze's are really only useful/threatening if you can field two or three.

I like the idea of the "no"objective" battle scenario. How often have you done it? I am wondering if the battle essentially ending in a draw would be the most common outcome?



We only have the one kamikaze zero and yes, a clump of them might be worth fielding, but in 'penny packets' they really aren't worth the bother.

In previous games, with the objectives in the centre of the board, we found that we both steamed straight ahead with guns blazing and there wasn't that much manoeuvring and that battleships were the key unit rather than carriers.

In this session report there is a bit more discussion about objectives. It may be worth noting that (small) game was a decisive Italian victory so results other than draws are possible.

I'd be interested to hear from other players about their thoughts on playing without objective markers.
 
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Leo Zappa
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Muz Fish,

Our group developed and have been playing with a "no objectives" rule set for almost two years now. Here is an excerpt from those rules:

The following is the introduction and the most important rule section, section 2.6, the "Break Contact" rules:

Introduction:

Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures (AA-WAS) is a fun, fast-paced game of naval warfare set in World War Two. It provides easy, accessible naval miniatures play to those who love the idea of miniatures play without the hours of painting and tedium of looking up multiple charts to determine battle results. However, the game lacks one thing, a system to generate realistic battle scenarios. The “objective” based scenarios provided in the rules are abstract (e.g. sailing to an arbitrary spot in the middle of the ocean in order to claim an “objective marker”) and tend to generate unrealistic battles. In other cases, players might play with no clear-cut means of determining when the battle would end. These battles often result in the total annihilation of the losing fleet, an utterly unhistorical outcome. Such a result is unhistorical for the simple reason that most World War Two admirals realized their ships were precious assets and they would generally attempt to break contact once the battle began to slip away from them, rather than risking the loss of their entire fleet.

In order to attempt to correct several of the shortcomings in this otherwise excellent game, the following set of rules has been developed. The new “break contact” rule provides a realistic means of fighting and ending scenarios, keeping historical considerations at the forefront of the players’ minds. Special rules regarding establishing the battle map features, scenario point levels, battle conditions, and force selection are also provided. Finally, rules for setting up campaigns consisting of multiple scenarios have been included as well, in order to provide a richer and more meaningful playing experience.

Unless otherwise noted, the standard rules of AA-WAS apply (including the latest clarifications, currently 8-16-10).


"Break Contact" Rules:

2.6 “Break Contact” Scenario Ending:

A player must check to see if they will be forced to “break contact” when any one of the following three conditions is met at the end of a game turn:

1. The player’s fleet has sustained cumulative losses equal to or greater than the “Break Contact” (“BC”) point level. Players determine beforehand to what BC point level they will play (40% of the scenario point level is suggested, based on playtesting).

2. The player’s fleet has at least half of their ‘capital ships’ (i.e. carriers, battleships, and battlecruisers, each having a minimum point value of 20) sunk or crippled.

3. The player’s only remaining surface ships on the battle map at the end of the turn are carriers (including escorting ships present in the same hex as the carriers).
a. Exception – if the other ship present in the hex as the carrier is battleship/battle-cruiser, then a break contact check is NOT made.


4. If a player’s fleet has met one or more of these conditions for a “break contact check”, the player must roll one (1) D6 at the end of the turn. If the player rolls a 1-5, the “break contact” order is issued to their fleet. If the player rolls a “6”, the player avoids the “break contact” and will play normally the next turn. Once a player has reached one or more of the potential “break contact” conditions, the player will have to continue to perform the break contact die roll at the end of all subsequent turns until they roll a value other than “6”. It is possible for both sides to be forced to break contact on the same turn or different turns (see “5.d.” below).

5. When the player’s fleet has been issued a “break contact” order (via the process described above), the following steps must be taken by that player:
a. Surface ships must retreat towards their side of the battle map at maximum speed on all subsequent turns of the game until all ships belonging to the retreating player have either exited the battle map or have been destroyed. From this point forward, this player’s surface ships may not move laterally or towards the enemy side of the map.
i. Subs are never forced to retreat.
ii. Exception to maximum speed rule – a ship which is crippled (and making a speed of one (1)) may be escorted by a ship which ordinarily would move two (2) spaces. If the crippled ship is subsequently sunk before being able to exit the friendly side of the battle map, the escorting ship must resume moving at its maximum speed.

b. Until the last surface ship from the retreating player has left the battle map (or has been sunk), both players may continue to sortie aircraft normally (including those from carriers that have retreated off the battle map) and ships and subs may continue to conduct gunnery and torpedo attacks. The non-retreating player is free to pursue the retreating player’s ships to the edge of the battle map.
i. Ships that have retreated off the battle map may not be attacked in any way.
ii. Ships that have retreated off the battle map may not make gunnery or torpedo attacks. However, carriers may continue to sortie aircraft normally until the scenario ends.

c. A player may only retreat their surface ships off the battle map once they have rolled a 1-5 during a “break contact” check. This is the only case in which a player may move their naval units off the battle map.

d. During the course of the game where one of the players is in “break contact” mode, it is possible that the other player (not the retreating player) may also suffers losses/damage such that they are forced to make a “break contact” check. That player must then roll to check for breaking contact per the rules, and if that player rolls a 1-5, they must begin the retreat movement as well. Even during a situation where both players are now retreating off their respective sides of the battle map, aircraft may sortie normally (including those from carriers which have retreated off of the battle map) and ships and subs may continue to conduct gunnery and torpedo attacks so long as they have targets in range, until the scenario has ended.
i. Ships that have retreated off the battle map may not be attacked in any way.
ii. Ships that have retreated off the battle map may not make gunnery or torpedo attacks. However, carriers may continue to sortie aircraft normally until the scenario ends.

6. Scenario Ending Condition
a. When one player has completely exited its remaining surface ships off of the battle map (or, one player’s surface ships on the battle map have all been sunk), the scenario ends.
b. At this point, proceed to determine the scenario winner.


This system has produced some excellent games for our group. There is an earlier version of the entire ruleset in the files section for Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea. I have just submitted an updated version of that file, so perhaps wait until Rev4-11-2011 show up and download that for your review.

Also, here is a link to a AAR from a game we played last year using this ruleset. It was a very tense and fun game, and the AAR reflects how this rule set works in practice.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/621343/the-great-pacific...
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