Last night we restarted the Solomon Sea campaign
sequence, picking up where we left off and starting to set up Eastern
Solomons. We had only Reese (the ref for this series), Cris (who has
played the Americans in the past) and me (CO of the Japanese side so
far). I am working on an alternative carry-over system because I can
see situations (possibly including this one) in which Rule 2.2 gives
results that don't seem to make sense. I've set out to make a roster of
all ships in the theater and the battles in which they participated.
This has proven unexpectedly difficult because the various sources,
rightly recognizing that "participation" is a broad category that can
include more than just ships that sighted the enemy or launched
airplanes that sighted the enemy, draw the line in different places.
Cris and I completed our counter-picking and initial set-ups, but next
week will probably start with some re-strategizing, and of course a
brief rendition of the "There's No Way We Can Win" duet.
Last night we started the Eastern Solomons scenario (of the Solomon Sea
"campaign sequence"), re-setting it up after some inadvertent
displacements that had occurred during the week. We also were able to
fix a few mistakes of last week, e.g., I got the extra two airplane
counters/week of naval that had been accruing since the Battle of
Midway. Reese said that these could be anything I wanted except 7-0-3
Zekes, so they were. Another mistake of last week had been not
realizing how much carrier deck space I really had, but the extra 10
counters (actually, not quite that many, since I could not take ones
for which I did not have room) made up for that. Cris and Ian were the
Americans; I was holding up the Japanese end because Dean had to finish
something at work.
After the set-up, we managied to play seven turns, i.e., the first of
the three days. The Americans, with their penchant for strategic
bombing, hit Lae and Buna with several air raids, losing 2-3 steps of
counters and inflicting untold (to them) damage with their bombs. There
have as yet been no airstrikes against ships.
Last night we finished the
Eastern Solomons battle.
Cris and Ian were the Americans, Reese reffed, and I soloed as the
My plan was the obvious one of doing the Guadalanal landing at night,
with submarines in the area and the carriers on hand to counterattack
against any American carriers. I really wanted to sink an American
carrier, to catch up on VP, and I didn't want to jeopardize my ships
any more than necessary to do the landing, so the jeopardy inherent in
the carrier-hunting had to be one and the same as the jeopardy inherent
in guarding the landing.
This plan worked in part; I did the landing, but lost the transports to
land-based American planes (USMC, not Army, I believe) after the first
turn of unloading. There were no carrier-carrier airstrikes, and at no
point did my searches ever find any American ships, though Reese
mentioned afterwards that there had been a couple of near-sightings by
The airstrikes against Lae and Buna continued throughout. The
mathematics of these is that they are a slight loss for the Japanese.
The Japanese roll one D10 against each 3 counters
bombers; Lae hits on 4 or less and Buna on 3 or less, so let us say
that this die hits 1/3rd of the time, downing one step
and gaining the Japanese one point. (B-17s get to make a saving throw
and are thus harder to hit, but they are a minority of airplanes.) The
American bombers roll 1 D10 per step
and mostly hit on 2 or
less, with some hitting on 4 or less. So let us say that they hit
somewhat less than 1/3rd of the time, especially considering that they
might already have been shot down. So for each three two-step counters
that the Americans send, the Japanese hit one step and get 1 point, and
the Americans get two hits and get two points, or maybe slightly less;
strategic bombing pays off for the Americans, as it should, and
although the losses may accumulate over the course of the scenario, the
Americans always get more airplanes for the next scenario.
Of course, the Japanese can commit some CAP, but I didn't want to do
so. Paradoxically, the reason was that I didn't have many land-based
bombers--just 3 counters of Betties, a Nell, and a very few
single-engine airplanes. If I found the American carriers, I wanted
these to be able to get through, so they would need escorts. In the
meantime, the bombers and the escorts had to be safe in Rabaul, so Buna
and Lae kept getting bombed.
I addressed this problem in two ways. One was luck @
; I rolled a little better than average, and Ian a little worse than
average, so the slow VP leak of strategic bombing was not nearly as bad
as the calculation above would suggest. The other was that after my
ships had retreated from Guadalcanal (at quite some speed, the
transports having been sunk), I rebased fighters to Lae at the end of
the second day (more luck--in the damage & repair random-walk, Lae
was in good shape when I needed it to be), and ambushed the first raid
of the third day. They were unescorted, and with some more good die
rolling (and those factor-5 ground-based Zekes), I shot down a number
The margin of victory in this low-scoring game was 35-28 in favor of
the Japanese; the difference being just about exactly the point value
of the shot-down bombers.
[Ian: Our strategy was to fight off the Guadalcanal landing with
submarines and the Cactus Air Force (Marines) while holding back our
carriers until Wasp became available, which was not until the afternoon
of the second day, all the while pursuing the bombing campaign on New
Guinea. The Japanese transports got lucky a couple of times on their
way into the island. First, air from Guadalcanal failed to spot them on
the way in at the end of the first day. Second, the coastwatchers and
subs failed to spot them as they arrived at the island. It was only at
dawn on the second day that we found them and sank them. Since the
Japanese fleet departed the scene after the landing attempt, we never
had a carrier engagement. The bombing campaign went reasonably well on
the first day but went badly on the second and third days as Japanese
dice got hot.
[Reese: Generally, the searches were not in a position to find the
TT's as they came in (Brian did some odd zig-zag to assure they arrived
at night). During the night turns, a -5 really hurts the chances of
finding anyone. You did find two other task forces in the same hex as
the TT's and attacked them with subs at night, but you failed to see
Brian seemed convinced that the US CV force was right on top of him,
but the two forces were never closer than five hexes away from each
[Brian: Well, it was the worst case, so I had to stay worried about it.
I was thin on CAP, since I was trying to conserve some Zekes for
escorting my planes, were I ever to find the US carriers.]
Brian's subs spent about four turns next to the US CV force, but either
they moved out of the way, or the US dodged south to look for the
Japanese who had already left.