At the SOUTHERN FRONT con in Raleigh (weekend of 6-8 SEP2013), I had a great time. On Saturday, my buddy Bruce and I ran three inter-linked games set in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the fall of ’44. The games explored various aspects of an amphibious invasion at different command levels, scales, and degree of detail with a focus on Sea Warfare, Air Warfare, and Land Warfare.
Marines churn to shore:
The results of the Sea battle affected the Air battle and in turn the Air battle affected the Land battle. Here are details on each:
Struggle in the Pacific Scenario 1 – Carrier Strike!
Description: Operational Carrier warfare focused on securing the sea lanes
as a prelude to an amphibious assault. Command a carrier as it seeks to find
the enemy, launch strikes, and defend itself. Who will control the Seas?
Rules: Bruce’s Carrier War
This game captures the Carrier commanders tactical decision making problems. How does he decide to deploy his assets to search for targets, how strong a CAP does he set, when and what does he launch in terms of a strike, what course should his carrier take, and when does he break radio silence to communicate to his planes and the other carrier. The game started with all ships and planes hidden. The players plotted search, patrol, strike sorties, and their ship’s course on grid paper while keeping tracking of their air assets mission, destination, load-out, and fuel status. Eventually, planes and ships are deployed as they are spotted. At each corner of the table, the player has a larger scale carrier (or in my case an island) that he uses to indicate his heading and what planes are on deck for flight operations. The table was broken into a 5 x 7 grid of large square sectors and each sector is comprised of a smaller 4 x 4 grid of smaller squares. The carrier moves one square per turn and the planes moved about 10 squares per turn (depending on plane and weapons load-out).
I had played this game at HISTORICON this summer and loved it. In that game, I commanded a US carrier and successfully defended my bird-farm and destroyed one Japanese carrier. My colleague nearly lost his carrier and never found his target.
US Carrier 1
This time, I commanded the Island – a huge disadvantage since the US did not need to search for me. My patrol planes flew right over their ships without spotting the targets and their CAP shot me down before I launched a strike. My fighters and AA gallantly defended the Island, but the runway was cratered, the air-wing destroyed, and the facilities were in ruins. My colleague traded his carrier for a US carrier and one US carrier survived without a scratch. Decisive US victory. Its now time to launch air raids against the Island and move the assault forces into position.
US Carrier 2
Struggle in the Pacific Scenario 2 – Air Dominance
Description: Tactical Air to Air warfare – Dog-fighting squadrons of US Navy Wildcats and USMC Corsairs struggle to achieve air superiority against Imperial Japanese Air Force Zeros, Oscars, and Tonys. Who will control the Skies?
Rules: Axis & Allies Air Force
As a nice breather between the brain-challenging Sea battle and gut-wrenching Land Battle, I decided to run a light Air battle that would be easy to learn and fun to run. I used the Axis and Allies Air Force rules with planes from the Angels 20 and Bandits High sets. These are great rules that are easy to play and very challenging to master. The planes maneuver across a hex map (5″ hexes in this case) diving and climbing through 6 altitude bands. In the picuture below you can see Corsairs, Wildcats, Zeros, Tonys, and Oscars wheeling and firing for air dominance (the flight stands are from CorSec). The Sea battle’s outcome resulted in the US starting at an advantageous altitude. When all was said and done, the US took the skies by downing most of the Zeroes and heavily damaging the Tonys with only a few Wildcats in trouble. This should make the landing easier….
Struggle in the Pacific Scenario 3 – Amphibious Assault
Description: Amphibious Assault – USMC forces frontal assault against a heavily defended Japanese island. Churning AMTRAKS, burning tanks, Banzai Charges! Who will control the Land?
Rules: Panzer Marsch!
The last game of the day was a 15mm invasion of the island. With two US victories under their belt, the Japanese air assets are only smoking ruins on the runway.
South End of Island – Airstrip:
This battle used the Panzer Marsch rules and was a lot of fun. USMC forces consisted of the strong Alpha Assault Company which landed on the Southwest beach, a Tank Company of Stuarts that landed on the Southeast beach, and the weaker Bravo Company landing on the Northeast beach.
The game started with the assault waves at the reef line.
North End of Island – Jungle Strongpoint:
To quickly thin the forces, we rolled a D12 for each assault craft. On a “one” it was sunk. Then we rolled for drift due to the strong currents with another D12 roll. One a “one” it drifted two inches south and if it collided with another craft they both sunk.
Bravo Company LVTs and DUKW struggle to shore:
Two quick turns later, the much weakened US forces hit the surf where HMG, ATG, and Mortars began to take their toll. Alpha company lost most of their DUKWs, Bravo Company lost most of their LVTs and all but two of the Stuarts made it ashore.
Bravo Company make it to the beach:
In the photos, the single Japanese soldiers and vehicles each represented approximate location of a squad or tank platoon. As they boiled out of the tunnels, we placed the squads or platoon on the table.
Bravo Company repulsed:
Bravo company fought bravely, but was completely repulsed by the combined fire of Japanese guns, tanks, and Namboos.
Alpha Company hits the beach:
To the south Alpha company won a tenacious battle to secure the southwest beach despite enfilading artillery fire and valiant Japanese infantry.
Alpha Company Marines storm the shingle:
Their flamethrowers proved more than a match for the HMG and knee mortars of the Japanese and they finally cleared the beach.
Alpha Company captures the beach:
The Japanese committed their Ki-Ma amphibious tanks that charged down the runway from the Northern jungle to engage the Stuarts. The Stuarts managed to avoid destruction with the loss of a few tanks and were well poised to support the landing of the second wave on the Southern beaches.
Tank Company – LCMs clear the reef:
We called the game as the night grew late with an unsure outcome for this Pacific Island. Lots of fun!