Saturday, December 29, 2012

BatRep: CY6 – Guadalcanal: Mission 6: “On the Run”

So, no new posts this week - good thing I kept those old "Check Your 6!" reports handy!!!  So; another blast from the past:


So, Graham and I started the 6th Mission.  Once more I forgot the camera, but managed to take shots using my cell phone.

 Mission starts with a little dialog and decision making.  Americans launch Marines in Wildcats & Army Air Corp in Aircobras to intercept the Japanese bombers approaching Henderson Field.  Due to the Army fighters being delivered without proper Oxygen gear (?!?), the Wildcats leave the Army Fighters to catch up as best they can.  Unfortunately, the mix-up delays the intercept and the Marines don’t get to the bombers until after the bombers have dropped their payloads on Henderson Field.  (Bombers did pretty bad – only managed to knock out 3 US Aircraft on the ground out of a possible max of 8.)

 Initial deployment:

Japanese with 9 Betty Bombers (all Skilled) in a V-Formation, trying to fly off the eastern board edge (Approximately 30 hexes away), escorted by 2 groups of 3 Zero fighters (all Skilled Pilots) within 15 hexes of any bomber.

Americans with 5 Wildcats, 1 Veteran pilot, 2 Skilled pilots and 2 Green pilots.

We rolled for Variable rules:

Americans ended up replacing the 2 Green pilots with a single Skilled pilot (Group now had 4 planes: 1 Vet, 3 Skilled).

Japanese rolled to replace 2 Skilled pilots with 2 Green pilots.  I decided to put both green pilots into 1 group with a Skilled flight leader.



Bombers were deployed as far forward as I was allowed for the scenario.  I placed the group of all Skilled pilots about 3 hexes in front of the bombers, between the American fighters and my bombers.  I placed the 2nd group another 3-4 hexes in front of the 1st group of fighters.  That way, in the event the “Green” group got bushwhacked, the Skilled Zeros should be able to take decent shots at the Wildcats.  That was the theory, anyway…


Turn 1:

Basically, we moved closer.  I started side-slipping the “Green” Zeros to my right, while shifting the “Skilled” group to the left.  I hoped to catch Graham in a pincher in the next turn or two.  Bombers would continue to fly straight and level, 2 hexes per turn throughout the game (unless mentioned elsewhere).


Turn 2: No Picture:


Ya know the old joke about the left hand not knowing what the right was doing???

I had each Zero “group” on its own check sheet.  Unfortunately, I mixed them up!  I gave the right orders to the wrong groups!  As a result, my Zeros on the right, turned further right and the squad on the left went and turned further left!  Left a WIDE open hole in my formation for Graham’s Wildcats to fly through!


Turn 3:

So, in wild desperate maneuvering, I got my Zeros facing the right way again.  The “Green” group was too far out of the way to help this turn, but the “Skilled” group managed to catch Graham’s Wildcats in a deflected angle attack.  One Zero went head-to-head with the Veteran Wildcat (In the picture, he's facing the wrong way - I had removed the model from the stand for a pic and forgot to face the correct direction.).  Though the Vet Wildcat hit and blew the Zero out of the sky, the Zero managed to do engine damage to the Vet before he was destroyed. 


Turn 4:

Graham, realizing his Wildcats would be easy pickings if he played it safe, tried to “Razzle-Dazzle” me and split up – going in two directions.  Two Wildcats broke left and failed to do any damage.  Two Wildcats flew through the bomber formation and broke right, each going after a bomber – destroying one (Big white Cotton ball) and damaging the other (Airframe damage – white cotton stream).  The bombers opened fire with all guns that could be brought to bear – no effect.  The “Skilled” Zeros group could not turn fast enough to engage this turn, but the “Green” group got shots off at the Vet Wildcat, failing to damage but now one was in a good tailing position.


Turn 5:

So, the two Wildcats attacking the left wing of my bomber formation were becoming a major nuisance.  The two fighters shot down the previously damaged bomber and damaged another bomber (Engine damage – black smoke).  His damaged Vet tried to disengage by flying towards the board edge, with a Green Zero on his tail, guns blazing (and missing).  The last Wildcat did a Split S or Immelman and went after the bombers on the right wing of the formation.  The Skilled Pilot from “Green group” anticipated the maneuver and caught him with a second blast of weapons, causing Airframe damage, but running out of Ammo in the process!  The remaining planes of the “Skilled” Zero group went after the fighters chewing up my left wing and blasted away, failing to hit.  Bombers also fired and failed to hit.


Turn 6:

So, the last remaining bomber on the left wing – with engine damage, slowed to Speed 1 and did a side-slip to the left, taking himself out of the pursuing Wildcats’ line of fire (WHEW!).  The damaged Vet Wildcat and the Green Zero ended up in the same hex and managed to avoid a collision (Vet passed his crew check, the Zero did not).  The remains of the “Green” Squad went after the damaged Wildcat on the right wing – I had forgotten one was out of ammo, so placed white cotton on the base as a “reminder” for future turns.  His wingman missed but sped up to try and catch-up to the Dang Yankee Flier!  The Damaged Wildcat managed to damage the bomber in front of it, in spite of the attention he was receiving.  On the Left wing, the “Skilled” zeros opened fire and one managed to destroy one of the cursed Wildcats, but ran out of ammo in the process!  TWO Zeros out of ammo now!  Bomber gunners threw out another ton of lead into the skies to “dissuade” the Americans.  At this point, it dawned on me that in the previous 3 turns, I had rolled misses, by 1, over a dozen times!  The problem wasn’t damaging the Wildcats when I hit – it was hitting them in the 1st place!  The only weapons that were hitting were light machine guns (usually required a 5+ roll on 2D6 to save from damage).


Turn 7:

Well, the Zeros without ammo started to climb to take themselves out of the battle.  The Green Pilot and the Vet Wildcat again ended up in the same hex – this time Colliding!  The Zero pilot was killed and his plane tumbled into the sea, whereas the Wildcat just kept chugging on…  The undamaged Wildcat shot and missed his target, while the damaged Wildcat managed to blow up the damaged bomber, but also ran out of ammo in the process!  Three Fighter planes ran out of ammo in 3 turns!!!


Turn 8 – The remaining (Armed) Wildcat finally shot down the bomber he had been after for 3 turns.  The Zeros and Bombers were unable to hit any of the remaining Wildcats. 

At this point, we ended the game.  Graham was down to 1 operational Wildcat and decided he would have left the battle area rather than risk it all.

Graham’s damaged Wildcat was destroyed trying to land (Failed Aircrew check by 1), bringing a total loss of American Aircraft at Henderson Field to 5 (1 shot down, 1 crashed on landing, 3 bombed).  That leaves Americans with only 21 planes left at Henderson Field.  In Mission Victory Points, that would be 1 fighter shot down and 1 damaged: 5 VPs total.


Japanese suffered horribly at my hands.  4 bombers destroyed (32 points), 1 damaged (2 points), 1 fighter destroyed (crashed in collision – 4 points) for a total of 38VPs.

Japanese still have only 900 troops on the island.


So – what went wrong with the Japanese this time?  Two things.

 First: That mis-plot in turn 2 totally screwed up my strategy and allowed the Wildcats a full turn that I should have been able to shoot at them and hopefully get into tailing arcs for following turns.  That was 6 planes worth of shooting that went up in smoke.  It also made 3 planes out of arc and range on turn 3 as well.  So in all, it cost me 9 aircraft worth of shooting.  I probably could have hit and done damage with at least 4 of those shots.  More importantly, it meant I was not able to tail the Wildcats starting in Turn 2 and made it harder to re-engage after I corrected my error.  Dad-gum Air-Traffic controllers on the Japanese radio!   :oops:

 Second: Rolling.  Dice.  Stinks.  Those bombers have guns facing every direction.  On average, each of the bombers had a single shot at one of the Wildcats every turn.  Many had 2 or more shots from turn 3 through 5.  To miss over a dozen shots by a single pip of the dice was demoralizing and depressing.  My curse with dice has been renewed.  I need to break that kind of jinx in my head, heart and soul.  Maybe then things will work better for the Japanese.

Monday, December 24, 2012

BatRep: Covenant of Antarctica vs Russian Coalition (Basic Box sets)

Admiral Dimitry Orlov scanned the horizon from his flagship.  It was a good feeling:  “ADMIRAL  Orlov”.  His time in court helped secured his position, but hard work and a good record in his naval career in the service of the Tsar (not to mention impeccable contacts in court), surely good things were due him.

After sailing from the port at St. Petersburg, he was just going to do a shake-down cruise of his new Battleship Georgy Pobedonosets ("St George the Victorious" in English).  It would also give him a chance to evaluate the abilities of his Battle Group.  Looking into the skies, he could see the squadrons of fighters and bombers escorting his ships out into the Baltic Sea.  Admiral Orlov couldn’t wait to get his group into shape: the Prussians were a nuisance and he couldn’t wait to make a name for himself…

“Admiral Orlov; the bombers are reporting a fleet moving to intercept us just beyond the island.”

“Are they ours?  Prussians?”

“No sir, not ours.  They’re not Prussian either.  We think they’re from Antarctica.”

“Antarctica?  What are they doing here?  Have the Radio Room contact them and warn them off.”

“Sir!  They refuse to respond.  What are your orders?”

“Our standing orders are to drive all foreign ships away from our waters.  Call all ships to Battle Stations!  It looks like we’re breaking in the guns sooner than I expected.”

So Geoff showed up at the FLGS with an Antarctican Fleet and had never played against the Russians, so we decided to go with the basic box sets:
-          Battleship
-          3 Cruisers
-          9 Frigates (3 Squadrons of 3 each)
-          2 Bombers
-          2 squadrons of Tiny Fliers

The Russian Coalition (RC) would use the Mimic Generator on the battleship, and both squadrons of Tiny Fliers would act as fighters.  (Russians have horrible AA for the most part.)  The Cruisers bought the “Rocket Jammer” upgrades just to increase the point costs (I couldn’t remember if CoA used rockets or not).

The Covenant of Antarctica (CoA) bought the “Inventive Scientists” for his cruisers, and deployed his 2 squadrons of drones as Fighters as well.

Using random deployment, Terrain on the 4’ X 4’ table was a single island on my left half of the board and a sand bar on my right side.  CoA caught RC coming out of the port! 


Russians:  (White/ Ghost Grey) (L to R) Frigates, Bombers with Battleship behind facing off to the right, Fighters, Frigates with Cruisers behind, fighters and frigates.

Antarctica: (Green) (Russian L to R):  Frigates, Fighters, frigates, fighters, cruisers, bombers, battleship, frigates.

CoA: Rolled the Capture the Commodore’s ship.  He wisely decided to go to default 70% of fleet value (~490pts)

RC: Rolled Sink all Large and Massive Squadrons.  As this was ONLY a battleship, I figured “why not?”

Turn 1:

Russians (RC) got the Initiative!

Turn 1 started very cautiously on both sides.  Some Fighters and Frigates all moved forward on both sides.  Finally, the CoA Cruisers advanced and fired on one of the Russian Frigate Squadrons – and Missed!!!  At this point, one of the Russian Frigate Squadrons moved forward between the island and the sand bar.  The Russian Frigates went to lob mortar shells at a CoA Frigate Squadron hiding behind the island, but we realized I could only lob shells over Models – NOT terrain.  Too bad!

A squadron of CoA Frigates tried to circle around the Left of the island, to sneak behind the Russian lines.  A Russian Frigate squadron moved to the left of the island and was able to split fire between two COA Frigate squadrons, sinking 1 frigate in each!  One squadron failed its break test, but the other was able to maintain order.  First blood to the Russians!  The rest of the squadrons on both sides jockeyed for position, but no other shooting or damage was made.
In the end phase, the broken squadron was able to rally.


Turn 2:
Antarctica Won the Initiative!

Russians played “Lost Orders” card on the Antarcticans, but they cancelled the effects sacrificing a card of their own. 

The CoA Frigates running around the left side of the island damaged 1 bomber with AA and damaged a frigate with torpedoes!  The RC Frigates retaliate, gunning 1 frigate squadron and using mortars on another, causing a Hull Point (HP) of damage on each squadron! 

CoA fighters attacked an RC fighter squadron: 4 CoA drones were shot down while the Russians used up an extra fuel due to Abort results.  The same RC fighter flight then went full throttle and attacked a CoA Bomber in the clouds, causing 1 point of damage for the cost of 1 Fighter Token.  Antarctica retaliated by attacking the RC bombers with their own squadron, though Russian AA shot down 2 tokens of drones, for no damage to the bombers!

RC Frigates in the center advance forward, and got within range band 2 of the Battleship!  Linking fire and shooting guns at a cruiser and mortars at the battleship, they managed to put a crit on the Cruiser (Systems), caused 1 HP on the CoA Battleship, then put another HP on the CoA Bomber with their AA!

Outraged, the CoA Cruisers advanced forward, shot down 2 fighter tokens with AA, caused 1 HP damage on a frigate in the center frigate squadron, sank a frigate in the right side frigates (who passed their Break Test, then played the “Tally Ho!” card – moving another squadron right away!  Who moved?  The CoA Battleship!  Crossing on an angle from right to left, the CoA Battleship got line of sight to the central RC Frigate squadron, and sank 2!

The Russians were now out for blood, but grateful!  By sinking the 2 Frigates, the way was cleared for the RC Cruiser to maneuver through the gap and fire upon the CoA Battleship.  The guns caused a crit on the Battleship: Fusion Leak!

CoA Frigates move forward and attack!  Their torpedoes failed to damage a cruiser (thanks Ablative Armor!), but their broadsides were able to cause 1 HP to a frigate and another to a cruiser, then caused fighters to use an extra fuel as they forced an “Abort” result with their AA attack!

RC frigates behind the sand bar stood still (we can do that – 0” min move!), and unleashed both guns and mortars at the damaged cruiser – and sank it!

CoA Bombers advanced forward and fired on the RC Fighters nearby, destroying the remaining fighters of the flight.  RC Bombers advanced as well, flying near the CoA Bombers.  (I thought of shooting AA as I passed but realized the Russian Bombers only had 2 AA each, vs. the 4 AA each the CoA had.  Russians would have gotten the worst of it.)

In an amazing display of Seamanship, a CoA frigate squadron managed to snake their way through their own cruiser squadron, without a single collision, sank the last frigate of one frigate squadron and an HP damage to a cruiser.  The RC Battleship moved forward but had no shot and in the final move of the turn, the remaining Russian Fighter Squadron attacked the CoA Bombers, but lost 3 of 5 tokens for no damage to the bombers!  OUCH!

In the repair cycle, the CoA repaired the Fusion Leak on the Battleship.

Turn 3:

CoA played “Pass The Tools” and repaired all but 1 HP of damage to the Battleship!

CoA won initiative, too!


CoA Frigates on left side of the island do a 180 turn and attack the RC Frigates, sinking 1 and causing the squadron to break!

RC Cruisers played the “Running Repairs” card, fixing 1 cruiser to full hull (though no Ablative Armor), moved forward and fired on the Battleship again.  The engineers of the Battleship did wonders, coaxing the shield generators to save 8 hits!  The battleship still took 1 HP of damage.  RC broadsides out both sides only managed to damage 1 frigate.

The CoA battleship maneuvered to fire its Particle Cannon at the remaining frigates on the left, obliterating both!  The Battleship’s broadsides crit 1 cruiser (Systems) then the turrets sink another cruiser with another crit.

The RC Bombers made their attack run on the CoA Battleship – if they were lucky, they would sink it and win the game!  The Battleship’s AA critted one bomber on the way in, but both made their “Hard Impact” attacks, causing 3 HP damage and a Nav Lock Crit!  Unfortunately, using the bombers this way cost the Russians the bombers as it is a Suicide attack – giving the CoA a “free 100 points”…

The CoA Frigates on the right failed to hit some frigates with their broadsides, but the torpedo run on a cruiser cost a cruiser it’s Ablative Armor and 1 HP.

The RC Battleship split its fire, Main Turret on one cruiser, the two upper turrets concentrated on the other.  The main turret missed but the two upper turrets double-crit and sank the other cruiser. 

The CoA Bombers attacked a cruiser, causing a crit (Nav Lock) as their AA shot down another fighter token.

RC frigates moved up slowly over the sand bar; fired on and damaged a frigate and a cruiser (1 HP each).  CoA Cruisers retaliated by sinking a frigate, though the remaining frigate passed its Break Test.

Ending the turn, the RC Fighters attacked the bombers, only to be shot down!  The Center squadron of CoA Frigates moved forward, collided with the RC cruisers and sank!  CoA still had 3 tokens of Fighters, but with no other RC fliers on the table and no way to land, the CoA Drones were useless for the rest of the game!

Both the CoA and the RC failed to repair the Nav Lock crits on their ships!


Turn 4:

Both RC & CoA played “Pass The Tools” cards.  CoA repaired 3 HP of the Battleship and the RC repaired 3 HP off 1 cruiser!

RC won Initiative!

RC moved their remaining cruisers straight ahead, firing at the Battleship, causing 1 HP (3 HP gone), then played “Tally Ho!” allowing a 2nd squadron to activate!  The RC Battleship activated; turned towards the enemy Battleship but collided with a Frigate (sinking it).  This turn only allowed the RC Battleship to bring 2 of 3 turrets to bear.  Firing anyway, the RC Battleship caused another HP to the Battleship and another HP to a cruiser with the one turret that was out of arc.

The CoA Battleship played “Running Repairs”, fixing 1 HP (3 gone), then fired on one of the cruisers, causing a crit (Engine Damage).

The last remaining move for the Russians was their remaining frigate moving and sinking another CoA Frigate.

As the RC were out of units, the CoA were able to move and attack with impunity.  Their target: the two remaining RC Cruisers.  The CoA Cruisers failed to damage anything.  The bombers cause 2 HP on 1 cruiser; a squadron of frigates torpedoed and caused another hp on another.  The hero of the match was the lone surviving frigate of 1 squadron, did a 180 degree turn, broadsided and sank 1 cruiser, then torpedoed and sank the other!

End of turn, we calculated the points and the CoA earned 510 points, more than the ~490 points they required to meet their objective.  The RC needed to sink the Battleship for their objective, but the Battleship still had 5 HP left.

CoA Won!!!


Great Game!  It literally could have gone either way!  In fact, if we hadn’t used the card decks, the CoA Battleship would have been sunk as it repaired 5 Hull Points during the game and only had 5 Hull Points left before they reached their 70%!!!

CoA commander declared that the lone Frigate Captain that finished off the 2 cruisers by himself was the VIP of the game.  He named the Captain Gravonski – I expect he’ll get promoted to Admiral soon…

What did the Russians learn?

For one thing; they may be called “Fighters”, but they’re not very good…

Ablative Armor is nice, but it really only gets you 1 “extra” turn to get into range.  If we hadn’t had an island to protect our Capital Ships’ approach, it would have been a lot worse for the Russians.

The Russian Bombers performing their “Hard Impact” attacks were significant at the time, but unfortunately the Battleship repaired the destruction they caused, and basically gave the CoA a free 100 points towards their goal.  I probably should have kept them flying longer and dropped bombs only for a turn or two (if they could have survived long enough to do that) before committing them like that…

Finally, the heroes of the Russian Fleet were probably the Russian Frigates.  I lost all but 1, but their contribution can’t be denied.


Admiral Dimitry Orlov was upset!  The Antarctic Battleship shouldn’t be floating!  The damage inflected on it was more than enough to sink any ship!  What sort of material did they use to build their ships in Antarctica???

If he was honest, Orlov realized he wasted too many resources going after the Battleship.  He lost all his cruisers, his bombers, his fighters and almost all his frigates!  At least the Battleship Georgy Pobedonosets was intact. 

The only thing he could do was to go to court and face the Tsar himself and apologize.

The Tsar wouldn’t be pleased!

Maybe if Orlov could put the blame on the Cruiser squadron Commodore.  He was from a minor family with few political connections.  If Orlov made arrangements with the Family, offered to support another heir and promote him through Court.  They may be willing to play along.  If he did it right, Orlov would appear in much better light, almost compassionate. 

It could work…

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wings of Glory (Wpg Harvest Games @ IGH)

So - I was supposed to do a couple of demos at the Harvest Games Day - only got the dates mixed up!  (Sorry, all!)

Still, made it down to Imagine Games and Hobbies and came across Dave Violago looking for a victim for the World War I game of "Wings of Glory" (formerly "Wings of War").

The game is quick and fun to play.  Moves are plotted 3 "phases" at a time.  Each phase, a plane moves based on a pre-plotted move card (selected by the pilot).  If you guess right and there's an enemy in your gun arcs, you can shoot each phase.  Damage is allocated based on drawing cards from a special shuffled damage deck with different damage values. When you take enough damage to match the aircrafts' point value, you're shot down.  After all 3 plotted moves are all done, you plot another 3 phases.

It's a great beginner's game or collectable miniature game (miniatures are not required).

Dave's mission for me (the Allies) was to fly an Observation Plane (2-seater BE2 Biplane) to a "dropped Package from Santa", photograph it and return with the photos.  For escort, I had a DH2 (British Pusher biplane) and a French Morane (Monoplane).

Of course, the Germans were not going to make it easy.  Dave would be flying 3 Fokker E1 "Eindeckers", coming in for a Head-to-Head pass.  I was truly facing the "Fokker Scourge" this time out.

First couple of turns, Dave and I just closed in on each other.  I placed the DH2 on the left of the BE2 and the Morane on the Right.  Beginning of the 3rd turn, we were pretty much going in for a Head-to-Head pass, guns blazing.  Except I discovered the BE2 only had a rear firing Machine gun! 
Oops!  :-}

Dave's Eindeckers all fired at the BE2 - ignoring the Allied scouts.  In an un-repeatable stroke of luck, all the shots from the first volley caused - 0 DAMAGE!  All the cards were Zeros!

The DH2 fired on the Eindecker in front of it, hitting it but jaming his guns in the process.  The next 3 phases, I would have great position, but be unable to fire!  The Morane also fired, hitting another plane.

The BE2 threw iself to the left side-slipping, throwing off the aim of all but 1 Eindecker for the next 2-3 phases,  Again, minimal damage.

Sliding back to the right, the BE2 was able to spoil the shooting of the other Eindeckers by flying so close to the Green Eindecker.  Constantly Jinking, turning and Side-Slipping, the BE2 flew closer towards the objective...

(The card under the BE2 is the location of the Green Eindecker.)

Finally, the BE2 made it to the Objective and successfully took the picture.  By this point, the BE2 had suffered 10 out of the required 13 damage points required to shoot it down and the Observer was out, meaning he had no defensive capability at all!  The Green Eindecker flew off the board (in error, but we agreed it "Chickened Out")  and the DH2 fiinally shot down a 2nd Eindecker!  Unfortunately, it was during a head-on-pass and the Eindecker got a lucky shot that caused the fuel tank of the DH2 to explode!!!

Sadly, the Morane was badly out of position and couldn't save the BE2 from the remaining Eindecker who successfully tailed and shot at the BE2 for the next 2 turns.  The final damage point caused a fire as the plane tumbled to a smoking crater in No-Man's Land...


Great Game!  Dave and I were having a wonderfull time with this one!  We were both taking pictures almost every phase after the initial Head-On pass (Sorry - my Phone Camera sucks - these were probably the best of them) and pretty much laughing throughout the game! 

I didn't expect the BE2 to last so long.  All 3 Eindeckers concentrated their fire on it (when they could).  When it was finally shot down, I had taken 6 or 7 "Zero Damage" cards - it had no right to be flying before I got to the Objective!

The DH2 was undamaged and I was counting on it to escort the BE2 back home when it caught that lucky shot into the fuel tank.  Totally unforseable, but that's what happens with random chances...

Dave's Green Eindecker flying off the table was an accident - pure and simple.  He concentrated on the BE2 and where he thought it was going to go.  He then missed one card and it flew to a position where he couldn't play another card without going off the table.  The other two Eindeckers were damaged, but not enough to cause them to fail their mission.  Both sides suffered from gun jams (though I think I got the worst on that one).

I did use a couple of "Mulligans" (you got "Do-Over" tickets if you donated something to the foodbank - Neat Idea!) because I kept mixing up the flight cards of the BE2 and the DH2 - they both used the same maneuver deck, are the same colour so I kept swapping cards between the two by mistake (BE2 moves on the DH2 and visa versa).  Next time, my planes all need to be VERY different!  ;-)

Thanks again Dave! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guadalcanal Missions 2, 3, 4 & 5!!! Pilot Debrieffing

So – Lucky us! We managed to pull off 4 missions this afternoon!
(Actually, we only played 2 games. The 3rd and 4th missions were actually “Role-Playing” scenarios. I had to complete these after the fact as Graham had no interest in them.)

Second Mission of the Campaign was “The Bait”.
The Japanese plan was to bait out the hiding the American carriers by launching a raid using the light carrier Ryujo. The remaining Fleet Carriers would then locate and attack the American carriers. Of course – it was more or less a suicide mission for the Ryujo…

The Japanese launched their Kate Bombers (5 – all Skilled aircrew) escorted by 8 Zeros – led by Ace Vidlersan, with 5 skilled pilots and 2 green replacements. The Americans would intercept with 8 Wildcats, led by Ace Logan, a veteran pilot, 2 skilled pilots and 4 Green pilots.

The Kates were in a V formation, 2 elements of 3 Zeros – one on left side, one the right and the ace with his wingman following closely (3 hexes) behind the Kates. The Americans were in two waves – all Green pilots in a line abreast formation in the first wave, with the Skilled, veteran and ace pilots in the second wave, 2-3 hexes behind the 1st formation.

It was a rather quick and brutal affair – game ended turn 5. Basically, the formations closed on each other. Turn 3, the Kates tried to dive under the Wildcats, and actually avoided the Green crews in the first wave, while the Zeros attempted to hit the Wildcats on the flanks. The Kates got shot up by the second wave of Wildcats in a series of Head-on engagements: 1 Kate exploded from Critical hit, 1 pilot was killed and crashed by a lucky hit and a 3rd plane was badly damaged. The Japanese Ace and his wingman managed to share a kill and shot down one of the green pilots, but the remaining Zeros all missed their targets. Turn 4, the Americans successfully anticipated the Kates trying to dive away next turn, plotted Split-S for all the fighters and destroyed the remaining Kates. The Zeros, having failed their missions, climbed away and ended the game turn 5.

Campaign results: Loss of a Green Pilot reduced US Aircraft availability down to 27 planes. Japanese troops on the island remain at 300 strong.

As the Japanese commander, I had made quite a few bad errors. I miscalculated the turn that the planes would close into firing range and my fighters in the flanks were not in position as a result. Worse, I made an assumption that by forcing the Americans to do head-to-head attacks, the Americans would miss as they would suffer a -2 penalty to hit my Kates. I expected a lucky hit or two, not the devastation that Graham managed to inflict in a single head-on pass! I should have planned to attack and break up his charge on the bombers before they reached the bombers rather than hit them as they hit the bombers. I then forgot to dive my Zeros after the Kates and Wildcats in Turn 4, so I was hopelessly out of shooting range (2 Altitude Levels – can only shoot 1 level difference) by end of movement in turn 4. By the end of shooting phase of turn 4, I had already lost all the Kates and the mission was over.

Graham and I handling that many aircraft became kind of tedious. Fortunately for me, the Bombers basically maintain their same plot so there’s little or no change. Handling 8 fighters by oneself is cumbersome and problematic. The more formations, the more difficult it is to track and keep everything straight. I actually had to roll Crew Checks for Zeros on the 1st mission because I misplotted and 2 fighters ended up in the same hex at same altitude – twice! Also, at one point, we had 16 fighters, and 5 Kates in a mass about 8 hexes wide and 3 deep – multiple hexes with multiple planes. A very congested situation – we had to be twice as cautious to avoid confusion.

Third Mission was a Role-Play mission. Enterprise was badly damaged as a result of the previous day’s “bait” mission, so transferred aircraft to Henderson Field (+10 US Aircraft = 37 Total).

The Japanese tried to rush a convoy to the island during the day. The Americans were able to discover the run and attacked, successfully hitting the convoy – forcing it to return to Port. In the battle, the Americans lost 3 more planes in the actions over the convoy. The Americans also managed to launch a successful B17 Raid that hit the Japanese forces on the island, causing the Japanese to lose 100 troops!

Total American Forces: 34 Planes at Henderson
Total Japanese Forces: 200 Troops on Guadalcanal

Fourth Mission of the Campaign: “Bouncing Bettys”
In response to the attacks on their convoy, the Japanese launch a bomber raid (9 Medium-Sized Betty Bombers) on Henderson Field. The Bombers approached Henderson in a single V formation – with NO Escorts within 20 hexes of the western edge of the map (45 Hexes wide). The bombers were able to get a bonus of 6 hexes closer to the Eastern edge (Banzi!) and were allowed to dive from TAL 4 down to TAL 2 during the mission (“We’re going in!”). (Got both rules by rolling a 9.) Americans deployed within 15 hexes of south east corner and got “Trigger Happy” rule – all Green pilots MUST shoot if they have a possible shot.

Once again, Bombers just advanced forward – this time at Speed 2 - towards the Eastern edge every turn. With guns on the bombers facing all directions, I should be able to do something! I hoped…

The Betty bombers were more robust than the Kates (R1 compared to R0 – it seemed to make a HUGE difference!). Most of the guns on the Betty are Light Machine Guns (D4 damage - very hard to require more than a 4+ save on 2 X D6), but I was hoping for some Lucky Hits to help out (rolling doubles on the Robustness save causes a Lucky Hit). While I got a couple, Graham was able to pass crew checks to avoid the effects of most. He caught fire a couple times but put them out before the fire caused damage to his planes. The Rear guns on the Betty are a Low Velocity Cannon (D10 damage) and did most the real work for me.

The bombers managed to damage two Wildcats which crashed on returning home (both green pilots: -2 Aircraft availability = 8 Victory Points). In the end, 3 of the Betty bombers made it off the table to complete their bombing missions. Using Victory Points in a “single Mission” mode, a medium bomber was worth 8 points, so Graham would have 48 points for downing 6 bombers, whereas each bomber getting off the table was worth 10 VP for the Japanese for a total of 38 points for the Japanese. A win for the Americans. However, my 3 bombers successfully destroyed another 6 aircraft on the ground, for a total of 8 aircraft lost for the campaign in a single mission!

Americans: 26 Planes Left
Japanese: 200 Troops Left

With the Betty Bombers in the 2nd game, it was difficult trying to keep straight which bombers had shot which weapons and that caused some confusion. I thought I was clear, but a couple of times, Graham thought I had made mistakes – doubling up on bombers. Turned out he hadn’t realized I was shooting waist guns at different targets from the same bomber whereas he thought I had moved onto another bomber. While I was able to handle the plotting, the directing of Defensive guns for 9 planes really slowed down the game. Unfortunately, I don’t think it could really have been sped up with more people handling the load. You had to calculate shooting for each arc on each plane separately. That was Potentially 27 shots per game turn from the 9 bombers to track!

5th mission was another Role-play mission.
Japanese were given option to send 1000 troops on fast destroyers or 4000 on slow transports. Having already failed to reinforce the island once already, I decided the fast destroyers were a safer bet – Especially travelling at night.

The Americans decided to send 10 aircraft out to search for the Japanese fleet, holding 16 aircraft back to launch a strike when the fleet was located.

Playing with the numbers per the instructions, rolling some dice, and the result was in:
American fliers would spot the fleet as dusk settles over the island, but looses the fleet in the darkness. They would not be able to attack the fleet.
The Japanese were able to unload 700 troops without incident.

Americans: 26 Planes Left
Japanese: 900 Troops Left

So far - Campaign has been interesting. Definitely find the larger battles really should be played with 2 or more players per side, but it can be managed by a single person with patience.

Also, using 2" hex maps was better than 1.5" (size of the base of the flight stand we used were 1.3 - 1.5"). It allowed us to shuffle 2-3 planes in a single hex when we required it. While it shortened the play surface a bit smaller than the recommended 45 Hexes by 30 Hexes, it hasn't made a huge difference. Shuffling the starting positions usually works to get the same results.