Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Dec II 41: The Americans (part one)

This has been taking a lot of time to get through, because I haven’t had a lot of time to begin with, and the time that I have had, I’ve spent running through different scenarios in an attempt to master the naval rules. I’ve run one way, then reset, run another, then reset, and so on. During the course of this experimentation, I caught two more errors that I made, even after writing the addendum for the Japanese turn. One is major, but fixable, and the other is not really major, but is more of a problem. Both affect the Americans. All the aircraft that were hit during the Japanese raid were not eliminated, but aborted instead. What being “aborted” means is that some were destroyed, some were shot up, and most of the aircraft represented by the counter need some sort of repair. The air unit is not in a flyable condition, and cannot be used for air missions until it is repaired. To correct this, all eliminated air units were removed from the replacement pool and put back on their respective airfields, but as aborted air units that require repair. The other issue is that I assumed, incorrectly, that various cities have an intrinsic airbase capacity, like Europa. This appears to not be the case in TDDH. I had placed several air units in Manila thinking the city had an intrinsic capacity of 6 air units. It doesn’t, but has a 3 capacity airbase in the hex. During the initial setup, thinking manila had more capacity than it really did, I put 4 air units there. Now that there are 2 hits on the airbase, only one air unit can be operable at a time. It will take some time to sort this out and get those air units out of there. Assuming the Americans can hold out long enough. As a bit of clarification: an air unit counter can represent a squadron or a group, depending on whether the aircraft type is underlined or not. For simplicity, I am referring to each counter as a squadron.

Initial phase activities


The Americans receive a P-35 fighter squadron, an aircraft (3F4) that is no match for the Zero (7F5). The Filipino reserves are called up. Nine infantry battalions spread across Luzon, Mindanao, Cebu, Leyte, Panay and Negros assemble for duty. Only the battalion at Batangas does not answer the call up, because the Japanese control the town.


The Americans have seven aborted air units and two air replacement points with which to get some of them operational again. Aborted air units can also be paired to get one of the two operational; the other is eliminated and goes to the replacement pool. The eliminated air unit can be replaced later. The air unit pairs do not have to be the same kind of air unit, but fighters pair with fighters and so on, and they have to have identical air ratings. Two aborted P-40E fighter squadrons, one at Manila and one at an airstrip just north of Manila are paired, eliminating the aborted air unit at the airstrip. The P-40E in Manila is repaired. It is nonsensical to repair an air unit at an airfield that does not have the capacity to allow it to become operative, hence repairing the unit at Manila, but it is this line of thought that made me realize Manila doesn’t have the capacity I thought it did. The end result is that only one air unit counter can become active. In this case, the Americans have chosen a B-17C to be operative for a bombing mission on Batangas. The newly repaired P-40E remains inoperative for now. The biggest issue with playing a solitaire game is that I know the intentions of the enemy. I know where they intend to land, not in the general sense, but the specific hexes. It is difficult to not use that knowledge to reinforce the target hexes. For example, it had always been my intention (as the Japanese player0 to land as close to the Bataan peninsula as possible and cut it off from retreating forces. Because the American forces are so weak, there is really no alternative (that I can see) to McArthur’s War Plan Orange, the withdrawal into the jungles of Bataan. The Filipino reservists cannot stop the inevitable Japanese landings that will happen in the north, nor can they stop the inevitable overrunning of Luzon. If they had some artillery support, they may be able to hang on for a while. But artillery is scarce on Luzon. The airbases that started the game under construction at Jolo and Zamboanga are now complete.

Movement Phase

The Naval sub-phase

This is a summary of what each Naval Group/Ship did during the naval movement phase. Naval Group AF (Manila Bay)

  • VS Langley
  • VS Childs
  • DD Clems-1
  • DM Bird-1 (mine sweeper)
  • DG IP-1 (gunboat destroyer)
  • PT Boat PT-1
  • TR Merchant-1
  • TS Merchant-3

Before any movement takes place, the few bombers that the Americans have are dispatched.

PBY-5 Catalina "Frisco Gal" (click image to enlarge)

PBY-5 Catalina “Frisco Gal” (click image to enlarge)

The PBY-5 Catalina takes off from Manila. Since it does not use the airbase, being a flying boat and all, it is not subject to airbase capacity rules. It flies over to the island of Mindoro to the airstrip that was just captured by the Japanese. It scores a hit, neutralizing the airstrip and damaging the Ki-48-1 “Lilly” that was based there. This bomber was a major threat for naval patrols in the area, and now that threat has been neutralized for the moment.

The B-17C (click image to enlarge)

The B-17C (click image to enlarge)

Two B-17C heavy bombers have been dispatched to bomb out the port of Batangas, one coming from Manila while the other flies from Catayana on Mindanao.  The Manila bomber misses the target, but the B-17 from Mindanao hits and destroys the port, shutting it down. The port is still functioning for supply purposes, even though it is not currently capable of accepting cargo. The PBY returns to Corregidor, and both B-17Cs return to Clark Field. Landing barges Manila-1, 2 and 3 are called up at Manila. Landing barges Cebu-1 & Cebu-2 are called up at Cebu City. Landing barges Iloilo-1 & Iloilo-2 are called up at Iloilo Landing barge Zamba-1 is called up at Zamboanga

Southern Philippines at end of 1st sub-naval phase. Dipolong is the port just south of Negros, and is where TF-5 is taking shelter. (click image to enlarge)

Southern Philippines at end of 1st sub-naval phase. Dipolong is the port just south of Negros, and is where TF-5 is taking shelter. (click image to enlarge)

Naval Group AF

  • Leaves the ports of manila and Cavite to form the naval group (1 MP)
  • The NG moves out of Manila Bay, past Corregidor and out to the southeast through the Verde island Passage, moving at night to avoid Japanese naval patrol missions (2 MP)
  • Move into the Sibuyan Sea to the port of Capiz on Panay (1 MP) [End 1st naval phase]
  • Load 61r (II) (1/4 RE) onto Merchant-1 (2 MP)
  • Leave port (1 MP)
  • Move into the Visayan Sea (1 MP) [end 2nd naval phase]
  • Merchant-3 (TS) splits off from NG AF
  • Docks in Cebu City
  • Load 3PC infantry III (1 RE) (2 MP)
  • Leave port with LB Cebu-1 & Cebu-2 (1 MP) [end 3rd naval phase]
  • Move down the east side of Mindanao (4 MP) [end 4th naval phase]
  • Dock at Davao (1 MP)
  • Load 2nd inf III, and unload 61r (II) (2 MP)
  • End naval sub-phase

 Merchant-3 (TS)

  • Move to Tacloban (Leyte) (1 MP)
  • Load 92r & 93r (II) (1 RE total) (2 MP)
  • Leave port (1 MP) [end 3rd naval phase]
  • Move to Cagayan (Mindanao) (1 MP)
  • Load 204r artillery (II) (Unit counts as 4 times its size due to type TS transport; 1 RE) (2 MP)
  • Leave port (1 MP) (end 4th naval phase)
  • Move to the Visayan Sea (2 MP)  (trying to stay just out of range of Japanese naval patrol missions)
  • End naval sub-phase

Naval Group TF-5

  • DD Clems-3 leaves the East Borneo holding box, spending 4 MP to end 1 MP short of the NE Borneo holding box, where CL Marblehead and DD Clems-2 await (4 MP) [End 1st naval phase]
  • Clems-3 to NE Borneo holding box, where it joins TF-5 (1 MP)
  • Move to south edge of the map (just east of Borneo) (1 MP)
  • Move 1 sea box north, to box that includes the Lapan Group of islands (1 MP) [end 2nd naval phase]
  • Move to Jolo to meet up with CA Houston (1 MP)
  • Move to Zamboanga (1 MP)
  • Begin loading 43PSr (II) and 803 construction II (1 MP) [end 3rd naval phase]
  • Finish loading cargo (1 MP)
  • Leave Zamboanga with LB Zamba-1 (1 MP)
  • Move to the sea box just SW of Negros (2 MP) [end 4th naval phase]
  • Move to Dumaguete, Negros (1 MP)
  • Load 72r (II) (2 MP)
  • move to Dipolog, Mindanao (1 MP)
  • end naval sub-phase

CA Houston & Merchant-2 (TR) (Iloilo)

  • Load Filipino (II) 62r and 63r (2 MP; ½ RE cap) onto Merchant-2
  • leave Iloilo with LB Iloilo-1 & Iloilo-2 (1 MP)
  • move 1 sea box to the south (1 MP) [end 1st naval phase]
  • Enter port of Jolo (3 MP)
  • Start loading the 204r construction (II) (1 MP) [end 2nd naval phase]
  • Finish loading 204r construction (II) (1 MP)
  • Leave Jolo (1 MP)
  • Joins TF-5
P-35A intercepts Japanese naval patrol (click image to enlarge)

P-35A intercepts Japanese naval patrol (click image to enlarge)

CL Boise & Merchant-4 (TS) (Cebu City)

  • Load 1 resource point and 85r (II) (1/2 RE due to transport type TS) (2 MP)
  • Leave port (1 MP)
  • move to Bogo (northern tip of Cebu) (1 MP) [end 1st naval phase]
  • Load 81r (II) (2 MP) (Merchant-4 fully loaded)
  • Leave port (1 MP)
  • Move to Sibuyan Sea (1 MP) [end 2nd naval phase]
  • Move to Corregidor sea box by night (2 MP)
  • Move to Manila (1 MP)
  • Begin unloading cargo (1 MP) [end 3rd naval phase]
  • Finish offloading cargo (1 MP)
  • Leave Manila (1 MP)
  • Move to Corregidor/Verde Island Passage (1 MP) where they are jumped by a Japanse force of three Betty squadrons on naval patrol (no fighter escort). The force is intercepted by a squadron of P-38A fighters out of Malolos. The American fighter returns one squadron of Bettys and returns to base intact. The other two squadrons continue on. The IJN have a 0 DRM (+6 DRM for IJN units, calm sea conditions and code V (torpedo) air units; -6 DRM for 6 sea boxes entered).
  • The group is found by the searchers, and the Boise opens up, forcing one squadron to return to base. The remaining squadron gets 2 single point bombing runs on the Boise. Hits on 4 or better (+2 DRM for torpedos and IJN units).
  • And THEY MISSED THE BOISE! (1 & 2 rolled).
  • The Boise and Merchant-4 waste no time and hustle through the Verde Island Passage under the cover of darkness. (1 MP) [end 4th naval phase]
  • Move around the SE tip of Luzon to pick up troops trapped down there by the Japanese landing. (4 MP)
  • end naval sub-phase
End of 1st naval sub-phase (click image to enlarge)

End of 1st naval sub-phase (click image to enlarge)


  • Load 2 resource points, 81r, 83r (II) (2 MP) (2 1/2RE)
  • Move into Manila Bay (1 MP)
  • Move to Mariveles (1 MP) (end 4th naval phase)
  • Unload 1 resource point at port (Man-1; 2 MP, port capacity maxed)
  • Man-2 & 3 unload resource point & troops on beach (6 MP required, 4 MP spent)
  • Man-1 leaves port (1 MP)
  • Man-1 returns to Manila (1 MP)
  • End sub naval phase

There were a squadron of Ki-48 Lily bombers on Mindao, and it was imperative that this squadron be taken out before any ship moved at all. That mission was successful, and it gave the USN freedom to roam around all of the islands at will. There are probably those who are wondering why I didn’t attack all this shipping with Japanese naval patrols in and around the Manila/Corregidor area. Looking at the game map, there are some hit markers I put down to denote the range limits of the Betty and Nell bombers. The Nells have a much shorter range, so any naval patrol missions would have to be done with Bettys. I tried as much as possible to move at night through the most dangerous areas to prevent such missions from happening. There is only 1 time that I had to move during the day past Corregidor. Once the ships made it through the Verde Island Passage and into the Sibuyan Sea, the Japanese naval patrol mission would have to be done at extended range. This would reduce their TBF from 2 to 0.667, not enough to do a bombing run. Each one has to make an individual run, and gets a number of 1 point bombing runs, depending on what their TBF is. For example, at normal range, the G4M Betty would get 2 x 1 point bombing runs. Since that number would be reduced below 1, there is no bombing attack to make. In fact, as I am looking at the rules right now, the range of a naval patrol mission is reduced by 4 hexes. This means that as soon as the NG makes it out of the Verde Island Passage/Corregidor sea box, they are out of range of the naval patrol mission. Why didn’t I make naval patrol runs in Manila Bay, when the ships were out in broad daylight? Taking the above information into account, I could easily have moved through Manila Bay at night and avoided the whole issue. But I didn’t. Manila Bay is in a web of fighter coverage. The Japanese don’t have fighter cover at the moment. The rules make intercepting or patrol attacking a naval patrol mission virtually impossible. Interception/patrol range is reduced by 4 hexes, but never below 1. The American P-35A is the only fighter that would have an interception range of 4. The question I have is how you intercept a naval patrol mission, considering that the mission is flown to a sea box. Does this mean that the intercepting air unit only has to make it to a hex in the sea box to cover the entire box? According to the rules, sea boxes are covered in detail in rule 27B, only they aren’t. They are defined, and that’s it. The rules talk about Naval Groups being either “at large” in a sea box, or in a single hex. It is not defined, as far as I can tell, what the circumstances are for a NG to be in a single hex, except to be in port, but then it isn’t in the sea box, it’s at the port. And not all sea boxes are the same. Arthur Goodwin said that each sea box are 5×5 hexes, but I’ve found some that are 6×5, and the one that the Visayan Sea is located in is 7×7 hexes in some places.

Americancorps FE (top) and Filipino corps 2SL (bottom) in the Manila area (click image to enlarge)

Americancorps FE (top) and Filipino corps 2SL (bottom) in the Manila area (click image to enlarge)

Now the race to Bataan begins. In the southest peninsula, the troops hang tight for now. The Boise and transport vessels are heading their way to pick them up during the exploitation phase. The Philippine divsion (12) leaves Manila to block the choke point just north of Mauban, joined by light tanks from the north to form the FE Corps. The Marines and troops stationed at Cavite pull back north of the river into Manila. They are joined by several Filipino units to form the Filipino 2SL Corps. The way north has been sealed off.

Allied troops rush to Bataan, as well as the Manila area to stop the Japanese advance (click image to enlarge)

Allied troops rush to Bataan, as well as the Manila area to stop the Japanese advance (click image to enlarge)

The rest of the units on the north end of Luzon race back as quickly as they can to the Bataan area, blocking the entrance to the peninsula, and garrisoning the ports of Mariveles and Olangapo. I probably should have set the bulk of them up here during the initial setup rather than where I initially put them. The forces are being organized. I’m not sure how I am going to save the aircraft, and hopefully it won’t take me 3 weeks to figure it out. I am going to end part one here, at 2600+ words. Part two will cover the end of the movement phase (probably the movement of some air units to safety) and the exploitation phase and the second naval sub phase.


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3 thoughts on “TDDH: Dec II 41: The Americans (part one)

  1. paul on said:

    The freedom of action of the American navy shows a good reason for the Japanese to use their mines. Now it would be a dangerous proposition, if the Americans want to contest it. But now the Americans can go do something else, because much of their naval transport is done. You’re missing the tension in the game. Each side takes four turns before they can begin to use coastal shipping.

    The chance to wreck the Japanese plan passed. Everybody’s running for the hills. Delay is the name of the game. Careful, cool-handed delay. I can’t wait to see what the Japanese have planned for their second turn invasion. Thanks for working on this. It looks like you understand how Naval Patrol Missions work, and how important they are. How to maximize them (and defend against) needs to be part of any planning. Interception is Patrol Zone minus 4, but never below 1. Interception is as you think, any hex of the Sea Box. Use what you’ve got and be thankful if it still operates. Air units can get trapped inoperative in Manila. Aircraft have their own strategy. Naval units move “at large” from Sea Box to Sea Box. That’s when they are subject to Naval Patrol Bombing Missions. When naval units want to perform a naval activity in the Sea Box they are in, like lay a concentrated mine field, launch aircraft, or disembark troops, they automatically appear in the desired hex of the Sea Box. Then they are in a single, specific hex of the Sea Box and become vulnerable to Naval Strike Bombing Missions. When all the action is finished they automatically return to “at large.”


    • As this is the first time I’ve played this, there will be certain mistakes that I make. I am aware of what the rule concerning the landing barges says, but I decided that since the Americans have had control of the Philipinnes long before the game starts, the rule did not necessarily apply to them, and felt that requirement had already been fulfilled. The Japanese, on the other hand, must wait. I may be wrong in this, but that’s the way it is going forward in this game.

      While you believe that everyone is running for the hills, the American plan is actually to consolidate in the Bataan area, then fight their way out. Mariveles provides the supply, and if I can get the resource points there as well, they have the attack supply. With the exception of the Philippines division, the American forces are very weak and artillery is very scarce.

      The only other area that I can see that is defensible is the Manila area, but as long as Manila is defended, the Americans are denied an entire division, as well as resource points for attack supply.

      Just in this first turn alone, I have already learned quite a bit, ranging from the abysmal American setup, to hex cities having no intrinsic air capacity. I have also learned that Batangas was probably not the best place to land on Luzon, as it is south of a natural chokepoint. I also learned that fighters have to be placed closer to the Corregidor/Manila Bay sea boxes, as they are the most likely place any Japanese naval patrol missions will occur.

      Once again, I did not place the mines intentionally, but in the process I learned that they should be placed during the first turn, but I don’t think that means they can’t be placed later.

      It’s a learning process. There is much more to learn, and that will only come with playing experience. Learning is limited when one is playing against oneself. As I’ve said before, I am always open to challengers.


  2. paul on said:

    “Running for the hills” in a manner of speaking, hopefully it opens discussion about the game. Let me tell you what I believe; you caught the situation the Americans are in, and what they need to do. Yeah, that was abysmal. You know that. I bet the Americans don’t set up that way again. They were lucky the Japanese went to Batangas. Enough dependence on luck. The Americans need to get ready and capable to attack. As the Japanese withdraw there might be that chance; just maybe. I think you are right on. And I can’t wait to see it happen.

    You’ve done a fine job learning the rules, and as quickly as you did, put them to work. Your reports show me how much I enjoy TDDH. Others can read what you learned, and it is so interesting to read about the plans and the choices the sides have to make.


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