Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Japanese Feb II 1942

I had not realized that I had slowed the pace of these posts to about once a month. I will try to pick up the pace.

I have also been asked about the Japanese plan to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion.

Several ideas raced through my mind, from the straightforward (throw everything I have at Manila and destroy the enemy) to the exotic (attack the city from the east, but also perform and amphibious landing from Manila Bay to bring the IJN’s guns to bear).

Before a plan can be devised, however, the Japanese commander must look at several things.

Let’s start by examining the Victory Points schedule.

Points are awarded for ownership of airfields, airstrips and ports (except for anchorages). There seems to be a trick to this, however. The schedule says that points are awarded for objectives that were enemy owned at the start of the scenario.

In other words, if the Japanese capture and hold Cebu City through the end of the game, for example, they are awarded a total of 13 VPs, 10 for ownership of a major port, and 2 for ownership of an airstrip. However, if the Allies recapture it, the Allies do not get any VPs returned. Thus the only way for the Allies to win is for them to completely drive the Japanese off the islands.

All of the islands, and they must destroy just about every Japanese unit to do so.

In reality, however, the Japanese don’t even need to land on, or capture Luzon to win. Taking the time to capture all of the other islands can provide the Japanese with enough for victory. It just seems to me that the Japanese could capture Legaspi, and hold it for the entire game, and still win.

Luzon is worth 124 VP, while the rest of the Philippines are worth 168, and the Japanese currently control 92 VPs in territorial gains.

Diverting some troops to capture the rest of the islands is one option. Finishing off Luzon (sans Corregidor) is another.

Before we formulate a plan, we need to know what the weather is going to be.

The weather remains unchanged:

  • 11: clear/calm
  • 12: rain/rough
  • 13: mud/calm

What does this mean, exactly?

Luzon, for the most part, is clear of any adverse weather, except for the eastern edge, where it is raining, supply lines are shortened, and movement is slowed.

Zone 13 is the bulk of Mindanao.

Okay, now what can the Japanese expect in the way of reinforcements over the next few weeks?

Besides the division that is available this turn, on the Feb IV and Mar I turns, several non-divisional units become available, and several aircraft squadrons are available on the Mar II 42 turn. The prudent course is to wait for them to arrive.

The Allies are receiving nothing more in the way of reinforcements, and only have Filipino replacements available, but I don’t want to sit around and wait for them to arrive. Why? Because the longer the Japanese wait, the stronger the Allies can get in Manila. Steps must be taken to knock it down.

The Allies have the following in Manila:

  • 1 x 9-11-6 Filipino infantry division (unsupported)
  • 2 x 5-7-5 Filipino infantry brigades (both supported by artillery)
  • 1 x 3-10 US mechanized battalion (unsupported)
  • 1 x 1-2-8 US artillery regiment (supports 2 RE)
  • 1 x 0-1-8 US artillery battalion (supports 1 RE)
  • 1 x 2-6 US AA regiment
  • 1 x 1-6 Filipino AA battalion
  • 1 x P-40E fighter squadron
  • 1 x A-24 attack bomber squadron

17 DF supported, 8.5 points unsupported, 25.5 defensive factors overall. It’s actually moot as to what units the artillery supports. The math works out the same.

Japanese currently have 45 AF and no air support. Not even enough for 2:1 odds, but the attack could go off at 3:2, with the -1 DRM for the fort.

Because of the rain on the east side of the island, not all units (specifically the two light infantry divisions) can’t get into the position that I want them to, but supply lines can be opened up, and Malolos attacked.

The two mountain artillery units in 16 corps are beginning their second turn out of supply. All other units in 16 corps are starting the second half of their first turn out of supply. The prohibition about Allied zones of control not extending into jungle hexes expired on the Jan II 42 turn, so they are completely cut off from their supply base.

The 4th infantry division, along with a transport counter becomes available in Shanghai, have been released from the China theater strategic reserve.

The final IJA air replacement points are being spent to replace the Ki-36 attack bomber squadrons that was shot down last turn, because it gets converted to a Ki-51 dive bomber next turn. It appears at Formosa.

Air support is very thin for the Japanese, a situation that I let get out of control by letting up on airfield raids. More Japanese air support does not arrive for another month.

Transports are dispatched to Shanghai to pick up the waiting infantry division, but some transports drop anchor at Formosa to retrieve the few operational landing craft there. These are to be transported back to Lucena in order to keep options open. The Allies choose to let them pass without a search, because really, sinking empty transports isn’t really worth it. Let’s wait until they have a cargo before trying to sink them.

It takes the fleet 17 naval movement points to reach Shanghai and load the reinforcements. The fleet leaves Shanghai and moves 1 naval movement point east of Shanghai.

Japanese movement (click image to enlarge)

Japanese movement (click image to enlarge)

16 corps movers south to hex 2023, NE of Malolos, opening the supply line again, while the 52nd light mountain division swings around Laguna de Bay to hex 2024, NE of Manila. The 53rd light infantry division moves into Cavite, south of Manila, to prevent the Allies from entertaining any ideas about sallying to the south to compromise supply lines. The 54th light infantry division slogs through the rain and into Taytay, SE of Manila. The IJA is once again on the outskirts of Manila, but not quite ready to attack.

To the north, the transport counter in Aparri pushes south to hex 2116 in preparation of moving the supplies back to the north. Another resource point is moved by rail from Lucena to the end of the rail line at hex 2126. It is close enough to be drawn upon by forces attacking Malolos.

Malolos? Did I say Malolos? Isn’t that where the US Philippines division is?

That’s the point. Part of the plan is to prevent the Philippines division from entering Manila at full strength. This may get bloody, because the attack odds are only 2:1 (36 AF:15 DF). No real threat to the Japanese, but they could suffer some casualties.

The 16th corps is out of general supply, but is capable of tracing an overland supply line to attack supply so it can bring all that artillery to bear on the Americans.

However, B-17E bombers from Clark and A-24s, escorted by a P-40E squadron fly defensive support. The Ki-27s from Batagas and Lucena intercept, one going after the escorts while the other goes after the B-17s. Neither side inflicts casualties, and the bombers add 4 points to the Allied defense. The odds have shifted one column in favor of the defenders, down to 3:2.

Advances and retreats after combat (click image to enlarge)

Advances and retreats after combat (click image to enlarge)

The Americans deliver casualties to the Japanese, but in the end, the Philippines division is forced out of Malolos, and the Filipino 301st artillery regiment is destroyed. The result is an Exchange. The Allies lose 15 points, resulting in a loss of a minimum of 15 attack factors for the Japanese. The Japanese decide to cadre the 20th light mountain infantry division, again to preserve the artillery, but the Americans are forced back into the rice paddies, pushed away from Manila once again.

The US receives 1.5 replacement points, the Filipinos receive 0.5 replacements, and the Japanese receive 2.5 replacement points, based on the higher replacement costs for the Japanese units.

Finally, the Japanese are starting to break down these Allied divisions. All that’s left is the one in Manila.

Japanese exploitation (click image to enlarge)

Japanese exploitation (click image to enlarge)

The Japanese fleet returns from Shanghai, and a group of transports drops anchor at Vigan and begins offloading the 4th division. The rest of the fleet continues on until they reach Lucena. Two squadrons of bombers leave Clark Field and head to Vigan, searching for the transports. They find them with ease, but fail to hit their targets.

The only unit that uses the exploitation phase is the transport counter that picked up the supplies. It moves 4 hexes along the road back towards Aparri.


Defensive air support is supposed to be flown before any attacks have been declared. This is where the solitaire game becomes very tricky, as I already know where the attacks are going to happen, so it’s not like I am guessing the likely hex to be attacked. I suppose I could fly another mission, say like the other two bombers over Manila to make up for the fact that I’m not supposed to know, but I think that would be a waste of time.

I wait until the before the attack happens to fly DAS. It’s the best way to handle it, I think.

Other items: Heavy bombers can, as far as I can tell, fly ground support and defensive air support. They cannot, however, use airstrips. They have to use airfields.

I also found the staging rule. Staging can occur as a single leg transfer mission, then the real mission is initiated, not a triple leg stage then the mission as I tried to pull off with the B-17. Some games allow it, some games don’t.

So, here is the plan.

The 4th infantry division is to head down the road and recapture the port of San Fernando, then on through Baguio towards Clark Field to recapture the airfield.

Because two divisions have been cadred, it is unlikely to see an attack on Manila in the next couple of turns. However, in order to keep from not making progress in the campaign, we may have to switch over to assaulting the other islands.

Honestly, this campaign is costing the Japanese much more than I expected going in to this game. They IJA may not have much left in this region when the campaign comes to a close.


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9 thoughts on “TDDH: Japanese Feb II 1942

  1. Actually, I asked how the Japanese can avoid the situation they are currently in. What do the Japanese need to do from the beginning, while commanding an overwhelming force, so they don’t end up like this? I think this is a question that needs to be addressed.

    Thanks for your demonstration of the game.


    • I actually intend to do that when I do my post game wrap up.

      And thank you for reading.


      • paul on said:

        Actually, I’m looking for discussion.


        • So, what could the Japanese have done differently to keep from being in this situation in the first place?

          As this game has progressed, I see several things that can be done differently. The Japanese have to move faster, hit harder.

          I think I had the right idea in the original game, when I landed at Batangas. Because of the persistent bad weather in Zone 12, it takes the Japanese far to long to march up the tail to get into position. Batangas & Lucena make far more sense to land at. The 16th division, which is split between 3 different locations should probably be landed on the southern end of Luzon and assembled into the complete division.

          To the north, instead of landing the strongest forces at Aparri, Laoag and Vigan, they should be landed at Iba and Olongapo, again to bring them closer to the Pampanga lowlands. The light forces landed should effectively negate the effects of the mountains, should the Allies place any forces there.

          The air campaign against Allied airfields must continue as long as possible until the Allies have no airpower left. This includes air reinforcements that appear up until the Feb II 42 turn.

          That USN is actually the least of my concerns. My two playthroughs have shown them to be ineffective against the might of the IJN. While I would not bring the transports within range of the American subs early in the game, I don’t think they pose a significant threat.

          I believe there is another alternative to Luzon. The Japanese player can win the game without ever landing on Luzon. Concentrating on Mindanao and the Visayan Islands is enough to win the game, and if the Allies come forth from Luzon to try to counter this, it plays into Japanese hands by luring the USN out where it can be attacked and destroyed, especially if the IJN establishes multiple naval bases in the Visayans.

          I’m not pretending I know everything about this game (yet), and there is always more to learn, but these are just my observations at this point in the game.


          • paul on said:

            It would be difficult for the Japanese to lose by counting victory points. They can do practically anything and still “win” that way. I think the intent of the game is to play it twice and the players switch sides the second time; then compare VP totals. There is the game.

            The players race each other as the Japanese to grab as much as they can as quickly as they can. Does one player penalize himself to dip into his Strategic Reserve forces or do without them? Obviously the extra forces will help, but when he’s racing the other player when they switch sides, it is not an obvious choice. Play demands using everything in the game to make it count to its utmost. You can see the tension those choices bring to the game.

            If the Japanese player compares VPs for a “win” after playing once there is not much call to really care. And then why not get into all the alternative, convoluted play? There is not much demand to do anything else. That can’t be a fun use of the forces at one’s command.

            You said it. The Japanese have to move faster, hit harder. Yeah. There’s the fun. Show us that game. What kind of plans would you have to make?


            • As I was setting the game up, I saw three potential defensive positions: Manila and the east side of Laguna de Bay, the Pampanga River, and the Zambales Mountains/Bataan. During the playthrough, I discovered that the river didn’t even slow the Japanese attack down. My original idea was to withdraw back to Manila (the same principle applied to the historical defense). That obviously didn’t happen.

              I think that the best chances for the Japanese lie in landing in the Iba/Olongapo area in order to establish control over the Zambales mountains/Clark Field, and Bataan, while landing at Batangas/Lucena south of Manila in order to counter the bad weather in Zone 12 and put pressure from the south. Push the Allies into the Manila area, because it is mostly open and the river isn’t the barrier I hoped it would be.

              But I also see an alternative plan in the Visayans and Mindanao. Of course, going this route, one has to wonder if the Japanese would ave the strength to attack Luzon after all of the withdrawals occur.


              • One of the values of your play-through is to see what doesn’t work as expected. 🙂 Then, to develop something more effective. What do you see for the American player, now?

                I think that even a battalion of Japanese marines slipped into the Zambales Mountains on the first turn would so disrupt the Americans’ effort that the Americans have to set up to prevent that. And of course Batangas/Lucena the Japanese would love to have the first turn. Those are good choices, if only the Americans would cooperate.

                Instead of one plan or the other, or, one after the other, what about a plan that does it all, while the Japanese have an overwhelming force?


                • That’s actually why I started this project, to keep a record I could easily access at a later time to see what worked and what did not work. I know that the way I do things and the way others do things are not necessarily the same. When I played Alan at Narvik and he went on the defensive, that was very valuable to me.

                  I really don’t think the Americans have that much influence on the ultimate outcome of the game. The Philippines division is in a central location, and if the Japanese initially land at Lucena (to stay out of reach of the American subs), and the Ph XX responds, the whole north of the island is vulnerable.

                  The major flaw in my defense plan is that the limited forces were too spread out and weakened by that. The Pampanga River doesn’t slow the Japanese down for a second, and after that, the Allies are trapped in the open.

                  Defending the mountains in the north is a possibility, but even though the terrain is better, there is more territory that needs defended.

                  In the end, it looks like the plan to defend the Zambales/Bataan peninsula seems like the best bet, but I think the Allies are in trouble once the Japanese choke off the naval supply lines.


  2. From the looks of your game, the Americans did a number on the Japanese. Yeah, ultimately, the Americans lose, but that is not the game. The game is when the players switch sides, and then compare VP scores. So it still comes down to having a better, more effective plan.

    That has to be fun.


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