Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Endgame

The last game turn caused quite a bit of controversy over the interpretation of the elimination rule that was invoked at Corregidor. As usual, I interpreted the rule incorrectly and the supply that was released to the troops (the last of the supply) should have forestalled an elimination check, despite the wording “does not defer”.

Be that as it may, I have decided to pull the plug on this game. Elimination checks for Corregidor would resume this turn, and they would slowly fade away until the Japanese conquer Corregidor. I have some other things that I want to move on to, and not just Narvik II.

The game ends as a Japanese tactical victory. They conquered the Philippines, but at a very high cost in troops.

Allied learnings

This was quite the learning experience. I learned that I know far less than I thought I did about naval warfare.

The Allied army looks more intimidating than it really is, and this is due to the lack of support and that they are not what the history books call them. As you look at the counters, you notice “small” battalions with the [II] symbol. But their unit designation has an ‘r’ at the end. This does not mean reservist, it means regiment. In other words, each of these regiments is about 25% of the size it should. Brigade counters unit designations also carry the letter ‘d’ at the end, for division. A brigade, in the game, is made up of four of these small battalions, meaning they are 1 RE in size, or about a third the size of an actual division. So when you read about the campaign, these units were actually inflated into something they were not. What they were was undermanned and under-gunned.

During the course of the game, though, what they lacked for numbers and equipment, they more than made up with lucky dice rolls.

Exchange after exchange after exchange, whittling the Japanese invasion force down so far that they were forced to call for backup.

The key to the Allied defense, I think, is concentration. I set my initial defense along the Pampanga River, prepared to defend Manila to the end. There was a critical point where I had to make a choice between backing towards Manila or running around the Japanese rear. I should have headed towards and defended Manila.

But the Manila area is not exactly a great place for defending, being clear terrain. The western side of the island has better defensive terrain for the Allies. The trick is to hold the Japanese off long enough for the supplies released from Manila make it to the Bataan peninsula so the Allies can hold out as long as possible.

But concentration comes with a weakness. The Allies have to be careful that the Japanese, who move much faster, run around their flanks.

The USN, in my opinion, poses no major threat to the IJN. The subs are about useless, and although the defective torpedoes from the subs can do damage to the Japanese transports, it isn’t likely.

But I think the USN needs to stay on dedicated reaction during the Japanese turn. The USN has to take every possible opportunity to go after Japanese transport.

The air forces are mostly useless for naval strike missions, especially the heavy bombers. The Allied player needs to look for missions that play to the strength of these bombers, like bombing the rail marshalling yards. Otherwise, they spend most of the game being ineffective.

Keeping the long range heavy bombers off Luzon is probably a wise course, but make sure there are garrison troops at the airbases on Mindanao just in case the Japanese decide to move against them.

The Japanese

I originally modeled my initial plan on the actual Japanese landings: The extreme north end of the island and the extreme south, at Legaspi (because it had greater port capacity).

The drive up the tail of Luzon was interminable because of the poor weather. It took at a full month for one regiment to make it to Lucena and Batangas, and the second regiment an additional week to get out of the bad weather. That’s at least 3 weeks too long.

Batangas and Lucena have to be the targets of the southern amphibious invasion. They don’t have as much capacity as Legaspi, but they are closer to Manila. A baseforce at one or both will solve the capacity issue.

On the other side of Manila, landing at Iba and Olongapo threatens any Bataan withdrawal (and Clark Field) from the get-go. While most Japanese units can move pretty quickly, the closer to Bataan and Corregidor a landing can take place, the better.

The advantages of this are that the IJN can stay out of the range of the US subs on the first turn, and get forces closer to the main battle more quickly.

The objective of the Japanese air forces (in my opinion) should be the airfields, especially on the first turn when the US can’t do anything about it. Damage as many airfields as possible and damage as many aircraft as possible. Do not let up, especially as they start to resurrect themselves. Make the Americans spend their meager ARPs, so that they can’t recover from the damage.

Go after the actual divisions and armor as soon as possible. This will seriously weaken the Allies.

Consider taking Cebu on the first turn.

Minefields in the Corregidor sea box worked rather well, I think, but there are more places the mines can bel placed, like at the port of Cebu to prevent that port from being used as a naval base by the USN. Force the USN to go to Manila, and make sure to mine the Corregidor waters to make it hard on them. And make sure the USN minesweeper is sunk as soon as possible to prevent them from cleaning up the mines.

There are those who recommend going after the USN early on and leaving it a pile of wreckage. This is mostly for victory points, I think, because as I’ve said earlier, I don’t consider the Asiatic fleet to be much of a threat (but that’s just me).

The game can be won by the Japanese without setting foot on Luzon. It could make an interesting game to try the Mindanao to the north strategy to see what happens.

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