Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Final Savo Island post: "P.3 Infamy and Retribution"

Well, the choices and actions to win this scenario are  simple, much like the real battle.  The IJN has to go for broke, race to the anchorage and aggressively engag every target to have any chance of the total victory. The risk of losing the squadron is inescapably part of the attempt, and largely depends on the Allied players' deployment and errors.

With the small Aussie Squadron North of Savo only distantly supported by two squadrons of USN destroyers, there's an opportunity to destroy all the squadrons piecemeal, just like in the original battle.  So in our re-fight there was a decisive tactical victory in the IJN grasp, and an opportunity for a strategic victory.  The strategic victory would depend upon the alertness of the USN cruisers after everything else was wiped out.  

So what happened...?

Well, the IJN had the Aussies dead to rights - unaware and on set courses/speeds. Their destruction was as easy as measuring out the range and torpedo vectors [pre-measuring is allowed].  Then, after slamming the Australians, the IJN could reload torpedoes in six turns, and close in for the kill on the anchorage.

Instead, the IJN players worried about the USN cruisers that had not yet been seen or Acquired.  They chose to close with the Aussies and eliminate them with gunfire.  The unfortunate aspect of this approach is that gunfire will rarely sink a ship quickly, and one turn of surprise gunnery isn't enough to make a difference like a surprise torpedo attack!

Also, the Aussie player skillfully led them West, away from the anchorage, and even scored a torpedo hit on the Chokai!  It was the Hobart's revenge, as the CL sank the turn before the hit.  And of course, the British torpedoes don't have faulty magneto gadgets.  In the end, the Aussies were all sunk, but only after damaging and mis-directing the IJN squadron. The time spent in this action allowed more squadrons to awaken to the engagement that had begun.

The four USN DD's that were patrolling south of Savo closed in just as the Aussies were being finished off.  By dumb luck they were on the North edge of their patrol circuit when the IJN chose to swing south, and were able to Detect them on radar, allowing them to depart from their patrol route and investigate.  Despite miscalculating the approach vector and falling behind the IJN [new player] their snapping at the IJN heels continued to distract the IJN and waste time.

More importantly, the center of Ironbottom Bay was being patrolled by six Bagleys, each fielding 16 torpedoes, eight per side!  These also finally Detected the IJN who were dancing around with the Australians, and closed.  In a critical turn, they unleashed 40 torpedoes and got four hits. One badly damaged the Chokai and the others sank the Furutaka.  The rolling was amazing, with the most notorious dice roller in the club rolling a natural 4-1-1 on sequential d12 to get three hits on one spread with only one magneto-bounce!  He's likable, so we still tell him when we're playing...  Statistically, it should've been more like two hits with one failing to blow up.

Anyway, the IJN cruisers were so close that gunfire was going to trash the USN DDs.  Three of the Bagley's were badly damaged, and the other three were about to be gutted, when we called the game.

The bottom line was that the IJN failed to take the Aussies out cheap and fast, and the USN DD's made enough of an impression that a tactical Allied victory was within reach, if unlikely.  There was no chance at the anchorage and the USN cruisers.  The likely result was about 18-12 VPs for the IJN, not enough to double the Allies.

Having played the battle 3-4 times with only one win for the IJN, I can say with certainty that a skillful IJN team should win a clear tactical victory.  However, only with luck and Allied deployment errors can the anchorage be attacked in enough strength to win the strategic victory also.

Overall, I think Mikawa got the "most likely result"  with a decisive tactical win that didn't risk the loss of his squadron.  But that conservative approach did not serve the Imperial cause.  In other words, he should've gone for broke and accepted the likely loss of ships for a strategic win.  

Then again, I _am_ an armchair Admiral!

A good refight.  I feel the GQ3.3 rules are a bit too demanding in a big night battle for anything less than about half the players knowing them well.  With 3-4 ships for most players, this was the third or fourth "big battle" I've GM'd, and honestly, while they had fun, we hashed parts of the rules and I had to wing it sometimes to keep it moving. 

The main challenge is the night rules - they work well but slow things down.  I think a daylight battle will be a lot better for the group, as they'll be able to forget all the night rules about Detection, illumination, etc.  The change of turn sequence helped, as moving the Gunnery Phase to follow orders meant that the players could order their targets and illumination along with their movement, which saved time thinking and talking about it.

Looking forward to a trial run of the WWI Fleet Action Imminent rules in September!  Stay tuned as it will soon be time to begin painting up the German ships.

No comments:

Post a Comment