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Chasing the Logic

 
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All Forums >> [Current Games From Matrix.] >> [World War I] >> War Plan Orange: Dreadnoughts in the Pacific 1922 - 1930 >> Scenario Design >> Chasing the Logic Page: [1]
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Chasing the Logic - 1/22/2008 4:14:00 AM   
dwg

 

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I've been thinking about WPO scenario design since I picked it up before Christmas.

WPO is by definition an alternate history. And most people would say it's more alternate if we bring in the might-have-beens: the last three Admirals, the G3s, the Amagis, the Tillmans etc. But is it?

A war in the Pacific doesn't occur without some surrounding political context. The issue is what that context does to the opening set-up. Wars without a significant amount of pre-war tension are unusual. If you know war is coming, then you start bolstering your forces, fortifying your positions, boosting your production. Looking at WPO from a Commonwealth perspective I don't see that (I don't know enough about US and Japanese deployments to say about them, but the French and Dutch deployments seem to support the same conclusion). If the UK knows that war is coming then the East Indies and China Stations will be reinforced, more RAF units will be shifted to the Far East and the existing bases will be augmented. And at home the forces will be boosted and new types brought into production. Much like we see in 1935-39, in other words. For instance, if we're going to war in 1923, does the RAF drop the 16/22 requirement for a land-based torpedo bomber (21" torpedo!) as it did historically, or does it put the Avro Ava or Blackburn Cubaroo into production? Isn't a scenario where these factors aren't considered equally as ahistorical as one in which the G3s, Amagis or Tillmans turn up?

IOW, there's a logic to being at war, and scenario design should reflect that rather than the historical deployment on a certain date.
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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/22/2008 9:11:36 AM   
String


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hear, hear!

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/22/2008 4:10:34 PM   
jkjeeper

 

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Interesting suggestion, however I wonder if the Commonwealth could financially afford such plans considering they just came out of economically crippling WWI.

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/22/2008 5:18:05 PM   
Rysyonok


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jkjeeper

Interesting suggestion, however I wonder if the Commonwealth could financially afford such plans considering they just came out of economically crippling WWI.


Exactly. Remember, the British went to the Washington talks already knowing they are not going to complete their G3s. The world was still recovering from the first world war and the influenza epidemic right thereafter. There could have been the notion that maybe things will turn out alright they way they are...

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/23/2008 8:49:54 PM   
dwg

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: jkjeeper
Interesting suggestion, however I wonder if the Commonwealth could financially afford such plans considering they just came out of economically crippling WWI.


Asking whether the Commonwealth could afford this is to an extent missing the point as this applies to any nation, not just the UK. It's particularly true of a nation planning to go to war, such as Japan in WPO. Even without additional spending forces would be redeployed in the face of an imminent threat.

In a run-up to war economic sustainability goes out of the window. You go to deficit spending and build everything industry will stand (in the case of the UK and WWII spending actually exceeded industry's capability, leading to Didos going to sea with less than their full armament).

Historically the UK actually did start a period of re-armament around 1923/4, ending the post-war building holiday, expanding the RAF significantly (the plan was to treble the number of squadrons, to 52,between '23 and '28) and putting new types and classes into production for the RAF and RN. The 1923 Special Programme for Naval Construction planned to: bulge all QEs by '29, convert Glorious and Courageous to CV immediately after completion of Furious, order new carrier in '28, complete 8 8" CAs and 10 CLs by '29, lay down two destroyer flotillas (8 DD+1 DDL) per year from '28, convert 2 depot ships for foreign service and build 5 new, build 8 new SS per year from '25, build 3 ML by '29. This was bringing construction forward as a programme to deal with unemployment and in the event wasn't carried through due to a change in government, but does demonstrate that discretionary funding for rearmament was there even in a post-Washington peacetime situation. In a no-Washington run-up to war the belt could be tightened considerably more to allow a bigger programme.

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/23/2008 9:14:05 PM   
dwg

 

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>> Exactly. Remember, the British went to the Washington talks already knowing they are not going to complete their G3s. The world was still recovering from the first world war and the influenza epidemic right thereafter. There could have been the notion that maybe things will turn out alright they way they are... <<

But if Washington fails, or even if it succeeds and you can still see war coming, do you just bury your head in the sand or do something about it? Historically we see re-armament kicking off and attitudes changing as soon as the war-clouds start to gather in the mid-30s. WPO simply shifts that process forward a decade or more. Don't confuse what people wanted to build (the post-Washington navies) with what they could have built if circumstances forced them to.

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/24/2008 6:15:55 PM   
engineer

 

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Let me second String's comment of "Hear, hear!"  There are any number of historical "levers" that one can pull in laying the ground work for a scenario.  The late scenario in WPO is the most at risk since the mostly historical OOB for non-capital ships would have certainly been influenced by the increased expenditures for the battleships.  

My method (see the various two threads for Western Citadel in the Scenario and AAR sections) involved immersing myself in the history of the 20's and working forward from some arguably plausible consequences of some of the changes. 

The baseline assumption that we have in WPO is no Washington Treaty.  OK.  Possible channels for subsequent history:

1)  Head in the sand:  Politicians in the West look after other things and Japan's attack is a "bolt from the blue" surprise.  This explains the unpreparedness of the western forces.  However, without Washington would the US have mothballed all those recently completed destroyers, the RAF demobilization, etc.

2)  With no Washington Treaty does Britain retain the 10 Year rule after the Chanak Crisis with Turkey.  This toggle gives a plausible reason to accelerate British RN and RAF build-ups.

3)  Do Commonwealth members drop their objections to renewing the Anglo-British Naval Treaty.  In the absence of Washington, London would have a much greater incentive to conclude a bilateral treaty.  If the treaty was renewed, then Britain and the Commonwealth might well stand aside from the a US/Japanese war in the Pacific. 

4)  China is a fascinating "what if".  Maybe Manchuko is accelerated a few years and game gets a much deeper focus on Japan with Manchurian auxiliaries trying to conquer the balance of China or even a coup where China goes over to the Japanese side (that's a big coding task since you have to create the Chinese as faux Japanese units). "Asia for the Asians" had a real resonance for some former colonies in WW2 where the Japanese occupation wasn't so brutal to drive the locals onto the Allied side. 

5)  Is the conflict likely enough that at least some of the merchant marine on both sides has already gotten their armament before the fighting starts?

The bottom line here is to exercise your discretion to build a conventional historical narrative stretching from the roughly the end of the Great War through the start of hostilities in WPO.  From that historical narrative you can speculate on the military consequences in terms of WPO - what planes are accelerated or postponed, are bases reinforced or ignored, what is the naval building program, etc. 

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/27/2008 4:12:12 AM   
dwg

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: engineer

Let me second String's comment of "Hear, hear!" 


Thanks

quote:

There are any number of historical "levers" that one can pull in laying the ground work for a scenario.  The late scenario in WPO is the most at risk since the mostly historical OOB for non-capital ships would have certainly been influenced by the increased expenditures for the battleships. 


Agreed, everything is interlinked. The battleline is only a fraction of spending (admittedly a rather large one). It needs cruiser and destroyer consorts, they all need logistics support and so it goes on. And if you grow stronger then your opponent must grow to match. And if you grow and they grow then everyone else must. And of course if you fund the Navy then the Army and the Air Force will also want their share.  

quote:


1)  Head in the sand:  Politicians in the West look after other things and Japan's attack is a "bolt from the blue" surprise.  This explains the unpreparedness of the western forces.  However, without Washington would the US have mothballed all those recently completed destroyers, the RAF demobilization, etc.


This is one I just don't buy. People may be slow to respond, but they usually get there in the end.

quote:


2)  With no Washington Treaty does Britain retain the 10 Year rule after the Chanak Crisis with Turkey.  This toggle gives a plausible reason to accelerate British RN and RAF build-ups.


Interesting point about the 10 Year Rule and Chanak, both of which I've only become aware of through reading up on the subject. Personally I think the lack of a Washington Treaty changes the game far more than an essentially ephemeral crisis in a decaying power.

quote:


3)  Do Commonwealth members drop their objections to renewing the Anglo-British Naval Treaty.  In the absence of Washington, London would have a much greater incentive to conclude a bilateral treaty.  If the treaty was renewed, then Britain and the Commonwealth might well stand aside from the a US/Japanese war in the Pacific. 


That's a good point, though does Japan really want war with the US, or just to cover its flanks while it makes a grab for the oil in the Dutch East Indies? A thrust south leaves the Phillipines a threat on the sea lines between Indonesia and Japan, but also puts the British and French on their other flank in Malaya and Indochina. Britain's traditional affection for the underdog will put any alliance under immediate strain if Japan attacks the Dutch. And if the British are a threat, then Hong Kong is a knife at Japan's throat. By an accident of geography, the one thing Japan wants most is held by the weakest colonial power, but is located such that she has to contemplate war with all if she wants war with one.

quote:

4)  China is a fascinating "what if".  Maybe Manchuko is accelerated a few years and game gets a much deeper focus on Japan with Manchurian auxiliaries trying to conquer the balance of China or even a coup where China goes over to the Japanese side (that's a big coding task since you have to create the Chinese as faux Japanese units). "Asia for the Asians" had a real resonance for some former colonies in WW2 where the Japanese occupation wasn't so brutal to drive the locals onto the Allied side. 


Japan doesn't seem to have had the diplomatic subtlety to be able to sell that view widely in WWII, I don't see them doing any better in the 20s. I think China for Japan is precisely the same kind of mistake that Russia was for Napoleon and Hitler. Better to play the waiting game and have it fall to you piecemeal. That's how Britain conquered India, after all.

quote:


5)  Is the conflict likely enough that at least some of the merchant marine on both sides has already gotten their armament before the fighting starts?


Everyone planned for it, but there seem to be few enough cases where it was pulled off. A more deliberate approach to readying for war might allow you to do it, but risks sending messages to your opponent as to what is coming.

Looking at the Never-Weres; no Washington gets you the Cherry Trees: British, American and Japanese, and the Tillmans may come as a reaction to the British and Japanese ships, but for the RN to have the last three Admiral class we need something earlier. Britain stopped the Admirals because Germany stopped the Mackensens, but if Germany keeps on with the Mackensens and the Ersatz Yorcks, so that we can justify the Admirals, then what else does that indicate about the way the Great War played out?

Another interesting point of departure is to assume no Kanto earthquake, which puts the Japanese on a much sounder financial footing, as well as likely saving a bunch of new construction in the yards. WPO assumes Amagi as a BC in the battleship-heavy scenarios, in which case she would probably have been in the water rather than the yard when Kanto struck, but if Amagi was off the slip then likely some other hull in the 8+8 programme would have been there to be affected instead.

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RE: Chasing the Logic - 1/28/2008 11:20:50 PM   
engineer

 

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quote:


Engineer quote:


2)  With no Washington Treaty does Britain retain the 10 Year rule after the Chanak Crisis with Turkey.  This toggle gives a plausible reason to accelerate British RN and RAF build-ups.


DWG Quote

Interesting point about the 10 Year Rule and Chanak, both of which I've only become aware of through reading up on the subject. Personally I think the lack of a Washington Treaty changes the game far more than an essentially ephemeral crisis in a decaying power.


Among the things I find interesting about Chanak was that this emphasized the hollowness of the Allied victory after the Great War.  The prize was the Bosporus, a premier chokepoint since Homeric times, and by far the weakest of pre-war Great Powers, the newly emasculated Turkey, had forced Britain to withdraw from this key location without a fight.  An aggressive Japan, in our Washington Treaty-free world can only look at this as a sign that her own aggression won't be strongly resisted on the other side of the world.  The British almost have to revoke the 10 Year unless they tie up Japan with a non-aggression pact.  If they don't do either, that points back to a "head in the sand" posture.  And you're right that people "usually get there in the end", the question is too often how many lives are lost before the stakes are clear because the gold standard or unemployment or the "Irish Question" or Commonwealth organization or another uprising on the Northwest Frontier crowded out the government's attention in the meantime. 

quote:

DWG wrote: 
 does Japan really want war with the US, or just to cover its flanks while it makes a grab for the oil in the Dutch East Indies? A thrust south leaves the Phillipines a threat on the sea lines between Indonesia and Japan, but also puts the British and French on their other flank in Malaya and Indochina. Britain's traditional affection for the underdog will put any alliance under immediate strain if Japan attacks the Dutch. And if the British are a threat, then Hong Kong is a knife at Japan's throat. By an accident of geography, the one thing Japan wants most is held by the weakest colonial power, but is located such that she has to contemplate war with all if she wants war with one.


These are good points.  A one on one war scenario might be a scenario like this:  No Washington, No Nine Power Treaties, an Anglo-Japanese non-aggression pact.  Japan secures long term contracts to DEI oil.  Japanese ambitions in China are hostage to US bases in the Philippines that threaten the DEI oil so the US threat needs to be eliminated, ala Russia's competitive threat to North Asia before the Great War.  In game terms, you would almost have to make wholesale base modifications to take the Empire out of the game and just give the Japanese defacto oil and supply heads in the DEI with a house rule that the US couldn't attack the bases.  Outright conquest of the Indies is postponed until after US pretensions of hegemony are addressed.  Alternatively, one could increase oil supply in Formosa on the assumption that the Royal Navy escorts British and Dutch flagged merchants to Japanese ports.  In any case, Japan would be accomplishing a diplomatic tour de force by isolating the USA from potential military allies before the outbreak of war.  Britain would eventually have the opportunity to use her good offices to broker a peace as TR did between Japan and Russia at Portsmouth (and win the Nobel Peace Prize).

This is a big speculative stretch, no doubt about that.  However, from a play perspective, this gives a more balanced scenario that doesn't tilt decisively against the Japanese until deeper into the game when US industrial output becomes fully engaged in the war.   

quote:

 DWG wrote:
Japan doesn't seem to have had the diplomatic subtlety to be able to sell that view widely in WWII, I don't see them doing any better in the 20s.


I'll gladly plead guilty to recently finishing John Toland's The Rising Sun where he spends quite a bit of time presenting evidence for aspects of this pan-Asian idealism motivating some advocates of Japanese aggression and being captured by considerably baser motives on the part of others in the Japanese government.  I think it was Gilbert's history of the 20th century that cites wide spread anti-western riots in China in 1927.  This might be very much a situation where the Chinese actors would view Japan as the lesser of two evils.  There is a game question here that can be addressed as well.  This sort of mod give the Japanese enough manpower to conquer China and head for India. Perhaps for balance sake, Allied ground reinforcements will need to increased somewhat for the British Empire, but it makes the continent a major theater of operations.  Maybe that means that Japanese air power and ground forces get bulked up a bit at the expense of some of those hypothetical battleships. If the ground warfare is a question you want the a scenario to address, then this scenario takes you there.

As another alternative, maybe there is a 20th Century Sepoy Revolt in Burma, Indochina, or the DEI.  The Japanese recognize the new regime so that leads to war between the Europeans and Japan.  In this war, the US stays neutral, mindful of its own ex-colonial status.  The US suspends oil shipments by way of neutrality so that locks Japan and the Europeans in a fight for the DEI.  That may offer the opportunity to float the French Navy east of Suez. 

The most important nugget when it comes to the scenario assumptions is the question of what sort of scenario are you really aiming for:  various rearmament races leading up war, a 1:1 USA/Japanese fight, a 1:1 British Empire/Japanese fight, a major continental campaign, mostly historical with greater aviation development, etc.?  Then you can stitch together the plot line by pulling the appropriate alternate history levers.  Western Citadel falls into the general heading of an unrestrained arms race.  The alternate history levers then give you the opportunity for some "color"        

(in reply to dwg)
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