From: Lone Star Nation
At long last I am starting my first AE PBEM. I've played WitP and AE for about a year and the time has come for a real opponent. This matchup pits Texas (me) vs. the UK (DSwain) and I'm very much looking forward to it.
Before jumping into the meat of the AAR, I want to acknowledge the debt I owe to Mike Solli, Cuttlefish, PzB, Castor Troy and jrcar. I've learned a lot from following their AARs and hopefully that knowledge will prevent me from making a total hash of this PBEM.
For years I have played the excellent tactical sim Combat Mission and became used to MTETT style analysis doing so (Mission/Terrain/Enemy/Troops/Time). As a result I will explain my planning using the discussion format you can find in jrcar's excellent AAR. That said, he is a professional intelligence officer, I am just a history geek who almost went to West Point, so I'm sure my efforts will pale in comparison. So, off we go to war. BANZAI!
Turn cycle: 1 day
Advanced Weather: ON
Allied Damage Control: ON
Historical 1st Turn: OFF
Dec. 7th Surprise: ON
Realistic R&D: ON
No unit withdrawals: OFF
- Only one Port attack by Japan on Turn 1
- Only existing Allied TFs may be given orders on Turn 1
- No strat bombing in China by Japan
- No strat bombing in former Allied territories until 1/1/43
- Must pay PPs to cross borders (i.e. for Kwantung Army to enter China, Indian Army restricted units to enter Burma, etc.)
We have been tasked with sweeping the colonialist devils from the Pacific in order to bring the eight corners of the world under a single roof. While we are confident in our general wargaming mojo, having played numerous games since middle school in the 80s, Cribtop HQ is very aware that we lack experience in AE PBEMs, and that playing Japan ups the ante on this issue. I considered playing as Allies, but the Japanese strategic position is of greater interest to me, and if I'm going to put in several years at something, I might as well play the side I really prefer.
Thus, we plan to pursue a relatively conservative approach, taking the normal Phase I objectives with only limited plans for Phase II. The ultimate goal is to establish a defensible perimeter and to pay special attention to the possibility of an Allied thrust from NW Australia aimed at the eastern DEI (more on this later).
We have little intel on DSwain's playing style, but assume he will be a competent foe. Since he is from the UK, we will assume he will not ignore the C/B/I theater. I will not bore you with an assessment of the starting forces and positions as this is common knowledge on the board, other than to point out that my brain works in a top down manner and I would have strongly preferred to be able to set up the at start forces in a slightly different configuration. I have some concerns that the need to move quickly will conflict with these deficiencies in setup and must guard against both moving too slowly and getting invasions mauled by Allied SCTFs. Careful attention to escorts and covering forces is the only remedy to this problem and I anticipate escorts and surface fleet assets to be the limiting factors in the initial invasions.
The desired endstate is hakko ichiu. Cribtop HQ has put a lot of thought into achieving the most stable and defensible perimeter for our new empire, drawing up a perimeter study listing anticipated major bases and outpost bases, with particular attention to deployment of naval assets and Air HQs. Study of numerous AARs shows that many Allied players are choosing to begin their counterattacks using the Darwin/Timor axis in the eastern DEI. While there is no guarantee that this is the route DSwain will choose, defense of the eastern DEI will figure prominently in our war plans.
Cribtop HQ has settled on a three prong approach to address the threat to the DEI. This plan in turn, when combined with the desire for a conservative approach, helps to set the broad strategic initiatives to be pursued. DEI defense will center on the following principles:
1) Seizure of Darwin and NW Australia. NW Australia will be considered a part of the DEI for operational planning and will be captured by elements of 16th Army and Southern Army. NW Australia will not become a Japanese PoW camp, however. After conquest, defense of NW Oz will be considered a delaying action rather than a decisive battle.
2) Integrated defense of the Timor area. Kendari will be the major base, with large buildups at Ambon and Lomblen and numerous other bases held as outposts. These three main bases have been selected because, when command or Air HQs are present there, numerous surrounding airfields will be "torpedo enabled" to allow LBA to contest Allied moves.
3) Advances into SOPAC & SWPAC theaters. Cribtop HQ sees numerous benefits to moving in SOPAC and SWPAC, with a lesser effort in CENPAC. Historically, the Allied High Command chose not to move in the DEI in part due to concern about the presence of Japanese forces on the Allied flank in NG and the Solomons. We believe seizure of PM, the Solomons, Tabiteuea and the New Hebrides is well within Japanese capabilities and will serve to threaten Allied convoys to Oz. Keeping the Allies focused here will prevent moves in the DEI while at the same time creating greater likelihood of a carrier duel with favorable conditions in the summer of '42. We are under no illusions that these actions will force DSwain to dance to our tune, but we believe it is likely we can keep the ball in this theater, and doing so does not require forces necessary for the defense of the DEI or Burma. Finally, if DSwain can be induced to begin his counterattack in the New Hebrides, this axis will force him to go "the long way" to the PI and Japan, thus creating delay, the greatest ally of Japan after the expansion stage.
The following forces will be detailed to the expansion of our empire in what is probably a pretty standard opening. The focus will be on Malaya and Luzon. SE Fleet will need some augmentation of force to quickly secure a perimeter running PM/Noumea/New Hebrides.
- 14th Army will seize Luzon, with 48 Div and 65 Bde invading in the north while 16 Div hits the southern peninsula. In addition, 21st Div will be loaded at Shanghai and committed to Luzon until we have pushed the Americans into a seige at Clark, Manila or Bataan. I agree with the analysis that in AE Clark/Bataan is the allies' best bet, but we'll see how DSwain plays it. 21st Div will be released asap to assist in Malaya.
- 16th Army, with elements of 14th Army beginning at Babeldoab, will descend on Mindanao and the eastern DEI. Ternate, Ambon, Manado and Davao will be early targets. We will work to get one of the Air HQs from Formosa down into this area to allow Netties to help sweep Allied naval forces from the seas. 16th Army will later be reinforced to seize NW Australia as per the war plan.
- 15th Army will move on Burma. Initial moves will be to seize the Burmese side of the long peninsula up to Tavoy. We will close up with the enemy at Moulmein after arrival of 33rd Div from Japan. Burma front will be substantially reinforced after conquest as we are well aware of the Allied ability to counterattack from India. Port Blair will be taken by air assault by 1st Raiding Regt as soon as practicable. This will allow domination of the Bay of Bengal by IJN air assets and hopefully will make it more difficult for Singapore based Allied planes to escape to India.
- 25th Army. We considered a Mersing invasion but in the end abandoned it for two reasons: 1) it does not fit with the war plan's low risk profile, especially due to initial lack of surface forces in the region; and 2) we must assume that DSwain is smart enough to position at least both Aussie brigades here asap. Instead, we will focus on pushing forces ashore at Pattani, Singora and Khota Baru. The main landings will be at Pattani as the road network to the western side of the Malay peninsula is better here (same number of hexes to be traversed as from Singora, but only one hex of trail to be crossed). 25th Army will supply forces to capture Palembang and Java once Singers is secured.
- Southern Army. Assets in Indochina will secure Miri, Brunei, Kuching and Sinkawang. Netties will move to Sinkawang asap. Goal is to isolate Singers and Palembang by having air power to dominate the approaches to these ports from both the Malacca Straits and the open sea between Sinkawang and Singapore.
- SE Fleet. The Guam invasion will be re-directed to Rabaul. 4th Div will be committed to this region to take PM. Shanghai SNLF will be bought out of China and used first to seize Guam and later as a component of moves into the Solomons, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. These latter two island groups will be developed to threaten Allied convoys in accordance with the overall war plan, but they will not be held in strength except for Luganville. It is here we hope to tempt the Allies into a CV duel later in '42. The initial invasions loaded up at Babeldoab will descend upon Aitape, Manus, Lae and Hollandia. These targets were chosen primarily due to airfield size.
- Marshalls/Gilberts. Wake, Makin, Tarawa, Nauru, Ocean and TB will be seized. TB will be built up as the main base in the Gilberts AO. Baker and Canton will be taken as well as outposts if possible. I like to take Canton due to the pre war fuel stockpiled at that base. Denying this fuel to the Allies hinders them a bit.
- China. In general, we will seek to clean up while seizing the northern plains, the coastal cities and the first row of bases in the south. There is a lot of work to do in the early weeks of the war to streamline garrisons and free up troops for offensive ops. Ichang will probably be abandoned as I have seen it retaken in several AARs, trashing the quality troops there.
- 5th Fleet. We will defend the Kuriles through positioning of Home Island air search and nav attack assets at Bihoru. Ground troops will be deployed to defend several islands. Picket vessels, both sub and surface, will be deployed to detect incoming allied raids.
KB - Cribtop doctrine will keep KB together unless we are fortunate enough to sink one or more US CVs in the early going (which we believe to be unlikely barring a lucky sub attack). After the initial PH raid, KB will cover the Wake invasion and then retire to Truk. KB will then adopt a two TF look with CarDiv 1 (we will refer to Cribtop fleet divisions rather than historical divisions) consisting of Shokaku, Zuikaku and Hiryu with CarDiv 2 made up of Akagi, Kaga and Soryu. The Kongo BCs will generally remain with KB, along with sufficient CAs. Doctrine will allow for detaching of the Kongos for bombardment missions but this will be done sparingly. KB is unlikely to spend a second day at PH, but we will evaluate the initial strikes before making this decision.
KBL - For whatever reason, my shorthand for Mini-KB is KBL. Zuiho and Hosho will move immediately to rendevous with Ryujo at the commencement of hostilities. KBL will generally assist with capture of the eastern DEI.
Combined Fleet - Most of the IJN BBs will sail for the DEI to support operations, probably divided into two BB TFs with support of CAs. Several BBs will probably be temporarily detached to SE Fleet to assist with the PM invasion.
CruDivs - We should end up with at least two independent CruDivs, probably Cribtop CruDivs 5 (Aoba, Kinugasa, Furutaka) and 6 (Ashigara, Kumano, Kako). They will support operations in the SE Fleet and CENPAC. Several of these vessels will have to be released from other Areas of Operation (AOs).
Subs - The initial PH subs will hang around for a few days in patrol zones near Hawaii in the hopes of catching US fleet units and then several subs will move to the hunting grounds off the West Coast. I have a more detailed sub ops plan, but this post is long enough already.
Convoys - We will follow a plan similar to that detailed by Mike Solli in his excellent AAR. Conversion of small AKLs to PBs has begun. Lima xAKs will be converted to AKEs and positioned initially at Babeldoab and Rabaul. Std-C class will be stashed or used in safe waters only until they are converted to TKs in June. We will focus initially on moving resources from Manchukuo/Korea to the HI. Initial plans are for port engineer units to move to Miri and Palembang to assist with loading the convoys.
Industry - Minimal changes are made at first. Shinano will be halted. The Zero factory is expanded, Val production is tweaked up from 12 to 24, Kate production is restarted. Other changes may be made but will generally wait until we have more detailed Tracker/Staff analysis and for the conquest of the DEI.
We will send the turn to our opponent this evening and hope for the best. Comments welcome.
< Message edited by Cribtop -- 3/21/2010 6:44:56 AM >