From: Lone Star Nation
Wherein we take a look back at the major operations of the war, including the good, bad and lessons learned in each, individual unit awards, and a final grade.
The Good: In general, we achieved a standard expansion in good order, conquering the SRA and establishing a pretty historical perimeter in Burma, the Pacific and the Aleutians. We generally avoided the type of bloody noses Allied players like to inflict at this stage, sometimes by skill, sometimes by luck. We paid attention to logistics, in particular moving base forces up at predetermined phase lines to ensure LBA coverage and providing air cover to the numerous amphibious invasions inherent to the early game. This point was driven home when Nells guarding the back door at Port Blair turned back a powerful TF of Royal Navy BBs attempting a counter thrust. We had good instincts and pulled the Kendari invasion force out of harm's way when Cuttlefish tried a carrier raid there. In China, we threatened to get a big surrender at Loyang and eventually closed the deal at Nanyang, destroying 17 LCUs and creating the conditions which allowed capture of the key resource bases of Sian and Lanchow.
The Bad: I was still a rather inexperienced player and it showed in several places. I failed to engage Force Z on the surface early and let them get away, displaying too high a fear of losses and over relying on Netties. We failed to properly suppress forts at Singapore, allowing it to hold two weeks longer than historically occurred. A mix up in orders allowed an Allied cruiser force a free shot at the Bandjermasin invasion, but fortunately our brave escorts bailed Cribtop HQ out. Most importantly, we failed to finish up this phase of operations in time to use the amphibious bonus for Phase II. In part, however, this delay was caused by CF's good play in showing his CVs in the eastern DEI, forcing us to hold up for a week or two on that key vector.
Lessons learned: Choosing to isolate and then ignore the enemy garrison at Clark Field was the correct choice in this game, and IMHO is the correct choice in most games for Japan. It was fun to discover the modestly named Cribtop Lifeboat Doctrine, where an empty merchant ship is included in critical troop transport TFs to facilitate rescue of maximum ground devices in the event a submarine sinks an occupied merchant.
Operation Red Dragon
The Good: The best part of this Operation was primarily the decision to do it. Rather than engage in risky and strategically marginal amphibious efforts elsewhere, we committed the forces freed up by conquest of the SRA for a drive in Southern China with the option to push for either Kweiyang or Changsha and the cluster of bases that surround it. CF responded by attempting to cut off the base of the salient near Wuchow but was outmaneuvered, resulting in both the fall of Changsha and the near total destruction of the counterattacking KMT force. The strategic objective, namely the capture of sufficient industry to starve the Chinese Army and force them into a permanent defensive posture, was achieved with minimal losses.
The Bad: We failed to capture Kweiyang or to have the planned northern pincer of the operation break into the central plain at Kienko, precluding any effort to completely knock China out of the war. One action we were contemplating had the game continued was to send the IJA armored corps from Burma into China to finish the job here.
Lessons Learned: Red Dragon and the China front taught me that careful consideration of hex sides and use of maneuver can turn slugfests into victories and victories into triumphs that dislocate the enemy. This improvement in the ground game was to pay dividends in Burma later.
The Good: In the end, there was little to recommend this attempted deep raid by 3 CVEs into the Allied SLoC between CONUS and Pearl Harbor.
The Bad: We lost virtually the entire raiding force in exchange for destruction of a single supply convoy. A debacle, plain and simple.
Lessons Learned: Strategic level deep raiding with carriers is fraught with peril and is usually a misuse of these assets on the wrong side of the risk/reward curve.
Operation Trident a/k/a The Battle of the Torres Islands
The Good: This operation, originally designed as a port raid at Sydney, was quickly scrubbed as it ran smack into the bulk of the Allied Navy attempting an amphibious invasion in the Solomons. Good use of submarines, Glens, air search, and pickets generated a significant ISR advantage. We knew where the enemy CVs were, whereas KB was lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. After several cat and mouse moves, we moved into ambush position, only to have a sudden jog East by the enemy result in a head to head fight. The battle was a disaster for CF in which Saratoga, Yorktown, Lexington and Enterprise were lost, together with numerous escorts and aircraft. IJN losses consisted of one damaged CVL and one damaged CS. We got a little lucky with the weather, but probably deserved some luck given the superior intel we leveraged.
The Bad: Not a whole lot to complain about here. One can argue that Cuttlefish never recovered from this defeat.
Lessons Learned: He who sees the enemy carriers first often sinks them first. ISR is key. Also, as at Midway, the defending CV force has an advantage over the carrier force trying to cover an invasion.
Footnotes: Now that the game is over I read CF's AAR, which was awesome - he can really write. I learned a few more things about this pivotal battle. First, I confirmed that Enterprise was sunk the first day as fires from ammo storage explosions sank her after 3 bomb hits (we were a bit fortunate there to overcome USN damage control). Second, the enemy CVs made the fateful move East in an effort to avoid Japanese submarines that were hounding them. Once again, note the value of proper screening. Little things can swing the balance.
The Good: This effort to invade India was the correct response to the Allied invasion of Burma from a strategic perspective, as the Irrawaddy River valley is indefensible by either side. Although it was conceived and executed in great haste, we were able to bring to bear KB, the entire Indes Fleet, and a well supplied invasion force consisting of our strategic reserve, which had recently left China after Red Dragon. As with Red Dragon, we had an initial objective (in this case conquest of Assam and isolation of the Burma front) and a backup plan (the invasion of the Arakan from the Indian side, which eventually led to Operation Scorpion).
The Bad: The idea for this Op originated in a casual comment I made in one post as I fretted over how to stop the enemy's Burma offensive. Alfred responded that Whirlwind was the decisive and best move available and convinced me to undertake it. However, we flubbed it, in part because of the hasty preparations, in part because frankly my game had not yet reached the level to pull off this kind of move, and in part because I wasn't willing to risk the casualties necessary to take Chittagong, which is where Cuttlefish deployed his reserves to stop Whirlwind. I am still not convinced that further attacks would have taken Chittagong, and in the end Whirlwind led to decisive victories in Operations Katana and Scorpion, but that is beside the point. We needed to bring enough to the party to make sure we took that base, and didn't. That qualifies as bad.
Lessons Learned: Keeping the initiative, not through risky victory disease moves but through measured operations, is enormously beneficial to Japan. In the end we won the war because we never ceded the baton to Cuttlefish. The rapid end game consisting of Whirlwind, Katana, and Scorpion is strong evidence for this proposition. Just remember, this is not to say that willy nilly action solely in the name of keeping on the offensive is a good idea.
Operation Katana a/k/a The Battle of Exmouth
The Good: Not to be arrogant, but I am more proud of Operation Katana than anything else I've done in 40+ years of gaming. When Cuttlefish saw KB in the Bay of Bengal, he went for an Amphibious invasion of Broome supported by his remaining Carriers (Wasp and Hornet) and a good portion of the UK surface fleet. We reacted decisively, pushing KB around the outside of Sumatra (aided by the presence of the fleet Oilers) and into the battle zone astride the enemy's line of retreat. Once again availing ourselves of a substantial ISR advantage, tactical execution worked perfectly, with our cruisers holding up the Allied CVs in a surface action before KB dropped the hammer, literally annihilating the USN carrier TF. Follow on actions by KB, surface ships and LBA ruthlessly exploited the positional advantage created by the geography of NW Australia to destroy numerous Allied surface combat ships and transports. Disastrous Allied losses here left the IJN in control of the entire Pacific and Indian Oceans and created the conditions in which the Allies were threatened with 3:1 auto victory on January 1, 1944. That in turn left CF with no choice but to push hard in Burma and set up Operation Scorpion.
The Bad: Nothing is perfect, but this came close. Can't think of any major negatives.
Lessons Learned: This Op showed me the importance of carrying a valid strategic plan forward into proper operational planning and all the way down to good tactical execution. This is what it looks like when things at all three levels come together. It did wonders for my confidence as a player.
Footnote: Don't overlook the long siege of the two Australian Divisions left stranded at Broome. We pounded them, kept them out of supply, and eventually cleaned them up on the cheap. Coming just before the isolation of the Burma Army at Mandalay, the loss of these excellent troops helped close out the war.
The Good: We didn't panic when Operation Whirlwind came unraveled, but rather transitioned to a new offensive in a unique direction - the counter invasion of western Burma from British India. Things went mostly according to plan, as we leveraged air superiority in Central Burma and a favorable ratio of combat power into the conquest of Akyab and decimation of Commonwealth forces in the area. We then formulated a plan to quietly set up the isolation of the main enemy army at Meiktila using deception and an indirect approach. We had significant forces, including a horde of artillery, in what appeared to be defensive positions near Taung Gyi and around Toungoo. As 17th Army exited the jungles, it attacked Magwe in a seemingly innocuous move to re-establish a line of communication to Rangoon. However, while 18th Army suddenly advanced from the south, three armored divisions raced behind enemy lines to Mandalay and took it. Combined with existing "defensive" positions East of Meiktila, the Allies suddenly found themselves facing encirclement. We used airlift to reinforce Mandalay, held the position, and made sure the isolation was maintained via the river crossing into Shwebo. Finally, we then learned the lessons of Chittagong, accepting both aerial and ground casualties as needed to finish the job.
The Bad: We failed to move up base forces quickly enough to provide proper CAP over Meiktila and Mandalay. This forced us to rely on LRCAP and dissipated our numerical edge in the air. CF almost wrested air superiority from us at a key moment, and we lost more good pilots than was necessary.
Lessons Learned: We refined the use of the indirect approach and hex side control first developed in China to take down bigger game. Regarding the geography of Burma, I hereby assert the following maxim:
The only way to defend Central Burma is to attack it.
INDIVIDUAL UNIT AWARDS
Carrier Akagi. The Flagship's air groups were the best in terms of EXP, and they delivered killing blows more often than any other IJN carrier.
BEST SURFACE COMBAT SHIP:
Heavy Cruiser Ashigara. Against heavy odds, she led the TF that engaged Wasp and Hornet at Exmouth, sealing their fate.
Honorable mention: DD Maikaze, who single handedly sunk CA Australia in a night raid at Luganville with the dreaded Long Lance torpedo.
BEST AIR GROUP:
1st IJAAF Sentai. These guys were the best of the elite Tojo groups in Burma, with over 135 kills and average EXP of 80.
17th Army HQ. This unit led, and came to symbolize, the elite IJA divisions that fought with exemplary valor in Operations Red Dragon, Whirlwind and Scorpion. Plus, the starting General has great stats.
FINAL GRADE: A-
It's hard to give a B for a victory by Japan in a scenario 1 game. However, I take off points for coming too late to a proper plan for R&D and the economy (in the end, nygiants59 and Mike Solli helped me remedy this issue) and for failing to really use high level strategic thinking until the end game. My late improvement in this area is due in large part to interactions with Alfred and Nemo.
Thanks again to all the readers!
< Message edited by Cribtop -- 11/24/2013 5:20:43 AM >