Today I just got wrecked in a CV duel by the AI. Thank goodness it's JuanG's Enhanced Carrier mod, so the CV losses won't hurt too much in the long run, but I think it'll take years to replace the cruiser losses. And the kicker: I chose this fight for the sake of it, even though my carriers were enroute to cover the evacuation of Port Moresby. Well, those guys are gonna starve if my float planes can't get em out now...
So it started when IJN CVs attacked my base at Suva. This part went well for the most part. My CAP was shredded by a coordinated strike but a lightly escorted Val group was shot down nearly to the last plane. So I decided to seek battle with 3 carriers, since Saratoga (whom the others were supposed to follow), had gotten quite ahead of the rest. The next day, I get 8-hex striked by the IJN, and Enterprise gets mauled and knocked out of action. Since she's still burning, I decide to send her 2 hexes to Noumea, and order the three remaining carriers to take up position 1 hex away. I also move half (should've moved all...) the fighters at Suva to Noumea.
The next day, Enterprise TF was at Noumea, and Saratoga and Hornet TFs 1 hex away. Essex was 2 hexes to the SE; I clearly fail at setting up the follow function. Over the course of the day the IJN fighters and bombers plastered Saratoga, Essex, and then Hornet. BC Constellation took a half dozen torps and many bombs, and several of my cruisers were also ruined. Flak did little, if anything. It's truly a pity it came out before the flak fix was devised. Eight SBDs and 5 Vals and Kates were lost to flak, despite the presence of BCs, CLAAs, and large carriers.
In return, I had one reasonably coordinated strike, and several smaller ones. In addition to worse planes with less experienced pilots, the weather was against me (moderate rain vs light cloud over my ships). A few of my bombers broke through, but scored zero hits. Nothing. One CV and 1 BC already sunk, others probably to follow, and nothing to show for it. I've seen plenty of PBEM
Fortunately, after this day of carnage the AI sends its carriers back towards Suva.
There was a bright side: the Japanese sent CA raiders back to Midway without air cover, and this time I was ready, and SBDs sent two of them, plus a destroyer to the depths. But that was a freebie, like the AI is throwing me bones to keep playing.
Losses so far: BC Constellation, CV Enterprise (with most fighters and all bombers, due to the eight hex strike. What a waste). Saratoga is dead in the water with small fires still burning, she'll almost certainly go down. Essex and Hornet will limp back to Brisbane, where I'll concentrate every fighter in Australia cause the AI does like to raid the Aussie Coast. CA Louisville, Northhamption, and Salt Lake City are crippled and making under 10 knots, as is CL Brooklyn. Any of them, and CV Essex, could sink, and are easy prey for the subs in between them and Australia. The silly game engine gave CV Hornet 1 DD for an escort, so she also had a good chance to hit a sub and sink before I can get more escorts to her.
In the air, 242 allied aircraft to 65 Japanese. 150+ pilot casualties.
Conclusion: A black, black day for the US Navy. If I was in a PBEM on 2 day turns, I'd definitely have lost 3 CVs, 1 BC 3 CA and a Brooklyn CL. I get more reinforcements in this mod, but losing a dozen good cruisers would've still hurt bad. Maybe I shouldn't have chosen House Stark as my username, it's luck seems to have followed me in this game.
I think I'm not gonna try for a PBEM just yet, if this is what the AI does to me...