From: PDX (and now) London, UK
It was slightly after this in timing, but wasn't the Guadalcanal/Tulagi operation pretty similar in terms of leaving troops on islands? As I see it the main difference there was that the Japanese were actually closer and had a better position to snuff that landing and wipe those troops off the island fairly quickly afterward, and fortunately didn't do it. I've been reading 'Islands of Destiny' by John Prados so I've been thinking a bit about this recently. Interesting to see something similar in game.
That was August versus June, but the biggest difference was that Guadalcanal was after Midway, when 2/3 of the KB went down. The Americans had 3 carriers to the 2 remaining KB carriers, so they felt they had air superiority over the carriers. Another difference was that Guadalcanal was taken to prevent building a Betty strip there, as the Americans were unwilling or unable to push supplies strictly through Perth. The Americans at Guadalcanal were more worried about Betty LBA (a left-over fear from early in the war). After Savo Island, they really had no choice-their escorts and surface cover were at the bottom of Ironbottom Sound, so they had to leave. Fletcher bugging out didn't help, but I do not recall that carriers were his big worry at that time.
If you want to talk gamey, you can argue that the gamiest thing about this game is permitting all theaters to be under one strategic mind. If you take away the competition, the misunderstandings and miscommunications that both the Allies and Japan experienced (the Japanese Army and Navy were rarely on speaking terms), then you can play the game much more efficiently than either side in the war could command their forces. Also, seeing Hawaii as secure on its own, rather than terribly vulnerable, unleashes some very ahistorical strategies on the part of the Allied player. Canoe has shown in previous games that he is entirely comfortable sending US infantry divisions to India, rather than the Pacific. IMO, that is gamier than anything involving single-ship TFs escaping from a high-risk operation.
Midway made this move much easier to call, obviously, but the IJN actually had Zuikaku, Shokaku, Ryujo, and Zuiho and later the Junyo and Hiyo as well. The major issue for them is they didn't prioritize the CV over the surface ship even after Midway, and they didn't combine these forces but instead committed them piecemeal. Even when they were used in the same op CVs often were not used closely enough to support each other, which is how Ryujo was sunk and Zuiho was hit and damaged, (as well as the Shoho being lost earlier).
The point is this is actually not so different. There was a known threat, a calculated risk and now we're here waiting for the fireworks.
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill