A summary of the game – so far
To get a proper understanding of this summary please read my postings in the beginning of the thread. To make it short, this is about testing the possible development of the war in the Far East and the Pacific with an aggressive allied side, as opposed to the relatively passive RL behaviour, particularly on the part of the US Navy. Just to have said it, I find it a waste of time to discuss IF this was at all a possible, or viable, strategy from the start. If such a strategy, as shown by the results in the game, has been an improvement or failure, is another matter.
We have come to August 7th, 1942. This date was originally selected by me as the cut-off point of this thread because it is a fitting date to compare the situation with that of RL as this was the day of the first successful allied counter-attack, the landings on Guadalcanal in the Solomons. What is different, what is better and what is worse.
(The Brisbane Evening Star is up-to-date but as you may have noticed I keep up a 7-10 days lag on its publication not to make it too easy for the opposition).
MacArthur’s strategy in this game, which was supported by the US political leadership, even the Navy was forced to join in, was to try to keep a “Relief Route” open to the Philippines for the purpose of retaking the islands as soon as possible – not because of the country’s value as such (even if it meant much for MacArthur) but because it was the shortest, and therefore quickest, route to bases from where the enemy supply lines could be interdicted to deny him the resources he originally started the war for, that of the mineral riches of the Dutch East Indies, Malaya and Borneo. From 1940 on this was, after all, the main purpose of expanding the US forces in the Philippines, the B-17 bomber supposedly becoming the main tool of such a strategy.
To keep the core of the Philippine Army supplied and intact could also yield important benefits for future operations.
The Relief Route should go through the Torres Strait and the Moluccas as indicated by Colonel Eisenhower to General Marshall in December 1941 when he took up his position in Marshall’s War Plans Office. It was also obvious that the ABDA organisation was not the best solution for this strategy as it was dominated by the British thinking in which everything was focused on the upkeep of Singapore as the main allied base. As the Australians were already sceptical to this, they, the Dutch (partly) and the New Zealanders, agreed to support MacArthur’s strategy – the ADA cooperation. With this it was possible to immediately reinforce the northern parts of the Moluccas, Tarakan, Menado, Ternate and Morotai, while the US forces in the Philippines contrived to delay the Japanese occupation of the islands as much as possible.
So, where are we today? To start in the eastern part (or western, depending on where you stand..), Baker Island, and Tulagi, in the Solomons, have been expanded as allied bases. Milne Bay was fortified early with units withdrawn from New Britain (Rabaul) and has later been reinforced considerably. In the Philippines Bataan is still holding out, morale is said to be quite good, the only other base still not captured by the Japanese is Bacolod on the island of Negros.
South of the Philippines, in the northern part of the Moluccas, the bases of Menado, Ternate and Morotai are still in allied hands, if somewhat cut off from the central part, Ambon and Namlea are strongly fortified. Sorong, has been captured by the enemy and Kendari is fighting for its existence.
The islands of Timor/Bali constitute the next defense line, the last barrier before Australia. Bali has been cut off for some time but the Timor bases of Koepang, Dili and Lautem are all well defended and in the process of being further reinforced.
From this can be seen that there are several springboards from which a north-bound advance can be initiated, to get back to the Philippines or the north-eastern part of Borneo. But, with what forces and for what purpose? At this moment there are plenty of available army units, among them several Marine Corps regiments but the allied naval losses have been considerable. The enemy has had losses, too, but because he is drawing indiscriminately on his large reserves of naval and air resources the Allies shall undoubtedly need considerable time before any serious advances can be achieved. The question is now more about keeping on to what is left, being it bases or air and naval assets.
In other words, has it been worth the outlay?
In the CBI Theatre the Chinese intrusion into Indochina has been crushed, while the situation probably has been stabilized in the north-western part of China. The initially quite successful British offensive into Siam has come to nought, the Japanese are now back in Moulmein and advancing on Rangoon.
Some words about the game. This is a fantastic game and I do not agree with those saying this is not a simulator, but merely a game. Oh, yes, it may be a game, but it is a simulator, too. My reasons for saying this are two: Firstly, there are some built-in variables which the players cannot control, and what faults the game have are in general equal for both parties, except, of course, for those degradations of the allied side built into the game from the start. But even that can be seen as realistic in the sense that it illustrates the alleged less proficiency of the allied side, at least in the start of the war.
But, all this, to be fair, presupposes that the two players are on a reasonable equal level of proficiency and it is quite obvious that they (we) have not been that. This was my first PBEM, except for Chickenboy running me through a short version of the Guadalcanal scenario just to acquaint me with the PBEM peculiarities. Thank you for that! The second and third player, Alex (Dili) and Terry, are also much more experienced than I am.
Just to mention a couple of personal deficiencies regarding the game: I was not aware, or believed otherwise, that the Cst AA units are worthless as coastal defense against heavy naval bombardments. With this, only in the early summer did I understand that I needed dedicated CD units to defend against the constant enemy naval bombardments. After I got those in place there was much improvement but too late for some locations. Same with mines, I simply was not able to have them loaded up on the minelayers. Some weeks ago, I discovered the trick and the enemy has lost many submarines and surface ships in the minefields after that.
Topping of commanders and pilots: I have never liked that. I feel it is unrealistic with new commanders stepping on to their ships the same day they are appointed. So, I used it sparingly from the beginning, only lately have I started to do this on submarines in for upgrades. Alas, on USN submarines it doesn’t matter much because they are so mishandled by the game, anyway, even with “reliable torpedoes” (is there a difference, at all?).
Just for the fun of it I appointed Cmdr. Arleigh Burke CO of a small destroyer force and that worked admirably, until he was sunk, that is….
Selecting pilots, however, I only started to do in July because their delayed arrivals to the units I find more realistic. In the meantime, however, the squadrons have had to use what they had. Foolishly enough, I didn’t even ask for “vintage” pilots when needed. I’ve learnt that lesson, too - now. Gradually, their proficiency levels are reaching acceptable levels which can be seen in the recent loss/kill statistics.
Finally, I have not taken the problems with aircraft replacements and upgrades seriously enough. I had it in the back of my head, the 20000 rule, airfield size and/or the distance to HQs, but didn’t act accordingly. Consequently, the flow of replacements has suffered. This is coming into place, too.
Now comes the 10.000-dollar-question – shall I continue this Sisyphus work? My present opponent has indicated that he can continue through August but is it worth it with the rather impotent remaining allied naval forces? Maybe a time for negotiations?
Please see map!
P.S 1: If I should decide to continue the game I am on the look-out for a new opponent as the present one has signalled that he wants to be rotated in the end of August.
P.S. 2: Does the Brisbane Evening Star still have any entertainment value?
< Message edited by Leandros -- 6/19/2020 7:06:16 PM >