From: Louisiana, USA
Hi. I was one of the beta testers for War Plan Pacific. With the beta test over, I emailed Alvaro and asked him if I could post an AAR on this forum before the game comes out. I told him I would be glad to run what I was going to post by him before I posted it. Alvaro replied that he would be happy for me to do it, to post whatever I wanted to post, and that he didn't need to see it in advance. Or, to quote him, "Awesome. You don’t need my permission to do it. Write what you like and post it." So here I am.
This will be a full game AAR. I started yesterday, April 15, and played through the end of 1942. I will play 6-12 months a day until I finish. I'm retired so I should get this done in 3-4 days.
I specialized in playing 1941 scenarios, i.e., the full game, against the AI, playing as either the Axis or Allies. I played both sides about an equal number of times during the beta, watching the game involve. I don't do multi-player in any game. I play 100% solo. I should note I don't play wargames with an eye to all the fine details of numbers and rules, but more with an eye to the flow of the game and the fun of it. Though I know there are many players who love the minutiae of a game, I don't play that way. So you won't see me discussing odds and factors except in general terms. That is just my style, which is odd because I also love statistics and play several stat-based sports management games where having stats that are plausible is critical.
I really had great fun playing this game in beta, and some of the best moments I've had in some time in gaming were the carrier battles. They are really exciting from mid 1942 on, and a few carrier battles could well decide the course of the war. In an evenly matched carrier battle, you could have a disaster, a total victory, or a draw where hardly any damage is done by either side. Some might consider that too random, but think about Midway and how that could easily have been different. I think Alvaro may have gotten the carrier battles just about right. In fact, a well balanced carrier battle with multiple carriers on both sides is really exciting, and some of you are going to get really mad when your carriers go to the bottom of the Pacific in one Midway style afternoon. Of course you can choose to avoid that by only engaging when you think you have a big advantage. That is where intel comes into play, and sometimes you just might get incomplete or faulty intel or you might know where the enemy is and your planes just might not find the enemy carriers, etc.
My overall judgement of the game is that it is fun and that it is historically plausible and captures the feel of reading about WWII in the Pacific on an operation and strategic scale.
For this AAR, I am playing the Allies vs the Axis AI using the "beta gold" game version, which is the final version unless Alvaro finds something that has to be changed before the game comes out.
AI bonuses -- There are 11 levels of computer bonus experience, think 0-10, with HISTORICAL being level 1. I played with the AI at level 4 VETERAN, a 30% AI bonus. But you can make it much harder than that. There are 5 levels of computer effectiveness, think 0-4, with HISTORICAL being level 1. I played at level 3 EXCELLENT, giving the AI an 8% supply logistics bonus. I chose RANDOM over HISTORICAL for the computer plan, so I wouldn't be able to predict the overall Axis plans.
It is important to understand that for the first six months of the war, there is little the Allies can do to counter the Axis except for delaying actions around the edges, until the Allies start to get transport points and their reinforcements start to appear. By 1945 there will probably be little the Axis can do except delaying actions along the edges unless the Axis have done incredibly well or the Allies incredibly poorly. The goal for the Axis is to expand as much as possible, gain as many victory points as possible, take out as many US carriers as possible while retaining some carrier power as long as possible, and then hold on. For the Allies it is to hold on, take the first punches, build up rapidly but wisely, not waste carrers in small groups that can be overwhelmed, and then start a long counteroffensive from late 1942 on with overwhelming power. The Allies must realize they can't win the war in 1942-43.
I'm going to report this as if it is a radio news broadcast from Matrix News Network, broadcasting to the Allied nations, along with some generaal commentary as the game progresses . I will also add s some notes in brackets.
7 Dec 41 - This is Matrix Worldwide News from MNN with a special report. War has broken out between Japan and the Allied nations. Today the Japanese Empire attacked the Allies in several locations. The most stunning development is a report that Japanese carrier based planes attacked the US installations at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, sending three battleships to the bottom of the harbor and severely damaging several others. [Results vary on the initial Japanese attack on Pearl. Bottomed ships in a port will eventually be repaired. Sunk is sunk.]
Japanese forces also invaded the main island of Luzon in the Philippines in two locations, and the US cruiser Houston was reported sunk in Manila harbor.
Japanese forces reportedly have landed on the Malaya peninsula, seizing both Kota Baru and Kuala Lampur and isolating Singapore by land. And air strikes have reportedly damaged the HMS Repulse in Singapore. Repulse and Prince of Wales are reported to have sailed for Australia along with the Dutch cruiser De Ruter, which sortied from Batavia. [That's my move. You can engage Japanese ships supporting the Malay landings, and you may cause some damage, but you will lose your ships.]
There were additional Japanese landings in Northern Borneo at Sarawak, at Surabaya in the Netherlands East Indies, and at Bandar Lampung in Sumatra.
Additionally, Guam is reported captured and Rabaul on New Britain also captured, along with Tarawa and Wake Island.
The British colony of Hong Kong was also captured by the Japanese, and the Japanese renewed their ground offensive in China, focusing on Changsha.
Finally, the Allies are reportedly sending supplies to China via what is being called "the Burma Road."
[The first couple of Japanese turns are mostly if not entirely scripted, and there is really nothing the Allies can do about it except sacrifice a couple of units when available by placing them into the path of the Japanese to delay them.]
21 Dec 41
The latest war news is grim. Japanese submarines are now reported to be sinking merchant ships in the South Pacific. Japanese troops engaged Indian troops after entering southern Burma at Moulmein. The Japanese may be advancing to seize Rangoon, and Indian units are being rushed to that front. Japanese troops have also advanced to the outskirsts of Singapore. The Japanese continue to advance in the Philippines toward Manila against a rapidly dissolving defense. HMS Prince of Wales, a heavily damaged HMS Repulse, and the Dutch cruiser De Ruyter arrived in Sydney harbor under cover of darkness in an apparent attempt to avoid media detection. In China, heavy fighting continues around Changsha. Additioanlly, the Japanese have reportedly started building up at the port of Rabaul.
[My personal logistical strategy for the Allies is to build nothing the first two turns, Dec 41, and then start building British infantry for India and US Marines, along with transports, landing ships, oilers, and supply trucks. I'll build more infantry units and air units as the war develops and more logistics as needed. You can't do much anyway until the US oil supply increases starting in mid-1942, until you get transport capacity, which doesn't happen until March 1942, and until you have additional carriers so that a carrier action even on the periphery is not a huge gamble. I will also start helping the British and nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and India with oil and production as needed, with US supplies once those increase. As a matter of convenience, I make all my builds on the first turn of each month. I have more points to work with, and I think it allows better planning and organization than building piecemeal every turn. Be sure to look at the build time. Nothing arrives instantly. Some things take more than six months to build. I've made the mistake of building things later in the war that won't be finished until after the game is over.
Each game develops a little differently. The initial Japanese AI moves are scripted, and there is little you can do about them anyway. Once January hits, if you are playing on RANDOM, that is when you start to see the AI make some different choices. I build Chinese infantry units as fast as possible, which is not too fast, and also supply trucks that seem to help them. The goal in China is just to make it as hard as possible for the Japanese to take victory objectives. In Burma/India, the goal is to use Indian troops to delay the Japanese until British forces arrive and not to allow the capture of Calcutta. In the Pacific, I usually start by garrisoning Guadalcanal and other unoccupied islands in the Solomons, and as much of Papua New Guinea as I can, once transport develops. With random Japanese play, they may make a big move in New Guinea and down the Solomons or not. And they may do other interesting things. I don't want to specifically mention the possibilities. You just have to react to watch what the Japanese do and react as soon as you are able. Which will be spring or summer of 42.]
4 Jan 42
[Victory Points, Axis 32, Allies 44]
Dire news from the Pacific Theater, as it is now being called.
The British government reports that Singapore has been captured. Additionally, it is reported that Rash Behari Rose has formed the Indian National Army supported by Japan in Bangkok. [An additional Axis unit.]
The Philippines are in a state of collapse, with US and Philippine forces retreating everywhere..
It is reported that the Indian line along the Salween River has collapsed after intense fighting and that the Japanese are advancing on Rangoon.
Dutch forces are reported near collapse in Batavia, NEI.
However, there is some good news to report tonight.
Sources tell us that US industry has been ordered to begin building transports, landing ships, oilers, and supply trucks.
Recruiting for additional US Marine forces has been announced and British reinforcements are being planned for India.
The carriers Yorktown and Saratoga with one battleship and other supporting ships reportedly sailed from San Francisco toward Australia. MNN has been criticized by Allied governments for reporting such information, but we believe the public has the right to know.
18 Jan 42
This news was expected but is nonetheless unhappy. The Philippines have surrendered. US forces surrendered all the Philippines islands.
Japanese forces have captured Rangoon and have continued to advance and are battling Indian forces along the Irrawaddy River in Burma.
Japanese units have occupied Wewak and Lae in Papua New Guinea. [To give you an idea of how RANDOM works, in my previous game using the gold beta, the Japanese never occupied Papua New Guinea, instead using those forces elsewhere.]
In the Solomons, Buin on Bougainville and Munda on New Georgia have been occupied by the Japanese.
A source in the US War Department who wished to remain anonymous has told us that the carriers Yorktown and Saratoga with escorting ships have entered port at Suva in Fuji. [I split my few US carriers between Pearl and Suva.]
1 Feb 42
The Netherlands East Indies have surrendered following the fall of Batavia.
In Burma, the Japanese have broken the Irrawaddy River line, and Indian forces are in full retreat.
US sources have confirmed that US submarines are operating in the South China Sea.
15 Feb 42
Yenenguang oil fields in Burma have fallen to Japan as Japan expands its offensive into central and northern Burma.
There is heavy fighting as the Japanese continue offensive operations across China.
1 March 42.
Fighting continues in China, and the Japanese have opened up a new front, attacking Chinese units along the northern border of French Indochina. [Actually the AI responded when I tentatively moved some Chinese units forward along that border without combat. At one point you could exploit the AI there, but Alvaro ended that.] The Japanese continue to advance in Burma.
15 Mar 42
Additional Japanese units have reportedly landed in northern Papua New Guinea.
In the first offensive move of the war in the Pacific for the Allies, Australian bombers were flown to Port Moresby and bombed the port of Lae. No damage was reported.
29 Mar 42
[It isn't mentioned in my narrative, but there are lots of partisan operations going on behind Japanese lines, mainly in China. If you want to minimize partisan activity playing as the Axis, you have to use units to garrison along your rail lines. Or you can just accept the partisan activity.]
Japanese forces are reported at the Indian border along the Bay of Bengal. Fighting continues in China. The heroic Chinese 17th Army Group continues to hold Changsha.
[This turn both the UK and US get their first 10 transport points, enough to move division sized units. This is pre-programmed. It takes 180 days for transport you build to arrive.]
The USS Hornet reportedly sailed from San Francisco toward Australia along with the 24th Infantry Division.
The 11th East African Division has reportedly sailed from Africa toward India. [Do you use those first transport points to reinforce India or maybe Milne Bay or perhaps Guadalcanal (with Australian or NZ troops? Or something else? I usually choose India against the AI.]
12 Apr 42
Japanese and Indian units have clashed at the Indian border near the Bay of Bengal.
Australian sources report they are engaging Japanese infantry just north of Port Moresby. Based on that report, the US 24th Infantry Division is reported to have sailed straight to Port Moresby to reinforce and relieve the Australians. [That means moving the Australians one hex out of PM to allow the stronger 24th to debark directly in PM.]
The 11th EA Division landed at Chittagong, India, under Japanese aircraft attack, with no casualties. Gen. Wavell said from his headquarters near Chittagong that the British Empire forces in India would resist and ultimately defeat the Japanese offensive.
The US 40th Infantry Division has apparently sailed for Australia from the US west coast.
26 Apr 42
The Japanese have landed on Guadalcanal. [I could have sent the 24th Division to Guadalcanal and beat the Japanese there, except for the threat to Port Moresby. Neither is a victory hex, but Port Moresby in my view is a better choice to hold because it is close to the victory hex at Lae. Guadalcanal, which is not a victory hex, will still get attention.]
The Australian II Corps has secured Milne Bay.
US Army and Marine divisions departed the US west coast en route to Australia. The North Carolina sailed from San Francisco toward Hawaii.
10 May 42
Wavell's headquarters report that Japanese forces have broken through at the Indian border and that the 11th East African Division has been destroyed. Allied forces are regrouping near Chittagong.
The US 27th Division has landed at Port Moresby. The US 2nd Marine Division has landed at Espiritu Santo.
24 May 42
Japanese forces have captured the port of Chittagong.
The US 2nd Marine Division has gone ashore on Guadalcanal, supported by a surface group led by the HMS Prince of Wales. A US carrier task force reportedly including Yorktown, Saratoga, and Hornet, provided air support for the landing and has remained in the area.
Meanwhile we have reports that a US carrier task force including Enterprise and Lexington raided the Japanese held island of Maloelap in the Gilbert Islands.
At the same time, a British task for including the carrier Hermes attacked the Japanese units at Chittagong.
[The real action is a Guadalcanal. The other two attacks are attempting to divert the attention of the AI. I don't think that works, but it is worth a try. Besides, it is time for some action.]
7 Jun 42
Three Japanese task forces including one with at least two carriers have appeared off the northern and southern ports of Ceylon. Their purpose is unknown, a raid or an invasion.
With heavy rain around Ceylon, the British fleet conducted a surface attack on the Japanese after sending Hermes to port in Ceylon. In the meeting engagement the cruiser Cornwall was sunk. However, the British surface group including Valiant, Revenge, Ramillies, Exeter, and DeRuter, broke through and sank two Japanese carriers [Shoho and Junyo] with gunfire in the rain. Exeter sustained heavy damage. [I have not often pulled that off, a clear surface victory over Japanese carriers. The heavy rain came at a bad time for the Japanese. Rain, btw, is a huge factor in this game, on land, sea, and air. I would not have attempted the surface action knowing there were carriers in the mix without the heavy rain. I would almost certainly have lost the whole fleet.]
In the Solomons, the Japanese have invaded the Santa Cruz Islands, occupying the port of Ndeni with a ground unit, supported by a task force with a reported one carrier. Shortly afterward, US sources are saying a naval battle was fought entirely between aircraft carriers, with neither fleet sighting the other. This is a first in military history. In the battle the US sank an escort carrier and a cruiser without suffering damage. [South CVE Group, an escort carrer operating alone, and Aoba. Where is the main Japanese carrier force?]
Meanwhile the Japanese have advanced two army-sized units into position to attack the forces guarding Port Moresby in heavy rain.
And reports are that a US bomber group has been stationed at San Cristobal.
[Rarely have I had better luck in first encounters with Japanese carriers. This is outside the norm. Usually I have a couple of carriers sent to the bottom in the first exchanges.]
21 Jun 42
The British Admiralty has announced that the battleship Valiant and Ramillies and cruisers De Ruter and Exeter were sunk in continuing action against Japanese naval forces off Ceylon. After initial success the task force was met by reinforced Japanese naval units including at least five aircraft carriers and four battleships. The British forces sank a Japanese carrier in the battle [Ryujo light carrier] in a night action vs. the carrier group as confused fighting continued in the rain. The remaining British forces retreated to Calcutta.
Meanwhile Japanese forces advanced to the outskirts of Dacca, India.
Victory Points: Axis 303, Allies 267.
5 Jul 42
The US has landed additional US Marines on Guadalcanal and hold Port Moresby.
The Japanese remain off the coast of Ceylon, their intentions uncertain.
The Allies hold the line in India.
The Japanese have taken Changsha.
19 Jul 42
MNN can tell you exclusively that a US Navy task force with the carriers Lexington and Enterprise sailed days ago from Pearl Harbor and has now joined the offensive on Guadalcanal. [With the main Japanese carrier force off Ceylon, I am risking putting all my carriers in the Solomons.]
2 Aug 42
Guadalcanal rain is occurring over much of the Pacific Theater, preventing air support of the offensive on Guadalcanal, among other things. Japanese fleets remain in place off Ceylon. All areas of operation are bogged down.
16 Aug 42
MNN has learned that the Japanese staged a suicide raid with motor torpedo boats and other coastal craft against the fleet supporting the invasion of Guadalcanal and sank the Prince of Wales, at a cost of numerous torpedo boats.[4 Japanese torpedo boat divisions destroyed, but great move by the AI.]
Guadalcanal rain continues, limiting effectiveness of naval, air, and ground on Guadalcanal.
Meanwhile the Japanese Navy has left the vicinity of Ceylon. That increases the possibility of a major carrier battle in the Solomons in the near future.
30 Aug 42
MNN has learned that a Japanese surface group attempted to interdict the forces supporting the invasion of Guadalcanal. They were located and destroyed by US carrier aircraft. Reports say a Japanese battleship, cruiser, and destroyer group were sunk. [Kirishima, Takao, and a destroyer squadron.]
The rain continues in many area, bogging everything down. [The exact location of the rain is critical, especially the heavy rain.]
In India, the British I Corps has landed to join the battle near Dacca.
13 Sep 42
The Japanese have resumed their offensive against Port Moresby. The US has responded by insertingd the newly arrived IX Corps into the port.
MNN can now report that Guadalcanal has been retaken. The rain lifted, and under a storm of groundbased airpower, the 3rd Marine Division supported by other ground units destroyed the Japanese defenders and retook the island.
At the same time the Japanese attempted another surface attack and lost two battleships to carrier airpower. [Hiei and Ise]
Meanwhile, in stunning news, the US II Corps landed on New Britain opposite the major Japanese base at Rabaul.
27 Sep 42
MNN can report that a major carrier battle is underway in the Solomons near Guadalcanal. Initial reports are that a force of at least three Japanese carriers [Akagi, Zuiho, Hosho] is engaging the combine Allied task forces with minor damage so far to both sides. [In carrier battles, everything can happen from your planes missing the enemy fleet entirely to devastating destruction.]
At the same time, the Japanese sent a surface group to attack the support fleets for the Guadalcanal operation, resulting in a major night battle in which the Indiana, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City engaged three Japanese battleships and sank one, reportedly a large battleship. [Yamato] Both Indiana and New Orleans sustained heavy damage and Salt Lake City was sunk. [Another surprising result. I've seen Yamato since a couple of US battleships in surface action. Apparently it was torpedos that got the Yamato.]
A second carrier battle occurred with two US task forces engaging the Japanese carriers. Enterprise and Lexington engaged with Enterprise suffering minor damage. Then Yorktown, Wasp, Saratoga, and Hornet engaged, with reports of one Japanese carrier on fire and heavily damaged. [Akagi 2 damage]
In India British and Indian forces took the offensive for the first time against the Japanese invaders in heavy fighting near Dacca supported by the carrier Hermes.
11 Oct 42
Off New Britain, a Japanese surface group led by a cruiser sunk the Canberra, which was supporting the invasion.
MNN network can report that the Solomons was ablaze nn a series of wild surface and carrier actions. The Japanese pushed multiple small surface task force into the midst of the groups that had been supporting the Guadalcanal operation. In a series of actions, one Japanese battleship was sunk [Hyuga. There are five separate Allied groups and five Japanese groups involved in this action. Among other things, you need to separate ships that are providing direct support to an invasion. Otherwise, no ships in the group will be able to engage in offensive operations. This is an interesting puzzle. I've never seen the Axis AI send so many small groups against the Allied player. All my forces are also low on fuel. So I need to refuel but don't have enough points to refuel everyone because I have so many groups. I need to get support back to the troops on New Britain. And I need to defeat the Japanese naval forces.]
The Japanese appear for the moment to be retreating from the vicinity of Port Moresby, after it was reinforced.
In China, the Japanese have advanced adjacent to Kumming and are threatening to capture the city.
In Burma, Japanese forces have been forced to retreat, and the Allied forces have advanced adjacent to Chittagong.
25 Oct 42
MNN can report that the Japanese fortress port of Rabaul has fallen to the US. II Corps entered Rabaul with the support of III Corps.
MNN can also report more naval battles in the area of Rabaul. The US sent one carrier group and two surface groups after the Japanese naval forces still contesting the area. In three separate actions, a Japanese battleship [Yamashiro] was sunk.
Fighting continued near Port Moresby.
8 Nov 42
Sources tell MNN, that the US is endeavoring to clear the Solomons by the end of 1942 with landings on Bougainville and New Georgia. US forces have also advanced from Port Moresby and put the Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea on the defensive.
US ground and air units have also been diverted to India to assist with the Allied effort there.
Meanwhile the Japanese continue to pound on the Chinese units defending Chungking and Kumming.
15 Nov 42
Sources are telling MNN that there has been another major naval engagement in the Solomons. Japanese carrier and surface units attacked the force supporting the landings on Bougainville and completely destroyed it. We have been told by our sources that Oklahoma, Arizona, and two destroyer squadrons were lost. Japanese losses in the initial engagement were light, one destroyer squadron.
US forces responded with its two carrier task forces, one sailing from Suva and the other from Rabaul.
The Hornet/Saratoga/Wasp/Yorktown group arrived first. One Japanese cruiser [Nachi] and one destroyer group were sunk. One Japanese carrier was damaged [Akagi]. Yorktown was heavily damaged.
The Lexington/Enterprise groups arrived second. The air strikes from both sides were ineffective.
Finally landbased air operating from Guadalcanal sank the damaged Japanese carrier. [Lanbased air operating against naval forces can be critical.]
In Papua New Guinea, Allied forces have isolated a Japanese army-sized unit as the Allied offensive continues.
Two US tactical air groups and one US mountain corps arrived in Calcutta along with the British II Corps.
6 Dec 42
A carrier battle between Lexington/Enterprise and two Japanese carriers ended with no damage to either side. [Hosho and Zuiho]. Meanwhile the US suffered a loss when the unit that was landed on Bougainville was eliminated.
20 Dec 42
In India, the Indian Burma Corps recaptured Chittagong as the addition of US air and ground power helped force the Japanese back.
In the Solomons the Japanese task forces retreated, leaving the US to continue its effort against Bougainville and New Georgia.
Victory Points Axis 563, Allies 463.
Solomons area at end of 1942