29 December 2011

Turn 3: A quiet week (mostly)

24 — 31 December 1941

Shirts: optional.
As foretold, this week saw very little action.  It was characterized mainly by most of the fleet returning to port after failing their endurance rolls last week.  At least there were no Transit Events worth noting.

Of the seven damaged boats that were at sea at the beginning of the week, three made it to Pearl Harbor, with three more due in next week.  USS Trout—hit by that Diligent Escort in the very first combat action of the war—made it in, and her damage was found to be moderate.  USS Skipjack, who scored the service’s first kill, also made it; she was found to be more heavily damaged and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

I only sent one of the damaged boats (USS S-41, SS-146) to Manila.  As a general matter, I hate sending boats to be repaired there.  The Philippines, inevitably, are going to fall, and it could happen at any time.  Boats under repair (at least the ones in the R2 and R3 boxes) when that happens will have to be scuttled.  Moreover, the facilities at Pearl are so much better that it’s almost always worth an extra week of transit to send them back to Hawaii, in my opinion at least.  Luckily, S-41’s damage was found to be minor enough that she could put to sea in the event of an emergency evacuation.

Only six boats were on station to conduct combat operations this week.  All encountered the enemy, but five of the six failed to score a hit.  The experience of the USS Sailfish (SS-192) was particularly frustrating—first, she missed (by a mile) a 10,000 ton maru, and then a 10,000 ton AC.

Unbelievably, yet another boat was damaged by a counterattack, the USS Permit (SS-178).  This time, it had nothing to do with being overaggressive—just perfect execution and/or luck on the IJN’s part.  {It was the attack round, revealed ASW was 0, and I rolled a 9 on the counter.  Nothing you can do there.}

20 December 2011

Turn 2: First blood

18 — 23 December 1941

It may be somewhat counterintuitive for a multi-year conflict, but the second week of the war is actually fairly pivotal—at least with regard to making the first career milestone.  Because the majority of the fleet deployed last turn, they’ll see their first chance of combat this week.  Then, regardless of their results, most of them will fail their endurance rolls, meaning that that they’ll head back to port and won’t hunt again until Turn 5 or 6.  Thus, Turns 3 and 4 inevitably will be very lean.  Therefore, some serious proverbial bacon needs to be brought home now—or that first milestone is going to be a real challenge.

In the actual event, the turn was a mixed bag. It saw the first enemy targets destroyed—but fewer than I would have liked, and at a higher cost than I can sustain.

It’s the top hat that makes it.
The week also brought the first ULTRA intelligence of the war, indicating increased enemy activity in the vicinity of the Solomons.  USS Skipjack was one of the boats tasked with acting on the information.  She’d been among the horde of boats that deployed from Manila at the onset of the war, originally intending to patrol around the Carolines.  Instead, she headed farther east, and encountered a small convoy almost immediately.  After a perfect approach, on the night of 16 December she put a torpedo into a small (2,000 ton) merchant, sinking it and claiming the first kill of the war.

13 December 2011

Turn 1: It could have been worse...

7 − 17 December 1941

Because of the way the scenario is set up, Turn 1 is a bit of an odd duck.  It is characterized largely by the frantic deployment of the boats that start the war in port in Manila.  A few subs begin the war at sea, though, with excellent chances of seeing early combat.  And not just any combat — it’s all D-Column, Task-Force-only stuff.  That means a lot of capital ships are going to show up in the crosshairs.  A good draw can lead to juicy targets with little or no ASW presence.  One lucky shot can have a major impact on the early game and bag a significant portion of the first career longevity milestone.  One lucky shot.

Of course, that's the hope.  In practice, it's not exactly fish-in-a-barrel stuff.

USS Trout (SS-202)
Take, for example, the experience of the USS Trout.  At sea in the vicinity of Midway when the IJN struck Pearl Harbor, Trout was the first boat to make contact with the enemy upon commencement of hostilities.  Sighting warships on the horizon, she maneuvered to set up an attack—and was almost run over by an aggressive IJN destroyer before she ever even identified a target.  A vicious depth charging left her significantly damaged.  She managed to limp away—lucky to survive the encounter—but she remains underway, and in significant peril.  {In game terms, the very first target flipped in the game was a Diligent Escort.  You have got to be kidding me.  Rolled a 7, yielding a “Damaged” result.}

Things did not immediately improve much.

07 December 2011

Foreword 2.0

Well then.

Almost exactly after I posted that original foreword, things sort of went sideways in the "real life" department. My first crack at a real time Silent War campaign lasted through August 1942 (2010), and was going very well.  Events intervened; the game went back into the box.

It is now two years to the day after I originally undertook this project. The dust has settled significantly, to the point that I recently started considering the possibility of giving this another go. I vacillated (as usual), but in the end, the round-number anniversary (1941-2011) was too enticing to resist.