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.

The next combat encounter saw the USS Pompano chased away by another hotshot destroyer captain, without coming close to a firing solution.  This time, at least, the sub escaped undamaged.  {Seriously, two encounters, two Diligent Escorts.  Maybe this whole “submarine warfare” thing does not actually work?}

Other combat encounters were less harrowing—but equally fruitless.  USS Gudgeon became the first boat of the war to fire torpedoes in anger, having lined up a perfect shot on a fat (10,000 ton!) maru.  The spread slammed home—and did precisely nothing, except maybe dent the target’s hull.  Betrayed by their faulty magnetic detonaters, they failed to explode, and the target escaped.  A handful of other boats managed a few low-odds attacks against heavy targets; none scored hits.

USS S-40 (SS-145)
By far, though, the worst news of the week was yet to come.  In the chaotic rush of the boats deploying from the Philippines, the USS S-40 was lost.  En route to her first war patrol in the South China Sea, she was claimed by unknown causes.  {I rolled a 9-8-9 for her Transit Event, the one and only non-“No Event” TE result of the turn.}

The real S-40 survived the war.  She made nine patrols, but suffered from chronic mechanical problems.  She never scored a kill, but was credited with damaging one merchant and earned one battle star.  She spent the last years of the war in San Diego as a training ship, and shortly thereafter was decommissioned and sold for scrap.  Her war record may seem somewhat pedestrian—but every time she put to sea, she brought her crew home.

Net results for the turn:  1 sub lost, 1 sub damaged, zero enemy sunk, 1 pessimistic player.


  1. Hi there,

    Nice blog and a good read.

    Keep it up!

  2. I, too, find the early war excruciatingly frustrating. The -2 to all attacks basically means that you can target just one ship, and are still lucky to hit then sink ships. Nice idea for a blog, following this now.

  3. Nice blog. The -2 torpedo modifier is nasty.

  4. I just found the link for your blog at BGG , loved this first turn ,I was thinking about getting this game and now maybe I will , I already know that you wrote at least 5 more turns so I will get some more wine and enjoy your blog.