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.

She easily could have slipped away in the resulting chaos, but with the memories of the sneak attack barely a week old, her skipper chose aggression over discretion.  With an IJN DD bearing down on her, Skipjack hastily maneuvered to set up another attack—but she managed only a low-odds shot at a second small maru.  That spread missed, and the crew braced for the inevitable depth charging.  It was not long in coming, and more than one of the charges exploded at frighteningly close to lethal range.

Then, they stopped.  Skipjack had escaped, victorious but wounded.

USS Sculpin (SS-191)
The next night saw a significantly greater success by Skipjack’s sister, USS Sculpin.  Near the Marianas, she stalked and killed a fleet oiler—a 10,000 ton prize and a major success for the service.  The burning AO stirred up a hornets’ nest of escorting destroyers, but Sculpin successfully evaded them, spotted but undamaged.  {Revealed ASW went from 0 in the Attack Round to 4 on the Re-attack.  Ouch.  After nearly spraining my arm fist pumping the AO kill, I was definitely sweating that counterattack roll.}

There was only one more bright spot for the week.  USS Seawolf brought down a 5,000 ton merchant.  That brought the weekly total to 17,000—maybe not a disaster, but a long way from spectacular.

Now for the bad (or worse) news.  The IJN was really on its game when it came to counterattacking.  Thankfully, no boats were lost—but six were damaged.  Obviously, I can’t keep that up.  Maybe I’m being too aggressive—five of the six were hit after pressing re-attacks.  My basic philosophy, though, is that since each individual attack is fairly unlikely to yield results, I need to make as many of them as possible.  (In other words:  keep throwing torpedoes in the water until something explodes.)  With that in mind, I had as many boats as reasonably possible hang in there for that second round of combat.  That strategy certainly backfired this turn, though, as not one single re-attack yielded so much as a hit.  Maybe I’ll play it a little safer next week.

Net results for Turn 2:  3 ships sunk for 17,000 tons, 6 boats damaged, none lost.


  1. G'day,

    I've played a monster game myself once and the bit that stayed with me ever after wasn't the game itself but the 'story'.

    You're doing an excellent job of writing a tale that you'll come back to many times.

    Cheers and Merry Xmas!

  2. Nice to see USS Sculpin having some success. The story of it and its sister USS Sailfish/Squalus is both triumphant and tragic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Squalus Pre-war, then the 10th patrol.