21 January 2012

Turn 6: Back on track?

15—21 January 1942

The dust has more or less settled from the Manila evacuation. All the boats that scrambled out of port made it to Fremantle or Surabaya without significant incident. Additionally, the three boats tasked with evacuating the gold reserves made it safely in as well. (There will not be a little extra in your pay checks this month, though, fellas. Go Navy!) So, in the end, the Fall of Luzon event didn’t really cost us anything other than (precious, precious) time. Going forward, it will be back to business as usual in WestPac—but without the Sword of Damocles hanging over our main base.

Argonaut—a smart ship. Note the guns.
Elsewhere, the fleet got back on track a bit after an extremely disappointing performance last week.  Notably, a pair of old timers got onto the scoreboard (albeit, by taking down very small prey).  First, USS Dolphin (SS-169) brought down a 2,000 ton maru. She held the mantle of “oldest boat to score a kill” for less than 24 hours, as the next night, USS Argonaut (SS-166)—commissioned in the Roaring 20’s — brought down a 1,000 ton target.

Argonaut was an interesting and unique ship. She was designed and built to be a minelayer, with extensive and complicated minelaying gear in place of aft torpedo tubes. {This is definitely reflected in game, as her Attack Value is only 3, as compared to the rating of 6 enjoyed by the state-of-the-art boats at the beginning of the war. It is a minor miracle when a boat with an AV of 3 sinks a target while the Torpedo Value is still −2.} She was also a big girl, the largest U.S. sub built before the advent of the nukes. Finally, if she found herself in a position to use her guns, it wasn’t exactly going to be a slap fight:  she sported two 6-inch/53 cal deck guns. To put that in some context, Thresher (who used her gun to such great effect two weeks ago) and her more modern sisters in the Tambor-class only mounted a single 3-inch/50 cal gun. {This too is reflected in game. If Argonaut lucks into a Surface Gunnery Combat Event, she gets to roll on a much more favorable line on the damage table—great attention to detail, Brien!} I’m not going to say much about her real-world career, right now at least, because I am profoundly superstitious about discussing certain things about real boats while “my” version is still fighting. Astute readers may draw from that conclusions as they may. There were many, many brave men in that war.

Back to recreation. Have I mentioned USS Thresher (SS-200) recently? Yes, yes, I see that I have. She seems to be developing a habit of causing trouble. This week, she brought down an 8,000 ton oiler, becoming the first boat to score a second kill, nine days after the gunfight referenced above. Finally, USS Tautog (SS-199) rounded out the week by getting on the scoreboard with a 3,000 ton maru.

Japanese “Betty” bomber
There were a couple of heart-in-throat moments this week too. USS Seal (SS-183) experienced the service’s second bout of circular running torpedoes; luckily, it didn’t come particularly close to hitting the sub (but then, the other fish in the spread didn’t come particularly close to hitting anything either...) By far the worst moment belonged to USS Spearfish (SS-190). While trying to set up a daytime approach on a small convoy in the Marshall Islands OpArea, she was jumped by a land-based bomber, no doubt patrolling out of Wake. The Betty dropped a brace of bombs on the periscope-depth sub, bracketing her and causing significant damage. That flight crew certainly reported a “confirmed kill” when they got home. Spearfish managed to keep it together though, and skulk away, damaged but under command. She has now embarked upon two war patrols, and been damaged on both.  {I rolled an 8 on the Event Aircraft table. Before I looked at it, I was certain that was a kill. Turns out you need a 9 though.}

So, the score for the week was pretty good:  4 ships sunk (actually a record!) for 14,000 tons (not a record—small fry) and only one boat damaged. I’m up to 51,000 now, so maybe 90k isn’t inconceivable.  I just need to get the western half of the theater back in operation....


  1. Hi, thanks for posting these--makes for great reading. This is a game I have been interested on for some time but am unsure of the time commitment. How many hours per week do you spend playing the game and how much to write up the AAR's? Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    I'm probably the last person to ask about time commitment. The way I'm playing this more or less demands a leisurely approach, plus I keep meticulous records. I spend a lot more time, turn by turn, than is strictly speaking necessary. I'm sure if I tried I could knock these turns out in less than an hour each; often much less. Maybe some of the other readers could offer a more useful response.

    The time I put into the blog entries is wildly variable -- but I don't keep track of it too closely. This one, for example, took quite a while. I never really got "in the mood" to do it.

  3. Hi, just wanted to say that I am really enjoying your record of the game. I have Silent War sat on the shelf at the moment, it tends to come out for the shorter games where I can get a few hours in with a concentrated burst of submarine action playing almost as fast as I can but next to no record keeping other than tonnage and vessels sunk. Cracking game though, wish I could leave it out on the table for a longer period. Many thanks.

  4. Appreciate the hat-tip on the research; both Steve and I worked diligently (a word most SW players have come to dread) on the details. One quick note: not all “circular run” torpedoes actually are circular run torpedoes: given the constraints in the game we lumped all sorts of odd, strange, off-beat, but bad occurrences into this one general description- events such as torpedo tube accidents, dead torps that subs then themselves ran over, and the inevitable- “nobody’s really sure what happened” moments. So, feel free to open up the explanations a bit there- about 50% we figure were circular runs, the rest are other various events.

    Brien J Miller