30 January 2012

Turn 7: Thresher vs. Japan

22—31 January 1942

The week got off to a good start, at least, with the repair crews at Pearl and Fremantle both doing excellent work. Six boats were under repair at the end of last week. All except one (the woebegone USS Cachalot (SS-170)) has been returned to active service. Maybe that horrible “damage bug” we had during the early weeks of the war is under control now. Knock on wood.

Not to belabor the negative, but Cachalot’s situation probably warrants some mention. She began the war laid up in Pearl Harbor, finishing an overhaul. Unlike her real-life counterpart—who got underway on her first patrol in the middle of January—my Cachalot has languished in port for the entire war to date. Not only has she failed to return to the fleet, she has failed to so much as make any perceptible progress toward that goal. {In game terms:  she began the war in Pearl’s “R3” box, i.e., the most seriously damaged classification. She has failed every single repair roll so far. That’s seven straight failures, each one of which had a 50% chance of success.}

Making a strong bid to become the blog’s new cover girl...
Repair successes notwithstanding, not many boats were on station to patrol this week—but two who were scored successes. On 24 January, the somewhat (it must be said) inauspiciously named USS Plunger (SS-179) executed a textbook-perfect approach and attack on a 3,000 ton maru. {She rolled a perfect 0-9 for To Hit/Damage; awesome, but I wish I could have saved that roll for a cruiser or something.} The next day, USS Thresher—yes, Thresher—scored her third kill, which also happened to be a 3,000 ton merchant. No one else has a second yet. Causing trouble has evolved for her from being a habit (as I described it earlier) to being a lifestyle. Surprisingly, though, she’s still just in second place on the tonnage list (which further illustrates what a big deal Gudgeon’s success was at the beginning of the month).

Those two kills brought our overall score up to 12 ships sunk for 57,000 tons. That, of course, leaves me needing to bring in another 33,000 to pass the first career milestone at the end of February. What follows is way more analysis than you are likely to want to read about my chances for successfully doing so.

OK. There are several different ways to approach the question, but I find the most useful (comforting?) one to be this:  If my February equals (or comes real close to) my January (38,000 tons), then I’ll pass...and I never felt like I was having a spectacular January. And there are multiple reasons to expect, prospectively, that February should be better than January. To wit:

  • Six boats arrive in theater at the beginning of the month, and four of them are Tambor-class (the best I’ve got available at this point). And while I lose five others to refits, only one of those is state-of-the-art—so this is definitely a net increase in my combat power. In other words, I’m going into February with a stronger order of battle than I took into January.
  • The Philippines can only fall once—and that cost me a lot of January patrols. Don’t have to worry about that next month.
  • Maybe most important (spoiler: broken record alert), I just got wrecked by “Damaged” results on counterattacks last month. I lost 21 sub-weeks to repairs in January, plus another 5 sub-weeks to extra transit time expended by boats damaged in WestPac who got sent to Pearl for repairs rather than Manila (see here for my brief discussion of that reasoning). February could, of course, end up even worse—but there’s no reason to expect it to. I went into January with six boats under repair, and never began a week of that month with fewer than four; I’m starting February with only one (and honestly—they can pretty much keep Cachalot). And I never have to worry about the extra transit time again (see the previous bullet point).
  • My crews are, for the most part, battle tested now. Many of them have fired shots in anger, many of them have also endured the attentions of well trained and armed men who want very much to kill them. For all of them, the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor has receded significantly in the chaotic flurry of sustained combat operations. In short, they’ve crossed a line. Maybe they aren’t grizzled yet, but they are no longer peacetime sailors. They are warriors. They know they can do the job thrust upon them, and this will show up in their performance—and their results. {Yeah, OK, I just made that up and it’s totally not reflected in the game mechanics. But do not burst my bubble on this, man. I ask for so little.}
So, I’m going into February optimistic, but far from cocky. I know I don’t have to start the month being hyper-aggressive. On the other hand, though, next week needs to be a good one. I have 16 boats on station for search/combat...if I have a lean week, I will definitely disavow any prior notions of confidence. Let us cross that bridge, though, when and if we come to it.


  1. G'day,

    Hey, I like the analysis. It elevates the whole blog from 'who-did-what-to-whom' to something a lot more interesting.

    Don't be shy. Feel free to throw in some more.


  2. Very interesting commentary, enjoying the voyage keepnup the good work