As of September 2015, the Menzel options include the following:
· Ryujo & Zuiho may NOT raid Pearl. They may make any other legal move. All other ships move per standard Turn 1 rules
· After the first two air raid rounds and Location Uncertain rolls, IJN must withdraw. USN may pursue per standard Turn 1 rules.
Prior to September 2015, the Menzel options were altered as follows:
a. Carrier Limit: 6
b. Air Raid Rounds: 2
c. IJN withdrawal is required after initial two rounds; Allied pursuit is an option.
d. 7th AF may return fire on the second round if it survives the first.
a. 5th AF may return fire on the second round if it survives the first.
Author's Comments [Pre-9/2015]: There is a fundamental problem in the game when a player can end up in a very precarious position after having been given no choices or decisions. The USN gets no meaningful decisions on T1. Then on T2, they can find themselves with no Pearl survivors and down to two LBA. Admittedly this adverse result doesn’t happen often. But an almost helpless USN on T2 is not that infrequent. And, even if it were infrequent, in any given tournament it is likely to happen to somebody or several somebody’s.
And many supported T1 CPO withdrawal/I Boat options for exactly the same reason – a potentially very negative starting position after having made zero decisions in the game.
Using the historical IJN Pearl CV raiding force will, as noted, typically give the USN 1 or 2 extra BBs to start T2. And that should get the USN out of the pure survival mode
I have records of 17 completed games. The bids have ranged from 1.5 for the IJN to .5 for the USN. Most bids have been .5 for the IJN or 0. The USN has won 14 of the 17 completed. The IJN is favored in the game in progress where the bid was 0.
I think the "Menzel" options have remarkably balanced the game - perhaps slightly overbalanced it in favor of the USN although it is too early to tell for sure.