Victory in the Pacific
Menzel Options
Concept by Ed Menzel
Editing, additions, and analysis by John Pack

As of September 2015, the Menzel options include the following:

  1. Adjustment #1a -- I-Boat Arrival:  The I-Boat arrives with Turn 2 reinforcements.  The I-Boat is not available on Turn 1.
  2. Adjustment #2b -- Individual CPO Withdrawal: After each Location Uncertain roll of "1," the Allied player may freely withdraw the associated group with no pursuit, basing such ships at Johnston Island, immune to any attack this turn.    The Allied player must choose before rolling for any subsequent Location Uncertain Group.  Any groups that do not withdraw immediately do not have another chance to retreat prior to the end of the first combat round.
  3. Adjustment #3b -- Pearl Harbor Escape: If there's a Japanese Control Flag in the Hawaiian Islands during Turn 3 movement, Turn 3 Pearl Harbor reinforcements may also move to the U.S. Mandate.  In addition: Allied amphibious units in the U.S. Mandate using 3b are restricted to invading New Hebrides if Japanese-controlled or returning to base at Samoa or Pearl Harbor.
  4. Adjustment #4a -- San Diego Repair Yards: During the basing phase, any U.S. ship with damage less than or equal to its armor factor may be withdrawn from the map (i.e., based in San Diego).  After missing at least one turn, such ships return with any subsequent turn's reinforcements (with damage if not completely repaired).  Total repairs in San Diego and Pearl Harbor (or Samoa if Pearl Harbor is Japanese-controlled) are limited to Pearl Harbor's repair capacity.
  5. Turn One Special Rules:
    • Ryujo & Zuiho may NOT be assigned to the Pearl Harbor raid force. 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 (18.2, 18.22-18.23), the Japanese player must retreat from the Hawaiian Islands.  The Allied player may pursue per standard rules.


3cM:  A common variation of the Menzel Options is to use adjustment 3c instead of 3b. This will be the "Tournament Level" of the new edition of Five-Ocean War: Victory in the Pacific.

  1. Adjustment #3c -- West Coast Escape: If there's a Japanese Control Flag in the Hawaiian Islands during Turn 3 movement, Allied units in Pearl Harbor or Johnston Island, during any opportunity to move, may be placed instead with the Turn 4 reinforcements.


Mr (Menzel post-Raid):  Bid after the air raid and location uncertain dice:

A player is selected (randomly or by mutual agreement) to serve as the Japanese Player and makes all of its moves (patrols, LBA, NLF, and raiders) and then conducts two rounds of air raids in Indonesia and Pearl Harbor.  The second player, serving as the Allied player, must agree the patrols, LBA, NLF, raiders, and targeting selections for the air raids are "reasonable."  After the air raids are complete in Pearl Harbor and Indonesia, the second player then rolls the location uncertain dice, places groups accordingly, and individually withdraws all groups which rolled a "1."  Then, beginning with the second player, players bid for sides.  Whomever takes the Allied side then completes all of its movement (patrols and raiders) and begins the normal sequence of play with the Hawaiian pursuit decision.


Analysis of Air Raid Differences

To compare the Menzel 6-carrier air raid to the normal 8-carrier air raid, I used the vwroller and dice@finberg facilities to roll 100 air raids of each type (50 with each die server).  I counted any ship bottomed as sunk.  Raid methodology targeted 553s, 443s, 453s, 117s, and the 7th Air Force in that order, one carrier each provided sufficient targets were available (to maximize damage).  Targets were assigned an attacking carrier based on the remaining defense factor (with the LBA treated as if its defense was 3).  The summary of results appears below -- together with a normal distribution with the same mean and standard deviation.

The key take-aways are:

  • The mean ships sunk is 1.52 less with the Menzel options.  However, approximately one of those ships is a cruiser (but 17% of the time, it includes the 7th AF).
  • Both types of air raids can see results from 0 to 11 sunk.  However, even though all 11 units were sunk once in the Menzel tests, the distribution suggests that's a 1 in 5,000 occurrence.  It's even less likely that zero ships will be sunk (and neither test saw such a result).
  • The Menzel options reduce the likelihood that the 7th Air Force will be destroyed from 19% to 2%.
  • The potential for spectacular results increases dramatically when 3+ ships (normal) or 5+ (Menzel) are bottomed on the first wave -- since that allows every unit in Pearl Harbor to be targeted on the second wave.


Historical Information

As of September 15th, 2022, the results of all PBEM games using the Menzel options are as follows:

Bid USN Wins IJN Wins
-4 1  
-3.5   1
-3   1
-2.5 2  
-2 1 1
-1.5 6 12
-1 25 37
-0.5 5 9
0 36 31
0.5 11 2
1 14 3
1.5 13 8
2 3 


2.5 2


3 2  
3.5 3 1
4.5 2  
5.5 2  
Total 128 110
77 79


Prior to September 2015, the Menzel options were altered as follows:

  1. Adjustment #1 (I-Boat Raid: On Turn 1 any I-Boat assigned to the Hawaiian Islands is part of the Pearl Harbor raid force and may only target ships which leave Pearl Harbor.)
  1. Pearl Harbor Raid:

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.

  1. Indonesia Raid:

a. 5th AF may return fire on the second round if it survives the first.


Ed'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 somebodies.

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.

Victory in the Pacific® is a registered trademark of The Avalon Hill Game Company.