USN Report: An interesting start to our
no-options T10 game.
It was certainly a turn of opportunities given and lost. Ed starts off like a house on fire. His Pearl raids were really good considering he had one less carrier (sans Soryu) than normal, sinking 7 BB's, including the sinking of all four of the biggest BB's! He also hits the 8th BB and a cruiser. In Indo, he doesn't even need to get to round 3 as he sinks both BB's and shoots down the LBA in the first 2 rounds. I then roll groups W and X into the CPO and Z into Hawaii (where the I-boat was placed). Not good. Could be a very short game if 3 CV's are sunk. Fortunately, the dice start swinging my way with the I-Boat missing in Hawaii and a string of 5 straight day actions in the CPO. The first round in CPO sees Lexington sunk in exchange for Soryu and Hosho. I then run with Enterprise and my 6 CA's. Ed pursues with 12 CA's, having a six ship wrap. In rounds 2-5, Big E steps up and sinks 4xCA's! With just a 2 wrap, Ed has a big decision to make as I still have the flag and the potential for removing/sinking Enterprise is greatly reduced. However, if he is successful, he will be able to grind down the USN CA's. Unfortunately, for me, he decides to continue the pursuit and snags the pure night action for rd. 6. The good news is that he merely disables Enterprise. In the CA picture, the IJN CA's prove their worth, sinking 3 USN CA's and damaging a 4th. I sink one IJN CA. Overall, I guess we each had our share of good dice that turn.
Being down a carrier, and 10 surface ships on T2 is never good but at least I sunk two flattops and 5 surface ships. The advantage goes to the IJN after T1 but there is a lot of game left, I hope!
We will see what happens from here. Just having a different look for T2 in a VITP game is refreshing!
IJN Comments: Like all his other games in this iteration of the Top Ten, Andy elected to play with no options. Andy opened the bidding at 10.5 POC for the Japs. I countered with a bid of 11.5. Andy let me have the red team for that amount.
Both groups W and X appear in CPO. Group Z appears in Hawaii. I'll have shots at three USN CVs. Sweet! This is why you bid those extra POC. Round 1: Soryu sinks Lexington, Hosho whiffs at Enterprise, the I-Boat whiffs at Hornet. Both Soryu and Hosho are sunk by return fire. Enterprise, screened by 6 CAs try to run away. I pursue with my 12 CAs. Rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 are each pure day and Enterprise doesn't miss. Four IJN cruisers sunk. With only a two ship lap, I ponder breaking off pursuit; but decide to give it another round. Round 6 comes up pure night! I sink two of his screening CAs and disable two more. My two bonus shots at Enterprise result in a mere disable. Rats! A fifth IJN CA gets sunk with Andy's return fire. I sink a third USN CA on round 7 and the battle is over. Meanwhile, seven BBs are sunk at Pearl Harbor and it's a clean sweep in Indo.
Losing 5 CAs hurts my surface fleet; but trading Soryu and Hosho for Lexington gives the IJN a slight edge.
IJN gains the standard 7 PoC.
IJN Comments: The USN ducks any significant battle. The USN decontrols the Marshalls with a large surface force while keeping all four CVs out of harms way. Another whiff from the I-Boat as the Japanese capture all 7 bases without a fight. POC to 14.
IJN Comments: Normally, turn 3 consists of trying to capture Pearl whilst cleaning up whatever bases didn't get converted on turn 2. But with all 7 bases already converted, it's capture Pearl and set up for turn 4 by flagging both SPO and the Marshalls.
Andy raids Enterprise and Yorktown to Hawaii to join his 6 LBA and 2 Marines in the defense of Pearl Harbor. I have 7CVs and 2 LBA (Hiyo failed her speed roll). A first round night would have given the IJN a distinct advantage in this game; but alas, round 1 is pure day. I sink Yorktown and 1Marine while disabling Enterprise (1d) and 2Marine (3d). My 14 shots at his LBA result in zero hits. The pendulum has swung in Andy's direction. But, Andy shoots badly with his return fire. Shoho is sunk, Kaga is crippled, and Shokaku disabled. The I-Boat has no targets to shoot at. Round 2 sees 2 USN LBA sunk and 2 IJN CVs sunk. Round 3 swings the pendulum back in my direction as I down 2 more LBA whilst Andy whiffs with his return fire. Round 4 sees one more USN LBA sunk and Hiryu disabled. Andy loses his last LBA on round 5 - leaving Junyo to air raid 4 damage onto North Carolina. POC to 17.
IJN Comments: With LBA in Indo and SPO; and the fleet mainly patrolling the Mandate, I look to set up the powerful Indo-SPO-Mandate wall of flags that will allow me to score tons of POC on turn 5 and set up a nice perimeter on turn 5 even with large numbers of USN CVs floating about. If I can get lucky and sneak a SNFL into Guad, then I'll be sitting pretty. Andy ducks combat in the mandate in favor of a battle in SPO. I sink Saratoga. Andy sinks Yokosuka, disables Sasebo and cripples Hiryu. I win the flag in SPO; but Andy saved Guad. Meanwhile, Enterprise air raids the repairing Kaga to death at YNY. POC to 25.
IJN Comments: With the Indo-SPO-USM wall of flags, I get to flag Japan, Marianas, Marshalls and Hawaii with a single patrolling ship in each area. I put 3 LBA in Indo, 3 LBA in SPO and 3 118s in USM (to threaten to convert Samoa). The bulk of my fleet is on raid, waiting to see where Andy's 9 LBA get placed. Andy defends the Mandate with 2 LBA and puts the other 7 in SPO. Andy knows that an IJN flag in SPO at the end of turn 5 means the IJN can cruise to an easy victory during the end game. I know that as well, but I look at the glass as half empty and a battle in SPO that goes badly could totally ruin my chances in this game, so I opt for the back door. I put my 2 SNFLs and my raiding fleet into Coral Sea. Andy counters by raiding Wasp and Enterprise (1d) to Coral Sea (neutral waters). The +1 for day is all Andy needs to get it. He then sinks both of my SNFLs. At least I get to fulfill both carriers suicide mission. That leaves only Hornet left of the original 6 USN CVs. Meanwhile in SPO, I save Lae by sinking 1Marine again and disabling 2Marine again. But I pay for it with 2 LBA sunk and the third damaged. POC to 29.
It's anybody's ball game. The SPO hole in my perimeter will allow the turn 6 reinforcements to reach both Indo and the Marianas. I'll only have 4 LBA to work with on turn 6 (and two of them are damaged). it's going to be interesting.
Up until this point, I was playing under the assumption that Jim was going to win the Top 10 by winning his last game against John L. But now I see that Jim has lost his last game. Thus, I can retain my Top 10 trophy with a win here against Andy. Time to redouble my efforts and put out my best move for turn 6.
IJN Comments: Like turn 2, turn 6 is comprised of spreading things out and letting the USN choose where he wants to do battle - knowing that he can't do battle in more than 1 or 2 places. I put the bulk of my surface fleet on patrol in the Marianas with no air support at all. Normally, this move gets called a "nighttime dare" and is equated with a Japanese player in a desperate position. My position is not desperate. I just know that Andy won't go there because any forces he puts there will have no good place to base and I'll be in a good position on turn 7 day or night. Meanwhile, I put 2 damaged LBA in Hawaii. I raid suicide BBs into the Marshalls to deny Andy the flag there. Indo gets 2 undamaged LBA and all five of my operational CVs (Hiryu is undergoing repairs). Rightfully, Andy decides that he has insufficient forces to contest both Hawaii and Indo. So, he gives me Hawaii whilst going "all in" into Indo (minus one CVL sent to the Marshalls to try and secure the flag there).
So the big battle in Indo looks like this: 2 IJN LBA and 5 IJN CVs versus 4 USN CVs, 5 CVLs and a big surface fleet. A pretty even battle if the flag holds. Alas, the +2 for day isn't quite enough, round 1 is day-followed-by-night. I also shoot poorly. I sink 1 CV and 1 CVL while disabling 2 other CVs. The pendulum has swung back towards Andy. Andy shoots all 26 of his daytime shots at my 2 LBA. He scores just one hit for 2 damage!! Four of my CVs are lost in the night half while Hiyo escapes with a disable. A decent round 1 result for Andy had it been pure day; but very disappointing results considering it was DFBN.
Yokosuka lands at Lae unmolested, Andy figures he'll be able to air raid it to death later. Andy has a damaged Marine and an undamaged Marine in SPO lurking. The I-boat sinks the damaged Marine. Thus, Andy will have to air raid Yokosuka to death in order to capture Lae.
The battle is now 2 IJN LBA versus 1 CV and 4 CVLs. On round 2, I make up for poor shooting on round 1 by sinking both a CV and a CVL. Andy's return fire sinks the previously damaged LBA and puts 3 damage on the previously undamaged LBA. Over the next three rounds, my damage LBA manages to remove the three remaining CVLs while Andy can't roll a six. The IJN flags Indo and gains a huge advantage. POC stays at 29.
IJN Comments: Normally, the IJN would have a mathematical lock on the game with this position. But with an 11.5 POC bid, I need steal 1 POC on turn 7 ( or 8 ) while flagging Japan on turn 8 to get the win. As Andy had gone virtually "all in" in Indo and had to retreat to Australia, he only has De Ruyter based close enough to patrol the Marianas. I send 2 BBs and 2 CVs to the Marianas to more-or-less guarantee decontrolling the area. Meanwhile, I raid my surface fleet into Hawaii while keeping the rest of my carriers in port (protected from the F-Boat).
I could have kept my fleet safe on turn 7; but that would have allowed Andy free reign to base where he'd like. He would then have had a slight nighttime wrap in Japan on turn 8. As I have so few carriers left, a slight wrap is just as bad as a large wrap. So, I might as well take advantage of having a nice 7 ship surface lap on him in Hawaii on turn 7. Andy puts the bare minimum force in the Marianas and commits the bulk of his force to Hawaii - which he has to win. I'm fortunate to have the 42% chance of pure night go my way on round 1. My BBs sink 4 USN CVs and cripple a CVL. With no hope of winning a turn 8 battle against my 6 LBA in Japan, Andy concedes.