* * 2019-2021 Top 10 Invitational * *
John Pack (IJN; Bid 10) vs. Andy Gardner (USN)

The unadjusted 2nd edition rules are in play.

Turn 1

A dastardly attack by 7 aircraft carriers of the empire of Japan at Pearl Harbor sank five battleships and two cruisers while putting three damage each on West Virginia and California.  Arizona, in a twist of irony, is the lone unit unscathed.  Even the 7th Air Force sports one damage.  Meanwhile, Force Z sailing up the coast of French Indochina is caught by four LBA and entirely destroyed while American planes from the 5th Air Force are caught on the ground and annihilated.

IJN Comments: The only real oddity this turn was the transfer of the Ryujo from the Hawaiian raid to waiting for an unlucky location-uncertain carrier in the Central Pacific.  However, four USN CV show up in the Hawaiians and none in the Central Pacific.  The I-Boat misses its chance for glory.  I am fortunate that my seven CV in the Hawaiians have a lucky first round and do nearly as well as average for eight flattops.  With no disaster, the huge bid puts the IJN in a hole.  I will have to start digging my way out next turn!

Turn 2

IJN Comments: While debating my raider move, I considered four different attacks.  I'll present three of them here (along with how to get to the fourth) for readers' enjoyment.  This will be the entire write-up rather than detailing out the whole game.  But I will give the USN response to the actual attack.

Rejected Plan I -- A Traditional TKO

Of course, the goal in this strategy is a bruising battle with the USN vs. half of the Japanese fleet. With 5 aircraft carriers in each area, the USN would face a huge risk in each zone.  The USN would probably have to rely on the LBA and flag in the US Mandate to give them an edge.  I opted against this plan primarily because the three Allied patrollers in the Marshalls give the USN a chance at the block (along with a suicide CV vs. the NLF).  Andy wouldn't want to use this strategy -- because there are too many things that can go wrong.  But it might be the best choice among bad options.

Rejected Plan II -- Perimeter Defense & Pearl-Only

This plan is similar to Andy's own favorite offense.  The surface force in the Hawaiians makes any action there impossibly risky -- but only uses for CV.  That leaves tons of aircraft carriers for the perimeter and flag defenses that will pick off Allied CV.  However, it gives the Allies easy POC in both Coral Sea and the U.S. Mandate.  In a game with a bid of 10, I can't afford to hand a lot of POC to the Allies.  Plus it's easy to save the Northeast corner cheaply -- CPO could be saved with surface ships only -- and punch a hole in the perimeter.

Rejected Plan III -- Alternative Perimeter with Coral Sea Attack

No picture for this one -- since the only change is to move Ryujo from the Marianas Islands to the Coral Sea.

I actually like this variant better as it gives the USN even more things to think and worry about -- and another chance to trade aircraft carriers.

Plan IV -- Full-Court Press (The Actual Attack)

The goal of a full-court press is to force a USN response to the Hawaiian Islands or U.S. Mandate, score a lot of CV and/or surface attrition, run up the score, and set up the conversion of either Samoa or Pearl Harbor next turn.  In this case, the attack potential (7 CV) into Indonesia is so high that I send Junyo there.  I prefer to have two CV making the speed roll into the Hawaiians (so that I get at least one 5 out of 6 times).

The most interesting element of the attack is the NLF in the Coral Sea.  It presents a problem to the USN -- as my opponent certainly can't afford to take one of the two big areas (US Mandate or the Hawaiians) and still stop the NLF.  It will normally invade New Hebrides to support the conversion of Samoa -- which can be an even bigger problem if the USN saves Samoa this turn only to lose it on Turns 3 and 4.  Worse, there's also a chance, if the battle in the Hawaiians is lost -- that the NLF will invade Port Moresby.  Then, while Samoa is converted, flags are set up in the Coral Sea and Indian Ocean to present a Turn 4 Australia conversion.

The USN Response

The Shoho failed her speed roll -- returning to Japan and easing the USN choices.  The Allies predictably head into the Hawaiian and CPO.

The combat is a catastrophe for the IJN.  The only thing that goes well is Indonesia where the 0272's are sunk in exchange for Junyo. However, the Allied LBA pulls out a win in the Marianas -- sinking Sasebo.  That sets up the Singapore Sling for around eight units.  The Hawaiian battle does not yield good attrition for the IJN.  One Allied CV is lost, but all three IJN CV go down.  A few more IJN ships go down in the retreat.

The IJN takes New Hebrides, the Coral Sea, and the U.S. Mandate -- but fails to shoot down the LBA in the USM.  That sets up a tougher conversion of Samoa next turn.

In retrospect, the perimeter defense option looks a lot better -- but that could have been much different with Shoho's arrival.

Turn 3

Samoa falls while the USN concedes the Hawaiian Islands.  The USN sets up a lot of flags and hot spots -- a POC catastrophe for Japan.  However, Samoa provides a base for almost the whole Japanese fleet.  That sets up a final KO attempt for Turn Four.

Turn 4

The IJN's desperation sets up a titanic battle for Hawaii.  The USN had forgotten that Samoa would be available as a base for the attack.

A few spare IJN units attempt to deny other areas (and even sink Saratoga in night action).  However, the Marshalls' bases are lost.

The huge battle solidly favors the USN.  However, in practice it's even worse as the first five hits on Allied LBA fail to shoot down even one.  At the end of the battle, the IJN surrenders.  POC never exceeded the bid!

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