Friday, August 26, 2005

Empire of the Sun (Dennis Menear)

This was the first ever attempt at EoTS. Dennis played the Allies, and I played the Japanese.

We started with 1941. As it turns out, I believe that allowing the Japanese to run their own first turn tends to unbalance the game a bit. Improved Allied play and some PW adjustments will probably eventually bring this back into balance, but in this case, the Japanese initial position was just too much to overcome.

Turn 1

The Pearl Harbor attack yeilds less than stellar results. IAI has significantly better luck. Hong Kong falls. FEAF is eliminated and the 19th LRB is reduced, while much of the Phillipines is taken in amphibious landings, including Mindanao. Force Z is damaged, but manages to limp back to Singapore. Wake, Guadalcanal, and Rabaul all fall into Japanese hands. The Japanese land forces in Borneo and Sumatra.

Turn 2

As 1942 dawns, the Japanese focus on eliminating all air and naval forces in the DEI, Malaya, Burma and Phillipines, to make their conquest more smooth. Coordinated attacks on air-naval targets at Singapore, Manila, and Borneo are coupled with landings on Borneo. Manila still possess limited air presence but Borneo is seized and Singapore is opened to Japanese ground forces.

The Allied naval froces raid into the Marshall islands, where they are met by the main Japanese carrier force. It does not go well for the Japanese and only the limited Allied naval stregnth prevents a total disaster.

A second Japanese offensive sees the last vestiges of Allied air power in Manila eliminated, the AVG eliminated in Rangoon, Japanese ground forces inside Rangoon and Soerbaja, and Japanese ground forces at the gates of Singapore.

A series of raids throughout the turn eliminates the Dutch air force, leaves the Dutch navy hanging by a thread, and places the Japanese army at the outskirts of Tjilitap.

Turn 3

The Japanese receive another infusion of good campaign cards, and set about completing their conquest of the DEI, Burma, Malaya, and the Phillipines.

The first Japanese offensive finishes off the Dutch navy, opening up Tjilitap for assault, and it quickly falls. Oilfields on New Guinea are seized, and only Manila and Palembang hold out, among the Japanese resource hexes.

Soon afterward, Singapore, Manila, and Palembang fall, after which the Japanese begin shuttling their forces into defensive positions on the perimiter of their empire, awaiting hammer blows from the US. Forces are moved forward to the Marshalls, and Tarawa is invaded.

The Allies begin to fight over Guadalcanal, but the Japanese forces are tenacious, and air and naval support is available to make the going rough.

An unfortunate battle in Rangoon eliminates most of the Allied land forces in Burma, and by turn's end, the country is conquered.

Turn 4

The Japanese have ceased outward expansion and are husbanding their resources for defensive purposes. Guadalcana remains the focus of Allied efforts, but an unfortunate result turns back their initial invasion, chewing up precious ASPs and denting their growing naval power.

The Allies attack Rangoon and completely eliminate the entire Japanese land force in Burma, leaving the gate to South East Asia wide open momentarily. Reinforcements are rushed from Korea and the home islands to Bangkok, where they will make a last stand. Luckily, the forbidding terrain will slow the Allied approach to the city and leave them vulnerable. Indeed, as their forces arrive at the outskirts of Bangkok, the Japanese counter-attack, all but wiping out the British navy in the process.

When the Allies finally reach Bangkok, both sides are too tired to fight effectively, and the battle is inconclusive, but leaves the Japanese in possession of the city, and leaves their forces mostly intact.

Turn 5

Allied Political Will is at +2 to start the turn.

The Allies turn their attention to Java, and attempt a landing at Soerbaja, which is roughly treated in an Air-Naval battle, and turned back. They find themselves without enough naval power in the area, and must shuttle some forward from rear bases.

Meanwhile, the Japanese begin to pull back the vulnerable outer edges of their empire to provide a garrison for crucial areas, such as Formosa.

Turn 6

Allied Political Will is at +1, having missed Progress of War in the previous turn. Japanese efforts will be focused on preventing progress. An offensive-cancelling card is safely tucked away as a "future offensive" and another is in this turn's hand, which should make things difficult for the Allies.

The Allies start the turn promisingly, taking Soerbaja. Attempts to take the remaining areas of Java are turned back, however, and offensive progress in the DEI stalls.

A follow-up attack on Bangkok yeilds similar inconclusive results on the ground. Bangkok remains in Japanese hands and the Allies lack the ground forces to press the attack.

At this point it is clear that the Allies will never make progress of war and they sue for peace.


This was a learning game for both of us, and we made many mistakes, strategically, tactially, and rules-wise. The Allied learning curve is clearly steeper, since they have to crack open the Japanese defenses and often don't have that much with which to do it. Coupled with the 1941 opening, which enables Japan to significantly improve on historical results, it was too much to accomplish. Both of us are looking forward to the rematch, which will be played using the 1942 start.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Empire of the Sun (Stephen Crane)

Playing the 1942 scenario with none of the v1.3 changes (they occurred after we started). This was my first completed Empire of the Sun game. I played the Allies.

We did make one pretty serious rules error in overlooking that it cost 1ASP per step for armies/corps, which I am certain benefitted me as the Allies.

Turn 2:

A heroic defense at Manila by MacArthur requires Japan to play 3 cards before the city falls, and even takes a CVL and land unit step with them before the dust settles. The Japanese advance to the gates of Singapore. Overall, however, MacArthur's defense has forced some serious delays in the Japanese timetable.

Turn 3:

US Army, Navy, and Air reinforcements go to Soerbaja to force the fight in the DEI on turn 3. Anzac also goes into Soerbaja. This turns out not to be a very good place for it, since it cannot activate Auusie units (who suffer attrition turn after turn) nor can it help out with activations in Malaya. Later in the game it relocates and becomes useful.

The US and British naval and air forces provide support in Singapore and the DEI. This includes two surprise raids into Borneo to decrease Japanese cruiser strength in the area (surprise event cards and 1Ops cards prove very effective for the Allies, prosecuting a war of early attriton). Even so, by turn's end, the Japanese have whittled the Brits and Americans to a skeletal force.

The Allies also use a surprise card to send the Marines and their small naval forces to take the lightly defended Kwajalein.

The War in Eurpoe is not going well, and is at level 2 at turn's end.

Turn 4:

Turn 4 starts with ISR afflicting both Allies and Japanese.

The Japanese take Singapore without much resistance. The allies attempt yet another Surprise attack in the DEI, but this time the Japanese are waiting and the Allied ships limp home with their tails between their legs. A subsequent Japanese Offensive all but eliminates Allied air and naval power in the region.

MacArthur steps in to end ISR for the Allies. The Allies use their new-found cooperation to land on Truk, which has no ground units, forcing the South Seas HQ off the map. The Japanese regroup at Saipan and shift gears. They begin setting up a defensive perimeter in the Philipines and Marianas.

The War in Europe returns to level 1.

Turn 5:

At this point the Japanese are only drawing 4 cards, having made very little progress capturing the DEI resource spaces.

ISR hits the Allies once again and will last the rest of the game. They are never again able to come to agreement.

The Allies take Rabaul, which has been mostly abandoned as the Japanese pulled back. A naval attack on Eniwetok convinces the Japanese to pull forces back and fight another day enabling the Allies to complete the conquest of the Marshalls.

While Doolittle raids Japan, the Japanese beef up their defensive peremiter in the Maraianas with an array of naval, ground, and air units. As the Allies get closer to the home islands, there are fewer spaces to defend and the ones that exist start to look pretty daunting.

Turn 6:

The Allies are hampered by ISR and garrisons on islands in the Marianas which cannot be taken by the Navy/Marines alone, making it impossible to make progress in that area. With large naval stacks in Saipan, Manila, and Ulithi, all within reaction range of each other, even the desire to fight a war of attrition is hampered by a lack of cooperating air units with sufficient range to launch smothering attacks, without undue risk of getting into a naval battle in which the odds will be highly against the Americans.

So the Allies turn their attention to SouthEast Asia and whatever else they can find. Rangoon is seized with massive losses on both sides. Saigon follows soon afterward. The American Army manages landings on Mindanao and Borneo, staying out of spotting range of Japanese aircraft in Manila and Miri since the navy is petulantly staying home.

Turn 7:

The outlook is mostly the same at the start of Turn 7 as it was in Turn 6. Direct confrontation being unwise, the Allies once again start taking what the defense is giving them.

Progress is made in Malaya, which falls back into British hands (or Indian hands, more accurately) and Hong Kong is re-taken. The American navy, still quietly sitting on its hands while the Army does most of the heavy lifting, launches a small surprise raid on the Marianas to sink the Yamato, and manages a bit of extra attrition through skip bombing and submarine attacks.

The War in Europe starts going in the Allies favor and is at level 0 by turn's end, though a Japanese raid on the Panama Canal means reinforcements are still delayed this turn.

Japanese ISR ends when the emperor steps in.

Turn 8:

Though the allied naval forces are growing in strength, the outlook remains the same as last turn, due to ISR. Nibbling around the edges and biding time are again the watchword for the allies. ANZAC is repositioned to Mindanao, and proves very effective in that location.

The British seize Formosa, Hanoi, and (mistakenly) Canton and Yungning (we forgot the garrison rule for these cities, ooops). The Brits on Formosa advance a bit too far and come within range of a hornet's nest of Japanese air units on the home islands. This lesson weakens allied resolve for a landing in Japan and they start looking for alternate ends to the war.

The Aussies make a landing on Luzon, the Marines take Marcus Island, and the Army advances overland (much more confortable for them), to take Tarakan.

An attempt by Army air units to attack the Japanese in Manila is dealt with harshly. The pilots grumble that "had the navy been around to help out, we might have had a chance." But such complaints fall on deaf ears.

Central Pacific HQ is removed so it can be relocated to the Marshalls, within range of Allied units in the Phillipines. Next turn, if ISR remains in effect, the Allies will need to start sacrificing CVEs and CVLs to smother Japanese forces if they hope to crack the shell. And to do that, they'll need more "oomph" than ANZAC can provide. (A card with 8 logistics for CPac is stashed away as Future Operations and Marine airwings have been diverted to the DEI, so they may stage to Leyte to smother Manila.)

Turn 9:

The B29s arrive and succeed in strategic bombing from Marcus Island. They are immediately reduced when the Japanese play the Tinian Air raid card.

Tojo resigns, but immediately the Soviets invade Manchuria. This is yet another link in a chain of luck for the Allies, who have drawn the Manchuria card on 4 successive turns, but used it for Ops in the previous 3 turns, hoping it will come back into their hand again in time to secure a resource space victory and avoid an invasion of Japan.

The Japanese are now down to 4 resource hexes: Manila may prove a difficult nut to crack, due to the carrier forces there and the supporting forces in the Marianas, and due to Allied ISR issues. Seoul is garrisoned with a Japanese 18-12 unit and is not ever going to be an easy target. Medan is empty and far behind Allied lines, just waiting for a spare Allied Op. And Miri is likewise behind allied lines, out of supply, though occupied by a 2-6. If the Allies can take Manila, it should be enough to insure victory.

The Aussies and Brits are used as sacraficial lambs in an invasion of Northern Luzon, designed to take the airfield (this will cut Manila off from supply and eliminate airfields into which air units in the home islands can stage). The Japanese make their special reaction, however, and the ground forces are sent packing with tails between legs. Once again, the absent Navy and Marines come in for much cursing.

The Navy and Marines demonstrate how it is done, and secure the Luzon airfield with the help of smothering attacks from the Marine airwing.

The Japanese, angered by the B29 bombings, attempt operations against Marcus island to finish off the reduced B29 unit there. The American navy gets word of their plan, however, and the newly-placed Central Pacific HQ sends a naval force which outnumbers the Japanese by almost 2-1. The result is in keeping with Allied luck throughout, and the Japanese force is decimated.

The Sapian naval force is now reduced to shell of its former self and the entire Japanese defensive position is unhinged. The allies unleash Operaion Flintlock to send 11 units into action. The forces at Manila and Ulithi are smothered, and the remaining units target the Japanese forces at Saipan and Palau. The results are bloody on both sides, but the Allies are able to absorb the losses, while the Japanese grip on the Maraianas, and their ability to help the Phillipines is diminishing.

Yet another Allied surprise card is used to eliminate all remaining Japanese air and naval forces from Manila before they are even able to respond, and the Marines follow up with an attack which eliminates the last remaining Japanese unit in the Phillipines and retakes Manila. Miri falls easily soon afterwards. And with no cards left, Medan is guaranteed to fall before turn's end, at which point the Japanese surrender.


The allies were highly lucky in this game throughout. The Japanese made very little progress early, for example Macarthur held out for 3 turns against all odds, and what progress they did make almost always came with some sort of casulaties which they could ill-afford. A generous supply of surprise cards were able to generate even more attrition and blunt Japanese efforts. The key battle of the game, at Marcus Island, went heavily in the allies favor and from there the game went in a fairly straight line in the Allies direction. And pulling the Manchuria card turn after turn until Tojo finally came out was a stroke of luck.

The PW was at +3 in the end. Had Manchuria not come out, the Allies were sweating an invasion of Japan. Enough ground losses in the invasion, and the game could have still swung to Japan at the very end.