* * Ladder Board #3 - Round 15 * *
Michael Ussery (IJN; Bid 3) vs. Kevin Shewfelt (USN)

The I-Boat Raid and CPO Withdrawal adjustments are in play.

Turn 1
Turn 2
Turn 3
Turn 4
Turn 5
Turn 6
Turn 7

Turn 1

IJN Comments: The IJN would rather be lucky than good any day, and the dice gods were definitely of the Shinto variety so far. Only the New Orleans and the AF escaped Pearl Harbor, while all planes and ships were destroyed in Indonesia. The I-boat disabled Hermes. Standard +7 POC IJN, but the gods of probability are fickle and this can go anywhere as we start turn two. Michael

USN Comments: Savage Turn 1 for IJN. Without the benefit of substantial Pearl survivors, I'd better watch my step the next few turns.....assuming the Allies survive the next few turns! What really hurts is the fact that all Location Uncertain Groups arrive as Turn 2 reinforcements, so the pressure on Indonesia is relaxed a bit.

Turn 2

IJN Comments: Turn 2 indeed sees a reversal of fortune.

The USN meet the IJN in force in the US Mandate with all 5 carriers and 2 LBA vs 4 IJN CVs and the Iboat. Akagi, Shokaku, Zuikaku and Ryujo were all sunk with the Americans losing only Enterprise and Lexington, with Saratoga receiving 2 damage. The other US LBA bumped off little Hosho in the Coral Sea. IJN LBA sunk the Hermes. Canberra was sunk by LBA in the Marshall Is. While New Mexico took 1 pt of damage and sunk Ashigara, preventing Japanese control of the CPO (and the resulting conversion of Midway). An American cruiser picked up 1 POC in the North Pacific for the Allies. The Sasebo marines took Dutch Harbor, but the Yokosuka marines were lucky to be disabled to Truk, after their abortive attempt to take the New Hebrides failed due to lack of air cover. POC increased by +7 for IJN, up to 14. Huge change of momentum for the Allies.

USN Comments: Good turn for Allies, even though the POC is high at +14 IJN. Michael has summed up the particulars, so I needn't rehash all that here. It is always a terrible gamble to take on the IJN on T2 with the risk of an uneven surface fight. Even with equal surface in Mandate, he would certainly have got better attrition on my ships. Sending New Mexico to CPac was an additional gamble which paid off well. I was certain of sinking Yokosuka during the retreat from Mandate thus ensuring safe control of Guadalcanal next turn, but you cannot win them all!

It will be interesting how the IJN will prioritize targets next turn.

They still hold 20 carrier airpoints plus all LBA. Whether that will be enough to convert Pearl remains to be seen. New Hebrides is an excellent base for the Allies as it affords guaranteed ships in all areas adjacent to Mandate but also a threat to Indo as well. I've been lucky enough to base nearly my entire fleet there this turn. This should make up for not having a single CV in Australia for Turn 2.

Too soon to be certain, but I think we're in for the long-haul POC/attrition war in this game. As always, it will be best if I can keep him from ringing the bell.

Turn 3

IJN Comments: More disaster for the IJN.  6 CVs did not expect to defeat 6 LBA in Hawaiian Is, but also did not expect 3 sunk and 2 disabled on the first round!

POC is +20 for Japan.  2 functional US CVs and 1 max damage will be joined by Wasp next turn.  Only 4 IJN CVs remain afloat.  Midway fell to Kure, but CPO is uncontrolled.  Two fast cruisers and the Iboat were luck enough to break control of Coral Sea.  Not a pretty picture.

USN Comments: I feared a big push into Mandate or Coral this turn to take advantage of my new BBs being limited to HI. Especially after the patrollers were done and IJN had 14 raiders to my 15 raiders; it just looked very shrewdly planned out! Coral and Mandate both had two IJN patrollers and one Alliedpatroller, so he could have been surface proof in one of those areas. I thought I had discouraged another push into HI with my 6 LBA vs his 7 carriers, and IJN would be going to land the marine on Hebrides.

Tactical successes aside, the POC marker is still climbing steadily higher.

Turn 4

USN Comments: I find the two sides are on pretty equal terms this turn vis a vis LBA, carrier airpower, surface, etc. The shape of the end-game will undoubtedly be decided by what happens in the next two turns. We both have a lot of itches to scratch but too little time. Continued Allied control of Guadal will really hurt him, though, as it would be one area I don't need to budget for much carrier commitment on T6/T7.

LBA & Marines: This is a real marine-focused turn. IJN has Sasebo in Truk with 19 raiders to my 18, so could venture his fleet into Coral with the marine and try the landing from underneath Guadal. Or he can join his substantial surface patrol of 7 BBs already in SPac. This could be exposing the marine to more airpower as I have placed a third LBA in SPac, but at least has the 7BB patrol in SPac as a backup to his landings. As it turned out, Mike placed Sasebo in SPac. Coral would have required the commitment of surface raiders......which might be required to foil a CPac adverture by the USN.

I have lots of options for my two marines this turn. Having patrolled the Marshalls, NPac, and CPac with a single CA, I should be able to take my pick which area I want to invade. He has placed a single LBA in each area except for Marshalls, so I'll have to knock down or remove his LBA to secure the area. Marshalls with 2 LBA is out of the question in my mind as I only have 3 CVs. The question is whether to go with 2 marines for guaranteed success against one base or risk going for two.

At this point I was willing to gamble on my LBA removing the threat to Guadal in order to ensconce a battlefleet at Midway. However, moving any marines into CPac would surely encourage his 19 ship fleet, 3+ carriers, and the single LBA to challenge an Allied effort. He would have enough air to be favored to win and I really don't want to expose my 12 CAs to IJN surface fire. True, I outnumber his BBs 7 to 3, but CA preservation is my concern. I might have taken too much pressure off him in CPac, but in the end, 1 & 2 Marines moved to N Pac.

Raiders: Mike moved Soryu and a handful of CAs to N Pac, a 4 ship raid to Mandate vs my 2 patrollers, and all the rest to SPac to secure Sasebo's invasion of Guadal. This is where I depart from all I hold dear (like CA preservation) and decide to take some gambles:

1. Wasp, 2BBs, and 3CAs to Mandate hoping continual day actions will remove the threat of losing control for the turn. 2. Wash, NCarol, & 4CAs to Marianas to remove Yamato.... but SRs FAIL~!!

The BBs go back to Pearl and I'm left hoping to be able to do the job with the 4 thin-skinned cruisers. 3. 4 CAs to Aleutians to remove Kitakami. 4. Hornet and Illustrious to Indo to remove 21AirFlot.

5. Sara(2) and 3 BBs to NPac.....this is the fun bit! If night prevails it will be painful for IJN, but he has the flag, so day looks likely. I reasoned that both Soryu and 24AirFlot will need to shoot at the two marines for a 29% chance (including the possibility of a pure night action) to remove both. Of course, if both of these attacks prevail, and I-Boat is present, she'll have a free shot at Sara(2).

I'm expecting I-Boat in Indo because of the 4 POC at stake if I remove the LBA and am left in control of the area. I'm banking on losing Guadal this turn unless I get day and also remove the Sasebo......and I'm hoping I can retain control of Mandate while sharking his control of Marianas.

Lots of risks this turn. Worst case scenario for USN: POC goes to +25 end of T4 with no forward airbases. Midway and the Marshalls will have to wait...

Post-Turn 4: R1 really worried me with the loss of 4 CAs and 2 LBA and I started to question some of my risk-taking. But things improved in R2 with no further attrition, while Illustrious managed to remove the Indo LBA. With that little piece of luck, I decided to abort my Marianas mission. POC was reduced to +19 IJN end of T4 which is a result. Add to that the capture of Dutch, protection of Guadal, and 4 operational US CVs for T5 to complete the turn.

Turn 5

USN Comments: Again, turn 5 revolved around the operations of Marines & SNLFs:

IJN went after Guadalcanal from SPac and Coral. Both attempts were disabled or sunk thus protecting the island for yet another turn. An attempt was made in Aleutians to recapture Dutch Harbor. SNLF sunk.

Marines went to Coral and CPac. 1Marines(4) in Coral was effectively sunk by Iboat, but USN gets a lucky night action against the odds in CPac to capture Midway, remove the IJN LBA in CPac, and sink the lone Hiyo.

The dice have taken over this game, so comments are a little slim. We go into T6 with POC at +17 IJN. IJN has Kaga, Zuiho, 6 LBA, and a good surface force (still more surface than USN). Allies have four of the original CVs plus the usual suspects coming into the game for T6.

Turn 6

USN Report: Michael and I have finished T6 with POC at +12 IJN.

Turn 7

IJN Endgame Comments: At the end of Turn 7, Our unadjusted POC is +2 allies, with nary a Japanese control flag on the board.  The Japanese were able to lure the Allies into a battle on Turn Two, but with devastating consequences to the Imperial Navy.  This led to the necessity of increasingly more desperate gambles, which had a sorry and expected end.  Kevin was a gracious opponent.  I hope to give him the opportunity to blast me again sometime.

Allied Endgame Comments: It is Michael who was gracious in the face of adversity and thank him for continuing to let me pound his units on the surface and from the air after all hope was lost. Allies had a tremendous advantage after T2, but it still could have turned around. Time after time, I managed to protect Guadal. The run of the dice were clearly in my favor...........which worries me because I know they are fickle!

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