Wargaming 21 Jun 2011: Pacific Crossroads Part I

Courtesy BGG

Set up on the table today is Avalanche Press Great War at Sea Pacific Crossroads.

Setting up for Operational Scenario One: To Guam and Beyond (April 1919). The situation is laid out in the Developer’s Preview:

The Mariana and Caroline Islands lay across the sea route from Hawai’i to the Philippines; any American attempt to relieve its Far Eastern colony would have to pass near these islands. The American War Plan Orange did not envision reducing the Japanese bases along the way: once the fleet had passed on its way to the Philippines, follow-up convoys would still be at risk from the Japanese bases in the former German colonies of the Central Pacific.

The American fleet must move a convoy of 12 fast transports and 15 slow transports from the eastern edge of the map to either Guam or off the west edge (convoy en route to the Philippines). The convoy is escorted by an old armored cruiser and two gunboats with two slow battleships as a far escort. At Guam in support there are two battle cruisers and three scout cruisers along with 12 destroyers. To oppose the passage the Japanese have two battle cruisers at Saipan and a more sizable fleet of two battle cruisers and three light cruisers at Truk. The American convoys literally have to pass through the middle of the Japanese fleet to achieve their objective.

As the Developer’s Commentary in the Preview notes:

The American transports don’t have the fuel capacity to make it all the way from Hawaii to Guam, and the one collier that Mike had assigned to the American convoy couldn’t refuel a whole convoy that size by itself. So I went with the aforementioned idea that the Americans had constructed a coaling station on Wake Island in anticipation of war with Japan. That would get the convoy onto the map with just two fuel boxes expended, and the remaining fuel aboard the small transports would get them to Guam but not to Philippines (any ship needs three fuel boxes to get there from Guam). Then I went with victory conditions that reward the Americans for unloading transports at Guam but reward them better for getting transports off the west edge that have at least three fuel boxes remaining. This adds an extra level of strategy to the scenario since the Americans will have to refuel their transports either at Guam or by collier if they wish to get any transports off the west edge. To help with that, I added AX11 Orion at Guam and let her have a supply mission if the American player wishes.

Of particular interest is the mix of ships used in Pacific Crossroads. The two US battleships in this scenario, Alaska and Hawaii, are actually the Argentine dreadnoughts Rivadavia and Moreno. As related in Ships of Pacific Crossroads:

American naval officers studied the ships, built in private American yards, and made plans to take them over in case they were seized for American wartime use or if Argentina defaulted on payments and the U.S. Navy was forced to purchase them to bail out the builders. . . .The names are purely speculative; if purchased/seized they would have taken the next names in the “state” sequence, probably Idaho and Mississippi, but using those (or any other “state” names) would have been very confusing for players.

The two American battlecruisers are based on the (never built) 1910 battle cruiser:

There are also two battle cruisers present, the 1910 design. . . .These carry the names of two famous American warships, Intrepid and Bonhomme Richard. They’re fast and much better-protected than the battle cruisers of other nations, but at the cost of firepower (similar to the trade-off made by German designers, and in contrast to British and Japanese thinking). . . .There’s one older armored cruiser present: Seattle was a mainstay of the U.S. Pacific Fleet for decades. There are also three new scout cruisers, examples of the 1910 scout cruiser designed alongside the 1910 battle cruiser. This ship never made it to the keel-laying stage, despite the Navy’s desperate need for new cruisers. The three examples provided in the game all bear the names of cities in the Philippines.

The Japanese also get some speculative units:

American intelligence analysts insisted that Britain had agreed to transfer eight capital ships to the Japanese at the war’s end in return for Japanese support during the war. This does not seem to have been actually contemplated, but if the Americans had gone to war in 1919 they would have expected to encounter former British warships flying the Rising Sun. And so the game includes two Inflexible-class ships in Japanese colors. . . .There are but three cruisers, those of the Chikuma class, based closely on the British Dartmouth. None of them survived into the Second World War, but they were the backbone of the modern Japanese cruiser force in the years just after the First World War.

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