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Axis & Allies Miniatures Campaign: Guadalcanal
Tactical Turn 3
by David Devere & Tom Maertz

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One of the best things about playing a board game is that everyone has a different strategy and playing against different opponents produces different outcomes almost every time. If a game is well balanced then replay-ability is greatly increased. The replay-ability for Guadalcanal is very high; Larry Harris did a great job of creating strategic options in the design of this game. For this Online Campaign we are trying something that has never before been attempted, at least to my knowledge, strategy by committee. This week Command was drawn in many directions. Here’s how the voting went. The Americans opted for Under Over, sending their battleship and carrier to Sector I in support of the invasion task force. But the voting for all three options was separated by only 1 vote. The Japanese couldn’t agree. Almost no one voted for Round House but the votes for Hold and Banzai were tied – thus Japanese High Command had to break the deadlock and despite an impassioned plea from one Japanese Commander to Hold and even withdrawal to Sector F, Command decided to agree with the hawks and push ahead with Banzai!

Let’s look at your orders.

Battle #11 is in Sector D. The Japanese have never won an engagement in this sector but they stubbornly refuse to give up on the area and with good cause. The Americans are making a landing on Santa Isabel and if the Japanese can interrupt the landings and even sink some of the transports the success of the Santa Isabel battle could come into question. The Americans only controlled the island at the end of last turn because they exerted more sea power. Now with the battleship redeployed and the main Japanese fleet off the coast, control of the island is very much under contention. A win for the Japanese here could put the island back under their influence. Both sides are supporting the naval engagement with shore batteries.

Battle No. 12 is undoubtedly this turn, maybe this campaign’s, main event. The Japanese fleet has pushed far into The Slot and even though the American battleship and carrier redeployed elsewhere the Americans mustered all the surface and air power available to try and smash the Japanese threat. In an audacious move the Japanese have also committed troops to attacking Guadalcanal. If the Americans can get through the destroyer, cruiser, carrier, battleship screen to the transports they may have a chance to blunt the attack on the island. High Command suggests using four full map sheets for this battle – a great configuration is four map sheets using sides that show the coast line. Put together it makes for an interesting channel between the maps in the center. Place objectives equally across the center line.

Battle No. 13 is in Sector E. Since the Americans have the forces close at hand, an attack on a lightly defended Bougainville was too much to ignore. The American assault is almost guaranteed to succeed but how many troops will land? The Japanese are trying to disrupt the landing using bombers based on New Georgia. The Americans have two destroyers screening the landings but they are also carrying troops. How many marines will be left to defend Bougainville from the inevitable Japanese counter attack next turn? The outcome of this battle will decide.

Battle No. 14 is for Santa Isabel. As I stated in the write up for battle #11 the control of the island is very much uncertain. Control hinges on the outcome of battle #11, #12 and #14. Either way marine, you’ve got your orders - hit the beach and take that position!

Battle No. 15 is for Guadalcanal. “Impossible!” Was the comment from American High Command when the Japanese placed troops on the landing craft bound for the beaches of Guadalcanal. The frank tactical situation is that if the Japanese win in battle #12 and succeed in landing troops on Guadalcanal they will take control of the island. Guadalcanal is defended, although lightly, and the Japanese attack isn’t overwhelmingly strong but the Japanese fleet in The Slot is a beast – and it will exert its influence on the islands. The Americans won’t lose their airfields but they could lose the islands economic value making a counter attack much more difficult.

As you can see, this week all the battles are interlinked. The outcomes are far from certain. This is the third turn of a four turn game – the stakes have never been higher. As always, submit your After Action Reports to Since the battles for this turn are crucial to the outcome of the campaign we are extending the deadline to Tuesday September 29th 2008 at 8:00am PST. Battle Ticket art this week is compliments of US National Archives.

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"For three days and nights we have been bombarded by land, sea and air. 14 inch shells off a battleship kept punching our defenses. We have been hit by air three times in one hour. At night the Jap artillery gets started. Gas for the airplanes is very low. Situation is desperate. Our battalion pulled out of line to take up 5th's position. Army relieved us on other line. Four transports of Jap troops unloaded. We sunk or damaged every one. We need reinforcements. The crisis is fast approaching."

Excerpt from the diary of:
Sgt. James A. Donahue
United States Marine Corps.
First Marine Division (H-2-1)

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