Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal Wake Island Battle AAR

Started by RedArgo, May 25, 2020, 11:59:52 PM

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Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal (I hate that name) is currently in beta, and I think will be released on June 4th or so.  I've played several games, so I thought I'd do a quick AAR of the hypothetical Battle of Wake Island, where the USA tries to reinforce the island right after Pearl Harbor.  I've played this scenario a few times, so I have a bit of an unfair advantage over the AI, although the game does randomize the start locations to some degree, so my knowledge isn't exact, and I stink, so it just makes the odds a little more even. 

I will say there are still some rough edges on the game, but it has come a long way in the past month since I first played, so I think it should be in good shape at release.

Spoilers ahead if you want to experience this scenario fresh.

Here is the mission:


Day 1 (of 3)

I'm playing as the United States.  My plan is to try to sneak the transport in to Wake during the night if possible.  I expect land based bombers from the south and must be alert for IJN carriers too.  Wake is not important enough to the war to risk losing one of my carriers.  I'll try to move my carriers to join together, but that could take more than a day to accomplish.

I have 3 task forces available:
TF 11 which is headed up by the CV Lexington
TF 14 which is headed up by the CV Saratoga
TF 14.1 which is the transport Tangiers and her escorts trying to reinforce Wake Island

Here are TFs 14 and 14.1 with Wake Island to the west, clear skies all the way, not good for me:

TF 11 is way to the south, with plenty of cover:

Here is TF 14 and air group:

Here is TF 14.1:

Here is TF 11 and air group:


As soon as it is daylight I get some SBDs up to start scouting.  I don't expect to find anything out this far, but you never know.

The dark blue is my SBD scouts, that I control.  The brown are sea planes that are controlled by the AI and the purplish is just where they overlap.  You can set how many planes, the arc they search, how far they search and how fast.  Fast search means more of a chance they'll miss something.  Once the scouts find something, they try to stay in contact.


For reference, each plane counter represents 4 planes in the game.

CAP is up over TF 14 from the Saratoga.  Wildcats (F4F) and Buffaloes (F2A), ugh.  I have the CAP set for the AI to continually recycle them, so I don't have to remember to and end up with no CAP.  The number in the top left is the planes air to air combat, so the F4Fs are a 2 and the F2As are a 1.  SBDs are a 2 and can be used in CAP too.

Japanese scout plane is spotted over TF 14.  I can expect company within a couple hours.

Notification of a couple a scouts landing.  The number in the bottom left is the planes range, so these scouts are running on empty.  Each carrier can only perform so many actions per turn, so balancing that is important. 


Later that afternoon, the enemy air strike arrives.

Japanese land based Bettys (G4M) and Nells (G3M) attacking the Saratoga TF.  The animation shows the AAA fire, then CAP intercepts, then the bombers making their runs.  It is simple, but somewhat suspensful.  The numbers of the bottom left of the ships is their heavy and light AAA fire ratings.  I peaked ahead at ships in 1943 and it get tremendously higher for the US.  You can see here I have a couple groups of SBDs on CAP since we have no targets and it is already late in the day.

The outcome of the attack was no hits on any US ships and US AAA and CAP hammered the Japanese bombers.  Usually, when these guys come calling I can count on multiple torpedo hits.


Japanese transports spotted approaching Wake Island late in the day.  Nothing I can do about though.  Wake has some F4F fighters, but not much use here.  If the base is still operational in the morning, I'll try to transfer them to the Saratoga if she's in range.

At night or during down times, you can skip ahead faster than the normal 20 minute turns.  The game will stop if anything happens though.

In the wee early hours of day 2 the Japanese transports begin to unload and attack.  The islands defenders will fight back and usually take a few ships down with shore batteries.

Next up, the sun will rise and day 2 air operations will being.


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For PC it will be on Steam, I think it may be on mobile too, but I'm not sure about that.  The original version was on iOS, before this expanded version of the game.

Sir Slash

Holding my breath awaiting results. Do you get to see the enemy counter's numbers? Is there any calculation of yours or enemy experience, or are everyone pretty much alike in that department?
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.


Quote from: Sir Slash on May 26, 2020, 10:19:33 AM
Holding my breath awaiting results. Do you get to see the enemy counter's numbers? Is there any calculation of yours or enemy experience, or are everyone pretty much alike in that department?

The longer your have contact with the enemy, the better your intelligence will be, so at first it will just be small force, then number of ships, then types of ships.  These can be inaccurate too.  You can also lose contact and your strikes will just return home.  I'm not sure if it is always this way, but I've noticed that enemy air strikes, once spotted, allow you to see the exact composition, like 8 G3Ms and 4 G4Ms, which probably isn't realistic, but I don't think it affects the game much.

I don't think units have experience, it is probably just wrapped up in the generic unit strengths.



First thing on day 2, the Saratoga is in range of Wake with SBDs with drop tanks.  This gives them a range of 8 hexes each way.  We launch five units of bombers to strike the transports unloaded at the island.

You can see here the options for load outs for the SBDs.  Not all planes have the same options, like drop tanks, and of course TBDs will have torpedoes here.  The number in the blue box is the range or duration for each mission type.

The strike arrives at Wake and finds the transports still there, although I think they are empty.  I think there should be a number below the ship on the right if they still had cargo.

Both transports are hit.

But our success is short lived.  Our only transport is sunk by carrier based bombers just 20 minutes later.  I guess we know at least one Japanese carrier is lurking nearby.

You can see the Japanese strike returning to base after sinking our ship.  I'm not sure if I can see this because of radar or something else.

Radar detects another Japanese strike approaching, but this one fails to find our ships and has to withdraw. You can see here that the exact composition of the strike is displayed, which does not seem realistic to me for this time period.

At this point I have scouts looking for the Japanese carriers, but they are not spotted, so the Saratoga TF withdraws to the east to join up with the Lexington which is moving up from the south.  That is end of the action as night falls.  Not much action today, but with two carriers ready, I'll move in more aggressively tomorrow.


Early in the morning of day 3 more Japanese transports arrive at Wake and unload troops.  It doesn't look good for me holding on to the island.  At this point, if this were a campaign type game, I'd pull my carriers back to fight another day, but since it is just a scenario, I'll fight this day.

During the night, TF 11 and 14 merged.  It only allows 12 ships per TF, so I took the two carriers and the best AAA ships.  I'll send the others off to see if they can stumble in to some surface action with a Japanese carrier or possibly draw off an air attack.

Search planes launch at first light.  I wish the sea planes would go N/NW but I can't control them, so my SBDs will cover that direction.

Well, my carriers are spotted, so the clock is ticking.


Our scouts still haven't turned up any enemy carriers and I have planes armed on the deck.  I'm concerned about being caught like a Japanese carrier at Midway, so I decide to launch my strike against the ships at Wake, so at least they are out of the way when the Kates and Vals show up.

First action of the battle for the TBDs, although you can see from the range that one of the TBDs won't have enough fuel to make it back.  I guess it was waiting on the rest of the strike and burning fuel.  I should have launched the SBDs first.  I'll move my carriers a little closer to Wake to make sure all the planes can return.

My bombers hit the Japanese ships at Wake and sink two transports, empty again I think.  Bombers will prioritize carriers and transports before other ships, although I think you can adjust this.


Enemy air strike approaching TF 14, hope the CAP is up to the task.

Those Kate torpedo planes are very dangerous and there are 5 units, so 20 planes plus the dive bombers.  You can see the CAP at the bottom, 4 units of Wildcats and 8 of Buffaloes.  Maybe the F2As can at least get in the way.

We got lucky and escaped with only one torpedo hit to the Lexington.  Even more lucky, damage control parties were able to get the ship righted almost immediately, saving my returning strike from having to have planes ditch.  I've had ships take hours or even never get damage repaired and have lost many planes, because of no deck to land on.  The planes will divert to another landing spot in range if there is one though, so in this case Saratoga could have recovered at least some of them.