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Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal Wake Island Battle AAR

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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.


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