Monday, 1 September 2014

Carnage in the South China Sea

Prince of Wales overwhelmed by Japanese air power.

Had a great day of playing Victory at Sea with Jon last Friday, when he rather gamely took charge of Force Z in its defence of Malaysia against the Japanese.

Historically, the Royal naval force courageously sallied out from Singapore to attack the Japanese invasion fleet but without any air cover, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese land based bombers.

Using a linked set of scenarios discovered by Mark we attempted to recreate the fight but with HMS Indomitable, an aircraft carrier that should have been part of the force, boosting Jon's forces.

However, the first scenario has Force Z bump into the cruiser and destroyer screen used by the Japanese to protect their landings.
Chokai, Jap cruiser and flag ship of the screening force.

This first scenario was at night and the Japanese have the advantage of superior night fighting skills and the long lance torpedo.  Although Repulse and Prince of Wales have radar they were only able to pound the largest cruiser for a few turns before 4 cruisers and 10 destroyers launched their long lance on the Force Z.  Unable to spot the Japanese before it was too late, both Royal Navy battleships and Indomitable took damage, whilst the six destroyers which escorted Force Z were unable to check the Japanese onslaught.  However, the Japanese did lose a cruiser to short range fire from Repulse and in return the British lost a destroyer.  After two hours of game play the Japanese were reinforced by the Invasion escort of a further eight destroyers.  At this point Jon decided to break off the engagement as he was receiving more damage than he was dishing out.

We both thought this scenario was unbalanced against the British, with Indomitable unable to make any difference at night.  However, we got into the rules which we haven't played in ages and the Royal Navy ships are tough, especially Prince of Wales which is a monster.

Next up was a daylight encounter with Force Z re-engaging the Japanese within sight of the most southerly Japanese landing.  We carried on some of the damage from the previous encounter and rolled for possible Japanese aircraft each turn.  In addition, the Japanese were reinforced by the battle cruisers Kongo and Haruna.

Kongo! says it all.
In this second action, Indomitable made her prescence felt with her aircraft inflicting losses on the Japanese each turn.  I thought the swordfish were bad, but the Albacores are worse.  Japanese AA was effective to a degree as there were so many destroyers but one flight of Albacores was more than enough to take out a destroyer and could probably take down a cruiser in a single attack.  I had been rather impressed with my rolling for Japanese aircraft, but Indomitable also carries sea hurricanes which made mincemeat of my Mitsubishi Bettys.

No prizes for looks but it packs a punch!

However, Japanese numbers dominated proceedings, and with Kongo and Haruna trading long range shots with Repulse and PofW, the Japanese cruisers and destroyers pushed past the weak Royal Navy destroyer screen and launched their long lances with predictable devastation.  Even so, Pof W managed to fire off its bow torpedoes (a battle ship with torpedoes!) before sinking beneath the waves.

With most of his fleet crippled or sunk Jon called it a day.  The third day would have seen an allied reinforcement of American, Dutch and Australian cruisers but there would have been no Force Z to help.  These scenarios are unbalanced with the entire Japanese force out numbering the British by 22 ships to nine!

However, Jon and I discussed the idea of a small campaign.  Indomitable gives more balance to Force Z and with hidden map movement which we used in Coral Sea and Midway, the British could get themselves into a winning a position.  In addition, the Japanese players should be worried about three landing beaches to defend, precious troop ships that will be needed for further invasions, convoy routes that need protecting to enable the invasion forces to proceed from the landing beaches, and a very tight timetable that the Japanese need to keep to if they are going to attack Burma and the Dutch East Indies.  Therefore, unlike these scenarios, the Japanese should find it very hard to concentrate against Force Z.

So, with this in mind, I am planning to put on a small naval campaign in the not too distant future.


  1. Japanese long lance torpedoes,,,,,, makes me go cold just thinking about them!!!
    Good to get Victory at sea out again
    had a look at mongoose forum, VAS2 still not ready yet but they did say this:-
    As far as guns go the big changes are how gun ranges effect modifiers for shooting they are not so generic as they were in VAS I same goes for torpedoes.
    There are some new things when it come to guns and torpedoes. such as modifiers and special abilities of the guns and torpedoes.
    Torpedo ranges are no longer a static 10" it is based off of the torps real ranges and size.
    Planes have changed for the better in the case of bombing and attack of surface vessels and submarines.
    Anti aircraft weapons have been made less generic concerning types and ability.
    New rules to effect carries in battles.
    DDs and smaller ships are more worked in to the structure of the game with more playability.
    You will be able to better play harbour attacks and coastal invasions in the new rules.
    There is more info on the ship cards than in the past since more detail has been added to the actual weapons and stats of the ship without adding any difficulty to the game.
    As for fleet organisation this has to do with you wanting to play historical or tournament style games.
    The point value system allows the player to build there fleets to equal points if they want. Or the players can play historical games which are not always balanced as you know.


  2. It sounds like quite a bit is going to be altered. We have also gotten used to our own amendments, Jon and I took 20 minutes looking for the national characteristics but they were in the soulmage amendments. Also, Russ' L and R turn markers work brilliantly. You measure with the markers and then use them to correctly place the ship.

  3. Ian is not wrong in saying that the initial scenarios were unbalanced. When he placed his jap fleet out for the second scenario it looked more like Isandlwana than the South China Sea. Bob Hoskins would have had heart attack. However he was using every ship at his disposal and if the British use there search aircraft from the carrier and start taking out ships with airstrikes the odds could swing in favour of the British. Certainly Repulses 15" Guns and the POWs 14" Guns are pretty monster and either of them loose among the japanese landing fleets will the equivalent of the Tirpitz loose against a merchant convoy. The Japs will have a lot to think about a defend. Should be interesting especially if force Z can survive long enough for the cruiser reinforcements to arrive. A word about carriers which Ian asked me to remind him. We toyed with the idea of rolling for wind direction and forcing carriers to sail into wind when launching and recovering aircraft. A good day,even if it was a good day to die

  4. Just reading Ians text again .it was HMS Repulse that was sunk during our scenario not the Prince of Wales,Repulse was a 1919 Renown class battle cruiser built around its guns and has both port and starboard torpedoes. Prince of Wales was a King George V class battleship built in 1939. Smaller calibre guns with greater range,more AA and secondary turrets,and much more armour than its older cohort. Not that this information did either of them a lot of good in 1941