Alexander recently acquired a copy of Mark Hermann’s Empire of the Sun: War in the Pacific 1941-1945. He has been reading and studying the rules and watching play through videos over the past few weeks and finally he felt confident enough to teach me. So on Saturday morning starting at 8:00am we embarked on this monumental effort.
We spent the first hour reviewing the many rules on movement, combat, replacements, turn order, etc. and while most rules felt intuitive many of the rules were forgotten as we played. We then decided to dive right in and started the game with me playing as the Allies including the United States, British, Dutch, Chinese, Indian and Australian forces. I began the day with a tweet that was then retweeted by the guys at C3i magazine (thanks for the shoutout!).
My opponent started by playing the Operation Z card which was the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack is intended to be a major sneak attack that will cripple the allies by destroying forces at Pearl Harbor, the Phillipines and in Burma. The card grants the ability to activate 26 separate units to take actions across the entire Pacific. The attacks didn’t start well for the Japanese at Oahu as they rolled terribly and only attacked at half strength. The US took damage to all units but there were no losses which meant there were plenty of ships to carry out offensive operations later in 1941 & 1942.
The attack in Burma went better for the Japanese as they took Rangoon and set themselves up well for further action into China. The Japanese troops were rolling very well with 9’s on 3 of their first 4 battles which caused devastating losses for the Allies. I was fortunate that many of the attacks were not surprise assaults as this would have been even worse. I hoped to use my Indian units in Calcutta to move into the jungle to slow the Japanese advance north which was successful. I was then able to reinforce Mandalay with several American planes and troops. This caused the Japanese to then resort to the use of strategic fighter groups moving north from Rangoon to wipe out my air units. One mistake made by Alexander was not trying to do more to the Phillipines during the initial opening move which left a good sized force as well as a major command post from which to control Allied movements. Looking back I’m sure Alexander would have followed along with history and tried harder to force me out of Manila.
The first major actions by the US included an incorrectly executed amphibious assault on Menado in order to slow the Japanese advance into Dutch controlled Borneo/Celebes. Where we made a mistake was in the use of amphibious assault points or APS. I used only 1 APS to move a large force (12-12 XXX) of Australian troops which with the size should have required 3 APS. I won the battle which eliminated a large 18-22 Japanese unit and ended this threat. This mistake would be made once more at Kwajelein.
Using an event card I was able to move a flotilla of US naval units from Pearl Harbor to Kwajalein in order to secure a forward port from which to strike out at the Marshall Islands and put pressure on the Japanese to take focus away from the Phillipines and Burma. I used the Lexington and Enterprise, my 2 largest aircraft carriers, supported by a couple battleships. My 18-12 units were able to land and take control of the island port and airstrip but the mistake again was that I needed to use 3 APS and also needed a marine unit. We finally learned this rule and I hope to not make that same mistake in the future.
All in all our first session, which lasted 4 hours, only got us through to the start of 1943. I find that the game is great and will be a fantastic adventure as we learn the rules and experience the problems of the war like public support, revolt in India and China, lack of reinforcements and attrition. I’d love to have Mark Hermann come over to personally tutor us but we will have to make do on our own! I would give this game two thumbs up and can’t wait to dive in again!