First off, this series is being done as a bit of a lark as wargaming has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas so if anyone is offended, please just stop reading now.

On the 7th day of Christmas War Gaming my true love gave to me…

7 Landing Craft Landing

D-Day at Tarawa is a solitaire war game published by Decision Games that is a follow up to D-Day at Omaha Beach designed by John  H. Butterfield. The game is a look at the 4 day campaign spanning November 20-23, 1943 for the control of the islet of Batio located in the Tarawa Atoll. The game covers the operations of the US 2nd Marine and 27th Infantry Divisions in their attempt to clear the islet which was defended by nearly 5,000 hardened and dug-in Japanese troops. This battle was the first heavily contested landing of the Pacific War and brought the horrors of the conflict to the attention of the general public. All told, nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died on the tiny island in 76 hours of fighting. In the aftermath of the battle, American casualties lined the beach and floated in the surf. Marine cameramen were present obtaining footage that would later be used in a documentary titled With the Marines at Tarawa, which contained scenes of American dead so disturbing that the decision about whether or not to release it to the public was deferred to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In the game, the player has to maneuver their LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) onto the island in the US Amphibious Operations Phase. During this phase, the player will draw two cards for each LVT that is attempting to land troops on the beaches. The first drawn card tells you what happens to the orientation of the LVT, including No Drift, Drift 1L, 1R (you literally move the boat one row to the left or right) or PR (pivot right). You then refer to the 2nd drawn card to see the result of the landing which will tell you how many Units survived the ride in, whether or not the LVT is hit or destroyed and where the units end up either in the water (having to then spend a few turns wading to the beach, all the while taking fire from the positions), on the beach or Inland 1 or 2 spaces. This system is an ingenious way to deal with this phase of the game and is really engaging as your are worried the whole time about the LVT’s. It is very tense as you flip the cards over to see what happens! Will my units make it? Will they be so wounded to make them combat ineffective? Or will they have to spend a few turns wading through chest deep water to the beaches?

In the picture above, you can see the 7 LVT’s all lined up ready for their run into the beach. The multi-colored areas weaving through the ocean hexes correspond to Japanese firing positions on the island and is the other part of this design that is really unique. I have never really been great at this game and tend to lose 2-3 of these LVT each time I run through an Amphibious Operations Phase. The good news is that more of the LVT’s will arrive in later turns but if you get really bad cards draws, and lose too many of these Landing Craft you could end up being stuck with Marines bobbing in the surf just off-shore and not attacking the Japanese defenders.

If you are interested, I wrote a fairly in-depth preview piece on the game and you can read that at the following link:

If you are interested in D-Day at Tarawa, you can order a copy of the 2nd Edition which has a nice mounted mapboard for $90.00 from the Decision Games website at the following link:

You can catch up on the posts in this series to date at the following links:

A Spotter in a Smokestack – Saipan: The Bloody Rock

2 Bridges Blowing – Holland ’44: Operation Market Garden

3 Blockade Runners Running – Kaiserkrieg! The Great War 1914-1918

4 Moudjahidate Defending – The Red Burnoose: Algeria 1857

5 Sherman Tanks – Sherman Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game

6 Miami Warriors Assaulting – Kekionga!: A Dark and Bloody Battleground, 1790