In this classic, simple-on-the-surface simulation of Pacific naval and island-hopping strategy in World War II, we had a wide variety of skill levels and techniques this year. New players and some fresh ideas gave this year’s tournament excitement for all who entered.
On another note, in appreciation, both assistant GMs Bob Hamel and Jim Eliason were presented with red GM polo shirts to help identify them through the tournament confusion. As any GM knows, good assistants make running a tournament much easier. Thank you, Bob and Jim!
24 admirals commanded fleets during the forty 2019 tournament games. 37 Swiss format matches allowed players to fight their forces to vie for the right to advance into the semi-finals. Overall, during the Swiss competition, there were 19 Japanese wins and 18 Allied wins and NO TIES (yay!). Bids varied widely based on the options or scenario used during play. The Menzel Option Package (see www.gameaholics.com for more), Open Turn Two (OT2) and various combinations of the single options were used. In the semi-finals we had one Japanese and one Allied win. In the final, the win went to the Allies. That yielded an overall tournament win/loss split of 20 Japanese wins and 20 Allies wins – the result we want for balance. What were the players’ choices? 20 of the 40 matches used the Menzel Option Package (8 Japanese wins, 12 Allied wins); 12 used some combination of options (7 Japanese wins, 5 Allies wins); 5 had no options used at all (5 Japanese wins, zero (0) Allies wins); and three used Open Turn 2 (OT2) (no Japanese wins, three Allied wins). It appears games with no options favor the Japanese strongly. OT2 may be a bit too favorable for the Allies. The overall even distribution of wins in this year’s tournament points to progress over the last 20 years towards balancing the game.
At the end of the five Swiss rounds of play, four players advanced to the semi-final matches based on tournament points and tie-breakers. Seeding for those semifinal matches: #1 Jim Eliason (4-1 in Swiss rounds) played #4 John Pack (3-2); #2 Ed Menzel (4-1) played #3 Charlie Drozd (4-0).
In the Eliason-Pack semifinal, Jim and John decided to use options 1a, 2b, 3c and 4a (option descriptions available on John Pack’s website www.gameaholics.com). These in combination would allow the Allied player to avoid losing a carrier on turn 1 despite not making any decisions; preserve the turn 3 reinforcements, especially the Marines, from being trapped in Hawaii; allow the Allies to repair damaged ships without fear of Japanese air raids on those ships. These serve to somewhat offset the perceived advantages of the Japanese side. Jim and John bid back and forth for the Japanese until Jim accepted 5.5 POC (Points of Control) to play the Allies. John then began his Japanese turn 1 opening moves. During Turn 1, the IJN scored the standard 7 POC.
Turn 2 saw battles in Indonesia, US Mandate, Coral Sea, Central Pacific and South Pacific. The Japanese took New Hebrides by invasion. POC rose to IJN +16.
In turn 3, John and Jim fought battles in US Mandate, Hawaii, Marianas, Marshalls, Aleutians and South Pacific. In the US Mandate, three Japanese land-based air (LBA) fought 2 Allied LBA plus 5 USN carriers (CVs). The Allies shot down two of the three Japanese LBA and held the area. POC at the end of Turn 3: IJN +20.
On turn 4, Jim’s Allies challenged the Japanese all across the board, with big battles in three main areas – Hawaii, South Pacific and Indonesia. Jim’s Allied forces won all three. With the tide reversing and no perimeter, John’s Imperial Japanese Navy surrendered, allowing Jim to advance to the final.
In the Menzel-Drozd semi-final, using the Menzel Option set (yes, created by none other than this Ed Menzel, options also available at www.gameaholics.com) , Charlie Drozd and Ed Menzel decided to bid after the Pearl Harbor and Indonesia raid results were known, so they first staged the bombing of Pearl Harbor (two rounds of air raids) and then the Indonesia air raids. Bidding ended when Charlie accepted Ed’s 2.5 POC bid to play the Japanese side. The shortened Turn 1 ended with the POC at IJN +4.
Turn 2 saw maneuver and battles in the US Mandate, Marshalls, Coral Sea, Indonesia, Aleutians, North Pacific and Marianas – most of the board! Charlie’s Allies cleared the Marshalls, Central Pacific and Aleutians, scoring POC in the North Pacific. Ed’s Japanese held the Marianas despite the Allied assault. Picking up 8 POC, Ed’s Japanese cumulative score went to IJN +12.
In turn 3, Japanese efforts to take Pearl Harbor fail, both US Marines survive to rebase to Australia, Charlie’s Allies flag the Marshalls and also keep Midway out of IJN hands. POC goes up to IJN +15.
Charlie’s Allies tried in turn 4 to convert the Marshalls bases by isolation (flagging the area two times in a row), but are not able to prevail. Ed’s IJN win in the South Pacific and invade and take Guadalcanal. On top of that, Ed’s Japanese sink Charlie’s 2nd Marines in Indonesia. POC rises again, but only to IJN +18.
In turn 8, the decisive battle took place in the Japanese Islands, with Ed’s IJN fleet overcoming Charlie’s Allied ships. Final POC: raw POC IJN +9, net POC IJN +6.5 to give Ed the win and allow him to advance to the final.
In the final, Ed Menzel faced Jim Eliason for the top honors. These two veterans of Victory in the Pacific promised a spirited match. They decided to use the Menzel Option Package with no changes. As the Menzel Options yield a fairly even game most of the time, the bidding was quick, and ended with Jim bidding one POC to play the Allies, giving Ed 1 POC at game end to command the Japanese.
Turn 1, Ed had a great Pearl Harbor raid, only allowing one damaged battleship (BB), one cruiser (CA) and the 7th Air Force to survive the bombing. Given that Ed’s IJN had only six CVs and only two rounds, this was very good dice-rolling. In Indonesia, Ed added light carriers (CVLs) and BBs to go with the traditional four land based air (LBA) units raiding. The IJN swept Jim’s defending BBs and LBA from Indonesia, sinking the BBs and shooting the 5th Air Force down in flames. This was a tough raid set for the Allies to take. POC at the end of Turn 1 was IJN +4.
Turn 2 Ed sent four LBA to Indonesia and a strong patrol force to the Hawaiian Islands. Single IJN CAs patrolled other POC areas. Jim’s Allies responded with three green (Allied) CAs to the Marshalls, hoping to flag the Marshalls, and token British patrols to Indonesia. Ed sent a heavy raid force to Hawaii – lots of surface plus four CVs/CVLs. He also sent 3 BBs and Hosho to support the patrolling LBA in the Marshalls. In the end, the Allies cleared the Marshalls but were unable to flag it and get a block. Ed was also able to secure the Philippines. POC after turn 2: IJN +11.
Turn 3 saw strong IJN patrols to Hawaii to complete the conversion of Pearl Harbor by isolation. Two IJN BBs patrolled the Japanese Islands, single cruisers elsewhere except the Marianas – one 436 battlecruiser. The IJN did not contest Indonesia, allowing the Allies to flag Indonesia without a fight. Jim’s Allies sent two ships on patrol to each of the US Mandate and Coral Sea, and then sent five LBA to Hawaii and one LBA to the Aleutians. In the South Pacific the Allies send five (5) CVs against the defending IJN LBA. At a cost of two Allied CVs, Jim shot down two IJN LBA and kept the IJN flag out of the South Pacific. In the Aleutians, Ed sent in an amphibious unit plus cruisers and CVs. Getting a night, Ed invaded Dutch Harbor, and in the next round got day to shoot down the lone Allied LBA with no losses. In other areas, North Pacific saw the Allies sink the IJN patrolling cruiser at a cost of a cruiser; in the Marianas, the IJN 436 was cleared; in Hawaii, round one Jim lost an Allied LBA, lost two more in round two while sinking two IJN CVs. Jim then withdrew from Hawaii. Pearl Harbor converted from isolation. End of turn 3 – POC still at IJN +11.
In turn 4 Ed’s IJN patrolled the Japanese Islands, the Marianas and Marshalls with BBs. Single CAs went to the Aleutians, North Pacific and Central Pacific. Jim patrolled many Allied ships to Indo. The IJN followed up with a strong force to the South Pacific to cover two amphibious units heading to Guadalcanal. Those IJN amphibious units did not take Guadalcanal, leaving Allied LBA an entry to the South Pacific. The Allies sent reinforcements to Indonesia – 4 USN CVs (Wasp made the speed roll), Formidable and Hermes to face three IJN LBA plus the I-Boat. After the smoke cleared, the Allies flagged Indonesia for the second consecutive turn, converting Saigon and Singapore. The POC net for the turn was zero, so the game POC stayed at IJN +11.
The Allies began turn 5 with 9 LBA, Saigon, Singapore, Guadalcanal and Attu. The IJN patrolled the Japanese Islands and Central Pacific with 4-5 ships each and single CA patrols to the Aleutians and North Pacific. Jim’s Allies patrolled Bay of Bengal with a Royal Navy (RN) cruiser, Indonesia with 2 RN BBs, the Marianas with an RN CA, the Marshalls with an Allied CA and Hawaii with an Allied CA. IJN LBA went to the Marianas, Marshalls and the Hawaiian Islands. Allied LBA went to Indonesia (1), US Mandate (2), Coral Sea (2), South Pacific (1) and the Aleutians (3). IJN raiders supported the Japanese Islands, Central Pacific and the Marianas. Allied raiders went to the Marshalls and other areas, but did not secure the Marshalls. POC after T5 was IJN +14.
Turn 6: Japanese patrols went in strength to the Japanese Islands and the Marianas, and single CAs to the Central Pacific and the North Pacific. Allied patrols ventured into the Marianas, Hawaii, Marshalls and South Pacific. Raider reinforcements caused a big battle in the Marianas. In round 1 Ed’s IJN shoots poorly, but Jim’s Allies shoot well. For round 2 the IJN have 1 CV and 1 LBA against 7 Allied CV/CVL. In round 2, Jim’s Allies again shoot well, and Ed surrenders.
Champion: Jim Eliason; 2nd: Ed Menzel; 3rd: Charlie Drozd; 4th: John Pack; 5th: Ted Drozd; 6th: Bob Hamel.
Top Japanese player: John Pack for his three Japanese wins and strength of schedule. Allied honors go to Charlie Drozd who won four playing the US/British/Dutch side.
Of note: Bob scored the coveted 6th Place Sand Plaque – his first!
My thanks to my very able assistant GMs: Bob Hamel and Jim Eliason (yes, the AGM did win the championship). I also had help this year from many players – John Pack, Ed Menzel, Charlie Drozd, Ted Drozd and more - we literally have 10 or so players who could fill in and run this if we needed that. Without their help I would be lost. Thank you all.