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"Gaming Guadalcanal as a series of games" Topic

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920 hits since 28 Mar 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Yellow Admiral29 Mar 2018 3:22 p.m. PST

I'm contemplating pulling together the October 1942 TMP link
as a series of miniatures games.

I already have the miniatures and rules to play dogfights and naval games for the air and sea portions of this battle. I'm totally unprepared for the land phase, but it seems a shame to waste the opportunity, so I'm seeking advice, or even just brainstorming. If anyone else has done this, or even considered how to do it, please do chime in.

Some considerations:

  • The mini-campaign is to be multiple games, probably without a (very) consistent set of players, but each game is meant to be a 4-8 player game. The campaign will alternate a few aerial dogfight games and naval games with one or two land games as the culmination. The results of each game will affect the starting forces and/or setup of the next game.
  • Technically the actual battle took roughly 3 days, divided into two major attacks with a lull in between for consolidation and repositioning. Given the above, right now I'm thinking this would best be done as two games, perhaps with a naval bombardment game and a carrier plane attack game in the lull.
  • I would like to be able to play out the 6-12 hour-long active phases at divisional level (there were roughly 20k men per side) in about 4 hours. This is kind of a tall order.
  • I am not a fan of rules that play quickly by getting everything killed off fast; retreats and lulls and failed assaults should be morale failures, not Hollywood slaughters.
  • The land game should fit on a table no bigger than 6'x12', or maybe two smaller tables (6'x8'?).

My favorite rules candidates so far:

Great Battles of WWII. This is better on the C3 and is deliberately designed to play multiple days of battle. It has the right pace of movement, casualty rates, and even ammo limits.

Spearhead. This was never my favorite game, but it seems to work okay for infantry. I think it's way too light on the C3 (e.g. there are no companies! just platoons and batallions….), but this might be fixable without much trouble, and in any case, it doesn't seem to bother anyone else. (Question: would Great War Spearhead work better in a nearly AFV-less game?)

Rommel. I'm not in favor of the grid, but maybe it's a good idea in this case. I reserve judgement on this game until I get to play it.

PanzerBlitz/Panzer Leader. Bizarre idea, I know, but it might actually work, and seriously, these old rules are so simple. The "panzerbush" tactics everyone used to complain about probably don't matter at all in an all-infantry game in dense terrain. It would be really easy to graft on C3 rules. The biggest problem for me is the grid – either removing the grid from the mechanics, or putting a grid on the table.

None of these is really perfect. I'm open to suggestions.

- Ix

Stryderg29 Mar 2018 7:22 p.m. PST

Brainstorming idea (that you probably won't like):
Instead of playing a large land battle, play smaller portions of each battle, maybe company to battalion sized. So battle 1 = defend the left flank of the line, battle 2 = defend the right flank of the line. Depending on the outcomes of 1 & 2, battle 3 = attack or defend the middle +/- forces that were in reserve.

Disadvantages – you don't get the big division feel (one BB barrage could wipe the table clean)
Advantages – faster setup and tear down, more (though smaller) games, easy to get 4-8 players in (depending on rules used)

I said you wouldn't like it.

thomalley30 Mar 2018 4:39 a.m. PST

Great Battles and Rommel may be the wrong scale (companies). I would suggest Kampfgruppe Commander, but no stats for the Pacific. Though you could figure it out easy enough. I have played in a Konda trail game using Battlefront WWII, and worked well. Because of the terrain, you might want Crossfire.

Rogues130 Mar 2018 6:12 a.m. PST


I have looked at this as well doing something a bit similar with a naval game, an air engagement, a larger land battle/landing (in 15mm using Battlefront), and then we were going to go to 28mm engagements using something like Bolt Action/CoC. As a test I ran a 15mm nighttime attack on Henderson Field. The game went ok, but I did it at a convention and had some problem players, that really affected the balance. I also didn't campaign it like I wanted (results of Naval, determines air, which determines larger land which determines skirmish land). I like to refer to it as "Carnage' a Trois". Just too many things to do and paint. Someday I will make it happen. I think if you look a bit there is something similar to a grid or at least sections that the US used to deploy troops to defend the area that you could use as a sort of "grid" that might work if you are comfortable with those types of rules. Good Luck, sounds like my kind of game.

Yellow Admiral30 Mar 2018 9:19 a.m. PST

Carnage' a Trois
That title is priceless.

I'm sorry you live on the wrong coast. I keep looking for someone like you to farm out the land battle(s) to. I have zero appropriate gear (except some unassembled palm trees), so it would make more sense to do this collaboratively with a committed WWII land gamer. I've been quietly canvassing my local WWII gaming buddies, but so far all of them are invested only in the ETO and desert, so no takers yet.

My above choices of rules are slanted toward my WWII gaming preferences (I prefer the aerie of a colonel or general), but I would actually be fine with doing the land battles at a more tactical level, or even using popular rules I dislike, if it meant somebody else ran the games. Sadly, that would also mean leaving out air-to-ground attacks, and I was really hoping to use my P-400s in the land battle. grin Not only would it be fun to see, it would give the players of previous games a reason to preserve them through the dogfight games… But that might be a reasonable sacrifice to get the game on the table.

- Ix

zoneofcontrol Inactive Member30 Mar 2018 12:54 p.m. PST

Just something to throw out to you as a possible source of ideas. Avalon Hill did 2 versions of Guadalcanal boardgames. The original was mostly the land based version. Later, they did a naval version. They are both researchable on BoardGameGeek. Several forum entries, files and lots of pictures and even a link to a you tube video about the naval version.

I don't know that you want to do a minis version of a boardgame but you might glean some ideas if you pop over there and look around.

Yellow Admiral30 Mar 2018 1:14 p.m. PST

Thanx! I own the naval Guadalcanal (and even played it a few times), but I haven't seen the land game.

- Ix

wrgmr130 Mar 2018 2:00 p.m. PST

Personally, I would create a series of battles using Rapid Fire rules, which are company/battalion level.

Start with Tenaru, then Edson's ridge and Matanikau.

Blutarski30 Mar 2018 4:28 p.m. PST

"Thanx! I own the naval Guadalcanal (and even played it a few times), but I haven't seen the land game."

Used to own the AH Guadalcanal land-based game several galactic eons ago. Very interesting game that featured hidden movement.


williamb31 Mar 2018 1:51 p.m. PST

Division Commander by the author of Great Battles of WW2 might be better suited for the land battle. The Bloody Ridge scenario covers the area in your map and fits on a four foot by eight foot table. It is actually two scenarios covering the initial landing and Japanese response for the first scenario. The second scenario covers the Japanese assault that occurred a month later.

Yellow Admiral01 Apr 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

DivCom is a good suggestion. It's been on my short list of WW2 rules to try for years. I just paid for the DivCom Pacific scenario book to see how the rules do Guadalcanal, but I thought battalion stands would be the wrong scale for this battle (or pretty much any Solomons campaign battle). DivCom states a scale of 3"/mile, so some of the battles around Henderson Field would fit in a square foot. I'll see what the scenario book says.

- Ix

Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2018 2:36 p.m. PST

For a complex scenario simple rules are good. I played D Day at a convention with these:

PDF link

it was a blast.


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