Allied Sorties in Defending the Malay Barrier
When playing the Allies in Defending the Malay Barrier, you need to abort invasion convoys. Particularly those being sortied by the Japanese Eastern Attack Force (EAF). Abort just 4 EAF convoys (at the most) and you have guaranteed a win. You abort convoys with successful sweeps. So, it would seem that you need to sortie as many sweeps as you can. Each sweep requires a Command Decision (CD) to sortie and each Ally has 1 per game turn (GT). However, there are other considerations such as reinforcements needing a CD to take or have theater events (TE) left you enough strength to sortie with a likelihood of success. This is my take (after running the campaign half a dozen times) on what I think the Allied player or Allied team so do game turn by game turn. As you will see there are many variables, and you will often feel compelled to do not what you want but rather what you must. Also, none of the campaigns I ran went exactly the same; even in some cases where the same exact moves were made. Theater events, Intel from nonplayer sources, and the randomness of weather and other factors meant that even when the opposing forces was the same; everything was still different. I feel that I have just begun to scratch the surface of this campaign using the historical start let alone the other start up variations.
Game Turn 1
Singapore: If you do not get theater events (TE) 1-5 (convoy escorts required), then the Brits can sortie. But if you also did not get TE 6 (DD Vampire’s free transfer to Darwin) then you need to seriously consider using your lone CD to transfer her to Darwin. Because if Vampire does not go to Darwin on GT 1 then the ANZAC Squadron will not have the DD requirement needed to sortie on GT 2.
Tarakan: If the Americans get TE 8 then they get Boise and 4 Clemson DDs. I would consider sortieing, but probably refrain in the end. If the Americans get TE 9, then they add Houston, Boise and the 4 Clemson DDs to the 5 that are already at Tarakan along with Marblehead. I would sortie as you are only likely to face 1 or 2 Myokos at a time and you could deal the EAF a crushing blow. But if you get neither TE then you are facing those Myokos with Marblehead alone, if their probable CG and LBA do not jump you beforehand. Transferring to Surabaya is then the safer move.
Game Turn 2
Singapore: Again, if you get TE 1-5 you are going to detach from 1-3 cruisers and 2-6 DDs. That will not leave you much to sortie with. But you should not sortie in any case as the Mauritius is available this GT only as a CD reinforcement and You only have 1 CD.
Batavia: You have 3 light cruisers that do not fire rapidly and only 1 has torpedoes. Your cruisers are also slower than the Mogamis (Your likely opponents if you sortie against the WAF.). I can not think of a scenario in which you have any advantage over the Japanese if a couple of their heavy cruisers are present. My advice is to transfer to Surabaya to combine with the Americans on GT3. This will allow you to gift your CD in the future while you sortie with the Americans using their CD to do so.
Surabaya: The Americans are now united with Houston, Boise, Marblehead and all 13 Clemsons. If you get TE 6 or 7 then you Pensacola for this GT only. You should sortie. I would want to target the Eastern Axis because if the ANZACs sortie then you will have 2 sweeps in the same axis while the Japanese can only sortie 1 patrol. The ANZACs and you just might overwhelm the EAF and deal it a blow from which it will not recover. On the other hand, the Japanese might just have anticipated such a move and concentrated their move in the Center Axis in which case you achieve nothing. A sortie in the Center Axis is safer but promises less reward.
If you do not get the Pensacola, then you use your CD to transfer a DesDiv to Darwin to keep the ANZACs in business with enough DDs to sortie.
Darwin: Hopefully, the Vampire transferred on GT1. If she is present, then you can and should sortie. But protect Vampire as she is your only DD until GT4 or if the Americans transfer you a DesDiv on GT2.
Game Turn 3
The ABDA forms this turn, and you can now combine different Allied ships in your sweeps. You can also use your 4 collective CDs as you see fit. That means that you can use a CD to reinforce the ANZACS and still give them another CD to sortie with. If the ABDA gets TE 1-3 then all 4 bases are required to provide convoy escorts and you will probably be too weak to sortie at all.
Singapore: If you TE 7 then you have the Emerald for this GT only. You should sortie. You want a night engagement to pull off a torpedo ambush. If you make contact during daylight or if it appears that you are going to be stuck in a gun fight, make smoke, and withdraw.
Game Turn 3 continued
Batavia: If you have not transferred then you have a decision to make. You can
- Sortie against the WAF or the Center Axis of the EAF.
- Transfer to Surabaya.
- Use your CD to take the AA cruiser Heemskerck and the DD Issac Sweers as reinforcements.
- Give your CD to the ANZACs so they can both reinforce with 3 N class DDs and still sortie.
I would choose 4 as the N class are only available this GT as a reinforcement. If you do not gift your CD, then the ANZACs can not sortie and still take the reinforcement.
Surabaya: You should sortie. Your options are the Center and Eastern Axes with the same considerations as GT2.
Darwin: 3 N class DDs (the best Allied DDs in the game) are available this GT only as CD reinforcements, but they cannot sortie for a GT. If the Dutch have gifted, you a CD then you can reinforce and still sortie. If not, then take the reinforcement.
Game Turn 4
Singapore: If your attempted torpedo ambush failed to produce results (as it was almost guaranteed not to) then the handwriting is on the wall for Singapore. You must sortie everything (even if you had to provide convoy escorts). Otherwise, you will lose everything still in Singapore when it falls as it is likely to do this turn.
Batavia: What is true for Singapore also applies to you if you have not already transferred out of Batavia.
Surabaya: Hopefully, the Dutch have already transferred to Surabaya so they can gift you a CD. If so, you can take Phoenix as a CD reinforcement and still sortie. If not, then take the reinforcement. By now the objectives that have fallen should make it clear which axes the Japanese will sortie in and that is where you must make your own effort.
Game Turn 5
Singapore: If you are still there, then you are doing great and keeping the WAF from reinforcing the EAF. Keep sortieing so you do not go down with Singapore when it falls.
Batavia: Again, if you are still there then it is going extremely well for the ABDA versus the WAF. Keep sortieing. If you have transferred to Surabaya (as I think you should have) then, you can use your CD to take Heemskerck and Sweers as CD reinforcements. Their 4” pop guns are only half damage versus DDs, but Sweers has the best Dutch torpedo armament with 2 quad mounts.
Surabaya: If Singapore and Batavia have fallen, then the surviving Brits and Dutch are combined with you. You should sortie sweeps against both axes of the EAF.
Darwin: Keep sortieing.
Game Turn 6
This is it. Sortie every sweep you can against the EAF. The Center and Eastern Axes unite at Surabaya.
Additional Thoughts and Explanations
I consider the Dutch too weak in combat power to sortie on their own. I have seen them run into equal numbers (and they were incredibly lucky it was not more) and literally get annihilated. We are talking about cruisers that are out classed in armor, fire power, torpedoes, and speed. They just do not stack up well against the Japanese heavy cruisers at any time of the day or night. They can hold their own against Japanese light cruisers but must get through the heavies to reach the lights. Their destroyers are also outclassed by the Japanese destroyers in fire power and torpedoes.
The Brits are also too weak in fire power to face Japanese heavies on their own in a gun fight. But if they can ambush the Japanese at night (not likely) then they can potentially do a great deal of damage. The trouble is it takes about eight D12 die rolls in a roll to go their way just to get them to the launch point. Then of course, they need to get the right die rolls to hit, or it was all pointless. The safer bet is to transfer them to Surabaya and combine with the Americans.
The Americans need a daylight gun fight. Yes, the torps on their cans work. But those torpedoes are noticeably short ranged and have a negative modifier to their damage. Far worse is their total lack of flashness power which means they illuminate themselves every time they fire. Also, the Americans go up a gunnery range band if their FC radar is out or if they just do not have it to start with. Added to the above is the fact that they do not have surface warning radar. In daylight they shoot as well as the Japanese and better between 6,000 and 12,000 yards when they are hitting on 1, 2, 3 & 10 with their 8” while their rapid firing 6” are also hitting on 11 & 12. The Japanese at that range are hitting on 1, 2 & 10. There is real potential for the torrent of 6” fire from Boise and Phoenix inside 9,000 yards to overwhelm Japanese heavy cruisers. If you add Mauritius, then it gets even better. Houston, Exeter and Marblehead can tie up their opposite opposing cruiser while the Brooklyns and the Mauritius smother their opponents. But you need to get inside 9,000 yards and you need to get there without getting beat up doing it.
The ANZACs also want a gun fight inside 9,000 yards. But they can also mix it up at night with torpedoes. They are the Allies best rounded cruiser force, but they lack destroyers. That compels the other Allies to donate destroyers to them just to let them sortie.
The Japanese with their surfeit of 8” want a daylight gun fight over 12,000 yards to preclude the Allied 6” gun superiority coming into its own. But they can still win at close range with torpedoes. It comes down to weather, visibility, time of day, relative bearing at set up, does the Allied radar work and acquisition die rolls. The Allies need to seek their fight and avoid situations in which they can not seem to get it. They need to be patient but at some point, it is going to be fish or cut bait. The Japanese on the other hand must win or they lose. Neither side has a lock. The randomness of the engagement resolution means that a nominally superior force can get its collective head handed to it because the set-up dies rolls went totally against it. Both sides need to recognize this and be prepared to break off rather than turn set back into disaster.
Remember, this is a campaign barely three months long. Severely damaged ships are not going to repair and return. There just is not enough time. Hanging in there, taking a beating and hoping the dice will turn around means that you are going to have a lot of ships withdrawn for repair never to return. So, as Napoleon said; you engage and see. If what you see does not promise success, then make smoke and withdraw. Ships that live to run away can steam and fight another day. This especially applies to the Japanese 8” cruisers. You have all 12 of the best. There are no more, and your light cruisers are not up to the task of filling in. And while the heavies are hard to sink; their CS turret armor makes them easy to cripple.
I hope to see more of you playing this campaign. I believe you will come to love it. I said to myself when I read the first draft that Dave Franklin has crafted a real gem and so it has IMHO proved to be.