Axis and Allies Campaign
Axis and Allies Campaign: PTO Preview

Because the European Theater (ETO) of the Campaign Game starts in the summer of 1941 we have an extra week until the Pacific Theater (PTO) take its first turn in the winter of 1941. With that in mind we thought we’d show you a preview of the Pacific map, take a look at some of the strategic options for the Japanese and also talk a little about some of the behind the scenes components that go into making a battle ticket or fleet action.

First off, let’s take a look at the some of the historical aspects of the Pacific Theater before 1941. The Japanese had been fighting in China since entering in on the Allied side against Germany during World War I. The Japanese were able to use World War I and the Russian Revolution to broaden their sphere of influence in mainland Asia, eventually setting up puppet states in Korea and Manchuria. With success in these areas they started to cast an eye toward the more resource rich Soviet territory to the north. Unfortunately for the Japanese they had the bad luck of facing Soviet Lt. General Georgi Zhukov (arguably the Russian’s best General in WWII) at the battle of Khalkin Gol in 1939. Zhukov’s strategy of combined arms proved superior to Japanese tactics and material. The Japanese were quickly bloodied by the Soviets and hastily signed a non-aggression treaty with Stalin. The defeat lead the Imperial General staff to favor a Naval plan that called for an offensive centered on seizing control of resource rich territories in Southeast Asia. Most of these territories were European Colonies.

Most of the European colonists in Southeast Asia were deluded in thinking that their way of life would continue indefinitely. They lead an opulent life style: a life of servants, afternoon tea, country clubs, Polo matches, tennis courts, cold beer, iced gin and segregated neighborhoods. The British in Burma, Malaya and Borneo and the French in Indochina (which we now call Vietnam and Cambodia) were just as complacent as the Dutch who ruled the East Indies (Indonesia). They shared the sentiment of the Dutch governor when he was quoted as saying, “We Dutch have been here for three hundred years; we shall remain here for another three hundred.” What they collectively failed to notice was a growing nationalist movement that was starting to undermine European dominance.

With the Europeans drowsy in their sheltered tropic havens the Japanese hatched a bold plan. Japan’s need for raw materials was and still is a source of great concern for the country. Burma and Malaya (British) held vast reserves of rubber, tin and bauxite (aluminum ore). Indochina (France) had rubber plantations and the Dutch East Indies had oil. The Japanese began to feel that as the most industrialized nation in East Asia they had a divine mission and an obligation to free these territories of their European occupiers. This would also bring control of the valuable resources within what the Japanese were calling the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”.

The Wars in Europe helped the Japanese cause greatly. At the end of World War I they were granted the Marshall, Caroline and Mariana Islands, all former German Colonies. By 1937 they had expanded in China seizing Shanghai and the island of Hainan. In July 1941 the Vichy French government hardly noticed when Japan occupied Indochina and moved to sign an alliance with Thailand (Siam). No doubt the pact signed with Germany in 1940, and that Germany had conquered France a year earlier, smoothed the Japanese acquisition of Indochina. Now in late 1941 Japan turned its attention to the United States Fleet, the British Army in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.

For the PTO we have seven victory cities. They are Calcutta, Sydney, Manila, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghi and San Diego. Also, because the Pacific map is weighted to economics, we’ve given the Japanese the ability to earn virtual victory cities. These are based on the total Japanese IPC (Industrial Production Certificate) value, and their ability to earn enough IPCs over a number of turns. If the Axis wins 10 victory cities they win the war. The Allies need 11. It’s a tough fight for either side.

There are a few different rules for the PTO in the first turn. To simulate the surprise of the attack the Americans and British can’t move, attack or react and all their forces defend with a value of 1. The Chinese, because they’ve been at war for years with the Japanese, are under no restriction. We’ve also staggered the American IPC value. Normally the Americans start with 75 IPCs. During game testing we found that we needed to reduce the American income for the first two turns, this simulates an increased economic production over time and it allows for a more accurate time line. American income for Winter 1941 is 23, Spring/Summer 1942 is 46 and by Fall/Winter 1942 they receive the full 75.

I mentioned that for the first turn all the American and British forces defend on a 1. If you understand the board game this means that during an attack the defender would have to roll a 1 on a six sided die to score a hit. Every piece in the game has an attack and defense value. We use those values in determining the points and complexion of the Battle Tickets and Fleet Actions. If you wish to understand the theory behind how the Tickets and Actions are calculated continue reading otherwise skip to the last paragraph.

Here are the attack and defense values for each piece in the game as used for determining Battle Tickets or Fleet Actions:

  • Infantry Att.1, Def. 2 (if attacking with artillery the attack value is 2)
  • Armor Att. 3, Def. 3
  • Fighters Att. 3, Def. 4
  • Bombers Att. 4, Def. 1
  • Transports Att. 0.5, Def. 1 (Normally transports can’t attack but the strategy of bringing them with a fleet as cannon fodder is well established so we gave them a value of a point to simulate the extra hit they would normally absorb.)
  • Submarines Att. 2, Def. 2
  • Destroyers Att. 3, Def. 3
  • Carriers Att. 1, Def. 3
  • Battleships Att. 6, Def. 6 (Battleships in the board game normally have an attack and defense value of 4 but they can take two hits, so we gave them a value of 6 to simulate their extra ability.)

When we do a Battle Ticket we look at the value of the attacking force and the value of the defending force. For example: three infantry and a tank attack an infantry and a fighter. The attacker’s value is 6. Three infantry at 1 each = 3 and one tank is 3, thus 3+3=6 for the attacker. The defender’s value is also 6. One infantry defends on a 2 and a fighter defends on a 4, thus 2+4=6.

We then determine how many points are going to be used for the army build. 100 points is the most common. We take the defender’s value and divide that by the build total to determine the “multiplier.” So in our example the multiplier would 100/6 = 16.66. We round the multiplier to the nearest number and get 17.

We now use that number times the value of the units to determine the complexion of the army build. Infantry always represent Soldier points. Tanks always represent Vehicle points. Artillery, bombers and fighters always represent Wild points. So in our example the attacker would have 51 points in Soldier (3x17=51) and 51 points in Vehicles (3x17=51) for a total build of 102. The defender would have 34 points in Soldier (2x17=34) and 68 points in Wild (4x17=68) for 102 points total army build.

At the end of the battle we “reconstitute” the surviving number of points back into game board pieces. So if 30 points survived from the defending side the defender would have 2 points remaining (30/17=1.76 rounded to 2) for an infantry. If the attacker also had 30 points remaining he could reconstitute 2 infantry because his attacking infantry attack on ones where the defending infantry defend on twos.

We can make every battle in the game from this formula. Obviously we only produce Battle Tickets and Fleet Actions for the battles that offer at least some kind of competitive play. No one wants to play 300 points to 100. Battles that are obviously one sided are rolled out by High Command using the standard game board attack and defense rules. Using this formula virtually guarantees that no two battles will be alike and that the battles accurately reflect the outcome of the entire campaign game. This is why it is important for the Field Commander to keep a close watch on their units and to know when to retreat to fight another day.

Japan has a lot of options for the first turn. They only have one turn to take advantage of a weak US and Britain. They can’t squander their opportunity. They need to rush and capture as much territory as possible. Next week we will give you the first battles for the PTO and we will be submitting the results of the first wave of fighting in Europe. The War is about to go global.

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