By Nate Heiss
To Build a Better Future: The Economy of Guadalcanal
Economy is a trait that many war games share, and Guadalcanal is no exception. The economy in Guadalcanal is not composed of IPCs or general currency, but rather of reinforcement power. Each turn, players will fight over control of various islands in the Solomons, and they will get rewarded with more reinforcements for successful efforts.
Each player gets 10 reinforcement points each turn, and additional 4 reinforcement points for each island they have managed to maintain control. These points can be spent on more military might and supplies to aid the greater goal of the campaign. You see, the Solomon island campaign wasn’t really about controlling the masses of land there. It was about having a place to build airfields in the middle of the Pacific. This was crucial in a war rapidly becoming about air combat.
Japan wanted the island chain as a place to launch air attacks on the US mainland. They also wanted to cut off the supply routes from Australia and the US. The US mostly wanted to stop Japan form achieving their goal, but establishing a foothold in the Solomons gave them a nice place to launch their Pacific operations closer to Asia. Therefore, the greater goal is not only driving the enemy away, but the building and control of airfields.
Historically, the campaign lasted a long time and eventually Japan was driven completely off the island chain. While it is possible to do that in this game, the scope is more about how well either side is doing in achieving that goal. Victory points are accumulated by maintaining control of airfields and destroying certain key units of the enemy fleet. Understanding how the economy of the game works can help you make better decisions when spending your reinforcement points.
Airfields are built by spending three supplies on the island where you want it built. They will give you a victory point each turn and also act as a vital tactical spot where you can land your bombers. Thus, a player needs to be sure to spend some of their reinforcement points the greater goal of this struggle, and not all on units. Of course, your plan could also be to take over the airfields your opponent is building…but ready yourself for a struggle to hold them!
Supplies also have other important functions in the game. Seeing as your reinforcements are coming from pretty far away, spending supplies can help them get to the battlefront faster. Each player can spend a certain number of supplies to move a ship directly to a space on the edge of the map in the reinforcement phase. This means when it comes time to move the following turn, there will be units your opponent was not expecting in position to strike.
The further out you want to deploy your units, the more supplies it will take. You can only spend the supplies off your base card for this sort of deployment. For ease of play in a casual game environment, we recommend the player just spend the appropriate amount of reinforcement points to deploy their units where they want; it is easier than fishing out a bunch of supplies just to spend them a few seconds later, and it doesn’t affect game play.
Supplies are also used in repairing damaged airfields, so sometimes it is nice to keep a supply on hand near your airfield just in case the enemy tries a bombing run to ruin your runway.
So you might be asking yourself what the best way is to move your supplies around. The answer is easy, because there is only one: Transports. While destroyers can move infantry around, Transports are the only way to move supplies or artillery into position. A good part of the game is figuring out the best way to keep your transports defended, and thus comes the whole military aspect of the game.
The game is balanced so that is should be reasonable for both the Axis and the Allies each to hold 3 of the 6 islands for the first turn or two, but which 3 and what happens after that is all up to the players.
When buying reinforcements, here is some advice:
- Land units are important for invading islands and protecting your airfields from being captured. Setting up an artillery screen front adjacent islands can help make a high tactical value sea zone look harder for your enemy to keep occupied.
- Sea units are the most straightforward offensive unit. Cruisers and Battleships are durable and can bring the ruckus when its invasion time. Subs in particular are risky to build but can really turn the tide of a losing battle and can scare an opponent with a lot to lose.
- Air units can work well both offensively and defensively, with their real advantage being that they can react to other movements and strike where you see opportunities. Their big downside is that they are pricy and don’t have the durability of the sea units.
This wraps up my preview series on Guadalcanal. It will be out soon and I hope you all enjoy!
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|The rulebook states that players get 5 reinforcement points, plus 2 per island they control. This is incorrect due to an error in the rulebook. The correct reinforcement scheme is that each player gets 10 reinforcement, plus 4 per island they control. The game is playable either way, but Avalon Hill recommends playing the correct way (10 and 4 per). We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes.