Fire in the Sky

Your thoughts and strategies for winning the war in the Pacific.

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How to play the Japanese? 4 Replies

Started by Andreas Ludwig. Last reply by Jim Eliason May 30, 2009.

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Comment by RAJ on September 19, 2018 at 1:16am

Hi All! There will be new edition of FitS prepared by Phalanx. There is plan to add new scenarios to it - 1943 and 1944. I know that someone tried to do that scenarios (years ago), and probably there was some materials on CSW but I can't find anything about them. Can You give me a hand?

Comment by Jim Eliason on January 11, 2014 at 8:41am

Thanks Kev.  Duh, now that I checked, the 26 Feb post does look truncated.  It must have been too long.  But it was so long ago now that I don't remember what I was going to say next.


I guess it was to use economy of force.  Lots of times you have the ships to make an attack virtually foolproof, but oil and/or transport limitations mean you can't afford to send more than will likely win.  That means that some important attacks will fail.  Is an attack important enough that overkill is needed even if that compromises future ops?  Tough choices.  And these choices affect the Allies as well, even late in the game where the large transport and infinite oil quantities kick in.

Comment by Kev on January 11, 2014 at 1:05am

Thats ok Jim, I meant your post below that details your thoughts. It seems to end mid sentence on my screen. I shall look for the Ops mag article also. Great stuff.

Comment by Jim Eliason on January 10, 2014 at 7:24pm

I recently finished a PBEM game of this.  I beat a newbie as the Japanese.  I'm in turn 6 of another game where my Japanese have gotten terrible dice.  Rangoon never fell, and I've given up on it.  Surabaya survived attacks on turns 2,3,4&5 that were all likely to win and is still Dutch.  The USN beat back an attack on Guadalcanal that should have won (but didn't) and has taken Paramushiro.  But I'm hanging in there.  For how much longer I don't know.  Another PBEM game is just starting.

Comment by Jim Eliason on January 10, 2014 at 7:19pm

Kev, by "comments" I guess you mean the CSW article and the CSW post.  I don't know of any "truncations" on this site.  The CSW comments were intended to be just a very short summary, and I wrote it that way on purpose.  The SpecOps article was originally given a word limit, which I barely got under, then the word limit was reduced by about 25(?)% and I was asked to revise the article.  I did so, and managed to get about 95% of the ideas I'd hoped to include by condensing the text.  It's a little less conversational than before, but I think nearly as informative.  All "truncations" were done by me.

Comment by Kev on January 10, 2014 at 3:03pm

Jim, did your comments end up truncated?

Comment by Jim Eliason on August 8, 2012 at 8:42am

The article recounting the PBEM final game finally appeared in "Special Ops" magazine from MMP in the summer 2012 edition.  It gives some rules explanations, strategy comments, and is illustrated with board positions.  It was a hard fought game between the top two AREA rated players.  Other contents: a Tannenburg game, ASL scenarios and articles, the MMP Ironman event, and an article on Bull Run.

Comment by Jim Eliason on February 26, 2011 at 6:28pm
Tom, you're most welcome.  I just finished writing up an AAR of the finals of a PBEM FitS tournament.  It will tentatively appear in Operations this summer.  Check that out as well for for how two experienced players conducted the "short" campaign.  A really short summary is on the FitS board of the main CSW site.
Comment by Tom Swider on February 26, 2011 at 6:09pm
Jim, thanks for the thoughtful response. I'll have to dig out my copy and review. I think in playing other pacific games, you get an idea of strategic options. In FITS, I'd get the "deer in the headlights" look for lack of an idea of what's a normal move and what actions (or lack of) would be stupid. This should help me get an idea of how to do target an island, gear up and execute a campaign.
Comment by Jim Eliason on February 26, 2011 at 5:56pm

Tom, it took me a while to wrap my mind around this game, but it was well worth it.  The basic idea is that military units need supplies to do anything, and the mechanics represent this by the way the ships, land units, and air steps move.

So, here’s a basic outline of play: 1) Home base produces pretty much what you need and new construction shows up there (reinforcement phase).  2) Build up supplies at friendly bases near the front (1st deployment phase) 3) launch attacks and invasions and reinforce contested bases (Operational movement phase) 4) Ships that moved used up their forward supplies so they go back to where the supplies are (Return to base).  Ships that didn’t move didn’t use their supplies so they can stay.  5) Prepare to respond to enemy moves, consolidate newly captured bases, and get an early start on next turn (2nd deployment phase).

Task forces can only have 4 ships since that's all that can provide mutual AA and ASW protection.  Once the sub and air phases are done, TFs are no longer relevant.  While you can sail from Pearl Harbor to Japan in a single move, you can't support an opposed invasion without a nearby logistical support base, hence the need for a friendly base within 2 hexes to invade a base.  The only big WWII invasion that was made without friendly air cover nearby was Torch, and the Vichy French made only token opposition.

The very layered combat system is quite elegant.  First the subs go in—and usually miss but a success on a key ship or a regimental size invasion can be huge.  Then the fighters vie for air superiority.  Then the air strikes go in (or get saved to support land combat).  Then surface naval combat occurs to see who gets control of the sea in the local area.  Then invasions get ashore (or not), then land combat occurs.

All your important TFs should have a DD, or sometimes two, to guard against sub attack.  A whole army can often be unescorted since only one sub attack on it is allowed, and four hits are needed to do anything significant to it.  It presumably has lots of escorting DEs that don’t get unit counters.  Don’t send a small air force against a large one.  The air to air combat just means they get brushed aside.  But if an unopposed enemy air force is devastating, so send in a lot of air cover if you can afford to.  It isn’t necessary to kill an invading land unit to repel an invasion, just drive off its surface escorts.  A large surface force can prevent an enemy invasion unless a large air force drives it off first.

Capturing a base from a full strength land unit that is the maximum size for the base is hard to do in one turn and usually requires a big preponderance of force.  Send in multiple TFs of CVs and multiple TFs of bombardment support.  If you can afford two turns, you can send a much smaller force to just flip the defender, redeploy a big reaction force to prevent its reinforcement, then a small force next turn can finish the job.

Air ZOCs are tricky but essential to good play.  The Japanese need to screen their rear areas with air ZOC.  Ships shouldn’t base under threat of land-based air attack, so they are very limited in where they can move if adjacent to enemy air.  Air ZOC can be moved into and then one more hex if attacking, so you can attack the hex with the air unit in it, but not hexes beyond.  Note that two bases three hexes apart are “leaky”.  American air at Espiritu Santo and Elice do not prevent an invasion of Fiji, and Japanese air at Yokosuka and Marianas does not prevent an American air raid on Kure.  You have to stop in the air ZOC if deploying, since deployment represents lightly escorted transport ships and you aren’t going to deploy into an enemy base anyway.

As the Japanese you need to push hard at first, but resources are limited.  Unlike most games, you can't move all your units every turn; many will have to stay in port for lack of fuel or lack of transport ships to carry them, just


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