Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Action in the Vella Gulf - General Quarters 3 AAR

Last weekend, Curt and I participated in another game of GQ3. This was a full-on game, with 7 players (4 Americans, including me, and 3 Japanese). The scenario was another night-fight set in 1942. This time, there were two objectives for both sides to complete, instead of just one.

Earlier in the day, the USS New Orleans had been crippled during a fight, her engines damaged and the ship left dead in the water. Two destroyers, the Laffey and the Meredith, had been assigned to protect her until the New Orleans' crew could get her back into working order. With the sun finally setting, the New Orleans had finally managed to get her engine back into working order, albeit with a reduced speed. Unfortunately, the Japanese were aware that a crippled US cruiser still floated out on the water, and so a number of ships were sent to sink her.

Even with the intense fighting between the two fleets, land troops fighting on the nearby island still needed supplies. The Japanese, with troops stationed on the nearby island of Kolombangara, decided to send a small convoy of supply ships to refit the infantry. The Americans, knowing that the Japanese often sent supplies under the cover of night, had sent out a small taskforce of destroyers to find these ships and sink them.

The marked off area represents the table we played on.

American Fleet:
USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class Heavy Cruiser, Flagship)
USS Laffey (Gleaves-class Destroyer)
USS Meredith (Gleaves-class Destroyer)
USS Chevalier (Fletcher-class Destroyer)
USS Mahan (Mahan-class Destroyer)
USS Fletcher (Fletcher-class Destroyer)
USS O'Bannon (Fletcher-class Destroyer)

My two ships - the Meredith and the Laffey.

Japanese Fleet: (An apology - I don't happen to know all the names of the Japanese ships, but I'll try to give a best representation of what was on the table)
IJN Isuzu (Nagara-class Light Cruiser)
Kagero-class Destroyer
Kagero-class Destroyer
IJN Nagara (Nagara-class Light Cruiser)

The Game:

I'll do an overview of the game with the pictures below as a complement. It started out well (i.e., terribly) enough. The New Orleans was spotted immediately by the two Japanese groups that were coming from behind her. While the Orleans moved away, the Laffey and Meredith (who had been tailing the Orleans) moved to intercept the Japanese ships, with one US ship going after each enemy squadron.

The Mahan, Chevalier, O'Bannon, and Fletcher made a wide maneuver around the edge of the table, apparently hoping to skirt the action and intercept the convoy ships as quickly as possible (but not before taking a shot at the Orleans, who hadn't been identified before the ships opened fire).

The Laffey and Meredith, meanwhile, managed to stall the Japanese ships for a little while, with the Laffey sinking a Japanese destroyer with her torpedoes. The Meredith, unfortunately, was sunk when the Japanese launched their own torpedo salvo, but not before causing a bit of trouble in her own right.

The Orleans, apparently emboldened by the arrival of more destroyers, joined the new group that began to swing to meet the delayed Japanese attack. A mistake, however, caused the Orleans to slam into the Mahan and the two ships were left behind as the Chevalier, O'Bannon and Fletcher surged forward to attack the arriving convoy ships.

In what seemed to be an amazing and disastrous turn of events, the Japanese managed to sink the Orleans (though not before the Laffey managed to slip right through them), and the gunnery skills of the convoy ships actually managed to cripple the Chevalier. The O'Bannon and Fletcher managed to meet up with the Laffey to launch another attack, but it was decided that the 3 battered ships wouldn't have made it, and they beat a hasty retreat.

It was a stunning victory for the Japanese!

The New Orleans is spotted!

The Laffey and the Meredith move in to protect the New Orleans.

A bad, bad position to be in.

The Laffey sinks a Japanese destroyer, then runs for it!

The New Orleans heads for the (assumed) safety of other American ships. 

And the Meredith goes down after a savage beating. 

Looks like the Laffey's in trouble!

But the Japanese cruiser has bigger problems to worry about.

The Laffey heads for the safety of a fog bank - just beyond the rest of the Japanese ships!

The Japanese move in for the kill...

As the convoy ships show the Americans who's boss!

As the Orleans takes a beating and sinks, the Americans ready for another go before calling the retreat.

And the convoy moves away with the MVP title in tow!

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