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The Battle of Tassafronga, 1942

World War II Naval, General Quarters, 1/2400 scale

Sometimes there are nights when you don’t really want to haul file boxes filled with 25mm figures across town for a game. You want something laid back, where the lead is light, the rules unchallenging, and the games stimulating enough to cut through the lethargy. That’s really when the naval kit comes out. Naval gaming is always a minority interest, but its good to have as a reserve. Mainly because we hadn’t games it for ages  – in fact since we got our sea mat last October – we opted for WW2 in the Pacific.First-SightingThe idea behind the Tassafronga battle was that a group of eight Japanese destroyers commanded by R. Admiral Tanaka were bringing much-needed supplies ashore to Guadacanal – the last of the regular supply runs known as the “Tokyo Express”. The way it worked was pretty clever – they streamed long lines of oil drums filled with supplies behind the destroyers, and when they came close inshore they were handed over to a beach party, who towed them inshore. Well, they Japanese were busily doing all this when the Americans turned up – a mixed force of cruisers and destroyers commanded by R. Admiral Wright.Destroyer-Clash-2The game started when the Japanese destroyer “lookout” sighted the American battle line – and before it could react it was blasted out of the water.  That’s the picture at the top. However, the American radar couldn’t spot the Japanese destroyers closer to the land, although dawn was breaking and visibility was improving. However, the Japanese could see them, and unleashed a storm of Long Lance torpedoes which ripped into the American cruisers, damaging two of them (the Minneapolis and the Salt Lake City). They pulled out of line, and the Americans then detached their own destroyers, sending them in closer to the shore.Destroyer-ClashHaving unloaded their supplies the Japanese tried to escape, but they’d left it too late. One after another they were picked off by long range gunfire from the cruisers, while the two groups of destroyers blazed away at each other at close range. In the end only four Japanese destroyers made it off the table to safety, and only one of those was undamaged. However, honour was saved on the final turn when a last flurry of torpedoes struck the cruiser New Orleans, which sank almost immediately.  The Japanese might have sacrificed their destroyers, but at least they got the supplies through, and left the American cruiser fleet a battered and depleted force. NorthamptonWe used the old set of General Quarters. While we have the latest version of the rules (Version III), nobody had the inclination to read them in time for the game. One of the delights of the original set is their simplicity. I said before we wanted a simple, un-taxing game, which is exactly what you get with GQ. Its also pretty good fun!


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