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In the Avalon Hill board game, the cruiser Atago is the flagship of a fleet of eight transports carrying 5,000 soldiers for the occupation of Midway. As such, it "represents" the transports and sinking the Atago is tantamount sinking the transports.

This move is worth some 20 points, four for the Atago itself, and 16 for each turn (on days 3 and 4) that the Americans hold Midway. Moreover, it deprives Japan of the chance to earn 15 points for capturing Midway, for a total swing of 35 points. For comparison, sinking a large carrier such as Japan's Kaga or America's Yorktown is worth 10 points.

Japan cannot defend the Atago against an all out attack. The only way to (indirectly) defend it is to (greatly) weaken the American airforce on the first day. As a practical matter, if the Americans lose their carriers but preserve 30 squadrons on Midway, it can sink the Atago.

As discussed in a previous question, the Americans maintain their advantage only by staying within range of Midway-based planes. If they go outside this range, they will be at a disadvantage. Might it therefore make sense for the Americans to wait for the Japanese to "come and get them" with the Atago? (This was NOT the strategy used in real life, where the Americans aggressively, and successfully went after the Japanese carriers early on the second day.

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1 Answer 1

The drawback of such a strategy (I've tried it as the US player in the 1960s edition, and responded as the Japanese player) is that you can, in fact, prevent the Atago from being sunk - unless you happen to roll very, very poorly as the Japanese player.

All Dive Bombers have to be placed atop the target ship.

All Torpedo Bombers are placed in sectors surrounding the target ship.

But all of any given type of aircraft in any given sector (5 possible total sectors - atop, starboard, port, aft, bow) attack as one for that attack wave.

It's not all that hard to properly space your vessels, as the Japanese player, to [nearly] guarantee the attack fails.

And if you're playing the advanced game, with the addition of Fighters and CAP, it becomes easier yet.

The only way this method can work, in my experience, is to attack pretty much everything in the board unit that holds the Atago - presuming, of course, you "know" which unit that is. That way even if you fail to sink the Atago, you may be able to inflict serious damage to the carrier groups, allowing the possibility of preventing the Japanese occupation of Midway itself.

The 60s edition, which I've played most, reflects well the relative strengths of both sides in that battle - and I've only seen the Japanese player win twice (both of which were when I was playing as the Japanese): and this is in dozens of times through the game, will various aspects of official (and occasional house) rules used, against both novice- and highly-seasoned players.

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That's certainly a consideration. But I'd put 15 dive bomber squadrons atop the Atago, at 3-1 odds against the antiaircraft fire of a battleship (5). Then 5 torpedo squadrons on either side of the ship, that's 1-1 odds against a single battleship, or cruiser. Assuming minimum hits (2, 1, 1), that should provide the four hits needed to sink the Atago. One issue is to identify which cruiser is the Atago. But I'd introduce a "house rule" to "asterisk" it. Because it is really a proxy for a bunch of transports, that can be identified separately. – Tom Au Sep 2 at 19:31
@TomAu - that presumes you haven't carefully aligned the battle groups and surrounded the Atago better :) – warren Sep 2 at 20:27
The only way around this is to wait for the fourth wave of Yamato, Nagato, and Mutsu at the end of the second day. The four "medium" battleships (Hiei, Kongo, Haruna, and Kirishima) all have an anti-aircraft factor of 5. – Tom Au Sep 2 at 20:29
@TomAu - since you can't get all your firepower to bear until then, it's not an unreasonable strategy ... or go "hide" the Atago somewhere else, disguising its location, making it, therefore, very hard to hit – warren Sep 2 at 20:34

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