Sunday, May 13, 2007

Coral Sea, Chancellorsville and The Wilderness

One of my wargaming affectations is to try playing battles on or near their anniversary dates. Early May sees a few significant battle anniversaries.
One of the most significant is the Battle of the Coral Sea, fought 65 years ago in 1942. It usually rates a mention in general histories because it was the first naval battle where the opposing fleets never closed within visual range of each other. While this is a catchy headline, it's true significance rests in the fact that it took two of the Imperial Japanese Navy's fleet carriers out of action just before the Battle of Midway. While neither the Zuikaku nor the Shokaku were sunk, one was damaged and the other's air wing was battered enough that both ships were unavailable in June. It's hard to see how the USN could have prevailed against all six of the IJN fleet carriers, even with the Lexington added to the US force.
I've got quite a few games on the Coral Sea (Midway/Coral Sea variant; Smithsonian Guadalcanal/Coral Sea variant; Shipbase III; SOPAC and Carrier) but it doesn't look like I'll have a chance for an anniversary game unless I can get in a session of Carrier, which is solitaire).
I'm having better luck with the Civil War battles because of Hexwar. I'm wrapping up a batch of Mayre's Heights games (from the Battle of Chancellorsville) and close to finishing The Battle of the Wilderness, too.
Mayre's Heights was the fight that took place on the old Fredericksburg battlefield in 1862 at the same time as the main engagement at Chancellorsville. It's one of the old SPI Blue & Grey series games. It's really wild and wide-open and it looks like I'll be either splitting the matches or ending with a slight losing record. I'm having much better luck with the Wilderness (1864) matches (another Blue & Grey) and I think I'll end up having won more than I lost from that set.

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