Friday, May 7, 2010

Things that are very difficult to simulate

USS Neosho under attack

Today is the anniversary of the opening day of the Battle of the Coral Sea, which is notable for being the first naval battle where the opposing fleets enver came within sight of each other.

One interesting aspect of the battle was the Japanese strike against the oiler USS Neosho and an accompanying destroyer. the USS Sims. Japanese scout planes had erroneously reported the small task force as comprising a carrier and a cruiser, so the Japanese task force sent a full-strength air strike that included more than three dozen dive bombers. This powerful attack smothered the US ships. The USS Sims took at least three direct bomb hits and blew up. The Neosho in the meantime took 7 direct hits and 8 near misses. Amazingly the ship stayed afloat for another four days before sinking.

From a wargaming point of view this sort of event is hard to simulate. Even double blind systems such as Midway don't allow for that sort of extreme misidentification. Only an umpired game could hold that potential and yet one wonders how well the players would accept being misled by the GM that much. For a regular 2-player game it's virtually impossible, which is why even a pretty detailed naval wargame such as SOPAC has trouble really capturing the essence of the battle.

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