Zeros and Long Lances

Greg Smith

US Fleet (me)

Essex with 7 Grumman Hellcat, 8 Douglas Dauntless Dive bombers, 7 Douglas Devastator torpedo bombers. (400)

Tennessee class battleship (350)
Oregon City class cruiser (200)
Cleveland class cruiser (100)
3 Clemson class destroyers (3 x 50)

Japanese Fleet

Hosho 100
Shoho 100
Zuiho 100
Chitose 100
With 25 flights of Zeros, Val dive bombers and kate torpedo bombers.

Fuso Battleship 400
Oyodo Cruiser 200
Myoko cruiser 100
2 Shiratsuys destroyers (2 x50)

The scenario was Victory at Sea, with preselected objectives Last Stand vs Destroy. We didn't use the points increase/reduction, partly because we were playtesting, partly because we don't like it. :D


I selected six flights from my carrier and I had ten observation flights. This gave me 16 dice and I rolled enough to put my carrier in deep deployment and gain +1 initiative. My opponent had more observation aircraft and sent 5 flights from his carriers. He scored the same level of result as I did.

Since the point of playtesting was to look at carriers we opted not to put carriers into deep deployment. If this were a more competitive game, then the decision to not to do that is a huge disadvantage, as the results will show.


As we deployed, it became clear that multiple light carriers had an advantage. I could deploy 2 flights. The Japanese already had 8 in the air.

Then came the Japanese torpedo fan. With 24 torpedo AD, my opponent rolled 6 dice and hit with one. It struck the Essex. I got three criticals and Engine and Weapons were both rolls of 1. But Crew was an immediate level 3 critical. Which meant I wasn’t going to be launching any planes any time soon.

Turn 1
Neither of us launched any planes. My opponent had set up his carriers facing the wrong way. The Essex performed all hand to deck. There was some firing at extreme range, and the Cleveland scored an incredible vitals critical on the Oyodo and blew it
out of the water.

The Essex failed to get any fires under control. No planes on either side returned from scouting.

Turn 2

The Japanese destroyers begin to maneuver to bring their torpedoes to bear. I, realising my destoyers are the only things likely to be to hurt his destroyers at range before they fire, send them steaming towards the enemy fleet.

The Fuso scores a couple of critical hits on the Tennessee. Our first planes make contact with the enemy fleets. AAA and DP guns reduce the attacking Japanese planes to matchwood. A single Hellcat shoots down a Zero in a dogfight. While, my lone dive bomber scores a hit on the Myoko, and I roll my second snake eyes of the day – 2 points of not-very-Devastating damage!

A lone American torpedo bomber returns from scouting. The Essex does begin to get fires under control.

Turn 3

The American destroyer sink a single Japanese destroyer. But at the cost of two of their own. Unfortunately the Japanese do unleash a torpedo strike at 18” range and two strike the Tennesse. Criticals reach 2 Weapons, 4 Engines and 6 Crew. It is takes 50 damage all told and crippled.

One American destroyer has positioned itself very close to the Myoko and a torpedo strike destroys the Cruiser.

Zeros jump my empty torpedo bomber and gang up on my lone fights.

The Essex finally gets its fires under control and begins to arm its planes. Two American flights return and one Japanese one. The Americans arrive on the far side of the board, way away from the action.

Turn 4

Zeros are beginning to own the sky. The Japanese player has all but one plane off his decks and even has landed one to rearm. The first torpedo bomber to return is bounced by three zero flights. The Essex launches its first flight which promptly gats jumped by a zero.

The Japanese have 4 carriers, a destroyer and a battleship. The last American destroyer is lost to the Fuso’s light guns. The Fuso fails to destroy the Tennesse. The American cruisers start shelling the Japanese carriers, and do some damage to the Zuiho. The surviving Japanese destroyer begins steaming toward the Essex, reloading it’s torpedo tubes.

Turn 5

Japanese dive bombers swarm the Tennessee and sink it. The American cruisers cripple the Zuiho. The Essex launches a flight of Hellcats that promptly get bounced by half a dozen zero flights.

At this point the Americans decide a Japanese POW camp is a more attractive prospect that the shark-filled ocean and surrender.


Multiple small carriers are way better than one big one. Flights get launched so much faster. Even if the Essex had not been hit, it would have had another 6 flights up at the most. At that point the Japanese had about 20 launched. Deep deployment is only partially the answer because you have to sacrifice planes to scout to get there

It is far better not to track fighter ammo. That was an excellent change.

Dogfighting, AAA, plane attacks are now well sequenced.

Type 93 Torpedoes are utterly horrible. Having a range of 37 is insanely good. It meant they could hit a battleship (side on) at 18”. Japanese torpedoes were game breakers in 1st edition VAS. I am concerned they will still be.

The Japanese Long Lance rule is a hugely good national rule, particularly compared to the Italians, American Torpedoes, and German Radar.

Scouting – there is no way I would ever send a ship scouting. Getting things back is too chancey. Also getting high results on the scouting table is well nigh impossible.


Make bigger carriers launch faster. Or start with more planes in the air maybe every carrier should be able to start with half its planes in the air.

Or and I think this is the answer to it: make the first option on the scouting table the option for carriers to have half planes in the air.

Scouting needs to be easier, so I suggest the scouting table looks like this:

Scouting Points Fleet Advantage
2 or more Carriers may start with half of their flights in the air.
4 or more As above, and a +1 bonus to Initiative for the entire battle.
6 or more As above, and may immediately re-deploy any number of ships (including any scouts) in Enhanced Deployment Zone, while Carriers may start with all of their Flights in the air.
8 or more As above, and a further +1 bonus to Initiative for the entire battle.
10 or more As above, and may immediately re-deploy any number of ships (including any scouts) in Superior Deployment Zone, while Carriers may start in Deep Deployment.

Make the return of scouted units easier as the game goes on. Maybe 6+ to return on turn 1, 5+ turn two and so on. Although if option 6 above applies to planes, it probably won't be necessary.

I’d like to see Type 93 have their range reduced, or otherwise pointed very high (especially the slow loading ones).
Perhaps to counter the range of the Long Lance maybe the torpedo's wakeless trait should only work at short range?
Here are my further thoughts on the type 93s. I would reduce range to 20". Yes, in real life the type 93 had 3 times the range of the Allies but at extreme range the chance of it hitting was extremely small. If you want to keep the 34" range perhaps create an exception to the way ranges work specifically for the type 93. Perhaps 5" is point blank, 10" is normal, 15" long and everything over that is extreme. That way you can keep the real life flavor without it being so game-breaking. To keep the flavor of the Wakeless trait without it being too good would be to allow a +1 to hit for the evasive re-roll instead of having no reroll.
I'd support that. It would give IJN torpedoes roughly double the effective range of other torpedoes, and the extreme range shots are represented by Fan Salvo
Lets say a ships move with 25 knots and you shoot at the ship with a torpedo with runs at 50 knots.
If the ship is 10 miles away and it moves diagonal away, then you need to aim 5 miles ahead of the ship to hit it.
How likely is this to work?
BigGun said:
Lets say a ships move with 25 knots and you shoot at the ship with a torpedo with runs at 50 knots.
If the ship is 10 miles away and it moves diagonal away, then you need to aim 5 miles ahead of the ship to hit it.
How likely is this to work?

Unlikely is the simple answer. Some submarines were equipped with a rudimentary computer to calculate trajectories. The Japanese fleets fired huge spreads of torpedoes at a distance against enemy fleets with variable success.
You need surprise, and an opponent unappreciative of it's actual range.

I believe that the intended target was meant to be battleships moving in the low twenties.