empire of the sun  

Updated 11/21/2010

2010 WBC Report  

 2011 Status: pending December 2011 Membership Trial Vote

Mark Popofsky, DC

20010 Champion

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Event History
2005    Bob Heinzmann     26
2006    Dennis Culhane       8
2007    Mark Popofsky     10
2008    Dennis Culhane     11
2009    Dennis Culhane       8
2010    Mark Popofsky     20

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Bob Heinzmann      FL    08     48
  2.  Dennis Culhane     PA    10     41
  3.  Mark Popofsky      DC    10     36
  4.  John Chabonneau    NH    05     24
  5.  Pablo Garcia       ch    10     16
  6.  Paul Gaberson      PA    09     16
  7.  Steve Campbell     NH    05     16
  8.  Dave Casper        CA    05     12
  9.  John Leggat        CA    05      8
 10.  Jim Mehl           VA    10      6
 11.  Peter Perla        VA    10      6
 12.  Chris Byrd         CT    07      6
 13.  Craig Yope         MI    10      4
 14.  Mark Herman        MD    09      4
 15.  Frank McNally      MA    05      4
 16.  Jay Meyers         CA    07      2

2010 Laurelists                                           Repeating Laurelists 

Pable Garcia, Chile

Dennis Culhane, PA

Jim Mehl, VA

Craig Yope, MI

Peter Perla, VA

Past Winners

Bob Heinzmann, FL

Dennis Culhane, PA
2006, 2008-09

Mark Popofsky, DC
2007, 2010

Matt dabbles in games other than BKN too it seems.

Let's see ... I know I read that rule somewhere.

It's never too late to learn ...

This was the sixth Empire of the Sun tournament and the the first Class B status since its debut. This year we had a rebirth as it were with more than double the average entrants of the last five years. Could it be that running a Demo and Class B status is that effective? Mark Popofsky became a two-time champion in 2010 and it is his account of the Final that follows:

As always, Mark Herman made the 1st round a teaching period with new players paired against veterans for the '43 scenario. Following a more competitive second round (after which a few players dropped out), only three-time defending champion Dennis Culhane, Pablo Garcia and Mark Popofsky remained standing. All won their second round matches (also the '43 scenario) decisively (Mark with 16 Points and Dennis with 14 while playing Japan; Pablo with a score of -6 playing the U.S.). Following some debate, Mark Herman took Dennis' suggestion to dispense with a semi-final and have Mark, Pablo, and Dennis compete in a 3-player round-robin of the '43 scenario, with two victories or net score determining the title. Mark won the random "bye" and Pablo and Dennis squared off first. After the first turn (which included Ukagi) Pablo had wiped the USN off the board, and Dennis graciously conceded the match to Pablo and declared that he would surely come in third in the resulting round robin. Thus, Pablo and Mark agreed to play the '42 Campaign for the championship (as it should be -- we feel '43 has some extreme luck; witness the Pablo/Dennis match). A random roll left Mark in command of Japan and Pablo the Allies.

Sometimes as Japan in the EoTS '42 Campaign (and of course as the Allies, but it hits Japan harder early), the cards do not cooperate with plans. As will be described below, this was a game where it was immediately obvious Japan would be on the strategic defensive - save a possible thrust to close the Burma Road - the whole game. Such games are not in my view "fun" for the Japanese player, but they are tense, educational, and even winnable nonetheless. This was such a game:

1942: Japan Stumbles and Allies Build Up

Japan's Turn 2 draw included one offensive (Naval Battle of Guadalcanal), some resource cards, Tokyo Rose, and some other 1/2 OCs. First play saw Japan take advantage of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal's battleship bombardment rule to eliminate all A/N in the DEI theater, saved a flipped MA air. Allies played ABDA in Kendari to force Japan to take Balikpapkan and Makassar. After an Allied pass, Japan concluded that the best Turn 1 strategy was to try to exile the Allies from as much of NG/Solomons area as possible and set-up a first-card Turn 2 DEI conquest (taking DEI would have meant foregoing NG). Thus, Japan used OCs to take out MA Air, Tjalitjap, Medan, and Port Morseby (after a 9-12 landed in Lae on a 3OC), and occupy Biak, Sarong, and Teleok. Japan's clear Turn 1 Mistake was to hurl the SS X at a redeployed Wake Marine X in Guadalcanal rather than use the card to take more of the DEI. The Marines held the 'Canal on the 1/10 chance. Pablo's last card was WIE, which moved the marker positive. Showing that WBC is not a precise-play environment where perfect planning is possible, Mark left three ASPs unused for Japan; and with a positive WIE level, all Allied reinforcements were about to show up, threatening to wrest the strategic initiative. Indeed, the Allies deployed massive reinforcement to Gili-Gili (the only unisolated NG port left), 'Canal, Darwin, and the CBI.

Japan got no offensives Turn 3 - and more resource/reaction cards - and still had all three SE Asia regions (Philippines, Malaya, and DEI) to conquer. First play Japan finished off the DEI with an assault on Tarakan and grabbing the remaining resources; Manila followed and A/N action reduced Malaya to the flipped Aussie XX holding Singapore, which fell later in the Turn and forces also shifted toward Burma. Meanwhile, the Allies spent the Turn setting-up to make PoW Turn 4 (moving adjacent to Japanese-held Port Morseby and Lae), while reinforcing Kendari with the NZ XX to ensure that ABDA, even if isolated, was not wiped off the map. Allied A/N attrition began, with the Soryu sunk in a now-isolated Rabaul. And the Allies played two more WIE cards to move the marker to a maximum +3.

With even more Allied reinforcements about to show up, Japan concluded that this game would be all about an effective "hold out" strategy: prevent victory by conquest of Honshu, Blockade (cut Japan off from all resources end of Turn 10 and through Turn 12), or Atomic victory (which requires Tojo/Manchuria sequence, B-29s to hit each turn, and Japan reduced to a single resource). Japan thus planned to hold the inner-perimeter islands ­ Marcus, Saipan, Palau, Iwo, Ulithi ­ and to try to cut the Burma road, all in the hopes of preventing the first B-29 from bombing, which would remove the possibility of atomic victory. The IJN and IJA would reaction opportunistically and slow the Allies, but otherwise remain a force in being. Indeed, after the consequence of Lae on Turn 4 (described below), the Allies eliminated no Japanese army ground step in an Allied offensive until the very end of Turn 10; and the IJN withdrew to bases in the Philippines, Saipan, and Home Islands.

Turn 4 cards gave Japan finally a force card, some good resource cards (air and naval replacements; escorts), Doolittle retaliation, and little else. Japan used the force card to promptly wipe the Kiwis/ABDA out with a 3-division force card assault and finally took Malaya, while moving KOR and four other 18-12s/20-12s to the CBI in the hopes of getting Turn 5 offensives to move toward the Burma Road. The Allies made PoW by taking Ponape and Kusaie, as well as Lae and Port M. With Ponape, Kusaie and Hollandia all now bases for long range bombers, Truk, Saipan, Palau, and Ulithi all could be "pinned/smothered" in USN offensives, and the IJN fell back - but not before the Allies launched Galvanic at a Yamato-led stack in Saipan. The Allies achieved only a .5 result and Japan killed three carrier steps with a critical hit back. With most of the IJN and Japanese air pulled back, the Allies could not engage in substantial attrition with their air units. Allies pulled Manchuria - for the first of three times - to reshuffle.

1943: Japan Collapses the Bag and Allies Move Up

The reshuffle started a run of several turns of good Allied cards; which was followed by a second reshuffle as Manchuria was drawn again to produce yet more good Allied cards. Indeed, the Allies played Flintlock, Iceberg, Forager, etc. multiple times in the mid-game. And with WIE still positive, Turn 6 saw the USN show up, although the escort event saved Japan from US subs. Japan got no offensives with which to launch the hoped-for operations to close the Burma road (too risky to do on OC plays with the CW set up for strong ground reaction), but did put the Allies under ISR. Indeed, from Turn 6 on, the Allies were under ISR the entire game. Turn 6 saw the Allies take islands around Kwaj to make PoW, but confront problems in the Vogelkopf: a Japanese reaction invasion with a 4-6 X foiled the Wake X's attempt to take Biak after the Japanese pulled out; that same 4-6 X then landed behind a US 22-12 advancing on Vogelkopf overland to put that US Army Corps out of supply! That forced the Allies to divert more troops toward the Sarong area as well as expend OC plays to force Japan to withdraw from the area, as the attrition cost of hanging around would prove too high. The Allies made PoW again (more islands in Marshalls; Kwaj.); but except for another surprise attack on a forward IJN force in Ulithi, were not generating significant attrition. Japan finally got WIE cards and the marker moved negative and the Panama Canal closed for good measure.

Turn 7 - Japan's last chance to strike for Burma - again saw the card Gods give Japan insufficient resources to do the Job (no Offensives). Japan accordingly started staging ground units back to the home islands and Korea, while dispersing the fleet. The USN then began a series of raids to try to whittle down Japanese air/naval forces in the forward defense area (Saipan, Palau, Ulithi), and took advantage of Japan's withdrawal from Kendrai/Sarong to start a US Army/Army Air Offensive toward Davao. Tojo showed up as the last card of '43, causing a Japanese reshuffle and - Japan hoped - making atomic victory less likely.

1944: The Year of Attrition

Turns 8 and 9 - most of '44 - saw the Allies hammer the fairly intact Japanese A/N forces everywhere from bases in the Marshalls, Biak, and Hollandia. The Allies did not test the land defenses - 18-12s - in the inner perimeter. Meanwhile, the US Army and Army Air pushed on Davao from Biak, Sarong, and Kendari, which Japan had abandoned with the US Army Air showed up in Timor. The second reshuffle led the Allies to get a big surprise attack card again, as well as large offensives. Disciplined Japanese play at this stage of the game is generally not to react even when an opportunity to hurt the USN presents itself: EVERY Japanese A/N step is critical, and the USN could not meaningfully be dented. But, of course, it is hard to just take it turn after turn and the IJN occasionally reacted and hurt BBs and CVs (you have to have SOME fun). The 3-4 extra Japanese A/N step losses that generated were important in the end game, as we will get to.

By Turn 10, Japan still had a very sizable A/N force intact; but Japan that turn made two big mistakes. First, in an oversight, Okinawa had been left without a ground unit - even when the home islands were now literally overflowing with IJA troops (we debated whether putting some limitation on Japan strategic transport from '44 onward made sense; in this game, Japan started pulling troops back in '43; the big effect would have been to prevent shuffling the last few game turns (late '44/'45); given this game was close, we are undecided, but leaning toward some limitation, although more generous than the existing optional rule).

Second, too optimistic that Tojo would not show up again even as the B-29s hit, the Japanese evacuated the lower DEI resources and CBI completely, with only Seoul, Manila, and Borneo held. Given the very large ground force assembled in Japan, this was unnecessary. Pablo promptly punished me for this by landing the Brits in Cam Rahn Bay, but did not spend operations taking the open resources. Pablo assumed he had to take Honshu to win, and instead focused on A/N attrition and sneaking into Okinawa. Importantly, Okinawa was out of supply and the two Marines there could not be flipped full Turn 11; but the Allies had their 2d B-29 base for Turn 12, and Japan's air was starting to thin. Japan withdraws from Davao - where a 22-12 had landed adjacent, and the Allies took that key base, but leave Leyte and Manila heavily defended as a hedge against atomic victory (blockade victory no longer possible).

Operation Downfall, Tojo and the Great Deception

Turn 11 proved pivotal. The Allies got Okinawa in supply by unleashing Olympic/Coronet to wipe out most of the remaining Japanese A/N forces with 14 activations. The Allies then played the ISR-ender that permits a redraw to pull Olympic/Coronet back, although Japan immediately put the Allies under ISR again. After a few more massive Allied Offensives Japan simply could not cover all the Honshu ports with A/N forces. Thus, penultimte card Turn 11, the Allies used Olympic/Coronet to hurl four US Marine XXs against Osaka! Three survived beat-up to take the place after bombardment obliterated an 18-12 stationed on top of the intrinsic garrison. With Okinawa in supply and Osaka taken, Japan pulled remaining ground forces back from still-held Palau, Ulithi, Saipan, Marcus and Iwo. Japan then made another brain-freeze of a mistake: Playing a Kamikaze - more for the fun of it then anything else; hard to take the punishment - against Coronet, which brought - you guessed it - Tojo into Japan's hand. Japan was thus forced to play Tojo end of Turn 11, and the Allies knew atomic victory was still possible Turn 12. Had Japan not played the reaction card, Tojo would have shown up, but the Allies would not know that until well into the last turn. The Allies left only a (7-10) CVL on Osaka - which will prove important on Turn 12 - and the turn ended with a single Japanese air unit in the Home Islands, stationed in Kure to keep communications with Korea and permitting play of Japan's last stormed up replacement. The last Allied card was spent to redeploy Halsey to Davao to secure communications to Honshu.

Turn 12: Allied B-29s, both bombing together for the first time, roll 9 and 8 - so taking the second B-29 base mattered. Japan plays an FO to reposition assets, including bringing home some out-of-position forces. The Allies begin with Operation Ash against Japan's last two A/N units. Japan assumes this means the Allies do not have Manchuria and that nuclear victory is no longer possible. So, Japan promptly abandoned Manila and Balikpapken to beef up the ground forces in Honshu to three-deep ground units per hex. This was needless - the Allies were unlikely to have taken Honshu under ISR in a single turn - and, more importantly, foolish: Pablo had pulled a deception; and I had taken the bait. For Pablo then promptly took Manila and positioned forces to take other resources and positioned air to prevent Japan from sending forces back from the Home Islands. He had gotten Manchuria in his last hand for a third time!! If he takes all the resources, save heavy-guarded Seoul, he would win. But Japan had two aces left:

First, Japan drew Colonel Tusgi Turn 12. Japan planned to use when the Allies took Kyoto (as few A/N forces can be positioned there; usually Tsugi cannot really be used against a port overflowing with the USN), but seeing now that they need not advance further into Honshu, Japan threw the Kyoto garrison - covered still only by the (7-10) CVL - led by the Colonel into Osaka! The US Marines were thrown into the sea. All four Marine divisions now occupied the dead pile. This proved important because the Allies were then left only with the US Army - all two-step units save the airborne XX - to try to take the resources needed to win.

Second, Japan had an 18-12 sitting on a still in-supply South HQ (Allies had not taken Hanoi). This 18-12 promptly walked to Kuantan after the Allies' Manila play!!! (and Japan held Tokyo Express, which would have permitted shipping the fellow to Medan!). Thus, with three cards left (plus the mandatory Manchuria event), the Allies needed to take three contested resource spaces -- Miri, Tarakan, Kuantan ­ and five open ones (Medan, Sumatra, Soerbaja, and Balikpapken) for atomic victory. For this, the Allies had nine ASPs, but only CW and US Army forces. Without the cards needed to do all this, Pablo conceded. It was a near-run thing for Japan; had Japan left 9-12s in the open DEI resources and Manila, the margin would have been greater.

A great game and many lessons learned.

Nope ... it doesn't look any better from up here either.

The good thing about CDWs is you can always blame the cards.
 GM      Mark Herman [6th year]   NA
   NA   NA

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