Holding Henderson Field is the only thing needed to advance to the next scenario. The four secondary victory conditions are: the supply ship must survive; shooting down 5 Jap planes, capturing 5 secondary VPs; and sinking 2 Jap Battleships. The 50-turn scenario is far longer than previous scenarios. Some victory conditions are early in the scenario while others are only possible at the end. Your strategy should adjust as the battle develops. For these reasons, I’m discussing what is gained from each victory condition and the strategy for the opening, middle, and end game.
Holding Henderson Field early in the game requires keeping a sizable portion of your force in a semi-circle close to the Pacific to repel multiple Japanese land attacks. But in multiple play-throughs, I tended to lose Henderson Field late in the scenario when I thought all Japanese units were defeated. A damaged or out-of-supply unit would slip through the jungle and I would be declared the loser despite having defeated almost all Japanese Forces on Guadalcanal. Now I always keep a couple of units close to Henderson Field after I go on the offensive in the second half of the scenario.
Keeping the supply ship alive is easy if you play the opening Naval battle conservatively. Saving the supply ship gives you extra land command points vital for defending Henderson Field. The Japs snuck in a big surface fleet. All unloaded supply ships fled. The AI moves three supply ships slowly off the map after the Japs arrive. Placing your discretionary naval forces in a protective screen easily escorts the supply ship off the map. As a bonus, your core naval forces don’t take damage requiring resource points for repairs. A non-core surface fleet is West of Henderson field bears the brunt of the Jap attack. This fleet cannot win. When the supply ships exit, all remaining surface ships are removed. Surviving Jap ships will bombard the US forces. Nothing can stop this bombardment.
Getting into a big naval scrum often provides the Japs an opportunity to sink the supply ship. An early naval scrum damages your core fleet, wastes resource points in repairs, and often loses the supply ship.
Successfully Shooting Down 5 Jap Planes gives you a air commander. Air commanders have combat bonuses useful for the rest of the war. After a lot of trial and error, I devised a successful strategy to achieve this objective. I buy two Lockheed Lighting Fighters. They have two advantages. First, they are good air-to-air combat fighters. Second, they have big fuel tanks. The Japs bombard Henderson Field by sea and little can be done to prevent it. P-40s have small fuel tanks which gives the Jap fleet lots of opportunity to shoot them up on the ground. Don’t deploy P-40s. Second, fighters should pursue wounded Jap aircraft and down them. If you deploy the right fighters and use the correct strategy 5 Jap Planes should be destroyed by the end of the scenario.
Capturing 5 secondary VPs occurs mid-game to end game. If you play the first part of the battle right you should be able to advance and take all secondary objectives. You do not want to run up your casualties to achieve this because each VP gives 50 extra resource points. Cost-effectively capturing the VPs should be your goal. The hardest objective is the mountain range SE of Henderson Field. Most of the other objectives are far to the East.
My strategy is to first destroy the Japs attacking Henderson Field. Then a light tank and 3-4 Marine units advance down the coast road heading East. The rest of the forces work to encircle the ridge position and eventually reduce it. Charging the ridge generates massive avoidable casualties. So the ridge offensive slowly develops, eventually encircles the ridge, and reduces the Jap defenders.
Sink 2 Jap Battleships – Two large surface fleets attack late in the game. Charging after the battleships mangles your fleet requiring many resource points in repairs. You get a lot of naval command points late in the scenario. Only if you have wisely managed your resource points will you have the funds necessary to buy the fleet you need to sink the Japs.
As Henderson Field expands Dauntless Dive Bombers are deployed. The Dive Bombers stay close to Henderson Field. Dauntlesses are very slow and sending them far to the East to assist your ground attack leaves them out of position. Use the Dive Bombers to eliminate damaged Jap ground units until the Jap Fleets appear.
When the Jap Fleets arrive, they should first target destroyers and then cruisers. Jap destroyers are easily sunk by dive bombers and the Jap DDs have deadly torpedo attacks against your fleet. After the destroyers and cruisers are eliminated, your destroyers can torpedo the Jap Battleships to the bottom of the Pacific with minimal loss. The second part of this strategy is deployment of naval forces. I deploy cruisers with a destroyer screen to block torpedoes. I keep the cruisers (and the battleship the fleet sends you) close to the Henderson Field docks. I make the Japs come to me so my Dive Bombers can punish them. Only after most of the Japs are sunk will my fleet sally forth and attack. This strategy sinks the Jap fleet with minimal damage to your forces.
Each battleship sunk gives you a whopping 150 resource points. But each cruiser costs 150+ points. So attack wisely and you both conserve your forces and build up a stockpile of resource points needed in future scenarios.
Four Warnings – 1] Marines are vital at Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal has thick jungles which kill US Army Logistics. The Marines don’t suffer disorganization moving through the Jungle. The only US Army unit I deploy is a Heavy Infantry unit after the supply ship safely sails home. The Heavy Infantry unit stays around Henderson Field providing excellent firepower in the open and eventually light artillery support when you attack the ridge late in the game.
2] Supply is Critical. It is easy to run short of supply points. My ground forces quickly move West to take a small port and supply point. Taking this fast makes the rest of the game much easier.
3] Be Careful When Taking the last VP – Guadalcanal ends when the last VP falls to US forces. If you think you can sink two battleships, hold off taking the last VP until the battleships sink.
4] At fifty turns this is the longest scenario yet. To win you need to keep the length of the scenario in mind. Guadalcanal is a big island. Getting greedy early causes unnecessary losses which burn resource points.
Reminder, sinking the Japanese Invasion Fleet in the Midway scenario makes winning Guadalcanal far easier.
Turn 1 – Night Attack by Imperial Japanese Navy – The night attack soon after the Marines landed at Guadalcanal was one of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s greatest successes in World War 2. The attack inflicted heavy losses and prevented the Navy from fully supplying the Marines.
The Guadalcanal scenario starts with the Marines having established a beachhead at Guadalcanal and Henderson Field under construction. I placed my optional Naval forces to screen the supply ships. Most of my ground troops launched an attack to take a nearby port and ease the supply situation.
Turn 2 – US Marines Bury Jap Marines – US Marines almost destroy two Jap Marine units on their way towards the small port. One Navy fleet has sunk a Jap Cruiser at the cost of several destroyers and heavy damage. My core fleet continues to screen the supply ships.
Turn 3 – US Marines Encircle Port – The Marines killed the wounded Jap units and surrounded the port. The remaining defenders are a damaged engineering unit and an AT gun.
Turn 5 – Port and AT Gun Captured – My short run supply situation is much better after capturing the port. It also contained a Jap supply depot and an AT gun was captured! The large map view shows the results of the naval battle. The Jap Navy sank half of the surface fleet – two destroyers and a light cruiser. Two damaged destroyers and a Cruiser survived. The screening force took no damage.
Turn 6 & 7 – Pounded by Jap Navy and Air Force – On turn 6 all Naval Units withdrew. The Jap Navy and Air Force bombard the helpless defenders. Until Henderson Field is completed and some fighters are deployed there is no meaningful defense against naval and air attacks. The screenshot shows the defenders deployment. A Jap Cruiser is just outside the screen shot, but it is in bombardment range.
Turn 8 – Henderson Field Operational – US Engineers completed Henderson field. I took the P-40 from my inventory, scrapped it for a Lockheed Lightning (P-38) replacement. Lockheed Lightnings have two important advantages: a much bigger fuel tank and better ground-attack capabilities. I also had a major blunder which continued for several turns – I forgot to assign the experienced pilot with combat advantages to the aircraft (see aviator picture in the corner).
The Japs attacked the Marines defending Henderson field. Marines counter-attacked and almost destroyed a Jap unit. Unfortunately, I have no spare aircraft to strafe and hopefully kill the unit. The screenshot shows that I have Marine Units guarding all approaches to Henderson Field. If one Jap unit slips through for one turn, I lose the scenario.
My Lightning is dogfighting with a Jap army fighter. A Jap cruiser is lounging off shore bombarding my ground units. Until I drive off the Jap planes, I can do nothing about the naval threat.
Turn 9 – More Jap Ground Attacks – More Japanese units attack the Marines guarding Henderson Field. The Jap fighter retreats and my Lightning pursues. It is better to kill off the wounded fighter than attack the bomber. The bomber is easy meat if the fighter is disposed of. Last, significant reinforcements arrived. A light tank and an engineer came from my reserves and another Marine unit was purchased. The light tank moves fast over the coast road enabling me to move it to crucial areas around the perimeter. The engineer was landed only because I lacked the three land command points needed for another Marine unit.
Turn 10 – Lt. Mustang Explains Coordinated Marine Attacks (plus fighter shot down) – Lt. Mustang came up through the ranks. When the Corps was massively expanded, long-term non-coms were combed for officer material. Candidates were sent to a quick “officer training camp” to become newly-minted officers. Lt. Mustang developed the plan to eliminate two Jap units and greatly imperil two more.
“Japs will fade back into the jungle if you give them half a chance. The key to killing them is hitting them on the flanks where your other units can bayonet the survivors. We start with A company on the Marine left flank. The direction of attack drives any survivors into other Marine units. Move, Attack, Kill, and Bayonet the survivors – that’s the way to do it. “
“Next, if you see an officer cadre with HQ company survivors, kill them first. Look for those stupid swords they carry into battle. Even dumbass Marine ROTC officers are not stupid enough to carry parade swords into battle. Shoot the officers and the Jap enlisted won’t know what to do. We teach Marines to think about how to kill effectively. That is why I’m talking to you today about how we are going to kill the Jap bastards instead of just ordering you to execute the mission without explanation. The Japs just point their dumb grunts in the direction of attack and tell them the Emperor expects victory or death. Brave, but stupid. We want Marines to fight smart so there will be more Marines around to kill the Japs tomorrow, next week, and next month.”
“Last, your small battles set up future battles – if you plan it right. Try to move your units where the Japs have only a couple of good options and a lot of bad options. Shoot their officers and they will do the wrong thing most every time. Now go kill the Japs smart Marines!”
The axis of attack in part 1 attacks the Jap unit from two directions. If the unit survives, there are two supporting Marine units to attack a second time and eliminate the unit. If I attacked in the other direction, surviving Japs would move away from the Marine concentration of force. If a unit is sent to eliminate the survivors, they are in danger of being surrounded or attacked from multiple sides. Last, my Marines had not been moving around and were in excellent supply giving greater combat effectiveness. Attack 1 succeeded.
Move far into the Jungle and you often get ambushed. Spotting range in Jungle is one hex. This is a 50-turn scenario and it is early. Ambushes clobber attackers. The Marine advanced only one hex further in the unscouted jungle encountering an undamaged Jap unit and a weakened Jap unit in poor supply. Part 2 shows the movement and Part 3 shows the weakened unit dying.
Last, I did not attack in the center of the line but moved two units up on the flank. If the Jap moves towards Henderson Field, I have an excellent chance of surrounding it, eliminating the supply line, and giving it no avenue for retreat. The end of this move put the two scouted Jap units in a very bad spot. If they do not retreat, next turn the Marines may encircle and destroy them.
Last, my Fighter killed the Jap Army Fighter. If it had hit the bomber which is attacking my ground units every turn – the fighter would escape to reinforce. The bomber is slow and can be easily killed in future turns without fighter support.