Coral Sea: Playbook Edition
Battle Procedure

By James Stear and Robin Rathbun
January 2023

Editor’s Note: Jim and Robin take us through a battle from Second World War at Sea: Coral Sea, step by step.

Battle Scenario Playthrough
In this battle (from Operational Scenario 2, Wilson’s Raid), a Japanese surface task force attempts to run down an American carrier but the Americans have left behind a surface task force of their own to act as a rearguard. The Japanese task force consists of the heavy cruisers Kako, Furutaka, and Kinugasa and the light cruisers Tenryu and Tatsuta. The American task force includes heavy cruisers New Orleans, Minneapolis and Portland and destroyers Dewey, Aylwin and Phelps. Optional Rule 20.2, Heavy Cruisers is in effect.

The Japanese player rolls one die for initiative (6.1). The American player wins the initiative and both sides set up their forces on the Tactical Board (6.3).

The Japanese player sets up first. Since his task force entered zone E 24 from E 23, his task force enters from the west and sets up in hex C7. Since he has three capital and two light ships (counts as eight ships total) and he must put a minimum of four ships in each hex, they all set up in the same hex.

The American task force entered zone E 24 from F 24, so it enters from the southeast. The six ships (counts as nine with three capital and three light ships) also set up in one hex and the American player places them in hex Z5. Since the two task forces set up six hexes apart (the maximum sighting range), they are not required to shift task forces (6.38).

Players now follow the Impulse Sequence (6.44). All ships in the battle have operational speeds of 3 or 3+, so all are treated as speed 3 in the Impulse Sequence (see Optional Rule 20.31 for a variation).

Impulse 1 (initiative) is conducted in later rounds only.

Impulse 2:
Non-initiative player moves all his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 2. The Japanese player moves his group to B4.

Impulse 3:
Initiative player moves all his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 2. The American player moves her group to Z4.

Impulse 4:
The order in which they fire does not matter, since gunnery takes effect simultaneously. The range between the groups is five hexes, so only the heavy cruisers’ secondary guns are in range (20.21). Kako fires at New Orleans, rolling four dice and hitting on a 6 (zero modifiers). The results are 1, 2, 3 and 6, for one hit. The Japanese player rolls two dice on the Gunnery Damage Table and the result is 11; New Orleans loses two hull boxes and one speed (to speed 2), a good start for Japan. Furutaka fires at Minneapolis, also achieving one hit, with a result of 5 on the damage table, one secondary. Minneapolis will still be able to fire all six secondaries this impulse, but will be reduced to five on the next gunnery impulse. Kinugasa fires at Portland but misses.

Now New Orleans fires back at Kako. She has six secondary guns, and rolls 2, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 6 for two hits. The results on the Gunnery Damage Table are 10 and 3. Kako loses one hull hit (the range is too short for plunging fire (7.3) to cause a second hit) and her torpedo mount. She will be unable to fire torpedoes for the remainder of the game. Minneapolis fires her six secondaries at Furutaka and gets two hits. The first damage table result is 7 (primary), which becomes a secondary hit (7.51). The second result is 2, no damage. Portland fires at Kinugasa, getting one hit, damage result 4 (one hull). Note that all of the ships fired at separate targets to avoid the penalty for multiple ships firing on the same enemy (6.54).

Impulse 5:
No ships are in torpedo range.

Impulse 6:
Non-initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 1. The Japanese player moves his group to A1.

Impulse 7:
Initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 1. The American player’s group may not move, since its maximum speed is now 2 due to the damage to New Orleans. The American player could have separated New Orleans from the group, leaving her in Z4 while the remainder of the group moved (8.12), but the American player has decided to keep her ships together.

Impulse 8:
Both players conduct gunnery combat. Kako fires her four secondaries for two hits with damage results of 8 (secondary) and 3 (torpedo mount). Since New Orleans has no torpedoes, the second hit is ignored (7.53). Furutaka fires her remaining three secondaries at Minneapolis and misses. Kinugasa fires four secondaries at Portland for one hit, with a result of 6, destroying her one tertiary gun. The secondary guns of the light cruisers are now in range (four hexes). Tenryu fires her one secondary at Dewey and Tatsuta fires hers at Aylwin, but both miss.

New Orleans fires six secondaries at Kako, hitting twice and taking out a secondary and a tertiary. Minneapolis fires her five secondaries at Furutaka. She is hit twice and loses a tertiary and a hull. Portland fires her six secondaries at Kinugasa, scoring hits on one secondary and another hull.

Impulse 9:
Both players conduct torpedo combat. The Japanese player is now in range (four hexes) with his Long Lance Torpedoes (9.21), but decides to wait for a closer shot now that he has the speed advantage.

Impulse 10:
Non-initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4 or 2, plus any towed or towing ships (8.4). The Japanese group has a speed of three, and may not move.

Impulse 11:
Initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4 or 2, plus any towed or towing ships (8.4). The American group is speed 2, but may not move since this is the group’s first scheduled movement impulse after losing a speed level (6.45).

Impulse 12:
Both players conduct gunnery combat. The gun duel continues, with New Orleans and Minneapolis each losing another secondary. Portland takes a tertiary hit, but since her one tertiary was destroyed the previous gunnery impulse she loses an AA factor instead (7.52). Tenryu scores a hit on Dewey, taking out a tertiary gun. Kako loses another hull hit, Furutaka loses her last tertiary and Kinugasa loses another secondary.

Impulse 13:
The Japanese player again decides to wait.

Impulse 14:
Non-initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 1. The Japanese player moves his group to B2.

Impulse 15:
Initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 1. Still at speed 2, the Americans may not move.

Impulse 16:
Both players conduct gunnery combat. Firing slows as more ships lose gunnery boxes. New Orleans loses a tertiary and Portland finally loses one secondary. Kinugasa loses a tertiary and another hull box. She has now lost over half of her hull and is reduced to speed 2+ (7.71).

Impulse 17:
Both players conduct torpedo combat. The light cruisers are still out of torpedo range at three hexes (6.6), but the Japanese heavy cruisers launch their Long-Lance torpedoes (9.21) at the American group. Furutaka and Kinugasa each attack with a strength of two torpedo factors, since at range three their torpedo strengths are halved (3/2, rounded up to 2). They roll 1, 4, 6 and 6, and at range three the two hits are distributed randomly among the ships in the hex. The American player puts all six of the ships in an opaque container and the Japanese player draws out Dewey. He rolls a 7 on the Torpedo Damage Table and adds 2, for a result of 9. Dewey takes four hull hits and is sunk. The American player puts Dewey back in the container and the Japanese player draws again, this time getting New Orleans. He rolls a 2 on the Torpedo Damage Table and does not add 2 to the result, and New Orleans is not damaged.

Impulse 18:
Non-initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 2. The Japanese player separates the newly-damaged Kinugasa to avoid the speed loss penalty for the group (8.12). Kinugasa (speed 2) still suffers the penalty, and may not move. The remaining ships move to B1.

Impulse 19:
Initiative player moves his or her groups with a speed of 4, 3 or 2. The American player considers splitting her group so that the destroyers may make a torpedo run against the Japanese cruisers, but since dividing the group means that they will be unable to move in the impulse (6.43), she decides to move the entire group to D3.

Impulse 20:
Both players conduct gunnery combat. Now at a range of two hexes, Kako scores one hit on New Orleans, taking out one hull box and reducing her to speed 1. Furutaka hits Minneapolis twice, destroying a tertiary and one hull box (the first hit on her hull). Kinugasa’s remaining two secondary guns miss Portland, but she scores one hit on Phelps with her two tertiaries, taking out one of Phelps’s three tertiary guns. Kako’s tertiary gun misses Aylwin, as does Tenryu’s secondary gun. Tatsuta’s secondary gun misses Phelps.

New Orleans gets a hull hit on Kako, reducing her to two hull boxes remaining and her speed to 2+. Minneapolis gets a torpedo mount hit on Furutaka. It does not affect the current combat, but Furutaka will not be able to reload torpedoes for the rest of the game. Portland’s five secondaries put three hits on Kinugasa. Two of them are hull hits, sinking her. Aylwin’s and Phelps’s five tertiary guns are now in range, and they take out Tenryu’s torpedo mount (she will be unable to fire torpedoes in the following impulse) and destroy one of Tatsuta’s hull boxes.

Impulse 21:
Both players conduct torpedo combat. At two hexes, all torpedoes are now in range. Tatsuta fires her single torpedo factor at New Orleans and misses. Aylwin fires her two torpedo factors at Kako, rolling a 2 and a 6. Phelps fires hers atFurutaka and rolls 4 and 6. Both sixes must be confirmed (9.24). The hit on Furutaka is confirmed with a 5, but the die roll against Kako is 4 and the torpedo is a dud. The Torpedo Damage Table roll is 5 (2 hull, 1 tertiary), and Furutaka loses an AA box and is reduced to speed 2+.

Impulse 22:
Attempt Emergency Repairs (8.3). Check for disengagement (6.47) and conclusion of the Surface Combat Phase (6.48). No ships are dead in the water, so none may attempt to increase their speed (8.3). The Japanese player having fired all his torpedoes and seeing the Americans heavier weight of gunnery beginning to tell, decides to attempt to disengage (6.47). The American player wants to continue the fight, so both players roll one die. The Americans have the initiative, and so may add one to their die roll result. They each roll a 3, and the +1 gives the Americans their choice. Since both sides remain on the Tactical Board within spotting distance of each other (6.48), the battle continues with Impulse 1 of Round 2 (initiative determination).

This walkthrough follows the standard Second World War at Sea surface combat procedure. Players wanting more detail can use the optional Advanced Surface Combat rules (21.0). Players who want a quicker resolution of surface combat so they can concentrate on the operational aspects of a scenario may wish to use the Quick-Play Surface Combat rules (22.0).

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