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Great White Fleet, Second Edition
Developer’s Commentary, Part Two
By Doug McNair
October 2009

As promised, here’s the second part of my overview and commentary on the scenarios in our latest Great War at Sea release: Great White Fleet, Second Edition.

Operational Scenario Seven
Blockade Runners
February 1908

In the emerging worldwide market for agricultural products, Argentine beef and wheat were direct competitors to American exports. This rivalry helped feed tensions between the United States and Argentina, along with an impression among Argentines that the U.S. glibly enforced its will on Latin America without consulting South America's leading powers. Breaking Argentine will appeared to be a simple task: strangle trade in the vital Rio de la Plata estuary. But such interference could anger Argentina's other trading partners.

Note: This scenario uses ship pieces, fleet counters and all three Great War at Sea maps from Cone of Fire, and ship pieces from Jutland, U.S. Navy Plan Black and 1898.

Developer’s Commentary

The original scenario design used just the La Plata map from Cone of Fire and started the Americans in Montevideo. That would have made it too easy for them to block the La Plata estuary, so I added the Rio map and started the Americans in any Brazilian ports. The original design also had the British (Argentina’s allies) entering play as reinforcements, but given the relative weakness of the Argentines that would have made things too easy on the Americans. So I started the Brits in port at Stanley, and also added rules for new merchant convoys entering the east edge and exiting Argentine ports during play, thus requiring both sides to split their fleets to hunt and protect them.

Operational Scenario Eight
Eternal Friendship
February 1908

Thanks to massive commodity exports — wheat and cattle for Argentina, sugar, rubber and coffee for Brazil — the two great South American powers were serious potential rivals for the United States early in the last century. American naval writers foresaw all three powers acting in concert to keep European interests at bay — which would have numbered the days of Europe's last American colonial possessions.

Notes: This scenario uses ship pieces, fleet counters and the Tierra del Fuego 1 map from Cone of Fire, and ship pieces from Jutland, Cruiser Warfare, U.S. Navy Plan Black and 1898.

Developer’s Commentary

Here we have a British/Chilean/Japanese alliance fighting Argentine and American forces for control of the Falkland Islands. Both sides are invading the islands at once, with victory hinging on control of Stanley and some other locations there, and the sinking of transports.

Battle Scenario Five
Confined Waters
February 1908

The Jan. 13, 1908, edition of The New York Times claimed that a fleet of Japanese torpedo boats lurked in the Strait of Magellan, ready to ambush the Great White Fleet as it passed through. The U.S. Navy took the report seriously enough to instruct its naval attache in Tokyo to immediately discern the location of the Japanese fleet.

Notes: This scenario uses pieces from U.S. Navy Plan Black, 1898 and 1904.

Developer’s Commentary

Here we have a large force of Japanese destroyers and torpedo boats lying in wait to ambush the Great White Fleet in the Straits of Magellan. I added rules for straits, islands and hidden reefs on the tactical map, plus hidden Japanese setup. The Americans enter on the east edge and must seek to exit the west edge of the map without being sunk or running aground on a reef. The Japanese player wins by sinking at least one American capital ship and scoring more VPs than the American player. Any other result is an American victory.

Operational Scenario Nine
The Real Enemy
February 1908

Tensions between the United States and Japan reached a boiling point in 1907, when California enacted a series of racist laws aimed at Japanese immigrants. The Great White Fleet's journey in no small part represented a message from Theodore Roosevelt to the Japanese government, letting them know that American sea power could reach them on the far side of the Pacific. The Japanese strike on Port Arthur in 1904 led some wilder imaginations to claim something similar might happen in the Strait of Magellan.

Note: This scenario uses the Tierra del Fuego 1 map from Cone of Fire, Japanese fleet and ship pieces from 1904, American fleet and ship pieces from 1898, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

Here’s a Japanese ambush of the Great White Fleet on the operational level, with the Americans starting on the east coast of Argentina and needing to navigate the Straits and get off the northwest edge of the map before the scenario ends. I added rules saying all Japanese destroyers and torpedo boats can have Raid missions (meaning they set up and move off-board) as long as they stay in shallow-water zones, thus letting them ambush the Americans in the Straits and all the way up the coast of Chile.

Operational Scenario Ten
Beagle Channel, Chapter Three-and-a-Half
February 1908

As the Great White Fleet made its way along the coast of South America, a curious political phenomenon developed. In each nation, it received a very warm welcome. This welcome in turn made opinion-makers in the next nation nervous. And so when Brazil feted the fleet, Argentine papers ominously warned of future attacks and sniffed that their country had been bypassed. But when the Americans added a ceremonial rendezvous with an Argentine squadron, it was the turn of Chilean pundits to sound paranoid warnings.

Notes: This scenario uses fleet pieces, ship pieces and the Tierra del Fuego 1 map from Cone of Fire, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare, U.S. Navy Plan Black, 1898 and 1904, American fleet and ship pieces from 1898, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

The original scenario design had the Chilean port of Punta Arenas as the only invasion goal of the Argentine-American alliance. That would have given the Chilean/Japanese alliance ships no incentive to do anything but stay put, so I broadened each side’s objectives to keep everyone guessing.

Battle Scenario Six
Allied Powers
October 1908

Britain withdrew her five battleships from the China Station in 1905, after the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Until then, however, the Royal Navy fully intended to honor its commitments under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and in a confrontation with the United States the British battleships would have stood alongside the Japanese.

Note: This scenario uses pieces from Cruiser Warfare, Jutland, Mediterranean, U.S. Navy Plan Black, 1898 and 1904.

Developer’s Commentary

This one has an odd mix of ships on both sides, so it was tough to judge who’s got the advantage. All that’s clear is that the Americans are slower than the British and Japanese, so I gave them the initiative on the first round.

Operational Scenario Eleven
Pearl of the Orient
October 1908

Despite the revolutionary fervor building across China, both American and British trade with the Middle Kingdom remained extremely profitable. The arrival of the Great White Fleet in Eastern waters underscored the importance of these commercial routes to both nations' economies, and re-energized dreams of selling to China's 400 million potential consumers.

Notes: This scenario uses the map from U.S. Navy Plan Orange (which also comes with the South China Sea supplement), Japanese fleet and ship pieces from 1904, American fleet and ship pieces from 1898, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare, Jutland and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

Here an American force out of the Philippines seeks to disrupt British and Japanese trade by sinking enemy merchant shipping and bombarding enemy ports. I let the Americans form a Raid fleet but put the burden of victory on them.

Operational Scenario Twelve
Through Ticket
October 1908

Part of the Great White Fleet's unstated but widely understood mission was to demonstrate that the American battle fleet could relieve the Philippines in event of war with Japan. While many U.S. Navy staff officers were obsessed with Japan's growing strength, the Japanese were badly outgunned by the Americans — if they could concentrate their power in the Pacific.

Notes: This scenario uses the map from U.S. Navy Plan Orange (which also comes with the South China Sea supplement), Japanese fleet and ship pieces from 1904, American fleet and ship pieces from 1898, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

Here the Great White Fleet enters the map as the American cruiser squadron based in the Philippines is trying to stave off a Japanese invasion. I gave the Americans two dummy fleets out of Cavite to confuse the Japanese invaders a bit more, and assumed the GWF had refueled at Guam and therefore enters with three fuel boxes expended. That means some of them can go right after the Japanese while others will have to stop and refuel.

Operational Scenario Thirteen
The Mahan Plan
October 1908

The earliest version of the U.S. Navy's Plan Orange (the 1906 study) envisioned the "final and complete commercial isolation of Japan." American cruisers would raid shipping lanes all around the islands, while the battle fleet sailed close inshore to bombard ports, industrial centers and railroads. Shorn of imports, Japan would eventually be forced to surrender. Or so the theory went.

Note: This scenario uses the maps from U.S. Navy Plan Orange (also included in South China Sea) and 1904, Japanese ship and fleet counters from 1904, American ship and fleet counters from 1898, and ship counters from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

Here the Great White Fleet out of Shanghai and an American cruiser squadron out of Cavite seek to raid Japanese shipping and bombard Japanese ports. This one’s a revised version of a scenario that appeared in the book’s first edition.

Operational Scenario Fourteen
Okinawa Assault
October 1908

Coal-fired battleships required even greater basing resources then the oil-powered dreadnoughts of a generation later. Therefore, the earliest versions of "Plan Orange" gave great attention to seizing bases near the Japanese home islands. The long and difficult task of coaling would be easier in a port, even a small and badly equipped one, than in some inlet. From the very earliest drafts, American plans for war with Japan featured an invasion of Okinawa after bypassing Formosa.

Note: This scenario uses the maps from U.S. Navy Plan Orange (also included in South China Sea) and 1904, Japanese ship and fleet counters from 1904, American ship and fleet counters from 1898, and ship counters from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

This is a tough one for both sides, with the Americans invading Okinawa while the Japanese try to rush more troops there to contest the island. The Great White Fleet stands between the Japanese transports and Okinawa, so it will be hard for them to unload there. On the other hand, with only 18 slow transports the Americans will have a hard time unloading enough troops on Okinawa to overcome the garrison and take control of it, so I gave them additional fast transports.

Operational Scenario Fifteen
Amity and Commerce
October 1908

In 1882, the United States signed and ratified a "Treaty of Amity and Commerce" with the Kingdom of Korea, promising to defend the Hermit Kingdom from enemy attack. The Americans reneged on this guarantee in 1905, with the secret Taft-Katsura Agreement that winked at Japanese annexation of Korea. When the Japanese moved on Korea in 1907 without any American response, many Koreans felt betrayed. Given the simmering hostility between the United States and Japan at the time, had the Americans sought an excuse for war they had it with the Japanese-Korean Annexation Treaty of July 1907, giving the Japanese Resident General control of the Korean government and army.

Note: This scenario uses the map and Japanese fleet and ship pieces from 1904, American fleet and ship pieces from 1898, and ship pieces from Cruiser Warfare and U.S. Navy Plan Black.

Developer’s Commentary

Here the Great White Fleet tries to help a large American merchant convoy get past hostile Japanese naval forces so that they can unload their cargo in Korean ports. I cut the game to 100 turns, which still gives the American transports time to take the long way around through the Tsuguru Strait if desired and make it to Gensan. Given the maritime geography on the way to Korea it will be tough for the Americans to get their convoy past the Japanese, so I skewed the VP schedule toward the U.S.

That covers it for the South Atlantic and Pacific legs of the Great White Fleet’s voyage around the world. Tune in next time for the final leg of the voyage with scenarios taking place in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, plus more alternative history revolving around the Philippine-American War.

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