Scenarios of Leyte Gulf
With a game the size of Leyte
Gulf, it’s not the number of scenarios that
makes design, testing and editing difficult. Though with 22,
a huge number by some folks’ standards, that’s
still a lot. We’ve done far more than that in other
games, through massive amounts of insane hard work, but never
anything of this order of magnitude. Hundreds of ship counters,
each with its own listing on the Ship Data Sheet, and hundreds
more aircraft counters. The longest scenario (580) turns we’ve
ever actually published. (We tested some longer “campaign
games” many years ago for games that are now out of
print, but they all died in development.)
Like other games in the series, Leyte Gulf has
both battle scenarios (five of them) and operational scenarios
(the other 17). And they’ve got just about everything:
Kamikaze attacks. Battleship duels. Carrier raids. Suicide
rocket-bombs. Mexican fighter planes. There are short ones,
there are long ones, there are some right in the middle.
This is probably the grandest wargame ever made. Here’s a look at the
battles you’ll re-fight.
These scenarios use only the tactical map and are intended
to introduce new players to the game system. The advanced
rules are not required to play the battle scenarios.
Battle Scenario One
24 October 1944
The Japanese Southern Force entering the southern end of
Surigao Strait on the night of 24-25 October 1944 had already
been through a string of ceasless attacks prior to entering
the narrow waters. Unknown to Admiral Nishimura, the Americans
waited with six battleships to his two, eight heavy cruisers
to his one and twenty-six destroyers to his four. The battle
fought that night was so one-sided it almost wasn’t
a battle. Nonetheless the Japanese bore down on the American
Battle Scenario Two
Operation KON I
4 June 1944
The American landing on Biak Island caught the Japanese by
surprise, but not completely unprepared. A plan to counter
a penetration of the Japanese defensive perimeter (the definition
of which changed on a regular basis) had been formulated and
the fleet positioned to act. Initially the anticipated invasion
of Biak was not to be opposed by the IJN, but the invasion
date falling on the anniversary of the battle of Tsushima
caused a change of heart as it was seen as a good omen. Reinforcements
were collected, loaded on barges and destroyers, and the convoy
sailed for Biak. Unfortunately for their charges, especially
those on the barges, they had been spotted by Allied air reconnaisance
and a cruiser-destroyer force dispatched to intercept them.
The mission abandoned, the destroyers cut loose the barges
they were towing, turned and ran. If they had perservered
. . .
Battle Scenario Three
The Battle Lines
20-21 June 1944
Following the air battle on the 20th, the Japanese fleet
ran for home and the U.S. fleet halted to recover aircraft
and rescue downed pilots. Neither side sent their battle lines
in search of a surface engagement. If they had, the last real
clash of gun-armed capital ships on the high seas might have
Actual shock and awe. The Japanese cruiser Yasoshima
under air attack.
Battle Scenario Four
Super Heavyweight Bout
19 July 1945
If the Japanese Navy had proven a tougher foe, if her shipbuilding
capacity was greater and if navies relied more on the big
gun ships than aircraft carriers, the showdown between the
battlelines of Japan and America might have actually occurred.
That fact that these conditons were all but impossible does
not stop us from fantasizing.
Battle Scenario Five
25 October 1944
The American landings on Leyte had triggered a desperate
Japanese operation to catch the landing force at anchor. While
one Japanese force lured the fast carriers to the north, others
would slip behind them. Few thought the plan would actually
work, but there were no better ideas and something had to
be done. On the morning of the 25th of October the astonished
radar operators of Taffy Three, the group of escort carriers
supporting the troops ashore, spotted many blips headed towards
them. In one minute their worst fears were confirmed when
a pilot flying overhead reported Japanese battleships and
cruisers coming over the horizon. Nearly as surprized were
the Japanese lookouts who expected to run into minor units
of the invasion force, not aircraft carriers.
Operational Scenario One
28 March - 3 April 1944
Task Force 58 had become the instrument of choice for dealing
with Japanese bases. For just this purpose Vice-Admiral Marc
Mitscher led three carrier task groups in a series of strikes
against Palau and Yap in the first few months of 1944. The
attacks served two purposes: first to destroy Japanese airpower
that might be used against Allied operations in New Guinea
and second to shield the upcoming Hollandia landings from
Japanese naval forces based in Palau, the Philippines and
Operational Scenario Two
Operations Reckless and Persecution
21-27 April 1944
The invasions of Hollandia and Aitape were not what, or more
correctly where, the Japanese expected. Further west along
the northern coast of New Guinea than intelligence had predicted,
the landings left the majority of the Japanese ground forces
in New Guinea suddenly cut off from resupply. What had promised
to be a long campaign to clear the north coast of New Guinea
was dramatically shortened in the span of a few days and presented
the Japanese military with an entirely new strategic situation.
Wily dragon. Japanese carrier Zuikaku dodges American
during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Operational Scenario Three
Wakde and Biak
16 May - 12 June 1944
The capture of Hollandia left the Americans in possession
of an airbase that allowed the advance toward the Philippines
to again leap forward. Less than a month after the Hollandia
operation an Allied landing force approached Wakde. Without
aircraft carriers, the capture of an airfield at Wakde was
required to provide air support for the invasion of the island
of Biak. Again the Japanese were suddenly faced with a new
strategic situation. This time the forces were in place to
Operational Scenario Four
Turkey Shoot: The Battle of the Philippine Sea
13 - 25 June 1944
American forces had driven the Japanese back in the Central
and South Pacific. As the U.S. Navy grew stronger, the Japanese
planned the decisive battle they desperately hoped would halt
the American advance and give them the time needed to rebuild
their forces and just maybe win the war or at least convince
the Americans that their winning it was too costly to contemplate.
Operational Scenario Five
Task Force 38 Raids on the Bonins and Palaus
6 - 12 September 1944
American Task Force 38 set sail from Eniwetok on 28 August
to raid the Palau islands and Morotai as a preliminary to
the invasion of each. The growing confidence with which the
fast carriers were entering Japanese territory led to them
raiding Iwo and Chichi Jima as well.
Operational Scenario Six
Invasion of Morotai
13 - 20 September 1944
Midway between New Guinea and the Philippines, Morotai represented
the end of one campaign and the beginning of another. Airfields
were needed to support the invasion of Mindanao and the Japanese
had begun, but never completed, an airfield on the island
and then abandonned it undefended. The Americans did not let
the opportunity pass.
Takeo Kurita commanded Japanese forces
at the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944.
Operational Scenario Seven
Prelude to Invasion: The Formosa Air Battle
7-17 October 1944
The next American attack on the Japanese defensive perimeter
was to be countered by the implementation of any of four options
of the A-GO plan. Despite a shortage of oil in the home islands,
the training of Army air units in naval attack procedures
was moving forward, albeit slowly. In the Inland Sea, Japan’s
surviving carrier fleet hurriedly trained replacement pilots
for those lost in the Philippine Sea in June. Much was expected
of the air battle that would preceed the next American move.
When the U.S. Third Fleet entered Japanese waters in early
October, the opportunity to defeat the American fast carriers
seemed at hand. What the Japanese were soon to realize was
that the American carriers were seeking battle for the purpose
of drawing down Japanese air power prior to the next amphibious
Ship of Heroes. USS Hoel and 3/4 of her crew were
on 25 October 1944 in a display of suicidal courage.
Operational Scenario Eight
Leyte Gulf: The Largest Naval Battle in History
22-28 October 1944
The expected American invasion of the Philippines was underway.
Japanese forces in Malaya and oil-rich Borneo along with the
all-but-impotent carrier force in Japan were committed in
a desperate battle to destroy the American invasion fleet.
The U.S. Navy had grown to the point where a straight-up confrontation
could only result in the defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The plan counted on surprise, drawing away the main elements
of the American fleet and a great deal of land-based air support
to inflict a blow against the landing force that would delay
further operations against Japan and allow a rebuilding of
the carrier air force. Surprisingly, the always-complicated
Japanese plans managed to deceive the Americans and resulted
in a major force of IJN surface units engaging the American
escort carriers. In the bigger picture the battle ended major
operations by the Japanese Navy in World War Two.
Operational Scenario Nine
MacArthur’s Nightmare: The Invasion of Formosa
8 November - 25 December 1944
Although agreeing, after much discussion, that an invasion
of the Phillipines was the next logical step in the road to
victory over Japan, Admiral Nimitz had proposed an invasion
of Formosa as the most effective means of isolating Japan
from her sources of oil and raw materials in the East Indies.
If he had tried harder and had had a little more political
support, the Philippines might have been bypassed initially.
The world wonders. Third Fleet’s flagship, the battleship
Jersey, at sea off the Philippines.
Operational Scenario Ten
Ormoc: Landing of 77th Infantry Division
5-12 December 1944
The battle for Leyte had settled into a slow advance up the
northern half of the island and a turning to march down the
south. Japanese reinforcements were, at increasingly heavy
cost, being brought into the port of Ormoc and the campaign
was beginning to be compared to Guadalcanal. The Americans
decided to land the U.S. 77th Infantry Division south of Ormoc
and conclude the conquest of the island. Only light ships
were to be risked as the Japanese had mined some passages
to the south and the Americans could put up air cover on an
irregular basis only. Opposition was certain to be fierce.
Operational Scenario Eleven
11-30 December 1944
The Americans relentlessly continued their advance north.
The island of Mindoro, undeveloped and only lightly garrisoned
by the Japanese, stood only a little more than 100 miles south
southwest of Manila and seemed the perfect place to build
the airfields needed to support the coming invasion of Luzon.
Airfield development on Leyte was behind schedule and ultimately
forced a delay in the Mindoro invasion to the 15th of December.
USS Pennsylvania shells Orote, Guam.
Operational Scenario Twelve
Fifty Cent Tour: Raiding Formosa, Southern Japan and the South
30 December 1944 - 25 January 1945
Prior to the landings on Luzon the American fast carriers
set out to beat down the Japanese forces positioned to interfere
with the operation. Accordingly the 3rd Fleet, led by Admiral
Halsey, set sail from Ulithi on 30 December. On 4 January
the opening strikes were launched against Formosa. Over the
next three weeks the Americans struck the Ryukyus, Okinawa,
Indochina and the China coast. Bad weather forced the abandonment
of many strikes, but the raids sank many ships and demonstrated
that no place was safe from the reach of American carrier
Operational Scenario Thirteen
Operation Detachment: The Invasion of Iwo Jima
16 February - 16 March 1945
The American capture of the Marianas had secured airfields
that placed the home islands within range of the new B-29
bombers. As the B-29 strikes against the cities and factories
of Japan mounted, so too did the number of lost aircraft and
air crew. The decision to invade the island of Iwo Jima was
mostly a continuation of the advance on Japan, but was expected
to reduce B-29 losses as damaged aircraft would be able to
reach the island if unable to make the long journey back to
the Marianas. American control of the island would place the
whole of the Japanese mainland within heavy bomber range and
provide a base for fighters to escort bombing missions against
USS Arkansas prepares for action, 1945.
Operational Scenario Fourteen
Operation VICTOR III: The Invasion of Palawan
26 February - 5 March 1945
By the end of February 1945 American operations were underway
or planned to conquer most of the larger islands in the Philippines.
Occupation of Palawan, the narrow island between the Philippines
and Borneo, would extend American land-based airpower more
than 300 miles closer to the Indo-China coast and interdiction
of Japanese communications between Malaya and the former French
colony. Opposition was expected to be light, but large units
of the IJN were known to be at Singapore. Damage to a number
of ships, limited fuel and a realization that Japanese surface
units in the South China Sea were all but forfeit meant there
was little actual danager of intervention by the IJN, but
one could never tell.
Operational Scenario Fifteen
Driving Home the Point: The March 1945 Carrier Raids on Japan
14-23 March 1945
The American invasion of Iwo Jima left little doubt as to
the real military situation in the Pacific. The loss of the
Philippines had cut Japan off from the hard-won resources
of the East Indies, most importantly the oil needed to power
the engines of war. The capture of the Marianas had secured
airfields for the new long-range B-29 bombers which now could
reach all the major Japanese cities. The invasion of Iwo Jima
brought medium bombers and long-range fighters within range
as well. As air missions against Japanese cities and factories
increased, so too did the Imperial military’s desperation.
The decision to send the American carriers to raid the airfields
in Japan was a necessary preliminary to the invasion of Okinawa.
It was also another opportunity to make clear to the people
and government of Japan that the war was over if only they
would admit it.
Operational Scenario Sixteen
Divine Wind: The Naval Battle for Okinawa
25 March - 30 June 1945
The invasion of Okinawa initiated the most bitter and costly
battle the U.S. Navy would fight in World War II. With no
fleet worthy of the name and an Allied air and anti-aircraft
defense that was all but impossible to penetrate, Japan was
left with no real choice save surrender and, finding that
unacceptable, increased the number of suicide attacks against
the invasion fleet off Okinawa. The confrontation would ultimately
define the remainder of the fighting in the war against Japan
and establish Allied expectations regarding Japanese intentions
about ending the war.
Two survivors. A signalman aboard the Japanese carrier Junyo,
Operational Scenario Seventeen
Reaping the Whirlwind: The Last Carrier Raids on Japan
8 July - 10 August 1945
On 1 July 1945 another American fast carrier raid on Japan
set sail. As the American forces grew stronger, so the Japanese
defenses weakened. The decision to withhold aircraft for the
defense of the homeland meant the Americans would encounter
little in the way of opposition. Beginning on the 10th of
July and continuing for more than a month the carrier aircraft
and capital ships of Task Force 38 and later the Royal Navy’s
Task Force 57 struck targets the length and breadth of Japan.
For the first time major industrial facilities in Japan were
bombarded by surface units of the U.S. fleet when on the 14th
the Kamaishi Iron Works were hit by three battleships, two
cruiser and nine destroyers. With the dropping of the second
atomic bomb, the war ended before an invasion was necessary.