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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.

Battle Scenarios

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
Surigao Strait
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 line.

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 occurred.


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
Taffy Three
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 Scenarios

Operational Scenario One
Operation Desecrate
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 Malaya.

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 bombs
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 respond.

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 operation.


Ship of Heroes. USS Hoel and 3/4 of her crew were lost
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
New 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
Mindoro Invasion
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 China Coast
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 air power.

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 Japan.


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, October 1945.

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.