When the United States seized Pacific colonies
in 1898, the emerging world power touched off a heated
rivalry with another nation feeling newly energized and
eager for colonial possessions to prove its standing.
Japan saw the American presence in the formerly Spanish
Philippines as a threat to its ambitions, and many Japanese
took the overthrow of the Queen of Hawai’i as a
Simple racism also pushed the conflict. When the Americans
brokered a peace deal between Russia and Japan in 1905,
some Japanese felt they had been robbed of the fruits
of their victory, and that the white Americans had cheated
them in order to help the white Russians. In 1907, California
passed a set of Jim Crow-style racist laws considered
outlandish even by the lax standards of the day, further
infuriating the Japanese. What is amazing is not the Japan
attacked the United States in 1941, but that they waited
The battleship Florida
training cruise, early 1920s.
Japan did not loom nearly so large in the American consciousness,
and Americans lacked the same widespread resentment felt
by the Japanese. But within the United States Navy, planners
saw war with Japan as the most likely future conflict
and it was with such a war in mind that the United States
built its fleet. When Japan signed an alliance with Britain
in 1902, this act only seemed to confirm the Empire’s
hostile intentions. “Orange,” the Navy’s
code name for Japan, became the opponent in most war plans
from the turn of the century until 1941. Even when the
United States was informally allied with Japan in the
First World War, American planners talked more about the
Japanese than they did the Germans.
Great War at Sea: U.S. Navy Plan Orange is based
on the war plans the United States hatched for fighting
a naval war against Japan in 1930, and the Japanese plans
to attack American bases in the Philippines. The Americans
believed the Japanese would attack the islands, and a
mighty American relief force would then charge across
the Pacific to engage the Japanese in battle somewhere
nearby. The Japanese had a similar view, though they believed
the massive battle might take place closer to Japan.
Japanese carrier Akagi
fitting out, 1925
While the Americans believed the Philippines to be the
object of Japanese desire, the Japanese for their part
thought it necessary to deprive the Americans of forward
bases there. For purposes of naval operations, either
motive served about the same. The Japanese would attack
the islands; the Americans would try to hold them and
if necessary take them back. These operations are the
crux of the operational and tactical scenarios in Plan
U.S. Navy Plan Orange also contains counters
for many ships designed and begun in the early 1920s but
cancelled as part of the Washington Naval Treaties of
1922 that limited warship construction. Japan and the
United States had engaged in a massive arms race, and
neither nation could afford to continue it. Japan stopped
construction on four battleships and four battle cruisers;
the United States cancelled a class of six battleships
and four battle cruisers, and scuttled one nearly-complete
battleship from an earlier class. In addition, huge numbers
of older warships went to the scrapyard.
Present in the game are the American Constellation-class
battle cruisers and South Dakota-class battleships
(huge warships carrying twelve 16-inch guns). Japan has
her Tosa-class fast battleships, Amagi-class
battle cruisers and Kii-class fast battleships.
Early aircraft carriers such as the Hosho and
Langley are here, and big converted battle cruisers
such as Akagi and Saratoga.
Macon over Manhattan.
U.S. Navy Plan Orange introduced aircraft rules
to the Great War at Sea series, and both sides
have land- and carrier-based torpedo planes and fighters.
In addition, the Americans have the airships Akron
and Macon, each of which carries its own fighter
Winner of the Origins Award as Best Historical Boardgame
of 1999, U.S. Navy Plan Orange started a series
of similar games for us, including Plan
Red and Plan
Gold. There’s also an additional
map and scenarios in our Great
White Fleet book supplement.
Navy Plan Orange includes:
- 210 counters
- One 18x22-inch strategic map
- New 25x25-inch tactical map
- Scenario book with new air combat rules!
Status: Currently Available
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