Looking at the game this evening I wonder if the Americans can make a realistic play for Santa Isabel, Malaita and Guadalcanal in turn 1. Lets consider the “fixed” moves first. The Americans have 2 trans & 2 DD at their base and six ground units. These units have to enter the game touching GC in zones J or K. They also have 5 bombers that can reach either GC or Malaita to support an invasion there. With this much power, the Japanese forces will surely fall so there is no need to believe the Americans have to hold any of their forces that begin in GC on the island.
This leaves the following forces available to the Americans in turn 1 for an invasion of Santa Isabel; 5 infantry, 3 artillery, 2 CV w/ 4 fgtrs, BB, 2 CA, 3 DD, 4 transports, an AA unit. There are also 3 supply tokens on GC.
Because the Japanese player moves first, the American player gets to see what the Japanese player wants to commit to the defense of Santa Isabel. I expect to see 2 infantry and an artillery moved there on turn 1, but more or less could be sent. However, if more is sent, there is certainly an opportunity to go after New Georgia instead. These ground units should arrive via a transport and a destroyer into sea zone C. Sea zone C will likely hold 2 CA, 2 DD & 1 transport. If the Japanese use all their air power from their carriers, they will have (4 fgtrs + 3 inf + 1 arty + 2 CA) 10 dice for ground attacks after a possible air attack round. The American sea power alone is (2 x BB + 2 x CA) 4 dice. Add say six ground units and 4 fgtrs and you are hitting with 14 dice. This should eliminate the five defenders and leave you with 2 arty (if you brought 3 inf and 3 arty to the island). You should expect to win the island outright and at a cost equal to no more than your investment.
But can you hold it?
New Georgia is probably also well reinforced in turn 1. Therefore you need to be mindful of weakening Guadalcanal. But the units remaining from the invasion of Malaita should be brought up to Santa Isabel on the next turn. You should expect to be able to move 2 infantry and 2 artillery from Malaita/GC to Santa Isabel on turn 2. The three transports in zone H would move to zone K, but the balance of the American fleet should move to Zone H on turn 2. This consolidation will become 2 CV w/ 4 fgtrs, 1 BB, 3 CA, 5 DD, 2 SS and the 2 transports.
If you can acomplish this position along with a nice buildup on GC in turn 2 with reinforcements from your base you have probably earned an equal share of the remainder of the game. Less than this and the Japanese player is ahead after the opening.
I know this has been discussed before now. Am I taking too many pain killers? What is wrong with this plan?