The following article provides a list of 15 short tips and tactics for Axis & Allies Guadalcanal [Amazon] that you might find useful in your first game. These a some basic guidelines that I have found to work in most situations. Every game, however, is unique and some of the tips may not apply. I hope this list will, at the very least, get you thinking about some of the things you can try and some of the things to avoid.

  1. The second player normally has the advantage. Even though movement is back and forth, the first player never knows where the second player will move. This is especially true for fighters and bombers. As the first player you can only guess where your opponent will put their fighters. As the first player, a good play is to consolidate all of your aircraft together to make them and any naval units with them an unattractive target to your opponent.
  2. You can use aircraft to defend land units or your fleet. You don’t always need to be on the attack with your fighters, this is especially true when you are the first player. Instead, you can fly your aircraft over your naval fleets or land armies to protect them from incoming fighters.
  3. Be conservative with your aircraft. Sending lone aircraft or two an a mission to attack an airfield or support a land attack can be fatal. Your opponent can decide to swarm your bomber and destroy it before it has a chance to attack the airfield or support the land attack. It is easy to pointlessly lose many planes very quickly in this game. On the other hand, sometimes a calculated risk might be needed for a particular situation. When you’re about to lose the game, then trading 2 bombers for an airfield might be worth the gamble.
  4. First player has the advantage with submarines. Since subs move and then attack, the first player can destroy enemy ships before they can be used, this includes subs. If you’re first and you can attack a sub, it should be one of your top three targets otherwise that sub will come for you.
  5. Submarines work well in groups but commit them to a target one at a time. With submarines you get to choose your target, the more subs you have shooting at the same target the better chance you have of sinking it. When you get your multiple subs together, be sure to move and then attack with them one at a time. If the first one hits, the next one can try with a different target.
  6. Always move extra aircraft off of your home base card. The American player, especially, has move aircraft than airfields and aircraft carriers. During the movement phase it is a good habit to move your aircraft onto the board in a safe location. In the worse case, they just land back at the home base card. In other scenarios, you might be able to land them on an aircraft carrier or airfield where a destroyed aircraft would have landed.
  7. Load your transports and destroyers. If you can safely load transports and the transports are not needed elsewhere, then load them with the units even if you will simply return them to back to the island. Why? This gives you more options in sea zones that are adjacent to more than one island. You could decide that you want to take out the Japanese units on Guadalcanal but Malaita looks tempting too. If your transport ends up in sea zone K, you can make that decision in the attack phase after you opponent has made their moves. It could be that the Japanese player decides to abandon Malaita or fortify it. With those units on the transport, you have options.
  8. Unload your transports and destroyers. If you’re considering not unloading a transport, think again. If there is a safe place to unload them without any bad consequences, then go ahead, especially if there are already firendly units on the island. This will allow you to change up the configurations in the transports next turn. A player could unload artillery and infantry and on the next turn load up only artillery.
  9. Capital ships are only destroyed on a hit of 1. When your opponent tells you a battleship or aircraft carrier was hit, immediately remind them to tell you the dice roll, 1 or 2. If it is a 1, you’re out of luck but a 2 means it lives but has to go to the damaged box on your home base card. Also, battleships ignore the first hit, the second hit is the one that can be fatal.
  10. Get your artillery into position fast. Artillery do you no good on islands that will rarely be adjacent to naval units. Move your artillery out of the comfort zone and in position to fire on your opponent’s sea units.
  11. It’s easy to build an airfield near your home base and harder to build them farther away. Try building your first airfield on the furthest safe island from your home base card. Your opponent won’t make it to Guadalcanal or Bougainville for a few turns so you have some time to build their. On the other hand New Georgia, Santa Isabel, and Choiseul will quickly become hostile environments. If you can safely transport supplies to one of those islands early, it should give you and advantage later.
  12. Use the battle box in naval battles to you advantage. When your opponent scores a hit on a unit that is not present, it wraps around to the begining of the results chart. This that destroyers are the naval unit most susceptible to being destroyed. On the other hand, in a mixed force, transports and submarines are harder to hit, because, short of direct hits, any other unit present will be hit first. You can protect these units by giving them naval escorts.
  13. Don’t forget to attack enemy airfields. When airfields are attacked, it prevents victory points. If your units are in a zone with enemy units, those units are not obliged to attack each other. A battleship can attempt to destroy an adjacent airfield instead of attacking enemy naval units in its current sea zone. The same goes for land units and air units. A single unit, however, can only attack either land units or airfields but not both. You can even split where some are attacking the airfield and some are attacking enemy units.
  14. On turn 1 all 5 American bombers can reach Guadalcanal and Malaita. I would send at least 4 in conjuctions with a contingent of land units to destroy the 3 Japanese units. You don’t want those units sticking around taking pot shots at your airfield.

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