Tarawa - a TOAW experiment

Mar 25, 2003
The experimental part being that Betio Island is tiny so the hex size is set to 250m, weapon ranges have been adjusted not neccessarily to max ranges but to suit their use in the scenario. It should be available from Gamesquad http://forums.gamesquad.com/downloads.php?do=cat&id=6 now and Rugged Defence soon.
Here's the briefing:

Bloody Tarawa

On November 20th 1943 the US 2nd Marine Division launched the first of America’s fledgling amphibious assaults doctrine. The object was the island Betio in the Tarawa atoll held by elite troops of the Japanese Special Navel Landing Force. Their commander Admiral Shibasaki boasted that “the Americans could not take Tarawa with a million men in a thousand years” In one of the most brutal battles of World War II the fighting on the tiny island fortress lasted for three days and left 6000 men dead.

For more details on the battle, please see the Wikipedia article at the end of this document.

Scenario by Erik Nygaard, developed with Marc Custer
Version: 1.3

Date: November 20th 1943
Location: Betio island in the Tarawa atoll at the Gilbert Islands
Ground Scale: 250m
Time Scale: 6 hour turns
Unit Scale: Platoon
Length: 32 turns
Attrition Divider: 30

Unit Colours:
US Marines: Green
US Navy: Blue
Japanese: Tan

Note on start date:
The scenario starts on November 19th, this to allow the US player’s Naval assets to bombard any spotted Japanese strongpoints. Also the Japanese player may redeploy units during the night before the actual invasion.

Note on scale:
This scenario stretches the 2.5km map to a 250m map. Support weapon have had their ranges adjusted, but not necessarily to their max range. Instead they have been given ranges based on their use, ie platoon MGs and mortars have a range of 2-3 hexes to force them to be support (mostly) only their own formation.

Note on unit icons:
Many unit icons have been altered to allow MGs and tanks etc to act as ranged units.

Note on US air/naval support:
All air units are set on interdiction in garrison mode so the US player has no direct influence over the air formations. Betio island is so small that any major use of pin-point attack in support of ground units would be impossible to perform without the risk of hitting friendly forces. The same goes for the Navy fire support groups, the cruisers and battleships are in garrison mode wich allow them to support friendly units, but no be massed on specific attacks. The US player has full control of the destroyers, historically they went close to the shore and provided vital support.

House rules seaborne:
All seaborne units must stop next to the reef/surf (modified marsh terrain) for 1 turn before invading even if the coast is friendly. This to allow the Japanese coastal batteries one turn of shelling while the Marines are in deep water. Exclusion zones at the reef are lifted on specific turns, these are used mainly to help the PO follow this house rule.
All formations must land at their designated beaches, reserve and support formations may land on any beach. This is noted on the starting map locations.

Allied Theater Options:
The US player receives a number of TOs with a 10 point victory penalty wich will release various battalions from the reserve.

Japanese support gun units:
A number of these units exist in duplicate forms, ie one AA or artillery unit paired with one coastal battery unit. This is so that the Japanese guns may be used to shell the invading Marines when they are in deep water or on the reef (marsh with modified port symbol). The AA/artillery formation is in garrison mode to prevent the Japanese player from using the duplicate formations as separate formations. The movable gun units are released around turn-15, this trigger an event that withdraw the coastal duplicate units.

Japanese Victory Points:
The Japanese start with a +33VPs bonus, this to balance the game so that it VP-wise will end in a draw on the historical end of the battle. From turn 18 the Japanese get an additional 2-11VPs pr turn, this means the Japanese may get an overwhelming victory if they hold out until the last turn 32. The game will end automatically when the US Marines capture the easternmost objective.


Utmost Savagery – The Three Days Of Tarawa (Alexander 1995)
Tarawa 1943 – The Turning Of The Tide (Wright 2000)
One Square Mile Of Hell – The Battle For Tarawa (Wukovits 2006)
Bloody Tarawa (Hammel & Lane 1998)
Betio Island (John Tiller’s Campaign Series - Maxis)

Comments,suggestions and corrections to