On 7 August 1942, 6,000 U.S. Marines from the First Marine Division, under General Alexander Vandegrift, landed on Guadalcanal and captured the partially completed air field on the island. Over the next five months, the land, sea, and air forces of the United States and Imperial Japan would bitterly fight over this small Pacific island and its airfield, renamed by the Americans: “Henderson Field.” The two navies would fight six separate engagements and each would lose twenty-four warships before the campaign was finally over. In January, the last surviving Japanese ground forces would be evacuated from the island after having lost 14,000 killed and wounded, 9,000 dead due to disease and starvation, and another 1,000 captured. American forces would lose about 1,600 killed in action, approximately 2,000 from disease, and 4,200 wounded. The American western advance across the Pacific towards Japan had begun.
SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN is a historical simulation of the complex air-land-sea operations carried out by the U.S. and Japan over control of Guadalcanal — with its critically important air base, Henderson Field — and the sea area surrounding the Solomons Archipelago of which Guadalcanal Island was a part. The game is sixteen turns long and, to simulate combined operations over such an expanse of ocean, utilizes unusually large (3¾” area hexes). As the SPI ad, in describing the game system, explains: “The SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN is a strategic simulation, employing a simultaneous movement system, as well as land, air, and naval combat missions. The simultaneous movement of opposing Japanese and American forces is a crucial element by which the SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN is able to simulate the operational secrecy of strategic naval maneuvering.” This game is a challenge for both players: not just because of the layers of strategic and operational complexity that it introduces, but also because of the uncertainty it creates in the players’ minds due to the ever-present possibility of strategic surprise.
SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN offers one Historical Scenario. However, to introduce some variation to the game, the Japanese player has two “what if?” reinforcement options that allow for the addition of the heavy battleships Yamato and/or Musashi to his available forces.
- Unit Size: individual ships, aircraft compliments, ground strength (variable)
- Unit Types: naval, air, land, supply, and information counters
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: above average
- Solitaire Suitability: low
- Average Playing Time: 3–3½ hours
- One 22” x 28” large hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Turn Record Chart and Operational/Information Charts incorporated)
- 200 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 6” x 11½” map-fold style combined Set of Rules, Combat Results Tables, and Scenario Instructions
- One 6¾” x 22” Starting Forces and Reinforcement Chart
- Two 5½” x 9” Simultaneous Movement Plotting Charts
- One small six-sided Die
- One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet