Game of the Week - May 27 - June 2

And it's time for our next sale title... This week we launch out to sea with Naval Campaigns: Guadalcanal! This title is on sale for 25% off now through Sunday, June 2nd.

(All images can be clicked for full sized view.)

During the 1942-43 campaign for the southern Solomon Island of Guadalcanal, many naval battles were fought to cement the material advantage gained by the Allies after the stunning Japanese losses at the Battle of Midway. Guadalcanal Naval Battles includes these scenarios such as Savo Island -- a costly Allied setback, Cape Esperance -- where the Japanese were struck back hard, Tassafaronga, Cape St. George, Kolombangara, and others. The full range of surface naval warfare in the Pacific during World War II is addressed allowing you the chance to see how you might perform as either Japanese or American commander.

Guadalcanal puts you in the admiral’s seat. The decisions that you need to be focusing most on are the large scale command decisions, rather than the minutiae of shipboard operations. This title has it's primary focus on surface actions covering the range of small craft up to large capital ships. Land-based aircraft also play a role in several actions.

Numerous scenarios have been added to the game since initial release. Unique actions included in the game are:

  • Savo Island
  • Cape Esperance
  • Guadalcanal
  • Tassafaronga
  • Operation KE
  • Kolobangara
  • Cape St. George
  • Lunga Point
  • Sealark Channel
  • Balikpapan
  • Badung Strait
  • Java Sea
  • Sunda Strait
  • Palawan Passage
  • Surigao Strait
  • Samar
  • Bismarck Sea
  • Komandorski Islands
  • Rice Anchorage
  • Kula Gulf
  • Horaniu
  • Vella Gulf
  • Empress Augusta Bay

For a further look into the game, it's focus and the design intent behind it read the Overview document and Design Notes. Note: these documents are from the original publication of the game and do not include details on the scenarios that have been added in later by Mike Cox & Steve Jones.

Additionally, we have a new "Random Campaign" by Gary McClellan that will be added in to this title, for free, with the next update cycle - which is currently scheduled for later this summer. So, all existing owners of the game will get immediate access to that upon release.

This series, unlike most everything else we offer (with the exception of the Modern Air Power series) is a "pauseable" Real-Time engine. What that means in practice is - when you fire up a scenario and begin to play, everything is moving in real-time. You can pause the game to take stock of your forces, plan flight ops, etc. You can also issue commands to your air wings while the game is paused. So, for example, you have a couple of flights left on the flight line that have Patrol missions, so you want to get the next flights coming out of the hanger to be ready for their Strike mission. You can pause the game, go to the air base in question and issue the "Spotting" command to the desired flights. Once you resume game play the last of the patrolling missions will launch, and when the flight line is clear Spotting operations will begin as your crews move aircraft onto the flight line.

Additionally, you have the ability to speed the game up to a maximum of 10x real-time. For example, your Patrols are launched and you searching for the enemy battle group. You've got your search pattern set and so you are waiting to receive further information. You can bump the speed up to move things along. Once you receive your first "enemy ship spotted" report you can pause the game and take stock of the situation, or at just reduce it down to 1x speed if desired.

And with the game being a different format - it does not support Play By Email. However it can be played on a LAN or over the Internet using a tool such as Hamachi.

We've included a further document to go along with the game called "Advanced Tips and Tricks for the Naval Engine" that will help you get comfortable with the things you need to be thinking about and doing during game play.

The game features 40 scenarios + 1 Getting Started tutorial scenario. These range from 10-20 minute scenarios which focus on a key segment of time of a battle - say right before contact is made between two battle groups, up to 3 hours and 30 minute full battle scenarios where you conduct searches, move your battle groups and are in complete control of how your forces conduct the battle.

A full suite of editors are included with the game as well. There are some limitations to what you can do - i.e. you can't add other nations and time period ships and create a "Mediterranean" game based off the Guadalcanal title, but you can create custom actions based on the topic at hand.

It should be noted again that you can play from either side in the game, so not just from the US perspective.

One final note before moving on to book recommendations and videos. The "Campaign" front end and editor are included with the game, but there is No campaign(s) built at this time, but as noted above, one is in testing currently and will be added soon. This feature was added to the series with Wolfpack, so years after Guadalcanal was released. It is included so that in the event someone wanted to create their own campaign they could.

Ok, on to books...

On to video content. All of these were done several years ago before our enhancements, so for example the on-map ships are radically different than what is shown in the videos, but it still gives you an idea of gameplay.

SmartWargames has a multiple videos on this specific title, so here is one of them. The rest of the videos should populate in the right-hand list as you watch this.
And then we have a variety of screen shots from other scenarios offered in the game:

And finally, here's the Naval Campaigns specific section on the Official WDS forums if you wish to discuss the game, or any games within that series.

Ok, that concludes our preview of the game. You can head on over to the product page for Guadalcanal and pick up a copy for yourself when ready!



  • Rick D

    An excellent book that has detailed coverage of both the naval and land battles is Richard B. Frank’s Guadalcanal. Markus Faulkner’s War at Sea A Naval Atlas 1939-1945 is a good supplement to the very useful maps in Frank’s book. I also keep Google Earth pointed at the Solomans while following naval actions that covered a huge amount of territory. This subject is close to my heart, as my father fought on Guadalcanal with the Army (and watched the Japanese attack Pearl while stationed at a post in the mountains outside the city).

  • Andrew Hubbell

    Guadalcanal is a unique moment in history, a major turning point in the Pacific war. Five major surface battles and many smaller ones being fought at night with the brunt of the fighting between Cruisers, Destroyers, and the occasional Battleship or two. The fighting was fast sharp and deadly in the tight waters around Guadalcanal. The Allied surface forces would start with poor night fighting tactics, Commanders ignoring radar and outmatched in many other areas. However, by the end of the campaign the IJN would be on the defensive for the rest of the war. Guadalcanal is where the USN “cut it’s teeth”. If you don’t own this title this would be a good time to change that.
    The reading list is also excellent, two books I would add to the list are Ian W. Toll’s “Pacific Crucible” and Mark Stille’s “The Naval Battles for Guadalcanal”.

    Thank you WDS for such great work!

  • Glen Nielsen

    I read Neptune’s Inferno – great book! And of course played Guadalcanal whilst reading it – great game! I was familiar with the immediate battles around Guadalcanal, but not so much the other areas. The game really opened my eyes to the intense combat in the Southwest Pacific.

  • Calvin Timmerman

    I’m so sad to here that John Prados died in 2022. I started following him with the Year of the Rat Strategy and Tactics Magazine game in 1972. I’ve read all of his articles in Naval History and Naval Institute Proceedings. I met him at a game convention in Baltimore in the early 1990s. A big loss to the world of history and gaming.

  • Trevor Carpenter

    These weekly offers are a good idea. Must admit I’m a bit disappointed that this week’s offer is not the Normandy Campaign – what with it being the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings this coming 6th June.

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