I am big fan of John H. Butterfield creations. I focus on couple of titles like D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Tarawa or SpaceCorp. I decided that D-Day series on Pacific are truly great and to my liking so recently acquired D-Day at Peleliu. Today I would like to present my first contact with Peleliu game, and scenario describing initial day of invasion – “The 15 September 1944”.

My D-Day series articles:
D-Day at Omaha Beach – “Easy Fox” scenario
D-Day at Omaha Beach – yet one more time “Easy Fox” scenario
D-Day at Omaha Beach – “The First Waves” scenario
D-Day at Tarawa – “The First Waves” scenario
D-Day at Tarawa – “The 20 November 1943” scenario
D-Day at Tarawa – “The 21 November 1943” scenario

The Battle of Peleliu

First wave of LVTs moves toward the invasion beaches

As you probably know, I love to play the historical boardgames with proper context and background. Thus let me provide couple of words of insight into the battle. By the way, game contains fantastic leaflet regarding the invasion, with great maps. Another point to stress about this title!

The Battle of Peleliu was fought between the United States and Japan during the Mariana and Palau Campaign of World War II, from September 15 to November 27, 1944, on the island of Peleliu. US Marines of the 1st Marine Division fought to capture an airstrip on that small coral island. The battle was part of a larger offensive campaign known as Operation Forager, which ran from June to November 1944 in the Pacific Theater.

Major General William Rupertus, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, predicted that the island would be secured within four days. However, after repeated Imperial Japanese Army defeats in previous island campaigns, Japan had developed new island-defense tactics and well-crafted fortifications, which allowed stiff resistance and extended the battle to more than two months. The heavily-outnumbered Japanese defenders put up such stiff resistance, often by fighting to the death in the Japanese Emperor’s name, that the island became known in Japanese as the “Emperor’s Island.”

In the US, it was a controversial battle because of the island’s negligible strategic value and the high casualty rate, which exceeded that of all other amphibious operations during the Pacific War. The National Museum of the Marine Corps called it “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.”

The Game

A short unboxing, with all game components presented

We have the historical background so now some explanation about the game itself – which I hope will be useful both to the new fans of D-Day series but also to those who played Omaha Beach and consider the Pacific editions. So Peleliu is based on John Butterfield’s D-Day at Omaha Beach system (also used in Tarawa) and presents fighting at platoon and company scale in solitaire mode. You command the invading American forces against dug-in Japanese defenders, which are controlled by the game system.

D-Day at Peleliu focuses on the landings by the US 1st Marine Division in September 1944, and the bitter two-day struggle to capture the airfield on the southern end of the island. A longer campaign scenario allows the player to extend the action to the rugged terrain of “Bloody Nose Ridge.” Opposed by the reinforced Japanese 14th Infantry Division, the battle resulted in the highest US casualty rate of any in the Pacific war.

Like D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Peleliu features landing hazards, variable enemy positions, fields of fire encoded onto the map, US weapon types versus Japanese defensive preparations, and a random-event-driven narrative. Plus new features unique to the Pacific Theater, such as: US naval and aerial bombardment, flamethrowers, offshore reefs and defensive positions, Japanese tank attacks, tunnel network movement and Banzai charges.

The Session

Equipped with the knowledge and experience how deadly the well dug-in Japanese can be, I started to set-up the game. The scenario chosen – an introductory one – covers only first day of invasion, 12 turns. It starts with perilous landings and will be interrupted at some point in time by Japanese counter-attack! Let us see how it went!

TURN 1-2

Initial landings were pretty successful due to the initial naval barrage; Turn 2 saw pretty heavy causalities (8 steps) but also first Japanese defeated. It seems there is a possible line of approach in the right sector (jungle) but a close combat will be needed. Very exciting and very bloody beginning!

TURN 3-4

A huge progress was achieved on the Orange Beach – two elite units defeated plus one Close Combat Won. But the losses on White Beaches are growing exponentially. Situation stable so far but I need to do something with left wing!

TURN 5-6

Situation on the left is even worse, as tank & elite unit are join the fray. Then the Japanese counterattack (5 units!) is initiated. I have some successes with well prepared attacks (see 3rd picture) but the losses are amassing. Next turn the counter-attacking units will hit me. That can be a turning moment of the game!

TURN 7-8

Counter-attacking Japanese hit my units – Marines bravely repeal them with high causalities. Some very tough nuts to crack appear too (FL – double flanking needed!) Losses increase on a verge of collapse but central map & airfield are almost captured.

TURN 9-10

Japanese forces advance from blue positions into my freshly captured territory. Some incredible feats of courage allows me to repeal the attackers – but both sides suffer incredibly high causalities. The naval barrage comes very handy. Finally I am prepared for huge offensive on right flank.

TURN 11-12

So the huge attack on my left wing was prepared – but unfortunately, a close combat requirement occurred (see below). That is why a great gamble was needed in the last turn of the game – I charged in 3 positions, winning all close combats! What a suspenseful end!

Below close-ups of the final situation. I am attaching two – first, presenting the picture of the map after Turn 12 – just open this in new window and watch the details:

End of game picture – click to enlarge

I am also presenting grey-scale map with clear extent of my forces penetration, marking the occupied positions – those giving VPs and those which are not (as they are in Field of Fire of enemy). I hope you too will appreciate my picture-rich reports 🙂

Extent of American successes, with Green points secured (VPs), and Red ones in Field-of-Fire of Japaneses positions (no VPs)click to enlarge

The results surpassed all my expectations – I still lost the game, but having as many as 13 positions secured and another 6 occupied!


That was my first game of D-Day at Peleliu. It started quite nicely on the right wing (Orange Beaches) but ended almost in disaster on left (White Beaches). The game has interesting victory rules – there are actually three large objectives and you need to get one of the. I was closest to the one requiring 14 B sector positions to be secured. I managed to get 11 – three short. I anyhow deem this as a great result especially in the face of fact that most of the game I was on a verge of Catastrophic Loses but in the end achieved a decent result!

Highly recommended! More session reports will come!