There are several important contributions to naval gaming in this Jon Southard design. First and foremost would be the AI for conducting night surface actions - the Japanese formation rules, targeting priorities, and battle movment board. These alone could be applied to any game that covers the same topic as Tokyo Express (TE).

Incremental movement, mission movement, and detection are also innovative. With each passing movement phase, as the ships progress hex by hex, all hell can break loose at any moment depending on the draw of the action chits.

For those who are mainly interested in the naval exchanges of guns and torpedos (after the two sides have detected each other) the Basic Game puts you right in the action. But it only has one scenario. This has been rectified in large measure by a set of scenarios by Judy Krauss. If you like a little uncertainty as to who gets to fire first, it isn't difficult to start a basic scenario with each formation undetected and incorporate the Standard Game's detection mechanic to prohibit firing until a formation detects the enemy.

Download Tokyo Express VASSAL module.

Download Ship Manifest and Log Box Sheet.

Please submit suggestions for usability enhancement and bug fixes.

There are two maps provided in the module, the Standard Map (adapted from a Cyberboard module), and a featureless Basic Map with the same hex numbering. Basic Game scenarios can be played without the distractions of map features not in use.

There are no charts or tables in the module; it is expected that the player has a copy of the game and will refer to the paper charts. These are all available online for downloading.

Likewise no ship damage logs, as the module is meant to be used with my Ship Manifest and Log Box Sheet.

Ship Counters

The ships on the map have just a name and type, along with a direction arrow. They are VASSAL Game-piece images designed to blend in with the dark map color in keeping with the setting of a night surface action. If they are little hard to see, that is intentional.

Gunnery and speed factors of the cardboard counters have been removed - to be recorded on the Log Box Sheet.

Ships do not have a Delete option in their right click menu. Just leave "sinking" ships on the map.

A ship which fires guns is marked as such by using Alt-F once or twice to display one or two yellow dots. This is based on whether the guns were fired in the first or second Combat Segment, which is important in determining when enemy ships can return fire (see 6.4 and 8.1).

In the image:

Japanese formation has "Ahead" order; Speed 7; Detected

US formation has "60 Port" order; Speed 6; Undetected; Columnwise movement. Each US ship shows one yellow dot indicating gunfire in the 1st combat segment.

There are three targeting markers:
A) Astoria at Murasame
B) Ralph Talbot at Suzukaze
C) Barton at Yubari

Information Markers

Movement: Every formation must have one Movement Marker at all times, showing the formation's speed number, movement order, detection status, and columnwise movement status.

Targeting: Drag a Targeting marker from the game-piece palette to a firing ship; drag it again to the target ship; the movement trail will provide the line of sight. Repeat for each firing ship (changing ID letter).

  • Use the Undo last move toolbar button if you want to reset. Or delete the targeting marker and start over.
  • Use the Cease Firing toolbar button to remove all Targeting markers from the board.

Searchlights: Usage is the same as Targeting markers.

Toolbar Hotkeys:

  • F1 = BB gunnery deck
  • F2 = CA gunnery deck
  • F3 = CL gunnery deck
  • F4 = LT gunnery deck
  • F5 = Ship draw decks
  • F6 = Game piece palette
  • F7 = Reset "fired" indicators
  • F8 = Remove all targeting markers
  • F10 = Roll 1d10