RockyMountainNavy, 4 June 2020
A Battle of Midway wargame/historical conflict simulation focused on air operations. Fury At Midway (Revolution Games, 2020) employs some hidden information and cards portraying impactful events to help you explore this one narrow aspect of the battle. Ignoring several real strategic conditions, the outcome of the game can be very ahistorical but not unrealistic. By no means a ground-breaking design, the narrow focus leads to a tight, easy-to-learn, quick-playing battle that enables one to explore some of the most wondered about ‘what ifs’ of the Battle of Midway.
click images to enlarge
“By any ordinary standard, they were hopelessly outclassed. They had no battleships, the enemy eleven. They had eight cruisers, the enemy twenty-three. They had three carriers (one of them crippled); the enemy had eight…
They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so, they changed the course of a war. More than that, they added a new name – Midway – to that small list that inspires men by shining example. Like Marathon, the Armada, the Marne, a few others, Midway showed every once in a while “what must be done” need not be at all. Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith and valor – that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory”
Walter Lord, Incredible Victory (New York: Harper Collins, 1967, p. ix)
The Battle of Midway is perfect fodder for a wargame. Can you, commanding a scrappy, outnumbered American fleet pull off a ‘Miracle at Midway’? Or, taking the role of the Imperial Japanese Navy at the height of your prowess, sweep aside the pesky Americans and rightfully win the battle? Over the years, many wargames have tried to answer this question, from Battleline Publications’ 1977 Flat Top right up to 2020’s Fury At Midway from Revolution Games.
Along the way the scholarship looking at the Battle of Midway has changed. The popular view of the Battle of Midway has gone from Walter Lord’s Incredible Victory in 1967 to Jonathan Marshall and Anthony Tully’s Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway in 2005. Winning the battle has gone from a ‘miracle of five minutes’ to a very operations research-centric approach analyzing the battle minute by minute and breaking down many popular myths that surrounded the story for years.
Fury At Midway, designed by Yasushi Nakaguro and originally published by Bonsai Games in Japan approaches the Battle of Midway with a narrow focus on air operations. Here you will not find any of the controversy surrounding the intelligence game leading up to the battle. Here you will not find out if the report from the Japanese cruiser Tone’s No. 4 scout plane was received earlier what the impact on the battle could of been. In Fury At Midway you explore air operations with a particular focus on carrier flight decks and air strikes.
Inside the cruise box…
Fury At Midway is another in the line of folio games available from Revolution Games. The game consists of 2 x 11” by 17” maps, 72 x 5/8 inch die cut counters, 13 x poker sized cards, a 12 page rule book, and one combination Cover/Player Aid in a ziplock bag. The counters by Charles Kibler are easy to read and the cards of nice quality with appropriate artwork. I wish the combination Carrier Display/Operations Maps was printed on slightly heavier paper but it still works as is.
Fury At Midway uses a form of a double-blind play. Each player’s Carrier Display/Operations Map is concealed from the other player. The only time you see an opponent’s Carrier Display is when attacking (and then care must be taken to ensure you don’t see any air strikes enroute to you on their Operations Map). Rule 2.6 Concealment mentions that the game can be played with no concealment; indeed, this was how the original Bonsai Games version played. However, doing so losses several elements of surprise.
Each game of Fury of Midway consists of three or seven turns. The first three turns are daylight hours of June 4, 1942. Turn 4 is a night turn. Turns 5 to 7 are June 5. Each turn consists of up to nine phases:
- Card Draw Phase
- Midway Base Attack Declaration Phase
- US Movement Planning Phase
- IJN Movement Phase
- Midway Base Attack Phase
- US Movement Phase
- Search Phase
- Air Operations Phase
- [Only on Turn 7 and see conditions of rule 11.0] IJN Landing Operations on Midway
Truth be told, there is very little original in the game mechanics of Fury At Midway. The innovation introduced by the designer & developer is not new mechanics, but rather a ruthless simplification of proven mechanics into a streamlined package of rules. Putting it all together, Fury At Midway allows one to explore several ‘what ifs’ of the Battle of Midway. Can the Japanese player avoid being caught with a massive strike on deck? What if the Japanese had not rearmed their planes with land attack weapons for another strike on Midway? Will American torpedo bombers pull the Japanese CAP off high stations and allow the dive bombers to roll in unmolested?
It was in the cards…
The Card Draw Phase of Fury At Midway replenish a player’s hand with different events that introduce historical flavor into the game without the need for special rules. In one game, the Japanese player started out with ‘High Speed Reconnaissance’ (increased search value), ‘Escort Separated’ (enemy escort fighters removed), and ‘Elite Pilots’ (+1 die modifier, fire first). The American player held ‘Towed to a Friendly Port’ (saves a sunk carrier) and ‘Submarine’ (possible hit).
Fury At Midway has 13 cards. Some are playable by the Americans, some by Japanese, and a few by either side. Although both players start out with a hand of playable cards (3 for the Japanese, 2 for the Americans) remaining cards are shuffled together to form a common draw deck. This means that players might draw cards not usable by them, but also not available to the other player. Not only do the cards introduce events into the battle without the need for special rules, they also represent chance – introduced not by the random roll of a die but by the will of a player.
I do declare…
Interestingly, the rather mundane sounding Midway Base Attack Declaration Phase may be the most important decision for the Japanese player in Fury At Midway each turn. The decision is to balance competing needs; reduce the garrison at Midway sink American aircraft carriers.
At the end of Day 2, victory points (VP) are awarded. The player with the most wins. Midway is worth 2 VP. So if the Japanese player wants to invade and earn the VP the garrison will have to be softened up. Importantly, Midway can only be attacked in the Midway Base Attack Phase and the decision to strike this turn must be made – now. More importantly, the Japanese player must announce it to the Americans – now.
Striking Midway not only risks aircraft to AA fire and defending fighters. Once the aircraft strike they have to return to their carriers and while doing so they might not be available for some (all?) of the following crucial Air Operations in that turn. Striking Midway also diverts resources; the number of Air Operations available to the Japanese player later in the turn to strike the American carriers is reduced by 1 or 2 depending on how far away the strike against Midway was launched. Every opportunity comes with a cost.
Although both sides fleets are publicly on the Operations Map in Fury At Midway, where they go is a bit unpredictable. In the US Movement Planning Phase the American player secretly plots their route. Of course, the American player not only will see the Japanese fleet, but have the advantage of knowing if they are striking Midway. Plotting the American movement at this point not only portrays the advantages the American had tactically from intelligence, but also some of the challenges the Japanese faced in their search plan for the day. Plotting complete, the Japanese player executes the IJN Movement Phase. Now the battling can begin.
After the Americans plot movement and the Japanese player moves, the Japanese player can strike Midway if it was declared. This is resolved as a normal Fury At Midway Air Attack. Strikes reduce the garrison and the airfield, softening them up for follow-on attacks and eventual amphibious landings. Only after the Midway attack is completed (or not) do the Americans move.
What about Tone 4?
With movement complete and Midway attacked (or not) the carrier war at sea now begins. Like almost any other Midway battle wargame, before carriers can be attacked they must be located. Search in Fury At Midway, however, is not what one expects. Given that the location of a fleet is public information displayed on both player’s Operations Map, searching is really needed for both sides ‘know’ where the other is. Nor is search a ‘quality of detection’ event that serves as a die modifier to a follow-on attack. Instead, search in Fury At Midway directly determines how many Air Operation Points (AOP) each player will have in the next phase.
To determine AOP each side uses their Search Value compared to the distance between forces. The difference between Search Value and range is the number of AOP in the coming phase (minimum 0, maximum 4). Surprisingly, there is no die roll here (although there are a few cards that can be played) making this phase very deterministic.
The Search Value in Fury At Midway represents the scouting plan for the day. The Japanese use a base Search Value of 6 whereas the American fleet has a Search Value of 7 and Midway 8. This reflects historically better scouting by the Americans. There are two event cards that affect search; ‘High Speed Reconnaissance’, playable by the Japanese, increases the Japanese Search Value to 8 for the phase. ‘Troubled Reconnaissance’, playable by the Americans, forces the Japanese player to roll 1d6 and use the result as their Search Value in that phase. The Americans can also play their card to negate the Japanese card.
Which brings us to the Air Operations Phase, the heart of Fury At Midway. Air Operations consists of two parts; flight deck operations and air attacks. The Air Operations Phase will be very familiar to players of Flat Top or any Avalanche Press Second World War at Sea title. As mentioned before, the innovation in the Fury At Midway design is not from any new game mechanics, but through the selection and use of a streamlined set of mechanics that delivers a laser-like focus on air operations in the battle.
Air Operations start with both players rolling for initiative. This is determined by rolling 1d6 and adding the number of AOP left. High number has initiative and executes one Air Operation while reducing their available AOP by one. Initiative is determined for every AOP, not just once at the beginning of a turn.
In an Air Operation, player moves all their aircraft units once. Aircraft can be either on the carrier display or operations map. There is a special action, Carrier Launch, which moves your aircraft from the carrier display to the operations map.
The carrier display depicts flight deck operations and center on where your aircraft are in relation to the carrier. Aircraft can either be Returning, on Combat Air Patrol (CAP), in the Hanger, or Ready on Deck. Movement between each condition occurs during the expenditure of an AOP. Carriers hold a limited number of aircraft and as the battle progresses finding a place to land may become a challenge! Aircraft are cycled through carrier display boxes sequentially; aircraft in the Return boxes (post-strike) must land in the Hanger. Aircraft in the Hanger can be readied for launch (placed on Deck) and subsequent Air Operations launch them from there.
Historical fleet organizations are reflected on the carrier display. The four Japanese carriers are divided into two divisions, each consisting of two carriers with shared Return and CAP boxes. For the Americans there are two Task Forces with Enterprise and Hornet combined in one and Yorktown separate. Nice historical flavor but restricting in a player ability to play some what if games.
Fury At Midway is light on chrome rules but Air Operations uses a few. Usually, a strike group is formed by one or more strike/escort aircraft launched from a carrier or Midway. However, the Japanese can use Midair Assembly to combine strike groups from both carriers in a division. One simple rule to reflect their more advanced training and doctrine.
Once a strike is launched aircraft move on the Operations Map. Here is where some of the hidden information becomes important because strike groups move on the owning player’s map out of sight of the opponent. Aircraft have two Air Operations-worth of endurance. This is important because if you take two Air Operations to get to the opponent’s carrier, it will take two Air Operations to return.
Combat in Fury At Midway uses a simple bucket-o-dice approach and an equally simple resolution sequence. Players chose which Division/Task Force to strike but there is a chance that the choice gets reversed There is also a Japanese card ‘US Strike Lost’ that forces the strike to return with losses. Like they sometime say, not every plan survives contact with the enemy!
This represents the quicker cycling of fighters and, if you have read Shattered Sword, enables one to explore the heart of Marshall & Tully’s thesis regarding the cycling of CAP by the Japanese fleet during the battle.
Next, strike groups engage the Combat Air Patrol (CAP). The defender rolls 1d6 for each step of CAP, trying to roll combat strength or less for a hit. The Japanese may also have cards in hand such as ‘Escort Separated’ or ‘Elite Pilots’ that removes escorts or provides a combat bonus. One hit removes one step of aircraft. Escorting fighters now counterattack.
Note that CAP combat is not simultaneous; hits by defenders are resolved before escorting fighters fire back. CAP then returns to the carrier but does not have to go directly to the Hanger; they can instead land on the Deck if an open undamaged spot is available. This represents the quicker cycling of fighters and, if you have read Shattered Sword, enables one to explore the heart of Marshall & Tully’s thesis regarding the cycling of CAP by the Japanese fleet during the battle.
With the CAP battle behind them, strikers must now undergo Anti-Aircraft (AAA) Fire. Whatever survives then moves onto Attack Resolution.
Attack Resolution in Fury At Midway keeps the simple approach. Each step of strikers rolls 1d6 and compares it to their Attack Strength. Rolls equal to or less are hits. Here is where two other simple chrome rules come into play. If dive bombers are striking a carrier with planes on Deck, the Attack Strength is increased by 1. If a Japanese strike combines both dive bombers and torpedo planes, the torpedo plane attack strength is increased by 1. The American player might also be able to play their card ‘Critical Hit’ which adds one bonus hit in the attack.
Hits are placed on the Deck of a carrier and render that spot unusable. Damaged carriers can be split off from a Division/Task Force and try to limp home. A carrier can sustain two hits (deck destroyed) and not sink but if a third hit is inflicted it is sunk and worth 1 VP. Hits on Midway reduce the Garrison and runways (deck). There are two cards that can impact sunk carriers. ‘Damage Control’ (playable by either side) automatically removes one hit for the Americans or one hit for the Japanese on a die roll of 1-3. The Americans may also get ‘Towed to a Friendly Port’ which prevents a CV from actually sinking (thus denying VP to the Japanese player).
Here I have to point out what may be the best rule of all in Fury At Midway; the B17 Optional Rule. It is worth quoting the rule at length:
“The B17 was almost totally useless as an anti-ship bomber and its use is optional in this game. The B17 can never be part of a strike group with other attack aircraft. It can be escorted by fighters. If it makes an attack roll three dice for each step. If you roll three ones out of three dice rolled you get a hit. Yes, one in 218 and I am probably overstating the chances.”
Surviving air units are now placed back on the carrier display in a Return-1 or Return-2 box depending on how far away the strike occurred. Again, the Japanese player my have cards to play at this point. ‘US Carrier Planes Ditch’ forces a step loss. ‘Air Replacements’, playable by either player, returns reduced or destroyed aircraft to the battle.
Landing in the Dark
Two other rules are of relevance in Fury At Midway. Turn 4 is a night turn. During this turn special rules apply to Air Operations. Most importantly, aircraft in the Return boxes of the carrier display can try to land, but with risk. If both sides are in the same operations map hex a Sea Battle occurs.
If the Midway Invasion Force (a Japanese fleet that enters on Turn 4 and moves on the Operations Map) is next to Midway at the end of Turn 7 an amphibious landing will occur. The Midway Invasion Force can be struck by the Americans during Air Operations as it crosses the map with hits reducing the strength of the force. If the game has reached this point two cards, ‘Semper Fi’ for the Americans (+1 on the Garrison Track) and ‘Naval Bombardment’ for the Japanese (-1d6 divided by 2 on the Garrison Track) could also come into play. The actual execution of the landing is very simple and fast to resolve. Both sides roll 1d6 with a hit scored if the number rolled is less than the present track value. Each hit reduces the opponent’s track by 1. Keep rolling until there is a winner.
Victory in Fury At Midway comes in one of two ways. At the end of Day 1 (Turn 3) if one side has three times as many carriers afloat as the other then that side wins. If not, play proceeds to the end of Day 2 (Turn 7) when VP is awarded (1x VP per carrier sunk, 2x VP for possession of Midway). High VP wins.
“Three hundred miles ahead of the main force, the four carriers of the Kids Butai continued steaming toward Midway ignorant of the possibility that the Americans might be within striking distance. Akagi’s radio operators had failed to pick up the suspicious radio transmissions that had alerted Yamamoto’s communications officer, and Nagumo relied on the reassuring reports that were relayed from Tokyo reporting that the only two American carriers afloat were a thousand miles away in the South Pacific. It had apparently not occurred to the Japanese intelligence analysts that Yorktown might not only have survived the trip back from the Coral Sea, but that it would be possible for us to get her back into action in any time less than the three months needed to repair the damaged Skokaku.”
Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton (USN Ret.), “And I Was There”: Pearl Harbor and Midway – Breaking the Secrets; Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1985, p. 435
“Whether one, two or three, the presence of enemy carriers was certain to make things a little tighter than they need have been, but as far as the Japanese were concerned there was still no cause to worry. As long as they had surprise on their side and their submarines were between Nagumo’s advancing carrier force and Pearl Harbor and therefore in a position to warn of an American sortie, there was every reason to presume that the First Carrier Striking Force was in no immediate danger and would be able to fulfill its objectives.”
H.P. Wilmott, The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies – February to June 1942; Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995, p. 349
When playing a historical conflict simulation wargame, one question players often pose is, “Can I recreate history with this game?” In Fury At Midway the answer to that question is, unlike the game itself, complicated. Fury At Midway focuses on the air operations of the battle. Other surrounding factors, such as intelligence, are removed. Although that leads to a tight, focused game design, it may also be the game’s greatest shortcoming.
Historically, the Japanese went into the Battle of Midway sure American carriers were not in the area. Thus, they started June 4 with a large 108 aircraft strike against the island. In Fury At Midway, launching a strike against Midway on Turn 1 is allowed as long as the Japanese carriers are within 5 hexes of Midway. In game terms strikes from this range cost 2x AOP. Recall that if Midway is struck the Japanese suffer a reduction of AOP equal to the AOP needed for the Midway strike. Thus, a strike on Midway on Turn 1 costs the Japanese -2 AOP. In the following Air Operations Phase, if an American carrier force is at range 4 the Japanese will have zero (0) AOP (unless the High Speed Recon card is available, and then only 2 AOP at best). The Japanese will need that both AOP to recover and respot the Midway strike. It’s possible to get a strike off against the Americans using what little was not committed to striking Midway, but if a large Midway strike was launched any anti-carrier strike group will be small.
Meanwhile, the Americans will likely have 3-4 AOP unless they did not close on the Japanese fleet. The American player can use those AOP to launch strikes from all three carriers against the Japanese. Using Captain Wayne Hughes’ Salvo Combat Model (a mathematical model for ‘pulses’ of combat power) found in Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat 2nd Edition (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000) it is not unreasonable to expect at least two, and possibly three Japanese carriers to be sunk. A subsequent Japanese counterattack might expected to sink one American carrier, followed by an American counterattack sinking the last Japanese carrier. This is in keeping with the historical outcome and depicted by CAPT Hughes in his Carrier Salvo Combat Model this way:
|Battle of Midway – Theoretical Survivors Using Carrier Salvo Combat Model
|After US Attack
|After Japanese Counterattack
|After US Reattack
|6 (4x CV + Midway)
|Adapted from Capt. Wayne P. Hughes Jr., USN (Ret.), Fleet Tactics & Coastal Combat 2nd Edition, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, p. 103
In Fury At Midway, since the Japanese know the American carriers are present, why would they simply let the Americans have the first blows? What happens if the Japanese don’t strike Midway on Turn 1 and instead go all out after the American carriers? Let’s even assume both strikes are simultaneous.
|Alternate Battle of Midway – Theoretical Survivors Using Carrier Salvo Combat Model
|After Simultaneous Attack
|After US Reattack
|5 (3x CV + Midway)
What happens if the Japanese try to ‘split the baby’? What if they allocate two carriers against Midway and the other two are sent against the American carriers? What if they get the best of the situation and are able to strike first?
|Second Alternate Battle of Midway – Theoretical Survivors Using Carrier Salvo Combat Model
|After Japanese Attack
|After US Counterattack
|After Japanese Reattack
|5 (3x CV + Midway)
Which leads me to a question; in Fury At Midway why would the Japanese ever want to commit to a strike on Midway on Turn 1 and maybe even Turn 2 and very likely suffer an ‘incredible defeat’?
In several plays of Fury At Midway I tried both Japanese strategies. In Game 1 both sides jockeyed for position on Turn 1 (ahistorical) and the Japanese went for an all-out strike against Midway on Turn 2. At this point the carriers were two hexes apart, meaning any strike takes 1 AOP. In this game superior American Search Values all but ensured they were able to strike first. Note that the results do not perfectly follow the Salvo Combat Model but are close:
|Game 1 – Survivors Shown in Carrier Salvo Combat Model
|After US Attack
|After Japanese Counterattack
|After US Reattack
|6 (4x CV + Midway)
|Game 2 – Survivors Shown in Carrier Salvo Combat Model
|After Japanese Attack
|After US Counterattack
|After Japanese Reattack
|4 (2x CV + Midway)
|0 (1x CV saved by event card)
In Game 2, the Japanese aggressively pursued the American carriers. Eschewing attacks against Midway on Turns 1 and 2, the Japanese used Event Cards to their best advantage and were able to out-scout the Americans and deliver the first strike.
“In carrying out the task assigned in OPERATION PLAN 29-42 you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy. This applies to a landing phase as well as during preliminary air attacks.”
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Staff Conference, 27 May 1942
The role of intelligence before the battle cannot easily be ignored. In Fury At Midway the impact of ignoring the intelligence situation in many ways unbalances the game. Once the Japanese know the Americans are present their entire approach to the battle changes. This change to the strategic situation at game start cannot be overstated. Fury At Midway can be used to depict the historical situation, but the design favors the ahistorical.
At the operational (tactical?) level, the combat model in Fury At Midway comes very close to the Carrier Salvo Combat Model of Captain Hughes. This means the model is weighted heavily in favor of the first attacker. Historical? Yes. That said, the game design has enough variability in it that it does not strictly follow the model, but it comes really darn close.
“The unglamorous truth is that the U.S. Navy, at an operational level, fought much of the morning of 4 June sub-optimally in terms of scouting, flight deck operations, and coordinated delivery of firepower. In the process, they dug themselves into such a hole that success could only be bought at the cost of many aviators lives. Managing to prevail despite those mistakes was a testament to the skill and courage of the Americans. But in a wider view, it cannot be taken as some kind of miracle that three American carriers were able to prevail against four of Japan’s.”
Marshall & Tully, Shattered Sword (Dulles: Potomac Books, 2005, p. 436)
Fury At Midway is in no way a definitive study of the Battle of Midway. Nor is the game a straight a depiction of an American ‘incredible victory’ at the Battle of Midway. Instead, Fury At Midway focuses on the air operations of the battle through a study in the handling of flight decks and air strikes. Fury At Midway comes with no Designer’s Notes so I cannot be sure what the designer’s intent is, but it appears the game attempts to explore the Shattered Sword view of the Battle of Midway. I cannot help but wonder if the designer was trying to depict a ‘perfect Fuschida’ alternate history.
This exploration is facilitated by a study based on a fairly pedestrian collection of proven wargame mechanics with little chrome and a few cards in place of special rules. The focused study comes at a price which is a very ahistorical starting condition that could lead to wildly different outcomes with many of those potential endings favoring the Japanese. In the end I have to accept Fury At Midway for what it is and no more; an unglamorous yet highly playable vignette of air operations during combat in the Pacific in June 1942 that favors the Japanese player.
Fuchida, Mitsuo; Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan. First published 1955.
The true origin of the ‘miracle’ narrative. More recent research has severely challenged Fuchida’s accounting of the battle. All but discounted these days. For instance see Parshall, Jonathan (2010) “Research & Debate—Reflecting on Fuchida, or “A Tale of Three Whoppers”,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 63 : No. 2 , Article 10. Available from the Naval War College.
Lord, Walter; Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway. First published 1967. the grandfather of the ‘Incredible Victory’ narrative.
Prange, Gordon W.; Miracle at Midway. First published 1982. Doubles-down on the ‘miracle’ narrative. May be influenced by the apparent good friendship of Prange and Fuchida.
Wilmott, H.P.; The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies February to June 1942. Published 1983.
This book and Empires in Balance: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies to April 1942 may be the best analysis of strategy and operations in the early days of the Pacific campaign.
Lundstrom, John B.; The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway. First published 1984.
The definitive account of naval aviation in the early days of the war.
Layton, Rear Admiral Edwin T., USN (Ret.); “And I Was There”: Pearl Harbor and Midway – Breaking the Secrets. Published 1985.
A personal account of intelligence operations on Nimitz’s staff.
Prados, John; Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II. Published 1995.
Capitalizing on then newly declassified material, Prados rewrote the story of codebreaking in the Pacific war. Added bonus: Prados is also a wargame designer!
Hughes, Capt. Wayne P Jr., USN (Ret.); Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, Second Edition. Published in 2000.
Home of the Salvo Combat Model. An updated 3rd edition is available. A more detailed study of the Salvo Combat Model is available as a PDF download.
HINT – If you are a wargame designer and looking for an operational/tactical model of naval combat you cannot go wrong by at least starting to look here.
Jonathan Parschall & Anthony Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. First published 2005.
Relying extensively on Japanese sources (but not Fuchida) Shattered Sword rewrote the narrative of the battle and directly challenged the ‘miracle’ conclusions by attributing the defeat instead to deficiencies in Japanese carrier doctrine.
A Naval War College Review Essay from 2006 is also available. An earlier (and shorter) version was published in the Naval War College Review in 2001.
(Note that this essay was actually written as a counter to Dallas Isom below)
Isom, Dallas W.; Midway Inquest: Why the Japanese Lost the Battle of Midway. First published 2007.
In many ways written as a counter to Shattered Sword, Isom’s Midway Inquest also relies heavily on Japanese sources (again, not Fuchida) but reaches somewhat different conclusions. Isom asserts two avoidable blunders cost the Japanese the battle; Yamamoto’s failure to break radio silence and warn Nagumo that American carriers were present and Nagumo’s decision to rearm his torpedo planes for a strike on Midway instead of keeping them ready to attack any carriers found. A earlier (and shorter) version from 2000 by the author is also available.
Flat Top (Battleline Publications, 1977). The grandfather of carrier wargames. Although focused on the battles in the South Pacific in 1942-43, it employed many of the common game mechanics used in so many carrier battle games the followed. Yaquinto Publishing printed the very similar CV: The Game of the Battle of Midway in 1979 that was a refinement of the Flat Top rules.
Second World War at Sea: Midway (Avalanche Press, 2002+). Focuses on the operational-level of the battle. In many ways an evolution of the Flat Top system.
The Fires of Midway (Clash of Arms, 2010). Battle of Midway using a unique implementation of the card driven game mechanic.
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