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MAG-23 Guadalcanal is a book-based game that celebrates the story of Marine Air Group 23, known as the "Cactus Air Force", a ragtag group with planes, pilots, and personnel from the Marine Corps, Navy, and Army Air Forces. Their heroism helped deliver America a much-needed early victory in the Pacific during the Second World War.

"The book-based solitaire air war game, MAG-23 Guadalcanal, provides a non-traditional means by which to learn and inculcate history, the fabric of nations and thereby, the fabric of humanity. We can never over-estimate history as an elixir in making Marines, in winning wars or in preserving a nation."
-- Arnold Fields, Major General, US Marine Corps (Ret.)

Each detail of gameplay provides an accurate picture of the hardships and disadvantages the Marines faced. Courage and determination eventually lead the Marines to overcome Japanese forces and achieve victory. MAG-23 Guadalcanal is a must-buy game for those wanting to learn more about military history and the true story of the Pacific War.
-- Edward Russell, Colonel, USMCR (Ret.)

It is one thing to read about or watch videos about historic battles. It is something else to actually be in the position of making the hard decisions yourself, which this game enables us all to do.
-- Jim Craft, SES, formerly with HQ USMC

In this game, you command MAG-23 during its seven-and-a-half-week long deployment on the island of Guadalcanal. You begin with two squadrons – Marine Fighter Squadron 223 (VMF-223) and Scout Bombing Squadron 232 (VMSB-232). Ahead is a trial by fire. You will face the highly maneuverable Japanese A6M Zero fighter, G4M Betty bombers, D3A Val dive bombers, and B5N Kate torpedo bombers – and other aircraft.

During your time on Guadalcanal, you manage your forces from Henderson Field. You will be reinforced by pilots and planes from the US Army Air Forces and US Navy. Your main advantages are the ruggedness of the Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, the Australian Coastwatchers, a primitive radar early warning system, and – above all – the determination and unwavering fighting spirit of your Marines.

"Guadalcanal was the only place on earth where you could stand up to your knees in mud and still get dust in your eyes."
-- Capt. Marion Carl, USMC, Guadalcanal Ace

You will face the jungle, nightly bombardments by Japanese naval ships, infantry reinforced by the “Tokyo Express”, dysentery, dengue fever, and malaria. Japanese artillery will regularly shell your airfield, sometimes hitting your planes, fuel stores, runways, and bivouac.

Your hold on Guadalcanal is tenuous. The Marines have a perimeter of a few hundred meters around the airfield. You are frequently under fire. The runway is pitted from shelling, making every take-off and landing a risk. Your pilots must drive the enemy back from the perimeter. If they fail, Japanese infantry will overwhelm the Marines and storm the airfield.

The survival of the Marines on Guadalcanal depends on your planes and pilots. You must intercept Japanese raids, strike at enemy ground targets, and bomb and strafe enemy ships. You will face the cream Japanese aviation, including some legendary aces like Junichi Sasai, Toshio Ōta, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, and others.

Your deployment on Guadalcanal begins when you land on the newly opened Henderson Field on Thursday, 20 August 1942. You fly your first mission the next day. It ends when MAG-23 hands off its mission to the next Marine Air Group and departs for Espíritu Santo on Monday, 12 October 1942.

Your pilots will wage battles over land, in the air, and at sea to protect Henderson Field, the focus of both sides in the conflict. It will be tough. So many US Navy and Japanese ships will be sunk off the northern shores of Guadalcanal that the waters will come to be called “Ironbottom Sound”.

MAG-23 Guadalcanal is engaging, fast-playing, fun, and easy to learn. Most missions can be completed in less than fifteen to twenty minutes. This game is not a simulation of air-to-air combat between individual fighter planes, nor is it intended to be a realistic depiction of the air war; it is an entertaining and educational air war game that allows you to experience the conflict on Guadalcanal – as if you were there.

This game is for both experienced and novice war gamers alike. Though dice play a role, the outcomes depend on you. How many of your pilots will make it through to the end? How many will become aces? Will you defeat the Japanese and keep Guadalcanal in American hands? Or will you fail and see Henderson Field overrun by Japanese infantry?