The Tide at Sunrise – Taking Down Port Arthur (Strategy)

A Japanese Tactical Plan for Taking Down Port Arthur in “The Tide at Sunrise”

By Bob Zmaczynski

The Tide at Sunrise Board Game


If you subscribe to the theory that Japanese success in The Tide at Sunrise is dependent on how quickly Port Arthur falls, the next question is, “So, how do you take down Port Arthur quickly?” This article presents an unorthodox (some might say “unethical”) Japanese tactical plan for hastening Port Arthur’s demise.

The tactical expedient presented here is not foolproof and may not be possible in every game (more about that later), but as Russian options are pretty limited on the first turn anyway, it should be a viable plan in most games. This article assumes you are familiar with the basic rules of the game and have played it at least once or twice.

The Plan

The goal is to take advantage of rule 8.3.4, “Japanese Reinforcement Restrictions”. Japanese 28cm (11-inch) artillery units, the 10-2 Artillery Units, may not enter until Turn 7, or until a Japanese attack against a fort “fails”. A “failed attack” is any Japanese attack resolved on the Fort Combat Results Table that does not result in the Fort hex being occupied by Japanese units. If that happens, these fort-busting guns may be brought in during the next Japanese Reinforcement Phase.

My strategy is to employ a ranged artillery attack using a Japanese 3-6 (75mm) artillery brigade against Nanshan (hex 0806) and have the attack fail at 1:2 odds, without suffering a combat unit loss. (See Artillery rule 7.3 and the Fort Combat Results Table)

The Tide at Sunrise Board Game

If we assume there are two Russian 3-6 infantry brigades in Nanshan, the Japanese will need at least 14 Japanese Transport Points (JTPs) in order to implement this plan, according to the Naval Combat Results Table. So the Japanese player should spend JTP’s to “buy” three Japanese 9-8 infantry divisions and spend 2 JTP’s for one 3-6 artillery brigade. Next he should land one infantry division in each of the following hexes, 0608, 0712 (Houershi) and 0814 (Pizihku). These hexes are chosen for three reasons:

  • 1. The Japanese will need port supply, just in case things go wrong.
  • 2. The 28cm siege guns require road access to Nanshan.
  • 3. An infantry division must be moved adjacent to Nanshan to protect the artillery brigade that will perform the ranged attack.

Finally, the Japanese land an artillery brigade in hex 0609. It’s almost time to charge Port Arthur!

The Tide at Sunrise Board Game

First, it’s important to realize that units performing amphibious landings may move up to half their movement allowance (See rule 8.3.1). This permits the Japanese player to shift two infantry divisions northwest of their landing hex in order to protect his forces adjacent to Nanshan in hexes 0807 and 0808. Once this is accomplished the Japanese player may launch a ranged artillery attack against Nanshan at 1:2 odds. Of course, this attack cannot succeed as the Fort will not be unoccupied by Russian units.

Note that because the conditions for a “failed attack” have now been met, the 28cm siege artillery units are free to begin arriving in Houershi and Pizihku on turn 3 and start blasting Port Arthur shortly thereafter!


Although Russian units in Port Arthur, Darian and Nanshan may not move on turn 1, Russian units in the north (and reinforcements) might be railed down to the vicinity of Nanshan, which could (temporarily) thwart this strategy. But, of course, such a move will weaken the Russians in the north, while the Japanese will most likely still be able to make the “failed attack” on Turn 3 or Turn 4, after dealing with these extra defenders. So, it’s still a viable strategy, as it beats waiting until Turn 7 for the big guns to start arriving. It seems that no matter what the Russians do on turn 1, there will always be juicy opportunities to exploit for an alert Japanese player.

The tactics presented in this article may not fully conform to the spirit of the rules as the designer/developer envisioned, but OH WELL! A win is a win..

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