In the solitaire game you are Alexander "Archie" Vandegrift, commander of the 1st Marine division tasked with holding Guadalcanal against the Japanese. Your Marines are tough but isolated as the Japanese build up around you. Your biggest asset is Henderson Field, a small airstrip that gives you control of the sea lanes during the day; at night, the Japanese sneak in boats with men and supplies, and sometimes bombard the field directly. You must weigh the various threats against you and defend the island until relief comes.
In the two-player game you take the role of the Japanese commanders, trying to take back Guadalcanal or of Vandegrift, the American commander, trying to hold on to Henderson Field. The status of Henderson Field depends primarily on the state of the runway, which the Americans are constantly trying to improve while the Japanese bombard it by air, land, and sea. As the Japanese player your troops slowly arrive, and it is difficult to build enough force to gain a clear advantage. Also, the Marine artillery and light tanks with Vandegrift are a decisive factor when they are able to engage in battle. You must always use the jungle and fog of war to hide your troops as they maneuver for attack against the Marine perimeter around Henderson Field. Also, you have one advantage, your navy, which can bombard the Marine positions. As Vandegrift, you must protect the airfield from Japanese attack and bombardment. If they are able to close in and bring their artillery into range of the airfield all is lost.