Pacific War: “Look at the size of that thing!”
June 25, 2012
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I’ve played block games like Hellenes and Liberty… I’ve played Ogre and Star Fleet Battles… but I have never seriously played a “real” war game. I have always wanted to, but it just never seems to happen. I meet people that own a few games like that and I say, “yeah… that’s the type of game that you buy and then never find anyone to play it with– it just gathers dust on your shelf for twenty years.” And they look at me all shocked and say, “how did you know…?!” So… no more Mr. Nice Gamer! We’re unpacking Pacific War and we’re going to play it come hell or high water.
The basic concept of the game is to slowly move your units while the other player checks repeatedly for sighting– so there’s no down time here just like in the grueling Battlesuit game I played way back with MattV. The designer admits that Japan cannot win the mega-monster game even if they avoid a disaster such as happened at Midway. Just like in Axis and Allies, the allied production power is a clock on their capacity to stay in the game. There are several types of scenarios you can run with this depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go:
- “The Engagement Scenarios focus on one-sided encounters and are primarily solitaire learning experiences.”
- “The Battle Scenarios are famous naval battles, such as the Coral Sea, which use all rules concerning movement and use of military forces and are intended as competitive player encounters.”
- “The Campaign Scenarios bring all the rules concerning extended operations to bear and highlight famous struggles for parts of the Pacific, as in the Guadalcanal Scenario.”
- “The Strategic scenarios are the “war” itself, bringing the strategic level decisions into play, such as the US submarine and strategic bombing campaigns, as well as introducing control over reinforcements, replacements, and pilot training.”
Now I haven’t played, yet, but I’m going to go ahead and say that this type of organization is unbelievably useful. There are plenty of space games out there that come with hardly any scenarios– and those that do rarely break them down in such a way that it is easy to learn the system. (Striker is probably the worst offender here because you have to devise both the tanks, the setting, and the scenarios. Brilliant Lances gives you a setting and some scenarios, but does little to help bring you up to speed while forcing you to waste a lot of time filling out record sheets. Third edition revised Starfire is one of the rare exceptions because it comes with entire battle fleets specified for multiple factions, a set of scenarios that gradually doles out the rules to you, and the ships records are extremely easy to sketch up.)
Each unit has an Activation Point Cost that only matters in the Campaign or Strategic games. Here is a quick break down of what else is on the counters:
Ground Unit Counters
- Anti-Air Strength — This is the Flak combat rating.
- Steps — Number of men; relevant for “hit points”, transport, and the stacking limit of 48 steps.
- Troop Quality — Roll this number or greater to pass a TQ check.
- Other stuff — This includes unit designation, unit size, and unit type.
Air Unit Counters
- Anti-Air Strength — This is used for Air Combat and Strafe Combat.
- Anti-Ground Strength — This is used for Strike Combat against ground units and installations.
- Anti-Naval Strength — This is used for Strike Combat against naval units.
- Number of Engines — This is relevant for some Air Missions and also for the Replacement rules.
- Range — Total number of hexes that can be flown in one move.
- Status Level — Sounds like a slightly different system than the Troop Quality ratings.
- Note that Long Range Aircraft don’t have combat strengths and are extremely useful for performing Search.
Naval Unit Counters
- Anti-Air Strength — This is for conducting a Flak Attack.
- Anti-Submarine Strength — This is for conducting (you guessed it!) Anti-Submarine Combat.
- Bombardment Strength — This is for conducting Bombardment Combat against ground units or installations.
- Gunnery Strength — This is for conducting Naval Combat; there is a different value for short, medium, and long range.
- Hit Capacity — The number of hits it takes to sink the ship. Units marked with a “c” can be Crippled.
Okay! So far so good. I haven’t unpacked any of the rules, yet, but this should give you an idea of the scope of the game. I really like that there are both solitaire scenarios and two hour “battle” games. That is a big help and it mirrors what I tend to do when I’m trying to learn a new and complicated game. (Back when I was wanting to play Battlesuit, I played it solitaire several times. Then when MattV showed up and was into trying it, I was immediately able to set it up and teach him the rules.)
I think this one’s going to be fun….