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Subject: We Must Tell the Emperor - Full Historical Session Report rss

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the scrub
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We Must Tell the Emperor: Historical Session Report


INTRODUCTION
Victory Point Games has been quietly putting out a lot of quality games in the past couple of years. Given the "amateur-level" production of their games, they have to rely on solid gameplay and "just plain fun" to even compete in the niche of niches: wargames.

One area in which VPG has carved a name for itself is in their solitaire games, especially their States of Siege system first developed by Darin Leviloff in Israeli Independence. The latest title in this series is Steve Carey's We Must Tell the Emperor -- a game where the whole of the WW2 PTO is reproduced.

In a nutshell, it's a damn fine and FUN game. Not only is it small and convenient to set-up and learn, the game is a nice and succinct history lesson on what the Japanese faced in their "Empire-growing".

Like any good solitaire game, it has excellent replay value and I was happy to shell out a few more bucks for the expansion. This session report is my first full game with expansion using every optional rule in the book including the Historical Option -- all the Event cards which drive the action in the game are not shuffled but revealed in historical order. No punches are pulled and no die rolls are fudged. Hopefully those curious about how the game plays can get a sense from this report. Enjoy!

The hefty sixty cards of a full Event Deck for We Must Tell the Emperor

EARLY WAR
We Must Tell the Emperor set up and ready to go!

The "early" part of the Early War deck sees the Japanese aggressors at the heights of their powers. Out of the first 5 cards or so, the only real decision-making is in engaging in the Battle roll for Pearl Harbour (I rarely do it unless I'm feeling saucy) and trying to get the ABDA Front pushed back as far as possible to start the Oil resources flowing. I also try and get the Army-Navy resource maxed out for the key +1 drm.

In fact, by the Fall of Singapore (card #8), I've maxed out all my resources and most of the Fronts are past midway. Card 9 is the first expansion card in Historical order and it's the Java Sea Engagement -- the ABDA Front pops back off Java and I have to smack it back down.

As the Early War deck draws to a close I'm making good progress (as I should, things don't get easier!) and I'm able to Knock Out MacArthur's Front on the eve of the Battle of Midway, with the British also in their last spot and vulnerable. Unfortunately, the focus on these two Fronts has distracted me from Nimitz who on cards 19 and 20 will punish me severely.



MID WAR
The situation as the Battle of Midway occurs. Things will never be this "good" again for Japan.

One of my only key strategies is getting the Solomons Fortification pieces in the way of the Nimitz Front. It essentially buys time for the player by basically blocking the Front's advance half the time. The problem is getting the Nimitz Front backed up after the 19th and 20th cards which make placing the fortification difficult. However, in the full Historical game, there are some nice built in "breather" Event cards now like "Tokyo Express" (card 23) which although brief let's me get the Solomon's set up against Nimitz.

Of course, the next Event card (Milne Bay) has both Knocked Out British and MacArthur Fronts re-enter play -- "BOO!" In the Mid War deck, you have to be extremely vigilant. It's generally here where your great board position from the Early War just erodes and erodes and erodes, frequently without fanfare. By the Battle of Santa Cruz (card 27) I'm very short on Oil (thanks to 2 failed Knock Outs on MacArthur) and Army-Navy. Of course, this is the time to start gambling a bit. But wouldn't you know it, the dice gods betray me and I lose the Santa Cruz Battle roll and I'm getting tighter on resources.

One of my strategies is to keep Nimitz off the Solomons as long as possible. Alas, this game I wasn't as successful as I could have been...

Ouch! Just halfway through the game, Imperial Intervention (card 31) hits and it's just after the Nimitz Front passes the Solomons -- my key strategy for keeping the most dangerous Front away from China goes down the toilet. This is going to be ugly.

Limping into the Late War deck I have barely set up an Island Fortification in Iwo Jima against Nimitz and have MacArthur sitting in Formosa, one step away from the Home Islands. I've already taken one Troop Withdrawl from China and my Army-Navy, Prestige and Oil are at 3-5-3 respectively. If I were to score my progress now I'd have 20 points, a "Crushing Defeat"...


LATE WAR
The Home Islands face down MacArthur and Nimitz lurks just outside of Iwo Jima.

The one very fun aspect of the States of Siege games is the inexorable encroachment of the enemy. In We Must Tell the Emperor, the early and heady days of the war are counter-balanced by the sheer horror of relentless Front advances. Each Event card seemingly throws ridiculous military advances, resources losses and painful drms. By card 49, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, I'm teetering on the brink. Only some fantastic rolls keep the fronts off the Home Islands even after the Invasion Preparation rolls fail (a new mechanic in the expansion). I actually chuck multiple Kamikazes at MacArthur only to roll a 1. Then, of course, I roll 5s and 6s on the next three "must win" dice. Ridiculous!

Alas, the rolls don't continue to go my way, the game ends on the 54th card, "The Road to Mandalay", the Chinese and the British sans Americans, take the Home Islands, causing a Total Collapse. I've done better, but I've done a LOT worse...

Late in the game, I somehow lose the Battle of Leyte Gulf but come out ahead on good die rolls.


HIGHLIGHTS

1. I played with all the Optional Rules. I was allowed multiple Kamikaze and easier Knock-Outs (rolls of 5-6 are automatic) but these didn't help me in the end (especially when the British turn over to 4 strength on the 41st card.

2. Die rolls were generally average. One of these days I'll log my "sixes" and "ones" to see if I was just generally unlucky. As far as I can tell (and I don't like analyzing it too much because that ain't FUN!) you'll need to be at least a little lucky to win.

3. No I still haven't won yet.

4. Yes I went back and had another full game without optionals this time.

5. Elapsed time on most games is under 30 minutes. I'm still having fun with the game and the Tournament scoring in the expansion rulebook let's me know how close I'm getting to "success". For me these days, there are fewer and fewer games I can just sit down and relax to. We Must Tell the Emperor is currently filling that need. It's quick, fun and historically sound.

The end of Imperial Japan's designs in this game of We Must Tell the Emperor.

Hope you enjoyed the report!
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John Welch
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Fantastic session report! Lots of detail and lots of humor - a great combo. Steve is a truly gifted designer and I think his next project is going to be another BIG hit!
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David Kennedy
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Dude, no wonder you keep losing! Your 'Out of Play' box is so disorganized! You're really going to have to get it together if your plans for conquest are to succeed. When you're rummaging around looking for the right DRM marker, the enemy is on the move!
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Jonathan Holen
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Great report! Love the pictures.
 
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jumbit
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Did you have to handwrite that "3" on the counter? And the 1-6 tracks on the top of the board look to be written in with a pen. Why didn't the game come fully pre-marked?
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Rod Bauer
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jumbit wrote:

Did you have to handwrite that "3" on the counter? And the 1-6 tracks on the top of the board look to be written in with a pen. Why didn't the game come fully pre-marked?


That is just the font printing style used for the game. They ARE pre-printed (You do NOT need to "handwrite" anything).
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jumbit
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It certainly looks handwritten. Is that a new "thing" in boardgames, to make the counters look handmade? Sorry, I'm way out in the sticks, I usually catch these trends way late.
 
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David Kennedy
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jumbit wrote:
It certainly looks handwritten.

It is a graphic design decision. Japanese components use a font which is evocative of Asian caligraphy. American components use the classic WWII U.S. military font seemingly spraypainted on everything. I found it to be thoughtful and effective in setting the right atmosphere for the opposing forces. It all looks very handsome and professional.
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Rod Bauer
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scrub wrote:

In fact, by the Fall of Singapore (card #8), I've maxed out all my resources and most of the Fronts are past midway.


Great Report Scrub! What do you mean by the "Fronts are past midway"? I am curious to know where each front was by the time of the #8 card.
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the scrub
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HitchKennedy wrote:
Dude, no wonder you keep losing! Your 'Out of Play' box is so disorganized! You're really going to have to get it together if your plans for conquest are to succeed. When you're rummaging around looking for the right DRM marker, the enemy is on the move!


Ha, I've played so much I only use the DRM chits for when I have Oil maxed out.


rod3556lhs wrote:
scrub wrote:

In fact, by the Fall of Singapore (card #8), I've maxed out all my resources and most of the Fronts are past midway.


Great Report Scrub! What do you mean by the "Fronts are past midway"? I am curious to know where each front was by the time of the #8 card.


Thanks! I think what I meant was the four Front markers were higher up on the tracks than lower (closer to Home Islands). Sometimes I just don't know the right nomenclature I guess.

Thanks everyone for the kind comments.
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jumbit
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HitchKennedy wrote:
It is a graphic design decision. Japanese components use a font which is evocative of Asian caligraphy. American components use the classic WWII U.S. military font seemingly spraypainted on everything. I found it to be thoughtful and effective in setting the right atmosphere for the opposing forces. It all looks very handsome and professional.

OH. I see it now. They are the numbers of the dreaded "Chop Suey" font. The font is not evocative at all of "Asian" calligraphy (whatever that is), in fact it is graceless.

Don't trust me, trust Wikipedia, the fount of everything good and honest in the world. "Many Asian-Americans find the use of these fonts offensive or racist, particularly when paired with caricatures which hark back to the Yellow Peril images of the late 19th century and 20th century." Print magazine has an article about how Chop Suey is a racist font.
 
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Roger Taylor
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jumbit wrote:
OH. I see it now. They are the numbers of the dreaded "Chop Suey" font. The font is not evocative at all of "Asian" calligraphy (whatever that is), in fact it is graceless.

Don't trust me, trust Wikipedia, the fount of everything good and honest in the world. "Many Asian-Americans find the use of these fonts offensive or racist, particularly when paired with caricatures which hark back to the Yellow Peril images of the late 19th century and 20th century." Print magazine has an article about how Chop Suey is a racist font.

And then there's the pseudo-Cyrillic font that was used in VPG's Soviet Dawn.
 
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David Kennedy
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jumbit wrote:
OH. I see it now. They are the numbers of the dreaded "Chop Suey" font. The font is not evocative at all of "Asian" calligraphy (whatever that is), in fact it is graceless...Chop Suey is a racist font.

Awwwh! Does the map hurt your feelings? I'm so sorry. Do you need a hug? Do you want to talk with your mommy? How about a cookie? There, there. Mommy will make the bad letters go away. Feel better now?

Dude/son, I think you need to make a decision. I hate to break it to you, but there is a lot of...hmmm, how should I put it?...vivid imagery on this website. You're going to see all kinds of potentially upsetting things here. What's going to confuse you is that it is all offered in good-natured gaming fun. For a sensitive young man such as yourself, this might be too trying. So you're going to have to man-up to handle it all like an adult. Or you can call your mommy. And whatever you do, do NOT read any of my Bushido warrior posts. Those will really upset you. I know somebody is going to scream "Banzai!"

Anyways, good luck!

Here's a gratuitious ninja icon, just for kicks. ninja
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David Kennedy
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One more thing! Definitely, do NOT look at the game "Kung Fu Fighting!" If you think the map for WMTtE is bad, this whole game will cause your head to explode.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13172/kung-fu-fighting

Once more with feeling, another gratuitious ninja icon! ninja

 
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Steve Carey
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jumbit wrote:
They are the numbers of the dreaded "Chop Suey" font. The font is not evocative at all of "Asian" calligraphy (whatever that is), in fact it is graceless.


The font is called "Bushido" - since the game is designed from the Japanese perspective of World War Two (not 2010), we decided that it was evocative and representative of the contemporaneous period. I stand by that decision.

Please do not derail the OP's excellent session thread. There are other places available if want to complain about an opinion - not fact - regarding the font used (indeed, there's one Geeklist item already on the gamepage if you scroll down).

Thank you in adavance for your cooperation and understanding.
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Erik Racer
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Wow. Fantastic session report. I'm waiting for my first SOS game to arrive (Legions of Darkness) so I'll get an idea of the mechanic. What really intrigues me about the other SOS titles is the historical information that's included. I hope to be sufficiently smitten by LoD to ensure the VPG will be getting more of my gaming dollars.
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Steve Carey
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eracer68 wrote:
What really intrigues me about the other SOS titles is the historical information that's included.


Erik, I've heard from some guys that they totally ignore the historical text on the card and just race through the game, which is an exciting ride for them.

Others (me included) love to read the text on each card as we go along to accent the game's historical play narration.

Check out the Emperor game page when you get a chance as a Board member has done a wonderful job creating a "Game Atlas" for each deck that traces the extended history of the cards, and allows for additional designer comments as well.

eracer68 wrote:
I hope to be sufficiently smitten by LoD to ensure the VPG will be getting more of my gaming dollars.


The odds are very high that we will be seeing you again.
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the scrub
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Very first game I played I did full historical and read every single card as it came up. Fantastic.
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Christopher
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scrub wrote:
Very first game I played I did full historical and read every single card as it came up. Fantastic.


I like to do this both with WMTtE and Ottoman Sunset. playing in historical order is easier (if you know the cards and anticipate what will come) but it tells a great history lesson! And it focuses me on trying to do better than the historical outcome
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