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Subject: Great System, great game! rss

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Tim Korchnoi
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Richmond
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My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
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5th Fleet Review

5th Fleet is the fourth in a series of games covering modern naval warfare. Set in the late 1980's the game covers the South Asian and Persian Gulf regions. Units consist of surface, sub, and air military units with a varying degree of military capabilities, ranging from Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to Surface to Surface Missile (SSM) attacks. Victory points are awarded for accomplishing goals (like getting certain ships to a certain location), maintaining naval units in certain areas (this reflects concepts like control of sea lanes or sea denial) and for the destruction of enemy units.

Playing Time: This can vary depending on the scenario in question. There are nine basic scenarios and three advanced. Once one masters the system, the basic scenarios are playable in roughly 3-4 hrs. The advanced scenarios, which reflect a wide variety of political possibilities, can be considerably longer, but for those with a penchant for “what if” type possibilities, these are worth the time investment.

Maps: The game comes with three maps depicting the South Asian, Persian Gulf region. They run roughly from the Red Sea to the tip of the Indian Peninsula. The map contains features such as bases, cities, and ports as well as water depth. The color is the typical type found in a Victory Games product which, while it may not be aesthetically pleasing, certainly makes for a functional map that is easy to play on.

Counters: The counters represent the naval surface and sub forces of the opposing navies as well as the air units that come into play as well. The counters are nicely done(with the exception of the Indian units; the color scheme makes them a bit hard to read at times) and, while chalk full of information, do so without being busy. The reverse of the counters contain a star burst which lets players know quickly what is and is not damaged due to combat. All the major powers of the region are represented and any country with reasonable military might is included as well.

Rules: The rules are neatly organized with timely examples to help players work their way through them. The player aid cards have a nice summary of the varying types of combats and makes referencing the rule book minimal after the first few plays. Each sequence is clearly outlined with modifiers to the die roll clearly stated. While it may seem like there is a lot of rules, simulating all the possible types of naval combat (there are six types of combat) does take some time and doing it right (and making it playable at the same time) also requires a lot of skill which, IMO, designer Joe Balkoski does a terrific job with. There are also several charts (like the Recon detection one) that will require you to have extra space either on the table or nearby).

Things I like about the game:
● VERY, VERY playable. The entire fleet series is one of the most playable systems I have ever come across. Plenty of detail and tough choices without being cumbersome. Also, it is easily playable solitaire making it easy to work on strategies to prepare for your opponents. devil
● The maps. What can I say? I love the VG color scheme
● Random activations. Each turn players roll the die to see who gets to activate what type of units (surface, sub, air). This not only makes for good games, but it also allows you to try to build plans from turn to turn and, with some luck, you can make a plan come together perfectly, just like real armed conflict.
● The 0 on the ten sided die is a 0. Nothing hammers home the idea of the Clausewitizan concept of friction better than having a great plan and rolling that 0!!! angry shake
● The advanced scenarios. For a grand strategist like me, it is heaven!!!! cool

Things that can be annoying:
● Following the “you can reorganize your surface units prior to certain attacks” to the T. I played with one guy years ago who insisted we actually do it (rather than just saying verbally, “okay, I’m going to reorganize like this). That can slow down game time when, if you are playing with men of honor, it is not necessary.
● Lack of political events for the advanced scenarios. I loved those in the earlier games! cry
● The Indian counters. Who came up with that color scheme??? Yes, I know it is the flag of India and I mean no disrespect in that sense. What I’m saying is someone should’ve come up with a better plan.
● Once you have played the game often, the some of the basic scenarios do seem boring. However, on the plus side, they are great ways to learn the game at first and introduce someone to the system (and wargaming in general).

Overall Assessment:
d10-1 =I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month. d10-9 =Wargame Heaven

Maps= d10-8 But remember: I do like the color scheme
Counters= d10-8 Nicely done (except India)
Rules= d10-7 Great organization and playability but why oh why did the reinforcement and political events have to go??? cry soblue
Playing time= d10-6 I only put this because I know those who are pressed for time will find the advanced scenarios long (and possibly the last two basic as well).
Ease of deploying units= d10-5 Typical of most wargames. Not hard, but not super easy.

Overall evaluation= d10-6 Mainly due to the disappearance of some of the rules from the older games. Take away that, and it is easily a d10-9 IMO.
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Champion Eternal
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Stop it! You are making me want to punch out all my counters and play this game.angry

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Steve Bernhardt
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These really are great games! They are dated in terms of their topic, but I haven't really seen a modern naval game that did it was well as this series. What made them great were the victory conditions; you might have an American carrier group that can punk anyone, but you would have to land marines, bomb airfields, or whatever. Gave a great feel for having lots to do with stretched resources.
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Neil Smark
Australia
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On some of the Yahoo groups there is some good work being done on upgrading the counters and adjusting some of the rules to make the game a bit more contemporary

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James Cox
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Champion Eternal wrote:
Stop it! You are making me want to punch out all my counters and play this game.angry



Punch, baby, punch! Play it!
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James Cox
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marcona wrote:

On some of the Yahoo groups there is some good work being done on upgrading the counters and adjusting some of the rules to make the game a bit more contemporary



Really? Where?
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