Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 Hide
37 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Pacific War» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Obscure monster game - or not [Disclaimer: applies to campaign game only] rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
In a series of obscure but interesting games, it is turn for Mark Herman design, Pacific War, published by Victory Games in 1985. There are few reasons to wake this monster game from the obscurity it dwells in.

Pacific War had the honor of being the game that was for a longest time a game of choice for any events that occurred in Pacific. It was a fine design with very, very long and comprehensive campaign system that encompassed whole Pacific War.

First noticeable thing about Pacific War was that the box was packed with stuff. Among with them two rather ascetic (by modern standards) paper maps with dense hex layout. Second thing that occurred - after seeing the counter mix and the whole map was realization that existing table space was not going to be half as much as needed. Screens and Army & Task Force holding boxes would take another chunk of the table size of the map. So, when thinking that Pacific War was a decently priced acquisition, one soon realized that it meant another acquisition to be played. A flat or house with an extra room.

Pacific War has smaller alternative scenarios though - they would only take one pretty big dining table instead of two - but on the good side, you could have dinner after several hours of gaming and eventual deconstruction of the setup. Scenario book does have quite vast amount of scenarios ranging from simple combat situations to short strategic scenarios so all points for that. In fact, without those, one would be hopelessly lost. It is not only good thing for of the playability of the system, but also because if one is about to experience the whole campaign, it is essential to understand how each of the subsystem functions as a part of the whole. Without this rather crucial understanding you may find yourself first spending a day or two setting up the campaign, get it going and then get some crucial bit wrong and start over again. Shorter scenarios are quite all right, and some provide excellent fun for limited time. However, it must also be said that some of the system shortcomings become already apparent in the smaller scenarios.

The campaign has been designed well, and as usual, there is no practical way that Japan would ever win military victory over US. Acknowledging that helps the play quite bit - if one expects differently, the campaign play becomes pointless exercise of futility. However, there are design options that do work, but may not work as intended.

Goodies

Pacific War is comprehensive. There are details from strategic level all the way down to minor details of operational and battle considerations. Interesting design choice is to have each level as essentially separate subsystem which has the phase progress tracked in specific display. It really helps a lot to keep track of the progress.

The flow - especially smaller strategic/operational scenarios (such as Guadalcanal) is very good, and game flows nicely. Hidden deployment, decoy Task Forces, air search capacities are all very nice features that put lots of tension in the game. Deploying eyes - long race search planes - is the single most important task that will eventually dictate wether one is going to win or loose the game. If you cannot spot the enemy, you cannot attack the enemy.

Strikes (even simultaneous) are build up with tension and in battle it really feels that you are doing your utmost. Every carrier lost hurts really bad.

Shortcomings

The biggest shortcoming of Pacific War is the length of the game. Considering that it requires dedicated time, dedicated place and enough patience to go through most of the smaller scenarios, the whole campaign is not going to be played in a weekend. For us it tool three months to go to early 1944 when US finally conceded to the Japanese peace terms. It was very, very long fight. All in all, interesting? Yes, but...

Second major concern is that Pacific War attempts to be too much. It has aspects that go from strategic (logistics, command point system to activate task forces, armies and such), construction, oil logistics, strategic submarine warfare, commercial fleet escort maintenance down to operational such as fleet management down to each Task Force composition and then all the way down to almost deciding the air strike composition and deck operations.

In this level of game, it is too much management, too much remembering where all hidden units are without losing track. Purely strategic aspect with heavy weight of logistics would have been brilliant. Multi level game as Pacific War, would have perhaps benefitted layers where multiple people play various levels, sharing the playtime requirements and detail management. In any case games would be long, and perhaps it would've been hard to find players to fill the roles, but then again, Pacific War campaign game is not a something casual player can tackle anyway.

I never liked the air strike/combat system too much. Always though it to be fatal, but more I thought about it, more I came into conclusion that it is excessively so. A big carrier may have 6 steps of planes. Take two losses and you do not get to do the strike but will pull out. that is 30% of permanent losses for aborted strike in early game and that was rather easy to achieve. Later casualties were much more severe and they could have been pilots of top Japanese training. It is not that there are no replenishments coming along, but all too often carrier air groups would become completely depleted - and when war advanced, it was nearly impossible to dent American aerial defense (including AA alone). Nothing wrong with that, as such, but the quantity of losses in AA looked like Mariana Turkey Shoot - almost every time.

So, there were remarkable amount of empty carriers around while in reality earlier Japanese aviation aircraft losses were due to losing the whole carriers, planes with them. Something like replenishing one step for the losses after the strike could have remedied a lot for both sides (aborted and damaged but returned planes).

Conclusion

Pacific War is interesting take on the subject, but unfortunately it is quite unwieldy. Space and time requirements for full campaign will force most people back from it and the smaller scenarios, while quite playable and fun are not real beef of the game. Other systems have - and will tackle the challenges perhaps better than Pacific War - even if the system has unique and eloquent methods to handle certain operational situations.

Pacific War misses the key feature of the war somewhat. It concentrates, and forces players to concentrate too much in the minor details of the war - or perhaps even the war itself. Most decision points hover around thinking of where to attack next, not because there is strategic need to do so, but because - well, it is nice to cover ground. Realistically, because Japan has no way to win military victory over US, the entire focus should be in the strategic aspects instead. Logistics, resources, denial of advance and eventually slowing down the inevitable Japanese defeat.

I think there are better ways to execute the Pacific War in grande scale - in truly strategic manner, but I shall get back to that in later time and check something completely different - and have comparison.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
flag msg tools
Boston Redsox
badge
New England Patriots!
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Poppycock! One of the finest games I've ever played. I have played the full campaign twice as well as the other scenarios. Obscure? Hardly. Mark Hermans best game.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Obscure for the general public, not the ones who have played it. I only know handful of war gamers who have heard, not to mention played the game so I call it obscure. That said, it should not be. It should have the attention it deserves.

So yes Pacific war is a great game but the full campaign does have few shortcomings. Then again, reprint could address those and we could see really brilliant take on Pacific War.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
simon thornton
United Kingdom
Liverpool
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Quote:
Space and time requirements for full campaign will force most people back from it and the smaller scenarios, while quite playable and fun are not real beef of the game


Dont fully agree here. It was always designed as an operational game with multiple scenarios. The campaign game was forced on Herman by the publishers and whilst not exactly an afterthought wasnt the design focus.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
bluekingzog wrote:
Dont fully agree here. It was always designed as an operational game with multiple scenarios. The campaign game was forced on Herman by the publishers and whilst not exactly an afterthought wasnt the design focus.


You are most likely right and what you say makes sense. At the time I got the game (somewhere in 1990's), it was the notorious monster game phase so my focus was on the whole at the time. Albeit we did play through all the other scenarios and found most of them very nice (by the way, my complaint about the air issues and other management issues applies only to the whole campaign game), the grande campaign appeared to focal point for us.

Therefore it may be worth highlighting that Pacific War has issues but they are limited to the whole campaign setup, not to the individual smaller scenarios which are completely different. In operational scenarios management is easy, game flow fluent and most can be played in very reasonable time.

Now that you point out about the external pressure, the shortcomings are not result of original design focus then.

Good that you pointed it out. Appreciated.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Donald Johnson
United States
Seguin
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
There are quite a few challenges in designing a game on the entire Pacific War contrasted to say WWII Europe or WWI, etc.

One big challenge is how to allow something like Midway to happen organically in the game, without forcing it? I think Mark's solution is brilliant.

Another is how to show the history where the Japanese won fighting against superior numbers? This leads to the idea of morale, I think. A high morale force can beat a low morale force even when it has larger numbers.

Morale also helps in the air war in showing the early superiority of Japanese carrier pilots and also that once those are gone, they are for the most part not coming back.

The US seizing the strategic initiative at Guad is also possible and is organic to the design. Another brilliant solution.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff M
United States
Lafayette
California
flag msg tools
mb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
billyboy wrote:
Poppycock!.


I love that word.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Don Johnson wrote:
There are quite a few challenges in designing a game on the entire Pacific War contrasted to say WWII Europe or WWI, etc.


Indeed. Precisely the ingredients for good game there.

Don Johnson wrote:
Morale also helps in the air war in showing the early superiority of Japanese carrier pilots and also that once those are gone, they are for the most part not coming back.


Here lies the root problem or the campaign system (besides of the losses that easily accelerate to a level that one side or other has carriers sail without planes). They do come back - and in fact, they do so relatively easily.

As Japan, restraining from attacking any other targets than submarines at start to reduce the possibilities of US to sink my merchant fleet, and then on restricting air operations only against carriers we ended up in situation where Japan had factually all the time L2 pilots because the losses before first training batch were close to negligible (eg. key carrier strike force was still very much in business). After China went, and India followed, it was lost cause.

Would I have needed to use air capacity against other targets than enemy carriers, the story would have been completely different and the withering of the good quality pilots would have been inevitable.

There just wasn't incentive to do differently.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dane P
United States
South Denver
Colorado
flag msg tools
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Any criticism of a game for 'taking too long to play' means you were not the appropriate target market for the game. Europeans like short games for some reason. It's your own flaw, not the game's.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Donald Johnson
United States
Seguin
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
L0 planes are trivial to replace, the trick is to better than that. To get L1 plans takes some work. To get L2 planes is normally not possible, but one can win a battle and promote and L1 to L2.

It is true that one way for the Japanese to try to win is to try to take out China and/or India. I think the house rules that limit land actions are required to be used to slow down that possibility. Did you use those?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Heliodorus04 wrote:
Any criticism of a game for 'taking too long to play' means you were not the appropriate target market for the game.


Well. Stating the fact that the campaign of Pacific War is very, very long is hardly criticism, neither does it mean that game is bad, because it isn't (it is actually the longest game we have ever played FtoF outside of Vassal). And yes, we had dedicated space and time for it, so not being target audience is a moot point.

Of course 1990's Vassal was not so much in existence, and after 2003 or thereabouts when Vassal came out, space requirements for games such as Pacific War are not so much of an issue - unless one wanted to play FtoF live.

However, If one just looks at the game box, it may be somewhat overwhelming to realize how much table space and time dedication campaign takes and would only be fair to point it out.

Heliodorus04 wrote:
Europeans like short games for some reason. It's your own flaw, not the game's.


Errr... what?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Raitt
United Kingdom
Boston
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
I think Pacific War is quite fair on losses to air-strikes. Zuikaku missed Midway because of her losses in planes at the Coral Sea. At the battle of the Eastern Solomon the Japanese lost 75 planes from 2 carriers. At the battle of Santa Cruz 180 planes were lost between the 2 sides and 400 at Midway If you showed up with 45 planes over a carrier group most get shot down by CAP and flak, fighters can't do much damage to ships and the rest would miss or score only 1 bomb or torpedo hit which a carrier could shrug off. In Pacific War it pays to have 2 carriers in a task group so even if you lose a couple of steps the strike will go in and cause significant damage. Of course the US struggle coordinating 2 air wings early on. You are quite right about the high priority of spotting the enemy though.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
polate wrote:
In Pacific War it pays to have 2 carriers in a task group so even if you lose a couple of steps the strike will go in and cause significant damage.


I did not say that modeling it is easy, but I think it could be better (something along the lines of recovering one lost step from strike regardless of outcome).

Another example: 29 planes were lost in Pearl Harbour during the strike. Usually (granted - with my die rolling) the losses in two strikes in game are between 3-5 steps (45-75 planes) and I don't recall having sustained less than 3 in trials (that's why in the most complete campaign, second wave never occurred because it would be waste of planes). It is substantial increase.

The difference is wether the losses are caused by bad planning and or very good tactical maneuvering as in historical situations (Japanese were practically ambushed in Midway for example), or because of design that just decides from players behalf that certain air operations are bad ideas.

It is not only Japanese that sustain losses, but US has the same problem.

Out of curiosity, would you ordinarily attempt to interdict harbour or airfield with air units knowing how much it'll cost in the game (harbour had, what, 15 points? Considering even moderate flak and/or CAP, it would cost how much in planes)? Or airfields that are repaired practically instantly - what is the incentive to interdict those? How long before large airfield and harbour grind 12 air steps (a big carrier pair) to 0 compared with how much damage is inflected to the harbour with just few ships and the airfield? Add few steps of CAP and try again.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Don Johnson wrote:
L0 planes are trivial to replace, the trick is to better than that. To get L1 plans takes some work. To get L2 planes is normally not possible, but one can win a battle and promote and L1 to L2.


I recall that the training took something like 6 months to L0, 12 to L1 and 18 or 24 to L2 but I don't have the rulebook with me. In any case, if properly planned, it was very much possible to keep waiting for the better air crews.

Don Johnson wrote:
It is true that one way for the Japanese to try to win is to try to take out China and/or India. I think the house rules that limit land actions are required to be used to slow down that possibility. Did you use those?


Not sure. When they were published? It was already very tough to get ops going in China with the x3 ops cost multiplier (unless this is what you refer to).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Herman
United States
New York
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
polate wrote:
I think Pacific War is quite fair on losses to air-strikes. Zuikaku missed Midway because of her losses in planes at the Coral Sea. At the battle of the Eastern Solomon the Japanese lost 75 planes from 2 carriers. At the battle of Santa Cruz 180 planes were lost between the 2 sides and 400 at Midway If you showed up with 45 planes over a carrier group most get shot down by CAP and flak, fighters can't do much damage to ships and the rest would miss or score only 1 bomb or torpedo hit which a carrier could shrug off. In Pacific War it pays to have 2 carriers in a task group so even if you lose a couple of steps the strike will go in and cause significant damage. Of course the US struggle coordinating 2 air wings early on. You are quite right about the high priority of spotting the enemy though.


This is correct and is supported by my original research. Most carriers could not sustain more than one battle and then had to refit their air group. If you crunch the numbers this is what you get.

The other notion that you just build carrier air, but that carrier air is not good at knocking out ports is why you want land based bombers.

Did the OP ever play the campaign game and if so, more than once? I have and my experience is very different.

If you do not like the games numerology and combat system, you will not like the new version.

Lastly, Pacific War is an operational game that has a strategic scenario. The Strategic scenario is not the point of the game, the campaign scenarios are its raison d' etre. For a strategic level game, I designed Empire of the Sun.

Mark
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Offen
Australia
flag msg tools
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
oh but Mark.......the Strategic Scenario IS the point of the game. I check the forums regularly for news of the new edition with the very specific intent of buying it and playing the entire war with some equally perverse individual. Campaign and Battle scenarios - bah!! They are for wimps.

Different strokes for different folks as they say.

Regards
Andrew

PS : As my kids used to say to me on long car trips. Are we there yet? When will this thing come out?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M St
Australia
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
tico wrote:
In a series of obscure but interesting games, it is turn for Mark Herman design, Pacific War, published by Victory Games in 1985. There are few reasons to wake this monster game from the obscurity it dwells in.

It doesn't dwell in obscurity at all. PW has the third highest number of voters among strategic Pacific games on BGG, and the third highest number of listed owners. Given that it's three times as old as either of the other two (which usually results in a much lower ratio of entries), that shows that it's in fact among the best known. As you yourself say, for decades it was considered the game about the conflict. So how can you call it obscure?

Quote:
So, when thinking that Pacific War was a decently priced acquisition, one soon realized that it meant another acquisition to be played. A flat or house with an extra room.

I disagree, having played the Strategic Scenario several times on a kitchen table. It requires some organisational skill, but it can be done.

Quote:

The biggest shortcoming of Pacific War is the length of the game.
Considering that it requires dedicated time, dedicated place and enough patience to go through most of the smaller scenarios, the whole campaign is not going to be played in a weekend.

First, let me just be clear - you are complaining that "the biggest shortcoming" of "the notorious monster game" is that it's not playable in a weekend? I think you are contradicting yourself. If I bought "the notorious monster game", I would be disappointed if it were playable in a weekend.

Second, given the openly stated design goal of the system was to make the scenarios the core of the game, you are ignoring exactly the parts that would fit the size and length requirements that you state. What you are doing is like complaining that the major disadvantage of ASL is that it has too many scenarios than can be played in a weekend.

Quote:
Second major concern is that Pacific War attempts to be too much. It has aspects that go from strategic (logistics, command point system to activate task forces, armies and such), construction, oil logistics, strategic submarine warfare, commercial fleet escort maintenance down to operational such as fleet management down to each Task Force composition and then all the way down to almost deciding the air strike composition and deck operations.

On the contrary, I would say the genius of PW is that it recognises that all of these are necessary to do the war justice, and that it packages them all in a game of much smaller dimensions than others that have tried.

Quote:
Purely strategic aspect with heavy weight of logistics would have been brilliant.

It's always easy to postulate hypothetical solutions that sound better on paper; practice is usually different. The naval war and island campaigns were conducted on a vastly different time and map scale than the land campaigns, and the only option, apart from making everything bigger (the WITP way) is to have a system that can span the whole spectrum of scales. Operational detail in manageable strategic size is the main drawing point of PW.

Quote:
Multi level game as Pacific War, would have perhaps benefitted layers where multiple people play various levels,

For me, the most amazing achievement is that it does make the war playable by two people. A game designed to require teams of players for a comparable timespan would require something much more difficult than the larger table you claimed - it would require a new lifestyle for most of the people I play with.

Quote:
I never liked the air strike/combat system too much. Always though it to be fatal, but more I thought about it, more I came into conclusion that it is excessively so. A big carrier may have 6 steps of planes. Take two losses and you do not get to do the strike but will pull out.

I note that you are omitting any analysis regarding how often this will actually occur.

Quote:
that is 30% of permanent losses for aborted strike in early game and that was rather easy to achieve.

Wait a minute, are you saying the whole strike was aborted? In other words, you seem to be equating a strike with a single counter. If you engaged in lots of single carrier strikes, that's just bad tactics and yes, the game should punish it. Concentration is the name of the game, as the Japanese demonstrated in the real thing (first on the attack, and then, inadvertently, on the back foot).

Quote:
Later casualties were much more severe and they could have been pilots of top Japanese training. It is not that there are no replenishments coming along, but all too often carrier air groups would become completely depleted - and when war advanced, it was nearly impossible to dent American aerial defense (including AA alone). Nothing wrong with that, as such, but the quantity of losses in AA looked like Mariana Turkey Shoot - almost every time.
So, there were remarkable amount of empty carriers around while in reality earlier Japanese aviation aircraft losses were due to losing the whole carriers, planes with them.

Actually, this is incorrect. There were two major Japanese carrier operations at the start of the war - Pearl Harbor and the Indian Ocean raid - where the opposition was weak, outclassed or surprised, or all of those. After that there were five where they faced significant opposition (although if we are talking strategic attrition, it is more appropriate to count Coral Sea and Midway together, so then four), and then the seventh was Leyte Gulf where they came with empty hangars. These four rounds in the middle not surprisingly correspond exactly to the major carrier battles.

1. The split battle of Coral Sea and Midway. This is split from the Japanese POV, though they did not plan it that way. Separate parts of the Japanese carrier force were engaged. Even the part that achieved a tactical victory (at Coral Sea) was out of the war for three months, without a carrier being sunk. Regarding Midway, the myth that the pilot force was mainly decimated by the sinking has long been disproved. Many pilots survived the sinkings; but of the ones that attacked the US carriers, few returned.

2. Eastern Solomons. Significant losses were taken despite the fact that neither of the Japanese fleet carriers was even hit.

3. Santa Cruz. After two months, the air component of the Japanese carrier force had been rebuilt after Eastern Solomons but at notably lower quality.

After Santa Cruz, the carrier air corps was rebuilt again, and then committed by land to the fighting in the Solomons in 1943, where it was ground down again. It was laboriously rebuilt a fourth time and not deployed before 1944.

I note that the US side did exactly the same - after Santa Cruz it did not commit carriers to a major operation for over a year, by which time it commanded overwhelming force already.

4. Philippine Sea. The Marianas Turkey Shoot - enough said.

5. Leyte Gulf - the Japanese carriers with essentially empty decks, in only the fifth major round of battle to which they were committed, despite a year separating some of these commitments. It should not be surprising if you get empty decks if you commit them that often by 1943 in the game.

Quote:

Pacific War misses the key feature of the war somewhat. It concentrates, and forces players to concentrate too much in the minor details of the war - or perhaps even the war itself.

I don't understand what that means.

Quote:
Most decision points hover around thinking of where to attack next, not because there is strategic need to do so, but because - well, it is nice to cover ground.

Well, apart from the fact that there is a strategic need to gain the oil production sites. Which were the strategic imperative that drove Japan to war, and made them choose the southern route. Once these are taken, indeed there are few clear strategic imperatives. Just as there were few in the real war, and many books have discussed how the Japanese foundered upon the indecisiveness created by this situation. Literally, working out what ground to grab so that the counteroffensives would be as difficult as possible was the main problem the Japanese faced. What your argument actually shows is that the game reflects the historical situation well.

I note that if you are only interested in those strategic imperatives, then either the Southern Conquests campaign scenario (which covers basically the whole grab for oil) or the short Strategic Scenario will give you those options in a fraction of the whole campaign.

Quote:
Realistically, because Japan has no way to win military victory over US, the entire focus should be in the strategic aspects instead. Logistics, resources, denial of advance and eventually slowing down the inevitable Japanese defeat.

Strange, that's what I think of when I play the Strategic Scenario.

Quote:

I think there are better ways to execute the Pacific War in grande scale - in truly strategic manner, but I shall get back to that in later time and check something completely different - and have comparison.

It seems inappropriate for a review to not compare a game to its competition but to some hypothetical best case no one has seen and that you will not be specific about. Given that your post boiled down to "it's bigger than I like" and that you have actually not given any indication as to which other game would be better, I will argue exactly the opposite. I've played all the games at comparable level (there are not that many), and none can compete. There are other excellent games that take less time because they are at different scale, but that's a different category.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Severus Snape
Canada
flag msg tools
As Maxim 168 says: "L'espérance, toute trompeuse qu'elle est, sert au moins à nous mener à la fin de la vie par un chemin agréable."
badge
"I'm not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back." Brian Hanrahan
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
billyboy wrote:
Poppycock! One of the finest games I've ever played. I have played the full campaign twice as well as the other scenarios. Obscure? Hardly. Mark Hermans best game.


Mark Herman designs wargames? I never knew that. You never hear his name mentioned around these parts. I thought he was just some obscure Jedi living a solitary existence on some far away whatever that's far, far, away.

goo
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Severus Snape
Canada
flag msg tools
As Maxim 168 says: "L'espérance, toute trompeuse qu'elle est, sert au moins à nous mener à la fin de la vie par un chemin agréable."
badge
"I'm not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back." Brian Hanrahan
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
Heliodorus04 wrote:
Any criticism of a game for 'taking too long to play' means you were not the appropriate target market for the game. Europeans like short games for some reason. It's your own flaw, not the game's.


If is not a "flaw" that the game is long; it is a design decision. Nor is it a "flaw" that the OP does not like long games; it is a preference.

goo
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Obscure monster game - or not
MarkHerman wrote:
This is correct and is supported by my original research. Most carriers could not sustain more than one battle and then had to refit their air group. If you crunch the numbers this is what you get.


That is fine in every single operational scenario. You have pool of airpower to draw from, but the same mechanism leads to not so desirable outcomes in the campaign game.

I have feeling that there is profound misunderstanding going on. Pacific War has apparently two distinct sides (one by you, one insisted by publisher?). The monster game encompassing the whole war which I focused on.

... And then the operational game that is completely different. The latter I do recommend and like a lot, because it is really good. Some mechanism like searching task forces and reaction are incredibly fluent (now, considering that I though once that Flat Top would have things right - in the end Pacific War feels actually far better).

MarkHerman wrote:
The other notion that you just build carrier air, but that carrier air is not good at knocking out ports is why you want land based bombers.


Except that in the campaign game it is not necessary - and in case of resurrecting airfields even futile exercise, and ultimately waste of resources. Ports, if you can even in theory get them interdicted (I never succeeded with air operations and I tried many times, even with land based bombers) can be recovered relatively quickly so the incentive to do that is questionable at best.

It was frankly easier to form up marine battalion(or two) + poor quality quantity and expendable infantry landing force and occupy the bloody place.

There really is very little incentive to utilize airpower in anything else than hunting enemy carriers and secondarily poorly protected troop transports (carriers are where you gain strategic initiative, troop transports paralyse enemy movements). If you can also blind the enemy long range search planes, you can dominate the seas at will.

MarkHerman wrote:
Did the OP ever play the campaign game and if so, more than once? I have and my experience is very different.


Nice attitude.

Once till logical conclusion (US surrendered after having one empty CV afloat and both China and India surrendered. Japanese carrier strike force mostly intact, Japan lost one small CVL in the whole affair).

Five shorter campaign games that concluded because of other reasons, all of which were between 1-2 years. One of them was solo to test the system for the first year.

Additionally, all the smaller scenarios at least once. And I am not bothered about the one sidedness of certain scenarios like Leyte Gulf either.

Out of curiosity. Have you ever thought that you may have been trapped inside your own conceptual box just because you designed the game, and are blind to the problems that rise if it is not played according to the prevailing wisdom? Did anyone during play testing stretch the strategies beyond the accepted doctrine? Did anyone ever consider unorthodox ideas?

MarkHerman wrote:
Lastly, Pacific War is an operational game that has a strategic scenario. The Strategic scenario is not the point of the game, the campaign scenarios are its raison d' etre.


I did say before, and say last time. Operational scenarios are very good (and I am not a bit bothered about the air losses in those because of the limited scope, btw.).

In any case, you design games, I just play them. Ultimately it is your call to choose what you incorporate in the system and what you leave out. You have full right to declare your system perfect but I reserve right to think that there is room for improvement.

You can choose to hear, or close your eyes and ears. I don't mind either way.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
M St wrote:
So how can you call it obscure?


To rise it up, because I think it deserves more attention than it gets. Many people who own the game have had it resting in a shelf for years or a decade (including mine that has been in warehouse for well over a decade). Odd you did not notice that even though I said that already...

M St wrote:
I note that you are omitting any analysis regarding how often this will actually occur.


Elsewhere I mentioned the Pearl Harbour two strikes resulting 2 steps (29 planes) lost in reality usually (with my dice luck anyways) converts to 3 to 5 step losses in the game. This has happened nearly every time and increase is so substantial compared to the reality that the second strike never happens because it will destroy the fleet and does not gain any benefit at all. Funnily enough, there was never air strike pair that would suffer only one hit or less against Pearl Harbour.

On a way or other (individual trial, or as part of campaign), attack against Peral Harbour has been conducted about 15 times.

This is one, but usually first one.

Then it occurs to both sides nearly every time you conduct air operations over port+airfield that has even small AA capacity (not to mention if given moderate CAP is included) if you attempt to cause enough hits to intredict the port. Does not really matter wether it is carrier borne planes, or other. Bomber steps are actually more effective and useful in search than bombing but I guess that everyone already know that.

When Kido Butai performs few operations where flak alone causes one abortion, and sometimes two if aided by CAP, you realize that very soon you have no capacity to perform strikes because all you have left are one, two and three step counters. Odds of getting hits in with 1 & 2 steps is negligible. recombine three or four carrier air units into one substantial strike force counter, and you run into risk of abortion because instead of four small value counters, you have just one with big value. Who would not force the biggest value counter abort anyway?

As a result player is required to think about combining everyone which is good, but then the system prefers you to divide strike among as many counters as possible because only counters are aborted. Therefore, aborting counter does have disproportionate effect on the strike efficiency. Say that 6, 3, 2 coordinated strike, flak forces over 50% of the strike to abort in early war. Remaining ones cause zero hits, and next time the attack is with 4, 3, 2 or, if recombining 6, 3 and so it goes. Realistic? I really don't know. Gamey? Yes. Exploitable? Very.

I don't know if you understand the root problem there or wether I need to draw it for you.

This mechanic should be such that you combine the participating air steps in a single strike and treat the steps as a whole and then modify the result by how much fall for CAP, AA or premature abortion or coordination. Remote example would be in Fire in the Sky for how it could be done (not saying it is the better or best way, but different).

M St wrote:
Wait a minute, are you saying the whole strike was aborted?


This applies to US more than Japanese at least in first third of the campaign, unless Japanese decide to decimate their naval air force in pointless strikes against ports and airfields or divide the fleet in multiple small ones. Happens remarkably often with US Carrier task forces after they only have one (or two) covering carriers in operational state / and that was very frequent occurrence.

Most interesting situations were however couple of those carrier battles where both sides with two carriers each did not cause any hits to the carriers, but eventually decimated their respective air units resulting all four carriers sailing unscratched bu empty for the rest of the time. Of course it was luck, and occurring once would have been very funny. Second time not so. Realistic? I don't recall such events ever occurring in reality but what do I know.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Fresh start Fresh bananas
badge
Ashwin in thoughtful mood
mb

What is the playing times for the various scenarios?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
craig grinnell
United States
speer
Illinois
flag msg tools
Screaming Eagle and Damn Proud of it!!!
mbmbmbmbmb
Ashiefan wrote:

What is the playing times for the various scenarios?

a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks/months depending on the scenario.

Engagement (training/solitaire) only take a few minutes or so to play because they usually only involve one or two types of activity.

Battle (single historical battle) often last several hours.

After that, the campaigns are longer because they cover longer stretches of time and incorporate more rules.

All in all, it's really a good game system.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juha Helin
Finland
Espoo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Ashiefan wrote:

What is the playing times for the various scenarios?


From about half an hour (or a bit more) short engagement to several hours for longer operational scenarios. We could easily fit two shorter scenarios for after work evening, or one decently sized operational (Guadalcanal for example).

It helps quite bit if you sort everything you need ahead of time.

Basic assumption is that you know the rules, but then again the learning system is very helpful when you gradually move to more complicated ones. Once you figure out how system works it is quite fluent.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kev.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
Read & Watch at www.bigboardgaming.com
There are many innovations here, not repeated by any other designer.
There is a lot of game play here also.
It is not a monster in the sense of physical size but perhaps in scope. After all we are talking about just two maps and a few hundred counters at any 1 time.

I think everyone else has addressed your points. The game has some issues with sub warfare and with clarity of rules for some sections. I played with a friend two or three larger scenarios which really required a lot of work on the rule book to make sure we played correctly. Some rules referencing and better indexing and comparmentlized rules would go a long way to making a good game great.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.