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Subject: I have Finally Found My Go to Game on the Pacific Theater! rss

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Tim Korchnoi
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Across the Pacific is a strategic level game covering the Pacific Theater of World War II. Each turn players receive their reinforcements, make strategic deployments, and then execute those plans in an operational/tactical phase. The game covers the whole area of conflict from the Pacific Ocean, to Australia, to China-India-Burma. The game ends when one of the players, through a set of geopolitical objectives, either achieves a instant decisive victory or, (at the end of nine turns) the strategic situation is evaluated and a winner is determined.

Playing Time: This can vary wildly due the chit pull mechanics, the choices players make and what order the chits are pulled. Sometimes some chits will be pulled and nothing will happen whereas other times there may be a number of operations to execute. My games I played took me around six or seven hours to complete.

Map: The map covers the whole theater of the war from India to Hawaii and the Soviet Union to Australia. All the major island groups and the key islands within that group are represented. The map also contains the terrain effects chart as well as a turn record chart and spaces to place the chits when pulled. The map is actually one big piece which is nice as it can be difficult to line up individual maps when they cover such a wide area. Even though the map is so large and one continuous piece it is still very easy to fold with very little worry about tearing. The map colors are beautiful and places are well marked. I also like the white hex number on the darker terrain: it makes it easier for old eyes to read

Counters: The counters are the nice big 5/8 size. They are sturdy, thick, punch out easily, and do not have a glossy coating on them which I like a lot. The pieces also have their turn of entry printed on the back. Some pieces also have a specific location of where they are to be deployed while others just have a general area (Japan) and still others only have a number allowing the players freedom to allocate their forces as needed.

Rules: The game approaches the Pacific in an interesting way using both a chit pull mechanic coupled with a strategic phase followed by a tactical phase.

Each turn the players collect and deploy their reinforcements. Units previously eliminated are gone for good! The players then begin the posting phase where they bring all the new units onto the map. Included in those units are POL markers (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants) which are needed to create those mighty far reaching task forces that led to the large battles of the Pacific War. Players then spend their POL to create task forces that fall into one of three categories: carrier, bombardment, and amphibious. Once this is accomplished play moves on to the strategic phase. In this phase chit markers are drawn one at a time and the player whose marker is drawn execute all the actions associated with that chit. So for example when the allies draw their deploy task forces chit they must send out to sea all the task forces they have created. This of course allows the Japanese to get an idea of where they plan to strike and can then answer with their own forces. However, the task forces remain hidden from sight and the counters marking their location only say it is a task force so even when the enemy goes first it only conveys incomplete information.
Once all the strategic chits have been pulled then the tactical phase begins where another set of chits is pulled that allows the players to activate their units they deployed in the strategic phase. So when the Japanese chit labeled Land Based Air Strikes is drawn any and all LBA can unleash their fury upon enemy airfields or ships. After the tactical phase there is an end of turn segment where forces at sea can redeploy to bases to prepare for the next round.

Overall, I think the rules are interesting and well thought out. The game does a nice job with the chit pulls of allowing for the element of surprise as well as depicting the impact of finding the enemy first that was important in the war. Since you never know in what order the chit pull occur, a player can actually attempt to execute a surprise maneuver such as the one the IJN attempted at Letye Gulf. For example, if during the strategic phase say the allies deploy their task forces first and then Japan can maneuver a bombardment task force or even just a task group within range and, if their chit is pulled first in the tactical phase, launch their assault to do maximum damage. Being abel to execute such a strategy has long been a grail type quest for games on battles such as Chancellorsville or Inchon and here the system actually works! (In one of my games I had the chance to strike a US TF that was poised to strike my major amphibious operation in New Guinea. The attack failed but just the fact that I had the opportunity was really cool cool

Logistical considerations are also factored into the game through the use of the POL markers mentioned earlier as well as the concept of the air umbrella which basically links land based air from the farthest reaches of your forces back to your home country. Creating an effective air umbrella makes deployment of forces easy and, for Japan, is critical in extracting resources from their newly won territory.

There is also some nice chrome worked in. The biggest example is the quality of the Japanese pilots which is done with a simple marker that creates a die roll modifier in combat.

The only drawback to the rules, IMO, are the lack of examples. While there are some great examples of the combat procedures, the system in the game is very different from anything else I have ever played on the Pacific Theater and, at first, it was tough to wrap my head around some of the particulars. However, the designer has posted an excellent AAR on consimworld that quickly clears up any issues. It would’ve been great if the AAR had been incorporated into the game as an extended example of play which, given that he did the AAR in 2008 and the game wasn’t published until 2010 should’ve been very feasible. I recommend that anyone interested in this game to go over at least the first several turns to get a real flow of how the game system as a whole flows. Once you do so, everything falls into place creating a great experience.

Things I like About the Game

1 Chit pull. Love the uncertainty this creates.
2 The different phases. I really like how you first create your strategic plan, then deploy forces to execute that plan but at the same time must react to the vicissitudes of war.
3 Multiple scenarios. The game allows you to recreate the critical campaigns (Midway and Guadalcanal) or start after Pearl Harbor or even begin at the moment of destiny prior to Pearl and even attempt to finish things in China first. Very cool
4 I like logistics of the game. The POL and air umbrella take this critical aspect into account without making the player feel like they're are being dragged down.
5 The difference between task forces and task groups. Managing this concept is critical to success.
6 The tactical chit pull is a good way to simulate the “who finds who first” element found in the Pacific Theater.
6 1 The chit pull allows for surprise maneuvers like Letye Gulf. How many games can say that???
6 2 This game really lets you try out various Japanese plans. Want to boldly grab Midway then strike at Pearl or, even more audacious, send an amphibious force to strike at Pearl the same time as the carriers? You can actually try that although, admittedly, with the chit pull you will need some luck

Things That Can be Annoying angry

1 The rules are unclear in some spots and the concept, while clever, comes across a bit murky at first.
2 I am still on the fence about the one round of combat. On the one hand, it seems odd as each turn covers 5 months but on the other, after doing some recent reading, it does seem appropriate given how many ships actually slipped away after engaging in battle.

Overall Evaluation: d10-9 =wargame heaven d10-1 =I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month yuk

Map= d10-8 The map is clear and visually appealing.

Counters= d10-8 The counters are nice, big and east to punch out. They handle well and are easy to read even with my old eyes

Rules= d10-7 The rules, as a whole, are excellent. Once you get over the hump of seeing just how the whole system works the game flow is easy creating a fun balance between strategy, logistical considerations, and friction to make a great Pacific Theater experience. If they ever reprint this game, I highly recommend including the designers first three turns of his AAR for as soon as I played over this the whole thing instantly clicked.

Deployment of Forces= d10-7 While having the turn entry on the back of the counters is helpful, you still need to check with the order of battle to make sure everyone is accounted for which takes some time. I would recommend putting each turns units into an individual bag to ease set up.

Solo Play= d10-7 While you will know which task forces and task groups are where at all times, the uncertainty of the chit pull makes for a good solo experience.

Final Evaluation= d10-9 This has become my Go to Game (GTG) for the Pacific Theater. thumbsup

First, the chit pull is awesome and simulates well the uncertainty of deploying and maneuvering the forces in the Pacific Theater. Second, logistics play of bit part without being cumbersome. Third, the impact, (and importance) of land based air comes across loud and clear. It is amazing just how vital LBA was to the Pacific especially as many of us are accustomed to hearing all about how the aircraft carrier became the vital ship of the conflict. Fourth, being able to recreate surprise maneuvers is aces in my book. Finally, I love how the game recreates the feel and flow of the struggle between the USA and Japan. When I stand gazing down at the map trying to decide what to do with the forces I must now make decisions with as dictated by the fickle nature of the chit pull, I think instantly of that famous photograph showing Yamamoto studying the map before him.

Bottom Line: This game truly allows players to recreate the war in the Pacific and, more importantly, fashions an atmosphere that really makes you feel like you were there plotting the strategy of the war at the highest level and, thanks to the chit pull, reacting to the latest intelligence coming across your desk. In the end, no other WWII Pacific game has ever so brilliantly combined military maneuvering with the logistical considerations of the war so seamlessly without taking away the fun of gaming. And that is the ultimate hallmark of e great game! cool
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Mochara C
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Yes, the designer has offered outstanding support over at CSW.

Another great write-up - thanks, Tim.
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Christopher Clark

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You convinced me. It is on my to buy list.
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Mike Hoyt

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You think you could ask the Designer to post his example of play as a file here on BGG? Or (with his permission) do it yourself, just cut/paste the CSW post to a document, even PDF that could be uploaded...

(I hate when good material gets posted only to CSW, it's virtually impossible to find as the thread continues to fill up ...)
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Tim Korchnoi
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blockhead wrote:
You think you could ask the Designer to post his example of play as a file here on BGG? Or (with his permission) do it yourself, just cut/paste the CSW post to a document, even PDF that could be uploaded...

(I hate when good material gets posted only to CSW, it's virtually impossible to find as the thread continues to fill up ...)


I would but I don't have a consimworld account blush
On the plus side, the AAR is right at the very top of the forum so you don't have to go searching through the thread cool
If you try to print it out a word of caution: it is 113 pages long!!
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Mike Hoyt

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I just suggested over on CSW that Mr. Myers either post it here or give me permission to do so his behalf.

Gulp, 122 pages... Gulp
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Bill Lawson
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I quite honestly found this game extremely disappointing. I recommend anyone thinking of buying this to think again. This has been a community service thumbsdown
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Tim Korchnoi
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billyboy wrote:
I quite honestly found this game extremely disappointing. I recommend anyone thinking of buying this to think again. This has been a community service thumbsdown


Hey Billyboy could you elaborate? I'd be interested to hear why you disliked it so much.
Plus, which PTO strategic game do you like best?
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Rohan E
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Great review of a great game
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Bill Lawson
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catosulla wrote:
billyboy wrote:
I quite honestly found this game extremely disappointing. I recommend anyone thinking of buying this to think again. This has been a community service thumbsdown


Hey Billyboy could you elaborate? I'd be interested to hear why you disliked it so much.
Plus, which PTO strategic game do you like best?


For starters he pasted a tactical style of combat on a strategic level game. With the small number of turns bad luck on an attack will put you way behind schedule. Try Pacific Fleet. A far, far better game.
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Tim Korchnoi
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billyboy wrote:
catosulla wrote:
billyboy wrote:
I quite honestly found this game extremely disappointing. I recommend anyone thinking of buying this to think again. This has been a community service thumbsdown


Hey Billyboy could you elaborate? I'd be interested to hear why you disliked it so much.
Plus, which PTO strategic game do you like best?


For starters he pasted a tactical style of combat on a strategic level game. With the small number of turns bad luck on an attack will put you way behind schedule. Try Pacific Fleet. A far, far better game.


I have to disagree. The combat system does, IMO, model the impact of battles on the war quite well. Think about how much Midway set back the Japanese or even how the bloody carrier battles in the Solomons hampered US naval operations by, at one point, reducing the USN to one working carrier in late 1942. So yeah, if you strike and it does not go well(which happened on my last play) you are behind the eight ball but all is not lost if you carefully handle your LBA, and task groups.
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Michael Myers
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I submitted the AAR requested as a learning tool to the webmasters here on BGG. Hopefully the file will be added soon.
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Michael Myers
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BGG won't allow AAR "session reports" in their files. Sorry--please check the header in the CSW Across the Pacific folder or e-mail and I will send it to you.
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Russ Williams
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Each post at CSW has its own URL (analogous to individual comments in a forum thread here at BGG), so someone who knows where the post is buried at CSW could simply post the direct link to the relevant post at CSW.
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Tim Korchnoi
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myers wrote:
BGG won't allow AAR "session reports" in their files. Sorry--please check the header in the CSW Across the Pacific folder or e-mail and I will send it to you.



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Michael Myers
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Thanks, Russ. Like this?

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dcfa48b/2548

The link is in the header. It's the attachment "ATP AAR Holidays 2008."
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Michael Myers
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Thanks for the great review, Tim.
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Russ Williams
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myers wrote:
Thanks, Russ. Like this?

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dcfa48b/2548

The link is in the header. It's the attachment "ATP AAR Holidays 2008."

Yes, thanks! I see it.
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Tim Korchnoi
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myers wrote:
Thanks for the great review, Tim.


You're welcome

BTW I read your book as well. It was very interesting. I focused on Decision Making Theory when I earned by masters and there is a lot that you point out to mull over from that perspective.
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Donald Johnson
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Be aware that this game has a turn representing five (5!) months of activity. So the Japanese typically have about 2 turns of offensive, then there is the roughly balanced forces middle game of about 2 to 3 turns and then the end game with the Allied steamroller. At that scale you do not have time for subtlety, you decide what you want your forces to do and you do it, go into combat, and accept the consequences. There is one big decision for the Japanese to make, whether they want to emphasize a naval campaign or a land campaign in China, they cannot do both.
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Only 2 turns? I've not found that to necessarily be the case. The nature of the TF movement rules means that there's opportunities for thrust and parry on both sides. I've had the Japanese paddling around the lower Solomons, picking up islands in '44. I've also seen the Allies in Japan in 44!
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Lawrence Hung
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Finally got a copy. Thanks
Tim Korchnoi
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for your comprehensive review which pushes me over the fence. laugh ....and a happy one.
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Lawrence Hung
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Quote:
BTW I read your book as well. It was very interesting. I focused on Decision Making Theory when I earned by masters and there is a lot that you point out to mull over from that perspective.


Which book is it in Amazon? I seem couldn't find it.

Also, the two files posted on Consimworld header are in strange type which can't be opened:

Across the Pacific Official Errata 2-12-11
Across the Pacific Official FAQ 2-12-11

Can they be reformatted as PDF or word files?
 
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Tim Korchnoi
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Lawrence,
I can't speak to the files but this is the book:
The Pacific War and Contingent Victory: Why Japanese Defeat was Not Inevitable
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