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Tim Parker
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Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid is a solitaire operational game covering the daring raid on Tokyo by B-25s in April 1942. The game covers the entire operation from initial planning through the aftermath. The game is played in a series of phases (planning, naval, flight, attack, and denouncement) and in each phase the player must make choices to strive to achieve the best result for the mission namely hitting Japan hard and getting as many of the planes and crews to safety in bases on the Asian mainland.

Playing Time: This game has one of the widest ranges of playing time mainly due to the rules being presented via programmed instruction. The attack scenarios (1-6) are fairly short as you steer your planes through the Japanese target areas with the intermediate scenarios (7-9) running longer as other phases are added until one gets to the longest scenario (10) which covers the whole event from start to finish. I have played many of the 1-6 scenarios in a day (the most being 6) but the other scenarios took my a few days with the campaign taking me almost 5 days.

Map: There are four maps for this game: one large sheet covering the planning, approach, and flight of the bombers and three individual maps covering the target areas.

The large map is really three maps in one. On the one side are all the planning actions, in the middle is the naval and flight maps. The maps all contain area spaces with information regarding various factors that impacted the operation (such as weather, hazards, or modifications to the bombers). It is clear which area is which and the map is well organized and easy to read.

The three smaller target maps are double sided (one for daylight bomb runs the other for night time) and they also contain area spaces. The spaces have specific target locations as well as information on the number of hazards one can draw for that area. The small maps are clear and easy to read but can get a bit crowded once the bombs start falling and the Japanese react to the attack.



Counters: The counters for the game range in size from some very large ones for the Task Force and planes to 5/8 size for the hazard chits (among other things) to small 1/2 inch ones that are information related. The choice of counter size is excellent as the smallest counters have virtually no writing on them (good for old eyes like mine ) while the larger ones are easy to read and not “busy” although some, like the bombers, can get a bit crowded if you have elite crewmen and the plane has been damaged or has run into hazards such as fuel leaks.
The other nice thing about the counters relates to the hazard counters of which there are quite a few. After only a few plays it was easy for me to distinguish by touch alone which side was the hidden one and which had the actual hazard on it. This is extremely helpful when you have to draw multiple times when your bombers are swarming over the enemy targets maps: the number of times you might accidentally draw a counter on its information side is greatly reduced keeping the mystery and tension in the game.
Overall, I found the counters to be good and, for the most part, sturdy although I did have a few that tempted the peeling fate but did not actually cross that line.

Rules: A couple of things about the rules straight off. First, the rule book is very long (about 64 pages). Second, the rulebook is programmed to work with the 10 scenario playbook that comes with the game so you only learn a chunk of rules at a time, much like one of my all time favorite games Carrier. Third, I read among the comments here on BGG that, like its sister game ECODB you can literally just use the sequence cards that come with the game and play without reading the rules. That is 100% true! I did this for the most part (after a very brief skim) and found that only periodically (say once every 10 minutes) I was briefly looking up a rule for clarification. Finally, the rulebook is very well written and there was no time where I felt totally frustrated. This is certainly one of the longest rulebooks I have seen over the years; it was also one of the best written.

In general, the game has very specific rules that cover each sequence of play. A campaign game is made up of series of sequences of play that run from planning the operation through the denouncement.

First is planning where you try to negotiate landing bases, decide how to modify your bombers, what security measures will be taken, and how much training will occur. This step is very crucial to the success of your mission so think carefully before making your choices especially security. The first time your intrepid little Task Force is sailing toward the Rising Sun and you see that alert level rise swiftly, you’ll know what I mean!!

Next is the Naval sequence where you send your bombers loaded onboard the CV Hornet into the Pacific to (possibly) link up with the CV Enterprise and then head to your planned launch point. As you move, you’ll encounter weather as well as hazards a generic term covering anything and everything that could hinder your force from enemy I Boats to mechanical issues. Eventually, you will reach a point where you will either execute a planned launch or, if the gig is up sooner than you hoped, an emergency launch.

Once your planes launch you then do flight turns. Similar to the naval sequence in that they have hazards and weather considerations, the flight turn will be briefly interrupted when you reach Japan for the attack turns. Once all attacks are complete, you then continue the flight turns until all bombers have either landed or ditched.

Attack turns involve the smaller maps covering Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Bombers enter the map, maneuver through hazards then attempt to drop their bombs on specific targets(desired) or on an area in general. Once ordnance is dropped the planes fly off (if they survive hazards) and resume the flight turns.

After the flight sequence is finished then the denouement phase occurs when you assess not only how successful the operation was but also the impact on a myriad of interested parties.

Now, for some brief specifics.

Movement: Each type of sequence of play (naval, flight, and attack) has its now rules but generally speaking the game uses area movement that can be heavily influence by the weather.

Combat: There is not a lot of battle here except for the actual raids on Japan (unless you are unlucky enough to have your Task Force attacked). For the raids, your bombers must find the target and then drop the payload. Both methods are regulated by a die roll or higher method. The other major combat is against enemy fighters. This involves rolling a number of dice (dependent on planning choices) and any result of a 6 drives away the unwanted “friend”

Supply: This is handled in the flight sequence by fuel consumption and in the naval sequence by needing to refuel of you decide to forge ahead after failing to enter a new sea zone on your turn.


Things I like about the game

1 Intensity. This game makes you sweat. While the number of choices may not be very high each turn, the choices that have to be made are at times agonizing. gulp
2 The programmed instruction. This game appears daunting when you first open the box and spread out the components (as a matter of fact my first thought was, “This is going to be like Carrier” but the programmed instruction is beautifully executed making the game easy to learn.
3 The coverage. I love how the game covers the whole operation giving the players the chance to not only see how their plans play out, but also the chance to wear many “hats” and experience an operation from conception to execution and right through to the aftermath.
4 The feel. You really feel like the decisions makers from 1942.
5 Key decisions. The game allows you to make all the key decisions without feeling overwhelmed at any point. Although it may look like it at first, this game does not wallow in detail.
6 High replay. Take all the possible choices you can make during planning and then add in the random chit draws of hazards plus the die rolls for weather and other elements and you have a game that will come out unique each time.
6 1 The scenarios. Don’t have time for the full campaign? No problem! Just play 30 seconds over Tokyo with a short attack scenario. Flight and attack only? Covered. Don’t feel like planning? Covered. In the 10 scenarios included in this game there is something for everyone.

Things that can be annoying angry

1 HUGE footprint. This game took every inch of my 86 by 42 table and then I still needed space for the rules and charts.




2 The maps can feel crowded at times once all the markers start accumulating. Until you get into a good rhythm with this, it can be a bit frustrating.
3 You need a billion cups for all the random chit draws! Okay, maybe not a billion but you will need a lot as evidenced by the picture of my table above with the game underway. (For those of you playing along at home the correct answer is 12!)

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

Maps: d10-8 All the maps are great they can just get a bit crowded at times

Playing Pieces= d10-9 Great variety of pieces for different functions and the smallest ones basically require no reading so a big thumbsup for that!

Deployment of Forces= d10-6 This will take a bit of effort. Getting all the hazards ready and laying out all the cards, rules, etc… does require some effort.

Solo Play= d10-9 This game is designed for solo play

Footprint= d10-3 This game requires a lot of space. For those of you who are not lucky enough to have designated man caves, this may be a bit tricky since the game is also long to play in campaign mode.

Final Evaluation= d10-8 This game is a lot of fun, but it may not be everyones cup of tea. First, I love the atmosphere it creates from planning all the way through to aftermath. Second, the combination of game and narrative is an interesting one. At the start you have a plethora of meaningful choices to make but later on not so much. However, I do not think this diminishes the game in anyway. After all, how many meaningful decisions can one make as you look out your pilots window over Tokyo and decide what hazards to avoid and what hazards to take on? The flow from choices to then watching your decisions pan out in almost movie mode is a lot of fun especially as you shake you head going, ‘I have got to plan better next time!” Third, the chit draws and die rolls make each mission unique and give the player a good feel of all that might have happened (and gone wrong). Finally, the programmed instruction is well organized making the game easy to grasp and fun to play. I had most of the rules down pat by the end of each scenario and felt very prepared for the campaign game at the end.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent solitaire game. It takes the narrative feel of games like B-17: Queen of the Skies and The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 and combines them with planning phase where the decisions you make will ripple throughout the operation. That being said this is a very heavy wargame in terms of time, effort, and space so I can see this coming out about as often as Carrier, roughly once a year. But the days that this game sits on my game table will be immersive ones as I diligently try to concoct a plan that will achieve the ultimate goal: do maximum damage to the Empire of Japan while safely getting as many of my boys home as possible. For that reason, while this game may not be the most frequent visitor to my game table, it will remain a permanent member of my collection at the ready anytime I want to venture down the path of that bold mission launched from Shangri-la during the darkest days of World War II.
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Ted Leiker
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Well done!
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Mike Hoyt

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Have you played the predecessor, Dam Busters? Any preference for one over the other?
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Abe Delnore
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catosulla wrote:

:bd6-3: You need a billion cups for all the random chit draws! Okay, maybe not a billion but you will need a lot as evidenced by the picture of my table above with the game underway. (For those of you playing along at home the correct answer is 12!)


I'm pretty sure you won't be drawing from more than three chit pools at a time (and usually just one or two), so you can just cycle the chits in and out of a small number of cups. I use one cup.
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Tim Parker
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blockhead wrote:
Have you played the predecessor, Dam Busters? Any preference for one over the other?


I have yet to try Dam Busters but I am very interested in getting a copy and I am in the process of trying to trade for one.
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Tim Parker
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Abe Delnore wrote:
catosulla wrote:

3 You need a billion cups for all the random chit draws! Okay, maybe not a billion but you will need a lot as evidenced by the picture of my table above with the game underway. (For those of you playing along at home the correct answer is 12!)


I'm pretty sure you won't be drawing from more than three chit pools at a time (and usually just one or two), so you can just cycle the chits in and out of a small number of cups. I use one cup.


True, but I like to have everything laid out when I play a game. Plus my hands are really big so finding comfortable cups to draw from can be difficult.
 
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Sergeant Grey
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As for drawing counters from a cup with large hands, I suggest the "cup tilt" method.

Mix the counters up, perform the "cup tilt" (which will allow them to fan out on the inside, of the side of the cup). This allows the counters to be positioned near the edge of the cup for easy retrieval (unless of course each of your fingers and thumbs have the same diameter as a roll of paper towels).

Lastly, it should be noted that if you only have non-tilting cups on hand, this "cup tilt" method could be problematic at best, and completely ineffective at worse. Maybe that's the problem?


As it applies to this game and your physical anomaly, maybe you could sort the chits into separate plastic, zip-locked, sandwich bags and leave them in the box until you actually need them. You can even get the bags with sliders on them so you don't have to line them up yourself to open or close the bag (this last, just in case you have arthritis in your hands we don't know about).

Methinks you are just trying to rationalize a bit of good ole "Gamer's OCD". It's ok, really! The first step in dealing with a problem is realizing that you have it . . . whistle

You do realize I am making an attempt at humor here, right?

TLDR: Tilt your cups. If they don't tilt, use zip-lock bags with sliders. You suffer from an illness called "Gamer's OCD". J/K




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Tim Parker
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Greyhawke wrote:
As for drawing counters from a cup with large hands, I suggest the "cup tilt" method.

Mix the counters up, perform the "cup tilt" (which will allow them to fan out on the inside, of the side of the cup). This allows the counters to be positioned near the edge of the cup for easy retrieval (unless of course each of your fingers and thumbs have the same diameter as a roll of paper towels).

Lastly, it should be noted that if you only have non-tilting cups on hand, this "cup tilt" method could be problematic at best, and completely ineffective at worse. Maybe that's the problem?


As it applies to this game and your physical anomaly, maybe you could sort the chits into separate plastic, zip-locked, sandwich bags and leave them in the box until you actually need them. You can even get the bags with sliders on them so you don't have to line them up yourself to open or close the bag (this last, just in case you have arthritis in your hands we don't know about).

Methinks you are just trying to rationalize a bit of good ole "Gamer's OCD". It's ok, really! The first step in dealing with a problem is realizing that you have it . . . whistle

You do realize I am making an attempt at humor here, right?

TLDR: Tilt your cups. If they don't tilt, use zip-lock bags with sliders. You suffer from an illness called "Gamer's OCD". J/K






Thanks for ideas.

I supposed I do have a bit of wargamer OCD

The tilt method seems interesting, but I am a plunge and whirl kind of guy. I love to mix and mix and mix and mix and... You get the idea. That's why I am glad I stumbled across those plastic cups in my pics. While not opaque, I always close my eyes when I plunge, whirl, and pull. Nothing is more opaque than that
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Nick Wade
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catosulla wrote:

Playing Time: This game has one of the widest ranges of playing time mainly due to the rules being presented via programmed instruction. The attack scenarios (1-6) are fairly short as you steer your planes through the Japanese target areas with the intermediate scenarios (7-9) running longer as other phases are added until one gets to the longest scenario (10) which covers the whole event from start to finish. I have played many of the 1-6 scenarios in a day (the most being 6) but the other scenarios took my a few days with the campaign taking me


How long?
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Tim Parker
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Hattusilis_III wrote:
catosulla wrote:

Playing Time: This game has one of the widest ranges of playing time mainly due to the rules being presented via programmed instruction. The attack scenarios (1-6) are fairly short as you steer your planes through the Japanese target areas with the intermediate scenarios (7-9) running longer as other phases are added until one gets to the longest scenario (10) which covers the whole event from start to finish. I have played many of the 1-6 scenarios in a day (the most being 6) but the other scenarios took my a few days with the campaign taking me


How long?


Whoops! Don't know how that sentence got cut off shake It is now fixed in the review.
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Mark Aasted
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catosulla wrote:
plunge, whirl, and pull.


This has to be the best description on how to draw a chit from a cup yet! thumbsup
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Tom Bradshaw
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In terms of footprint, do you need everything laid out throughout the campaign game, or can you switch the different maps in and out as you play through the different phases?
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Jeremy (Jerry) White
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FOOTPRINT: Scenarios 1-6 do not require the 22x34 mapsheet. They are played on the respective 8.5x11 Target Map, with its corresponding set of Hazard counters. You put those in a single cup.

Playing Scenarios 7-10, however, requires the mapsheet, or part of it. For example, Scenario 7 and 8 require only the Flight Map, which is the top horizontal band of that mapsheet, and the China Display on the lower left corner. That means the 8.5x11 Target map (or maps) can be placed on the other portions of the mapsheet. There are four types of Flight Hazards, so you either use individual cups for those, or swap the Hazards out for the next set as they are needed.

Scenario 10 uses the entirety of the mapsheet, so the Target Map(s) need to be accommodated somewhere else. In that scenario, the footprint extends beyond the 22x34 limits.
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