Charles Vasey
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https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/238026/greater-east-asia...

Purchased at vast cost from the US. This a mini-game on the Pacific 1939-1944 from Yasushi Nakaguro. Yasushi, you will remember, also designed the recent The Pacific War - From Pearl Harbor to the Philippines
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/209644/pacific-war-pearl...

but GEACS does not have every Japanese warship above light cruiser (as Pacific War did) instead it makes do with about fifty counters and a wee map. It lasts six turns, one a year. It is (as the publisher name states) a Bonsai, clipped, perfect but tiny. It is also a bit of a puzzle, but one that can be played quickly and therefore replayed to test your theory from the last time you lost or won.

Let us start with the map: four panels of about 6" by 8" joined to fold out. There are twenty-five areas: three Chinese, six Japanese empire (Japan, Okinawa, Truk and the Marshal Islands, plus Port Arthur and Shanghai), one Soviet (Vladivostok, which can be invaded under North West Rain), six American, and nine Commonwealth/Dutch. The Japanese need to control eight or more spaces in 1944, or to control two "home" areas (but these must be one each for different "colours", China, America or Commonwealth). There are handy boxes to store un-built units, units being built, and units returning from naval actions.

The Areas are connected by lines, some of which have a half-way dot symbolising they require two movement points to cross. Examples of the long routes would be from Dutch Harbor to Japan. or Pearl Harbor to Samoa. Some lines are naval (Japan to Port Arthur for example), others are land lines (Calcutta to Rangoon for example). In the west half of the map there are a lot of land areas connected but Ceylon, Borneo, and the Philippines are all only reached by land. In the east half it is all sea movement. All in all a bright, evocative and handy board over which to fight.

The counters are attractive thick pieces of the pop-out variety with bevelled edges (so beware of "squirting" counters across the board with an imperfect grip). There are only fifty of them. A game turn marker and an oil marker to give Japan extra oomph if it holds Borneo plus four "control markers" comprise the admin markers. After that it is combat counters.

The Air counters have just a combat factor (you must score this or less to inflict a hit), this factor is always three (no rivet counting here). The American (three) and Japanese (two) air fleets both have two steps (that is, after one damage you flip them over) and use two dice. The KMT and Commonwealth air units are but one step each. Air units are of great value (as we shall see) and the Allies need to establish air superiority as soon as possible. The game opens in 1939 with America and Japan with a single air fleet each.

The naval units are three in kind: Carriers, battleships and amphibious marines. They have two factors: the Combat factor (hit number) and move, and come in one or two step varieties. Carriers move three, but other naval units only two. They are also rated for priority (think Columbia Block games here): Carriers are priority A, they fire and inflict damage before other units, Battleships are at B, Marines at C, and infantry at D. Carriers always have a hit number of three, battleships of two and Marines (unless landed) of 0. There are four available Japanese Carrier units (two built in 1939), five battleships (three built in 1939) and two Marine units (only one in 1939). The Americans have six carriers (two in 1939) and five Battleships (two in 1939). There are three Marine units but none built in 1939. The Commonwealth has a single battleship (at half strength in 1939). The Chinese have no navy.

The infantry (including Marines on their land side) represent very large armies, or marine task forces. Their priority is C or D, with only Marines having C status. All infantry have two hit damage capacity, but Marines only one (the other side of the counter being their ships). And all bar two types have a hit number of two. The Chinese have hit numbers of one on the attack, and two on defence. The Japanese have one veteran combat unit with a hit number of three. If North West Rain is undertaken it is this veteran that must be sent against the Soviets. The Japanese have three infantry (two and a half in 1939, with the two full strength units both on the Chinese mainland) plus the two marines (one in 1939) and the single veteran infantry mentioned above. The Americans have a single infantry unit (at half-strength in 1939) and three Marine units (all un-built). The Commonwealth have three infantry units (all at half strength in 1939) , as have the Chinese (two at half-strength, one at full). Infantry are comparatively rare and as they (as we shall see) are the bedrock of defence and capture of areas they need to be used carefully.

The key driver of the game is a number of mission cards which you choose from the available hand before the Operations Phase. These give a range of missions, from which you choose one for each card;

Deployment: This is used to start the building of a new unit. The unit is placed on one of three boxes. Each box symbolises a year of construction, and units can move from one box to the other (see Replacement). Carriers start in the furthest box and will take a minimum three years to reach the map. Air, Marines and Battleships take two years. Infantry (including veterans) are placed upon the map on a home (marked as a factory) space as soon as built. There are two Chinese, American (Pearl and Samoa) and Commonwealth (Calcutta and Townsville) factories, but only one Japanese - the Home Islands.

Replacement: This allows you to advance one unit in the building boxes OR return one unit on the map to full strength. You cannot Deploy and then Replace a building unit in the same turn. There are Naval and Army replacement missions. They must be within strategic range of their Home Area (which I take to mean can trace though friendly Areas).

Strategic Movement: This allows movement from a single space (including the Retreated Units Box, see below) to another anywhere on the map, but only through friendly controlled areas and into a friendly area. Maximum movement stack is three Japanese and five Allied units. This can include Infantry, Naval and Air units. This is the only way Air units can move other than in the End Phase.

Naval Movement: Naval units (including Marines) move up to their movement allowance through friendly Areas until they enter an enemy controlled Area. Once again the maximum movement stack is three Japanese and five Allied naval units. Entering a space with an enemy air unit costs an additional movement point. Combat must occur if the movement is into an enemy occupied Area.

Land Movement: only one space a mission, and only one Chinese unit and two others maximum per mission. Combat must occur if the movement is into an enemy occupied Area. Units can leave their own country if by legal movement.

North Wind Rain: Only available in 1941 or 1942. Requires the Veteran Japanese infantry unit and subsequent support (see below). Results in Japanese going to war with Soviet Russia.

CBI Front: allows the Chinese and Commonwealth (where indicated) to Develop, Replace, and engage in Strategic, Naval or Land movement. One Action for one Nation only per card.

Reaction: Before combat resulting from a Japanese Naval Movement mission, if available in the Retreated Units Box, the Americans send one or two naval units into the combat box.

Bombardment: Air units may attack an enemy Naval unit within an Air Zone (0-two boxes). In the event of a 6 being rolled the attacking unit takes a hit, 5 or 6 if an enemy carrier is present. Force Z clears for action!

Reinforce (single use): Add an American un-built CV and BB to Pearl or Samoa BUT the Japanese victory target goes down to seven areas. These represent units sent from the Atlantic.


The cards that allow one to choose these missions are available on the basis of Production Points. The Japanese have four (two for the Home Islands, one for Port Arthur, and one from Shanghai). Capture of Borneo if connected to the Home Islands gets two Resource Points. These can be used by one unit for a strategic, naval or Land movement instead of a card. They constitute quasi-cards, but especially useful if you execute North Wind Rain as the Veteran unit in Vladivostok must be supplied by a land movement mission each year after they invade.

The cards lock in a lot of clever stuff:

The Japanese Deck (remember you choose these rather than draw them):

1xNorth Wind Rain [Invasion or Land Move] - card removed after North Wind Rain
1x Bombing [Naval Move or Bombing]
2x Land Action [Land Move, Land Replacement]
2xNaval Action [Strategic move, Naval move, Naval Replacement]
2x Production [Development, Any Replacement]

The limited number of Production Cards is very important. Although note that Replacements are available on six cards.

The Allied Deck
4xCBI Theatre [These allow any UK or Chinese Mission, and one allows KMT Bombing, one UK Bombing, and two US Bombing]
1xGrand Strategy [Land Move, Reinforce]
3xNaval Action [Strategic move, Naval move]
4xNaval Action [Reaction, Naval Move, Naval Replacement]
4xProduction [Strategic move, Development, Any Replacement]

So the Allies can start four developments a turn and (if they have cards) eight Replacements.

Which takes us conveniently to Allied Production Points. They start out with six in 1939. They get extra when Japan (four) or the US (two) declares war. This neatly covers the effect of the Pearl Harbor raid on the American amour propre. Eight cards against the Japanese four plus two Resource Points is going to be tough.

All this indicates a very nice feature. In 1939 Japan is at war with China. The Allies can develop and replace their own or Chinese units but they cannot attack the Japanese and both sides can pass through neutral areas. Neutral countries can build and replace but not move their units. The Commonwealth cannot move its units. The Japanese have three choices:

1. Don't declare War on the UK or America. To win this they would need the Allies not to declare war, and to control the six starting boxes, plus Vladivostok and Guilin in China. Seeing this strategy may force America to declare war. It will get only two extra Production Points however.

2. Declare War on the Commonwealth. This lays a lot of boxes open to attack, though many will have to be occupied by naval units (which, as we will see can control but not defend against infantry/Marines). As Production Points only go to the Americans and they are not at war I do not think they get four extra Production Points. This can also be read into the requirement that war be declared on the Allies (that is, all of them). The Commonwealth is short of decent units for a counter-offensive. If such a declaration really does earn no extra Allied Production points then it must be a good start. But (historically) such a declaration of war would surely have lifted US rearmament even if not to post-Pearl Harbor levels of rage.

3. Declare War on the US. This limits easy captures but may permit a safer perimeter. It denies Japan access to the oil of Borneo. The Americans will get four Production Points (but see my point on Allies above).

4. Declare War on the Commonwealth AND America. This really opens up play but awakes the sleeping giant The Americans will get four Production Points.

If in a turn the Japanese are at peace with America and have not declared war on the Commonwealth THAT TURN then the Americans can declare war. They get two extra Production Points and give up a number of cards (being six less the turn number) to cover political pork barrelling in Congress. They choose the rejected cards. Note both sides cannot declare war in the same turn.

In a turn where war has been declared the recipient of the declaration is caught by surprise. Their aircraft withdraw to the retreat box and the declaring power has two limited operations before the Operations Phase starts. These can be Strategic move, Naval move, or Land move. In this period enemy unoccupied areas can be moved through BUT the limited actions must end up in a area with enemy units. So the Pearl Raid and attack on Singapore might be the choice of the Japanese. Especially useful in these special operations is that the attacker inflicts all casualties from all his units irrespective of Priority, and no defending fire can be applied from units with a lower Priority. So, for example, an attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese carriers would only be replied to by US carriers if present.

The loss of air units (which are important for control) mean that a USA declaration in 1944 can limit the Japanese control opportunities on the last turn. One can see the strategic choices are considerable (I will mostly leave the question of their historicity to others). In a recent game the Japanese declared war on the Commonwealth in 1943 and took Borneo and Saigon, but the US declaration in 1944 cleared the Japanese Air and when they passed (with only seven areas) I passed and finished matters.

Control is an important concept.
Any friendly unit will control an Area.
Any unoccupied Area within range of only friendly Air will be friendly controlled
Any Area originally friendly controlled (that is, marked as such on the map) and unoccupied or within range of both side's Air is still friendly controlled.

Air control range is one Area and the unit's own Area, which means a single unit can control a large number of areas unless your opponent spreads his troops or chases it away.

The Sequence of a Turn is as follows

(A) Production Phase, determine number of cards and draw them.

(B) Declaration of War by Japan (once a game) or Allies (once a game) or not that turn. Two special operations are performed by the Declarer.

(C) Operations Phase: starting with the Japanese an Action Card is played, followed by the American and back to Japan again. The Phase ends when both have played all their cards or both pass in succession. On and after a Turn where the Allies declare war they switch to going first.

(D) Units are re-arranged, firstly by the Japanese and then the Allies.

Retreated Units Box: This is where units go when their Action fails to take an enemy Area. It is deemed to connect the Home Area, so units can be moved to it. (Which is useful for US units wanting to react). Units can similarly be moved out of it.

Combat Resolution:
Combat occurs when a Naval or Land movement leaves units of both sides into the same Area. A Reaction Card from the Americans can add units to a naval combat if they are available in the Allied Retreat Box (and remember they can be sent there as a floating reserve).

Combat occurs in Priority order with A class fighting A class, losses being inflicted, and so on. Each unit rolls the same number of D6 as it has steps and to get a hit must score its combat factor or less. Hits are applied by the firer and must go to enemy units of the same Priority Class first. They need not be evenly spread. If there are spare hits left they can first go against targets of the same type (naval units if a naval unit scored the hit for example) but these excess hits are allocated by the target player. If there are still hits left the firer applies them as he will. However, naval hits can never eliminate a land unit, and land hits can never eliminate a naval unit. Hits cannot be used on Air units.

Air units only engage in combat by bombing naval units, however they have a valuable effect on other combat which is if in the same or adjacent box they increase the combat factors of all friendly units by one (so Carriers now hit on a score of one-4). As far as I can see if both sides have air support both increase their factors. However, Air units alone in a space before or after combat are eliminated. Where carries are present one of them can elect to be an Air unit. It cannot be hit, it cannot fire and it does improve combat values, but if its side is beaten it is lost (because its an air unit). I assume it is hanging about providing air cover.

After all units have fired and hits been inflicted the Attacker must withdraw to the relevant units Retreated Box unless he has cleared the Area. This means that a naval attack on an Area with land defenders cannot succeed in capturing the Area because their fire cannot eliminate (though it can damage) a land unit. To capture such an Area the naval stack needs to include Marines. Land units whose attack fails simply move back into the box they enter.

In the last Phase of each turn the Japanese (then the Allies) can move their units individually as with strategic movement (so within their own friendly Areas). There is a proviso that only one naval unit can be moved to an Area which is not a Port. Ports are Ceylon, Singapore, Japan, Pearl, Samoa and Townsville. This rearrangement allows units left by previous actions to be recovered to main bases. Air units moving may cause control to change.

A few Strategic notes
The game is one that invites strategic planning, but where you need to know the art of the possible, so early plays may crash spectacularly or come up just short. For the Japanese there is a considerable interest in attacking Giulin in China early which is held by one half strength Chinese Army without air cover. It is a useful Area for your eight but I like to get Air Cover over there before doing it because a land attack will usually be a two combat factor and even with two steps the odds are against you. This one aside I do wonder if China does not attract too much attention. Japan must make sure it is developing and replacing new units and not let China absorb these.

However, the American cards allow a very considerable rate of production (so both developing and replacing new units) so that the faster Japan gets to war (once it has the basic tools) the better. Declaring war just on the Commonwealth allows Borneo to be taken. The extra two Japanese resource points (assuming my reading is that no extra production comes from Japan declaring war just on the Commonwealth) will give rough mission parity between the two sides, though not in terms of production. Here the sudden victory conditions might make Japan think of trying for a Chinese Factory Area and Calcutta. That should however bring in the American fairly promptly so it needs to be done early, if 'twere done at all.

The value of the different kind of units is well represented. Big armies can only move around by land or by Strategic Movement to already friendly Areas. Marines have to clear enemy areas that cannot be reached by land.

As the comments to date show we concentrated in learning without going for the war in the Pacific, our main operations were in China and British/Dutch territory. There's a lot of learning to be done on the eastern boards.

A clever and intriguing game.
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Mark Herman
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Spot on review. I have played this around half a dozen times and found it a great puzzle. Found two solid paths for JP 1940 victory then history hems in their options. The big decision is when and against whom to declare war. Great stuff.

Mark
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Jim F
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You know with Hitler? the more I learn about that guy, the more I don't care for him
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Agreed. Every turn is full of decisions. One of the few designs where less is more. Normally I don’t like games with a small number of counters. This still feels manages to feel epic. Excellent design.

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Charles Vasey
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MarkHerman wrote:
Spot on review. I have played this around half a dozen times and found it a great puzzle. Found two solid paths for JP 1940 victory then history hems in their options. The big decision is when and against whom to declare war. Great stuff.

Mark

Yep, it is full of the Buyers Remorse as that clever move you had in mind collapses. As play progresses one can at least avoid some of the dafter moves.

I've not played your Pacific games due to being a lazy slacker but I read the rules and it is great to see those concepts appearing in small form in this Fabergé Egg of a game.
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Rodolphe Duhil
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Thanks for your review and analysis.
It will be helpful as I got the game from Japan (Japanese rules only).
Glad to have found this little gem.
If I ever play this game in Paris with Mark in september, I'll be at a disadvantage
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Geoff C
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This is carried by who in NA?
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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The original edition is sold out, but MMP have the rights to produce a new English edition.
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Charles Vasey
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I hear it is to be translated by one of our top men.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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There is an existing translation that only needs a little polish.

GEACPS is likely to be the game in the 2019 issue of Special Ops.
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Charles Vasey
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sdiberar wrote:
There is an existing translation that only needs a little polish.

GEACPS is likely to be the game in the 2019 issue of Special Ops.

Kewl. Nicola Saggini's translation was very good I thought.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Charles Vasey wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
There is an existing translation that only needs a little polish.

GEACPS is likely to be the game in the 2019 issue of Special Ops.

Kewl. Nicola Saggini's translation was very good I thought.

Agreed! And he (and Jack Greene) have generously allowed MMP to use it.
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Mark Herman
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sdiberar wrote:
Charles Vasey wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
There is an existing translation that only needs a little polish.

GEACPS is likely to be the game in the 2019 issue of Special Ops.

Kewl. Nicola Saggini's translation was very good I thought.

Agreed! And he (and Jack Greene) have generously allowed MMP to use it.

Jack Greene is a good man and a credit to this hobby.
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Milton Soong
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Played it for the first time today with my buddy Ron (who has slight AP tendencies), coupled with the fact that this is a learning game, took us close to 4 hours. Easily a contender for my game of the year...

I am Japan and I went for the declare war on Commonwealth, aiming for the Taking of China and One UK home area for a insta-win. Did not realize the intricacies of the control rules so got myself into a jam that I can't Strat move out of.

Then realized (too late) the importance of building Marines for the IJA, since land spaces can really only be held by foot troops, and IJA doesn't have many.

Definitely want to try more of this (hopefully not 4 hours next time)...
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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sdiberar wrote:
GEACPS is likely to be the game in the 2019 issue of Special Ops.
I can confirm that this is true - GEACPS will be MMP's magazine game this summer, in a scaled up edition using the original art. 17" x 22" map, 1" counters.
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