This year, I changed the event to Swiss Elimination from Single Elimination with a mulligan and decided to run the whole tournament using the South Pacific scenario. Despite all these changes, Empire of the Sun again drew 24 players this year with a healthy portion of new faces. The format of the event felt right and the day progressed well, so I will continue with it next year. However, one thing remains out of whack: play balance.
After crunching the numbers, the Allies won 75% to the Japanese 25% of games played. Even correcting for bidding in the elimination rounds, it is now clear that the Allies have a significant bias in the South Pacific scenario. My new job as the GM is to tweak the scenario to correct that bias as much as possible before the event next year. Ideas have been considered and discussed and the following are the first set of proposed tweaks:
South Pacific Scenario Playtest Tweaks:
- Initial Setup: War in Europe = 0 (instead of 1)
- Initial Setup: Politcal Will = 3 (instead of 4)
- Victory Condition: The Allies need 5 (instead of 3) or more ports to win a Port Control victory. All other results are a JP win.
I have put together a quick Google survey to record match results. It can be found below. It will work on PC and mobile devices and it only takes about a minute to record the results of a game. So please, fellow Empire of the Sun enthusiasts, help a GM out and find some time to play this game with a friend or 20 and record the results of each game using the survey when done. I'll use the data collected to further fine tune the balance ahead of WBC 2020. Thanks so much!
Final Match Highlights
The two finalists this year were the GM (Chris Crane) and Antero Kuusi. Antero bid 1 for the Allies and I took the JP. After the initial Watchtower play, the Allies opened aggressively by placing a reduced army corps in 4022 (the hex south of Rabaul). Noting this, the JP saved a card in Future Offensive instead of moving Combined Fleet HQ at the end of turn 3.
Turn 4 opened with the Allies spending the Ground replacement to flip the 4022 corps to full, doubling down on the forward position. The JP drew a powerful MI hand and began a series of all out offensives on any Allied air and carriers in southern New Guinea hexes and ignoring the threat to Rabaul. As allied planes and boats started to get eliminated, Antero took Rabaul with a ground move and a surprise attack card landed a marine unit in the Admiralty Islands. Also, Antero played Operation Vengeance for event and killed Yamamoto which brought out the weaker Ozawa Combined Fleet HQ. I initially wasn’t concerned by this play, but it would turn out to be critical.
While all this was going on, the JP forces were relentless, wiping out nearly all of the allied land based air. The JP had the last card play and at the start of that offensive, all that was left in the area was a single reduced-strength US army air unit in Rabaul. Eliminating that air unit would put all of the Allied gains out of supply, which would suffer attrition, and would prevent Antero from reinforcing those captured ports in T5. It was a 2 OC, I played it for Ops and activated 4 air units and a CV surrounding the position without moving them. I had 42 combat factors of attack strength, enough for a guaranteed kill no matter the die roll.
But wait! Antero reminds me that Yamamoto was killed and I only have 4 activiations. I pull one reduced air unit out and now I only have 37 combat factors. Antero makes the intel check, but there is nothing in range that will help the air unit survive and activates nothing, so I roll the die and a 1 appears! A 70% chance of success and it failed! Blast it all!
Unfortunately for the JP, Antero is able to reinforce the gained port hexes and the Allied position solidifies in T5. The JP continue to hammer at the Allies, but the IJN is weakening and Antero is able to run the fine line between risking steps to hold port hexes and pushing advance with a seemingly endless supply of surprise attack cards.
We played it through to the end and although the Turn 6 fleet did not land, Antero had enough ports to make his bid and win the event. Very well played, Antero! I’ll be looking for a rematch next year.
Special thanks go to my assistant GMs: Chris Thibault and Alan Applebaum. Both of them helped in numerous ways to polish the event this year and I’m very grateful for their efforts.