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Subject: Pacific Typhoon - An Atlantic Storm Fan's Review rss

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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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It isn't often that I will hazard a review of a game I haven't actually played. But I am a veteran and a big fan of Atlantic Storm, the older sibling to GMT's new card game Pacific Typhoon - and I feel I can do a justice to a review of Pacific Typhoon based on that experience and on just becoming the proud owner of Typhoon.

This is essentially a trick-taking game, based on the Pacific front of World War II. The rules say 3-7 but also note correctly that 4-6 is the best number; expect 1-2 hours to finish a game (from Atlantic Storm, I would guess closer to one hour).

The game plays out over the course of 20 battles. The battles themselves take place in different years (1941-45), and in either day or night (some battles allow the picking player to choose one of the other). The player whose turn it is pick the battle by drawing two battle cards and selecting one, (discard the other).

Sample Battle Card - Pearl Harbor, worth 7 VP


That player names one of three suits - air, surface, or land. Then each player in turn may play one (or more, with bonus cards) or more of the force cards in his/her hand to contribute to the battle, taking care that the card is eligible - battles occur in a given year, but not all force cards are available for all years. In particular, there are relatively few 1941 cards (much as Storm had few 1940 cards).

Sample Force Cards - Allies



Oh, and you are likely holding both Japanese and Allied (mostly US, but also some British, Australian, and Dutch) cards in your hand - from turn to turn you can play on either side, so there are no fixed sides in Pacific Typhoon - you will need to negotiate and renegotiate short-term alliances each round. As the designer Ben Knight says in the rulebook, this game is designed to encourage table talk. Conning others into believing you that THAT guy is winning so we should gang up on him is half the fun. (Note - players do not know exactly how many victory points others have during the game.)

The cards mainly depict Japanese and Allied ships, subs, and aircraft that participated in World War II in the Pacific, which are rated for their strength in air, surface, and submarine battle. There are some trick cards, cards like the Admirals that allow the player to change the sort of battle being fought. And there are quite a few bonus cards such as new torpedos or midget submarines that you may play with a normal force card to improve your combat factors.

After each player has played (or discarded), total up the numbers on either side. Some cards don't HAVE numbers but instead have "?" - you will need to roll a dice to determine how strong THAT is, once all cards are played. The winning side divides the spoils - the battle card (worth 0-8 victory points) itself, and (with some exceptions) the force cards on the losing side (worth 0-6 VP). Those cards are out of the game; eventually the winning cards can be reshuffled and could make another appearance. But be careful about playing the West Virginia or the Akagi - somebody out there has their number. In Typhoon as in Storm there are "fate" cards that can if played at the right time, automatically take out a certain enemy card, or double their combat contribution in a given battle. About 30% of the force cards are vulnerable...

And taking certain battle cards can increase your hand size - sometimes you may prefer to win a battle worth fewer victory points if you can increase your hand to improve your choices in later battles.

So, is Pacific Typhoon merely a re-themed Atlantic Storm with the New Jersey and Chikuma replacing the Hood and the Scharnhorst? No, there are some significant differences.

FIRST difference is, Pacific Typhoon is IN PRINT and AVAILABLE! Atlantic Storm, one of the late, lamented Avalon Hill's last releases, is long out of print and rather expensive I hear on eBay.

Some other differences - there are some cards in Typhoon that weren't present in Storm, such as a fog card that allows you to play a card but not reveal it until the end of the round. The "day or night" mechanic is similar to Storm's "Arctic or Atlantic" choice, but doesn't seem quite as one-sided as it can be in Storm sometimes. There is an interesting battle card new to Typhoon called "Renewed Battle" that allows the player choosing the battle to exchange this card for a battle that was already fought - presumably, you'd go in for a big victory point card, removing it and its VPs from your opponent's spoils pile.

Also, Typhoon gives you the option of team play, or of playing the game in chronological order, from Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the attacks on the Japanese Home Islands in 1945. (It does NOT offer the 2-player variant, but I see no reason you couldn't use the 2-player rules from Storm in Typhoon.)

A couple of rules have changed. For example, the method of selecting battle cards in Typhoon was an optional rule in Storm. Likewise, the requirement in Typhoon that each player who contributed at least 1 battle point receive a card as spoils before somebody can get a second card was an option in Storm.

So Pacific Typhoon is NOT identical to Atlantic Storm. But the similarities are strong so that learning it will be easy for a Storm player. And frankly, pretty easy for any gamer who frequents BGG. Although this is a war-themed game, the rules are not complicated. No math beyond simple addition. You don't need to know the minutiae about what Japanese destroyer sank what American sub in the Battle of Unknown Bay, or about precisely the size of the shell thrown by the Iowa and the armor rating of some Japanese cruiser, or even how the war ended (Allies won, if you were wondering) to play and enjoy Pacific Typhoon.

I highly recommend Pacific Typhoon. It is fun - and you might even learn a little history on the side.

Edits: various dumb typos
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Karsten Klint
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Thanks for the well done review. I might have to check this out.
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Brian Morris
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Great little filler game. Especially if your group is a bunch of grognards. The game surprised me when I fist played it because the theme isn't just pasted on but is messed well into the game mechanics.
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Sight Reader
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wifwendell wrote:
The rules say 3-7 but also note correctly that 4-6 is the best number; expect 1-2 hours to finish a game (from Atlantic Storm, I would guess closer to one hour).

I know this is sacrilege, but we find that you can play with victory points open as long as there are at least 7 players. Table talk is still critical when victory points are open, but it's not as nasty, discussion is more objective and play goes by a lot faster.


The reason you need at least 7 players is to increase the odds that multiple teams will have strong hands for both nations. This shifts the focus of the game: lobbying is still important, but it becomes much more about the actual battle and trying to augment forces played by others. It's hard to say what the ideal number of players should be for this sort of game, as we haven't played with more than 8. I would postulate 9-10 would be ideal, but perhaps the deck may run out of cards too quick?

wifwendell wrote:
Although this is a war-themed game, the rules are not complicated. No math beyond simple addition.

The special cards of Pacific Typhoon are generally more involved than those in Atlantic Storm. This makes the game a bit tougher to get started quickly since you have to go through the ins and outs of these specials in advance. One possibility is to play without the specials for a few rounds then throw them back in once everyone gets the flow of the game. Reference cards can also make learning easier.

Also note that Atlantic Storm cards are a lot more appealing than Pacific Typhoon, although the latter is a bit easier to use.
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Wendell
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sightreader wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
The rules say 3-7 but also note correctly that 4-6 is the best number; expect 1-2 hours to finish a game (from Atlantic Storm, I would guess closer to one hour).

I know this is sacrilege, but we find that you can play with victory points open as long as there are at least 7 players. Table talk is still critical when victory points are open, but it's not as nasty, discussion is more objective and play goes by a lot faster.


Interesting!

sightreader wrote:
Also note that Atlantic Storm cards are a lot more appealing than Pacific Typhoon, although the latter is a bit easier to use.


I agree. And I've enjoyed your Typhoon session reports!
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Sight Reader
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wifwendell wrote:
I agree. And I've enjoyed your Typhoon session reports!
Yay! Thanks for the ego boost! (puffs up his chest)
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