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Subject: Tenacity in the Face of Adversity rss

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David Kennedy
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As bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor, my failure to maximize the Army/Navy track and acquire the Elite bonus was an omen of things to come for the Japanese Empire. The Early War period was a nightmare. China was a complete disaster with Chiang Kai-shek advancing easily to Manchukuo. (Hey, I was trying.) I never retreated Wavell or Mac to their home spaces on their respective tracks. I barely defeated ABDA.

Mid War merely saw Japan's misfortunes continue. Nimitz ran wild. The Emperor removed the Solomons fortification from the game before it ever got onto the map. The U.S. submarine campaign hit hard and early. My rolling was abysmal throughout. Plenty of low rolls against enemy fronts combined with the failure to win any battles. Thoughout the Early and Mid war periods, I never gave any thought to Military Victory. It was never even a remote possiblity.

So as Late War event deck was set up, I was none too confident in Japan's prospects. My defensive perimeter had been pierced on all fronts. Chiang Kai-shek continued to threaten Manchukuo. Burma had already fallen to the resurgent British army. The only good news was that MacArthur hadn't liberated the Phillippines yet. No matter, as a Bushido warrior, I braced myself for the final battles. As if on que, U.S. subs hit hard and early again. Up to this point, I'd done my best to get the Resource tracks in order. But, the resource track was in middling shape at best. I sensed if too many major enemy offensives hit too quickly, I'd be finished. So I poured almost everything into resources. Just in time, too (and with finally some decent rolling), the three Late War battles hit over four event cards in the middle of the deck. Somehow, I weathered the onslaught.

The endgame saw Japan ringed by her four enemies all adjacent to the Home Islands. The American bomber campaign went into high gear. But, the reshuffle mechanic hit only once before the game clock started winding down. The last event card was "Thousand Bomber Raids". I was fortunate to hold off the enemy fronts by a combination of Home Island fortifications, a Banzai attack, and good old-fashioned offensives to save the Home Islands. Kamikaze units were used to good effect, too. Improbably I had eked out a Survival Victory. The key to this unlikely and hard-fought victory was tenacity. The sailors and soldiers and servants of the Emperor never gave up.
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Steve Carey
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David, I know you've been very active with the game but I wanted to thank you especially for posting this particular Session Report.

We really worked hard during the design and development process to make the game very challenging yet resilient enough for the player to overcome the odds - and in this case you did.

My guess is that your extensive experience with Emperor helped lead you to victory - I'm not so sure that a newbie would have fared as well, but then again that was another one of our primary design goals: replayability.

Thnx again, and congrat's on the win...
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David Kennedy
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Steve Carey wrote:
We really worked hard during the design and development process to make the game very challenging yet resilient enough for the player to overcome the odds - and in this case you did.

I have seen a lot of comment from some who have played the game a few times and decided the game involves no meaningful choices; that the outcome is all luck. I disagree. This is part of the reason why I posted this session.

Steve Carey wrote:
My guess is that your extensive experience with Emperor helped lead you to victory - I'm not so sure that a newbie would have fared as well...

In this particular game, despite seemingly everything going wrong for the Early War and Mid War periods, I made two decisions as the Late War approached. One was to ramp up action point allocation to the Resource Tracks. With the Late War's massive battles, this is an absolute necessity.

But, as the Mid War deck wound down, I made another less obvious decision. Because Nimitz had been so active early on. I knew he was exhausted and unlikely to advance. I also knew Savo Island hadn't been revealed. So I pushed hard against Nimitz to trade space for time during the Late War. That was also very helpful in protecting the Home Islands.

Yes, it is unlikely a novice player would have made these decisions. Most novices would have been shooting from the hip and responding to each event card as it is revealed. I did. This is perfectly enjoyable when you are learning the game. Although in this circumstance a player is really abstaining from making meaningful decisions. While this has been tried by my fellow gamers, it isn't really a viable strategy for victory. Moreover, their reported results confirm this. Why anyone would choose such a passive strategy is mysterious to me.
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Steve Carey
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HitchKennedy wrote:
I have seen a lot of comment from some who have played the game a few times and decided the game involves no meaningful choices; that the outcome is all luck. I disagree. This is part of the reason why I posted this session.


I do understand such initial reactions as some guys simply don't expect much depth from a small footprint solitaire wargame.

It is up to the Design and Development team to make the game engaging enough for players to run through it multiple times in order to make those proverbial 'voyages of discovery' that I have repeatedly mentioned. We see and know about them, so it's our job to effectively convey the same sense to the players.

Based on sales, discussions, and ratings we have succeeded with most (not all) of the players so far, which is most gratifying.

Steve Carey wrote:
But, as the Mid War deck wound down, I made another less obvious decision. Because Nimitz had been so active early on. I knew he was exhausted and unlikely to advance. I also knew Savo Island hadn't been revealed. So I pushed hard against Nimitz to trade space for time during the Late War. That was also very helpful in protecting the Home Islands.


Great point - some may claim that this may be 'gamey' play, but I see it as the player identifying the enemy's weakness and then exploiting it.

In other words, strategy and war. In a game as challenging as Emperor, the player can often improve the odds by being aware of these types of opportunities.
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David Kennedy
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Steve Carey wrote:
It is up to the Design and Development team to make the game engaging enough for players to run through it multiple times in order to make those proverbial 'voyages of discovery' that I have repeatedly mentioned.

To accelerate the learning curve for new officers, I compiled this document => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/62588/trends-in-the-ev.... Sure, the first few times you play, you may not be aware of these important details. Eventually, you need to get down to business. That is why I compiled the raw data for players.

Steve Carey wrote:
Great point - some may claim that this may be 'gamey' play, but I see it as the player identifying the enemy's weakness and then exploiting it.

There's nothing 'gamey' about it. Intel gives the Japanese some sense of the enemy's capabilities and intentions. The trick is the Japanese don't know when.

It is also important to remember the level of abstraction here is very high. So I don't see each turn and the units as literally representing the details of military operations. Rather, the game operates at a very high level of abstraction in terms of military priorities and where to allocate your limited resources (i.e. action points). The abstraction is really in the aggregate sum of the outcomes. So in this case, early on Nimitz rode the IJN hard. When I got the chance, the IJN pushed back. Nothing 'gamey' about that. That's just the IJN fighting hard and being opportunistic under very difficult circumstances. The aggregate affect was to make Nimitz's road to Tokyo tougher. It was no guarentee of success. But, under the circumstances, it was a good decision which paid dividends.
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Steve Carey
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HitchKennedy wrote:
It is also important to remember the level of abstraction here is very high. The abstraction is really in the aggregate sum of the outcomes.


Precisely. thumbsup
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Christopher
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HitchKennedy wrote:

In this particular game, despite seemingly everything going wrong for the Early War and Mid War periods, I made two decisions as the Late War approached. One was to ramp up action point allocation to the Resource Tracks. With the Late War's massive battles, this is an absolute necessity.

But, as the Mid War deck wound down, I made another less obvious decision. Because Nimitz had been so active early on. I knew he was exhausted and unlikely to advance. I also knew Savo Island hadn't been revealed. So I pushed hard against Nimitz to trade space for time during the Late War. That was also very helpful in protecting the Home Islands.

Yes, it is unlikely a novice player would have made these decisions. Most novices would have been shooting from the hip and responding to each event card as it is revealed. I did. This is perfectly enjoyable when you are learning the game. Although in this circumstance a player is really abstaining from making meaningful decisions. While this has been tried by my fellow gamers, it isn't really a viable strategy for victory. Moreover, their reported results confirm this. Why anyone would choose such a passive strategy is mysterious to me.


Very interesting and insightful!

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