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Subject: Pacific Victory: A Divine Wind To The Rescue rss

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David Buckland
Choa Chu Kang
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[MS is an enthusiast for the Pacific Theatre in World War II, and I enjoyed Pacific Victory (liking block games generally), so we decided to give it an airing. Both of us had played it before (MS five times; I must confess I cannot recall how many in my case – probably a little less), but it is some years since we last did so (five years in MS’s case; I think 8 years in mine, based on an AAR I posted on consimworld in 2003). This meant that it took considerably longer to complete than might have been the case with more experienced players.

PV offers a fairly good recreation of the war against Japan, with the exception of the Chinese theatre, and does so in a reasonable time. The British are perhaps a little over-powered, though they could have devoted more resources to theatre, and navies can influence land battles more than they should in some cases (the “fleet up the Irrawaddy” syndrome, which is not unique to Pacific Victory), but for the most part, he various parts of the system work pretty well together – better than they did in the original “Victory” which preceded this design, and on which it is to some extent based.

Japan launches its surprise attacks, December 1941: Yamamoto (left) and Nimitz (right) ponder their options.

However, Mike had serious reservations about the victory conditions, which he felt made it impossible for the Japanese to win. Certainly, based on the original rules, a 20 VP Japanese auto-win looks unlikely – essentially, the Japanese would have to conquer both India and Australia, and one of these would be difficult enough. In addition, given the problems of a successful invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, the 6 VPs conferred by them meant that most games ended up as Allied Marginal Victories (5 to 9 Japanese VPs).

We debated some ideas put forward on boardgamegeek, including a 16 VP Japanese auto-victory, but eventually settled for giving the Japanese one VP for each Monsoon turn. This means four extra VPs by the end of the game, and in turn (we thought) meant that the Allies have to get ashore somewhere in Japan if they are to better than Stalemate, which means in turn that they cannot afford to just sit back and produce their way to victory – the Allies have to start getting aggressive fairly early (fair enough historically, given the timing of the initiation of the Guadalcanal campaign).

Of the various optional rules, we used Overrunning Enemy Units, and Air Search Combat. MS had reservations about the latter after seeing it in play, but I feel that it adds a necessary element of uncertainty to the combat system, without which a game Midway is very unlikely to occur.

In any event, we started at 2.30 pm, and finished at 1.30 am, with a 45-minute break for dinner.

Japanese: Michael Sexton

Allies: David Buckland]

The View From Tokyo

One sign of a good game is when it is five days after the fact and you are still nibbling things over your head about how things went and how things might have gone differently had fortunes been more in your favor.

I was the Japanese player in this brilliantly written little AAR, and in order to give a more complete picture of the session, I've decided to post my comments in blue alongside those of my esteemed colleague (and opponent) from Washington.

As was mentioned, I was not new to Pacific Victory, but it had been over four years since I have last played. After working out some sums in my head, I came to the number five for the amount of times this has hit the table before for me. That said, this was the only time I have ever played the game with someone I was not teaching the game to as we went, so the play and feel of it was entirely different from anything I had ever experienced before.

It was with full understanding what lay ahead for Japan that I took their side, and with all possibilities yet untapped before me, I launched my Pacific gambit...

December 1941 to February 1942 [Turn 1]

The Japanese opened hostilities in December 41 with gusto, capturing Manokwari, Rabaul, and Wake without a fight. The Allied resistance in Balikapapan and Davao lasted not very much longer before being overwhelmed [these are only single cruisers, after all]. The main battle was at Singapore, but Britain’s imperial bastion in the Far East crumbled without too much of a fight. Manila came under a blockade, after the destruction of the American air force in the Philippines, and retreat of the remaining US naval units [a submarine].

I took a long time to plan my opening. I was not sure how much to commit to Singapore and fearful I would get delayed in taking that key fortress. (After turn one, the double defense returns to the Allies for major bases, and things can get far more costly.) I also was keen to isolate Manila from all sides lest I see some fresh reinforcements show up from San Fransisco or Pearl Harbor. That meant I had to plan carefully which bases to take, and the big problem came with how much to commit to Davao while still hunting down the Dutch cruisers off of Borneo. I felt I spread my naval forces a bit thin for turn one, but the dice gods were with me, and I had a clean sweep of the whole area while nearly taking no losses in return. At this point, the overrun optional rules helped me get a few key naval units in positions I needed.

December 1941: the initial Japanese surprise attacks.

March to May 1942 [Turn 2]

Palembang, Hollandia and Lae all fell to the advancing Japanese with minimal resistance, but attempts to expand into Burma and to capture Port Moresby were both frustrated by doughty Indian and Australian resistance respectively.

At this point, the key Allied problem was to assess where the main Japanese thrust was likely to come, and prepare as best as possible for it. The Japanese were retaining substantial forces in South East Asia, but more to the west than the south – Java and Timor had remained in Allied hands. The attacks in the South West Pacific did not look too serious, nor was there much evidence of a determined thrust towards Hawaii. So, it looked as if India was the most likely Japanese target, and accordingly substantial American reinforcements were despatched [2 x 4AF, 1 x3IN] to shore up the defences of the Raj. In addition, of course, the June 42 turn is Monsoon, which will shut down most of the fighting in South East Asia.

The Allied intel was spot on this time around, and I had devised a two-pronged thrust. My main thrust was to be towards India with me capturing Rangoon and then being in a position to leap out towards Ceylon from there. (A relatively standard move, but I had felt my best choice, so I had built up a substantial ground / air force in SE Asia at the expense of cruisers and naval auxiliaries - their absence being something which would cut me deeply later on.) I had placed heavy air forces in Siam (two fully built up units) and had based enough naval forces to sweep the British navy from the seas (or so I thought). I also moved my main Pacific groups to Rabaul for a drive on Port Morseby to expand my perimeter as far south as I could go before the inevitable turning of the tide.

My first major setback came almost at once on the doorsteps of Rangoon itself. You know you're doing poorly as Japan when you can't even get your western line of defense out this far!

I did not admit this at the time, nor was I sure David caught it, but I made my first major blunder (one of three for the game) where I confused the rules for this game with other Pacific War strategic games I have played. When I went into Rangoon, I brought with me a four step infantry block with a three step naval air and a three step army air unit. David had a lone Indian infantry of three steps defending. This alone is a pretty good force, but he had double defense, and I needed a little more push in my attack to guarantee the six hits I needed to clear the city.

I did not bring any naval units along to bombard the coast.

I had a pair of chunky battleships sitting in Singapore, but I did not bring them along because I thought you needed to have an amphibious assault before you could shell the coastline My strategic moves were tied up elsewhere, so that was out of the question for me. I thought naval units would not be able to bring him down a step or two during the attack. It was only after the attack (where I scored five hits and was miserably repulsed) that I quietly looked up the rule again, groaned, and saw that naval units could pounce with impunity as long as they never killed off the ground unit's final step. It's not a standard thing in most PW games I've gone through. I learned my lesson the hard way, and it was the first nail in the coffin for my Indian dreams.

June to August 1942 [Turn 3]

Tarawa fell without a fight, the last Allied base to fall to the ebbing Japanese tide. The defences of Manila, suitably enfeebled after the prolonged blockade, were overcome by the Japanese. In South East Asia and the Dutch East Indies, the monsoon season temporarily imposed a halt to the hostilities.

I was not sure if Manila should have or could have been taken earlier. I remember once trying in an earlier game (or two) and running into problems by overstretching too much earlier on. I opted to take the slow and sure approach, and it worked.

September to November 1942 [Turn 4]

With the weather clearing, the Japanese launched a large-scale attack on the defences of India. The major thrust was on Ceylon, where the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy was deployed, with a subsidiary attack on the Andaman Islands. Unfortunately for the Japanese, Allied air superiority over the Andamans was almost total, and the Japanese were forced to withdraw with heavy losses [4CA]. This left the Ceylon strike force beyond effective supply range with which to sustain itself over the longer term [blocked by Bandar Atjeh and the Andamans], and it withdrew after some inconsequential skirmishing.

This was a classic example of where overconfidence and following too closely to history can get you into trouble. As I swept west for my Nagumo raid on Ceylon, I sent out two cruiser blocks to cover my approach in and my supply lines. I assumed (very poorly) that the British navy would be in Ceylon waiting for me to pin it and be sunk. David, deciding it probably had better things to do, had some heavy American air units there (a four step US Army air block), but had moved his naval units north to park snugly in Madras to swing in behind me after I moved. I had been trying to blockade the Andamans with my cruiser force, but instead, they were pushed back and my Ceylon force returned to Singapore with little loss but plenty of humiliation. This marked the end of my Indian grab. In all games I have ever played, this was the most poorly I have ever executed it, and I simply had to entrench what forces I had to await for Generals Slim and Stilwell.

This was my second major blunder of the three I feel I made.

December 1942 to February 1943 [Turn 5]

After their earlier setbacks, the Japanese tried a more gradual approach to India, blockading Banda Atjeh. The more significant effort is made against Port Moresby, with an overland attack along the Kokoda Trail being coordinated with an assault from the sea. However, the Australians put up a magnificent defence, and the Japanese were repulsed [1 hit from victory].

This might be the most understated point of the entire AAR on David's side. I had been waiting for the initiative to swing to my favor in the South Pacific, and it finally did. David had too many locations to defend at once, and with his fleets parked at the end of the Solomon chain and possibly northern Australia, he could only respond after I had moved. When I finally won an initiative roll, he waited, and I made my swing for Moresby. I took in a force I thought could not possibly lose. I had two army air steps, two naval air steps, a three step battleship, and six infantry steps. He had a rough and tumbling three step group of Aussie infantry. I then took a picture with the fateful words "I should capture this moment on film when I get something the Japanese never did in the real war. It's a point of pride for us Japanese players!"

I may never jump the gun like that again...

[To add insult to injury, I not only failed to extend my perimeter, but I lost the three step unit who had gone over the Kokoda trail because another land unit had moved in behind them (hence blocking their retreat) and I learned to my chagrin that the entire HEX (and not just of the ridge line) of central New Guinea was impassable!]

The attack on Port Moresby, January 1943. The Japanese will be repulsed; the Australians will cling on.

March to May 1943 [Turn 6]

The Japanese launched a successful attack from Palembang on the weakened defenders of Banda Atjeh, but that was the last gasp of the Japanese offensive that began in December 1941. To the east, the Americans mounted their first major assault on the outlying Japanese position at Tarawa, capturing it against minimal resistance [the defenders were 1 x MA1].

We were hardly gasping at this point. Despite some obvious setbacks, we were still in pretty good shape and had a full set of teeth to snap back with.

[The Allied player felt that the Japanese should press the Allies more than they did in this game. They need to push the Allies as far away as possible for the Home Islands, and need space, as well as force. Of course, the downside is heavier losses, which even if roughly even are generally in the interests of the Allies, with their much greater production capacity (at this point, Japanese production was at 14 – its peak – while the US had 22 and the British 12). But losses in further attacks do not necessarily have to be harbingers of Japanese disaster – it depends on the relative loss ratios. Moreover, even if on first attack an Allied defence is fairly strong, repeated attacks can weaken it to produce the desired loss ratio over time. This is quite apart from the longer-term production and defence benefits.

One can appreciate, however, that pressing attacks can seem like a snare and a delusion, tempting the player to make the same mistakes that the Japanese did, with their surfeit of “victory disease”. The Japanese player felt that this was so, although he did mention that, had we played the optional 16 VP Japanese automatic victory, he would have tried for it, being at 14 VPs at this point, and this would have led to a much more attack-minded Japanese approach. I remained concerned that an auto-victory at 16 VPs gave the Allies too little room for manoeuvre or mistake in the early going.]

After the game, David and I discussed this point at some length. I think the original VP table for this game is absolutely rubbish and should not be used in any way if you want to create a tense game throughout. By expecting Japan to get 20 VP for an auto win, you are telling the Japanese player he has to do the impossible two times over. Even if the Japanese player took over all of India (which they never got close), they would STILL need to grab some more victory points to reach their twenty. The same goes for Australia. You could have the whole place under your control, but in the end, the ENTIRE South Pacific would have you up to eighteen points and leave you still two short.

I found some other victory tables online, and they had Japan winning at 16 VPs, and David was (in my opinion) rightfully sceptical about using them directly as they were. Who wants to sit down for a long Pacific War session only to find out that they make it to Dec 1943 and the game is totally over when Sydney falls? Where's the fun for the Allied player and the feel of the Pacific War as the Japanese hold on to island after island tenaciously as the swarms of Allied new construction rushes forth to meet them?

At the same time, by taking away the Japanese chance for an auto victory, you really took away the desire for the Japanese to surge recklessly forward and go for broke. Once I reached my historical perimeter, I began to look for what further mischief and havoc I could cause. I saw three possible paths, and they are the standard in almost every Pacific War game.

1) Pearl Harbor
2) Australia
3) India

As stated above, I had been planning an "India First" strategy, and it fell by the wayside with my mix of bad luck and blunders topped with a side of David's tenacity.

By March '43, I was in a position to possibly move on Pearl Harbor, though it would have been at great cost. I had to ask myself the simple question "Why would I do this?"

The way the supply lines were set up, Pearl Harbor is not critical to the Allies, and they have various other ways to link back to Panama and then the West Coast of the USA. I could go in, risk all, but in the end I would end up with two more VPs and a lot of sunken carriers and support ships. (I dread going against land based air...) I would be at 16 VPs, but still far from the twenty I needed. I didn't feel it was worth the cost with the way the victory conditions were set up.

Australia was a huge continent, and since my land forces were on their way to India, I did not feel it was feasible to capture and keep it under my control. From experience, I know the Land Down Under is very vulnerable to counter attacks and at the absolute extremes of the Japanese supply lines.

In the end, it was at this point I decided to move troops and ships forward to the perimeter, to entrench, and to keep the Allies away from Tokyo for as long as I could.

I will write some further comments about the victory conditions in my final comments on the session.

June to August 1943 [Turn 7]

After circling one another warily, the antagonists finally came to a clinch, as the Americans sent the cream of their navy to control waters around the Japanese base at Kwajalein, and the IJN sallied from Truk to prevent it. The result was a bloodbath for both sides, but although the Americans eventually withdrew their fleet, they had got the better of the fighting, and would of course replace their losses much more easily. Meanwhile, over a third of the IJN had been sunk.

[The contending forces were: Japan 1 x NA2, 1 x AF2, 2 x CV2, 1 x SS3, 1 x BB2 (Yamato), 1 x BB3, 1 x CA3; US 1 x AF4, 1 x CV3, 1 x CV2, 1 x BB3, 2 x CA4, 1 x CA3. Losses: the Japanese lost all except for a CV1, while the Americans lost AF1, CV2, BB2, CA8. The US had the benefit of finding the enemy first, having a one-factor advantage in the air search rolls. The Yamato class battleships, hitting on a 1 through 4, managed to miss every time on five throws – there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth on the final occasion, and it is probably just as well that the captain went down with his doomed ship, as he would probably have been invited to commit seppuku on return to base.]

This was the first of many vicious and exciting battles of the naval and air war. I watched "Men of the Yamato" (Japanese movie) this past Friday to commemorate the great battleship and how utterly worthless it was in the new age of carrier based planes. Still, while we were fighting, David noticed I was smiling and laughing while we rolled the dice. It felt so good for me to see our forces tangling like they were. Sure, victory was critical for me, but the feel of the Pacific War was being re-created with each roll of the dice and it was yet another sign of how good this game really was in re-creating that with elegant simplicity.

The Pacific, June 1943: the Battle of Kwajalein is about to begin.

Kawajalein, June 1943: the opposing forces.

September to November 1943 [Turn 8]

The consequences of the Japanese defeat at Kwajalein began to make themselves felt, with the fall of the island, and the Japanese decision to abandon their forward bases at Rabaul and Lae. This was the beginning of a generally successful Japanese withdrawal in the face of their deteriorating position in the central and southwestern Pacific – throughout the remainder of the war, Japanese forces redeployed in a timely fashion, never clinging on to outflanked positions unnecessarily.

I'm glad he noticed this. It's too tempting to want to try to keep places like Rabaul late in the war, but once they are cut off from the vine, they become a liability and not an asset.

Meanwhile, Nimitz’s original plan had been a drive westwards from Kwajalein through Truk to Manila, aiming to cut off the Japanese empire in South East Asia, and its resources, and link up with the British. However, circumstances forced the Americans to take a more adventitious approach, and this was to hurt them in the war’s closing stages, as the lack of strategic direction began to bite.

[A common problem once the tide has turned is American over-confidence and lack of forward planning – both were on display in Allied play in the latter stages of the game, with numerous eliminations as bases could not accommodate retreating attacking forces (overconfidence, as it had been assumed that the Allies would win the battle), and a failure to prepare the ground properly, seizing supporting bases and securing supply lines. The latter consideration in particular caused problems, as the Allied player did not clarify a rather too vague understanding of the supply rules until too late: more below.]

December 1943 to February 1944 [Turn 9]

The Japanese continued to withdraw, abandoning Hollandia. The main American attack was on Truk, but although the defending sea and air forces were annihilated, the Marines could not take the base from its stubborn defenders, the Americans having to content themselves with blockading it. To the west, the British and the Royal Navy signified their return to the offensive with a successful attack on Banda Atjeh – though by this point, the Japanese defences in South East Asia were being stripped of forces being sent north to contest the American advance.

It was a tough decision to make - I didn't know how much to plan for the British this time around. I always felt this game gave them a little too much oomph when compared to the historical reality. Perhaps Hitler was having a harder time and D-Day launched in 1943? By the end of our game, I felt the British had gone farther than would have been possible for them in reality with what they were facing on the global scale...

March to May 1944 [Turn 10]

The Americans were able to seize Guam, left relatively defenceless by the Japanese [a slip by the Japanese player], and the British launched the first of a number of unsuccessful assaults on Palembang, though they did blockade southern Sumatra, cutting off the precious oil supply [2 less Japanese Production Points – the Japanese total was 11 this turn, as opposed to 14 at its peak].

Ahh... blunder number three. It was the lateness of the hour (now pushing hour nine of the game session - though we had stopped for dinner and a game with David's daughters). I had been moving blocks around for various defensive possibilities. I had re-moved several blocks near the end of my debating, and then, too quickly, told David he could go. It was only about five minutes into David's turn I realized I had NOT moved a block back to where I had wanted it and where it had first begun. (I had been doing the experimental moves to see how things looked.) I kicked myself hard for this and by leaving Hollandia wide open allowed him to strategically move land-based air all the way into an unoccupied Guam. I was too much an honorable gamer to fall on my knees and whine about what I had intended to do - though I was tempted!

I feared this had given him a one turn advantage on his way to Tokyo.

June to August 1944 [Turn 11]

The Americans launched an attempt to capture Peleliu, and the Japanese decided to fight them. The result was another extremely expensive clash for both sides, although the Japanese had the consolation of crushing the Marines’ attempt to capture the base, the Americans settling once again for a blockade. In a further consolation for the Americans, Truk capitulated.

[The losses were a little more even than at Kwajalein – the Japanese won the air search roll – but the American cruiser swarm (11 again) meant that the USN could absorb considerably more punishment than their Japanese counterparts.]

The swarm was painful.

September to November 1944 [Turn 12]

The Americans in the central Pacific were ready to attack the crucial Japanese base at Saipan, as well as objectives further west, when a massive typhoon caused the invasion fleets to scatter, as well as destroying much of the base infrastructure the Americans had in Guam, Truk, and the Marshalls. The main US forces in Truk and Guam were in effect neutralised for some months.

The British did make further progress, however, capturing Saigon from its retreating Japanese occupiers, and taking Davao.

The Pacific, September 1944: the typhoon [represented by the stack of three blocks on top of one another] strikes, immobilising the main US striking forces. Japan is rescued by a Divine Wind.

[The Typhoon die-roll was a ‘3’, which effectively eviscerated the American effort for an entire turn, as it rendered the great majority of the US forces in Guam and Truk hors-de-combat. This was perhaps the worst stroke of luck suffered by the Allies in the game: with time of the essence, one turn had effectively been wasted.]

This may have been the high point in the Japanese morale this late into the war. An earlier typhoon roll had hit the Philippines. This had landed directly in the path of my SE Asia re-deployments and my strategic moves. David felt I had worried too much about it, but had he seen what would have faced Nimitz had it not been there, he might have given me more slack in my moaning. Right before rolling this die, I told David that every Japanese school girl, factory worker, and old man was praying with their full hearts in the temples and burning incense in the hopes of a divine kamikaze to sweep away the foreign invaders. The only roll that could have helped me would have been a three. I got it. David's reaction was as per expected and yet far more civil than I would have been. I feel it was this roll that saved the homeland from humiliating invasion and made up for my Hollandia blunder in spades.

December 1944 to February 1945 [Turn 13]

The Japanese decided to pull most of their forces back from Saipan, leaving the army to hold the base, but they were overwhelmed shortly afterwards. A combined Anglo-American task force, bypassing the remnants of Japan’s empire in South East Asia, launched an ambitious strike against Manila, but this was repulsed, as was an attack on Iwo Jima, though with heavy losses to the defenders – the Allies were suffering from over-confidence in their power, and a failure to prepare the ground properly – neither of the failed attacks on Iwo Jima or Manila could benefit from ground-based air support, for example.

[This was also the first occasion since Turn 6 (December 1942) that the Japanese managed to win an Initiative dice-roll, and this prolonged run of bad luck had undoubtedly prejudiced Japanese prospects.]

Ahh!! The initiative rolls! It is amazing for me that it took so long in the AAR for this point to show up. I am normally pretty open to the temperament of the fickle nature of the dice, but I spent over seven turns in a row of the game on the wrong end of the initiative rolls and felt this truly biased me in my ability to counter anything the Allies did. (Not to mention how it blunted my ability to surge forward in the last stages of my attacks!) I had set up a perfect defense perimeter in mid-1943 and had three bases all in supporting range of one another to crush anything the Allies tried to do IF I COULD REACT. David would win a roll, make me go first, and that would have me waiting to see where he would strike. He then would hit me where I wasn't, win again, and be able to do it again. A few times in a row this can be worked around, but by the seventh time, I was beginning to feel there might be a Tokyo MacArthur landing in December 1944 and not September 1945. I thought I was quite 'Japanese' in my nature to keep a straight face and calm exterior as all this was going on.

March to May 1945 [Turn 14]

Iwo Jima finally fell, and this left Japan exposed to attack for the first time, the Allies launching heavy attacks against both Tokyo and Kure, which destroyed the last remaining significant Japanese air and naval forces. The Americans also prepared an attack from the north, via the Aleutians, but weather [the North Pacific restrictions in the December & March turns] and supply problems [the Allied player had foolishly overlooked the absence of any supply line beyond Attu] made the effort largely moot.

[At the end of this turn, both players realised that they had probably been misinterpreting the rules concerning supply as they apply to the Japanese Home Islands. The shared assumption had been that an Allied naval presence in Japanese Home Island spaces did not affect either their Production Points, or their VP value. However, a closer reading of rules 7.32 and 8.1 indicated that although a blockaded Home Island hex would not suffer attrition, being in rail supply, it would count for neither PPs nor VPs. What had seemed like a fairly certain Stalemate result (6 Japanese PPs + 4 VPs from the Monsoon turn bonus = 10 VPs) was now thrown into doubt.

Moreover, thinking that the only way to improve the result would be to effect a landing in Japan, the Allied player had not bothered to conquer bases like Formosa and Seoul, which would have enabled the Allies to blockade Hakodate. As it was, this third Japanese Home Island hex was out of reach of Allied supply, and therefore could not be blockaded.

Interestingly, although both players were frustrated that they had been playing the last few turns under false pretences, both felt that the game’s position was justified by the course of actual events, both recalling the arguments about the effectiveness of the American blockade in Richard Frank’s book on the end of the Pacific War, “Downfall”.]

I fully agree with the above and I was the one who caught it when I wanted to check how production was in a blockaded home island. I had felt I might have worked David masterfully to a stalemate, and by my definition, a major victory for Japan. I felt disappointed it wasn't the case, and in a way, it was a tad anti-climatic after such an up and down session. By this point it was well after midnight, and we were still determined to see things through to the end.

June to August 1945 [Turn 15]

The Allies launched two invasions, one against Tokyo, the other against Kure. However, neither was able to get ashore successfully, and the tenacious Japanese defenders were able to ensure that the Emperor was allowed to remain on the throne, when they sued for surrender shortly afterwards.

The end of the war against Japan, June 1945.

[The final result was an Allied Marginal Victory: 2 PPs (Hakodate) + 4 bonus VPs (Monsoon turns) = 6 VPs.

A good game, in which fortune swung both ways. The Japanese had ill luck in some early combats, but were compensated by the extremely fortunate typhoon in Turn 12.]

Yes, this was a very good game, and it ranks one of my best sessions for 2011 so far. It was about a year ago that David had asked me what I had thought of this game, and at the time, I had told him it was simply 'fun' but needed some victory point tweaks to make it work. He knew I was a PTO guy, so he had raised an eyebrow at this, and he told me he had wanted me to try it with him to see how well it really worked. I thank him for his push to do so and now push this game far further up in my list of the truly greats.

The game gives you the total feel of the Pacific War in one sitting and doesn't bog you down in countless details like other titles do. Is it the say all in the PTO for me? No, not really, not by a long shot. I am still working my way through the titles and have yet to have settled on a favorite yet. Still, at the end of the day, Pacific Victory has a great advantage to be playable in one (albeit long) sitting and giving you countless decision points to make along the way. My hat is off to the designer.

Now, about those pesky victory conditions.................

I felt a good compromise might look like this; you set up some objectives for Japan which would be similar to the auto wins in most PTO games. I saw the following as being possibilities:

1) take Pearl Harbor
2) isolate Australia from USA supply (basically getting to Tonga)
3) force an Australian surrender
4) force an Indian surrender
5) take an American home city on the West Coast (a long shot!)

Assuming Japan does this, the Japanese player then gets an automatic two rank bump up the victory point table. The game does not stop there, but the Allies now have to work a heck of a lot harder to even get to a stalemate and avoid an embarrassing defeat. A stalemate becomes a major Japanese victory, an Allied marginal becomes a Japanese marginal, and an Allied decisive becomes the now viciously fought for stalemate. I felt that this gives both sides a chance on the stretch out offensive and gives a balanced way to make the game exciting down to the last roll.

My thanks to David for taking the time out to write out this very detailed and well-captured AAR.

Perhaps we shall clash again across the Pacific in the not too distant future!
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simon thornton
United Kingdom
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In any event, we started at 2.30 pm, and finished at 1.30 am, with a 45-minute break for dinner.

11 hours !!!! Roughly 10 plus breaks ?!? I recently acquired this and was looking to it as my 4-6 hour quick fix PTO game. I can play Empire of the Sun in that time. Is that usual ? or did you take your time /have lots of battles . How long is a typical game ?

For the record I was hoping that when Ive got

4-6 Hours it ll be Pacific Victory
6-8 Hours Fire in the Sky
10-12 Hours Empire of the Sun

Have I drastically undersstimated PV time.

Excellent AAR btw.
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Jeffery Bass
United States
San Carlos
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What's this? Why, it's the Hiller Flying Platform! It flew in 1955.
Absolutely outstanding report. Thanks for taking the time to write it. It's worth reading several times.
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Michael Collarin
United States
North Carolina
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Excellent write up.

I think it's important to take notice that they had not played PV in a while. They noted this probably added a considerable amount of time to their gameplay.

I've begun playing two PBeM sessions on Vassal - one is more active than the other. Even that is taking awhile. Battles get drawn out to several emails. This is something that would obviously be sped up in a live face to face game. However, as that was my first game, it's taken me 45-60 minutes at times to go through my Logistics Phase and Movement Phase. Each turn of play however, this number is shrinking.

If you can keep that number down to around 15-20 minutes per 3 month period, you should be okay getting from DEC 41 to the end of the game in that 4-6 hour time frame. There are also a couple other scenarios for shorter game time.
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Wow Wow Wow!!

Great write up. It harkens back to the old Series Replays from The General to be sure. Fantastic. Thank you so much for putting this together for us all to enjoy. That was a lot of work.
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