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Subject: VITP: An Ageless Beauty rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
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I first met and fell in love with Victory in the Pacific (VITP) just over 20 years ago. It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair. Having played the game in excess of 100 times, and having spent many hours “chewing the fat” with other VITP aficionados, it is one of a very small number of games that I consider to be a perfect ‘10’.

Why is this so?

Physically it is not a particularly attractive game. The map is, by and large, BLUE. If you are looking at a game that is set in the Pacific Ocean I can see the logic of this. A number of straight white lines divide the ocean into areas. The land masses and islands are PINK and GREEN. It is not particularly attractive, but it is very, very functional.

The counters, while not especially exciting, are slightly larger than average and this makes them very nice to hold. When combined with area movement the large counters do give a very nice feel to the game.

One of the attractions of the game is that there is a myriad of options available to both players. The strategic situation is exciting. You start with the Japanese having massive and overwhelming superiority in strength. They must use their strength to achieve sufficient points to gain victory. They must also try to conserve their strength so as to be able to withstand the Allied counter-attack.

The Allies, on the other hand, start on the back-foot. They must avoid combat where their small forces would be destroyed, while at the same time, creating a strategic situation that will allow them a spring-board later in the war, once their reinforcements start coming into play.

The feature of the game which makes it so interesting, and highly interactive, is the movement sequence.

First, the Japanese player (JP) moves his patrolling ships. Patrolling ships can take control of sea areas. As the Japanese player moves first, they are giving the Allied player (AP) some idea as to which areas they intend to fight to control. Next, the Allied player moves their Patrolling ships. Then, the JP and AP alternate placing their Land-based Air (LBA). LBA can also control sea areas, but must be placed adjacent to a friendly, controlled base. Most times, if you intend to control using LBA there is no additional benefit from having patrolling ships in the same area. The JP now moves his Amphibious units, followed by the AP doing the same. Amphibious units role is to capture minor bases, to possibly deny the opponent a base for LBA or to use, themselves, as a base for LBA for the next turn. Finally the JP moves his Raiding ships and the AP will then do the same. Raiding ships can move further than patrolling ships, but are unable to control an area.

The sequence of movement is crucial to the outcome of the game. During the war the US were able to intercept Japanese radio communications and use the information to their advantage. In the same way, the JP moving first is giving the AP information about their intentions. The AP, with the smaller force is able to avoid combat if that is their wish. The AP only moves into combat situations of their choosing.

Having said this, the AP must be very careful not look after their forces. I have seen games where the AP has been too aggressive early in the game and, despite winning battles, ran out of ships and was unable to make use of their advantage at the end of the game as they had not had enough ships in the mid-game to gain control of crucial land-bases.

Typically the JP will go to a 29 point lead by the mid-game and it is up to the AP to work hard to recapture enough areas to win. Having said that, there have been games where the JP may only have a small lead by mid-game but has had enough ships to stop the AP making any progress in regards to picking up points of their own.

For me, on of the beauties of the game is that there is so much variety in the plans that can be adopted by both players.

Even between highly experienced players, there is a very strong element of trying to be deceptive and watching very hard for clues from the opponent regarding their intention.

I believe that, despite the massive amount of dice rolling, that luck does not play a significant part in the game. It truly is a game of skill and the better player should win most of the time. It is my experience that the simpler the rules, the more important the skill element is in a game.


Some comments on the game…

1.) Components – as stated earlier, not pretty, but very functional. The game is so good that you don’t notice how ordinary the graphics are.

2.) Rules – clearly written and only about 4 pages – the extra pages are for optional rules, a set-up chart and examples of play.

3.) Theme – VITP seems to capture the ebb and flow of the Pacific Theatre very well.

4.) Randomness and Strategy – a plethora of plans present themselves to players. Luck is not a significant factor.

5.) Time and Players – 2 players should take a whisker over 3 hours to finish this game. It doesn’t take very much space.

6.) Fun Factor – this is an exciting game – simple rules, simple mechanics and highly interactive so there are very few moments when you don’t feel that you are doing something.


VITP was one of the first games I every bought and the years have shown it to be one of the best. Do yourself a favour, if you are interested in the War in the Pacific and you want a fast-moving, elegant, simple and exciting game you should give VITP a go.

da pyrate
arrrh

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Brian Koepnick
United States
Georgia
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Couldn't agree more David. VITP is one of my all-time favorite WWII games. Strats abound in this one, and I personally love the challenge of playing the Japanese. All those Washington class battleships that appear late in the game are pretty powerful. Extremely fun game!
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martin collinson
United Kingdom
swansea
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i agree, a fun game that can be easily learnt, but with changing balance that keeps the tension going
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Tom Jensen
United States
Pacific Grove
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After I opened up VITP the first time I was disgusted; 20 bucks for this butt-ugly game! Then I put it on the shelf for two years. 730 days later I gave the design a shot and discovered the great GAME beneath the day-glo cardboard. Indeed, the more I played, the more I discovered how much skill was necessary to win. I especially like how Guadalcanal straddled two areas, making Henderson Field one of the most vital spots in the Pacific... just like history.

Occassionally, I'd play with the idea of getting some maps from National Geographic to replace the horror that is the gameboard; but in the end, it doesn't really matter. It's the GAME, the GAme, ... the game....

It definitely holds a spot in my Top Ten list.
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Thomas Heaney
United States
Quincy
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Nice review. Oddly enough, I too was recently thinking about how great this game was and how well it has stood the test of time despite some of the worst desicions in graphic-design history. For me, it is a near-perfect game if not for the length of time to play and the luck of the dice. Yes, luck plays a smaller role than one would expect, but it is frustrating to find a game nearly hinging on a couple of dice after several hours of play.

Still, I LOVE this game.
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William (Andy) Anderson
United States
Las Vegas
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I will have to dig my old copy out and play this game again. I did enjoy it many years ago and never seemed to find the time to play it again. Now I will. Nice review.
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Brian Newman
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Thanks for the review. I love this game as well, but I wouldn't say that "luck is not a factor". A really good day at Pearl Harbor to start the game can very much affect the later game and Japan's chances, while an awful day for Japan will almost take them out of the game right away. Usually the results are in the middle, but I've seen both extremes.
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Michael Ornelles
United States
Fresno
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I have been playing VITP for many years and couldn't agree more about the Pearl Harbor attack. If it goes badly for Japan you might as well start the game anew. I usually stay for extra combat hoping that the American CV's show up. I love the system though and have custom made many games on other historical conflicts based on the same system. I haven't tried Vassal yet and was curious what vetern players think of it?
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Daniel Blumentritt
United States
Austin
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Quote:
If it goes badly for Japan you might as well start the game anew. I


I strongly disagree. A bad Pearl raid hurts Japan less than a good raid hurts the US.

Quote:
usually stay for extra combat hoping that the American CV's show up


You should always do this, and the USA player 999 times out of 1000 should take the free retreat.
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