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Subject: Midway: The Game rss

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Johnny Big Bird
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Edition
1964

Game Plays
About 20. My third Avalon Hill game. First was Guadalcanal and second was D-Day.

Artwork
Nice box which shows Battle of Midway photo. The search board and battle boards are vanilla (bland) with no graphics or pictures other than a marking for where Midway is. Same goes for the charts and tables. The aircraft pieces are also just fair with silhouettes of aircraft and a number and a letter for type. The ships for the Search board are simple and practical as well. The ships for the Battle Board are nicer with some detail. Same as the pieces in Jutalnd.

Counters
The standard Avalon Hill shiny one- sided die cut counters for the search board and aircraft. Larger shiny counters for the Battle Board ships. The Imperial Japanese Navy search board and aircraft pieces are orange. The American search board and aircraft pieces are blue. The IJN Battle Board ships are outlined in orange while the American ones are outlined in black (why not blue?)

Rules
Fairly easy to understand with one quirky issues. After an air attack, the attacker must reveal the exact location of the launch point and recovery point. If recovery point is different, this makes no sense. Also, if your carriers attack a fleet and destroy all of the ships in it, how would the defending force be able to follow the attackers back to their recover points? If an aircraft is coming from a carrier, but does not go back to its launching carrier location, the defending ships may be able to estimate the general direction of the launching carrier, based on the approach of the attacking aircraft. They would not know the exact location. If the aircraft destroyed enemy ships and returned to another location to land, the defending (sunk) forces would not all be able to follow the planes back to the landing location.

Mechanics
Not the standard Avalon Hill Move and Combat phases. Also no zones of control since this is a naval and air battle game. Players search for each other like Battleship, Jutland and Bismarck. You can spread ships out to get additional searches near each of your ships. If aircraft are fueled and ready to go, then air attacks can be launched against enemy ships that are in range. Battle takes place on another board with defender placing ships and attacker placing dive bombers and torpedo bombers around ship(s) to be attacked. If both sides have fighters in the air, these fight first. If only the defender has aircraft in the air or if he has more than the attacker, extra fighters can be used to reduce the odds of the attacking aircraft on ships. Odds are then calculated for each attack on a ship and a die is rolled for each attack, and losses determined. Combat results table is fairly bloody for ships and for aircraft. I love the game and the attack mechanics because it does allow so many different tactical ways to attack ships and lets you determine which ones to concentrate attacks on. Likewise the defender can selectively use preferential defense to some extent to better protect some ships over others. Aircraft can be shuttled between carriers and also between U.S. carriers and Midway. The mechanic for battles between ships is simple but rarely if ever occurs. Both sides set up their ships on the Battle Board and make one move and then can shoot guns if in range. Each player is then allowed to attempt a withdrawal from battle which is successful one third of the time. Battles are rare and if they occur odds are high they will be very uneven – that is one side will have the preponderance of firepower and the other side will try to withdraw. I have played about twenty times and have gone ship-to-ship on the Battle Boards several times. Never has a gun been fired. The inferior force has always refused to close, chosen to withdraw and has succeeded every time without a shot being fired. There are also simple rules for bombarding and reducing the defenses on Midway to allow an invasion. If Midway is successfully invaded, the U.S. loses any aircraft there and obviously cannot use it as a base either. The U.S. also loses the one point per turn it gets for holding Midway and the Japanese get 15 points . To put that in context, sinking a U.S. carrier is worth 10 points.

Play Balance
The game favors the U.S. side slightly, but any side can win. Really. Whomever is found first is at a disadvantage. The U.S. had the advantage of four searches compared to three for the Japanese. The location of the U.S. forces at the start is a much larger area than for the Japanese forces, further complicating initial sighting of the U.S. forces by the Japanese. The Japanese fleets are also dividing into four, with only one of the fleets on the board at the start. The U.S. also has Midway as an air base. Some of the Japanese carriers are also very easy to sink. The Japanese (once all of their forces have deployed) have the advantage of more ships, more carriers, stronger ships (BBs) and more aircraft.

Complexity
Simple to Intermediate.

Realism
Fairly realistic in searching and going to battle, but the aircraft versus ship mechanics can lead to some very unrealistic combat results. An attacking player can divide up attacks on multiple ships, rather than putting all of the aircraft in one big attack on a ship and the results are significantly more total hits and aircraft losses. For example if the Japanese player attacks the U.S.S. Norfolk with 12 dive bombers and 4 U.S. ships (3 screening value each) use their screening value to defend that ship, then you have one attack at 1-1 with a 50-50 chance of getting one hit and a 50-50 chance of getting two hits. If you attacked all four of the ships individually with 3 dive bombers each and each ship used its screening value against the attack against it, then each ship would be attacked 1-1 and receive 1 to 2 hits. So in attacking with 12 you get 1 to 2 hits, while attacking with 3 four times you can get 4 to 8 hits with the same bombers. You will take on the order of four times as many hits on your aircraft that way too so it balances out somewhat, but a bit unrealistic. Would have been better if the more aircraft that attack, the more hits the ship will take and the more guns that fire at oncoming aircraft, the more hits the aircraft will take.

Luck
Some. The searching part of the game is not really luck, since each player calls out the areas they want to search. If the enemy is there, they are found. You can use your fleet location to get another search and can split up your fleet to get additional searches. So anyone who complains you were luck because you found them first is off base. There are no dice rolls to determine who finds whom. The battles of aircraft versus ships have a little luck since there are combat results tables. The luck is minimized since with one-to-one attacks you are guaranteed at least one hit on a ship. Planes are lost on any attack unless it is 5-1 or higher. Losses vary a bit based on the die roll, but not dramatically. The fighter versus fighter combat results table has both sides typically taking a few losses, so not much luck there either. The game results will be more a factor of how you use your forces for searching and attacking and where you put your forces than with any die rolls.

Time to Set Up
Not long if you have separated the pieces into a few bags. If they are simply Japanese pieces in one box and American pieces in the other, it may take twenty minutes to set up the whole board with one player. About 10 minutes if two players sort and set up.

Time to Play
About four hours if one side does not wipe out most of the other’s fleets carriers early in a first strike (or maybe two). If that happens the game is basically over then.

Critical Pieces
No, any of the counters could be duplicated and used, BUT if you lost one, you would need to know the combat values on the large ship counter to duplicate them. Better not lose the Turn Record Sheets though since it shows how many turns, when night is, when fleets come on, how many points for sinking each ship, and how many hits it takes to sink each ship.

Solitaire
Nope, although you could practice aircraft versus ship attacks and try a what if surface-to-surface battle board battle. Never tried that though; I think I will now. Let’s see Yamamoto’s (fourth) fleet versus the entire American fleet (say missing one carrier).
Can a Novice Beat an Experienced Player
Doubtful, since the sides are so evenly balanced, but possible if they get lucky. Oh wait there is no luck in this game. I guess the answer is no then.

Replayability
Absolutely. I played it about 20 times. There are different search strategies to try and all sorts of attack tactics to try out, particularly at the American player since the Japanese screening values are so different.

Rating
6.5. I do not usually like ship games, but this one which combines air and naval wargare is well done and is a forgotten classic. Much more action than either Jutland or Bismark. A very nice game that gives you many strategic and tactical choices. Strategic decisions include whether and how much to divide up forces to get additional searches. Should you go straight for Midway as the Japanese or wait to link up with your other fleets. As the American, should you go after the Japanese fleet early or hang back and defend Midway or just go run and hide. The battle board has several tactical choices. How many and which ships to attack is the main decision. The fewer ships you attack, the fewer hits on the ships, but also fewer of your planes get shot down. Should you launch to get fueled and bomb-laden aircraft off your carrier decks if you have spotted, even if you do not know where the enemy is? May save your carriers, but gives up the option to immediately launch an attack once you follow the enemy back to their air bases. You will need to refuel if you do this.

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heh heh, "favors the US side slightly", while you are CORRECT with your 'premise' given from such. The 'casual observer' may not concur just with glancing over their respective, overall 'Force' dispositions, yet, as you then nicely put this, it does truly devolve and rely on successful 'Searches' being conducted with resultant "Air Strikes" being sent along. Their RULES regarding the "unveiling of location" may also have been intended to keep players 'honest', and I have encountered 'cheaters' through this aspect in some RARE instances. Yeah! Whatever... If these ever wanted to "play again" with myself, then I 'required' their using an 'ink pen'. The Designers' even are taking into account with 'Scout Planes' being present as well, and of whom were expected to discover in however means, the enemy location(s). It was just the BEST 'method' at the times, and, maybe with RADAR where present.

Do you also happen to have their Coral Sea expansion? With A-L-L of those for this, then it is so much more fun to create, and re-create "Naval Campaigns" through them. It was much more than an easier, simpler means on portraying "Naval Clashes" than "Jutland" or "Bismark" had at the times.
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Barry Kendall
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Lebanon
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Groggy's right as usual, "Midway" was AH's best WW II naval game and has stood the test of time rather well in every department but graphics (and it was fine for its era).

I still remember the thrill of hearing my opponent say "Readying aircraft!" and wondering whether he had my positions figured out or was just cocking his pistol in anticipation; either way, I had visions of diving on those crowded decks before he could get that strike off.

Ironically, in light of recent research (such as that reflected in "Shattered Sword"), the relative ease of damaging Japanese carriers was more true-to-life in "old" "Midway" than in some of the more recent Midway titles; their damage control and fire suppression systems were less effective than those in US ships, and courageous damage-control parties can't put fires out without water pressure and such innovations as inert-gas systems for aviation fuel lines.

Revealing one's launch point when returning a strike seemed somewhat "gamey" to me too, but it was easy enough to narrow down search zones and estimate distance once a strike had run its course and the planes, low on fuel and possibly damaged, were making a beeline for their TF rendezvous. It seemed to work in the game to keep both players "in it" even after losing a carrier or two.

In our games the USN usually won too, but I have seen some Japanese victories, sometimes as lopsided in their favor as the historical outcome was for the USN.

I salute you for shining some light on this true old classic. And I agree, the cover was great.
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Lance McMillan
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Not a bad game, but I it hasn't hit the table once since I got Ben Knight's Victory at Midway, which is a far cleaner, more accurate, and faster playing game.
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Glenn McMaster
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Quote:
and I have encountered 'cheaters' through this aspect in some RARE instances.
Ah, I can still remember the faint scratch of counters whisking across map as I’d call out an area, a delay, and then, ‘Nothing’ comes back.

Quote:
Revealing one's launch point when returning a strike seemed somewhat "gamey" to me too,
We just played it that you don’t.

Quote:
Ironically, in light of recent research (such as that reflected in "Shattered Sword"), the relative ease of damaging Japanese carriers was more true-to-life in "old" "Midway" than in some of the more recent Midway titles; their damage control and fire suppression systems were less effective than those in US ships,
Except at Midway, no Japanese fleet carrier was sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft until the Zuikaku in late 1944. Of course at Midway there were extenuating tactical circumstance, but even there it appears at least Akagi and Hiryu were otherwise salvagable, perhaps even Soryu as well.
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M St
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Barry Kendall wrote:
Groggy's right as usual, "Midway" was AH's best WW II naval game and has stood the test of time rather well in every department but graphics (and it was fine for its era).
I've always considered this a groundbreaking design... but much better things have since been built on the same ground. At the latest, the moment that the aforementioned Victory at Midway came out, this game was superseded in virtually every respect.

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Johnny Big Bird
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Robert,
I do have the Coral Sea variant from the General. I made all of the pieces, but never played it. Every time I take out Midway, it is always easier to play the Midway game, since I know it so well. Do you recommend the Coral Sea variant?
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Johnny Big Bird
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Thanks Lance. I will see if I can get a copy of Victory at Midway (at a good price). If the game is better than Midway by Avalon Hill, I assume it is pretty good.
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Glenn McMaster
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ostrichjo wrote:
Robert,
I do have the Coral Sea variant from the General. I made all of the pieces, but never played it. Every time I take out Midway, it is always easier to play the Midway game, since I know it so well. Do you recommend the Coral Sea variant?
No real need to make new pieces – just use the ones in Midway. For example, use Hosho for Zuikaku in the Indian Ocean Raid, and Hornet becomes the Hermes. I don’t like the variant map in the General. I think it’s better just “filling” in areas and zones to make a scenario map. For example, for Coral Sea, modify the map as follows:

Land Areas: B1, C1, C2, A7
Seaplane Anchorage Areas: E1, E2, I1
Rabaul – 10 zones north of E1A
Port Moresby: A1C,, Townsville A7B
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