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The Fires of Midway» Forums » General

Subject: Fun or tedious? rss

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Tim Earl
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I've been considering this game for a while, and lately I went through the rules and all the reviews here, but I'm still on the fence.

I like the idea of a light to medium naval combat game, and I'm not at all interested in the dice-fest that is A&A War at Sea. But after reading the rules here, it seems like it could be more of a tedious chore than an exciting and enjoyable game. I hope I'm wrong, but I was burned a while back by Panzer General, which turned out to be too much like a math problem than a game.

I watched the two videos posted here, but the dull presentation didn't help, so I'm still undecided.

So, can anyone comment on how the game actually plays? I have no desire to spend a few hours constantly consulting charts or rules while trying to play the game. I'm not afraid of meaty games, and I enjoy Twilight Struggle and Washington's War, but I want to avoid an overly abstract math problem. I have high hopes for this game and don't want to be disappointed.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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I own the game and play it once in a while -- an it's always a blast.

Is it a dicefest? To a certain extent, yes. You roll a lot of dice. But you have control over how many dice your roll, and when you spend resources to go for that big, crucial roll.
If you rate Memoir '44 a 10, you won't have problem with the randomness in The Fires of Midway.

Is it complex? Absolutely not. You'll refer back to the rules a few times during your first game, and then you'll never look back.
The game is about as simple as it could get while remaining engaging.

My only realy problem with it is that it's heavily skewed towards the Japanese. Only one of the scenarios provided with the game offers any sort of real fighting chance for the US.
Is that a deal breaker? Not if you this ahead of time. We often switch sides to play the same scenario twice, so that we can see who does best.
And you can also modify the official scenarios, or even build your own (which is really easy).

Here's another plus: it's very unusual. It doesn't feel like any other wargame in my collection.

So I say, go for it!
And if you do, come back here to tell us how you (dis)liked it.

And feel free to ask more questions, if you want!
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Tanks Alot
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Its has some really nice phases, and I love the different uses of the cards. Has some of the best training manuals out there with step by step instructions. It is carrier against carrier warfare so there is a bit of tediousness as you wear down each other ships, but it is very fun to play

Im sorry the videos are dull.. haha :) Sure beats the other ones out ...
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Scott Key
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First of all I have only played this game solitaire.

If you are interested in this Historical subject, this game is really good. The rulebook is easy to use and does not require more than an occasional consultation. Not a lot of real strategy involved but since you're actually gaming the final clash of carriers that's what you're going to get.
And as has been said before, not really like anything else I've played. Takes about 2 hours to play scenarios solitaire.

Fun? Yes. Tedious? Not at all.

Great Solitaire, probably even better as two player.
 
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Sight Reader
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cheng wrote:
So, can anyone comment on how the game actually plays? I have no desire to spend a few hours constantly consulting charts or rules while trying to play the game.

Despite being quite accessible, this game puts simulation before mechanics and is definitely not an abstract. The entire "detective" portion of carrier warfare - that is, piecing together random scraps of intelligence to determine if the enemy is even out there- is replaced by simple random card draws, thus avoiding the need for a "double blind" system modeling mutually hidden fleets stalking the sea.

Thus, the simulation doesn't really begin until contact is made. Restrictions in the form of "doctrine" and "confidence" prevent players from exercising certain options to simulate the confusion stemming from incorrect strategic assumptions and priorities.


Once opposing sides find each other, carrier warfare boils down to simultaneous frontal assaults as both sides try to optimize the offensive and defensive use of their aircraft. Since it's an optimization problem, tactics are more a matter of avoiding mistakes: no stroke of genius is going to win you the game, but there sure are an awful lot of ways to lose one, with everything from aircraft arming, selecting range, juggling flight decks and putting out fires being simulated. Furthermore, all these decisions have sound historical footing and effectively simulate the decisions (and angst) faced by your real-life counterparts.

Does that help?
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Scott Key
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That image is.... Unsettling....


"Scratch one flat-top"
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Sight Reader
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Scott Pasha wrote:
That image is.... Unsettling....

Oh, it's settling alright... at the bottom of the sea...
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Roger Greenwood
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I have never found this game tedious. It distils the complexities of carrier combat into a game that can be played in a couple of hours. It keeps the essential tension of strike and counter strike.

At first I was a little disappointed because it did seem a bit dice heavy. However, on subsequent plays I have looked for strategies and have found there is more to this game than first appears. Like most war games there is a chance factor. The skill is to create situations where the odds are in your favour.

There are basic but important decisions about whether to close quickly or keep the range long, about when and what planes to launch. The rules and mechanics are straight forward, making for fast play and concentrating the mind on key decisions, not the minutiae of the combat, a good game.
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Sight Reader
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RogerGreenwd wrote:
The rules and mechanics are straight forward, making for fast play and concentrating the mind on key decisions, not the minutiae of the combat, a good game.

Agreed. It is very difficult to simulate carrier operations without getting bogged down in all the technological minutiae, and that is what some very clever mechanics and an army of dice protect you from. It's an incredibly educational game.

I think there are a lot of decisions in the sense that there are a lot of ways to screw up (dang it! should have left more guys for CAP.. dang it! should have opened up the range, etc etc) but not a lot of ways to "outsmart" your opponent. I feel the true "outsmart" part of carrier warfare is the hide and seek phase before engagement, but that phase is more summarized than simulated.

RogerGreenwd wrote:
Like most war games there is a chance factor. The skill is to create situations where the odds are in your favour.

It's also important to note that actual carrier warfare was incredibly sensitive to factors beyond anyone's control - a faulty radio, a bomb detonating a fraction later, a mechanic's momentary lapse, a shift in the wind, a dud torpedo... These things had a way of dominating results until the technology matured.
 
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Roger Greenwood
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The search phase has got quite interesting for us now. Not revealing a fleet card and hoping the other side will not pick it before the other two are revealed. Deciding to delay to get more clouds. Deciding if a more clouds or more cards is better. This section is a really nice part of the design. Some nice tension reflecting the fleets searching for each other in a quick tactical game within a game, and all without a mass of complex rules.
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Tanks Alot
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RogerGreenwd wrote:
The search phase has got quite interesting for us now. Not revealing a fleet card and hoping the other side will not pick it before the other two are revealed. Deciding to delay to get more clouds. Deciding if a more clouds or more cards is better. This section is a really nice part of the design. Some nice tension reflecting the fleets searching for each other in a quick tactical game within a game, and all without a mass of complex rules.


The fuel cards are quite interesting too.. hope your planes can make it back to fight again!
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Sight Reader
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RogerGreenwd wrote:
The search phase has got quite interesting for us now.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the search phase is still a fun game. However, it doesn't seem to be a serious attempt at simulation (at least compared to the rest of the game)
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Jeff Fike
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I would love to know how the Japanese have an edge...every game I've played, Japan gets their hat handed to them.

The cards, for starters, allow the American to keep drawing more when their carrier is attacked at a higher rate than Japan.

Secondly, radar. Americans are almost guaranteed to scramble fighters each and every time. And if you attack a carrier group more than once, it means the americans get to draw even more cards.

Just about every time there is a "tie" or lack of a confident player, the rules heavily favor the Americans.

The Americans even get 1000 lb bombers as a standard part of their arsenal on the Hornet.

The only real advantage the Japanese have is they aren't as affected by fuel limitations. Also, stealing the #1 spot isn't that big of a deal when you are Nagumo.

As for whether it is tedious. Absolutely not. The rules could use a summary sheet. Everything is scattered about.

My beef with the game is this:

I love games that have tension, or players feel as if they are in it throughout the game.

This game is either one end of the spectrum or the other in regards to domination. You are either dominating or being dominated. And that is what makes this less fun.

Someone attacks first and the dice go their way...they put your carriers on fire. Nothing you can do but sit and watch. The wind is out of your sails and you don't have fun.

Someone attacks first and the dice go your way. That means you get to counterattack...assuming the dice go your way again...now it is them who is miserable.

My point being someone is always miserable. And there is no middle ground.

I have recovered from critical hits on my carriers and won the game, but that is where the tedium comes in. And it requires a lot of luck. Skill will only get you so far. Once you start taking hits, you really can't do much of anything except sit and "save the ship" while they keep pummeling you. You just wait for the dice to go your way before you can mount a counter-attack. And then the dice need to stay your way.

If you are the Japanese, just about everything makes the dice go the American way. Their carriers defend better, they repair better, they avoid crits better, the planes don't roll more dice, but the cards will compensate.

Perhaps it is historical, it is well known the Americans had better safety and fire control.

For many of these reasons I love the game. But for the reason that you are either on "cloud 9" or fighting for your life and never in between, it is a frustrating game to play.
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