Pacific Typhoon » Reviews » A good Wargame Filler

Author: mrbeankc
It's a Friday night and you and your friends are getting together for a night of wargaming. One of the guys however is going to be an hour late. So you and your friends have a beer in hand and an hour to kill. Being Grognards you want a good light wargame to fill the time. Pacific Typhoon is a game that will fit the bill for you.

A Bit of Game History

Pacific Typhoon is a WW II Pacific Theater trick taking card game created by Ben Knight and John Coussis. Ben Knight is the designer of past wargames such as London's Burning and The Napoleonic Wars. He also years ago designed a card game called Atlantic Storm for Avalon Hill. Unfortunately for wargamers Atlantic Storm came out right at the very end of Avalon Hill's existence. A limited number of the game were printed and the result was the price for a copy over the years on Ebay has been more than a little pricey with copies often going in the $100-$150 range. The good news however is that for the most part Pacific Typhoon is very much Atlantic Storm. The theme is the Pacific rather than the Atlantic and there are a few other variants, but overall Atlantic Storm players will easily recognize Pacific Typhoon as it's sibling.


Pacific Typhoon is in short a trick taking card game but with a few nice thematic twists tossed in. The game is played in a series of rounds. In each round the current first player flips two battle cards. Each card represents a famous battle from the Pacific Theater. The battles include famous names such as Pearl Harbor, Midway and Iwo Jima. The first player then decides which of the two battles will be fought and discards the other to the discard pile. Then in clockwise order the players play a card or cards depending on what they have in their hand and fight it out on either the Japanese or Allied side. The winning side in the battle divide the spoils and earn victory points depending on what assets were lost by the losing side and the value of the battle.

There a number of variables in the game's mechanics for each battle that truly add to this games flavor. First off not all battles are the same. Some battles take place during the day while others are night engagements. This greatly effects which cards players are able to play. For example Pearl Harbor is fought during the day while Gazelle Bay is fought at night. Other battles the first player has the option. The Gilbert Islands for example is considered a twilight battle and thus the first player has the option of declaring the battle either day or night.

After declaring which battle is to be fought and whether it is a night or day fight the first player then decides if the battle will be air, surface, sub or all three combined. This is an important consideration as combat cards in the game have values for all three. The Japanese sub I-58 for example has a 0 air combat rating but has a 2 for both surface and sub. Thus if the battle is an air combat the card I-58 has no combat value but in either a surface or sub conflict it would be worth 2. In a combine battle all factors are added together and thus the I-58 card would be worth 4 points.

Players may play cards for either side during the game but only one side each round. At the end of every round the winning side gets to split the spoils which consists of the Battle Card and whatever units were on the losing side. For example if the Battle was Pearl Harbor and the Japanese carrier Akagi was on the losing side the winning side would have the Pearl Harbor Card (worth 7 victory points) and the Akagi card (worth 4 victory points) as spoils. The player who did the highest number of points during the round then divides these cards among the winning players. Most likely keeping the Pearl Harbor card for himself and giving the lower scoring Akagi to another player.

Fate and Hand Size:

There are two other mechanics that are of major importance in the game. The first is hand size. The hand size of each player starts out as 6 and can grow to as large as 9. Players earn a larger hand size through spoils. Some cards at the bottom left have a green R. This means whoever wins that card at the end of the round gets an extra card in all future rounds.

Another cool little game mechanic is fate. During the war of course certain ships sunk other ships or were major factors in the fighting of certain battles. For example the Japanese sub I-58 sunk the Cruiser USS Indianapolis during the war. In this game thus the Indianapolis is fated to be sunk by I-58. If the Indianapolis is played in a round and another player plays the I-58 card after them during the same round the Indianapolis is sunk and the player playing the I-58 card immediately receives the Indianapolis as spoils.


In terms of the card stock for the game while not linen stock it's pretty good and should be fine for general use by most wargamers. I myself have put the cards into card sleeves as I expect the game will get a good chunk of play time from my group over time and truth be told I put all my card games of this type into card sleeves.

Art wise I like the direction they took with this game. The card back artwork looks extremely nice and the photographs on each card are interesting and well chosen. Each card also comes with a tidbit of historical background which adds a touch to the historical flavor and should benefit people not deeply familiar with the Pacific Theater.


The game rules for Pacific Typhoon come with a number of different variations to the rules that with little effort allow players to play teams Allies vs Japan. Also there are rules for playing the game in proper historical order. Thus players can start with Pearl Harbor and fight all the way through to the battle for the Japanese home islands rather than doing the battles from a random draw. I thought this was a real nice touch.


If you are interested in a nice filler game for your wargamning group I think this would be a very good choice. It's clean, fast and has a surprising amount of theme depth. There aren't a ton of filler games with strong wargame themes so this game fills a nice niche in the hobby. Price wise it runs about $25 so it won't break your wallet either. I give it a strong recommendation and rate it an 8.
Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:31 pm
Author: Bannor2000
What would you say are the best player counts for this game? Thanks.
Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:25 pm
Author: jcangel
From my experiece with Atlantic Storm and Pacific Typhoon, 5 players is the "optimal" game.

It still works well with 4 or 6.
Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:39 pm
Author: mrbeankc
Based on what I have played so far I would agree that 5 is the sweet spot. 4 & 6 would work as well. You can play with as many as 7 and as few as 3 but I don't think the game would work nearly as well with 3 or 7.
Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:52 pm
Author: Merkles Boner
Excellent review! Thanks!
Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:45 am
Author: cornjob
Is the starting hand 5 or 6? I don't have the rules handy, but I thought we played with 6 the other day.

As for number of players, I thought Atlantic Storm worked best with 6, but I've played PT with 5 and 4. Four is too few, and five was OK. The main difference is that each hand takes slightly longer ( although the number if battles or "tricks" is not changed) and the opportunity for Fate exchanges to occur increases. That's what I think makes it cool. Less players, less fate, more straightforward trick-taking.
Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:38 pm
Author: Bordgamer
Starting hand is 6 cards.

I've found 7 players can work if you're dealing with relatively fast players.
Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:05 pm
Author: Ahiksking
Bordgamer wrote:

I've found 7 players can work if you're dealing with relatively fast players.

Certainly the more players = more time. But this is a game that benefits from more player interaction and this does work better with more players. Otherwise you run the risk of some hands going through without conflict and with only a limited number of battles, it's better to fight over most or all of them if possible.

7 is definitely the maximum, but I would aim for 6 certainly and would prefer not to go below 5. Any less and it loses the competitive edge that this sort of game really needs.

I will be giving the game a proper hammering next week at a gaming weekend, so I will see if my early beliefs are justified.
Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:27 pm
Author: sightreader
Ahiksking wrote:
7 is definitely the maximum, but I would aim for 6 certainly and would prefer not to go below 5.

What's the limiting factor in playing 7... downtime? Would it be possible to play more people by some sort of tweak? Maybe partner play, or perhaps have more than one battle going simultaneously (all winners in one battle, all losers in the other)?
Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:26 am
Author: satchmo1967
Thanks for your well-considered review.

I'll just briefly toss in my humble opinion here after one play.

Played with a group of four players, two euro fans, one ameri-fan and one wargamer. We spent quite a while staring at the disparate info on the cards before we were able to make tentative plays, and our strategizing was pretty crude.

Though by wargaming standards it's fairly light in complexity, we felt the rules to be decidedly non-intuitive. That's cool, but it meant that we spent two and a half hours of our game night "not exactly having fun", but rather rubbing our foreheads over which cards to play.

Many of us would like to see a filler like this: a two hour game that can bring your entire wargame group together for one light game before or after you split off to play two-player games; something with some depth, but one that isn't so difficult we can't socialize a bit while we're playing. Honestly, I'm not sure THIS is that game. Wait and see, is how I feel. For now the game goes unrated for me.

Wed May 21, 2008 8:11 am
Author: sightreader
satchmo1967 wrote:
Though by wargaming standards it's fairly light in complexity, we felt the rules to be decidedly non-intuitive.

We were able to get the sister game, Atlantic Storm, going pretty quick with non-gamers.

There were two tricks I used to teach the game.

1. I give everyone a cheat sheet that lists the things you have to match up.

Then you just show everyone a sample card and ask them to figure out what year the unit fought, what country, what sorts of things it can attach to, blah blah blah.

2. Players who feel uncertain join someone else in a team. Once they get the idea, they splinter off and start their own army. Catching up is not that hard, and it's only a temporary advantage to know someone else's hand (card turnover is pretty rapid).
Wed May 21, 2008 6:46 pm
Author: mcpranno
I haven't seen any real problems with playing with seven players. I think the downtime add for that extra (compared to 6) player is minimal. And if it is a problem for you, simply play a couple fewer battles. Honestly, anything that allows for more potential fated cards to take effect is a GOOD thing.

Edit: Oh, and I don't see how, even with three players, this can be considered a filler.
Sun Aug 3, 2008 2:51 am