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Subject: Wargames To Go 6 - Pacific War December 41 rss

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Mark Johnson
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Wargames To Go 6 - Month of Infamy notes geeklist

I've been producing my Wargames To Go podcast for a little while now, and I've thought of an improvement I want to make. When I dive into a topic, it's mostly just me geeking out on the military history, wargames, and books/films. Then I get the podcast out, and by the time the listeners get to it I'm eagerly learning about a new subject.

So I'm going to try something different for WGTG 6. This thread can be an open discussion & log of the titles I'm exploring. It might be just me writing in my own "echo chamber," but I hope others will chime in. Definitely you should subscribe to this thread so you know what's going on in preparation for the next episode.

I'll still maintain a geeklist that I use before and after releasing an episode to list the games I'm playing. But more open discussions can go here.

You'll see.
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Mark Johnson
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Last night I played the Pearl Harbor scenario of Zero!. It's designed to be solitaire, and you play the Japanese commander, assigning a split of targets between two attack waves of Zeros, Vals, and Kates. The actual resolution is done wither card flipping--LOTS of card flipping. Still, that's ok for a learning/solo scenario about a very unusual battle.

I hope to try it again today, and perhaps play my other Pearl Harbor game, Day of Infamy: The Attack on Pearl Harbor.
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Mark Johnson
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Well, ugh. I just played a quick lunch-hour game of the second Pearl Harbor game I own, Day of Infamy. It wasn't a full game, though. From the rules alone I was kind of dreading it, and in execution it proved as tedious as I feared. I bailed out on the game partway through. I'm not sure if I'll bother again.

It's not a bad idea. The simple map shows the harbor and its various targets. These are denoted with areas of zones, not a hexmap or point-to-point. So far, so good. That's a smart, high-level game design choice--I don't need to tactically "fly" my planes over hexes to line up torpedo bomber runs against battleship row. The actions on your turn are determined by a card flip, adding some nice chaos about player order & quantity of actions.

Unfortunately, the resolution for these actions are a big letdown, just a 1d6 roll with many modifiers and comparisons. When a Kate (actually an attack section of several planes) makes its torpedo run, first it's attacked by battleship AA. But before that I check if my covering Zero strafes the AA to suppress it. Roll a die, compare to rating on my Zero counter. Then the AA fires. Roll a die, possibly subtracting suppression effects, then modified for the torpedo bomber (easier to hit). Now the Kate attacks. Roll a die, modify for AA, plane rating, torpedo or dive bomber attack, and compare against counter rating to see if you hit.

Now plan on doing this a couple hundred times. No thanks.

To be sure, there are other decisions with your actions, like bringing planes back for additional attack runs, getting the USS Nevada moving, and random events add some cool chrome (like a mini-sub in the harbor). But the actual attacking of the port & ships is going to require all of those stupid die rolls and modifiers. No thanks, I'll just go play Zero again. Card flipping is a much better system, and buries the modifiers within the different card distributions. Almost painless.
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Mark Johnson
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These last two games are why I was pleased to think of expanding the scope of the next episode beyond just Pearl Harbor. That's the famous battlesite I'll be visiting, and it's what first got me thinking. It's also the topic that probably has more books & movies about it.

However, it's such a lopsided, oddball battle that it doesn't make for great wargaming. What else could I include? To be honest, when I started I didn't even really know the timeline of early war very well. I remembered the Philippines were attacked around the same time (there's a story about that which I'll save for the podcast), and pretty soon I learned about Wake. Before you know it I've got about three games each for Wake and the Philippines (and for the latter I'm careful to only include the invasion/fall of the US-held Philippes, not the "I Shall Return" part).

Also in there I found the alternate history title from World of War magazine about an invasion of Oahu. Of course it never happened, but in reading I was surprised to learn how much serious consideration it did receive by the Japanese military planners. This isn't Nazis-create-zombies kind of fictional WW2 history--this is something that might have actually happened.

(Plus, since I'm visiting Oahu in a few weeks, I wanted the awesome map that comes with Invasion: Pearl Harbor!)
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Mark Johnson
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In the past few episodes I've included one or more interviews. Sometimes game designers, sometimes avid hobbyists. I know that both are interesting for me--I'm just after a good story.

This topic is kind of narrow and specialized. I can't really think of a designer known for this period, the way Ted Racier is for WW1 games. I could reach out to Mark Herman, even though his Pacific war games are monsters compared to what I play. Is that a good idea? What are others?
 
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Mark Johnson
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Still just talking to myself here, though there are only about 40 people in the guild so far (compared to 1000-2000 downloads of each WGTG episode). I've got some ideas about fixing that, but that's for later.

For now, here's a couple bits of online media that I've found in prepping for this episode. The first is outstanding, a podcast from the MacArthur Memorial about the 9-hours between the notification in the Philippines about the attack on Pearl Harbor...and the widespread destruction of the US Far East Air Force there (Clark Field, etc.). How were were surprised a second time with planes on the ground is a real disaster. (Aside: I'm

http://www.macarthurmemorial.org/243/Monthly-Podcast-Season-...
(Scroll down the page to episode 6. There are other good ones here, too. I may end up listening to them all!)

The second is a YouTube recording of a History Channel special program about the invasion of Wake Island. Pretty good, as these things go. You know what I mean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os3PmiXl3DU
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Steve Carey
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It's a great topic Mark, appreciate your efforts.
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Eric Brosius
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Mark Herman is a great interview subject who will engage at the level you are looking for. I highly recommend him!
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Mark Johnson
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I was watching something else on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EsW_uvnSao), not yet sure it's very good, but when it got to the opening of the war with the western powers I realized I'm missing the invasion of Malaya. A quick check here on BGG and I found a magazine wargame about the topic (hurray! that means an accompanying magazine article). Even though it's an older title (1984), it's a mag that I obtained just a year or two ago. Double-hurray! Now S&T's Singapore is on the geeklist.

This OTHER geeklist about all of the Malaya campaign games available lists several, but the only other one I expect to get to is the PNP postcard game, Malaya: V-Mail Postcard Game #1.
 
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Mark Johnson
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Mark Herman is a great interview subject who will engage at the level you are looking for. I highly recommend him!


Ok, I reached out to him. We'll see what he says.
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Eric Brosius
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In Mark's Empire of the Sun, this period is represented by just two card plays by the Japanese player. Card 1 is Operation Z, the Pearl Harbor attack, and Card 2 is IAI-Operation No. 1-Conquest of SE Asia.

It would be interesting to ask Mark about Card 2 and what the Japanese could have done differently than what they actually did, and what the implications would have been.
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Eric Brosius
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I wonder whether Mark could design a 1941 scenario.

 
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Mark Johnson
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Hmm, no word back from Herman. Maybe he isn't interested, or doesn't have time. Or maybe he doesn't check Geekmail (although he logs in to BGG often). I'll try again through his email address on CSW.

(I tried to reach Kevin Zucker for my Waterloo episode both of these ways, too. No luck.)
 
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Mark Johnson
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I think I may tweak my production process for WGTG, in an attempt to get it into your ears while I'm still exploring a topic. As-is, you hear the podcast about Waterloo, for example, when I've already moved on to something else. Take a look at this description of my new idea.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/46542/new-idea-wargam...
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Mark Johnson
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Chugging along. Per my new idea, I might try recording something brief tonight, to be posted just after the weekend. We'll see.

By now I've finished Japanese Destroyer Captain on audiobook, and have just started Pearl Harbor Christmas. On ebay I picked up the audiobook for Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy, and will get to that after I return from Hawaii. We leave Saturday!



Although I mostly rely on audiobooks (I've got a commute and running time I can utilize this way), I've got a few "real" books, too. I'm a latecomer to Osprey's books, having thought they were mainly for miniatures gamers who wanted color plates for fancy uniforms. I guess they still work for that, too, but they've clearly branched out into all sorts of topics & treatments, though all of them remain brief. That works for me.

I picked up four for cheap online: Tora Tora Tora, Fall of the Philippines, Wake Island 1941, and Defenses of Pearl Harbor & Oahu. Now I kind of wonder if I should get the Osprey book about Malaya. (EDIT: Except that there ISN'T one!)



Finally, I've been saving Walter Lord's famous Day of Infamy to read when I'm actually in Hawaii. Will probably start on the flight over there.

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Steve Carey
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I find Osprey books to really be hit or miss. I have about 110 of them across a wide spectrum, and some truly horrible editing in a few titles prompted me to no longer buy them.

Having said that, Mark Stille's works are generally good.
 
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Eric Brosius
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
Hmm, no word back from Herman. Maybe he isn't interested, or doesn't have time. Or maybe he doesn't check Geekmail (although he logs in to BGG often). I'll try again through his email address on CSW.

(I tried to reach Kevin Zucker for my Waterloo episode both of these ways, too. No luck.)

I'd expect him to reply. Maybe he will in a bit.
 
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Eric Brosius
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I bought and read the book War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 by Edward S. Miller. I thought it was an excellent military introduction to the thought processes leading up to Pearl Harbor.
 
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Mark Johnson
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Eric Brosius wrote:
I'd expect him to reply. Maybe he will in a bit.


He did! Right away, in fact. I'd contacted him at the wrong email address before.
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Mark Johnson
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Recorded the first smaller episode last night. Hope to have it posted by Monday. Just me talking (no interviews yet), and less than 30 minutes. It gave me a chance to let listeners (who don't read this stuff on BGG) what I'm attempting with the new format. Also went through the list of titles for games, books, and movies. No real discussion of those yet, that's for later. This is the introductory episode of the whole December 41 topic. Following the example from the Revolutions Podcast, I numbered it 6.1, so that all episodes relating to December 41 will be six-point-something. Then the Battle of Britain ones can be 7.x, later this year.

Also, I decided to create a separate account on twitter and facebook for WargamesToGo. Up to now I've simply been combining it with my exisiting ones for BoardgamesToGo, but with that show still on hiatus I like the separate accounts. If you follow them, it's easy enough to follow/like both.
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Mark Johnson
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Even though my podcasts always get more downloads at the start of a week (people listen at work?!), I decided to post episode 6.1 tonight. By tomorrow I'll be visiting Pearl Harbor in-person, and I didn't want to deal with posting on vacation.
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Andrew Borgelin
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Just listened to 6.1 whilst eating my breakfast. Good work as ever and I'm really interested to see how this all pans out. You've set yourself a big task with the potential game plays. The only game that I have covering this is the Zero scenario which although fundamentally card flipping is still actually quite engaging.

One thing I don't like is that the mix of planes you have attacking is not represented fully in the game....it couldn't really I Suppose due to cost but I just like the idea when I go in with the zero's and I put in say 6 or 8 against one of the airfields I would like to have that many planes in front of me to allocate damage to etc otherwise it becomes a bit of a bookkeeping exercise, trouble is the game only gives you four Zero's in card form. I like to play games on the anniversary of the events so on Dec 7 I tend to break this little scenario out...this year I am fielding all the aircraft [in game terms] so that I get the visualisation right and I can record damage directly onto the planes rather than just note it down. All I have done is to photocopy the cards and then cut out to play, looking forward to see how it plays out this way and whether it gets me more into the feel of the thing and breaks the scenario out from just a bookkeeping exercise.

Looking forward to your next blog on Pearl, I like these bite sized programmes that you have decided to put out...more frequent and a good length to have a quick fix of wargame info. Great!

Cheers
Andy B
 
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Mark Johnson
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Finally remembered to add Major Campaigns of General Douglas MacArthur to the geeklist. Is that number 19? Sheesh, what am I THINKING?!



It's a euro/wargame hybrid designed by Mr. Acquire himself, Sid Sackson. There's a Bataan scenario, but I note that map shows the entirely of Luzon. Sounds good.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/353697/first-try-battle...
 
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Mark Johnson
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I've visited Pearl Harbor! The start of my Hawaiian vacation included a couple days on Oahu, just to take in the history of that famous place. (The rest of the week is relaxing on the Big Island, doing other vacation stuff like snorkeling, catching some sun, sleeping in, and getting some good food.) I haven't done too much wargaming yet, despite bringing some smaller ones with me to solo during the relaxation part. But I've definitely been taking it all in. As always, there's something about being here that makes it all more real & understandable.

Here we are, gliding in for a 21st century airliner touchdown at Honolulu airport. But beyond the left wing you can see the inlet and expanse of Pearl Harbor. You might just be able to make out one battleship, anchored at Ford Island in the top right. That's the USS Missouri. She wasn't there during the attack, of course, and is now here as a living museum.




As soon as we landed, my wife & I went over to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Our visit actually started with a tour of the Missouri, and ended with the Arizona Memorial.



The next day we went to the National Cemetery of the Pacific, whose monuments included these amazing mural-mosiacs of the Pacific campaign (as well as Korea & Vietnam).

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Asher D.
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Thanks for another great subject and episode Mark. I think breaking it up to multiple parts is a great idea that will make the engagement more current and I think will help involve people more in the discussion (worked on me )
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