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Colin Raitt
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Review of Great Pacific War

Far over the horizon from any friend the pilot of a search plane strains his eyes. Between clouds he notes the wake from a dozen vessels. Surely the enemy but no details are visible. Maybe one of the dark smudges is a carrier, if so CAP will be closing on the spotter. Radio silence must be broken to get off a report. Then the he must loiter till his own torpedo and dive bombers show up or fuel runs low. Welcome to the Pacific.



Introduction The game runs from 1939 to 1945. 3 month turns, 60 mile hexes, ground units are corps for everyone except armies for Russia. Corps can breakdown to divisions to hold more of the front but aren’t as tough as corps. Detailed economic and political event systems. Combat is by buckets of dice. Supply is traced. Map and counters are pretty. Silhouettes for tank, air and naval units, NATO symbol for infantry. The map extends from India to Hawaii but has an ugly gap in the centre. Activation chits make turns interactive.

Suits 2, 3, 4 players as the alliance can be split into US, UK, USSR. In our 4 player game we had US, UK+Nationalist China+Communist China, Japanese army and Japanese navy. Can link with John Prados Third Reich. Has scenarios from 1939, 1941 and 1943 lasting till 1946. An introductory scenario of only 5 seasons runs from winter 1941 to winter 1942 which we almost finished in 5 hours.

Troop types are infantry, cavalry, parachute, garrison, marine and armour. Armour and cavalry can exploit move and attack. Armour has ZOCs and hits on 5/6 on the attack, 4/5/6 in defence. Marines hit on 5/6 when assaulting a beach. All ground units except amour hit on 5/6 in defence. Tactical air gets a combined arms bonus with armour. Naval unit types are surface, submarine, carrier, fleet trains and landing craft. Air units are either tactical, strategic or long ranged strategic. Only ground units vary in quality between nations. TAC and CV hit each other only on a 6 so quite often the bomber gets through. 2 ground units can stack in a hex + a para. 5 air factors in a city/port, 10 in a city-port. 18 surf, 6 CV, 6 sub in a minor port, 36 surf and any amount of other naval factors in a major port.



Terrain types Clear, marsh, mountain, jungle, restricted water, open sea. Jungle slows armour and limits supply lines to 3 hexes. Marsh slows armour and adds 1 strength to each defender. River adds 1 to each defender as long as all attackers are coming across it. Mountain doubles defenders, slows armour and blocks amphibious assaults. Increasing defender strength increases the dice they roll to damage the attackers and the number of hits defenders can take before being damaged. I like mechanics where one variable affects 2 or more other variables, the complexity means you have to know how common situations are before you can judge how valuable terrain or troop types are. Restricted water stops surf, LC, CV and fleet trains unless you have a hex within 2 hexes to base PT boats and minesweepers. The map is a little unclear in the hex south of Rangoon, the Irrawaddy river disappears but the land continues.


Build points (BRP) are received at the start of each year depending on the size of your population, conquests and level of industrialization. They can be lost to bombing cities and sinking merchant ships. BRP uses: buy new and repair destroyed /damaged units, declare war, operate units and absorb combat losses. They can be transferred between nations but getting them into China burns a lot of fuel. The country with the fewest BRP left carries out most phases first (a disadvantage). When BRP run out ground units become fragile. Manchuria, the Philippines, Hawaii, Australia, India, Burma and Malaysia BRP value is halved if the owner does not garrison them properly, this tends to stop nations concentrating their force on the front line. Japan really is short of BRP and cannot afford to replace losses. I think she is due another 12 BRP per year from chinese provincial capitals. Nationalist China gets 5 and communist China 3.

Turn sequence: Production, Sea zone placement, War declaration, Sea control and raid, Strategic redeploy, Operations, Supply, End.

Production buys new units from force pool and rebuilds reduced air and naval units and operation chits. The force pools are deliberately a little more generous than history. Surface and carriers take 3 seasons to build. Nations can fall into the trap of buying lots of planes ships and armies leaving no BRP for operations and combat losses. Political chits and Russian weather also happen now. Political chits include: russo-japanese border war, jet planes and atomic bombs. Britain and US production appears off map. Sub, surf and CV must appear at shipyards. TAC, SAC and ground units must appear in home country cities. LC appear in any port.

Sea zone placement leads to control of sea zones. Control allows naval interception, blocks supply lines, strategic redeployment and escorts against raiders but costs a few BRP. Placing last is a distinct advantage and the player with the most CV places last. Surface, carrier and tactical air can only control their starting zone but subs range out to 4 zones. Raiding can be done at longer range. Units moved now can’t operate later.

Declaration of war costs BRP triggers counter declarations and influences neutrals. Japan can try to finish off China or take out the UK and Netherlands without giving Roosevelt a casus belli.

Sea control has three rounds of sea combat then survivors attack raiders before they cause BRP loss. Subs are cheaper, quicker to build and longer ranged for sea zone control/raid than surface and can choose target in naval combat but there are never enough in the force pool. Carriers are better kept for naval strikes than sea control. TAC are the best at sea control as they only take hits from other TAC and CV. Fleet trains extend the range of placement which is very useful for surf and CV which normally place only in their own sea zones. Sea control blocks enemy SR and supply and can intercept amphibious assault, transport and naval stike operations.

Strategic redeployment moves any unit almost any distance across the map. It requires surface or landing craft to go over sea. BRP transfer between allies happens now and uses up an SR. The US has the most, able to shift 7 units. The unit can’t end in the front line nor activate. Only 5 units can SR out of the US West coast each season. Units coming from Britain take 2 seasons to arrive on map.

Operations are the meat of the turn, this is when the marines hit the beaches and carriers burn down to their waterline. Chits bought in production are pulled in random order. Taking several offensives of the same type increases your chance of going before or after your opponent, either of which might be advantageous.

General offensives allow all units including allies to move, any number of all types of attack and armour to exploit (15BRP).

HQ chits activate units within 4 hexes of that HQ and armour to exploit (5BRP). A hangover from the old third reich is attacking a long line of units in one go. Ground units with strength 3 or more flip rather than being destroyed. Defenders may retreat. Unsupplied ground units are fragile.

Naval chits allow naval strikes, transports and invasions (5BRP).
Air chits allow strategic bombing, bombing ships in harbour and strafing air fields.

Attrition chits are the poor man’s option, they activate ground units within 3 hexes of where they’re placed and 1 air unit, only 1 attack and no exploitation (2BRP). They are less likely to inflame US public opinion when used against China and can be placed anywhere rather than just the named HQ.

Supply. Unsupplied air and ground units are reduced though the Japanese can survive on grass for a while. Chinese are supplied anywhere in China (maybe because they have few weapons larger than a rifle). Japanese troops in china trace to provincial capitals or via rivers, HQs beachheads. Damaged supplied ground units are repaired.

End. Countries surrender. For Japan there is a die roll once some cities are occupied or a nuke has been dropped. China surrenders province by province. Every city has to be occupied for Australia and India.

Victory. In the 41-42 scenario the Japanese have to take 13 of 16 objectives: Dutch Harbor, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Wake, Guam, Manila, Davao, Hong Kong, Singapore, Rangoon, Batavia, Tarakan, Balikapan, Kavieng, Lae, Espiritu Santo. Historically the allies held Espiritu Santo, Pearl, Dutch Harbor, Midway.

General advice Buy all tac, subs and CVs. Combine air with armour. Don’t get killed out of supply. Save BRP for later turns, battle losses and strategic warfare.

I use my carriers in naval strikes where their ability to move vast distance and concentrate without airfields makes them very dangerous. Pearl Harbour and Taranto are examples of naval strike. As carriers strikes are so powerful and CV numbers also decide who places last in sea zones my naval strategy is to hunt down enemy CVs and protect my own. I protect my carriers from enemy naval strikes by putting TAC and sub in sea control around their port.

On the attack I count the number of hits I need to force the defenders to retreat and try to have at least enough attacks to get this number with average rolling. I will attack at lower odds if that is all I can manage but I won’t attack to hexes at poor odds as I figure I’m increasing the damage I take. I will attack at slightly higher odds but I reckon I will get some wasted hits, I will over kill for vital hexes like capitals. I think attacking a long line is best left alone as defenders hit more easily than attackers unless you outnumber them by 2:1. In exploitation don’t get carried away you will be exposed if he counterattacks. Exploitation move should place units out of supply. Exploitation attacks should kill off these unsupplied units if they might be resupplied before the end phase.

On the defence I want to use mountains and rivers. Attrition chits give me a chance of reforming my line after the enemy breaks in.

China can stretch the Japanese because they need no supply line.

Japan needs an HQ in Burma if Rangoon is strongly held to extend supply.

1931 Scenario.
This assumes Japan attacks Britain and the Netherlands or America. She needs to gain 4 objectives. There are a couple of strange things. Britain's home fleet never shows up. Japan has Hainan though she isn't at war with China.

Converting between John Prados Third Reich. Very easy to switch between the two. Divisions, marines, long range SAC, fleet trains and jungle are new. Diplomacy is gone. All the changes are for good reason.

Map errors. Sakhalin at 19 hexes is too long. Japan and Korea are devoid of mountains.
Sea Ice. Nikolaevsk and Oktyabriski should be frozen in winter. The rule from Third Reich for Baltic Sea Ice could be extended to this area. Neither of these are important problems as Russia probably won't attack till 1945.





SummaryPros: Takes less time than Pacific Theatre of Operations/Pacific War because of seasonal rather than monthly turns. Political chits and Planning is needed because of the lag between buying chits and the operations phase and to make BRP last the year. Amphibious assaults and armour exploitation make dramatic advances possible within each turn.

Cons: Less detailed air and naval war than PTO and Pacific War. Playing time 30 hours for the campaign. There is no end phase movement for troops not attacking, so you must buy an attrition offensive or use up strategic redployment to set a defensive line in your own territory. The weather rules miss out monsoons. Despite the claim on the box there is no scenario for 1937.

Overall I like the game and we had a great deal of fun playing it but PTO is still my favourite.
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Bob
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Thanks for the review Colin. Nice work! thumbsup
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Mike Stoddart
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Great read thanks. Are there scenarios and do they require all maps or can they be played on single maps?
 
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Colin Raitt
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There is one short scenario winter 41 - fall 42, and 4 campaign: fall 39 - summer 46, winter 41 - fall 45, spring 43 - fall 45 and spring 31 - summer 35 (a what if). They each use all 3 maps. A map is 22" by 34".
 
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Mike Stoddart
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Thanks Colin, I don't have room for all maps.
 
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Tony Doran
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There is a 1937 scenario in the Player's Guide done in 2004.
 
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Tony Doran
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Anyone else here looking forward to the coming Co-Prosperity Sphere?
 
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