Mark Rivera
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Review - We Must Tell the Emperor - from Victory Point Games

Designed by Steve Carey

note - Thanks to Victory Point Games for providing a copy of this game for review purposes

We Must Tell the Emperor is another game in Victory Point Games' States of Siege series, designed by Steve Carey, based on Darin Leviloff's original Israeli Independence design. Having reviewed an earlier title in the series, Empires in America, I knew what to expect. It would be interesting to see how this solitaire system was applied to the War in the Pacific.

This game puts you in charge of the Japanese forces and the game system manages the Allied forces. Very simply, you need to defeat or at least keep the Allied forces at bay long enough to win. Hence the "siege" in the States of Siege system. The components are nicely done and typical Victory Point Games fare. The colorful 11" x 17" map is nicely laid out on card stock with the movement areas and requisite charts. You get a Battles Table and die-cut information chits. Lastly, there are 48 Event cards which are the engine of the game system. The quality of the components is a good standard, the art work very effective. A very nice presentation with excellent historical feel and theme. It all comes in a small ziplock bag. Very efficient, easy to store.

Gameplay

A card driven game, the process relies on the information provided on the Event cards. These cards are divided by color into 3 different Epochs or stages of the conflict, each of which provides an increasingly difficult set of circumstances to deal with. As the Japanese leader, you will feel yourself being squeezed more and more by the Allied juggernaut. The cards, which are nicely laid out, provide the following information -

The Headline - which is the main event for the turn - i.e. Attack on Pearl Harbor

Military activity - Which Allied forces are advancing towards the Japanese homeland

Resource gains and losses

Player actions - these are the number of actions available to you to take, any Die roll modifiers which may make things easier or harder for you

Historical flavor text

You basically go through all the cards to play out the game.



The sequence of play is as follows:

Headline phase - pull the next current event card - when the last "Late War" card has been pulled, the game ends

Military phase - Move Allied armies, adjust US Subs marker

Resources phase - Adjust resource markers, and add new fortifications as allowed by the card

Orders phase - take the number of actions currently available

Housekeeping phase -

A - Check for Japanese defeat

B - Refresh map for next turn

C - Check Oil flow and production status

If you are familiar with war games and familiar with this system particularly, it won't take you very long at all to go through the rules and be up and playing. If not, then I recommend playing the first couple of turns by reading through the 8 pages of rules sequentially. They are laid out as you would play through each turn and they essentially walk you through the process very well. Examples are provided which make things clear. There is fair amount of verbiage but once you've worked through the first 1-2 turns, you will find things move very quickly. Ultimately, pretty much everything you need to know is on the cards and I found that I barely had to refer to the rules at all which made things really good in terms of ease of play.

The thing that I most like about the system is the card mechanics. You are taken through a very strong narrative of the major events of the War in the Pacific. You can engage directly with the major battles or take other actions whilst these great battles are going on. You really get a feel for the ebb and flow and a deep sense of impending doom as the Allied forces move against you. You can choose to go for the aggressive approach, hoping to knock out some of the Allied forces or you can perhaps have a strategy of counter-punch to the Allied thrusts, whilst maintaining your resources, prestige and military force strength. Either way, its tough. Time and the inevitable Allied power is against you so this is a challenging game to win.

Did it work for me?

I am becoming a real fan of the States of Siege system, and We Must Tell the Emperor is an excellent addition to the series. It is a brilliant solitaire experience. The card mechanics take you through this great conflict and you are under pressure as you watch events unfold. This is not an easy game to win and you will find yourself wanting to have another go and another after that.

There is a sense that you are just biding your time and hoping for the best. Having said that you do have choices to make and these can be critical. The history is presented well, the key events are there. This is not a deep game and works very well as a rather light war game.If you struggle to find time to get more detailed and complicated war games to the table, this makes a nice alternative. You can play it through in an hour or less and have a very satisfying experience.

You get a lot of game in a small package. I don't know that I could ask anything else from a game using the Victory Point Games production model. Steve Carey has designed one of the best solitaire games that I have ever played and I look forward to playing more in the series.

Boardgames in Blighty rating - 9 out of 10

Family friendly?

No, this is for war gamers

For further information go to - http://victorypointgames.com/

See my review with photos - http://rivcoach.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/review-we-must-tell...

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Iain
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Mark

thanks for the review which covers all the salient points about the game.

I'm a big fan of Victory Point Games States of Siege Series which I find myself returning to for my 'quick' wargames fix. I'm a solo wargamer and these games are just perfect for the limited time and space that I find I have on most occasions.

I've got to say that at the moment my personal favourite has got to be Zulus on the Ramparts! awesome.

Congrats to anyone who takes the trouble to write a review or a session report that publicises these excellent games - take a bow sir

regards
Iain
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Mark Rivera
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Thanks dude!

I am lucky enough to have VPG as sponsors of Boardgames in Blighty and they take my reviews for better or worse which is as it ought to be. The thing is, I really like their whole approach. They have found a great niche producing fast playing relatively simple and elegant games which don't cost a fortune. For the price you get nice components, pretty well designed games. Great for us war gamers who have less time on their hands.

Btw, if you are willing to come down to the Pasteboard & Plastic games day nr Brighton, I will happily give you the opportunity for ftf war gaming!

Also, you should join the UKGMN Guild if you haven't already. You make connect with more local war gamers.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/935
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David Kennedy
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mrivera wrote:
There is a sense that you are just biding your time and hoping for the best.

You have much to learn young warrior.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/640531/how-to-play
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Mark Rivera
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I bow before your greater wisdom Master! ninja

Great stuff. This is one game that I must go back to again and again!
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Steve Carey
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Thank you for the kind comments, Mark - the design, playtesting, development, and production of WMTtE was the result of a dedicated team effort, and needless to say we are very pleased with the results.

Looking forward to hearing of your first victory...
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Wonderful review mark and spot-on with your observations. I watched Steve demo the game at CSW Expo and it really flows nicely with tough choices to make at every step. Exactly what a States of Siege game should do. I picked up my own copy of the game at the Expo and I'm anxiously waiting to get it on the table. Great job by you and Steve. Hermann
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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OK - well I just finished my first game of WMTtE and what a blast! I did lose, but made it until only four cards were left! Those damn Brits snuck in on me. My fortress made a great stand in the Marianas and I actually kicked Nimitz back a bit. But as is typical, I suppose, the Kamikazes and Banzai attacks were flying heavily at the end. This was very much fun, Steve. Congrats! I especially like the addition of the Battles. This mechanic adds a neat new dimension to the decision-making. I did opt for the battle most of the time when I was down, figuring that I needed to take a chance to win big and get some Nippon elbow room. Some worked out great - others were a disaster. Great job and I'll be playing soon again. But first, I have to take "Keep Up The Fire" for a little ride and see how that baby plays. Thanks again! Hermann
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Steve Carey
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Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Hermann - the Battles Table is definitely one of my favorite parts of the game.

The Brits are a bit tricky at first and we've had some very interesting discussions on how to manage them (if you have the time to search through previous threads).

Basically, once the Brits are pushed back do not let them back into Burma for as long as you can. Rather than making special rules and exceptions, I opted for simplicity and design-for-effect here... note the Ceylon space.

This will require almost constant effort by the Japanese, and the tension twist applies hard when the Brits are in Ceylon yet you have so many other things going on. What to do?

The British remain at [3] for the entire game (unless using the optional rule), but their track can be decisive (as it was in your game) if the player lets them back into the game.

Each Front in the game has its own "personality" that will be discovered through repeated play.

(I should note also that the British unit also abstracts the RN, in addition to the ground troops, fyi)
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David Kennedy
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HORST324 wrote:
OK - well I just finished my first game of WMTtE and what a blast!...Great job and I'll be playing soon again.

Welcome to the fight, young warrior. The Emperor can always use another Bushido warrior. Here are some intel briefings for you to review to prepare for your next command:

How to Play => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/640531/how-to-play
How to Win => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/643922/how-to-win
Breaking down the events decks => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/606809/break-it-down-for...
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Steven Raszewski
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Great game IMO. Picked up a copy at the WBC this year and just finished my first game. Had to go back to the rule a few times, but the game flowed smoothly and was exciting to the end. I lost an uncoditional surrender into the third set of cards as China made to the homelands. I had one kamikaze and one attack on the Chinese but missed both rolls. Really had MacArthur and Nimitz stymied but the Chinese snuck in. Looking forward to a lot more games of this. Big fan of this company have several of their games. Zulu Dawn and Lost Cause are fun. Looking to play my first Waterloo 20 with my son.
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Steve Carey
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Glad you enjoyed the Emperor session, Steven - it's not uncommon for a new player to suffer defeat at the hands of the Chinese (or the British) if you manage to keep your Resources afloat. How to manage the different Allied Fronts should prove to be one of the more interesting aspects of play

Don't forget those Banzai! rolls (6 needed) when trying to keep Allied invaders at bay.

Waterloo 20 is one of my all-time favorite games.

VPG continues to gather momentum and gain traction in the gaming community - quite remarkable from such humble beginnings, really.

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