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The Tide at Sunrise: The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Short, Tense and Fun rss

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Gerald Gan
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This review will differ slightly from my normal reviews (usually for Euros and Party Games).     

The Tide at Sunrise is a game recently released by MMP (Multi-Man Publishing) Games as part of their IGS (International Games Series).  Its for two players, and runs about an hour and a half to two hours.  It was designed by Yokihiro Kuroda and was developed by Adam Starkweather.

Picture Submitted By: Tony Buman || Taken From the BGG Database

The topic of the game is the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905.  One of the interesting facts from the rulebook, is how the Japanese spent as much ammunition in one day of the Russo-Japanese War as they did the entirety of the Sino-Japanese War.  It was the first great war of the 20th century.  The Russo-Japanese War was a clash between two expanding empires.

To know more about the Russo-Japanese War, you can go here or here.  Alternatively, you could just look it up thru Wikipedia.

The game includes (as seen from the picture above), a sheet of counters, a rulebook, two dice and a 22"x34" paper map.

The short rulebook could've been written better (or at least organized better) and maybe given a thorough example of play, but FAQ's and clarifications can easily be downloaded/perused thru BGG or ConSimWorld.

The map is gorgeous (picture below) as well as efficient.  The colors do clash at some points, but overall I liked how the map looked.  I also like how all the charts you'll need are printed on the map for easy access and how both sides have their own charts (no need to look over your opponent's shoulders). 

Picture Submitted By: Francois Vander Meulen || Taken From the BGG Database

The counters (pictured below) have foregone the use of NATO symbols, instead adapting more colorful illustrations to symbolize the soldiers/artillery units they are representing.  The counters are of standard thickness and the colors are pleasing to the eyes (at least for me).  Please note that some of the counters show early pre-print artwork, and there has been some changes (mostly minimal) to the final product.

Picture Submitted By: Adam Starkweather || Taken From the BGG Database

Overall, the quality of the components are of standard MMP fare.  Some of the counters included in the game won't be used in the base game, but you can download the naval rules directly from the MMP website, and then add these counters to the game if you want to add a little more depth to your game.

The Tide at Sunrise could actually serve as a gateway wargame, as it introduces a lot of concepts found in bigger and lengthier games (plus it can be taught in under twenty minutes).  It does sacrifice some mechanics commonly found in traditional hex-and-counter wargames for the sake of expediency, but I don't think it really detracts from the overall game. 

In The Tide at Sunrise, players must find the delicate balance between defending and attacking on two separate fronts. How much defends and attacks towards the all-important port of Port Arthur and how much attacks or holds the tough mountain passes of Manchuria - the key to the open plains to the north – where terrain is less defensible and victory points are everywhere.

The game utilizes the classic IGO-UGO system, meaning I do my entire turn, then you do your entire turn and so on.  What I like about this game is, there is the possibility of you being able to disrupt your opponents at the start of their player phase.

At the start of your turn, your opponent rolls a dice (or a couple of 'em) and their results can help/hinder your plans.  After which, the remainder of the turn will be the same for both players.  First, you allocate transport or reinforcement points which you can later use to reinforce your pre-existing units or bring in new ones.  Then, you do your movement.  A unit's movement allocation points are printed right on the counter itself (lower right hand side).  Then, combat occurs (if applicable).  Please note, that combat in this game is entirely optional... you can choose to never attack if you'd like.

Combat is pretty easy.  You add up the strength of your units (located on the lower left hand side of the counter) and your opponents adds up theirs.  You then compare the result to a chart, shift columns depending on terrain, roll a dice, and apply the results.  I know, I know... you think I'm oversimplifying it... but I'm not.  Combat is really that easy.  As Mark and Di have taught me (over constant [and sometimes humiliating] defeats on my part) its more about positioning than just trusting your luck to a couple of cubes with pips printed on 'em.

Once combat is resolved, you check if you're in supply.  Then, you get to use your previously allocated points to bring in new troops or to reinforce troops that're already on the board (if applicable).

That's pretty much it.  I know I glossed over some rules, but that's more or less how you play the game.  Not as hard as you'd think right?  The beauty of a wargame doesn't often come from a set of rules... but as a wise man once told me, its about presenting your opponent with constant dilemmas, keeping them on their toes not knowing what to push and what to sacrifice.  I think this is what keeps most of us coming back to 'em.

The Tide at Sunrise is a nice, tense, introductory wargame that I can heartily recommend to anyone.  It plays quickly and is taught easily.  I really like this game and I value its simplicity.  It's also a nice springboard to teach newer players some of the mechanics that can be found in other wargames.

As I previously mentioned, there are optional rules that you can download from the MMP website.  I haven't tried them yet so I can't comment on whether or not they make the game better.
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