Last night Mark and I finally finished a game of Pacific Victory. Yay!
Mark was the Japanese, and he adopted a defensive posture early on. This was pretty much dictated to him by the scenario. We started late in the war, and Japan just cannot sustain an attack. Eventually he was able to assemble a massive armada that was virtually undefeatable, and he used it threaten New Guinea and the surrounding area.
Geography is destiny, they say, and this game proves it. Part of the reason Mark's armada was so strong is that he was able to stay under his "air umbrella," but I couldn't get my umbrella out far enough to attack his ships. I attacked him once w/o good air cover and he virtually obliterated me. The range of aircraft together with the location of islands creates attack lanes and some choke points.
By the end of the game I was figuring out how to take islands using marines and infantry invasions, and I very nearly cut supply to Mark's huge task force using submarines. Subs are sneaky in this game because they can move through enemies and trace supply through enemies.
On the last turn, I made a desperate attack on the island of Japan. I contemplated adding a suicide attack to distract his navy, but decided against it. If I had done the attack and pinned his navy, I would have blockaded Japan and won the game. Unfortunately, however, unsupplied navies cannot enforce a blockade, and Mark's navy was able to cut supply to my would-be blockaders. We had agreed to use the optional internet victory conditions, and so Mark got the victory.
In retrospect, I probably wasn't aggressive enough as the allies. I was also learning how to conduct land invasions effectively. Finally, I think I spent too much building in-place. It lets you keep up the pressure, but it's very costly. I think the allies need to be cycling units back for cheaper building.
Having spent time over several weeks with this game, I think my rating is settling into the "6-7" region: it's a basically fun game that's worth playing from time to time. The underlying system is pretty good, and the diversity of units is great. While there's a few things that bug me a bit, I found myself re-analyzing the game last night and this morning. I have a few ideas about alternate strategies I might have employed, especially now that I have a feel for naval invasions.
Next week Jon and I are planning to play Fire in the Sky, another game covering the grand strategy of WWII in the Pacific. FitS looks to be a step up in terms of complexity and simulation accuracy. It will be interesting to compare the two games.