Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pacific Victory

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.


At 1:55 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Very interesting report! If you want a third point of comparison, I just picked up Avalon Hill's classic but still very popular (i.e., one of the biggest tournaments at WBC) Victory in the Pacific.

After a lot of review on Consimworld, I've decided to pass on Empire of the Sun until a solid version 2.0 is developed. Apparently the game was released while still in the larval stage....

At 2:22 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Good report!

At 2:36 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Great Report Ted! Making me want to bring it next week.

At 2:52 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Thanks to whoever added the pic of the ship.

At 3:24 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

The USS Alabama. A nice picture! I didn't add it though.

At 9:13 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

I agree with Ted's comments. I think it's a lot easier to play Japan, at least in the late war scenario, because your options are limited.

His comment about building in place explains a lot about why the game went as it did. As Japan I used all but one of my strategic moves (SM) to cycle new units between Japan and the empire. I noticed Ted burning SM to conduct raids that didn't really matter to the outcome of the game. Had he used those moves building new units and sending them to the front the game would have gone much worse for Japan.

Ted taught me a lesson in the effectiveness of submarines for cutting supply lines as several times I came close to being out of supply because of his sub force.

I too rate this game a 6-7.

At 9:54 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

The Alabamer.... indeed.

What, me guilty?

At 10:30 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

It seems strange that Japan would be easier to play in the late war than the Allies... Still, there's no atom bomb in the game, and I'm sure mainland Japan is a tough nut to crack.

In my book a game with a rating of a 6 is probably going to be a closet queen or E-Bay fodder. I'm hoping PV is better than that!

At 10:38 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Mark wrote: "I noticed Ted burning SM to conduct raids that didn't really matter... ."


I agree I spent a good portion of the game sort of flailing, and I can think of one or two infantry invasions that were unnecessary. They worked, but those precious resources could have been spent other places.

Still, if the allies want to advance, they've got to take bases.

I'm still on the learning curve for this game. By the end I was beginning to understand how to coordinate the units and make effective attacks.

I guess this means I have to keep playing.

A lot.


At 10:59 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...


Regarding the rating, I'm sort of torn. I loved parts of the game, and I've been thinking about the game all day. What if I shifted my attack there, or my whole approach to building was wrong.

I like how different the units are from each other. It's not just a different to-hit and cost, subs and airplanes are radically different, and event marines and infantry are substantially different.

I like how the combat system automatically encourages you to have combined arms, esp air cover. I attacked Mark w/o air cover, and he rolled ~12 dice (6 for planes, ~6 for carriers) before I got a shot off. My fleet was half dead before I could even react.

Those are marks of a great game (say 8+).

Still...I dunno, there's some missing "X factor". I felt like the game wasn't very dynamic, but of course I've admited I didn't play very well. With so much to like, I don't know why I'm not more excited about the game. Chris Farrell commented the game doesn't have a good "payoff on comlexity". Then there's the lingering problem of victory conditions.

Maybe part of the problem is just he learing curve on my part. I was trying to coordinate quite a lot of stuff, and maybe it just takes some practice.

Most folks that I've read have about this same reaction to the game, and the geek rates it at 6.2 or 6.8 (I don't understand the new rating scheme; both those #s come up). Chris Farrell says he likes the system but he only plays rarely.

At 12:26 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

Ted - Sorry man. I didn't mean it to sound so harsh. I was actually thinking of a couple of strategic bombing runs on New Guinea. I was forced to use my strategic moves to build units because I had no choice--Japan can't afford anything built outside the homeland.

Ben - I consider Japan to be easier to play in the late war scenario--btw, that's why I picked it Ted--because you have only one viable strategy: Dig in and maintain a mobile reserve for counterattacks. Japan has a lot of powerful units, but it can't afford to replace them.

The allies have to figure out what to build, when and where to attack. And at the same time they have to work around those monsoon seasons which really help the defender (Japan). They also have to figure out how to dismember that massive Japanese armada floating around the south pacific.

Pacific Victory is a keeper. Keep in mind that we haven't even touched the longer scenarios which I think have a lot more meat to them.

At 8:32 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

If you ever have the chance to set foot on one of the old WW2 battleships, definitely do so. I went on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor earlier this year, and it was truly awesome. Sitting in the heavily armored control room at the captain's station and looking out over the gun-bristling main deck, you really get a perspective on how powerful these beasts were.

The website http://www.battleship.org/ has good information...

At 9:08 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Don't see myself in Pearl anytime soon, but there's a WWII carrier in Corpus Christi. They converted it into a museum, and it's *huge*. It's a reasonable day trip. We were in Corpus w/ friends who aren't into the military or warfare, but they were amazed anyway.

Strong as BB were, by WWII they were eclipsed by carriers. PV captures this pretty well.

At 10:57 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

The USS Alabama is in Mobile, AL. Boston has the USS Massachusetts. I think the USS Iowa and New Jersey are still part of the USN reserve fleet, so not open to tourists.

The USS Texas is in La Porte, Texas, and is a Texas state park!

At 11:01 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Whoops, I was wrong. The USS New Jersey is a museum now too:


At 11:01 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

Don't forget the BB U.S.S. Texas. Located at the San Jacinto state historic site along the Houston ship channel.

Not sure the current status but it was open to the public as of a couple of years ago.

Served in WW I and WW II and took part in the D-Day bombardment.

At 11:03 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Yes, I had to add an image to spruce up an already good report.

Mark, yes we can do PV if you want next Monday. That would be cool.

At 4:14 PM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

Rob, we're on.


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