During each monthly turn you bid command points (logistics) to determine initiative (offensive player), with the high bid then activating and launching their forces toward their objectives. Secretly, your opponent (reaction player) determines the operational intelligence level and their potential to intercept the offensive. As the offensive develops, it comes within range of enemy air and submarine forces that tactically attempt to detect the oncoming attack. The reaction player decides how to defeat the attack based on the intersection of tactical and operational intelligence coupled with available forces and logistics.
This entire sequence is set within a telescoping time scale (days to hours) that has naval units seamlessly accelerate (from 12 to 30+ knots), searches seek out the enemy, carriers launch air strikes, combat air patrols defend, culminating with torpedo and dive bomber attacks on individual naval targets. At its core, Pacific War’s game systems allows you to fight detailed carrier strikes (sequential and simultaneous) with night surface naval actions (float planes, gunfire and torpedo salvos) integrated with large scale ground offensives on the Asian mainland (e.g., Malaya, Burma, and China) and of course amphibious invasions (e.g., Java, Guadalcanal, and Leyte). If you are looking for a detailed and interactive operational simulation of the War in the Pacific, this is the game for you!
Back in 1985, Pacific War was designed by a 31-year-old creating his most ambitious effort to date. I was a full-time game designer (like now) with my 2-year-old daughter (now 37) sitting on my lap (now reserved for granddaughters). Over the last 35 years I have continued to study and research this topic, culminating in 2005 with the design of Empire of the Sun for GMT Games. I am now applying this lifetime of research and experience back into this final edition of Pacific War.
So, what will change in the new version? The structure and feel of the design will be unchanged, so if you played it in your youth, you already know how to play. That said, a devoted number of players have been playing this game for 35 years and I have incorporated the best of their feedback into this new and final edition for this title. I am going over each scenario and updating them with information that I did not have available back in 1985. For example, I now have several Japanese translations of their official records that were only published in the last few years. Toward this end, I am adding at least six new campaign and strategic scenarios, so you can experience the entire panorama of the war in a long afternoon .
The key question that I consider when buying a new game is will it hit the table? The owners and reviewers who created the game's reputation were excited that Pacific War had a layered set of scenarios that incorporated fifteen-minute solitaire learning engagements, two hour battles (such as Coral Sea and Santa Cruz that were used in a decade of tournaments), two to eight hour Campaigns (such as Malaya, Guadalcanal and Breaking the Bismarck barrier), and of course the Strategic scenarios that cover the entire war from a single year to the entire war. Will you ever play the entire war? It's unlikely (to date I have only done it three times). However, Pacific War is an operational level game and the Campaign scenarios are the heart and soul of this game system. Most play in an afternoon to completion. So, will it hit the table? Only you can answer that question, but from a time and learning perspective this game will support any time commitment you wish to make, to include the 100+ hour Strategic Scenario.
The other question that was not asked back in 1985, but to many is important in 2020 is "does Pacific War have a solitaire ‘Bot system?" The answer is no, with an explanation. The only game decision that cannot reasonably be made is the Operations bidding mechanic and the original game included a solitaire bidding mechanic which will be retained. I will look to see if there are any other similar decisions, such as surface action range bids that I have already added. Thereafter, you will need to play both sides. Due to the history and the game system you will likely not notice as you experience the war’s narrative unfold before you. So, although Pacific War will not have a ‘Bot (not even sure how to do that with over 25 scenarios), the game will handle all the interactive bids decisions. If you want a full-blown solitaire opponent, this is not the game for you.
With all of this hype I want to be straight with all perspective buyers of this new edition. If you are looking for a light and airy historically-themed game, please do not buy this game. I do not want to disappoint anyone, so read my lips: if you want a light wargame, do not buy this game.
I am very excited that I am finally going to get this game back into print. But, like Admiral Picard in the new series, this is my last try to "make it so." Also, understand that this is likely a one and done print run - my final word on this design. I do not expect to walk this path again, so if enough of you are interested in owning Pacific War, I'll give you my best effort to make it a purchase that rewards you with hours of enjoyable and challenging game play. As you might imagine, as I prepare a game this big for the publication process, I have no doubt about what I will be doing for the remainder of my shelter in place phase. Feel free to reach out to me online if you have any questions. - Mark Herman, April 2020.
- 4 inch box
- 3 rulebooks
- 2 22 x 34 inch mounted maps
- 1 cardboard scenario map
- 9 counter sheets
- 1 pad of 24 Replacement Record Sheets
- 1 8.5 x 22 Operations Display
- 1 11 x 34 Japanese Display Sheet
- 1 11 x 34 Allied Display Sheet
- 1 11 x 34 Japanese Screen
- 1 11 x 34 Allied Screen
- 2 ten-sided dice
Game Designer: Mark Herman