Homefront Wargame Center

…supporting our hobby!

Posts Tagged ‘PTO’

Review: Empire of the Sun

Posted by Denny Koch on July 14, 2010

Game: Empire of the Sun

Publisher: GMT Games
Published in: 2005
Designers: Mark Herman, Stephen Newberg
Era: World War II, Pacific War
Game Type: Hex based consim, card-driven
Players: 2
Scale: Strategical level. 1 hex=250 miles, 1 turn=4 month.
Contents: 1 rulebook, 280 9/16“ and 88 5/8“ counter, 2 strategy decks (82 cards for the Japanese player, 83 cards for the Allied Player), map (not mounted, 55×86 cm), 2 Player Aid Cards, one 10-sided die

HFC Game-O-Meter:B


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 6
Playability:
8
Replay Value:
10

Overall Rating: 8

PRO Interesting combat system, variety due to the card-driven mechanics, strategically challenging, interesting to both sides until the end of the game
CONTRA It’s difficult to get into the game in the first place because of a somewhat confusing rulebook

Introduction

Empire of the Sun (EotS) is a strategic game of the Pacific War of World War II. It is a complex hex and counter consim with a card-driven mechanic.

The most interesting aspect of PTO games is the approach to the Japanese victory conditions and how to keep the game interesting in the endgame. Pacific games often suffer from the fact that the Japanese historically couldn’t win the war and were heavily outgunned in the late war by the US, strangled by supply problems, and their ships and aircraft fleets almost destroyed.

US invasion in Japan

So there is always the danger that a game dealing with the PTO becomes quite boring for the Japanese player after his first (and last) initial strikes because he cannot react to Allied actions. A good example for this is Fire in the Sky (FitS) where the Japanese player is damned to watching the US “god fleets” take one island after another while the Japanese suffer from heavy oil shortages, unable to react to the US fleet movements. In the end game of  FitS, the game gets even boring for the US player because his attacks are made on such ridiculous odds with utopian dice roll modifiers that he cannot lose a combat even if the Japanese spends his last valuable oil reserves to counter one of his attacks. This doesn’t mean that the US win all FitS games (they don’t, because their victory conditions are very sharply timed), but it’s always the US against the clock and not the US against the Japanese.

Therefore, our main intention for playing Empire of the Sun was to see how this game deals with the Japanese end game issues and the question how a Japanese player can win the game – even if Japan couldn’t win the war historically. The designer’s notes of EotS admit that Japan couldn’t ever have won the war – but the Japanese player nevertheless can win the game by preventing  US victory. And this works!

Empire of the Sun is interesting and intense for both sides, up to the very last turn and last-minute of the game – there is always enough to do for the Japanese to take an active part in the game and throw obstacles in the US path.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Empire of the Sun, Historical Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: The World at War (Xeno Games)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 7, 2010

Publisher: Xeno Games
Published in: 1990
Designers: Frank W. Zenau, William Kendrick
Era: World War II
Contents: > 200 plastic playing pieces, a new map, rules, new set up charts

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 2
Rules: 1
Playability:
3
Replay Value:
1
Overall Rating:
1,75

PRO Perfect gift to enemies and annoying people; educational value as a deterrent
CONTRA Too expensive, too horrible. Horrible rules, miniatures, map. Scary. Terrifying. Highly explosive.

Introduction

A World at War is an expansion to the well-known Axis & Allies game. It was published by Xeno Games and its intention is to bring “more depth and strategic options” to the game. It isn’t too successful, though, because it does everything plainly wrong.

Axis & Allies certainly belongs to the most played games of all time and the game eventually developed into a series of games using the same mechanics and the same WWII background. Today you can play Axis & Allies Revised, Pacific, Europe, Battle of the Bulge and many more offshoots:

* Axis & Allies – the Game
* World at War 1st Edition
* World at War 2nd Edition
* World at War 3rd Edition
* World War II – the complete Game
* Axis & Allies Europe
* Axis & Allies Europe 2nd Edition
* World War II – the Expansion
* World War II – the Expansion 2
* World War II – the Expansion 3
* Europe at War
* Russia at War
* Axis & Allies Accessory
* Central Powers
* New World Order
* Axis & Allies East & West
* Middle East Combat
* Dateline: World War II
* War to end all Wars
* Battle of the Falklands
* The great War in Africa
* Axis & Allies Trade
* Europe 1483
* Africa 1483
* Asia 1483
* North American Update
* Max Advanced Rules 1
* Max Advanced Rules 2
* Spanish Civil War
* Axis&Allies Enhanced Realism Rules
* Game Plastic Pieces
* World War II in the West
* Axis&Allies Pacific
* Enemy on the horizon
* Risk 2042
* Operation Barbarossa
* Axis & Allies von Nova-Games
* Eastern Front
* Modern Units for World at War
* More Units your World at War
* Rise of the Red Army
* Battlecards
* Conquest of the Pacific
* World War I
* WW II in the West
* Pacific at War

and much more. Some of the offshoots are really nice and of a very high quality. Some are plainly horrible – and the worst of all is Xeno’s World at War.

Graphic Presentation

TWAW contains a new collection of rules, a new game board, as well as additional armies, markers and chips.

see that ugly light blue? Armies with that colour are doomed to lose...

The colors of the partaking nations of the original A&A are similar but not quite the same which is very disappointing (Germany (grey), Japan (yellow), USA (green), England (beige) and Russia (brown)) plus France (blue) and China (white or light green). It is important to mention that there are mainly new armies (France & China) included and only few of the original nations are supported, i.e. without the pieces of the original Axis & Allies game, TWAW is rather useless. So it’s really an expansion and not a stand-alone game.

The contents’ quality is sub par if you want to use a friendly word. Everyone buying TWAW as an expansion for his A&A game has certain expectations about the map graphics or the plastic figures – because these are of a very high quality in Axis & Allies. It’s certainly not too harsh to say that these expectations will be heavily disappointed when you open the game box! The map – made of paper, simply folded four times and carelessly put into the box – looks ugly and obtrusive. The borders between the countries (which have a comic like color) are far too bold and in too loud a red so the map is really hard to look at. As already mentioned in contrast to A&A, the map isn’t mounted but is a simple print on glossy paper and cannot be compared to the A&A Map’s quality.

Without laminating this map, playing on it is also quite difficult since it’s rather thin and tends to tear. The playing pieces are extraordinarily low in detail and not of a good quality, produced in a sloppy way and again their colors don’t even match the original A&A colors. Besides the fact that it doesn’t look that good, depending on the illumination sometimes it is hard to differentiate the colors of the respective nations which is not really increasing fun.

The material of the reference cards for the countries is not cardboard (as in A&A) but they are made of simple paper and lack any color or improvement.   Although the national markers look-alike, those of A&A are much higher in quality (the symbols are often lopsidedly printed onto the markers in TWAW). Also the stacking chips are different in thickness and color compared to those in A&A.

Rules

The map is plain ugly

You will be surprised to hear that the rules are even worse than the presentation of this game… Xeno included a sloppy produced rule”book”, which is intended to be used as an add-on to the original A&A rules. Alas, it is almost impossible to play a game with these rules – inconsistencies, black holes, relevant and basic things not even mentioned etc. leave the player alone in a sheer rules chaos, forcing him to develop house rules in order to make this game playable. Nothing seems to be playtested by Xeno, and the additional rules slow the game down in a very boring manner without enhancing the game quality of the original A&A at all.

Despite these flaws a lot of A&A players swear by especially this extension due to the new political aspects and the slight differences regarding maneuver due to a map with more areas.  The problem of the inappropriate additional rules has been solved by semi-official House Rules within the A&A community. Thus the extension is made playable and allows for an application of some innovative ideas, compared to the limited options you get in the base game. Although it should be mentioned that the A&A series introduces some of these mechanics and units with the later games, so TWAW had some use before the newer A&A games were published, but seems now completely obsolete, at least the version we played.

Playability

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Historical Games A-Z, Misc. Histor. games, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »