Hello, reader. Reader, here’s Wargame Showcase. Wargame Showcase, here’s my favourite reader. What kind of cryptic concoction is this? Well, my dearest, Wargame Showcase is a new feature by yours truly. Expertly crafted- afters years of study- to showcase games that might interest you, but I can’t fit it in my review schedule. Wargame Showcase will run alongside it’s twin brother “Strategical Showcase” where “Strategy” games, in a more traditional sense, will get the same treatment.
“11 September, 1937 – Never compromise, not even in the face of armageddon. Unless the Japanese take Shangai. Led by Kioshi Katsuki, the 2nd and 21st armies, joined by the 8th Sentai and Izumo NLFs form the Japanese Expeditionary Force and are ravaging southeast China in a lighting campaign whose ultimate goal is to avoid Chinese entrenchment behind the Yellow River and stopping the north offensive on it’s track. By disrupting the Chinese front lines and forcing them to relocate a substantial amount of resources to deal with attack, hopefully, the forces up north, led by Kanichiro Tashiro will take all the eastern ports of Tsingtao and Haichow. With those two key locations secured, the Japanese forces undergoing training in mainland Japan are going to to safely disembark in eastern China, unopposed, avoiding weeks-long, costly relocation up north to Port Arthur and then, having to travel down to the front lines under constant threat of enemy partisans attacks.
October 13, 1937 -The situation could be considered acceptable but the heavy rain all across the Chinese plains turn the ground into mush and the simple mountain pass into a treacherous death-trap. Logistics are stretched beyond imagination and all progress came to an halt; but the Emperor’s subjects are hard at work, reconstructing precious railways around Tsinan, damaged in previous close air-support action. Morale is high, as rumours go around that the High Command is investing heavily in reserves and reinforcements to less able units. A new Mechanized Corps is being formed as I write this report, but where they’ll serve in the future I cannot disclose. Hopefully the monsoon will come to a stop and the drive towards Suchow and Tzuyang can continue. Tsingtao is surrounded and cut-off but still heavily defended.
November 10th, 1937- Rain has been replaced by wailing, sharp winds. Tsingtao is getting bombed night and day by the relentless onslaughts of the Japanese main fleet. The 4th Chinese Army is now pretty much surrounded, with the 12th Japanese Army moving in south to put an end to the encirclement once and for all. Down the main railway system three entire armies are fast approaching the front with garrisons accompanying them to secure and quash any resistance. The Shangai pocket keeps on sweeling and while Yanhtze should fall on the up-coming week, yet the front lines are stretched thin.
November 24th, 1937- Yanhtze has fallen. Not much has happened since…The Chinese army is still in complete disarray…”
WarPlan wears board game designs on it’s sleeve and that means that, for better or for worse, compromises for the sake of simplicity and playability had to be made. It’s a traditionalist design for the traditionalist wargamer. Expect nothing more than your average turn-based counter-pusher experience in the Pacific theatre and you’ll be satisfy with the gigantic amount of content within. WarPlan is the kind of game that’s all about knowing where the sweet spot is. What sweet spot, you ask? Well, to know when it’s wise to push a powerful, unrelenting offensive and when to pull the leash on your field commanders because they’re over-extending your supply lines and risking encirclement.
Usually I’m able to pen bed sheets about anything game related but it’s getting difficult to do so with WarPlan Pacific. At first, my suspicion fell on writer’s block but I soon came to realize that’s just because WarPlan is that simple, and there’s really not a lot to say about it. Turns are spent moving units around the hex-based map, engaging in combat, setting up production of future units, embarking and disembarking units, choosing reinforcement priorities, bombing cities, surface fleets, airfields and armies; making sure your supplies reach the frontlines. Do all this by navigating less then a dozen menus. That should give you an idea of how simple the UI is.
Scale is 50 miles or 80km per hex with gigantic maps going from Australia all the way to southern Russia, encompassing all the Pacific theater. The cartography is beautiful and hex-art aficionados will find plenty to drool on here.
If the game can be thoroughly eulogized WarPlan for it’s efforts in making everything appear so clean and simple, honest criticism is also called upon to testify on it’s flaws: enemy turns go way too fast and movement and combat resolution happen at a staggering pace, so conserve some minutes to better understand what just happened before your troops get on the move again. This wouldn’t be of concerned most of the time but when the map is at THAT scale, after a couple of play sessions those minutes of downtime will turn into hours. Besides, it’s not that fun to just stand there and watch the AI giving orders but not actually see them taking place.
Another thing that bugged the hell out of me are the counter colours. I’ve replayed the mainland chinese invasion 5 times just to get a good feeling of what kind of different shenanigans I could pull, and those darker and less darker yellow counters can be a pain in the ass to understand. Same goes for the fashionable australian gree-olive counters. I get that blue and red don’t always make for the most stylish approach but at least it’s easy to grasp. What annoys me the most is that WarPlan is packing some gorgeous counter colours, see below.
Also, if playing with NATO counters is not your shtick, be prepared for a world of eye strain trying to make sense of those are when zoomed out. simple things help in this genre, like warning of low supplies Other than that, there’s not a lot I can point out that’s wrong with the game. The interface is clean, it’s simple and straight forward, every turn a
I’ve always been a strong proponent of utilizing computers to power new experiences and not to just emulate board games but hey, to each it’s own and I really believe this is one of WarPlan best design decisions even tho it doesn’t particularly gel with me. It’s a simple game about taking into account what moves to pull up next and if you have the units and supplies to be able to do it.
When it comes to pure, raw strategy, I’ve been able to take more than one approach to invade mainland China. It’s safe to say WarPlan let’s you off the hook when it comes to plan out your moves and doesn’t fall into the hellish pit that is puzzle-like strategy.
If, like your dearest here, you’re on the hunt for an operational-level wargame that tickles your fancy in a less abstracted, more detailed way, you’ll be better off grabbing Gary Grigsby War In The East 2. But in the end, when push comes to shove, WarPlan Pacific is a worthy addition to every wargame collection and a game worth having if you enjoy the operational layer of strategy with a simple, easily accessible design that will keep you island-hoping across the Pacific for weeks. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to it, but it sure got me interested to pick up WarPlan Europe in an up-coming sale. WarPlan Pacific is available at Slitherine for 34,99 or your regional equivalent.
Here’s a feature list from the developer:
- 62 different potential countries
- Map scale 50 miles / 80km per hex using a Peters map scaling which better represents real distances (Smaller scales can be achieved)
- 16 different types of terrains subdivided into sizes with each different features including motorized and non-motorized movement, airfield capacity, and defensive bonuses
- 12 different resource types
- 5 different strategic resources
- Fog of War – detection levels determine information of units
- Communications Intelligence – Break codes, reset encryption, perform intelligence
- 5 different weather conditions
- Land, Sea, and Air specialization
- 22 different units with 15 different attributes, 17 different technological advancements, 14 different specializations
- 17 different advancements. Each unit has at minimum 2 advancement choices
- Automatic repair and advancement
- Multiplayer: play vs the A.I., in hotseat, and PBEM mode
- Individual Capital Ship groups
- WW1 Battleship adjustments
- Light Carriers and Patrol Craft added to the available unit pool
- Hidden Fleets
- Added air and naval Specialties