Friday, August 31, 2007

A Short Rules Preview of Asia Engulfed

This week I am taking a cursory look at the rules for Asia Engulfed, the upcoming Pacific theater wargame from GMT games that was designed by Roger MacGowan. I play a lot more euro-games than wargames, and I can’t compare it with the large number of pacific theater games that have been created over the years. But I own Europe Engulfed, and I can spot a few obvious things of interest.

The first thing I noticed is that the rules aren’t any longer than the rules for Europe Engulfed, the sister game of Asia Engulfed. In fact, EE--with all its complicated nation-specific rules—may be the more complicated game. This surprised me because the combined naval/land war in the Pacific theater has a habit of causing designers to generate complicated game systems (just skimming the rules of Empire of the Sun was a daunting experience for me). Asia Engulfed looks big enough for me to consider it a monster game (anything that takes more than a day to play is a monster game to me), but its rules may be manageable.

One of the first things that fans of Europe Engulfed will notice about Asia Engulfed is that Special Actions have changed. Special Actions are tokens that players can purchase to do extra special activities on their turn. The Asia Engulfed Special Action rules no longer support breakthrough movement, retreat before combat, special reinforcements, or counterattacks. Instead, players need Special Actions for essential amphibious invasions. The American player can also use Special Actions once a game-year for code-breaking. This gives the American player intelligence about the composition of a Japanese naval force in one area, and a bonus die roll modifier for intercepting this Japanese fleet.

Asia Engulfed has special new rules, especially for the Japanese player. The Japanese player must use transports points each turn to create a supply network across the Pacific. The Japanese may also need transport points for moving troops, although it may substitute oil points for transport points when moving Japanese marines.

The Japanese player is the only player who can increase his production capacity by capturing resource and oil hexes. Of course, this also makes the Japanese economy vulnerable to Allied advances.

The game has special rules for Kamikaze attacks, Banzai attacks, and for special Japanese elite units that begin on the board and that cannot be replaced. There are also rules for the faulty torpedoes that limited the effectiveness of the American submarine force in the early months of the war. The American submarines may eventually strangle the Japanese economy, but first they must work the bugs out of their torpedoes.

I found it interesting that there are no rules for the atomic bomb. The Japanese win a decisive victory if they capture Hawaii. The Allies win a decisive victory if they capture the Japanese island of Honshu before the end of the game. All other levels of victory are based on the numbers of victory point areas controlled by the Japanese at the end of the game, and the number of strategic air bases controlled by the Allies.

It’s hard for me to play monster wargames in a house filled with kids and cats. But
Asia Engulfed looks like it may join then list of monster games that I hope to try someday.

2 comments:

Glen said...

The "Engulfed" games were designed by Rick Young.

Kris Hall said...

You nare absolutely right, and my apologies to Mr. Young. I looked at my Europe Engulfed game and saw Roger MacGowan on the cover, and didn't realize that they put the art director on the cover as well as the designer. Silly me.