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Okinawa! by Tiny battle Publishing  It is April 1945. The Allies are bombing Japan with Superfortresses from...

Okinawa! by Tiny Battle Publishing Okinawa! by Tiny Battle Publishing

Okinawa! by Tiny Battle Publishing

Okinawa! by Tiny Battle Publishing



Tiny battle Publishing

 It is April 1945. The Allies are bombing Japan with Superfortresses from the Marianas Islands. Okinawa is the next island closer to Japan. It is actually large enough to have ports and could be used as an emergency strip for the bomber streams to and from Japan. Iwo Jima was the last island that the Japanese would try to defend at the beaches. It has taken them a while, but the Japanese have worked out two different strategies to deal with the US invasions. The first, as mentioned, is not to defend the beaches, but tunnel in and defend the most defensible part of the island. This hopefully would negate at least some of the US's overwhelming firepower. The second is the 'Divine Wind' Kamikaze. This is the name of the storms that saved Japan from the Mongol Invasions almost 800 years ago. So, the stage is set for the game.

 This is what comes with the game:

176 counters with which to stage your desperate struggle.
1 striking 22x17-inch map.
1 rulebook to rifle through.
1 Player Aid Card to call in reinforcements.
A non-military issue Ziploc bag to billet your troops.

You’ll need to requisition two D6 from your divisional quartermaster.

(Tiny Battles quips not mine, but I like them.)

 This is the sequence of Play:

Reinforcement and Amphibious Assault Phase
Command Phase
Air and Naval Operations Phase
US Movement Phase
US Combat Phase
Japanese Movement Phase
Japanese Reserve Phase
Japanese Combat Phase
End Phase

 The counters are 5/8's in size. They are your typical plain Jane NATO counters. The main thing is that they are large enough and the colors used make them easy to read. The map is mostly of the Southern part on Okinawa. It does have plenty of off map boxes for all of the different areas and holding stations. It is easy to read and well done. The color choices on it match the counters as far as being easy on the eyes. The rulebook is twenty eight pages in length and is in color. The components are all well done without any flair. They are of a high standard, but not 'artistic'. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a game that is meant to be played, not a work of art for the wall.

The Scenarios include:

1. Start of the Nightmare - Turns 1-4 and does not cover the Air    Campaign
2. The Shuri Line - Turns 4-9 The Air Campaign is abstracted
3. The Thunder Gods  - Naval-Air Scenario Only
4. Okinawa! A Fools Day's Work - Turns 1-12 Full Campaign
5. Okinawa! Free Setup - Turns 1-12 Free Setup

 What actually makes the game unique is the designer's ideas and the choices he has made behind those ideas. The later Pacific battles are to some gamers, in a word, boring. The Japanese are tunneled in and the US and Allied forces have to burrow them out. Oh, you do have the occasional Banzai charge. Playing the Japanese, let alone the Allies, to some people borders on tedium. But I digress; back to the designer. His historical notes are worth the price of the game by themselves. He realizes that the Kamikaze campaign was not some last ditch hare-brained foolish idea. It was a well thought out decision that fit the realities of the Pacific campaign at the moment. The 'Great Marianas Turkey Shoot' had shown the Japanese that conventional air strikes against the Allies were useless. They only resulted in the loss of the plane and pilot for NO REASON. The Allies had become so advanced in Carrier Warfare that they were practically invulnerable. As the designer shows, the Kamikaze were able to not only lessen the Japanese losses, but they actually damaged the Allies. A Japanese pilot that attacked an Allied Carrier force was a dead man at this stage of the war. There was no way around it. He could spend his life futilely trying a conventional attack or spend it by actually damaging the enemy. That was the choice, pure and simple. The designer 'gets' it. He is one of the few (very few) people who understand the actualities of the Pacific War at the time. He is not finished in his heresy though. He  also understands that the last cruise of the Yamato (Operation Ten-Go) was not a one way ride to Valhalla. It was a military operation meant to coincide with a large kamikaze attack. The Yamato had enough fuel to get to Okinawa and back. The Yamato's sister ship Musashi had proven that she could take punishment like no other battleship ever, and still keep up a good speed. Because most of the US pilots had concentrated on the Musashi, the other ships escaped mostly unscathed in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The timing of Operation Ten-Go is one of the Japanese player's biggest ace up his sleeve.

 There is one design decision that I am iffy about. This has to do with the difference of opinion between the Japanese Commander Lieutenant General Ushijima and his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Isamu. Isamu was still a proponent of the Bushido way of Japanese warfare. Meaning that the will of the Japanese soldier was more important than the physical reality of the Allies' firepower. Because Isamu actually forced his view on the commander twice during the battle, the game mechanics follow this. The Japanese player has to roll on the '32nd Army Stance Table' during his part of the turn's Command Phase. The table is different for each of the three months of the battle. If 'Defense' is the result of the die roll, then the Japanese Player can do whatever he wants that turn. If it comes up 'Counterattack', then he must attack with at least two regiments or lose the game. Only one counterattack per month must be mandated. If the Japanese Player attacks on his own with at least two regiments that fulfills the monthly obligation.  

 So, we have deduced that I agree with most of the designer's way of thinking. What about the darned game? It plays well from either side. Yes, the Japanese are mostly just trying to defend as long as possible and inflict as many casualties on the Allies as possible. You can attack as the Japanese, although as a strategy I believe it falls flat as it did in reality. If they had not attacked out of their bunkers, the battle would have lasted longer. As the Allied commander (there is a British Carrier Force with you), you have to take the Island as quick and as casualty free as possible. The Japanese player wants to be like murderous fly-paper that you just cannot get rid of. The game rules turn what could be a slog into as interesting a conflict as it was in reality. The Allies have tremendous Naval and Air Forces at their command. They can pummel the Japanese pretty much every turn if they are left alone. The Japanese Player has only ten 'Kikusui' (air strikes) to unleash on the Allies for a full game. He cannot afford to strike every turn. I liked the first game Tiny Battle Publishing sent me to review even though it was a bit unconventional. This game, due to the designer's fore thought is a great representation of the battle. Thank you Tiny Battle Publishing for allowing me to review this gem. You can find some links below.


Tiny Battle Publishing:


My review of ' Rifles in the Pacific':

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