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  Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing   The above is the artwork for the US release, although I am kind of partial to the Japanese ...

Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing

Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing

Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing

 Across the Pacific


Pacific Rim Publishing

 The above is the artwork for the US release, although I am kind of partial to the Japanese edition cover below.

 Games that portray the entire war in the Pacific seem to be rather easy to find. They are probably right after Waterloo, The Bulge, and the Russian Front games as far as the amount of them. Unfortunately, when there is a crowded field of games, some will be left behind. Not because there is something wrong with them, but just because the public's fancy was caught by other games. This game has some unique points to it, but before we go there, let us describe what comes with the game. Here is the lucre in the box:

36 by 48 inch map of the Pacific Basin from Pearl Harbor to Imphal, Dutch Harbor to Brisbane
960 die-cut back printed 5/8 inch counters
24-page rules booklet
24-page Designer's Notes, Historical Commentary, and Examples of Play booklet
Two 11 by 17 inch color back printed Order of Battle charts — one Japanese, one Allied
Two 8-1/2 by 11 inch Unit and Carrier Air Groups Display charts — one Japanese, one Allied
Two 8-1/2 by 11 inch Task Force Display charts
Two 8-1/2 by 11 inch Charts and Tables card

 The listed size of the map is somewhat misleading. When you start to open it up, it seems like you are opening up one of the Russian dolls. Each flap seems to lead to another folded piece. I actually measured it, because it really seemed larger than the stated size. The colors are plain, and there is no glitz whatsoever. However, it is fully functional, and there are no ambiguities about the hex terrain. The counters are large and very easy to read. Again, they are more functional looking than arty. The Player's Aids are fully in color and well done. The Rulebook and Player's Handbook are in black and white. The Rulebook is twenty-four pages long. The rules are naturally a bit more involved than some other games. You are playing out the entire Pacific War. The Player's Handbook is split into three sections Designer's Notes, Historical Commentary, and Examples of Play. To give you an example of the Historical Summary:

"Tokkotai is a shortened form of TOKubetsu KOgokiTAI, meaning "special attack corps" or "special attack unit". Tokko is a shortened form of TOKubetsu KOgo, "special attack". The Japanese usually referred to these special attacks as Tokko and to the units that performed the attacks as Tokkotai." 
This is how informative the Historical Summary is. The Naval counters are a combination of different ships, and do not represent just one ship. Here are some examples:

BB-1 - Fuso, Yamashiro
CV-3 - Zuikaku, Shokaku
United States
BB-10 Missouri, Wisconsin
CV-3 - Wasp, Hornet

 The designer Michaels Myers also wrote a book on the Pacific War. The name of it is 'The Pacific War and Contingent Victory: Why Japanese Defeat was not Inevitable'. After reading his Designer Comments I had to read a copy of the book for myself. It stands to reason that his ideas for the game came from his own ideas on the Pacific War. This comes from the Game Notes, and sums up the games premises:

"Across the Pacific questions the usual assumptions and allows players to test alternative strategies. For example, it is often assumed that Japan had no chance to win the Pacific War. The problems with this assumption is that (1) it assumes a kind of unproved historical determinism, (2) it undermines the problem-solving accomplishments of the Allies in the Pacific war, and (3) it neglects to take into account Japanese potential advantages. Such an assumption leads to wargames where the only interesting action takes place at the beginning or the end of the war. It is thought that the Allies could have done better in Malaya or the Philippines, but the main course of the war is assumed to be an ineluctable progress of the allies toward victory, whether that be occasioned by an invasion of Japan or atomic bombs."

 To use the designer notes again:

"The heart of the operational combat system in Across the Pacific is the creation and use of Naval Task Forces and Task Groups."

 The developer, Mark A. Kramer,  goes onto show all of the different strategies that Japan can use instead of the historical ones. 

Using the SSA regiment and an SNLF regiment to ensure the capture of Wake island on turn one. With the intention of capturing Guam on turn two.
Not splitting the IJN by trying to maintain two major bases at both Tokyo and Truk. 
Creating a Type-B Task Force in Tokyo to augment the carrier raid against Pearl Harbor, and using the guns to obliterate the initial USN deployment.
Invading and isolating New Guinea on turn one before the US and Australian troops can get there.
Go for an all out attack in China on turn one. It will make your conquest of southern Asia much more difficult, but will cut the need for keeping large forces pinned in China. It will also negate the Allied bombing campaign from China.

 So the designer has given you, as the Japanese and Allied player, a whole host of different strategies to try out. You are not even forced to attack Pearl Harbor. This is something that is usually a given in any Pacific war game.

 Each turn represents five months of the war. There are nine turns in total. These are the different scenarios you can play:

Across the Pacific - The Grand Campaign
Remember Pearl Harbor - This starts in May 1942 and assumes the Japanese acted historically. It ends in August 1945.
Midway - This lasts only one turn.
Guadalcanal - This lasts two turns.
The Rising Sun  - This lasts for one turn. It is a solitaire scenario with the player as the Japanese for the first five months of the war.

  As with any game that differs from the norm you have to put more effort into learning the rules. Two of the big rules or ideas in the game are 'Air Umbrellas' and CEL (Combat Effectiveness Level) for units. The Air Umbrella is a way for the player to keep a large area under his own air control. Historically, after 1942 the Japanese pilots were badly trained. The CEL rules in the game make it possible for the Japanese player to husband his good pilots, and get them into the good second part of the war airframes. POLs (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants) are the supply markers of the game. Almost any player action will use up a POL marker. 

 I really like the game and it is a shame that it seems to have been lost in the shuffle in 2010 when it was released. The variable strategies for both sides is one of its main points. While the Kamikaze attacks are open to the Japanese player, there is also the possibility that you will not need them.  The limited postings I have seen on the game find that players do enjoy the game and its concepts. Thank you Pacific Rim Publishing for letting me review this sleeper of a game. They seem to have a wide range of products to take a look at.


Pacific Rim Publishing:

Across the Pacific:


1 comment :

  1. Oddly enough, despite the "Japan could have won" premise, this game rarely has the Japanese win the war. They can, but generally they win by getting a good enough perimeter and keeping enough intact CV and air units and pilots that the Allied can't penetrate deep enough fast enough to make their victory conditions.

    Playing the completely 9 turn full-map scenario is nearly an all-day affair but worth it, lots of strategic and tactical options with several interesting gameplay mechanics, a good mix of luck and skill like the real war, both sides are going to have unlucky setbacks but there are different choices you have to manage them.