second chance games

Search This Website of delight

  Orange Swan Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games  The Pacific Theater of War is normally thought of as starting on December 7th 1941. I...

Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games

Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games

Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games

 Orange Swan

Pacific 1941 - 1945


VentoNuovo Games

 The Pacific Theater of War is normally thought of as starting on December 7th 1941. In actuality Japan and China had been fighting since 1937. Japan was allied with Italy and Germany, even though they were not at war with the Allies. The Japanese Armed Forces were split between the Army and Navy factions. This split was so cavernous that assassinations of generals and admirals had been contemplated, and in fact carried out at times. The Army wanted to 'Strike North' and attack the Soviet Union. The Navy wanted to strike south and attack the Western Allies colonies. There were separate arguments inside both branches over the efficacy of both plans. In fact, Admiral Yamamoto was put in charge of the Combined Fleet to remove him from Japan and the chance for his assassination. This was because of his outspoken thoughts against a war with the United States. He had been an attache there and knew the size and capabilities of the US in a war. Japan's economic might paled before the US even in peacetime. Once the US was put on a war footing it was a foregone conclusion to Yamamoto. In hindsight, it is possible that even had Japan not done well with an invasion of the Soviet Union (they had fared poorly against Soviet troops in 1939). They would however, had kept the Asiatic forces of the Soviet Union in place and they would not be allowed to reinforce the Soviet troops in front of Moscow, possibly leading to a German victory. Because of the aggression of Japan against China, the Western Allies had placed many embargos on items desperately needed by the Japanese Armed Forces. The biggest problem for Japan was an embargo on imported oil. This, in the end, forced the Japanese government to finally side with the Navy to attack south toward the Indonesian oil fields. In actuality Japan was to get precious few barrels of oil from Indonesia. Between the effective Allied destruction of the wells, and the US submarine war on Japanese transports, very little ever saw Japan. Enough with the backdrop of the game. Now we must look at the name the designer has given it.

A battle about to take place

 VentoNuovo Games released a game last year called 'Black Swan'. This encompasses the Second World War in the European and African Theaters. The name is described thusly in the Black Swan Rule Book:

"Since antiquity, some have known this as “The Black Swan.” It is the rare and unlooked for event, something that is entirely unexpected and presages abrupt reversal.

In martial terms, The Black Swan symbolizes the unravelling of apparent certainty, together with man’s desire to contrive notions of opportunity, or excuses for defeat, whenever he dares play with the volatile flames of ambition."

 The moniker 'Orange Swan' is because of the above, and the fact that the United States' plan for a war against Japan was 'Plan Orange'.

 The game is a Block Wargame, and this is what comes with the game:

1 Laminated heavy stock 124x86 cm Map

318 Colorful wooden parts

4 Chessex Dice

150 PVC stickers with unit designations

1 Rules Manual

2 Laminated Players' Aid Cards

2 Scenarios

3 Campaigns

2 'Global' Campaigns (The player would need to also own the 'Black Swan' game)

The scale of the game:

Map 1: 9.000.000 (1cm = 90km)

Unit Size: Armies/Fleets

Time: 1 Turn = 1 Season

Players: 2-4 players, with excellent solitaire suitability (we will check on this claim)

As you can see it is a large map

 Before we get into the game's components, I would like to say a little about the designer and VentoNuovo Games. The owner of VentoNuovo Games is Emanuele Santandrea. He is also the game designer and does the artwork for all of their games. You would think that wearing three hats might cause a human to stumble a bit. With Mr. Santandrea this is definitely not the case. I have not come across a game from him that I do not like. When I first started reviewing, I was definitely a snob. Only hexes and cardboard would make the grade for me. I had been away from board wargaming for about 30 years or so, and had never really seen a block game. I assumed that anything with area movement and blocks would be a 'beer & pretzels' game, or just an Axis and Allies clone. I have stated before that I was proven immeasurably wrong in my assumptions. Mr. Santandrea's games had a large part in my changing attitudes. VentoNuovo Games have a wide range of historical eras in games to choose from. Do yourself a favor and check out their website below to see them all. I will also add a link to some of my other reviews of their/his games. Now onto the components.

Both games set up

 The map is massive (okay, there are larger ones but this is pretty big) in size and scope. It is also right between, in tensile strength, a paper map and a mounted one. The colors are vibrant and the information on it is easy to read. Because of its size there are not too many areas where the amount of blocks allowed have to spill over into adjacent areas. This only happens because of the geography of the Pacific Ocean's land masses. The blocks are uniform in size and shape for their type (there are different sized and shaped blocks). I did not find any with nubs hanging off or anything like that. The version I received had the regular NATO stickers. You could have bought into the Kickstarter or bought separately a very nice fancier set of stickers. The information is easy to read on them, and like almost all block games, their strength is determined by which side is facing toward the top of the block. The Rules Manual is thirty-two pages long. The Manual is in full color with large, and in many cases, bold typing. It is also chock full of full color play examples. The rules themselves only take up twenty pages, with the next section's Special Rules and Optional Rules taking up three pages. The last pages are taken up by the scenario and campaign setups along with some rule differences between Black and Orange Swan. This is for people who have enough room and gumption to play one of the campaigns that use both games together. There are two Players' Aid Cards that are identical and are made of the same stock as the map. To pack all that is needed on the Players' Aid Cards, the writing is a tad small, and they might seem 'busy' to some. The components are up to the usual high standards of VentoNuovo Games. Did I mention I like their games?


With over 220 unit counters, players can enjoy hours of fun by playing the full Orange Swan Campaign from 1941 to 1945, the shorter 1942-1945 Campaign, or by playing one of the other scenarios. Each scenario has a different difficulty level, rated in brackets from 1 (Very Easy) to 10 (Very Hard):


- Pearl Harbor Tournament Scenario, Fall 1941 (3)

- Midway to Guadalcanal, Spring - Fall 1942 (3)


- The Rising Swan, Fall 1941 - Fall 1945 (8)

- The Orange Swan, Fall 1941 - Fall 1945 (9)

- Turning the Tide, Spring 1942 - Fall 1945 (7)

Global Campaigns (Black Swan + Orange Swan):

- Danzig to Hiroshima, Summer 1939 - Fall 1945 (10)

- Waking the Giants, Spring 1942 - Fall 1945 (9)

 Sequence of Play

Each Scenario or Campaign is played over a variable
number of years or seasons, as described in their Setup
Instructions (rules sections 11.0 and 12.0).

3.1Seasons: Each year is divided into four seasons:
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
During the Summer, Spaces marked with a Monsoon (rain cloud)
symbol experience Active Monsoon weather, which has several
game effects (see rule 9.1 for details).
3. 2 Force Pool Additions: At the beginning of 1943 and 1944, units with a circled number on their bottom right corner are added to their Nation’s Force Pool (1.5).
3.3 Turn Sequence: Each Season is made up of two Turns: first the Axis Turn, then the Allied Turn. The Side playing its Turn is the Phasing Side, while the other side is the Non-Phasing Side. The Phasing Side plays through the entire sequence of play, with all of that Side’s Nations completing a Phase before moving to the next.
Each Phase is further divided into Sub-Phases. Turn Phases and Sub-
4.0 Production Phase-
4.1 Supply Check-
4.2 Collect PPs-
4.3 Strategic Air Warfare-
4.4 Strategic Naval Warfare (only during Axis Turn)-
4.5 Spend PPs-
4.6 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
5.0 Naval Phase-
5.1 Naval Movement-
5.2 Naval Engagement-
5.3 Naval Combat-
5.4 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
6.0Land Phase-
6.1 Seaborne Operations-
6.2 Land Movement-
6.3Strategic Movement-
6.4 Land Combat-
6.5 Retreat after Combat-
6.6 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
7.0 Blitz Phase-
7.1 Double Blitz-
7.2 Oceanic Blitz-
7.3 Continental Asia Blitz-
7.4 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
8.0 Final Phase-
8.1 Nations Surrender Check-
8.2 Units Surrender Check-
8.3 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power-
8.4 Victory Check

 To those hex and counter behemoths that I was once so enamored with, this game seems rather simple. That is in fact a complete falsehood. While Orange Swan does not have a Rules Manual as thick as a phone book, that does not mean it is a simple game. This game will take all of your wits and thinking ahead to work out a coherent strategy to win. You not only have to win battles, but you also have to think about supply lines as well. Effectively you are put into the shoes of the Chief of Staff of both sides. As the US you have to try and blunt Japan's sword in the early days so that you do not have to win the entire Pacific back from them. You need to hang on and wait until the US starts flooding the Pacific Ocean with material, men, and ships. So, you have to choose your early fights with Japan with care. As the Allied player you cannot afford to lose China and or India. Japan is not only able to attack you on the seas but also in Asia proper. The Japanese player will never be as strong as he is at the start (unless by some miracle he never loses a battle up to 1943). The player has to decide how much is too much and will he also suffer from 'Victory Disease'? Does he try to conquer China, India, or concentrate on the Pacific? The one thing that the Japanese player has on his side is that at the beginning the Allied player has to dance to his tune. He always has to keep at the back of his mind that the Allied player can also Island, or in this case Area, hop. This would leave the Japanese forces hanging on the vine.

 The game can be won in several different ways. 

Tokyo is enemy controlled: Allied Victory

Atom Bomb Event: Allied Victory

Japan controls 7 Strategic Areas or Japan has a production of 75: Axis Victory

If at the end of a year in the Campaign game, Japan has a Strategic Power of 6 it wins a Strategic Victory.

If at the end of the year Japan has an Economic Power equal or greater than 65 then it wins an Economic Victory.

Each scenario also has its own Victory rules.

 Thank you, VentoNuovo Games, for letting me review this excellent addition to your stables. Simple to understand rules, and yet it has deep gameplay. It also tastes great and is less filling. In the future I will have a review out of this game's brother 'Black Swan'. 


VentoNuovo Games:

Home Page (

Orange Swan:

Orange Swan (

My review of: Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga:

Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga by Vento Nuovo Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

My review of : Kiev 1941:

Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo games - A Wargamers Needful Things