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  Against The Odds Issue #58 featuring Clash of Carriers  The name of the magazine speaks for itself. In this issue, they really take on wha...

Against the Odds Issue #58 Against the Odds Issue #58

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pacific War

 Against The Odds Issue #58


Clash of Carriers

 The name of the magazine speaks for itself. In this issue, they really take on what in hindsight was not even against the odds, but pretty much impossible. The Japanese Naval Air Force was shattered and almost totally destroyed by the fighting of 1943. Japan did have carriers. However, they did not have trained pilots to fly off them. True, the amount of carriers Japan had seemed paltry to the amount the U.S. had. The one thing that Japan had still was the unsinkable carriers that were its island bases. The Japanese thought that with both, they just might be able to strike the U.S. Navy hard enough to stop its inexorable march across the Pacific. Japan had a plan that was called A-Go which was really just a rehash of their earlier plans, even before the war, for a naval showdown between the U.S. and Japanese Navies. The only real thing that the Japanese had on their side was that their planes had always been designed with longer ranges than the U.S. ones. They might just be able to spot and hit the U.S. fleet before their ships had even been sighted. Plan A-Go was a gamble but one that would have to be taken. The battle has become known as 'The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot'. This should give you some idea of the actual outcome. It is pretty amazing that the big gun battleships that until 1941 had ruled the waves were just bystanders in the battle.

 Hard to believe, but this is issue #58 of Against the Odds. ATO is a wargaming magazine whose production values are second to none. I have been a fan of ATO for some time now. Some of my favorite magazine wargames have been made by them. The actual name of the game inside this issue is Clash of Carriers: The Battle of The Philippine Sea. The designer is Mark Stille. The game itself is based off of ATO's issue #17 game Imperial Sunset.

 This issue of the magazine deals with the Battle of the Philippine Sea which was caused by the U.S. decision to invade the Marianas Islands. The Japanese knew that this invasion had to stopped or the Japanese mainland would be in the range of bombers taking off from the Marianas Islands. The magazine starts out as always with a succinct but invaluable retelling of the history of the game's battle. It is not just a primer on the battle but goes far deeper than that. Your reading of it will give you all the information you would want to know. It also comes with a list of sources used for it and the game. 

 This is what comes with the game:

Maps - One full color 22"x34" hex mapsheet

Counters - 160 large 5/8" and 160 standard 1/2" die-cut pieces

Rules length - 16 pages

Charts and tables - 8 pages

Complexity - Medium

Playing time - Up to 6 hours

How challenging is it solitaire? - Poor

Designer - Mark E. Stille

Development - Russ Lockwood

Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffe

 The articles that come with this issue are:

Clash of Carriers: by Mark Stille

Exploring a Hard Pounding Fight: Optional Rules and Ideas (This is about a game on the battle for La Haye Sainte during Waterloo. It is published by ATO's partner Turning Point Simulations.) by Paul Rohrbaugh

On Guards: How These Fish Sharpened Their Teeth (about the U.S. Submarine Fleet in WWII.) by Andy Nunez

And The Data Shows: Shooting Fish in a Barrel (About the airplane and its coming to age against Battleships) by Ed Heinsman

Thunder Gods: The Kamikaze Offensive, April 1945 by Paul Rohrbaugh

Simulation Corner: Wargames Around Taiwan: Who Won? by John Prados

The "Archive Rat" Passes by Kevin Zucker. This is a tribute to John Prados who passed last year.

The Fifth Columnist: The Hussite Wars (An upcoming game from ATO.) by John D, Burtt

 All of these articles are what you have come to expect from ATO. They are incisive and full off history and facts and figures and all of them are too short. They always leave me wanting the article to be much larger than they invariably have to be.

The Surface Battle Display (Map)

 The game components are excellent. They are just like you would find with a boxed game costing much more. The counters are especially well designed. They come with a nicely done profile of the ship or plane that they represent. The numbers that you need to play the game are large and the counters are not cluttered. The ship counters are 5/8" and the planes and informational counters are 1/2". Normally I like to play only historical wargames. However, in this case you have to go with the designer and his choice to make the USN victory conditions, as he puts it, tough. The game also comes with plenty of Optional Rules including Secret Movement. There are three scenarios included with the game. These are:

Historical Scenario

TF 58 Unleashed Scenario (This allows the USN to be unleashed from protecting the landings in the Marianas Islands.)

The Japanese Dream Scenario (All of the penalties for being untrained are taken away from the Japanese forces, among other things.)


This is a tense game for both sides, especially if you use the hidden movement rules. Because of the victory conditions and the fact that historically the USN was chained to the Marianas Islands does give the Japanese Navy a chance to pull off a big upset. Just be forewarned that playing the Japanese is a tough challenge and a draw should be considered a great outcome for you.


Thank you Against the Odds for allowing me to review another great issue and game from you.

These two have already been released by ATO:

ATO Annual: Beyond Waterloo

ATO Annual: Cruelest Month (The Airwar over Arras in 1917)

These three will be coming up from ATO:

ATO #59: Blind Faith (The Hussite Wars)

ATO Annual: Operation Roundup (Allies Invade France in 1943)

ATO #60 Cities of the Damned (Cassino and Aachen)

Do not forget to take a look at the line of games that Turning Point Simulations has to offer.

Against the Odds:

Against the Odds (

Against The Odds #58:

Against the Odds (

Turning Point Simulations:

Turning Point Simulations - Home Page


Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio & John Tiller Software  The invasion of the Japanese Home Islands st...

Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Pacific War

Japan '46


Wargame Design Studio & John Tiller Software

 The invasion of the Japanese Home Islands started with Operation Olympic. The Allies now have bases on the southern part of Kyushu. Unfortunately, the Japanese show no more signs of surrendering than before the invasion. This, contrary to Saddam, is the 'Mother of all Battles'. The Japanese are fighting tooth and nail, as was expected, for every inch of the Home Islands. The Operation named Coronet is now about to begin.

 Wargame Design Studio has really taken off in the last two years. In the beginning, they released three games in a new series called 'Panzer Battles'. This would be 'Battles of Kursk Southern Front', and 'Battles of Normandy', followed shortly after by 'Battles of North Africa'. Then they took on the role of Hercules and started a long list of labors in updating, and nearly revamping, the 'Panzer Campaigns' series of games from John Tiller Software. Once they were done turning all of those games into a 'Gold Version', complete with many new scenarios and tons of updates and fixes (especially visually), they have now turned their sights into doing the same for the 'Civil War Battles' series.

 So just like any other John Tiller Panzer Campaign game, Japan '46 is massive. These series of games do have smaller scenarios for the gamer to play, but the campaign games are really the stuff of legends. If they were board games you would have your entire table filled and then some. You would also be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome from cutting apart all of the counters. The newer games, and the updates, are very solo playing friendly with the AI tweaked as much as possible. It is almost unbelievable the amount of game and information that you get when you buy one of these games. The historical write-ups and the designer notes are enough reading for long winter nights. If you are interested in tinkering, the games all come with an editor that pretty much can change anything but the name of the game. The series all go down to single guns and tanks when deciding on the variables for combat. The information on each army is exhaustive in its depth.

 Japan '46 is a continuation of the battles for Japan that starts right after the game Japan '45 (which if you haven't picked up, why not?). Except now you will be fighting in the Kanto plain, fighting for Tokyo and other major cities. On the Allied side you now have the French and Commonwealth forces to augment the US ones. The Japanese have four full Armies along with other forces and all the Naval and Air Forces that they have been husbanding until now. The game comes with 59 scenarios. These include:

The Invasion – March 1-5
The Breakout – March 6-10
The Linkup – March 12-17
The Battle of Tokyo – April 3-15
The Battle of the Kanto Plain – April 20-26

"The 59 scenarios range from small actions such as the “Counterattack at Choshi” (19 turns) to the huge “Operation Coronet” (608 turns) covering the entire campaign. The wide variety of scenario length and size will give the players a sense of the scope of the campaign. Weather conditions range from normal to mud. The game map accurately depicts the mix of terrain types that the Allies would have encountered during the operation."

 This is a list of some of the game features:
"Game scale is 1 hex = 1 km, 1 turn = 2 hours, with battalion and company size units.
59 Scenarios – covering all sizes and situations, including specialized versions for both head to head play and vs. the computer AI.
The master map covers the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kagashima and the outlying areas to include minor islands (90,678 hexes) where Operation Coronet would have taken place.
The order of battle file covers the Allied and Japanese forces that could have taken part in the campaign with other formations added in for hypothetical situations.
Order-of-Battle and Scenario Editors which allow players to customize the game.
Sub-map feature allows the main map to be subdivided into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.
All new images for unit art on both sides, including guns and vehicles covering all of the forces of the Allied and Japanese armies involved in the operation.
Design notes which cover or include the production of the game, campaign notes, sources and a scenario list to include descriptions.
Japan ’46 provides multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet “live” play, and two player hot seat.Some sample screenshots follows;"

 One kilometer hexes with two hour turns for the invasion of the center of Japan. I am not kidding when I say that you have bought yourself a game to get lost in. Wargame Design Studio has tried to give the player many more options of scenarios than the games had before (this includes all of the games they have updated from earlier in the series). As you can see above, you can play a nineteen turn scenario all the way to the 608 turn campaign game. These games are what you think of when you are making a list to be lost on a desert isle with. Hopefully along with your computer you have the use of a solar panel array for electricity. The visuals in the game are all up to the 21st century as far as wargames, and zooming in and out is mouse wheel based. The game play is essentially the same as it was, meaning that if you played a Panzer Campaign game a few years ago you would not be lost. You will be however, surrounded by new parts of the game and hopefully notice how they have become streamlined.  

 The fighting is the same that you would have encountered in Japan '45 (and I will include a link to my review of that game). As the Allies you are fighting a desperate foe who has dug in and is awaiting you. The irresistible force has met the immovable object. Think the battles of Tarawa and Iwo Jima etc. on a grand scale. Playing as the Japanese you must plan your strategy very carefully. You do not have the material might of the Allies. If you are going to try and strike back at the Allies, make sure that your timing is perfect. You cannot afford to waste your troops in Banzai charges. The city warfare of this new game brings home battles like Stalingrad to your computer. I hope you have as much fun playing this game as I have. To be honest I have never had a John Tiller Software game that I did not like. They did seem to be getting long in the tooth, but with Wargame Design Studios help they have been given a new lease on life. Thank you both Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software for letting me review another excellent game.