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  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

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

Vento Nuovo 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

Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga by Vento Nuovo Games    Rattenkrieg; the word conjures up visions of hell on ...

Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga by Vento Nuovo Games Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga by Vento Nuovo Games

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

Vento Nuovo Games


 Rattenkrieg; the word conjures up visions of hell on earth. It speaks to us of enemies fighting and dying for yards or feet. Soldiers of both Germany and Russia collapsing exhausted meters away from each other, trying to get some sleep. Food or water, their thirst and hunger would never be able to be satisfied. It was death, plain and simple, with just a trickle of soldiers able to carry up supplies to the 'front lines'. Some houses had Russians on one floor and Germans on the next in a weird puzzle like creation. The battle has been called 'Verdun on the Volga'. This was because it was one of the few World War II battles that approached the desperate fighting for little or no gain as in the Western Front in World War I. In this review, we take a look at Vento Nuovo Games 'Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga'.

Back of the Box

 Let us first take a look at what you get with the game:

33" x 24" map of the city and it's environs
Over 130 wooden blocks and markers
More than 90 Russian and German Combat Units
Six, six-sided die
Two metal miniature planes
Rules for Solitaire and Multiplayer
Four Difficulty Levels
Two Red Draw Bags 

Rules Manual

 Like the two other games I have reviewed of Vento Nuovo's, the components are very well done. The blocks are smaller than their other games at 5/8". The map is the masterpiece of the components. It represents 30 km of the the Volga' with each hex being a huge 1.1km in size. It was made by piecing together different air reconnaissance pictures right before the storm hits the city. The area of play has 109 of these extra large hexes. The Germans control only four hexes in the beginning. The playing cards are also very well done. The are also easy to read with very well done pictures.
 The German Card Deck gives the player four different Leader cards to possibly play: Paulus, Hoth, von Richtofen, and Linden. As an example, the Hoth card gives the player the use of Combined Force Bonus and Blitz movement. 

 The Soviet Cards have three leaders: Chuikov, Zaytsev, and Khrushchev. The Chuikov card allows the Soviets to always perform Opportunity fire when defending and Soviet Hasty Attacks are now Deliberate Attacks.

The game offers FOUR different modes of play:

Solitaire (German player versus Soviet AI)
Cooperative (two German players vs Soviet AI)
Competitive:2 (German player vs Soviet Player)
Competitive:3 (two German players vs Soviet Player)

Dice etc.

 The game itself has only one scenario, but it does have some 'what if' changes to troops, etc. This will make it either easier or harder for each player or solitaire play. The game is big and the rules try to add as much history and flavor as they are able to. However, this is not a monster game in length or rules. Game play was designed with a one hour gaming session in mind. So this is a players game, not a stare at the board for an hour before each move. The rule book itself is only twenty pages long. It is in full color and uses large type so it is easy to read. The rules are explained well and are simple, yet let us use a word used to describe other VN games: elegant. The designer describes his long fascination with the battle of Stalingrad. He also goes into detail about the numerous sources he has used to make the game. 

This is the turn sequence of play:
1. Call for Reinforcements
2. Make One Long Movement
3. Make up to Two Short Movements
4. Make One Hasty Attack
5. Make One Deliberate Attack 

Blocks from both sides

 The Germans have a chance to win the game, just don't dawdle like they did once they first got to the city. L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. Get to the Volga' as quickly as possible. For the Russians, it is the complete opposite. Do not waste your troops. Dig in and let the Germans come to you. Only counterattack when it is absolutely necessary, or you see that your enemy has made a mistake you can take advantage of. The game achieves its design in being a fast paced game that you could probably play though a few times on game night.

Wooden play aids

 These are the victory conditions for both sides:
German Decisive Victory:
A.The Germans control all six Soviet Spawn Hexes OR
B. There are no Soviet Units on the mapboard

Soviet Decisive Victory:
A. 10 German Units (each of the five Units marked 'R' count double) OR
B. Immediately when the last Card is drawn from the Soviet deck

Draw bags

 The game has so many different ways to play. You can play: Easy German Level, Easy Soviet Level, Impossible German Level. There are also additional rules that the designer recommends to play with. The game lists the solo mode as having a 'Soviet AI'. Unlike most games, this one can actually boast of this. Many times, games are built from the ground up as a two-player game, and then have a solo mode tacked on at the end. The short easy to understand rules will have you playing in no time. Your first few games will naturally take longer, but the later ones will be just as advertised. Vento Nuovo Games has been able to take a large complex battle and tame it to simple to follow rules. However, they have not made it a 'beer and pretzels' game. It is deep and full of historical flavor. 'Un bellissimo e bellisimo gioco'. Google translate gave me two different versions, so I hope it works. Unfortunately, all I know is Italian swear words.


Moscow 41 by Vento Nuovo Games  In July 1941, Smolensk fell to Germany's Army Group Center. The Germans were a...

Moscow 41 by Vento Nuovo Games Moscow 41 by Vento Nuovo Games

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

Vento Nuovo Games


 In July 1941, Smolensk fell to Germany's Army Group Center. The Germans were already two thirds of the way to Moscow. German Field Marshal von Bock was thinking he would be the one who would be the conqueror of Moscow. The only problem was that Hitler wasn't really interested in capturing Moscow, and Stalin might have something to say about it also. The game is a two player game (it also plays well in solitaire) about the second half of Operation Barbarossa. One player commands the Soviets in their desperate attempt to, if not stop, at least slow the German advance. The other player takes over the German troops trying to finish the Russian Campaign before the Russian allies 'Generals Mud and Winter' can come to their aid.

Map Portion and Blocks

 The first game I reviewed for Vento Nuovo Games was 'Bloody Monday' about another invasion of Russia one hundred and twenty-nine years earlier. Like the other game, Moscow 41 is a block wargame. In this game you get to fight over the same exact places, along with others, that were fought over in 1812. The Russian player has to trade blood and mileage to slow the German juggernaut. The German player also has to worry about the campaigns to the North and South of him, as the other two German Army Groups try to take Leningrad and Kiev.  So the German player does not act in a vacuum. As it was historically, Hitler's obsession with Kiev and Leningrad made Army group Center's job much harder, if not impossible, before the weather interfered. 

Close up of Soviet Units

 What do you actually get with the game? Here is the list:

 A heavy card-stock map that is 64cm x 86cm
 120 wooden blocks and the stickers for them
 100 other wooden pieces
 Two player Guides
 Two Setup and Information guides

 You can purchase the following for the game:
 Mounted Map
 Gore-Tex Map
 Metal Miniature Bombers
 Extra Blocks and stickers etc. 

Close Up of German Commander Units

 The game comes with four scenarios; these are:

 Beyond The Dnieper - July
 Operation Typhoon - October to December
 The Wehrmacht's Last Gasp - November  to  December
 The Road To Moscow - Campaign Scenario 

Germans ready to strike

 This is the sequence of play:

1. Logistics Phase
2. Impulses Phase
 A. Strategic Impulse
 B. Tactical Impulse
  A. HQ Activation
  B. Command Segment
  C. Combat Segment
  D.  Blitz Segment
  E. Deactivation Segment
  F. Exploitation Movement
 C. Pass
3. Final Phase

German Bombers helping in an attack

 The scale of the game is 1cm of the map equals 10km. The game turns represent one month. Besides the unit blocks there are also 'defensive lines' that are represented by rectangular blocks.

Soviet Order Of Battle

 There are two ways to win the campaign scenario. A 'Sudden Death' victory is if either player has seven victory points. There are five 'victory areas' (Smolensk, Tula, Orel, Voronezh, and Moscow), and two victory boxes Leningrad, and Kiev. The other scenarios have you either taking or keeping Moscow or two other locations on the map to decide victory.

German Order Of Battle

 The Logistics Phase can only be performed at the beginning of turn two ( there is no Logistics Phase on the first turn). You can either choose to activate your leader (Hitler or Stalin), or declare a Logistics Phase. The replacement and losses on the block units are done by the usual method of turning the blocks themselves clockwise or counter-clockwise to the appropriate strength on the block.

  The rulebook is only nineteen pages long, without the scenario information. It is in full color and large type. The player without the initiative disk is the first to setup his units at game start, but he is the first to decide what to do in the Logistics Phase starting on turn two. The player who has the initiative disk plays the first impulse of the turn. The player with the initiative disk can also decide if he wants to play a Strategic Impulse; this would include calling for reinforcements etc. There are also rules covering artillery fire, isolation, and Soviet anti-aircraft fire. The games rules are easy to understand and the player quickly becomes used to the sequence of play. With the shorter rules and the game being so visually appealing, you might think that you have bought 'Russian Front Lite'. In this you would be very mistaken. The game is actually very deep, and puts the player into the generals' historic shoes. The game attempts, and succeeds, in making almost every choice of the player a nail-biter. As the German, do you go full bore and hope your logistics hold? As the Soviet, in the beginning of the game you can really only react to the Germans. In the latter part of the game the Russian player has more options.

 The one word I have seen consistently in write ups about Moscow 41 is 'elegant'. I could not agree more. Vento Nuovo Games are not only made to high standards, but the rules are also very well done. I am really looking forward to reviewing 'Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga'.