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an after action report of GMT's card driven game of the ETO


by Lawrence Hung


In memory of the bombing of Hiroshima 60th anniversary, Simon and I played the 1942 scenario, which lasted 3-turns for the whole year.  The game emphasis is on the use of Operation Cards and Event Cards to conduct offensives.  The game system is very interactive and fluid in that the reaction player has every chance to react with a number of units, within the range of a Headquarter, quickly to a battle location.  So you'll see units being triggered to move at any time and thus developing small actions into large bloody battles.  Very realistic as to what was fought over.


Air units' Zone of Influence (ZOI) is another interesting concept not so often seen before. The ZOI can prohibit amphibious assault, strategic movement and tracing line of communication.  The air force is given its credit where it's due.


Movement allowance is dependent on the use of cards and thus its value as a multiplier to the basic movement rate by types.  Weather is a card in your hand of fate . . .  The intelligence war is simulated elegantly.  Every battle is a surprise attack unless modified by a reaction card or a die roll.  If successful, the battle is turned into an intercept or ambush.  The determination of intelligence state is in direct proportion to the amount of inflicted losses.


The rules are well written, albeit sometimes too lengthy, but the game concepts are generally explained well as a result.  Some rules are quite hard to understand at first e.g. Special Reaction Move vs. Amphibious Move, Joint HQ, etc.  Strangely, naval and air units cannot attack alone on their own.


On the China front, only CBI is represented in this game.  Quite a disappointment to me.  Many actions in this theatre are abstracted out simply by removing the units in China and thus reinforce the existing Japanese units on the map.  The China army stays largely in Burma to guard the rear area of the Commonwealth or that of China for that matter.


As it seems, our game of '42 was definitely not a balanced one.  The Japanese offensives were everywhere, surrounding the Allies with massive forces.  The Battle of Philippines becomes the focus of the game.  Once the Philippines had surrendered, I found the Allied helpless, especially in face of a poor War in Europe die-roll.  I had the Allies make a successful counterattack on the Marshall Islands , but there were no victory points awarded for that.  The Dutch Indies and the resource hexes are a piece of cake for the Japanese 18-12, being garrisoned with 1-6 Dutch units.  My opponent had several political cards to influence the course of the events in Europe thereby delaying the Allied reinforcements, with Turn 3 units failing to show up at all to come to rescue the Dutch.


We were new to the game and thus completed the scenario in about 5 hours.  With one map and one scenario that can be played to completion in an afternoon, we are definitely looking forward to play it again soon.


The game ended in a Japanese automatic victory for the 1942 scenario, controlling 11 out of the 14 resource hexes.  We had great fun with it.  Victory over defeat.  What a day for the Japanese!

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