June 14, 2021

Armchair Dragoons’ First Look at WarPlan Pacific from Matrix Games

Mike Colello, 22 April 2021

WarPlan Pacific is the second game in the WarPlan series from Matrix Games, and like its (European theater) predecessor, is an operational level wargame. WarPlan Pacific covers the entire Pacific theater from December 1941 to 1945 and includes all nations involved.  According to Matrix Games, the game is built on the game system as WarPlan Europe but with additional features and improvements. So, that all sounds promising, but can WarPlan Pacific really be an oasis in a desert of WWII Pacific theater computer wargames? Let find out.

click images to enlarge

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WarPlan Pacific Main Menu

The first positive sign appears in the Main Menu screen. It looks like there is an Editor included with the game! Not only that, but I also see an Options choice as well. Of course, those are just buttons on a menu. If I click on them, will I really find anything useful?

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WarPlan Pacific Editor Screen

 

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WarPlan Pacific Editor Screen

The answer is absolutely, yes! The Editor allows you to load and edit an existing campaign or scenario, or you can choose to start from scratch. More exploration will be required, but it looks like you can edit just about everything, even some of the event scripting. And the Options menu? It does not disappoint. Here you can choose things like which counter set to use, what counter information is displayed, game speed options, etc. It even looks like you can change the size of the game text, something us older wargamers appreciate. Now, about those existing campaign and scenarios. Let’s take a look.

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WarPlan Pacific Editor Screen

The very first thing to catch my eye is that you can play hotseat. Yes, hotseat. I promise not to get on my soapbox, but every computer strategy game should have hotseat play. Thank you, Alvaro Sousa. The game includes two full campaigns and three scenarios. You can play either as the Axis or the Allies. It is also possible to adjust the difficulty of the game by changing the bonuses the computer player receives. These bonuses change the strength of the computer’s units as well as its supply and logistics. It should be noted that it is recommended, for the best experience, you play as the Allies in a single player campaign.

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WarPlan Pacific Main Screen

Time to jump into the main campaign and take a look around. The game scale is huge as you can tell. Note the white crosshairs in the minimap compared to where you are on the main map. The map uses a modified Mercator scale and each hex represents 50 miles/80km. As a self-confessed WWII Pacific theater junkie, I wondered how this compared to similar board games. Yes, this game plays like a board game, so the comparison will be made. The WarPlan Pacific game map is 100 hexes tall by 197 hexes wide. The board games I picked to compare that to:

  • Empire of the Sun – 30 hexes tall by 45 hexes wide
  • UNS Deluxe – 34 hexes tall by 49 hexes wide
  • World in Flames (Pacific map) – 53 hexes tall by 63 hexes wide

So the map in WarPlan Pacific is twice as large as those Pacific wargames. “But wait,” you say. “What about the computer game War in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition? How does it compare to that?” Don’t be silly, that is THE monster of all Pacific wargames. Its map is way bigger than WarPlan Pacific’s, but it would take you as long as to play WitP:AE as WWII itself took. WarPlan Pacific plays much faster. And for the record, WitP:AE’s map is 200 hexes tall by 227 wide. I know, I looked.

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A look at the map zoomed all the way out. The map includes 15 terrain types, the presence of Fog of War, and 5 different weather conditions.

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NATO counters
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Silhouette counters

As mentioned above, you can choose to play with either NATO style counters or silhouette style counters. Although, it does appear that not all of the counters in the NATO set are NATO style.

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Naval Loop – US West Coast
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Naval Loop – Australia

To make it a bit easier to move your units around on such a large map, the game includes what are called a ‘Naval Loops’. For example, if you look at the image above (Naval Loop – US West Coast), if a ship leaves the US west coast and enters the hex with the arrow labeled ‘Australia’, it will appear in the area shown in the second image (Naval Loop – Australia) in a turn or two.

 

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Finally, a look at one of the units from the game. In this case, it is a Japanese land unit preparing to spend 4 Operation points to move. Note the unit information in the box in the upper left screen corner. I should also mention that the game makes great use tool tips when you hover over items.

 

WarPlan Pacific does look like it will be a great game and it has all the main ingredients to be one:

  • Production takes into account oil, manpower, logistics, strategic resources, trade agreements, and convoy zones. You can protect and attack convoy.
  • The Supply system simulates the difficulties of supplying your troops and considers cities, railways, ports, and HQs.
  • Operation Points allow you to move and attack with your forces. Land units have more operation points and conduct more moves and attacks. Air and naval units have two operation points but can move at much greater range. Operation points can be increased as the game progresses.
  • Diplomatic options are available in both campaigns.
WarPlan Pacific
Publisher: Matrix Games
Developer: Kraken Studios
Designer: Alvaro Sousa
Product page

I hope you have enjoyed this first look at WarPlan Pacific. There is a lot more about WarPlan Pacific to be discovered through actual gameplay and I hope to follow up soon with more information and full review after I spend more time with it. Thank you to Matrix Games for providing Armchair Dragoons with a preview copy.

WarPlan Pacific releases on 29 April 2021 and will be available for purchase on the Matrix Games store only.
The game will be released on Steam a few months after that.

 


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