March 4, 2024

First Impressions ~ Valor & Victory: Pacific

Marc M, 10 December 2023

Interested in some engaging tactical warfare in the Pacific theater? Valor & Victory: Pacific is worth a look.

The launch screen for Valor & Victory: Pacific showing U S Marines in a firefight with Japanese forces.
Valor & Victory: Pacific is the fifth DLC for the 2021 game Valor & Victory.

click images to enlarge

 

It’s the fifth and latest DLC for the base game Valor & Victory, a 2021 tactical wargame from developer Yobowargames and publisher Matrix Games. V&V: Pacific released December 5, 2023.
My first impression?
I haven’t typically sought out battles in the Pacific arena, but this DLC might help change that. It’s a fun, engaging addition to the V&V series with new content that caught my interest right away.

V&V: Pacific maintains a fairly impressive pace of DLC releases:

  • Valor & Victory: Stalingrad in February 2022
  • Valor & Victory: Shield of Cholm in July 2022
  • Valor & Victory: Arnhem in September 2022
  • Valor & Victory: Kursk in September 2023

In other words, there’s been some pretty strong ongoing support for the series since its initial release.

The launch screen for Valor & Victory showing an illustration of US soldiers in a firefight.
Of course, you’ll need the base game Valor & Victory to play the Pacific DLC.

 

Valor & Victory

As a reminder to those who haven’t played Valor & Victory recently (and a quick introduction to those the Pacific theater has drawn to the series) Valor & Victory is a squad-level tactical computer game based on a board game from designer Barry Doyle. You command squads, half-squads, leaders, snipers, as well as individual tanks, self-propelled guns, armored cars and transports. Add to that the typical selection of support weapons and anti-tank guns, as well as off-board mortars, artillery and air strikes. There’s a lot of stuff to do.

 

What You Get

Okay, so with introductions and reintroductions out of the way, what do you get “in the box” with V&V: Pacific? I guess it goes without saying (but I’ll say it and get it out of the way) that V&V: Pacific requires the base game to play, but it adds to that base game 12 pre-built scenarios covering battles between US, Australian, British and Japanese forces from March to October of 1942, along with one engagement between the Chinese Expeditionary Force and Japanese forces. There’s even support from rifle squads from Papua New Guinea. Notable units and weapons include:

An allied order of battle with leaders, Marines, support weapons and off-board mortars and artillery.
As you should expect, the Marines figure heavily into the Allied OOBs.

 

On the Allied Side

  • US Marines
  • Australian rifle squads
  • Papuan infantry
  • Chinese Expeditionary Force rifle squads
  • US M3A1 Stuart light tanks
  • Chinese T-26 tanks

 

A Japanese order of battle with leaders, rifle squads, support weapons and tanks.
Light and medium tanks from the Japanese army are some of the interesting additions to the Axis forces.

 

On the Axis Side

  • Japanese rifle squads
  • Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks
  • Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tanks

And while you’d probably expect these units in a Pacific theater game (I’ll admit I didn’t expect the Soviet-made tanks) it’s still a nice counter mix to see. And the idea of tank battles in the jungle is interesting to me.

 

The Map Boards

Let’s talk about the map boards a bit. They look good. The new jungle terrain and huts are a nice change from the typical forests, grasslands and buildings (as are the jungle sound effects that add just a touch of immersion). And there are hills, river hexes and a night map

The maps represent key locations like Guadalcanal and Papua, New Guinea

Several orange counters representing Japanese forces south of a river on a game board.
Japanese forces are poised to cross the Matanikau River on Guadalcanal.

 

 

Counters representing Japanese forces at the north and south edges of a darkened map.
Japanese forces prepare to move on a nighttime map of Lunga Ridge, Guadalcanal.

 

 

Counters representing Japanese forces on the western edge of a map of Papua, New Guinea.
Units from the Japanese 144th Infantry Division prepare to attack Allied positions in Papua New Guinea.

 

Again, no surprises really, but the key here is, as with the new units, you’re getting more variety, more options and more replay value for the base game.

 

The scenario load screen for Valor & Victory: Pacific.
Valor and Victory: Pacific offers 12 scenarios featuring America, Japanese, British, Australian, Papuan and Chinese forces.

 

 

Into Action

Now let’s get into the scenarios. I really enjoy playing tactical wargames, but let me say up front, I’ve got some room for improvement so my performance with the first two scenarios wasn’t stellar. It was fun, but humbling.

Counters representing British troops and tanks at the north edge of a game map.
The 7th Hussars prepare to move on the village of Payagyi, Burma.

 

I started with 7th Hussars in the Jungle. I’m kind of a linear person and it is the first scenario. Plus, as I mentioned before, I find the ideas of tank battles in jungle terrain intriguing and this scenario pits a half-dozen M3 Honeys against three Type 95s (and four anti-tank guns). I jumped into this scenario quickly, playing as the Allies, just to get a feel for the new terrain and units. The gameplay was fast and fun. The tank engagements were as interesting as I thought they’d be, and the jungle terrain gave a nice feel to the difficulties of movement and line of sight. While I’m probably not a good enough tactician to make a complete judgement on the computer’s play, I found it challenging. Very challenging. It demolished me. I got carried away looking after my tanks and was left with no infantry. And then I was left with no tanks.

Counters representing Chinese Expeditionary Forces on the western edge of a map board.
Elements of the Chinese Expeditionary Force prepares to advance on Japanese positions near Toungoo, Burma.

 

But like I said, the first scenario was just to try things out and have fun. And I did. For the next scenario I left the linear behind, skipped most of ‘42 and chose Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma from 1943. I wanted something different and Chinese forces with Soviet-made tanks fit the bill. I planned ahead. I tried to keep my forces together better and make good use of those T-26s.

 

Counters representing the Chinese Expeditionary Force engaged with Japanese forces in jungle terrain.
Turn three and I’ve already lost half of my T-26s. I’ve got a lot to learn.

 

I just wasn’t prepared for the damage a Type 29 mortar could do to a 1933-era tank. And that jungle terrain I mentioned a couple of times before? It kept me from getting any kind of firepower on the mortar.

I got demolished again.

The end-of-game screen showing the defeat of the Chinese Expeditionary Force.
Not a stellar performance.

 

Long Story Short

I’ve just taken a few stabs at V&V: Pacific, enough to get interested in the different OOBs, see the new terrain and go a few rounds against the computer. And even though I lost spectacularly, I had a great time. I’ll be back…not just because I want to prove I can learn from my mistakes, but because I want to try out more of the new units, learn how to effectively use the jungle as cover and feel engaged in those battles. And I want to learn more about the Pacific theater. Most of my wargaming experience has been set in Europe and Russia to this point. Valor & Victory: Pacific is an education and a breath of fresh air for me. I think it makes a great addition to the series, and it’s priced to make it well worth a look.

 


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