Author Topic: The Fires of Midway  (Read 253 times)

Silent Disapproval Robot

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on: December 05, 2019, 04:57:52 PM
I picked this game up a week ago as I'm still on the lookout for a good, tactical level carrier-centric wargame that covers the early war naval battles with an emphasis on searching and then striking the opposing fleet.  This one is light but it was a lot of fun.

We played the Coral Sea scenario which sees the USS Lexington and Yorktown under Adm. Fletcher going up against Adm Takagi's Zuikaku and Shokaku carriers along with the light carrier Shoho.  I played as Japan.

The first phase of the game is the search phase.  It's quite abstracted but engaging.  You make up a 6x5 grid of cards that are placed face down and each player takes a turn secretly looking at two and then revealing one. The US player gets to go first to simulate US codebreaking.   The cards are labelled with such titles as "Empty ocean" or "Low clouds" or "Wake spotted".  Each card apart from empty ocean has an effect such as placing a weather system on the map or allowing the player to draw combat cards into their starting hand.  Hidden within the grid are 3 cards labelled "Enemy Fleet Spotted".  Whoever reveals the 3rd card has spotted the enemy fleet first and becomes the confident player.  The other player becomes the desperate player.  The Confident player has the initiative but suffers from a lower hand size and must also adhere to doctrine as defined by their admiral's card.  In this scenario, if Fletcher is confident, any US strike group must include Devastator torpedo bombers as part of the package.  If Takagi is confident, the Japanese player must press the attack over conducting damage control.  I won the search phase and thus became the confident player.     

Once the search phase is over, the battle map is set up and each carrier is placed on it.  the confident player places all his carriers first followed by the desperate player.  Players can then move each carrier one zone.  During our search phase, only one weather system was generated (low clouds) which I placed near my deployment zone.  I moved the Zuikaku into the clouds to make it harder to locate.  I them moved the Shokaku and Shoho towards the US carriers.  Japanese planes have much longer range than US ones so my plan was to keep my carriers far enough away from the US that they'd have troubles reaching me whereas I'd still be able to hit them and return.  The US player was trying to close the distance and sent his carriers straight towards the Shokaku.

Turn order is determined via a card deck.  Players draw cards equal to the number of carriers they have and assign one card to each carrier.  The cards are numbered from 1 to X (X being the number of carriers in the game, in this case 5) and each carrier conducts operations in numerical order.  Once cards are assigned, the confident player can then swap on of his cards with one belonging to his opponent.   Lower number cards let you act first but lower the number of air groups you can launch in a strike.  I drew 1, 3, and, 5 whereas the US took 2 and 4.  I decided to gamble and swap my 3 card for his 5 card so that I could launch bigger strike groups, hoping that the range would prevent him from effectively hitting me.

Shoho went first and launched a strike against the Lexington.  Because the Shoho is a smaller escort carrier, it only has three air groups on it, 2 Zeroes and one Kate torpedo bomber.  I sent the Kates up with one Zero squadron as escort.  The range was 3 zones but I still hadn't pinpointed the exact location of the US carriers (winning the search phase only gives you a general location) so the effective range became 4 zones.  Each type of plane has a fuel rating (4 for Vals and Kates, 5 for Zeros, 2 for Devastators, Wildcats and Buffaloes, 3 for Avengers and Dauntlesses carrying 1000lb bombs, 4 for 500lb Dauntlesses, 5 for B-26s, 7 for B-17s).  You flip a card over for each zone you have to fly through and add up the number of fuel tank icons revealed.  (0-2 per card).  If you equal or exceed your plane's fuel rating, that plane's card is flipped to its reduced side. 

I drew 4 fuel tanks and thus had to flip my Kate over to its reduced side but the Zeroes were still fine.  I then flipped over the Lexington counter to its spotted side and we began the engagement phase.  The player under attack attempts to spot the incoming raid and rolls 1d6 per carrier in the zone.  If they roll less than or equal to the number of plane groups in the incoming strike, the raid is spotted and the player can either scramble one fighter group as CAP or draw two more cards.  The US player can reroll on die to simulate better radar.  The Americans succeeded in detecting my raid and scrambled some Wildcats.

The Zeroes an the Wildcats clashed.  Each player secretly chooses one card from his deck (assembled during the search phase).  The combat decks consist of cards that provide advantages in air combat, fleet defence, and bombing/torpedo attacks.  There's also a bluff card that always stays in your hand.  We both chose cards that cancelled the other player's card so it was a wash.  Each fighter plane is given a number of dice to simulate its combat effectiveness.  The Zero gets 3 dice and the Wildcat gets 2  (cards can add additional dice and/or subtract dice from your opponent).  Each player rolls their dice pool and whoever has the die with the highest number wins.  (if both players high die is the same, the player with doubles wins.  If it's still a tie, the CAP wins over the attacker).  Each plane is also rated for firepower (WIldcats are a 2, Zeroes are a 3) and you get to roll that many dice.  You then look at the damage track on the enemy plane's data card and chose one die from your pool that corresponds with the effect you want to inflict on the enemy plane.  For example, the Wildcat's damage track is:
1,2,3 = no damage, 4-5 = damage and flip to reduced side, 6=destroyed).  Japanese planes are much more fragile than American ones (except the Devastator which is complete garbage in all areas).  Planes on the reduced side are much more likely to be destroyed than unreduced planes. 

I manged to reduce the Wildcat and tie up the CAP so that the Kates could make their attack run.  This follows a similar procedure where each player chooses a card and generates a dice pool but the defender is now using the AAA rating for his carrier.  The US player won this contest and got to roll damage against my Kates.  As they were already reduced, they were pretty easy to knock out and they got destroyed before they could launch torpedoes.

Surviving planes then have to return to their carriers.  Unreduced planes automatically return safely (unless your carrier has since moved into a squall) but reduced planes have to make a roll or they are forced to ditch on their return (unless they roll a 1 in which case they crash during landing and can damage the carrier).

The US was up next and the Yorktown launched a Wildcat and two Dauntlesses armed with 500lb bombs against the Shokaku.  Effective range was 5 and all US planes arrived short of fuel and were therefore reduced.  I missed my spotting roll though and therefore had no CAP up in defence.  Both Dauntlesses survived my AAA (Japanese AAA sucks) and dropped bombs.  The first attack missed and the second only managed to inflict minor damage (one fire started on the flight deck).  The Wildcats and one flight of Dauntlesses ran out of fuel on the return and had to ditch in the sea.

I was able to put the fire out and launch my strike against the Lexington.  I put up 2 Kates, a Val, and a Zero.  Made it without getting low on fuel.  The Zero tied up the CAP and I was able to launch 3 attacks.  I started with the Val and nailed the Lex, causing 2 critical hits and starting two infernos.  One Kate got shot up by AAA and missed its torpedo run but the second nailed the Lex with 2 torps causing 2 more crits and flooding.  The Lex was forced to flip to its crippled side.

The Lex was up next and wisely selected damage control for his turn.  That let him draw two cards, move one zone away (and flip back to unspotted) and begin repairs.  He fought fires to turn an inferno into a fire and also turned a flood into a leak. 

I sent the Zuikaku's strike against the Yorktown and had similar results.  I managed to cripple it but lost a Kate in the process. 

At the end of each carrier's turn, each player can choose to do one of three things.  they can draw cards up to their hand limit (7 for the confident player, 9 for the desperate player), they can recover and launch CAP, or they can do minor damage control.  I was out of cards so I drew up.  The Yanks continued putting out fires.

Once all carriers have gone, each damaged carrier must roll a number of dice depending on the amount of damage suffered to see if damage on their carrier gets worse.  1d6 for each fire and leak, 2d6 for each inferno, and 3d6 for each flood.  For each die that's equal or higher to your carrier's damage control rating, you take a crit and lose a bulkhead.  If this reaches 6 crits, your carrier sinks.  US carriers are rated at 5 while in good condition and 4 while crippled.  Japanese are 5 or 4 and then 1, 2, or 3, depending on the specific carrier.  The US also gets to re-roll as many dice as they wish once per check (better damage control).  The US used their re-rolls to save both carriers for another turn.

We both figured the US was toast after turn one but this didn't prove to be the case.  The game went on for 4 more turns and I just couldn't manage to finish them off due to their god-damned damage control abilities

I lost the Shoho on turn two.  I kept hammering away at the US carriers and got them to the brink of death but it wasn't until turn 5 that I managed to sink both of them.  They got off one last raid before going down and hit the Zuikaku.  It was still in good condition although damaged when the final strike hit but I took 3 infernos and then rolled 3 6's which gave me 6 crits and it sank.   I'd also lost nearly all of my aircraft do AAA fire, CAP, and ditching and the US player managed to win by a single point even though they were wiped out.  The Shokaku limped home with only 2 of her 6 air wings intact along with the orphaned CAP from the Zuikaku.

Fun game!  Looking forward to playing it again next week.





BanzaiCat

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Reply #1 on: December 05, 2019, 05:03:01 PM
See, add a few photos and you have a front page review, or first look at the very least, here.  :bigthumb:



bbmike

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Reply #2 on: December 05, 2019, 05:09:51 PM
True dat.

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Silent Disapproval Robot

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Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 05:10:24 PM
Didn't take any pics during the play session.  Wasn't really thinking about it.  Also, we were on the small table at the FLGS so things were pretty cramped and would've looked like a hot mess.



BanzaiCat

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Reply #4 on: December 05, 2019, 05:22:30 PM
This is a card game, right? It sounds familiar. And no I do not own it. (cough) yet.



Silent Disapproval Robot

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Reply #5 on: December 05, 2019, 05:56:31 PM
Yeah, mainly cards.  There’s a map where you move your carrier groups around and you use dice for combat but most of the game is card driven.



Silent Disapproval Robot

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Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 09:16:21 PM















Staggerwing

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Reply #7 on: December 06, 2019, 09:41:52 PM
I really like the vintage look of the game art.  :bigthumb:

Vituð ér enn - eða hvat?  -Voluspa


BanzaiCat

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Reply #8 on: December 06, 2019, 10:11:34 PM
I like the art too, but not the font choice.



Silent Disapproval Robot

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Reply #9 on: December 07, 2019, 02:55:00 AM
Heh.  Some of the guys at the FLGS were also making jokes about the font.  Something about papyrus and SNL but I guess the joke is over my head.  I think it looks great.





bayonetbrant

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Reply #10 on: December 07, 2019, 07:59:59 AM
Heh.  Some of the guys at the FLGS were also making jokes about the font.  Something about papyrus and SNL but I guess the joke is over my head.  I think it looks great.


The typeface on the Japanese ship names is called "Papyrus" and it's generally looked down on by a lot of designers because it's overused by non-designers doing things like church bulletins or flyers for college mixers, because it ships standard with most MS Office installs and looks "exotic"


Pretty sure the US ships are using some form of Bodoni as their typeface, but I'd need to look it up to know for sure.


Yes, this is the kind of stuff of graphic design nerds pay attention to.


The SNL skit....

Random acts of genius and other inspirations of applied violence.


Staggerwing

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Reply #11 on: December 07, 2019, 08:17:07 AM
That's funny

Vituð ér enn - eða hvat?  -Voluspa