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Board Game Review: ‘Pacific ’42: Admiral’ from MWE

Pacific ’42: Admiral from MWE combines the thrilling scenario of the Pacific theater of World War Two with direct strategic play. The result is a fast-paced game. Many war-simulation games become complicated very quickly, doing their best to emulate the intricate details of combat, with positions, morale, matériel, economics, and more. Pacific 1942 plays more like a game of chess, with thought-out maneuvers and fast devastation. The simple pieces transcend language, and an English translation of the rules allows players to quickly overcome any barrier to learning the game.

A game of Pacific ’42 begins with assembling a map from the board pieces, which consist of six hexagonal tiles. Each piece offers a different collection of open sea spaces, storms, islands, mines, and more. Replay value is high, with so many combinations of the board pieces, and having different sides to the pieces allows for customization. Players who prefer more dangerous battlegrounds can fight through storms and avoid mines. Players who would rather go for fast, point-grabbing games can set up with open seas and islands for the taking.

Pacific ’42 begins with players determining who will be the Japanese admiral and who the American admiral. Like the player with the white pieces in chess, the Japanese admiral always goes first. This allows for clarity in strategy, with the second player already prepared to react or counterattack, prompting a savvy first player to already be planning the third turn.

Unlike chess, Pacific 1942 stands out with further customization. Players may tailor their fleets to their liking. They have 12 Battle Units available that act as points they can place in battleships, aircraft carriers, and troopships. Players can invest their points into singular ships, gaining a strong, small fleet, or they might spread the points out to have a far-reaching, if easily sinkable, fleet. There are no repairs nor new construction, meaning strategies will need to be laid out upfront.

Each turn, the active player is able to move ships and attack. Battles are easy, just a roll of the dice with an option to re-roll at risk of making a lower roll. Only attacking does damage, again like chess where the constant pressure is to deal damage. However, the goal of Pacific ’42 is to gain victory points. While these may be gained by sinking ships, players may gain three times as many points by seizing islands. This leads to a clever balance of strategy between island-hopping and naval warfare.

Pacific ’42: Admiral is a combat board game for two players aged eight and up. It is a relatively quick game, lasting 20 to 30 minutes for fast-moving players. Players who prefer to take their time may extend this, working to find the optimal route for their fleet to seize unguarded islands or exact a brutal onslaught. With the game’s extensive customization, players will return often to perfect their strategies and test new ideas.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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