Counter clippers got nothing
on Kenneth Cruz and his magnetized set. Magnetizing a game as
large as this is a major time investment but does make it sneeze
and bump proof.
This event has always been more
of a glorified playtest than a tournament, but to each their
own. It is certainly unique and logs more endurance hours than
any other WBC event.
Making the Transition to A World
At War ...
This year 22 people attended the tournament, which featured
five full campaign games. For the first time in recent memory,
one game actually finished in both theaters, while one game finished
in Europe, with a few turns to go in the Pacific. The final outcome
was pretty clear in each of the five. Many people stopped by
to discuss the games, and several participated in a demo of the
Coral Sea scenario, which introduces players to the naval combat
Eric Thobaben was
awarded the plaque. This match, between Eric Thobaben and Steve
Voros as Allies, and Ken Cruz and Bruce Harper as Axis, was a
draw in the European Theater, and a one point Allied victory
in the Pacific. Ken drove far into Russia, but Eric managed to
come back, activating Turkey in the process and creating a major
distraction in Rumania. Bruce achieved a naval DRM for Japan,
a feat many thought impossible, and fought a massive naval battle
with Steve involving six task forces on both sides. Steve pulled
out a win by invading China and bombing Japan into submission
from the mainland.
The tournament provided a good forum for playing with the
new rules for Russia (Russian surprise, Russian winter), as well
as rules to reduce excessive Axis casualties prior to the fall
of France, research changes to reduce frustration over low rolls
on crucial long-term projects, and a variety of Pacific and sub
warfare changes designed to make the Pacific more interesting
to play. The general consensus was that the changes worked well.
Russia gets hammered in 1941, but can usually survive 1942 as
she did historically. The research changes were invoked only
occasionally. Pacific naval combat was more interesting and more
frequent. In the game that finished, the result was a tie in
Europe, and a one turn victory by the Allies in the Pacific.
That's about as balanced a result as one could expect (short
of a tie in both theaters!).
Bruce Harper, the game designer, suggested only minor changes.
The changes motivated by the end game in Europe were as follows:
(1) Prohibit the stockpiling of submarines or transports. In
one game, nine German u-boats made their first appearance in
1944. Now they must appear on the force card each year. (2) Remove
Russo-Allied cooperation restrictions if the Allies control Berlin,
so that the Berchtesgaden redoubt can be reduced without resort
to nuclear weapons!
In the Pacific, the most interesting proposal was to make
the limitation for building ASW, destroyers and transports apply
to ALL major powers, and to remove submarines from this category.
Thus Japan, Germany and Italy are now also subject to spending
no more than half (rounded up) of their shipbuilding in this
way. Japan is the most affected by this. The objective was to
remove some of the scripting from Japanese pre-war shipbuilding
(since everyone always built destroyers with any spare SBPs),
and motivate the Japanese to build more capital ships, as they
did historically. In compensation, the Japanese start with more
transports now (20, rather than 18), and don't have to send destroyers
with the Pearl Harbor strike force. In addition, the Japanese
are given one extra RP per year for intelligence-only projects,
as many players neglected these, and investing in some of these
projects increases game variability and makes Japan more interesting.
As a counter-balance, the Indian and Chinese national army force
pools have been capped well below the number of counters provided.
Other adjustments included preventing the proliferation of airbases
in New Guinea, and letting the Thai units enter enemy territory,
but not attack enemy forces (i.e., they can walk into an undefended
On a final note, satisfied with the stability and balance
of the game, Bruce is planning to start work on the prelude to
A World at War, titled Gathering Storm. This will be a short
game lasting around two hours, which will allow players to explore
alternate diplomatic, research, shipbuilding and mobilization
strategies in the years leading up to the war. This will let
players begin with varying starting situations.