The truly eternal Empire of the a wargame; a review by Bruce Geryk

From Bruce Geryk’s review:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Yes! All of this!

This review has just confirmed EotS absolutely obsoletes Mark Herman’s own Pacific War. Anyone interested in my Pacific War copy? :p

Great review, Bruce!

I’m starting to try to re-learn and get better at EotS with the release of the new edition. If anyone else is inspired to start learning the game, I put together a resource page at BGG a couple of weeks ago:

Great review! I have only four issues with the game; two minor and two historical.

Minor 1. “Swingy dice”. There has to be a better mechanic to get a Midway than “swingy dice” (That is a @Brooski in-game invented term).

Minor 2. Cards Drive a bit too much. Strategic Planning? Nice discussion of it, but planning a bit too fragmented by the nature of card play in the game.

A counter-mechanic which flows with the theme of the game (a card-based solution) could mitigate the above two really easily.

Historical 1. ADBA. There is no way ABDA would have existed post-surrender of Singapore. Period. The ability of the US to reinforce Java because ABDA is there post Fall of Singapore may aid game balance, but is abjectly ahistorical. No amount of hand-waving can chase this fact away.

Historical 2. China, Burma and India on Rails. Even having CBI on map, given all the “if/and/or/but” restrictions on Japanese movement there is pointless. It’s basically a political game, driven by those Cards wearing Driver’s goggles again. It’d probably be best if it was completely abstracted, instead of hand-wavingly half-abstracted.

Having said all that, the designers’ decades of “under the hood” operational and tactical-level research on the conflict shines through in this Grand Strategic game. My favorite gem. Ranges. The ranges of the HQs, Ports, air bases, etc, are intricately constructed and subtly make places like Port Moresby, Guadalcanal, Wotje, etc. important in a very basic sense because of the distances & ranges of aircraft and ships. No “VP dollops” to make a location important. It is important because of it’s utility in the grand scheme of things. That is a mark of a beautiful, elegant game. It’s a four star, not a five star for me, but hey, what do I know.

Oooh, does the game include that nice wooden box? I’d probably buy it just for that!

Now that I think about it, the last time I played a carrier based game was Carriers at War 1941-1945: Fleet Carrier Operations in the Pacific On the C=64 in 1984…


“force the historical mindset on the Allied player tha[t] an invasion of Japan had to [be] contemplated and planned for”

All right! My copy finally arrived!

I’ve been looking to play this for ages. Did a couple solo turns and got a friend (who has never played wargames) to try it as a pbemail game (we might do a live session or two, depends on schedule).

The little I played I really liked. Rules seem pretty simple and with not too many exceptions. And the replacement schedule seems brutal for the Japanese.

Btw, the latest three moves ahead podcast has Bruce talking even more about the game.

Hands down, this is one of the best and most challenging and interesting games I have ever played. It can be totally immersive and wonderfully combines strategy, operations, intelligence, and politics, among other things. Buy it and indulge yourself. You won’t regret it.

I wish the iOS version of this would’ve panned out. I own the game but will never get it to the table.

Welcome! You picked a fine thread to make your maiden post in!

FYI we have a grog wargamer thread as well if that is of interest.

Brilliant review! In addition to your highly sophisticated analysis of EotS, your understanding of the distinction between ‘recreationists’ and ‘strategists’ is profound, especially your recognition of what I call ‘ex post facto’ determinism as the, well it’s actually metaphysical precepts that premise the former. Ted Raicer might be listed as one of the best-known ‘recreationist’, with his many mechanics constraining players to replicate, and hence experience, the decisions and consequences their historical counterparts did. That’s a historiographical orientation.

Avalon Hill & SPI, by contrast, emphasized alternative potentialities under the control of the player. AH always asked if you could do better than your counterparts. SPI introduced scenarios and cards to allow alternative initial conditions (actually it was Dunnigan working for AH in the game ‘1914’; see also ‘France 1940’). This is a scientific, hypothetical/experimental orientation.

Beyond that your entire review stands you in the top ranks of deep thinkers in simulation modelling. It’s about 1100 hrs on a Saturday and you’ve made my day.

Question, good sir: I’m trying to select a strategic PTO game with which to expose my 20-year-old son and wargaming comrade to this theater/campaign. I’ve had a beautifully preclipped copy of EotS ed.1 on my shelf. Should I make it my choice?

Thanks, Tim Smith

This review seems to draw first posts, like one of Tom’s one-star reviews. But unlike those reviews, it attracts interesting and well-considered responses. Welcome to the site, Tim Smith; I hope you stick around.

Oh yes, should probably tag @Brooski in hope of a reply.

Hi Tim! Welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed the review. As far as advice on playing goes, I would never suggest not to play this game. If you are just starting out, the South Pacific scenario might be a good choice, since it is just one area of conflict and you can concentrate on the mechanics.

As far as your 20-year-old son, by all means challenge him. He is certainly capable of growing this game. And, if I know anything about 20-year-olds, probably capable of beating you!

Thanks for the tag @rho21 or I would have missed this.

I’m glad to see this thread pop up again. EoTS is the best Pacific War boardgame I’ve ever played, and I’ve played a lot of them. My favorite Mark Herman game.

More importantly, welcome to @Timothy_Smith1!