The truly eternal Empire of the a wargame


I recently said that you should pay attention to questions designers are asking. But what I didn’t say was that often, these are questions the players have given them. I’m pretty sure this is what has given us such a lackluster roster of Pacific theater wargames over the years. “How do these carriers fight??” “Where are the critical hits??” Reasonable questions to ask about a campaign marked by carrier battles by a generation brought up reading Walter Lord’s Incredible Victory. So designers chased mechanics that allowed players to recreate specific encounters with ships and planes, while not quite knowing how to integrate this into a larger context. The logistical considerations, huge distances, intermittent pace of fighting, and lack of clear front lines all conspired to stymie designers from the beginning of the hobby. SPI’s infamous U.S.N. showed how back in 1971 there just wasn’t the development skill and mechanics vocabulary to address such a complex design problem. John Prados, designer of the revolutionary Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, failed utterly to adapt his economic system to the Pacific with 1977’s Pearl Harbor. That same year, a game that focused almost entirely on the ships fighting came as close as anyone could for a long time. And no one calls Victory in the Pacific a realistic wargame.

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”