Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inchon: McArthur's Gambit review

Inchon: MacArthur's Gambit is a hex-and-counter wargame depicting the bold invasion behind North Korean lines that changed the course of the Korean War. Widely considered one of the most brilliant strokes in General Douglas MacArthur's long and brilliant career, the game covers the initial days of fighting from the landing at Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950 to the recapture of the South Korean capital of Seoul.

It was the issue game in issue No. 9 of Command Magazine in 1991. The one scenario covers the 16-day battle with each turn representing a single day and each hex is one mile. The Mark Simonitch map depicts the city of Seoul, its port of Inchon and the sea and land approaches. Units are generally battalions with some company-sized units. The 12-page rulebook describes a game of moderate complexity by wargame standards with fairly standard mechanics for such games including zones of control, combat and movement factors, and movement and combat phases. Units are rated for "proficiency" with the more proficient unit having a combat edge. The 180 counters, including information markers, are functional and use standard NATO-style unit symbols.

North Korean units are red with yellow printing. The United Nations units use the standard XTR-color scheme: U.S. Army units are olive green, U.S.M.C. units are dark green, naval units are white on blue and the Republic of Korean troops are red on yellow.

The game revolves accumulating victory points for capturing terrain, with the lion's share coming from capturing Seoul as soon as possible.

The United Nations starts the game coming ashore at Inchon with the 1st Marine Division, 7th US Army Infantry Division and supporting units. While there are North Korean People's Army units defending the port and the rail line to Seoul, they will usually be quickly overwhelmed by the naval-gunfire-supported invaders. Any NKPA stand within 15 hexes of the sea is ill-advised and the real contest will take place along the Han River as the Americans try to force a crossing into Seoul against the 18th NK Infantry Division and its supports while fending off arriving NKPA reinforcements, including the potentially powerful 105th Tank Division.

Both sides get to attack and defend, and there is some minor variability in approach possible in what is essentially a stereotyped game situation caused by the strategic situation.

There are optional and variant rules that explore some possible changes, including a "nightmare" scenario for the UN with a prepared North Korean defense instead of the historical surprise.The game takes about 15 minutes to set up and can be played in one sitting, the designer notes estimate a five-hour playing time. The game succeeds in simulating the actual battle. There is no published errata.]


(Yes) For Wargamers: A well-done wargame.

(No) For Collectors: No remarkable collectibility.

(No) For Euro gamers: A hex-and-counter wargames with intricate and detailed rules.

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