Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The issue game in Command No. 26 in 1994 was When Tigers Fight covering the 1944 campaign in the rarely-simulated China-Burma-India theater.

With one-month turns and 60 km hexes, it's clearly strategic in scope. The game is pretty much XTR-standard, with NATO-style unit symbols, attack-defense-movement factor units in most of the standard XTR color themes: Red Japanese, Brown Commonwealth and Olive American forces. The higher quality Chinese Nationalist units are blue, while the "junque" stuff is purple and uses the reverse side to show untried unit status.

The game sequence is standard IGO-HUGO with various special rules added for chrome. Units are generally divisions, except for the mob-like Chinese forces, which bear unit symbols ranging from division to army group size. Japanese and Allied units are 2-4 steps, while the untried units are one-steppers.

All-in-all a fairly unexceptional game of the sort Command successfully published for eight years. When Tigers Fight is in just about the middle of that run.

But unlike most of that run When Tigers Fight has been criticized for play balance issues. Some maintain that the Japanese can guarantee a win by concentrating on the sudden death victory conditions of capturing two of three Chinese supply cities. The player's notes published with the game note that the Japanese can go any one place they choose, but evidently the playtesters missed that if the Japanse picked the sudden-death cities as their goal they could not be denied.
I haven't played enough to verify that the Chinese cannot stop such a strategy, but this kind of complaint is rare for an XTR game and that rarity adds credibility to the charge.

There's also a problem in the Burma front, where the Japanese can almost certainly ensure getting at least one unit into India at game end, costing the Allies one of their three possible victory points.

If the Japanese don't win a sudden-death victory, the winner is determined by comparing victory point totals. Each side has three possible victory points, awarded by achieving listed goals such as capturing all the Flying Tiger airbases (for the Japanse) or controlling a Chinese city original under Japanese control (for the Allies). The side with the most VPs wins.

The game itself is well presented, with the usual quality Mark Simonitch map work and player-friendly 5/8-inch unit counters.

Set up will take about 20 minutes and the entire 10-turn campaign can be played in an evening.


(Conditional No) for Wargamers: You may want to consider adjusting the victory criteria if you do play. Published on the 50th anniversary of the campaign, it's too bad the game doesn't work better.

(No) for Collectors

(No) for Eurogamers: Not only a detailed hex-and-counter wargame, but one with reported problems. Stay away.

1 comment:

  1. Remember there is an OCS game out now about the Burma front, so anyone interested in the theater might want to look there...