revised version of Atlantic Storm
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Pacific Typhoon is a strategy card game for 4-6 players, ages 10 to adult. The game uses the same system that first appeared in the popular 1998 Avalon Hill card game Atlantic Storm.
The game setting is the naval and air war in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Pacific Typhoon depicts the history of the air-naval battles of the Pacific War with 40 battle cards, each of which represents an historical naval or air battle such as Pearl Harbor, Midway, Surigao Strait, etc. Players compete by fighting a non-sequential series of twenty of these battles. A battle lasts for one round of play, so each player gets to play once per battle. The round-leader starts by picking one of two battle cards (he discards the unpicked one). The chosen battle card determines the year of battle. The battle card is also worth a certain number of victory points and resources to whoever wins it. The round-leader alternates after each battle, and the game ends after 20 battles (when the Battle Card deck is exhausted).
Players are not assigned to sides. Instead, each player has a hand of force cards that typically includes both Allied and Japanese cards. The force cards represent warships, submarines, aircraft, special weapons, and events. Non-event cards have three separate combat values: Air, Surface, and Sub. For example, the battlecruiser Kirishima has combat values of 1 air, 4 surface and 0 sub; the submarine Flasher has combat values of 0 air, 1 surface and 3 sub; the Zero fighter (Sakai) has combat values of 3 air, 0 surface and 0 sub. Force cards are also worth victory points because they can be destroyed in battle.
After the round-leader selects the battle card, he announces the "suit" of battle: Air, Surface, Sub or Combined. Only the combat values in the announced suit will affect the outcome of the battle. In a Combined battle, the combat values of all three suits are added together. The round-leader also announces the time of battle: Day or Night. Some force cards are only playable in a day battle (for example, the aircraft carrier Lexington), a few are only playable in a night battle, but most are playable in day or night battles. The round-leader then gets to play from his hand. He may play on one side or the other (but not both sides together). Each player after him in turn may then play on one side or the other.
Atlantic Storm is one of my favorite games. I would recommend it to all gamers. It has good replayability with lots of pros and few cons. Although its designed for 2 to 6 players, I recommend at least 4. The ideal number of players is 6 or 7 but the game is still playable with 8 or more players. One of the most interesting parts of the game is your interaction with the other players. With fewer than 4 players, there just arent enough players to interact with.
I would also recommend playing with all the optional rules from the rules booklet since they give the players more options during their turn. With the original rules a weak hand stays weak but with the optional rules, you can replace your entire hand with hopefully a better one.
Quiz time, but no prizes:
Which company (no peeking) is likely to produce a trick-taking card game, well-themed, but possibly abstract in concept, will charge 20, and wrap it in a lead-lined box which make the contents feel twice as heavy as they look (two packs of cards and three die).
Well, and because I didn't trust any of you not to look, the answer is, bizarrely, Avalon Hill. And if this sounds like the beginning of a tirade, it isn't. More like "explain the marketing behind this game whilst keeping a straight face".
You see, although Atlantic Storm looks dinky, possesses excellent graphics (by way of the Bryce software package?) and at least evokes the history of its source material, it is, no more, no less, a straightforward card game.
Designer Ben Knight is a wargame veteran. But AS isn't really a wargame, although the self-important Historical Background, which prefaces the rule book suggests firmly that it is. Those expecting a partner to Up Front or Guerilla will be disappointed.
What we have are two packs of cards, the 'Convoy' and 'Force' decks. Cards are drawn from the Convoy deck and contested for by means of a hand of Force cards. It works like this:
Each player (two is a fudge) is dealt six cards from the force selection. These are, for the most part, warships, aircraft and various weapons (Allied or German), plus bonus 'events'. Each named and dated card is rated for Air, Surface and Submarine (typically 0-3) combat. The background picture depicts either the Atlantic or Arctic Oceans and is clearly marked with Victory Point Icons.
Rounds comprise turning over a Convoy card, noting the Ocean in which it is travelling and the relevant year of sailing (1940-43). The card's point value is indicated by a sunken ship motif.
Let's assume the revealed card is 'PQ 17', a 'half-full' convoy sailing in 1942 in the Arctic Ocean, whose value is four points. Although players may discard (and frequently do), in this instance the cargo is worth fighting over. Peter nominates air as the 'suit', and plays a Junkers 88, Arctic Ocean only and valid in '42 and '43. It has two combat points. Paul counters with the Hood Battlecruiser (either Ocean), matching the Junkers combat rating (but wasting the '5' value if used as a surface card). Mary tips the balance to the Brits with the Audacity Merchant Aircraft Carrier, worth 3 points. Mary and Paul win the hand and divide the spoils. This division of goods is handled very well. A single winner would take both the convoy and losing card(s), but in the above example, Mary can elect to take the convoy and leave Paul with the Junkers.
"Is that it?" you scream. Ostensibly, yes. But you wouldn't expect AH to extract your money without dipping into the flavour barrel. The well-researched Force deck includes several event cards, which either add to combat values, change the suit, or compel certain cards to be played. Additionally, if you are able to 'target' an opposition card, it is removed from the round and provides additional victory points. The Junkers 88, for example, can 'eliminate' the British Navy's Trinidad Cruiser. A Force card's total points value may also be invoked (combined operations), and certain boxes are marked with a question mark. In this instance, the die is rolled for the combat result at the end of the round. This brings an additional element of suspense.
The rules suggest the selection of 20 convoy cards (from 40 supplied) to be fought for. The advanced rules allow two to be revealed, and one chosen for battle (the other is discarded). In either case, AS will wrap in well-under the hour. In early run throughs, with two different groups, no-one wanted to call a halt (extremely rare!). However, there was a general look of bemusement from all, with Mike Siggins succinctly asking "why a war theme?".