Last week, to my wee, humble doorstep came Academy Games' latest (last?) extension of their Conflict of Heroes series: Guadalcanal 1942 - The Pacific.
I was honestly on the verge of giving up ever seeing this. I'd pre-ordered it years ago, then pre-ordered it again (also years ago), then was contacted that my credit card info was out of date (the card had expired in the interim), then finally heard that it was shipping. Now it's finally in my hot little hands. Whew!
Was it worth the wait? Well, yes, but maybe not worth the anxiety (is anything?).
The game looks very nice. The artwork on the game components is beautiful, especially the map boards, of which there are four: a coastal board, a river board, a jungle board and a hilly board. There is also a sheet of double-sided overlays for two different river mouths (the Tenaru and the Matanikau), village buildings, jungle patches, and smaller hills.
The hex side markings blend in very subtly with the artwork on the boards. They're easy enough to see if you're looking for them, but disappear enough to give the impression of a free-form kriegspiel.
The counters are the standard big size, die-cut and double sided. The mix is mostly infantry and infantry support weapons. Each side has a few tanks: US M3A1 Stuarts and Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go and Type 97 Ch-Ha tanks. There are also US landing craft and an M3 GMC. Because I pre-ordered (twice), I got an extra set of counters that have the Marine 2nd Raider counters, US Army regulars and National Guard counters, another GMC, and two M2 .50 cal. counters. There are also some Melanesian police counters. The extra counters can be used in scenarios that are downloadable from the Academy Games website.
There was one hiccup in the box. The die-cut counters are easily removed from the frames, perhaps too easily. There were a lot of loose counters in the box. One counter, used to count victory points, got smushed on one side.
|A bit worse for wear|
The game is standalone. No previous CoH games are needed. The rules are the same as for the entire series except for the Bushidō rules. In addition to tracking victory points, the Japanese player tracks Bushidō points. The Bushidō rules are intended to encourage the Japanese player to employ historically aggressive Japanese tactics. Each scenario awards Bushidō points differently. For example, in some scenarios the Japanese player gains +1 Bushidō points for every unit he loses in hand to hand combat or to point blank fire. In another scenario, the Japanese player loses -1 Bushidō points for every counter that doesn't start its activation as part of a group move.
The effect of gaining/losing Bushidō points is to increase or decrease the the number of command activation points (CAP) that the Japanese player has available. There may be other scenario-specific affects of having positive or negative Bushidō points. It looks like an interesting rule.
With the amount of time (years!) that it took to get Guadalcanal released, I fear that Acadamy Games has moved on from this series. At one time, there seemed to be many extensions in the works: Normandy 1944, Blitzkrieg 1940, Crete 1941... None of that appears to be on the horizon any more. I'd love to see more extensions to the series, but given the time it took to release Guadalcanal, I'm starting to think I won't live long enough to see them (and I'm only 55).
As a pipe dream, it would be interesting to see Academy Games strike while the Pacific War iron is hot and do a Tarawa 1943 extension. I've long been fascinated by that battle and I think that CoH is a great system for creating some good scenarios for it.
I have yet to play a game of Guadalcanal, but I'm looking for the soonest opportunity (Dave Schueler are you reading this?).