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Posted on Jul 4, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us… they can’t get away this time.” -Chesty” Puller USMC.     ‘Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game” Board Game Review

“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us… they can’t get away this time.” -Chesty” Puller USMC. ‘Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game” Board Game Review

Rick Martin

Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game   Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG Games   Game Designer:   Dan Verssen and Kevin Verssen  Price  $59.99

Passed Inspection – fast playing, fun, the game creates an immersive narrative for your squad, unique combat system, beautiful components, solo or cooperative play

Failed Basic:  rules could be reorganized for easier reference, needs an index, box cannot hold everything once you unpack the cards. There  is a steep learning curve. Game requires a large table top footprint, rules say you can play Japanese or American teams but the game only includes cards for playing as the Americans, needs more equipment and weapon cards, I would prefer a greater variety of enemy encounters.

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Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller’s quote above was actually made during the time he served in the Korean Conflict but it easily applies to the US Marine and Army combat in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.  The quote especially applies to the adventures you will have in Dan Verssen Games’ new Warfighter release “Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game”!

The Warfighter series got its start as a card and counter game whose subject was the modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was so successful that WWII versions set in  Europe and North African were released.  Now DVG travels around the globe to have you play US Marines and Army troops fighting against the forces of the Imperial Japanese military during the Pacific Campaigns.

The box artwork of a United States Marine standing with rifle ready is an evocative and visceral image and perfectly illustrates the adventures you will have upon opening the box and playing the game.

Upon opening the box you will find:

390 Full Color Playing Cards 
 – Soldier Cards 
 – Mission Cards 
 – Objective Cards 
 – Action Cards 
 – Location Cards 
 – Weapon Cards 
 – Equipment Cards 
 – Hostile Cards

a 33″ x 17″ Mounted Tactical Display

5 Sheets of Full Color Counters 
– Ammo Counters 
– Bandage Counters 
– Wound Counters 
– Kill Counters 
– Grenade and Rocket Counters 
– Suppression Counters 
– Experience Counters  

– Squad Counters

– Target Counters

3 10-sided Dice

 a 6-sided Die  

 a 51-page Rulebook  

9 Campaign Sheets

A Campaign Log Sheet which can be photocopied.

A Player’s Aid Terms Chart

There is a lot packed into this rather slim game box.  In fact, once you sort out the card decks and start punching out counters, you’ll find that the box cannot hold its contents.  I would have preferred a slightly deeper box such as is found in DVG’s Leader series of games.

You can either play random battles with squads or fire teams that you create or play in a series of Offensive or Defensive campaigns which are included.  The campaigns are: Wake Island 1941 (two different campaigns) , Makin Island 1942, Guadalcanal 1942, Tarawa 1943, Buna Station 1943, Iwo Jima 1945.  Also included are extra campaigns for the Warfighter War in Europe series – Dunkirk 1940 and Market Garden 1945.

You have a choice of playing US Army or US Marine squads or fire teams/half squads.  The rules state you can play from either the American or the Japanese perspective but the game doesn’t include soldiers and other cards for playing a Japanese squad.  This appears to have been a change made during the design of the game but not reflected in the final rule book.  There are two expansion card sets which do allow you to play Japanese soldiers and I will review those in a subsequent article.

First, before you start your game, you need to photocopy the Campaign Log Sheet if you are going to play a campaign as opposed to a stand-alone, one time mission.

The concept of Warfighter is that you pick a Mission Card and then you draw an Objective Card.  The Mission Card defines the type of team you can purchase, the equipment modifier for purchasing their weapons and gear, the Objective Cards you can use, the environmental influences which could affect your team and the time limit you have to accomplish your mission.

The system you use to buy your soldiers and their weapons and gear is the Resource Point.  Each soldier is rated for how many Resource Points he costs and each weapon or gear has a Resource Point Cost as well.

There are several different types of Soldier Cards which caused me great confusion on my first play through.  You have Player Soldiers, Non-Player Soldiers and Squad Soldiers.  As with many things in the rule book, the rules are not particularly clear why you would need Non-Player Soldiers or Squad Soldiers.  After several play throughs, it appears that you supplement your Player Soldiers with specialized Non-Player Soldiers and Squads. Squads do not get to use Action Cards and can’t be modified with extra weapons and equipment but can bring a heavy firepower to your missions. The outfitting and upkeep of your soldiers is half the fun of the game but, that being said, I really wish Warfighter went more in to improving the skills and tracking long term experience of your soldiers much as DVG’s Leader games do.  I didn’t feel as emotionally attached to the soldiers in this game as I do with the pilots in games like Corsair Leader or Hornet Leader.

Once you’ve picked your Mission, Objective and Soldiers and outfitted your Soldiers with weapons and gear (and possibly picked Skills for them and given them a Service Record which gives your soldier a back ground and extra skills), you are ready to set up the Game Board and start your adventure. 

First you shuffle and deploy the various card decks which will create the adventure you are about to jump in to.  In the specifically labeled spaces on the map board put out the Hostiles Cards (either normal or elite depending on how difficult you want the game to be), Location Cards, Event Cards and Action Cards.  These cards are all placed face down so that you don’t know what’s coming up next.

You will also need to assign each of your soldiers a Soldier Identification Counter which is numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.  Then for each of your soldiers, drop 4 Hostile Targeting Counters with the number of each soldier in a cup or bag.  When you are attacked, you draw a Hostile Targeting Counter and that tells you which of your men the enemy is attacking.

Set the Timer Counter to the number listed on the Mission Card.  Each turn the timer will do down by 1 until you run out of time to complete your mission.  This adds the important sense of urgency to each mission that you play.

First each individual soldier card can draw Action Cards up to his Health Rating. If the soldier is wounded, he draws fewer action cards.  If his Health falls to zero, the soldier is incapacitated or dead.

The turn sequence is as follows:

  • Roll to see if your soldiers have any negative effects from moving in to an Environment
  • Pay an Action Card for each soldier to do one of several things – either remove a Suppression Counter, move to another Terrain Card, attack with ranged weapons, engage in hand to hand or melee combat, reload a weapon or discard and draw Action Cards
  • Play an Action Card, Location Card, Activate an Objective, Pass Gear to other soldiers, lighten your soldier’s load and pay any Retaining Costs if a specific Support Card requires it.
  • Enemy turn – enemies reinforce, attack, close range if necessary, remove suppression counters
  • Timer counts down one number

If you haven’t managed to complete the objective or if all your soldiers are incapacitated, you’ve lost the game.

The game is fast paced with an average mission taking from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to complete (or die trying).  It offers both a great solo experience as well as an intriguing co-operative play.

 That being said, the player will have to overcome some challenges in order to get the full experience – most of these challenges revolve around the rule book.  Like many other of DVG’s  rule books, Warfighter’s rules are organized to get you up and paying as quickly as possible by grouping the rules in an “as you go” style.  This works fine, in theory, but unfortunately, specific rules are sometimes grouped in a manner that feels less than logical.  For example, there are Event Cards in a nice little pile at the top of the game board.  When do you draw an Event Card?  It was not explained in the turn sequence.  Finally, after flipping through the rules trying to figure it out, I posted a question about them on Facebook.  Another user told me that Event Cards were explained in the Hostile Cards section on page 31 of the rule book because Event Cards only come in to play if a Hostile Card is drawn that references drawing an Event Card.  Wouldn’t it have been more logical to tell you that back in the set up section of the rules?

The rules need a good index to allow the gamer to look up key rules in the heat of battle.  All too often I found myself flipping through the book trying to find a rule and either posting a question on Facebook or just winging it.  In addition to reorganizing the rules and adding a complete index, perhaps adding a second reference rule book with an index  would cut down on the frustration of trying to figure out where a rule is placed in the book.

In addition, the rules for melee and unarmed combat could be stated a little more clearly.

Because of the rule layout, my perception is that Warfighter has a  steep learning curve.  This is unfortunate as taking a few more steps to organize and index the rules would improve the learning experience for the players.

The Player’s Aid Terms Chart does help alleviate some of the confusion. Unfortunately, it  is not terribly complete and could use  more editing as well as adding  the page number reference where the terms are explained in detail listed beside each term.

In addition, with each Terrain Card your soldiers enter, you draw Hostile Cards.  After a while, constantly drawing enemy soldiers began to feel a little monotonous.  I think the addition of some random events such as cards with either a misidentified enemy that turned out to be a water buffalo or maybe an attack by a strafing Japanese airplane could add to the tension.

One of the neat features of the Hostile Cards is that the game gives you the choice of picking normal enemy troops or elite enemy troops so that you can change the difficulty level of play.

I found that there are not enough weapon and gear cards to outfit a large squad. What is the United States if not often swimming with excess weapons and equipment?

Make sure you have a large enough table for Warfighter Pacific. You’ll have the large game board taking up a good bit of space in addition to the draw cup, soldier cards, weapons and items cards and the other cards you need to play.  Each soldier has his own hand of Action Cards and you can’t comingle them. You may need a side table for all these cards.

I really like the game flow and the strong narrative elements that the game creates.  In addition, the combat system is elegant and fast.  You roll a 6-sided die to overcome the cover of the target and then a 10-sided die or two to see if you cause any damage to the target.  If you surpass the cover value and surpass the to hit value of the weapon, you kill the target.  Some targets are squads or fire teams which take multiple hits to eliminate.  If you don’t overcome the cover but do roll a good hit on a 10-sided die or vice versa, you suppress the target.  The system works the same for the enemy attacking your soldiers.  Fast, simple and to the point!

If tactical man to man combat in the hell of the Pacific is your cup of tea, then head out and get “Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game”now.  To help with the learning curve, look up some overview videos on YouTube.  There are some fine ones out there.

Now what are you waiting for Marine? Storm that beach!

Armchair General Rating: 87 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!  Rick is also the designer of Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader.

Box Cover
Back of Box
Game Board
locked and loaded
tracking weapons and ammo
American mortars to the rescue
Wake Island Campaign
mission kill the Japanese officer
objective in sight
Two of my soldiers are wounded
Japanese forces
attacked on a steep rise

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