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Posted on Oct 10, 2008 in Boardgames

Asia Engulfed: The Second World War in Asia, 1941 – 1945 – Boardgame Review

By Robert Delwood

Asia Engulfed: The Second World War in Asia, 1941 – 1945. GMT Games, LLC. Boardgame. Designed by Rick Young and Jesse Evans. $69.00

Passed Inspection: Fog of war, effective naval/land interaction, production.

Failed Basic: Strategy may be too subtle, can lose a game with a single mistake.

This is a very elegant system with vastly different parts that integrate smoothly with each other.

Editor’s note: After this review was submitted, ACG received word that Asia Engulfed has been nominated for a 2008 International Gamers Award in the Historical Simulations category.


Asia Engulfed (AE) is GMT’s grand strategic game of the Pacific War, 1939 – 1945. For its scope (a naval war covering half the planet), the system is very elegant, and, in all regards, this is a serious and deep game. It is an area-movement, block-based game. The blocks (representing naval and land units) conceal information, creating a built-in limited-intelligence factor. Air units and administrative markers use conventional counters.

Some hardcore wargamers may tend to discount AE because it is block based, but in fact this game probably will appeal most to hardcore players. While it is a sequel to GMT’s popular Europe Engulfed (EE), similarity ends with the titles. Europe Engulfed completely abstracts its naval game; therefore, the system just couldn’t be transported to the Pacific Theater. There is a land combat system based on EE, but AE‘s main focus is on naval combat.

What AE is not is Axis and Allies. If you’re expecting a free-form shootout like that, this may not be for you. AE requires more patience, timing, and resource management; there’s a premium for planning. The best comparison is with ADG’s World in Flames (WiF) because both games are similar in scope and both emphasize builds, resources, and cat-and-mouse carrier strategies. One fundamental difference concerns searches. Rather than WiF’s sea box and problematic search procedures, contact is guaranteed in AE. The uncertainty comes from hidden information and players’ willingness to want to make contact.

AE is also less complex (24 pages of rules versus WiF’s optimistic count of 56). Its abstractions are in all the right places, mostly relating to strategic warfare, resource management (for example, oil transportation) and strategic movement.

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