Asia Engulfed: The Second World War in Asia, 1941 – 1945 – Boardgame Review
The components are outstanding. The 22×34" sturdy, full-color map covers a diagonal from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanke) to Los Angeles, and from the Japanese island of Honshu to Australia’s New South Wales. Alaska and New Zealand are not on the map and Russia is abstracted off board. The creators got it right with a matte finish, eliminating that maddening glare. The colors are pleasant and non-distracting. The Japanese areas are a golden yellow, American are field green. For the most part, the color contrasts make reading the map easy. The worst that can be said is that the port sizes could be more obvious, perhaps printing the actual capacity next to the symbol. 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.
One-hundred-forty-nine 5/8" blocks in eight colors represent the ships and land units. The color coding indicates the unit’s type (for example, Japanese naval units are black) but not the exact ship class (they could represent any a light ship, battleship, or carrier). Players must apply the unit stickers to the blocks – annoying, but a one-time effort. Some players report stickers falling off, which can be fixed with glue.
The 234 square 5/8" counters are mostly markers, but they do include the carrier-based planes. Eighty-eight round 5/8" markers denote area control or land-based planes. The locations of land-based planes are always known to both sides and do not use the hidden status like ships or land units.
The game includes four scenario cards, a sticker reference guide, a battle board, two battle declaration sheets, two player aid cards, a 20-sheet production pad, a 24-page play book, and a 24-page rules book. AE is complex, and the first several turns will be slow as players learn the mechanics, but the rules are clearly written, precise, and they cover all situations. It’s clear this game was thoroughly reviewed before publication; there were few instances of players asking "How did that ever get out of playtest?" Even so, many players still have extensive handwritten margin notes. The playbook, which includes additional scenarios, details one complete turn of the game, with many illustrations of movement and attacks.
There are four scenarios. Two introductory ones each last five turns. The two campaign games begin one turn apart; the designers recognized that the first turn is critical and takes the longest, so they opted to skip it in one scenario and give the players compromised starting positions.
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