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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

Game Mechanics
The blocks serve two purposes. First, as mentioned, they hide unit information from the opponent: Players reveal blocks in an area during combat or, for land units, in a contested area. Conventional counters usually don’t allow for a practical fog of war, so this system provides an interesting aspect. Second, each block represents from one to four steps of combat strength. As a unit gets weaker or stronger, it is rotated to reflect the new strength (hidden from the opponent).

This is not without drawbacks. It’s easy to knock a unit around during play and storing the game between sessions becomes difficult if the board needs to be covered or moved. And, as some players commented, if your opponent walks behind you to get a beer, he might see your units’ information.

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The turn sequence is technically You-Go-I-Go, but it is interactive and the non-phasing player has plenty of decisions, which reduces down time. Each player turn’s sequence – the Japanese always go first – is naval movement, supply determination, reinforcements/production, land movement, land combat, and rebase phases.

In naval movement, the phasing player moves ships from their port(s) to a specified sea zone. If any move into a sea zone that is bordered by the non-phasing player’s ships or planes, those units can intercept and resolve combat immediately. Then, after the phasing player declares he is done moving all his ships to that sea zone, the other player may use reaction movement with any ships or submarines that can reach the zone (unlike interception, this can be up to two zones away). After reaction movement is complete, no other units may enter that sea zone for the rest of the turn.

To resolve combat in each contested sea zone, each player rolls a die. The one with the higher modified roll gets to choose whether this will be day or night combat. Day combat uses only planes, and night combat uses only surface ships (with carriers unable to do anything but take damage). A player who wins the die roll by at least four gets "surprise" and attacks first (rather than the more sequenced series of attacks). Ties represent bad weather, which results in no combat and completes that round. Combat rounds are generally bloody and continue until one side is eliminated or successfully evades. A side can’t evade combat until the second round. Evading units return to port and cannot move again that player turn.

For aerial combat, both sides secretly allocate their planes as interceptors/escorts (engage enemy planes before they can attack the bombers), CAP (engage enemy planes), bombers (attempt to attack ships). Ship-to-ship combat is less structured, but combat, whether land, sea, or air, involves rolling one die per strength step. This varies in some cases, e.g., cruisers firing on battleships require two cruisers per die, not the normal one ship per die.

A six destroys or damages an enemy step. Damage is generally simultaneous, and over a series of rounds, can really add up. Accumulative combat bonuses affect the hit number. For example, an elite unit with "surprise" hits on four through six. Two hits sink a ship outright while a single hit damages it, and it is placed randomly along the repair pool track.

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  1. A Wave of New Naval Warfare Games « The View from the Turret - [...] scales have not been ignored either. GMT Games released Asia Engulfed (see a review). This is a sister game…

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