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  #1  
Old December 12th, 2008, 03:37 PM

Uncle_Joe Uncle_Joe is offline
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Default 500lb Gorilla

I've been playing and enjoying the demo. It does share a lot in common with one of my favorite old board games, Victory in the Pacific.

Four turns is not anywhere near long enough to tell, but what is to stop players from massing up into one (or maybe two) huge fleets (the 500lb gorilla) and simply smashing any opposition? There doesnt seem to be a high price for not 'defending' your bases (unless the enemy invades). And after a few turns you should have severely damaged the enemy fleet if they tried to defend against your mass. Eventually they wont have enough to offer meaningful resistence and you can then start splitting into smaller groups.

The foil to this in VitP was two-fold. One, there were serious VP penalties to be paid for letting the enemy control vast amounts of the board. Two, once you controlled a sea zone, you have a better chance of dictating the type of battles that would be fought there so it was easier to 'defend' them than to attack.

Especially earlier in the war the real combatants were not all massed up and they committed forces here and there for raids and support. Later in the war, they really DID tend to mass up into larger carrier groups. Are there any mechanics in place to discourage players from simply massing up with huge fleets? To me that would seem to lead to a couple of hit or miss battles with the 'winner take all' issue. Of course thats exactly what Yammamoto tried at Midway....but I think it makes for a less compelling game if its profitable to just mass up and go stomp.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old December 12th, 2008, 06:48 PM

JMHawkins JMHawkins is offline
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

That's a great question. There actually is a high price for not defending bases you already own. The demo probably doesn't demonstrate (demo?) this well enough, but Combat Efficiency plays a big role in the game. The farther you sail from a base, and the smaller that base is, the bigger the CE penalty your task forces suffer. So if, for example, Japan creates a gorilla fleet at Truk and uses it to go smash the Allies at Fiji, the Allied player can launch a raid at a relatively undefended Truk and smash the base. If it's damaged badly enough to drop below Major size, then the Japanese CVs, BBs, and BCs won't be able to base there any longer (at least not until it is rebuilt, which can takes months). If that gorilla fleet is now sailing all the way from the Home Islands, it will be maybe two-thirds, or even only one-half as effective in the South Pacific as it was sailing from nearby Truk.

Also, the victory condition require functional bases. Damaged bases don't provide oil, sea lanes interdiction, or strategic bombing. For example, for the Allies to win by strategic bombing, they need to accumulate 25 strategic bombing points. There are six bases that can contribute, with each controlled, functional base contributing 1 point per turn. But it's not enough to control the base, it has to be functional and enemy raids can render the base non-functional.

It's almost impossible for the Allies to win controlling only one or two of these bases, so if the Allies just hunker down with a gorilla fleet defending Iwo Jima, Japan will probably win. If the Allies send a gorilla fleet off to capture Okinawa and leave Iwo lightly defended, the Japanese can raid the base and knock it out so it won't contribute bombing points until it can be rebuilt (which takes time and convoys, both of which are precious to the Allies at the end as they race to win before public opinion deserts them).

So, there is a penalty for not dividing your fleet to cover different missions. On the other hand, anyone who's read Mahan knows there's also a penalty to pay for dividing your fleet - you invite defeat in detail. This was actually a big debate wihtin the US Navy during (and leading up to) WWII. There were those in the Mahan camp who insisted the fleet shouldn't be divided, and those who insisted the various bases had to be defended, even if it meant dividing the fleet.

You face the same strategic problem playing WPP...

-John Hawkins
KE Studios

Last edited by JMHawkins; December 12th, 2008 at 06:49 PM.. Reason: (I really need to remember my signature)
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Old December 12th, 2008, 07:19 PM

Uncle_Joe Uncle_Joe is offline
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

Thanks for the answer. About how large of a fleet would be required to 'damage' a base? It seems like almost every base includes aircraft after it's infancy stage and those seem to be sufficient to discourage cruiser raids. Is there any way to force a 'night action' or something so that surface ships can bombard without being exposed to air? I believe this was a key aspect in the naval battles off Guadalcanal (the Japanese would come in at night and retire before air power could hit them - usually...).

The other issue is that it appears that fleets almost always fight? How effective is 'withdraw'? Is it guaranteed? Do you suffer pursuit? It doesnt really seem possible to send some cruisers or fast BBs to hit a base if the enemy has carriers or land based air there.

Anyways, looking forward to the game. Are we still on track for the 16th? If it was pre-ordered, would that mean shipping on the 16th or arriving on the 16th? Anything trying to ship on the 16th might not make it through the clogged mail system in time to play for the early holidays and I'd really like to play this one before next year.

Thanks again and I look forward to any reply!
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  #4  
Old December 12th, 2008, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

Base Raids : One light cruiser can 'destroy' a minor base that isn't built up very far. The more firepower you put on a base in a raid the more damage you will do to it. As for air on bases, yes they can do a lot of damage to a couple of CLs, but the more ships you put into a Raid, the more the aircraft will be divided up into attacking, and the better odds that most or all your ships will survive.
As far as night raids, they do occur. John can explain them better, but it has some to do with how far the attacking ships are traveling, and maybe some randomness.

Withdraw : Withdraw is not always guaranteed. If the attackers have chosen Surface battle, than they can 'chase down' slower ships that are attempting to withdraw. I've noticed that usually, if I have a light cruiser patrolling a base and it is attacked, it can't get away, tho sometimes it does. So yes, you can suffer 'pursuit'.

Don't know about shipping dates, that's a Shrapnel question.
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Old December 13th, 2008, 03:40 AM
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Tim Brooks Tim Brooks is offline
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

Quote:
Are we still on track for the 16th? If it was pre-ordered, would that mean shipping on the 16th or arriving on the 16th? Anything trying to ship on the 16th might not make it through the clogged mail system in time to play for the early holidays and I'd really like to play this one before next year.
Hi Uncle Joe:

The game is still on track to begin shipping on the 16th. We send all product Priority Mail which means 1-3 day delivery in the US and 3-6 days in Europe (assuming the package isn't held in customs, which we have no control over). It will take us 2-4 days to ship all the pre-orders. So, the chances are good that pre-orders will arrive before Christmas, but anyone ordering after that may not receive product until after Christmas day.

Happy gaming,
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Tim Brooks
Shrapnel Games
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  #6  
Old December 13th, 2008, 02:11 PM

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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

As explained and pointed out to us above, I like this game design that encourages multiple task forces and base capturing/defending strategies while downplaying and penalizing the “500 pound gorilla” strategy. I think this will definitely give a more realistic and historical feel to this game in the need to secure and defend multiple islands in order to eventually threaten and choke off the “homeland” (ie – win the game).

Having said this, my main question would be whether this game design strategy applies only to multiplayer games or to the AI computer ability (single player game) as well? Due to limited time and work travel, I only play single player computer games that have a challenging single player AI. The short demo unfortunately did not give me the ability to see how well the AI really plays. In fact, the few times that I did play this demo game, it seemed to me that the AI indeed mostly used the “500 pound gorilla” strategy while leaving most of its islands undefended. Were these few demo game results just a fluke? Is the AI capable of playing a more in depth and rounded multi layered attack and defense strategy as stated above, or is this game mostly geared toward the multi-player crowd? I am aware that a short demo does not necessarily give a good picture or indication of what the AI capabilities are. Because I am very interested in purchasing this game, I thought I would post my question for further clarification. (Yes I know that I could wait to see what other players think when they receive and actually play the full game, but I thought a reply from the designer would help me make a decision before that.
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Old December 13th, 2008, 06:14 PM

Uncle_Joe Uncle_Joe is offline
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

Thanks again for the replies.

And yes, Timothy mentioned the reason for my question - the AI was massing up its forces and crushing anything I had that was parcelled out in smaller groups. If I sent 2 CVs and some support and the enemy showed up with 6+, I lost my fleet with little return damage. A few turns of that and I would have nothing left.

After witnessing the AI do it, the next demo game I tried the same thing and had similar results - I didnt engage all that often, but when I did, I wrecked anything smaller than a full-on horde. The demo does not last long enough for me to see if it would be effective long-term or if my bases would be whittled down before I could reduce the enemy fleet sufficiently.

I guess I'll be able to find out in a few weeks if that is a viable (or dominant) way to play.
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  #8  
Old December 13th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: 500lb Gorilla

The AI can be a challenge, especially if you play the IJN side. The IJN AI can give you a decent game. Over the long run, the AI will send out smaller task forces to raid and invade islands. As the IJN, the AI will attempt to capture the 'oil' islands, then try to "Cut the Sea Lanes". As the Allies, the AI will mostly fight over the 'oil' islands. But as either, the AI will pull different stunts on you, from time to time.

I too, only get to play single player mode with games most of the time, and I found that if you get complacent, the AI will nail you. For the most part, you can beat the AI, which is case for about any game you play. There were some games where the AI was very easy to beat, then there were some that it was a lot of work to beat it, then a few that I wondered what had happened when the victory screen came up telling me I lost.

The AI does not do the same exact thing each game, but bear in mind, it's options are limited to what the victory conditions are for it, so it can only do so much. If you play against the AI according to 'doctrine' you will always have a good game, but if you take advantage of the programming limitations that may exist, then you'll always beat the AI.
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