The best Hakodate battle game ever made.
From April to May on Meiji 2nd, the final stage of Boshin war proceeded in Hakodate, the northern island of Japan.
This game is an advanced type of card-driven game, and can be played within 2 hours.
1 map covering Oshima peninsula including inset map of Hakodate city
80 counters covering both of land and naval units
2 dice ( but you should prepare more dice hopefully 10 dice )
One player controls the Ezo government force and the other controls the new government force. There are 6 important locations represented by red rectangular symbol. Each player would like to control these locations during the play.
Ezo government player set up first. Then, new government player conducts the first landing according to regular landing rule.
The game sequence is composed of alternate player turns which is subdivided into below.
1) refresh the card
2) the player use 2 cards ( the card just opened in 1 and the last card opened in the former opponent’s player turn ) to conduct his movement and/or conduct the event of the card.
3) resolve any combats happened due to the movement or event.
The play starts with new government player’s turn.
In the first new government player’s turn, he opens the first card from the deck and play the second step by using only this first card. He can use this card as either operation points or event. If he uses operation points, one operation point enables him to move one unit by one space via primary road. If using secondary road, one space costs two points. No movement via enemy occupied space is possible. If the player would like to enter the enemy occupied space, the combat will be resolved in step 3.
If the player uses the card as event, follow the description of the card. Some event can be used by only one side described in the card.
In the next Ezo player’s turn, he opens the next card from the deck and uses this card and the last card that was opened by new government player. He can use these by any combination between operation points and events. If he would like to use both cards as operation points, he can add both numbers and distribute them as he likes.
Since every card is played by both players due to this mechanics, all of the event can have a chan to be conducted by both players.
If some big numbered card appered, it does not benefit only one player. It can be used by the other player during next player’s turn. Because of this nature, this game does not have strong bias which happens in many card-driven games.
The combat system is somewhat unusual. Both player rolls a number of dice equals his force’s strength up to 5. If you roll only 1 dice, you can make a hit on 6. If you roll more than one dice, you can make a hit for every pair. If you make a triple or quartette, then you make 2 hits or 3 hits and so on.
The leadership enables you to turn over any of your dice which is useful to make a pair or triple or even more.
The game shuts down when all the 20 cards are drawn from the deck. If at this point the new government controls 3 of the important locations, he wins the game otherwise the game goes into the second deck reshuffled.
During the second deck, if new government player can controls all the 6 important locations or he enters the Goryoukaku, he immediately wins the game. The Ezo government player can win the game by preventing new government player’s victory.
This is my third Hakodate game played.
Honestly speaking, the first 2 games make me concluded that Hakodate battle is a difficult topic to be an exciting game. For Ezo player, the situation is very desperate. Even for new government player, the situation is not full of strategic choices.
This is seriously due to the terrain which has very small amount of flat area. In this area, usually rolling terrain closes into coast lines. And there are very limited path between important locations.
This fact force the new government player to land onto the place that is not close to Hakodate city. And there are very limited choices of path from their landing point to Hakodate city.
The point to point map is very suitable for this battle. And card-driven mechanics is very suitable for this battle. Because, first many events that are effective on this battle can be included by the event cards, such as additional landings, naval actions, and naval bombardment against the coastline. Secondly the operation points fluctuation make several decisive point for players to make decisive assault along the mountain road.
I believe this is the first and so far only exciting Hakodate battle game.
And, this one is the best game from Wargame Japanese History magazine so far ( I’m sorry that I’ve never played Kawanakajima in issue 5 ).
Though the choice is limited, the new government player must consider his strategy always, because he is not sure when the best chance made by cards come.
On the other hand, Ezo player can play this game with more excitement than the predecessor due to card-driven mechanics and unique combat system. If the timing of cards are good for him, he can make an decisive assault by Hijikata or an decisive naval battle in any surrounding sea area. You are not the last Samurai who’d like to find the place of your death in this game. You can have a victory to make the Ezo-government stable.