The Battle of Midway from Turning Point Simulations – Full Review!
The Battle of Midway 1942 AD Game Review. Publisher: Turning Point Simulations Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price: $29.95 (zip lock) $34.95 (boxed)
Passed Inspection: Small footprint, exciting, simple to learn but dynamic to play, great value for the price, plays very well solo, covers the air and sea battles plus land battles if the Japanese land forces on Midway
Failed Basic: Editorial issues in the 1st edition rule book, some editorial issues in the 2nd edition rule book, printing on some counters is too small and dark to easily read, some set-up issues. Needs rules to explain the aircraft capacity of aircraft carriers and Midway base.
The Battle of Midway 1942 AD is a game in Turning Point Simulations’ Battles that Changed the World Series. As with the other games in the series, this game is available in a zip lock version or a boxed version.
June of 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway which occurred from June 3rd to June 7th of 1942. This battle marked a turning point in the 2nd World War as the United States Navy seriously crippled the Imperial Japanese Navy by sinking a cruiser and 4 aircraft carriers which, appropriately enough, were four of the six carriers which launched the Pearl Harbor attack during the previous year. The Japanese Navy never recovered from the losses at Midway and, because of their lack of air cover, the Japanese troop carriers were not able to land their invasion force on Midway Island. After this battle, American forces began their offensive campaign to end the war in the Pacific. It is undeniable that this battle fits Turning Point Simulations’ Battles that Changed the World Series!
Upon opening the box or zip lock bag, you find a nicely mounted map board showing the ocean around Midway, a map of the Midway Islands themselves, a 10 page rule booklet, 2 play aids (deployment charts) and 176 double sided die-cut counters.
The scale of the map is 90 nautical miles per hex and each turn represents four hours. Each counter represents one or two squadrons of aircrafts and each ship represents from 1 to 4 ships. Each submarine counter represents from 1 to 4 submarines. The scale for the ground units in the Midway invasion mini game is undefined but counters represent infantry and armored units.
The game actually contains two games which are interlinked. The main game focuses on the naval and air battle of Midway while a second, smaller map contains the Midway Islands themselves. If the Japanese troopships make it to the Midway Islands, they can land troops and armor on the island and then the players can either fight an abstracted version of the battle or they can fight a detailed island invasion mini game! Conversely, the Midway invasion game can be played as a standalone game. This really adds value to this game.
Set up is lengthy but relatively easy. Each ship is put on a detailed board which shows what ship is part of what fleet. Each air squadron is added to its prospective place on the detailed board for the aircraft carrier (or Midway Island, itself) where the aircrafts are based. Midway also gets a B17 which can be used as either a reconnaissance plane or as a level bomber. Each fleet is then represented by a counter which is put on the main board with either its spotted or unspotted side facing up.
These detailed boards, referred to as deployment charts could actually be a little bigger as there really isn’t enough room to stack all the ships and airplanes involved in the game and when I tried to look at what ships were stacked, I kept knocking other ship stacks out of line.
Each ship, air squadron or submarine, is rated with multiple statistics. Each ship is rated for type of ship, primary combat strength, secondary combat strength, does it carry torpedoes and/or radar, armor rating and how fast it moves. Each air squadron is rated for type of aircraft, home base, air combat strength, bombing or torpedo strength and range. A reference chart in the rules helps with identification but the chart itself is a little too crowded (from a design perspective) and the counters have printing which is at times either too dark or too small making it difficult to determine what each unit is. I had to break out both a magnifying glass and a jewelers’ loop to read some of the counters. This should have been caught during the play testing.
Each turn is comprised of the Air and Naval Deployment Phase, the Spotting Phase and the Operations Phase. The Operations Phase is where units move and engage in combat. After those phases, the Recovery Phase ends the turn. When the fleets are spotted, air units and navel units may attempt to engage. Battle Boards are provided to keep track of tactual ship movement and combat as well as aircraft strikes and air interceptions. The game features dive bombers, torpedo bombers and level bombers. Don’t forget to keep some fighters on combat air patrol to help defend against bombers.
Rules include spotting from the ocean and from air units, day and night combat, bombing and torpedo attacks, submarine attacks, ferrying aircrafts, sea planes, creating smoke screens, establishing sea plane bases, use of radar in spotting fleets, surprise attacks and more. This rather small game packs a lot in but not without issues.
The rules state that a base or aircraft carrier can’t hold more planes than it is rated for but I was unable to find any rating type for how many squadrons a carrier or base could hold. This became a critical issue during my play throughs as both the Japanese and the Americans lost a carrier and we couldn’t figure out how to land the now “homeless” planes on another carrier. We had to come up with a rule on the fly and it seemed to work but the players shouldn’t have to do this. This information is critical for a game featuring aircraft carriers and island air bases but does not appear in the rules at all. This is a monumental over sight for a game on Pacific carrier operations!
Air attacks are supposed to be organized in to “air waves” but I found the rules to be somewhat clunky and underwhelming.
A few other problems involve incorrect set-ups for ships and planes as well as fleet markers which are unexplained. Most of these are corrected in the downloadable second edition rules but another round of play testing should have resolved these issues before the game went to final printing.
The game plays very well as a two player game with excellent fog of war rules and it even plays extremely well as a solo game using the Japanese Offensive Strategy Optional Rules. It is one of the few Pacific naval war games which play well solo without being designed as such.
A full game can be played in three or four hours and offers a good value for the price.
Even with its issues, The Battle of Midway is a good game and is a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
An update – errata which explains some of the issues I had with the game can now be found at:
This new content has raised my game rating from 82% to 84%! Now that is great customer support!
Armchair General Rating: 84 %
Solitaire Rating: 3
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!