PC Game Review: War Plan Orange
What's Orange about a War Plan? Bill Trotter explains how hypothetical wargaming in the 1920s foreshadowed World War II and eventually manifested itself into a wargame for the 21st century.
Broadsides and Biplanes (continued)
The shorter campaigns include:
“Pacific Jutland”, 3/1/24 – 5/1/24: a two-month climatic show-down that presupposes Japanese occupation of the Philippines and an all-or-nothing fleet engagement between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the combined fleets of Great Britain and the Netherlands (with a marginal assist from the French, in Indo-China, if you want to drag them in, too; they won’t be of much help, but they can thicken your anti-submarine screens and increase your ability to plant, or sweep, minefields.) This abbreviated, cut-to-the-chase campaign makes a good warm-up scenario for new players.
“Clash of Titans”, 8/1/28 – 9/30/ 29: A very interesting initial set-up, with the Japanese poised to invade Luzon and the U.S. gathering its strength to attack Formosa. One side or the other has to “blink” and detach added defensive squadrons at some point, or be daring enough to proceed with their original plan and try to conduct defensive actions on a shoe-string. A well-balanced campaign of intermediate complexity, this one is designed strictly for PBEM or hot-seat play and it works very well in that mode. Note, too, that if both players agree, they can ignore the arbitrary cut-off date and continue to slug it out until there’s a clear-cut victor/loser situation.
The final three scenarios offer an abbreviated 18-month campaign (from 5/31/22 to 12/31/23), a huge 4.5-year PBEM variant of the mega-campaign., and a PBEM variant of the “Super-Dreadnought” option. Frankly, as of mid-March 2006, it may be difficult to find a suitable opponent who has the time and inclination to take up this challenge, but as more copies of the game are sold and more players fall under its spell, that situation should change.
Conclusion: It's My Kind of Wargame!
I’ve always been susceptible to the whole notion of might-have-been variants; after all, one of the chief attractions of wargaming has always been its ability to fulfill our fantasies about “doing better” than Napoleon, Lee, or Hitler – whose chief mistakes in judgment can seem blindingly obvious in hindsight. What true Southerner hasn’t harbored a desire to rearrange things at Gettysburg so that Meade does the uphill attacking? And what true blue-eyed Chef des Wehrmachtfuhrungsstabes in Oberkommando der Wehrmact hasn’t…oh well, let’s not even go there…
Fans of naval history have tended to feel a bit short-changed in the dreadnought area – the ships were so powerful, so damned beautiful, that it somehow seems “unfair” that they left such a shallow trace on the actual record of History. War Plan Orange “corrects” that oversight, in spades. It is grounded in formidable research (did I mention that you can even construct and deploy “Q Ships” to bushwhack enemy submarines?), it subsumes an oceanic amount of data into a smooth and richly detailed gaming experience, and it certainly gives you plenty of re-play value for your investment. Quite simply, I enjoyed Mr. Prince’s magnum opus more than any other game I’ve played in years.
If you, too, feel a thrill in your spine when you see old newsreels of Battleship fleets wheeling majestically over the seas and rattling the floor of Heaven with their broadsides, do not hesitate to acquire this game, for it does what innovative wargames do best: it scratches a historical itch that can’t be gotten-at any other way!
About the Author
William R. Trotter was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a graduate of Davidson College. Since 1980, he has supported himself entirely by his freelance writing. In 1987, he became Senior Writer for Imagine Media. His monthly column on war and strategy gaming, "The Desktop General" has run for 14 years and is read by approximately 1.2 million people, in 13 languages. Trotter's journalistic work has appeared in more than 30 newspapers and magazines -- approximately 1400 by-lined pieces. His 14 published books run the gamut from true crime, biography, history, and fiction; his most recent work is The Sands of Pride, a Tolstoy-sized, two-volume, epic about the Civil War on coastal North Carolina.
Trotter lives in Greensboro, N.C., with his wife, fantasy writer and editor Elizabeth Lustig, and their three sons. When not busy writing or parenting, he spends lots of time trying to figure out how to organize and store his 6000-piece classical music collection.