I’ve been itching for a carrier-based naval wargame for some time. The options out there aren’t exactly plenty either. So I can’t get picky with what I want to play. Lucky for me, Agrippa Maxentius has offered me to review Carrier Battles 4 Guadacanal and LIBERTAD O MUERTE, a Spanish independence wargame from Avalon Digital. However, today I am going to review the former.
Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal focuses on carrier and aircraft battles. Just like in the battle of the Coral Sea and Midway, you are tasked with commanding several task forces around key battles in scenarios available for the players including, of course, Guadalcanal. You can play either the US or Japanese side of the conflict. Both have their advantages depending on the scenario.
I may not be too familiar with other naval wargames as I am more of a land wargamer. However, this game replicates scouting very well. When tasking your bombers to scout ahead, you can customize the distance and arc of the scouting operations—making sure to cover a wide area and repeating the operations for any update on the enemy’s fleet movement, which is critical before committing to an assault operation.
The turn-based gameplay is essential for naval carrier wargames. Most other wargames like Victory At Sea Pacific are in real-time, presenting you with the whole pacific theater with a dozen task forces while being duty-bound to protect all of the islands. It is a huge undertaking. Thankfully the focused scenarios of Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal allow you plenty of time to think before island hopping with your venerable but vulnerable carrier task forces.
The gameplay is simple. Scout, plan, and execute. Each bomber squadron sent out should always be accompanied by another fighter squadron to protect from the enemy’s interception during bombing runs. No matter how well you plan, you can always expect some losses. Still, if you make a grave mistake like underestimating the enemy’s air capability, then you might have just sent them to their doom and end up losing a game that you cannot recover from. Remember when the Japanese gambled and lost 4 of their carriers in Midway and pretty much lost any chance to recover from it? Well, it feels like this, a one-shot, one-kill situation. And I like it.
Now, there are technical problems with this game. Some of them require the game to restart. One such bug is at the last turn of a scenario when the game gets stuck, and I am unable to finish the scenario unless I reload the scenario and click end turn. These happen often enough that I have to mention it here. Then again, this is a newly released game, and hopefully, the devs will patch these out soon enough.
I came away from this game with a positive impression. It may not be as deep as I prefer it to be. Still, Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal gets the job done of simulating carrier warfare during world war two without bogging down admirals like me with too much monotonous detail.