Wargame SITREP 230206 N3 Ops: Going it alone in ARCHIE’S WAR: Battle for Guadalcanal (Worthington, 2023)

Archie’s War: Battle for Guadalcanal by designer Derek Croxton landed at Isle d’Rocky last week. The delivery fulfilled a Kickstarter campaign from September 2022 that projected a delivery of April 2023. Arriving in late January—over two whole months early—was a very welcome surprise!

Archie’s War is another block game as many have come to expect from Worthington. The game depicts the heroic defense of Henderson Airfield on Guadalcanal in late 1942. Mechanically, here is how Worthington described the game for the Kickstarter campaign:

The game includes one double sided game board with a 2 player map on one side that uses diceless combat to achieve victory, and a single player map with an innovative solitaire system.

 The 2 player game is a tense chess match of maneuver, deception and surprise. In the solitaire game you play as the Marines as you attempt to hold on to the perimeter protecting Henderson Field against relentless Japanese attacks taking your forces to the breaking point.

Archie’s War – Kickstarter Campaign

As advertised, Archie’s War is actually two-games-in-one; a two-player game and a solitaire version. Each uses the same wooden blocks (though the 2-player game uses more) and each has a unique side of the double-sided game board to play on.

For my first play of the Archie’s War I elected to play the solitaire version. In this version only combat units are used; the various “Non-Infantry Units” used in the 2-player game are set aside for solitaire play.

Solitaire play of Archie’s War is simple and straight forward. Each turn the American player selects one of six possible actions. A die roll then determines the ‘Bot’ Japanese side action. After executing the Japanese action, the American player execute their chosen action. After both sides have finished their action, the American player can rearrange their SV [Strength Value]—or strength points—and gains a reinforcement every third turn.

Combat in the solitaire version of Archie’s War is a simple SV comparison. To determine the Japanese SV, you start with the Japanese SV at the battle location, add the results of a Banzai die roll, and add some SV from Reserves or Infiltrators as directed. The Americans usually take the SV at the location plus a bonus for Vandergrift plus Reserves and an added bonus determined by the Henderson Airfield Air Support Value. The side with the lower SV loses a single SV unless the Japanese have DOUBLED the American SV in which case the position is overrun and Henderson Airfield lost—automatic defeat.

Some of the Japanese actions in the solitaire game of Archie’s War also reduce Henderson Airfield. If at the end of any turn the field status cube is below 0, the Japanese side scores an auto-win.

Solo ARCHIE’S WAR in progress (Photo by RMN)

As you maybe can tell, the challenge for the American player in the solitaire Archie’s War is to sufficiently defend their three locations with slim reinforcements while repairing Henderson Airfield. While mechanically executing game play is simple (and FAST!) I constantly found myself fighting on a shoestring.

The official name for the Guadalcanal landing was “Operation Watchtower,” but the Marines, with their sardonic sense of humor, had a better name: “Operation Shoestring.” 

War on a Shoestring: The Fight for Guadalcanal

I have played the solitaire version of Archie’s War several times now. No game has taken more than 30 minutes. My win-loss is about even. Given the vagaries of die rolls, there is no “one sure strategy” or a single guaranteed path to victory. This makes the solitaire version of Archie’s War a fair filler game, maybe best suited for a short weeknight window of gaming when the rest of the family is running about. [I’m working on an elevated table to go next to the exercise bike because at 30 min Archie’s War would fit into a short workout nicely].

The 2-player version of Archie’s War adds Non-Infantry Units and uses a very different set of rules featuring a diceless combat system. I need to familiarize myself with those rules a bit better before I introduce it to the RockyMountainNavy Boys. I’ll let you know how that goes when it happens.

Feature image courtesy RMN

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2023 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

4 thoughts on “Wargame SITREP 230206 N3 Ops: Going it alone in ARCHIE’S WAR: Battle for Guadalcanal (Worthington, 2023)

  1. Still waiting for my copy to arrive…

    1. I knew Worthington was shipping but they said we were not going to get a shipping notice. So it arrived “unannounced.” Compass does the same thing. I like getting my games but how hard is it to do the shipping label thing? Even the one-man-shop Jon Compton manages to get shipping notices. Sigh…

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