Gary Grigsby's Pacific War

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Gary Grigsby's Pacific War
Gary Grigsby's Pacific War Coverart.png
Publisher(s) Strategic Simulations, Inc.
Designer(s) Gary Grigsby
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release 1992
Genre(s) Strategy, wargame

Gary Grigsby's Pacific War is a 1992 strategy wargame released by Strategic Simulations, Inc.. It covers World War II in the Pacific between the Japanese Empire and the Allies, which include the United States, the British Empire, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Philippines, and China. The main map of the game stretches from north of the Aleutians to southern New Zealand and Australia, and from the eastern coast of India to the West Coast of North America. It includes aircraft carrier operations, amphibious assaults, surface bombardments/engagements, strategic bombing, kamikazes, and the submarine war against naval and merchant shipping.

The most recent version, 3.2 or the "Matrix Version", is available as a freeware download from Matrix Games.[1]

The game remains popular despite its age. Those who prefer more variety than available playing against the computer can easily arrange for games via e mail with human opponents by posting to the Matrix Pacific War Forum

Game concepts[edit]

The role of the player is that of high level command. Players decide what will be attacked or defended, appoint commanders, and provide the resources (aircraft, ships, and land combat units) to accomplish the goals. The lowest level of player control is roughly equivalent to that of a theater commander. Details of combat depend on commanders appointed by the player.

Players exercise control at higher levels, roughly equivalent to having influence in the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, the UK Imperial War Cabinet, or the US Joint Chiefs Of Staff. Players have the ability in most cases to impose an overall strategy and require shared goals and cooperation between, as examples, the Japanese Army and Navy, UK and the US, or the US Army and USMC. This is not historical.

The game places some restrictions on imposing non-historical strategies and cooperation. The Japanese player cannot abandon China (the Imperial Japanese Army's main goal). The Allied player has land combat units that must remain in the US for its defense and (in the SSI version) land combat units that must remain in Australia. The Allied player is subject to Royal Navy ships being temporarily removed from the game as a simulation of the Royal Navy's global responsibilities. The Allied player can not accelerate the transfer of USN ships to the Pacific theater. USN ships arrive in the Pacific on the historic dates. The ability of each side to overrun China is limited.

The game runs on Preparation Points. Most events in the game consume Preparation Points. The Japanese player receives Preparation Points based on Japan's oil reserve. This means the Japanese player must capture bases with oil early in the game. While early in the game, the Japanese player has superior combat capability, the player cannot exploit this superiority without Preparation Points.

The Allied player receives Preparation Points based on the game date. Available Allied Preparation Points increase as the game progresses. The Allied player has a higher maximum number of Preparation Points per HQ than the Japanese player.


The game uses an approximation map of the overall Pacific theater with each hex representing 100 miles. Bases are the focal point of action. Combat ships, light cruiser and larger, except for some escort carriers, are represented individually. Smaller combat ships such as destroyers, some escort carriers, and transport type ships are usually represented as groups of ships identified by class rather than actual ship names.

Numerous types of land combat units are represented in a range from Divisions to small construction units. Individual airgroups are present. Number of aircraft per airgroup varies depending on game version and airgroup type and nationality.

The game simulates historical command structure through use of HQs. Leaders (Admirals and Generals) are represented. Leaders can be assigned to different levels and types of command including HQ, base, and task force. Leader characteristics greatly affect the outcome of combat as players influence but don't control local decisions.

Logistic simulation consists of generic supplies representing food, ammunition, tanks, guns, aircraft, and replacement personnel. Fuel is simulated separate from supply. Supply and fuel are important factors. Units must have supply and fuel to fight effectively. The computer automatically handles most of the transport of supplies and fuel, and the transport of oil and resources to Japan.

Players may prioritize the deliveries of the routine convoy system. Bases that are HQs receive more supplies and fuel. Additional increases occur if the HQ has a target and if the target is near the HQ base.

Players may manually create transport task forces if prioritization doesn't deliver adequate supplies or fuel. Players must manually create transport task forces to supply isolated bases. Isolated bases are those subject to attack, and the manually created task forces may be attacked by air or naval forces, in addition to submarines. Routine supply convoys are subject to attack only by submarines.

Factories produce guns, tanks, construction points (used to repair ships and activate new ones), and aircraft. Japanese factories convert oil to fuel. All is handled automatically except that players may choose to control aircraft production themselves.

Land and air units have experience ratings. Experience increases by small amounts over time, even without combat, to simulate routine training. Airgroups can be placed on intensive training. Experience rating of land units and airgroups in combat may increase or decrease depending on losses incurred.

Players may select locations for submarines themselves or allow the computer to select them. Submarine attacks are resolved by the computer, as are ASW operations by escort vessels and aircraft patrols.

Players may elect to control some theaters while allowing the computer to control others. Two types of computer control are available. Players may give the computer total control of a theater where the computer will select a goal and act to achieve it, or players may select a goal for the theater (setting the HQ target) and allow the computer to act to accomplish the goal.

When the Japanese side is played by the computer, the computer will often elect to pursue an anti-shipping submarine campaign. Historically, Japan deployed its submarines against warships and used them for special mission, such as taking supplies to isolated bases and conducting harassment bombardments.[2] The game does not simulate special missions.


The game is a turn-based setup, each turn covering one week. It can be played as a solo player against the AI; or by two players, either on the same computer, or by email play. A solo player can choose to play either Japan or Allies. Game balance can be adjusted to give one side or the other 'help' or 'maximum help', resulting in that side getting more replacements, improved production, and faster reinforcements. Matrix has scenarios developed specifically for play against the computer and others developed for two human players.

There are provisions for fighting shorter campaigns: the Japanese offensive period; Coral Sea - Midway period; Guadalcanal; the Marianas landings; or the Leyte Gulf battles. Alternately, players can select the entire war from December 1941 Pearl Harbor, or a slightly shorter version from 1942 to surrender. Matrix includes a non-historical scenario which starts after a hypothetical Japanese victory at Midway.

Matrix changes[edit]

There are many differences between SSI versions and the last Matrix version. Matrix expands the aircraft rating range so there is a greater difference between aircraft. The aircraft selection is different. Overall, simulation of aircraft performance may be more accurate.

Matrix has additional ships and ship types. New USN carriers, cruisers, and destroyers arrive on their historical dates in the latest Matrix version, while SSI uses a formula that replaces lost ships of these types one year after they are lost. SSI prioritizes new construction based on loses, which has some historical basis.

SSI has several features that subtly help a computer opponent even when balance is set to "even". These include advantages in air combat resolution, and the ability of a computer opponent to move air groups and ships over long distance between executions. There may be other subtle undocumented help features for a computer opponent.

While Matrix states there are none of what it calls "cheats" by a computer opponent, players report the computer playing Japan receives unrealistic amounts of oil. Since a human allied player's efforts to reduce the supply of oil of the computer opponent are ineffective, this may cause the player to adopt unrealistic strategies. Matrix simulates Japan's supply of oil realistically in games involving two human players. SSI always simluates Japan's oil supply realistically.

The SSI versions give Japan a kill multiplier that takes effect January 1944. The Japanese player must maintain adequate oil and resource pools to qualify for the kill multiplier. This gives the Japanese player a slight chance of obtaining a draw and a lesser chance of obtaining a win. Either requires the Japanese player to inflict much greater than historical losses on the Allied player and to retain conquered bases well past the date when the Allies historically recovered them.

Matrix delays the kill multiplier to 1946, and the Japanese player has no chance of winning. However, manual scoring using the SSI system of kill multipliers does not increase the Japanese player's chances of a win with Matrix. Players report it is not possible to win as Japan, even against Allied AI.

The reason is Matrix increase the production and resources for both sides (Allies more than Japan) and as a result depreciated the value of kill points. Even with the multiplier available, overcoming the additional control and production points is not possible.

SSI versions have features that reduce combat effectiveness of both sides in Burma and Alaska. The features of the Matrix version further reduce combat effectiveness.

SSI initially prevents the Allied player from using Australian home defense forces for offensive purposes. The units are released for offensive purposes on historical dates. Matrix does not restrict use of these units. Some players adopt house rules requiring that these units remain in Australia with release date defined by the house rules. Both versions similarly restrict the ability of the Japanese player to remove land combat units and airgroups from China.


The game was originally designed and programmed by Gary Grigsby, produced by George MacDonald, and with game development by Joel Billings, David Landrey and James Young. Richard Dionne, Ken Hansen, and Jeremy Pritchard are credited with making the changes that resulted in the Matrix Edition.

SSI did not ship the game with a printed map for cost reasons. Computer Gaming World in March 1994 published a map from SSI as part of about 30 pages of supplementary material, including an index, improved table of contents, checklists, and playing suggestions.[3]


Computer Gaming World stated in April 1993 that "Here it is, the game Grigsby fans have been waiting eight years for! The whole of World War II in the Pacific, from Seattle to Calcutta! Awesome!" The magazine stated that "Pacific War is a milestone in computer wargaming—it's the first true computer 'monstergame'". It warned that the game's difficulty, user interface, and lack of a tutorial or paper map made it appealing only for dedicated wargamers willing to learn "ten to twenty hours just learning to play".[4][3] A survey of wargames that year in the magazine gave the game four stars out of five, calling it "The simulation of the Pacific ... I find it overwhelming, but I can recognize quality when I see it. Highly recommended for retirees, or for those for whom the expression "Get a life!" means something".[5] The magazine named Pacific War the 1993 Wargame of the Year.[6]


  1. ^ [1], Pacific War game documentation.
  2. ^ The Pacific War 1941-1945, J. Costello, 1982
  3. ^ a b Johnston, John E. III (April 1993). "A Gudie to CGW's Supplements for Gary Grigsby's Pacific War". Computer Gaming World. p. 112. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Grigsby, Gary (April 1993). "Bali Hai Will Call You". Computer Gaming World. p. 103. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (September 1993). "Brooks' Book of Wargames: 1900-1950, A-P". Computer Gaming World. p. 118. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Computer Gaming World's Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. October 1993. pp. 70–74. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 

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