Date:         Sun, 14 Apr 91 00:15:45 MDT
From:         Charles Michel Boucher 

Subject:      MISSISSIPPI BANZAI: A quick review

Ok...I know some of you are saying...*yeesh, there he goes again*...but
I figure that this may be some people's only chance to get a peek at
this game.  I had the opportunity to see the map and board on 7th move
laid out today and I thought you might all like to hear a bit about it.
A friend has been soloing this and he gave me his impressions.

MAP: Simple, mostly devoid of features.  Covers the area from around
     Columbia, Missouri to Peoria, Illinois...basically, the area around
     the Missouri-Mississippi confluence.  The main features are: the
     two rivers, some minor tributaries and the marshy areas that skirt
     the rivers.  Except for the main rivers and marshes, it appears that
     the other features are meaningless.  It's less complex than the KRIM
     and KADESH maps, if that gives you an idea :-)

COUNTERS: Nice to look at.  They are done in the HAMBURGER HILL style of
     silhouettes rather than military symbols.  There is no easy way to
     distinguish a division from a regiment, save perhaps by strength.
     One thing that was pointed out was that the counters, especially the
     Japanese Imperial Army, are too uniform.  Not enough specialty units.
     Among the "cute" units, you'll find Vichy French, KKK (allied with the
     SS, white on black), American Indians and Mongolian Cavalry (allied
     with the Japanese).  Fun stuff.

DESIGN PROBLEMS:  The game is a twelve turn slugfest where no units or
     group of units have enough force to really effect a major change.
     The appearance, at the beginning of the seventh turn of solo play
     was a duplication almost exactly of the Battle of Kharkov and area.
     In fact, there is nothing in the game to say that this is the US,
     except for the few cute units.  Basically, if turned upside down,
     it could take place somewhere in Russia.  In fact, in the game
     world, there is a counterbalancing military situation in Russia that
     mirrors the one in the US.

     A major flaw is forcing the German to act stupidly at the beginning.
     Given that the marshy area around the Missouri offers triple defense,
     the German is positioned just *outside* this area, and the Japanese
     player has, of course, the advantage of the first move.

     The rationale for the attack is this.  The Germans and Japanese have
     divided the US so that the Japanese have the Southwest (south and west
     of the Missouri River) and the Germans everything else.  This area
     where the combat takes place is a major railroad transfer area for the
     German Northwest.  Oh, yes...it is 1948.  The Japanese want the
     Northwest so they feel that if they can take over the rail area, the
     Germans will starve or surrender the Northwest.  Once attacked, the
     Germans have to fall back to the Mississippi which becomes their main
     line of defense and where 90% of the action takes place.  I think I've
     seen more complicated plots on SESAME STREET :-)  My friend felt that
     if the rationale was an attack on "Amt-track" ( :-) ) at least they
     should have made an attempt to show the railway, or maybe even go as far
     as to include it as an objective.  But there is no sign of it anywhere
     on the map, or in the rules as a victory objective.

     The game was designed without ZOCs and with what appears to be an
     incredible number of units for each side.  German flak units have no
     anti-tank capability, but then again, the Japanese have almost no
     armour.  Lines of supply are valid, no matter how stretched out they
     are.  Even encirclements are largely meaningless as no serious
     damage can be done at less than 8-1.  The CRT and Artillery Table
     vaguely resemble KRIM's, but at least, in KRIM, there are ZOCs to
     channel movement.

     Another flaw is that there are only two significant points on the map
     that give VPs and anything else, including surviving troops, is
     meaningless.  So the player has no incentive to economize his frontal
     assaults.  Which is why this turns into a slugfest and for no apparent
     reason.

DESIGNER: Ty Bomba (corrected using info from Boardgamegeek).

SHORT SUMMARY: A dull game, little special action, no real terrain/troops
     interaction, a thoughtless slugaroo.  I can't help having the feeling
     that with a bit of training, my 7 year old son could do better ;-)
     It's not of the caliber of the magazine games, which is a shame in a
     way, as they likely had more time to develop it.

     After a bit of discussion, we felt that reduction of troops and intro-
     duction of ZOCs would likely help the situation.  This would force the
     players to be more economic and judicious in their use of resources.
     It would make the game more tense.  As it is, it has all the excitement
     of a wet cold noodle.  This review does not reflect upon the expansions
     and subsequent scenari developed to sell Command to those who have
     purchased this game.

OVERALL: I'd pass on it, not because of the alternate history, but because
     of the design.  Too weak, not enough forethought.  A slipshod job.
     But, if it sells and helps to support the magazine, then hey...it's
     probably great for 14 year olds.  Oh...but then they'd actually like
     have to read the rules...:-)