After failing to defeat the invading Japanese forces on the beaches of Luzon, General MacArthur, commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), retreated the Philippine Army to the Bataan peninsula and Corregidor, according to War Plan Orange. Holding fortified positions and bolstered by the crack Philippine Scouts, the Allied forces would hold for months against the well equipped and trained Japanese invaders.
Bataan! is a two-player game, recreating the battle for the peninsula. Vance von Borries has drawn from his game design experience to create a game engine capable of portraying the tense jungle-fighting which took place on Bataan. While the system is based on a previous success, the changes needed to simulate the fighting on Bataan make this a unique gaming experience.
Japanese forces will move quickly to out-flank and pry the US/Filipino units from their fortifications. Yet the Americans can successfully launch attacks out of these strong points, particularly when the crack Philippine Scouts are in the lead. From time to time a player may lead with his armor and this was the one battle of the war where the lowly US Stuart tank was the superior tank!
A chit-pull system is used to randomly determine activations for the various formations on each side. In general, formation size is based on a division. Each formation activates individually for movement and combat. Players alternate activations based on the random chit-pull until all formations have played. Most Japanese formations receive two activations per turn, thereby demonstrating their combat capabilities, preparedness and motivation in taking an offensive role. Individual unit counters represent battalions or half battalions, and include efficiency ratings for combat comparisons and other functions.
Bataan! features five scenarios. The three early scenarios, which include a learning scenario, all play to a conclusion in one sitting. They feature a surprising amount of movement for a mostly jungle warfare game and rely on sound military tactics. Only the fourth scenario, the last battle, is a true set-piece action. The Japanese planned it that way and yet even the outcome of that battle was not pre-ordained. All scenarios are tied together by a campaign scenario where both players contend with supply and disease to field the best force possible for the final offensive.