Review – We Must Tell the Emperor – from Victory Point Games

Review – We Must Tell the Emperor – from Victory Point Games

Designed by Steve Carey

note – Thanks to Victory Point Games for providing a copy of this game for review purposes

We Must Tell the Emperor is another game in Victory Point Games’ States of Siege series, designed by Steve Carey, based on Darin Leviloff’s original Israeli Independence design. Having reviewed an earlier title in the series, Empires in America,  I knew what to expect. It would be interesting to see how this solitaire system was applied to the War in the Pacific.

This game puts you in charge of the Japanese forces and the game system manages the Allied forces. Very simply, you need to defeat or at least keep the Allied forces at bay long enough to win. Hence the “siege” in the States of Siege system. The components are nicely done and typical Victory Point Games fare. The colorful 11″ x 17″ map is nicely laid out on card stock with the movement areas and requisite charts. You get a Battles Table and die-cut information chits. Lastly, there are 48 Event cards which are the engine of the game system. The quality of the components is a good standard, the art work very effective. A very nice presentation with excellent historical feel and theme. It all comes in a small ziplock bag. Very efficient, easy to store.


A card driven game, the process relies on the information provided on the Event cards. These cards are divided by color into 3 different Epochs or stages of the conflict, each of which provides an increasingly difficult set of circumstances to deal with. As the Japanese leader, you will  feel yourself being squeezed more and more by the Allied juggernaut. The cards, which are nicely laid out,  provide the following information –

The Headline – which is the main event for the turn – i.e. Attack on Pearl Harbor

Military activity – Which Allied forces are advancing towards the Japanese homeland

Resource gains and losses

Player actions – these are the number of actions available to you to take, any Die roll modifiers which may make things easier or harder for you

Historical flavor text

You basically go through all the cards to play out the game.


The sequence of play is as follows:

Headline phase – pull the next current event card – when the last “Late War” card has been pulled, the game ends

Military phase – Move Allied armies, adjust US Subs marker

Resources phase – Adjust resource markers, and add new fortifications as allowed by the card

Orders phase – take the number of actions currently available

Housekeeping phase

A – Check for Japanese defeat

B – Refresh map for next turn

C – Check Oil flow and production status

If you are familiar with war games and familiar with this system particularly, it won’t take you very long at all to go through the rules and be up and playing. If not, then I recommend playing the first couple of turns by reading through the 8 pages of rules sequentially. They are laid out as you would play through each turn and they essentially walk you through the process very well. Examples are provided which make things clear. There is fair amount of verbiage but once you’ve worked through the first 1-2 turns, you will find things move very quickly. Ultimately, pretty much everything you need to know is on the cards and I found that I barely had to refer to the rules at all which made things really good in terms of ease of play.

The thing that I most like about the system is the card mechanics. You are taken through a very strong narrative of the major events of the War in the Pacific. You can engage directly with the major battles or  take other actions whilst these great battles are going on. You really get a feel for the ebb and flow and a deep sense of impending doom as the Allied forces move against you. You can choose to go for the aggressive approach, hoping to knock out some of the Allied forces or you can perhaps have a strategy of counter-punch to the Allied thrusts, whilst maintaining your resources, prestige and military force strength. Either way, its tough. Time and the inevitable Allied power is against you so this is a challenging game to win.

Did it work for me?

I am becoming a real fan of the States of Siege system, and We Must Tell the Emperor is an excellent addition to the series. It is a brilliant solitaire experience. The card mechanics take you through this great conflict and you are under pressure as you watch events unfold. This is not an easy game to win and you will find yourself wanting to have another go and another after that.

There is a sense that you are just biding your time and hoping for the best. Having said that you do have choices to make and these can be critical. The history is presented well, the key events are there. This is not a deep game and works very well as a rather light war game.If you struggle to find time to get more detailed and complicated war games to the table, this makes a nice alternative. You can play it through in an hour or less and have a very satisfying experience.

You get a lot of game in a small package. I don’t know that I could ask anything else from a game using the Victory Point Games production model. Steve Carey has designed one of the best solitaire games that I have ever played and I look forward to playing more in the series.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 9 out of 10

Family friendly?

No, this is for war gamers

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