Alternative Titles/Edition History:
1st Edition, 2012; 2nd Edition, 2016
Critical Hit (1st Edition, 2012; 2nd Edition, 2016)
Country of Origin:
1st Edition Contents: 1 24" x 34" historical map, 2 duplicate sets of 148 die-cut counters (296 counters total), 7 scenarios, 4-page rulebook. In addition, product includes an allegedly "remastered" version of the Toktong map from CH's Escape from Chosin/Chosin Few module and 1 scenario for that product.
2nd Edition Contents: 4 12" x 18" heavy paper map panels, 148 die-cut counters, 8 scenarios, 4 pages rules, IIFT play aid (on back of folio).Commentary:
Pork Chop Hill (PCH) is a smallish historical module set in the Korean War in 1953 that depicts the minor battle for that position made famous by a book by S.L.A. Marshall and a subsequent film starring Gregory Peck. This is NOT a stand-alone product, but rather requires counters and rules from CH’s Chosin/Chosin Few module in order to be played. No design or playtesting credits appear in the module.
PCH includes a 4-page rulebook, but little of that is actually rules. There are really only about a page and a half of rules, most of which describe specific terrain types. There are also short rules for two minor entrenchment variations and rules for a specific type of barrage, the “U” barrage. There are also rules for the M39 APC and a 1950 FB. Of course, the Chosin rules are also required.
Almost all of the included counters are unnecessary, consisting of duplicates of existing unit counters. There are also 4 “U” barrage counters, a Chinese flag counter, 4 M60A1 counters, 4 improved trench counters, 6 special bunker counters, 6 M39APC counters, and a 1950 FB counter. Included as well are 4 4-2-6 optional “infiltrator” counters, which are not used in the module but rather are some half-assed notion thrown in ostensibly for “solitaire play.”
The historical map is nice enough. It contains larger-than-normal hexes depicting the eponymous hill mass, a mostly denuded rocky hill plastered with shellholes. Unlike many CH maps, elevation levels (of which there appear to be 8) are not marked on the map, only differentiated by color. It seems perfectly serviceable.
Seven scenarios are included in PCH (plus a “bonus” scenario; see below). One of the scenario cards in the copy used to review this product was poorly printed. Three of the scenarios are small in size, one is medium-sized, and the remaining three are large. All of the large scenarios use the entire map area. One scenario uses Night rules, one scenario has Air Support, and three scenarios use OBA.
The small scenarios are possibly too small for a historical module. PCH2 (“Organization in Depth”), for example, uses almost half the map area but depicts only 10 Chinese squads and 4.5 American squads. The larger scenarios are more interesting and provide players with more of an opportunity to fight on the historical map. All three involve attacks on prepared positions. PCH3 (April Assault) and PCH7 (Last Attack on Pork Chop Hill) depict Chinese assaults on U.S. prepared positions, while PCH6 (Through the Front Door) depicts an American assault on Chinese prepared positions. These are also the three scenarios with OBA (and the one with Air Support). The largest scenario is PCH7 (Last Attack on Pork Chop Hill), which pits 44 Chinese squads against 25 defending American squads.
PCH, in addition to its own components, also included a “remastered” version of the map from Chosin/Chosin Few. It also included a Chosin scenario: CF#11 (The Longest Night), a largish Night scenario (minus some rules) which depicts a Chinese attack on the U.S. Army, USMC, and British elements of Task Force Drysdale.
Pork Chop Hill will probably appeal to fans of the Korean War, and it is nice to see the US Army (as opposed to the USMC). However, the small number of scenarios and the fortification-heavy nature of a number of them will limit its appeal to others.
2nd Edition (2016) comments: In 2016, Critical Hit released a new version of Pork Chop Hill, without retitling it as they usually do, presumably because the original title is so well-known. The main difference was a new map. Gone was the one-sheet historical map, replaced by four 12″ x 18″ glossy unmounted map panels that have to be assembled to form the playing area. This can be a pain, but generally not too irritating with four or fewer panels. The glossiness is irritating, but compensated for by the brighter colors, which are an improvement over the drab tones of the original Pork Chop Hill. The artwork is new as well. Overall, the map is an improvement and one of the better Critical Hit maps of recent years.
The two duplicate countersheets of the 1st Edition are now down to one copy. The “remastered” Chosin map is gone, though oddly enough the scenario for it remains. Players should keep in mind that the Toktong/Chosin product is required to play Pork Chop Hill.
I can’t figure out the need for the helicopters in this game. All they do is drop supplies, but you don’t get or need Dakota’s for WW2 para drops, so why do we need this here? On top of that it can ‘drop’ supplies in any hex it likes, which is crazy since they’d be dropped with parachutes and thus need the parachute rules for drift and landing, which aren’t used. It also doesn’t explain the historical reality of supply drops drifting, when in this game they more or less can’t. The night scenarios are like a daytime battle, using mist hinderances beyond 6 hexes, so you may as well not call it a night engagement. No one is likely to stray, no jitter fire, no starshells, may as well be plain daylight. At least they tried a Korean game!