Victory in the Pacific
Universal PBEM Rules of Play

Last Updated on January 15th, 2024
Written by John Pack


Objective: The first victory we seek in every game is the return of our opponent to play another. High level, friendly competition in our favorite game demands nothing less.

Participation: The GM will confirm all participants during the two week period prior to each round. Failure to confirm participation during that two week period (from the 1st to the 15th) will result in being dropped from the tournament. Confirmation prior to the two week period will be disregarded. The length of the game period is such that one may experience unexpected life changes while waiting for the next round; this policy is designed to minimize the number of stranded opponents. Note: If your life circumstance changes in the middle of a game, please resign gracefully rather than disappearing.

Ties: Tie games will be counted as Allied victories for tournament purposes.

Adjudication: Three days prior to the beginning of the next round (on the 12th unless otherwise designated), players should forward the complete status of their game (location of all units, control of bases, ports, and areas, score, bid, rules adjustments used, comments, etc.) in a combination of text, image, and VASSAL files to the GM. Three members of the tournament (or other PBEM competition) will be asked to adjudicate unfinished games. Majority rules.  In the event only two report by the deadline, the GM (or yet another player should the game involve the GM) will act as tie-breaker. The results of the adjudication are final for both AREA and tournament purposes. Games which have not finished combat on Turn Five and are not decisive victories for one side or the other (e.g., Pearl/Samoa taken or Saigon under USN control) will be ruled in favor of the faster-playing opponent (or ruled a draw if the players cannot determine who played faster).

A.R.E.A.: All games will be AREA rated. Tie games will be reported to AREA as draws. The status of all games will be available online at Results will be passed on to AREA. An AREA# and starting rating of 5000 will be given to anyone without one; there is no cost for the service. Players do not need to contact AREA directly and should not report results independently.


Players may use any mutually agreeable method of rolling dice. There are three dice servers which have been certified for use in the PBEM tournaments which may be used by any player at his sole discretion.  These dice servers include:


Help for the first can be obtained by emailing a blank message to the address shown.  The second and third use a self-explanatory form to request dice. Try each by yourself before using it in a game.  Other dice servers may be used only if both players agree beforehand.  The Vassal internal die rollers are not recommended unless both players are online and can witness the results simultaneously.

Dice requests which are not accurately addressed to both players are invalid and must be re-rolled.  See clarifications for Dice Disputes/Questions.

Archive:  Players are encouraged to have the selected dice server email a copy of the results to These results will be archived until the end of the round. If, for whatever reason, a player does not receive or misplaces his copy of the results, the GM will supply the copy sent to the dice archive upon request. For dice rolls to be valid, the results must be received by at least one of the players and the archive (

Minor Rules Adjustments

Prior to the first bid, both players may optionally agree to use the Open Turn Two scenario, the Menzel Options, or one or more of the following minor rules adjustments (each of which benefits the Allied player). For ease of transition, the adjustments are listed by the level used in the upcoming edition. Each level includes all of the adjustments in the lower level(s).

Level # Name Effect
Intermediate 1a I-Boat Arrival The I-Boat arrives with Turn 2 reinforcements.  The I-Boat is not available on Turn 1.
2b Individual CPO Withdrawal After each Location Uncertain roll of "1," the Allied player may freely withdraw the associated group with no pursuit, basing such ships at Johnston Island, immune to any attack this turn.  The Allied player must choose before rolling for any subsequent Location Uncertain Group.  Any groups that do not withdraw immediately do not have another chance to retreat prior to the end of the first combat round.
Advanced 3c West Coast Escape If there's a Japanese Control Flag in the Hawaiian Islands during Turn 3 movement, Allied units in Pearl Harbor or Johnston Island, during any opportunity to move, may be placed instead with the Turn 4 reinforcements.
Expert 4a San Diego Repair Yards During the basing phase, any U.S. ship with damage less than or equal to its armor factor may be withdrawn from the map (i.e., based in San Diego). After missing at least one turn, such ships return with any subsequent turn's reinforcements (with damage if not completely repaired). Total repairs in San Diego and Pearl Harbor (or Samoa if Pearl Harbor is Japanese-controlled) are limited to Pearl Harbor's repair capacity.
Tournament 5a CVL Raid Ryujo and Zuiho may NOT be assigned to the Pearl Harbor raid force. They may make any other legal move.
5b Mandatory Retreat After the first two air raid rounds and Location Uncertain rolls (18.2, 18.22-18.23), the Japanese player must retreat from the Hawaiian Islands.  The Allied player may pursue per standard rules.

This popular alternative is also available (and is slightly different than the Menzel Option version):
3b. Pearl Harbor Escape: If there's a Japanese Control Flag in the Hawaiian Islands during Turn 3 movement, Turn 3 Pearl Harbor reinforcements may also move to the U.S. Mandate.

These adjustments are used only if BOTH players agree. If you wish to use any of these adjustments, notify your opponent of the option (or combinations) which you'd like to use. If your opponent agrees, the adjustments apply to your game and bidding may proceed accordingly. Notify the GM of any adjustments agreed upon once bidding is complete.

Determination of Sides

Sides will be determined by bidding. The player positioned lower on the ladder or seeded lower in the tournament gets to name the preferred side and a PoC amount (if any) he is willing to give or take in order to play that side. The other player can accept the bid and play the non-preferred side or bid a higher amount of PoC he is willing to give or a lower amount of PoC he is willing to take.  PoC bids must be in zero or positive whole or half PoC amounts and change by at least 0.5 PoC.  The bid is applied to the final score. The IJN player should notify the GM immediately once sides and the bid are determined (along with any adjustments being used).


  • Giving PoC: The lower-positioned player says, "I'll bid 3 PoC to play the IJN." His opponent can take the three PoC and play the USN or bid a higher amount for the IJN. He decides to bid 3.5 PoC for the IJN. This continues until one accepts the PoC incentive. At the end of the game, the bid is applied to the score to help the one who accepted the incentive.
  • Taking PoC: The lower-positioned player says, "I'd like to play the USN if you'll give me 5 PoC." His opponent can play the IJN if he's willing to give the USN player five POC at the end of the game, or he can bid for the USN by proposing to take a lower PoC amount. He decides he's willing to take the USN for 4 PoC. This continues until one accepts the IJN and gives the USN the agreed upon PoC.  If the amount goes to 0, this type of bidding could become a positive bid for the USN (where the USN player gives PoC to the IJN player).

    Note: In neither case can the second player change the side being bid for nor the type of bidding (giving or taking) determined by the lower-positioned player.  As a result, the lower-positioned player never has a reason to name the side s/he does not wish to play.

Sequence of Play

The Second Edition rules together with all current Questions & Clarifications will be used.

The sequence of play is altered as follows (each step corresponds to an individual PBEM mailing). Die rolls required at a step are shown in parenthesis.

1. Japanese - Patroller Movement & Repairs (Speed Rolls)
2. Allies - Patroller Movement & Repairs (Speed Rolls)

Repeat Steps 3 & 4 until all LBA have been placed:
3. Japanese - Placement of one or more LBA within the following requirements:

  1. Maximum Number of Placements:  Total available LBA divided by two, rounded up.  Example:  The IJN has 5 LBA and, therefore, must place them in a maximum of three placements -- at his discretion these could be 2/2/1, 3/1/1, 2/1/2, 1/1/3, or any other combination of five LBA in three or fewer placements.  LBA placed during patrols do not count as a placement (e.g., the IJN placed two of his five LBA with his patrols and can now place his final three LBA in three separate placements if desired).
  2. Number of LBA Placed:  Enough to exceed total Allied LBA placed by one or have placed all LBA.

4. Allies - Placement of one or more LBA within the following requirements:

  1. Maximum Number of Placements: One for each IJN Placement
  2. Number of LBA Placed:  Enough to equal or exceed total IJN LBA placed or have placed all LBA.  This also applies in Step 2.

5. Japanese - Movement of amphibious units
6. Allies - Movement of Marines
7. Japanese - Raider Movement (Speed Rolls)
8. Allies - Raider Movement (Speed Rolls) & location of F-Boat
9. Japanese - Announce order of combat, all day/night preferences, location of I-boat, & request delays for any area that meets the conditions.

  • All areas with combat, amphibious units, or potential air raids must be named.
  • Even though combat is fought simultaneously, every area is treated as if it played out and finished in the order designated by the IJN.  Air raids commence as soon as battles designated earlier in this order are complete and may target only those units in port as a result of areas designated earlier in this order. As a consequence, each side will have to keep track of where the ships in each port came from when air raids are possible.
  • Simultaneous conduct of battle is not optional; however, in cases where combat can be affected by the order (Step 9) either player may request a delay.  Such effects include (but are not limited to):
    • Amphibious unit in earlier area can affect a base used in combat in later area
    • Possible air raid on amphibious unit can affect a base used in combat in later area
    • Flag isolation effects would alter tactics with respect to amphibious units in later area
    • Information from later area could alter amphibious unit tactics in earlier area

    Exceptions to simultaneous combat specifically do not include:

    • Basing Decisions (whether from withdrawal or disable results)
    • Attrition Outcome
    • PoC Outcome
    • Base conquest/reinforcement which will be resolved before any later area effects

    If an allowable exception applies and it would alter combat in the other area, notify your opponent during Step 9 or 10 -- stating the reason for the delay.  The later area (Step 9) and all associated day/night preference rolls are then delayed until the pertinent effects of the earlier area have been resolved.  Any dice which have been rolled for a now-delayed area are discarded.  All other areas proceed simultaneously.

10. Allies - Announce all day/night preferences, which (if any) carriers will use gunnery factors should a night action occur, the order of combat for any area overlooked by the IJN player (such areas must come after the IJN combat order), & request delays for any area that meets the conditions listed in the Step 9 notes (Day/Night rolls).

Repeat 11-16 until all combat is finished (including air raids permitted by the Step 9 order of combat):
11. Japanese - (Day/Night rolls) & Round of Fire (Attack/Damage rolls) plus basing for any unit dislodged by Step 16 amphibious landing
12. Allies - Round of Fire (Attack/Damage rolls) & optionally perform any parts of Steps 14 and 16 desired
13. Japanese - Announce basing for all disabled & successfully withdrawn units.  Round of Fire (Attack/Damage rolls) for the night portion of any area where the action was "day followed by night."  Optionally conduct any parts of Step 15 desired.
14. Allies - Announce basing for all disabled & successfully withdrawn units.  Round of Fire for the night portion of any area where the action was "day followed by night" & F-boat attack (Attack/Damage rolls).  Optionally conduct any parts of Step 16 desired.
15. Japanese - Announce basing for units disabled in the night portion of the action, withdrawals, amphibious unit landings, pursuit of previously announced Allied withdrawals, I-boat attack (Attack/Damage rolls), & all day/night preferences
16. Allies - Announce basing for units disabled in the night portion of the action or dislodged by amphibious landing, any withdrawals, amphibious unit landings, any pursuit, all day/night preferences, and which (if any) carriers will use gunnery factors should a night action occur (Day/Night rolls).

  • In the event of an American withdrawal, the Japanese day/night preference for the area is ignored and the Japanese player will specify any pursuit and day/night preference(s) in his next Step 15.
  • Amphibious unit landing must occur in steps 15-16. However, such units may wait to land until the step 15 or 16 following the last round of combat in any area.  An amphibious unit which has not landed by the step 15 or 16 which follows the final combat round in its sea area may still land following combat rounds in other sea areas; however, such landings are considered to have taken place during basing (i.e., after air raids, control flags, and POC).

17. Japanese - Place control flags, adjust POC, and flip isolated bases/ports (any displaced Allied units rebase in Step 18).  Return units to base, place arriving reinforcements and returning units, and handle removals.
18. Allies - Return units to base, place reinforcements and returning units, handle removals, and send any desired commentary to the GM (including, at a minimum, the score and turn number).

The steps delineate what each player is expected to accomplish prior to their opponents action. However, within the limits of the 2nd edition rules, players are free to accomplish the step in parts which allow them to see the results of one of the actions before proceeding with the next. For example, in Step 11 the Japanese player would request dice for the day/night determination, view the results, and then immediately proceed to order his attacks (which, if desired, he may send to the die roller one sea area at a time in the order of combat designated in Step 9).  In such a case, the Allied player should wait until all facets of the IJN step are complete before taking any action.

It is expected that players will skip steps where no action is needed or combine steps when they can take more than one at a time (e.g., Japanese LBA, NLF, and Raider placement on Turn 1).  Players who wish to tip their hand are free to move units earlier than necessary in the sequence of play.  For suggestions of optional ways of speeding play, refer to Fast, Enjoyable Email Play.

Turn 1

For speed of play, turn one follows a slightly modified sequence of play. Namely, the first round of air raids on Pearl Harbor and in Indonesia is conducted together with placement of the Japanese Patrollers (including all LBA and raiding-side-up aircraft carriers which will use their airstrike factor to air raid Pearl Harbor and Indonesia). The second round is conducted with the placement of Japanese Raiders and the I-boat. The Japanese then announce their intent to withdraw from the Hawaiian Islands or not. Placement of the Location Uncertain groups is handled with the speed rolls of the Allied Raiders.  The I-Boat, if any, is then resolved.  After the I-Boat, the Allied player makes the decision to stay or withdraw from the Hawaiian Islands.  Any remaining combat is handled normally beginning with step 9.

Code of Conduct

Timing/Delays - Please discuss how often you plan to move and what time of the day you usually move with your opponent to minimize the delays between responses. Not only will this ensure that your game finishes within the allotted period, but your game will be more energetic and exciting. Games where both players complete a step every four days on average should be able to complete a full eight turn game in 3-4 months. It is understood that vacations, work, deadlines, family, emergencies, etc. will affect response times. Simply notify your opponent when your response will be excessively delayed (e.g., more than two days longer than normal). Long absences without notification will be strongly considered if a game must be adjudicated.  If "real life" will delay the game too much during a round (e.g., four weeks or more total) to allow completion of the game, a player should apologetically and promptly resign from the game.  Do not sign up for a round if you anticipate such delays.

Shortcuts - Each opponent you'll play is unique and has some eccentricities.  At the start of each game, it's recommended that you discuss what shortcuts you're willing to allow and which your opponent will allow.  Examples: 1) Many players are OK with the second player who announces day/night preferences rolling for both sides.  2) Many players are OK with an opponent rolling attack dice for him when there are no target selection options (e.g., one cruiser vs. one or more cruisers).  3) Some players are OK with proceeding with each area as quickly as possible (e.g., rolling attacks in areas where players preferences are the same at the same time as rolling the preference dice in other areas).  However, many players are not OK with these types of shortcuts -- and one should not assume anything contrary to the PBEM sequence of play.  Discuss shortcuts ahead of time!

Long Delays - If it has been a long time since you've heard from your opponent, I strongly encourage you to contact him, remind him of the current status of your game and what you perceive as being next, and ask if, for some reason, he's waiting on you. Email gets lost. People forget or get busy. Inbaskets get piled high. Real life happens. I know I appreciate a "check in" from my opponents occasionally. On the other hand, if you moved ten minutes ago, it's probably best to wait a couple of days before checking in! No one wants to be badgered, but we can all use a little encouragement from time to time!

Errors - We're all human, and we all make mistakes -- especially when we're in rush.  Unfortunately, some of these errors will occur during our Victory in the Pacific games.  If an illegal move or obvious mistake is made, notify your opponent and allow him to correct his error. In the event that an error is not noticed until after the response, it stands. If an attack is in error, the entire attack for that area must be re-done and re-rolled. Again, if it is not noticed before the response, the error stands. Failure to take an optional action with a unit is not considered an error, but rather a choice. However, as much as possible, please extend opponents the opportunity to correct such omissions.

Assumptions - If a player makes an assumption about his opponent's move rather than verifying it directly with his opponent, he becomes subject to whatever his opponent believes he did when the error is discovered later.  Example: Suppose a player doesn’t list a ship during basing and his opponent decides to place it in Pearl Harbor because that seems most likely.  Later, his opponent moves the ship as if it had been based in Australia.  If it could have legally based in Australia, the move must be allowed.  Don’t assume – verify.

Conditions - Within the constraints of the rules and face-to-face play, players are free to make parts of steps conditional on actions of their opponent or dice outcomes.  To use conditions, one must supply an option for each possibility -- and the condition must be based on an outcome or action that, in face-to-face play, would occur first.  Example #1: When placing multiple LBA, the IJN may make additional LBA placement conditional on any Allied placement that would have preceded it in the face-to-face game (e.g., the sixth IJN LBA conditional on the 5th Allied LBA).  Example #2: When rolling for day/night, one is free to roll an attack that is conditional upon the result.  Example #3:  Making the basing of a disabled/withdrawn ship conditional on the availability of a base that could be captured from an earlier sea area.  Beware that 1) conditions may allow one's opponent to choose the option they find most attractive, 2) conditions that do not meet the criteria qualify as errors, and 3) conditions for which no instructions are given are handled under defaults (e.g., aircraft carriers not using their gunnery).

Courtesy - Having said this, remember that the point of the PBEM VITP competition is to have fun and improve our skill -- not to win on technicalities. Please give your opponent every benefit of the doubt and extend every courtesy you yourself would appreciate. Get to be friends, work together, and have fun!  The most important victory in every game is an opponent who is willing to come back for more!

Playing Aides

The default medium for exchanging moves is VASSAL.  VASSAL was selected because 1) it and its modules are free, 2) it runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, 3) it runs online for anyone with an internet browser, 4) it has an intuitive, easy-to-learn, full-featured interface, and 5) the developer plays in our tournaments and responds quickly to enhancement requests.  No other software utility offers more than two of these benefits.  A detailed installation tips and introduction to VASSAL for VITP guide is available here.

The term "default medium" means that VASSAL is used unless both players agree upon a different medium.  As a result, you may not sign up to play unless you're willing to use VASSAL upon request. Failure to use VASSAL upon request constitutes withdrawal from the tournament and an AREA-rated loss.

Other electronic playing aides that I'm aware of include The Wargame Processor (fee for system but not modules), Aide de Camp II (fee for system and many modules), and Cyberboard (donation recommended for system but most modules are free). Some other electronic tools include an html scorecard created by Bill Burch, a Microsoft Excel scorecard created by Darren Kilfara, a draw document with the VITP map and pieces available from Bill Thomson, and a text file created by the GM.  Graphic images (not game files) from all of these aides are acceptable for game reports.

Victory in the Pacific® is a registered trademark of The Avalon Hill Game Company.