Game Spotlights

Published: August 13, 2021


Tarawa 1943 – Storm the Beach

“Marines Wade Ashore, Tarawa, November 1943,” courtesy of the Julian C. Smith Collection & The Marine Corps Archives. Alteration in accordance with CC BY 2.0 license.


Tentative Release Date: SEPTEMBER 2021

Preorder your copy today!

Tarawa 1943 is a card-driven solitaire war game from designers Grant and Mike Wylie, and Worthington Publishing. It covers the invasion of the Central Pacific Japanese-controlled island of Tarawa by the American 2nd Marine Division.

The Battle of Tarawa is a refreshing subject for a war game. Many of the WWII conflicts have been done and done again. So it’s nice to see one of the lesser-known battles get some time in the spotlight.

tarawa 1943 war game wwii ww2

  • Players: 1
  • Play Time: 30-60 Minutes
  • Ages 14+
  • Complexity 5/10

Storming the Beach at Tarawa

Tarawa was the first battle in the Pacific Theater of WWII in which the Americans faced a serious opposition. The Japanese forces were well-supplied and well-prepared. Although the fighting only lasted 76 hours, the Americans took heavier casualties than expected. Japanese soldiers fought almost to the last man, having only 146 captured of their original 4,836-strong force. The rest died in the conflict.

Photos courtesy of Frederick R. Findtner Collection %amp; the US Marine Corps Archives. Size alterations made in accordance with CC BY 2.0 license.

Tarawa 1943 Gameplay

Adapt, improvise, and overcome as the Japanese AI digs in and fights to the end. Challenges your Marines will face include the Japanese defenses themselves, overlapping fields of fire, bunkers, and trenches. The enemy will attempt to infiltrate your position while snipers and banzai attacks wear on the cohesion of your battalions.

The game has a fast-moving system and the rules are easy to digest. There is minimal set up so you’ll be in the action fast!

How to play

A basic turn sequence:

1 | Activate one of your battalions

tarawa 1943 battalions

During activation, a battalion can move, attack, and attempt to regroup. An activated battalion reduces its cohesion, to simulate wear, tear, and exhaustion.

2 | Play a US Marine Corps Card

usmc american cards

Cards are the main driver of action and give you strategic benefits. Some add dice as support to attacks, some allow adjustment to a roll, some allow for multiple battalion activations. However, “bad intelligence,” will give the Japanese AI forces a double activation.

The cards also include some historical flavor text!

3 | The Japanese Turn

japanese cards tarawa game

Japanese cards will trigger actions for Japanese units based on their positions on the island, typically prioritizing fighting the Americans. These cards will have you cope with fire fights, banzai attacks, bunkers, crossfire, infiltration, and more.

As the USMC, you also get to play one card during the Japanese’s turn!

4 | Cohesion Track

cohesion track for usmc battalions

A marker will maintain each side’s cohesion on the cohesion track. Performing activations, combat, and regrouping can all affect your cohesion. Cards may alter this track as well. Falling below 6 on the track triggers an exhaustion check which could leave a battalion out of action until cohesion is recovered.

5 | Battle Archive

tarawa battle archive

The battle archive tracks your combat record.

Battle Manual

tarawa battle manual

The battle manual provides historical commentary, examples, and pictures.


  • Hard-mounted game board
  • 24 USMC green wooden markers
  • 27 Japanese yellow wooden markers
  • Labels for the markers
  • 9 Black cubes
  • 9 Brown cubes
  • 30 Japanese cards
  • 30 USMC cards
  • 7 Dice
  • Rules
  • 24-page battle manual with history, examples, pictures, etc.
  • Battle archive
  • Storage tray
tarawa 1943 map board
Click to enlarge!

Tarawa 1943 is expected to release next month and you can reserve your preorder here!

Check out more New & Upcoming Releases!

Read about the Rise of Solo Play Games!