The maps for both of these games use an offset square grid which is handy for Axis and Allies: War at Sea as the tactical game also uses a similar grid. I already have a generic War at Sea plot map set up on the PC for use in setting up initial deployments etc and this is the same size as the tactical playing area used at the club i.e. my legendary blue cloth. The advantages of using a grid for various aspects of naval gaming activity (minefields and submarines being the more obvious ones) are well known as is my enjoyment of such systems. My original idea was to use the tactical plot map as one complete strategic map square; in effect ‘telescoping’ the two map scales. For club night mini campaigns I would adopt a grid of 3 x 3 tabletop plot maps and ship movement could be plotted directly onto this and the action subsequently transferred to the table when ships are close enough to engage. Ideally this will involve an umpire – a duty of which I have no problem with. The only issue with this is the question of aircraft. In a normal tactical battle they are assumed to be able to cover a complete playing area at no movement – in fact you merely deploy them against the targets they are attacking. This is fine given that the relative speeds of ships and aircraft are very different. I need to consider aircraft map moves and the whole issue of aerial reconnaissance as this will be of significant importance. It will also mean that cruisers will have a proper search function and this in turn brings into the equation the effect of communications.
At the time of writing Axis and Allies: War at Sea does not cover any of these areas within its rules so the WW2 naval enthusiast is forced to make use of so called ‘house rules’ to address the shortfall. I am reluctant to get involved with this as I have tried it in the past and you end up ‘grabbing the tiger by its tail’ so to speak. I am tempted to continue to use the air rules as they are in respect of movement but to introduce some visibility rules to allow for the ‘fog of war’. These will not be new – I envisage they will merely utilise the existing weather/squall rules only on a much larger scale.
This will be fine for this scale of ‘mini campaign’ type of operation but for a full campaign something far more radical will be called for – especially in dealing with aircraft ranges, speed and endurance.