Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Axis and Allies: War at Sea - Flights of (French) Fancy

In the frenzy of activity leading up to the recent Battle of Cape Odamonte using Axis and Allies: War at Sea, I had completely forgotten to mention the fact that I had recently acquired a copy of the new two player starter set. This version differs from the original release as it has two preset forces in the box rather than the usual random selection. Sadly the two sides, as you may expect from an American game, are firmly set in the Pacific, although the colonies are represented in the allied force by the destroyer HMAS Nizam – one of the J/K and N class of this type of vessel. Needless to say, I have no use for these models and as there were no takers at the club they are currently listed on ebay – as are the set from our French Admiral in waiting, Monsieur Kightly. I say in waiting because he is currently building up a French squadron (or rather I am on his behalf!) and a substantial chunk of the material for this is currently en route from the US! As an aside, I often acquire my War at Sea singles from the US as they tend to be cheaper than from dealers the UK – even allowing for the shipping. This is understandable given that this is an American game after all. As mentioned previously, the French navy gains some very nice models in the current expansion set - Condition Zebra, cheif of ahich is the aircraft carrier Bearn.

The rulebook contained therein is a vast improvement on the original as it is clearer in its layout and also includes the various rule amendments that have been introduced since the game was first released. It is certainly an advantage having everything in one place rather than relying on printed downloads, photocopies and similar to keep up to date. There exists a Yahoo! group devoted to War at Sea which is quite useful although certainly not as much as one would like. These groups tend to be variable in quality; no doubt depending on the enthusiasm of the contributors as much as anything else.

From a personal perspective (and seemingly contrary to my earlier post!), I enjoy the core rule mechanisms of this game and have often wondered how an ‘advanced’ version would fare. There have been a number of attempts to add additional complexity to the rules which have met with varying success. For my own part the only things I should prefer to see incorporated would really be limited to the following:

Ship facing – firing arcs defined by this
Manoeuvre considerations
Gunfire tactical factors
More reflective damage effects
Better treatment of small ships
Greater detail in the treatment of air operations
A campaign system

I realise that looks like a fairly large list but to be honest it is my opinion that all of these points could be very sympathetically addressed within the spirit of the rules as they are. The mention of Yahoo! reminds me of the very good ‘BattleCry2000’ group which contained some very good and carefully considered advanced rules and variants for the Avalon Hill/Hasbro game Battle Cry – the ACW game devised by Richard Borg as part of his Command and Colours card driven rule system. If War at Sea could attract a similarly committed band of enthusiasts then the self penned wish list above may yet see fruition. It merely needs someone to attempt the undertaking……………………..;-)

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