Wednesday 31 October 2018

North Atlantic Operations....Part 3

The Axis and Allies: War at Sea rules from the second edition starter set. I am using a variant of these for my North Atlantic project.

Work on the 1:4800th scale WW2 ships continues apace and the other parts of the project are gradually falling into place. I shall be using a variant of the rules from Axis and Allies: War at Sea as these have several practical advantages in the short term. To begin with I have the map sheets that came with the starter set laminated and ready to use. They have an offset square grid which coincides with the search boards of the North Atlantic contained in the Avalon Hill game Bismarck. As an aside I once ran a mini campaign on a similar theme with a self-drawn map based loosely on the Bismarck search boards – the scale was much larger but it worked Ok for a club night game.

A ship stat card from the game. The variant rules I am using do not use the special abilities. I was never a fan of special abilities as it meant that a one off event that occurred historically was replicated every time that particular ship was used. It also made a virtue of abilities that were not limited to a particular ship or even navy.

Whilst I no longer have the ship cards for the original Axis and Allies: War at Sea game I do have all of the stats in tabular form so will be able to fight any number of actions readily enough. At this stage all I need to do is to prepare some national fleet lists which will be easy enough to do.

The paper playing mat that comes with the starter set being used for a game. The mat is two sided with the reverse being a plain seascape. Note the island tiles in use above. My own version has been laminated as the paper wears out along the folds very quickly. The squares are 3 1/2" across.

The rule mechanics are very straightforward. Essentially ships have a number of hits based primarily on their tonnage and have two armour ratings that are used to assess any damage. Ships typically have between 2 and 6 hull hits. There is a normal armour rating which represents the number of hits or ‘successes’ as they are known that need to be scored by the attacking player in order to score a single point of hull damage. The second armour rating is described as ‘vital armour’ and should an attacking player score successes that equal or better this rating then the target is destroyed. Each d6 the firing player rolls score 1 success for a roll of 4 or 5 and 2 for a 6. Anything else is a miss. This mechanic is also used for all other types of combat. Ships roll a number of d6 depending on the calibre and number of guns or other weapons being used which reduces with range. As a result of hull hits a ship may lose some of its special abilities but when it is down to a single remaining point it is classed as crippled which impacts just about everything. Ships generally have a maximum speed of anything from 1 to 4 with certain ships requiring a successful dice roll to use a higher speed. This is typically for things like modernised WW1 era battleships.

It is quite s ‘gamey’ system – rolling great fistfuls of d6s is always enjoyable - but is good fun to play. As I have everything I need to use these rules it would churlish of me not to.

The variant I am using makes the rules a little more ‘naval wargame-ish’ in that, for example, ship facing is taken into consideration as well turning ability. Although they have been written with hexes in mind there is no reason why I should not persevere with offset squares as the relationship between hexes and offset squares is mercifully quite close.

The plan is to have the collection finished by the end of the year when I can then start on the Spencer Smith ACW collection - Warlord Game's Cruel Seas notwithstanding....

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