(This was a 2012 blog post of his, I don’t think it made its way around all the communities so I thought I would post it here, it looks pretty good I want to try it out soon)
Today I think Iâ€™m going to step out of the theoretical ground of the last couple of posts, and muse about something more specific: What do I wish Iâ€™d done a little differently with War at Sea (aka Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures)? Overall, Iâ€™m pretty happy with the outcome of that design; itâ€™s fast, fun, and serves as a good skeleton for layering on as many house rules and mods as you might want. But I still think I could have done a little better.
The first thing I wish Iâ€™d included in the game was a simple facing system. The classic naval tactic of â€œcrossing the Tâ€ doesnâ€™t appear in AANM because of the relatively high abstraction of ship movement and position. The reason we didnâ€™t include this early on is because initial design drafts contemplated far more abstract versions of the game, where ships might be grouped into Task Forces fighting in an area of maybe 200 miles by 200 miles. Playtests of this approach showed us that ship dispositions were pretty boring in a large-scale game: You wanted your TFs together, so you wound up with â€œ100 points in a box.â€ The shift to a more tactically focused game came relatively late in the process. Anyway, hereâ€™s a simple implementation of facing rules we could have used:
Â· Draw a game map using large hexagons, say 5â€ or so.
Â· Ships and submarines move by a) entering the hex directly ahead and can change heading by up to three hexsides when they enter a new hex, which counts as 1 movement, or b) remain in their current hex and choose any heading. This basically means you canâ€™t make any real distance going â€œsouthâ€ on a turn you begin facing â€œnorth.â€ Destroyers and PT boats might be able to start with a course change, and would have more ability to maneuver.
Â· Ships and submarines have arcs of fire: Ahead, Astern, Broadside. These basically correspond to shooting â€œoutâ€ of the hexside in front of you, behind you, or the two hexsides on your port or starboard.
Â· Submarines canâ€™t make Broadside torpedo attacks (some older subs did have trainable torpedo mounts outside their pressure hulls, but maybe that could be handled with a special ability).
Â· Ahead or Astern Gunnery attacks take a penalty of -1 per die. This is an easy way to model reduced volume of fire from a limited number of guns bearing dead ahead or dead astern. Sure, we could present exact Gunnery dice for ahead/broadside/astern attacks for each different ship, but weâ€™re talking about a simple patch we could add now to the game.
Â· Some ships (say, Rodney or Richelieu) would gain a negative special ability to the effect of â€œno Astern Main Gunnery attacks allowed.â€ Richelieu might also get a special for â€œno penalty for Ahead Main Gunnery attacks,â€ I suppose.
There you go â€“ pretty simple, really, and youâ€™d add some fun positional advantages and disadvantages to your War at Sea games. You could force your opponent to choose between moving toward the objective or guarding against having his T crossed, for example. However, be careful, since this makes Initiative really important. Whoever moves second gets a big advantage by being able to see exactly where enemy arcs of fire lie and moving accordingly. And submarines suffer from their non-broadside attacks.
Hereâ€™s another one: Delayed Torpedo Resolution. Our initial design wanted to make a stronger distinction between gunnery attacks and torpedo attacks for surface ships but really punished destroyers, so we relented in the errata and reprint and moved destroyer torpedo attacks to the same phase as their gunnery attacks. But torpedoes really should have run times of 5 to 10 minutes even at pretty close ranges, which is pretty close to about one game turn. So here is an alternative I wish I had thought of at the time: To simulate the run time of a torpedo attack, when you make a Torpedo attack against a unit, donâ€™t roll the attack on the turn your unit fires its torpedoes. Resolve the attack on the following turn. Hereâ€™s how this would work:
Â· When a unit fires Torpedoes at another unit, place a Torpedo Attack chit on the target unit.
Â· Roll a d6 for each Torpedo Attack chit on the board at the end of the Movement Phase.
Â· Torpedo Attack chits â€œhitâ€ on a roll of 5 or 6. However, a unit can degrade a Torpedo Attack to â€œhitâ€ only on a 6 by choosing to evade torpedoes instead of moving in the Movement Phase. You could indicate this at the moment the ship evades by flipping the chit to a “degraded” side.
Â· Units evading torpedoes do not move. They remain in their hex. (If you use facing, too, the unit must change facing by 2 or 3 hexsides to evade.)
Â· Torpedo damage could be randomizedâ€”say, 1 to 3 points normally, or 1 to 4 points for a Long Lance attack. It bugs me that destroyers are always killed by torpedoes even though they often survived being torpedoed.
This doesnâ€™t really change the timing of torpedo attacks from surface shipsâ€”when you fire the torpedo, itâ€™s on its way, and if youâ€™re blown up in the current Attack Phase, you still get to roll your dice next turn from beyond the grave. This does weaken torpedoes a little bit in that a torpedo attack in Turn X doesnâ€™t affect the claiming of objectives in Turn X, but instead in Turn Y. But it makes torpedo attacks much stronger in that theyâ€™re much more likely to hit unless the targets choose not to move. Many times in real battles ships turned away from real or imagined torpedo attacks, and this rule creates that behavior in the game.
Both these systems are all about increasing the simulation value of War at Sea. Whether or not theyâ€™re worth the added complexity, well, thatâ€™s up to you. But if youâ€™re inclined to tinker under the hood with your War at Sea game, maybe these will spark some ideas for you.
I second this thread. I first got involved in the board games back in my college days. I then purchased and played several of the variants over the years, though they’ve printed so many variants that I can hardly keep up. I then saw the Naval Miniatures in the store a few years back and after researching them, decided to buy into the game. I haven’t regretted it at all. Much of it comes down to your situation in life and taste in gaming. My mind is probably more geared toward the strategical complexity of the board games. On the other hand, the time I actually have to play is more appropriate for the miniatures games.
If you’re at all interested in the intricacies of history, and many A&A players either start off so or quickly become so, then the miniatures are a great way to get enhance your historical appreciation.
Ive been collecting for sometime now and this is what i have:
2x Samuel B Roberts
2x Allen M Sumner
P 40 E Warhawk
F4u 1d corsair
2x TBD Devastator
2x San Diego
Salt Lake City
2x New Jersey
2x Sea hurricane 1b
Swordfish Mk 2
2x Swordfish Mk 1
3x Vospers MTB
Prince Of Wales
2x Martlet Mk 2
This is a work in progress and abstract in some terms ( historically) for the sake of gameplay this might be able to be revised to do a malta type battle as well.
There is 2 player sides UK vs Germany as well as a neutral Norway that will come into play. The UK and Germany will each have 200 pts they must select those 200 pts from the Battle of narvik (1 and 2) as well as the ships involved in the operation. Some units such as air can be selected as long as the air year limit matches (1940 and older).
This is my fragmented OOB (a more complete one would be useful)
14dd’s, 6 cruisers, pocket BB, 2 BB’s
4x tribal (cossack)
Aircraft carrier furious CVE
x 5 DD hotspur and hardy
Eidsvold and norge each represented by a Vainomenen proxy.
and a oscarborg fortress proxy/unit if you can put one together.
If you want to use other norwegian units (there were some DD’s used) you may do so but deploy them similarly and spread them out the same.
The norwegian BB’s deploy in the center of the map evenly spread out they don’t move and each player can fire them at the opposing fleet once per turn (like how you would normally control a ships guns).
The UK fleet starting point is on the square A1 and the Germany starting point is on the square G1 (yes the same side of the map!) the fleets don’t deploy there but use those squares as the first point of movement when moving there ships on the first turn and placing them on the map.
If you use an oscarborg deploy it on the other side of the map on D11.
The object of the game is to get your ships to the other side of the map which represents the land areas of Norway that you are trying to invade. Just like how each german warship carried troops for the invasion each ship both UK and german upon reaching the square row 11 (the last water row on the map) may instead of moving declare that they are deploying there invasion forces for a total of 20 victory points per ship doing so. The nation that has the most victory points occupies Norway and wins the match.
Because of the deployment the 2 sides will be fighting each other while racing to get to norway first to occupy it and will come across the norwegian fleet that each of them will be able to use (the weapons on them) to attack the other, it should make for some interesting dynamics and hopefully a good game.
I’m working on some solutions for non-windows users, though you might see it on an Android or in browser first. In the short term, I could perhaps add some image export options to make the maps at least easier to view on non-windows.
…and paint them. Unlike the A&A WaS miniatures, the minis from both companies are still in production, so you won’t pay a collector’s premium for them. The Panzerschiffe ships have the advantage of being cheaper to get (they’re made of resin, and the company is US-based), while the Navwar ones are more detailed and are made of metal. There’s also GHQ (http://www.ghqmodels.com/), whose models are even more detailed, if that’s a consideration for you.
Perhaps the simplest conversion yet: USS Monssen, a Gleaves class destroyer which is basically a Fletcher with the #3 turret replaced with additional light AA guns. Taking the WAS Fletcher, I removed the #3 turret and superstructure aft of it, also the searchlight platforms on the after funnel, being careful to leave the 20mm mounts below them. A new, single searchlight station was mounted in the previous turret location and the after mast added from nylon bristle. I also replaced the overly thick main mast with one cut from nylon bristle.
The warspite goes for soo much because of class limits (5-6 I think) and it was in the set task force which commands the most money. Its a decent ship but not one that see’s alot of play because it lacks torpedo defence.
If you can paint they are no shapeways for like 20.00
I built a database for A&A Miniatures (War at Sea) on the TroveStar platform. It not only contains the original game, but the expansions designed by the forumini crew as well. I enabled images not only of the cards but of the minis as well. I have not yet got all the images uploaded but a lot of them are present. There are images of the original miniatures as well as hand-painted Shapeways Models too.