Order of Battle is the latest expansion for Mongoose Publishing’s Victory at Sea WW2 naval miniatures game. Order of Battle is a 111-page hardcover book. It also includes ten pages of black and white ship counters that can be photocopied and cut out for use instead of miniatures. [Note: You can also order OoB as a downloadable PDF.] Unfortunately, Mongoose continues to have quality issues. I have seen three copies of the book including one ordered direct from Mongoose. Two had significant warping of the cover and crinkled pages at the binding when opened. The one direct from Mongoose is much better but still has a ‘wave’ to the cover when viewed end on. If Mongoose cannot get these issues under control they should simple use soft covers.
Order of Battle provides one page of new rules that mostly makes official what many users had been doing as house rules — Most significantly, observation aircraft are no longer used except for ASW operations. Official rules for Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB and PT Boats) are included as well as rules for Admirals. Four new scenarios are included plus one operational scenario. The rest of the book is dedicated to new aircraft and ship listings for all of the major nations
Of course the primary reason for the supplement is to replace the VaS air rules and four pages are devoted to advanced air operations. The new air rules are interesting but nothing dramatic. Only fighters can attack now, with limited ammo, and other aircraft defend. Only AA and dual-purpose guns can fire at aircraft. Fighters can now escort bombers. There are basic rules for carrier operations and anti-submarine warfare. Finally there are new air group lists by year that show what aircraft a nation can use in a given period. For example, in 1942 the U.S. only has Wildcats, Devastators, and Dauntless aircraft available for use. Finally, each nation gets a new master aircraft roster with all of the new stats and some new aircraft. Overall these changes fix most of the major issues with the original rules but still keeps things rather simple. If you are looking for a detailed treatment of carrier and flight operations OoB is not it but that is not its intent either.
Upon the supplement’s release there was a bit of controversy online. One group of developers said that Mongoose had left out about 20 pages of data. This was then posted online as an unofficial download. Mongoose soon pulled the download and explained that the data was not missing but was simply not going to be used. This seems to indicate a large amount of material is ready to go but we have yet to see it. Recently Mongoose issued the first official errata for OoB but it is simply four pages of material mostly comprised of aircraft and scenario tweaks. Oddly, there are reports that there is at least one new printed version of OoB now available that includes stats for the B-17, Me-110, SM.79, and IL4 that are not included in the original printings. But this material is also not in the errata. I understand that Mongoose can now update their print products as they go but why the new material is not available for download to those with the original printing of OoB is a mystery.
Lastly, while we are generally happy with OoB and to finally get stats for the Casablanca class Jeep carriers and the new air rules, it is odd that B-25 stats are still not included. Skip bombing will have to wait. Of most concern is the physical quality issues as well as the missing updates problem. It looks like Mongoose still has some work to do in the quality control department, but overall, fans of VaS will want to pick up OoB but you may wish to wait a bit longer to see what happens.
Update: The version 1.1 errata is now available with the previously missing stats.
Update 7MAR08: Also see Bandits at six o’clock.