A Wave of New Naval Warfare Games

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Well it has been well over a year-and-half since we did our first naval wargaming review in our A Tsunami of Naval Warfare Games article. At the time we were surprised at the number of new naval titles that had been released. Even more surprising is that the trend has continued.

Modern Naval Battles
Modern Naval Battles

A couple more card games were released. GMT Games released Pacific Typhoon, a simple card game for 3-7 players (it plays better with more players rather than less) that covers naval combat in the Pacific in World War Two. In a unique twist each player plays both the Allied and Japanese sides. This allows for lots of backstabbing as players vie for leverage to help ‘their’ side win. A new publisher, DVG Games, released Modern Naval Battles – Global Warfare. This is an update to the original 1989 game and includes the material in that game’s two expansions. MNB-GW covers naval warfare during the Cold War, Falkland Islands War, and Post-2000 era. Neither of these games are a simulation but both are interesting, fun games.

Avalanche Press continued with releases for their Great War at Sea and Second World War at Sea game series. Zeppelins was a fun expansion for the GWaS series. Probably the most interesting addition was Bismarck: Commerce Raiding in the North Atlantic for SWWaS. This game covers the classic hunt for the Bismarck as well as other hypothetical engagements. The hidden movement of the series does especially well in this context.

Undersea warfare has not been forgotten either. Compass Games reprinted Silent War (see a review). SW is a unique solitaire game that covers the Allied submarine campaign in the Pacific during WW2. It is a very well done game with outstanding components. Moreover, 2009 should see the release of Steel Wolves that will bring the SW system to the U-Boat war in the Atlantic. Against the Odds magazine released Paukenschlag (“Operation Drumroll”) about the U-Boat war off American shores from January to June 1942. It is an interesting, and certainly unique, game but extremely boring game components detract from it.

The Solomons Campaign
The Solomons Campaign

Grander scales have not been ignored either. GMT Games released Asia Engulfed (see a review). This is a sister game to their Europe Engulfed block game (and can be combined with that game). It is a strategic level game of WW2 Pacific warfare. The block game format fits this theatre well and the game is very re-playable. WotC/Avalon Hill published Axis & Allies Guadalcanal. A&AG takes the Axis & Allies system to the battle for Guadalcanal and covers ground, naval, and air combat. It is a simple, but very well done, treatment of the battle. The ATO 2008 Annual will include another unique topic with Operation Cartwheel: Breaking the Bismark Barrier. Perhaps an odder topic is Nine Navies War by Decision Games. 9 Navies covers battleship combat in a ficitional World War One setting. The game is well done and, if you can get past the fictional nature, it provides a nice strategic big-gun naval game. Decision Games also released The Solomons Campaign in World at War #2 magazine. It is a remake of the original Dunnigan game from 1973 and covers the air, naval, and ground operations in the Solomon islands in the summer and fall of 1942.

Starmada-Dreadnoughts
Starmada-Dreadnoughts

On the miniatures front Mongoose Publishing updated their Victory at Sea system with the Order of Battle expansion. It revamps the air rules and adds more ships. Perhaps surprising is Majestic Twelve Games‘ expansion of their classic science fiction ship combat game, Starmada, to include a historical module, Dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts uses a variation of the Starmada system to cover World War One naval combat. The expansion does a very good job of moving the Starmada system into a historical context and fans of that series or VaS should give it a look.

Lastly, the computer front is not quiet either. Matrix Games released Carriers at War, an excellent game of early Pacific carrier warfare. Also scheduled for release by Matrix Games is War in the Pacific-Admiral’s Edition, an expansion to the venerable War in the Pacific strategic, WW2 naval game. Storm Eagle Studios should be releasing Jutland any time now. Jutland is based on their excellent Distant Guns system. While not a wargame, any discussion of computer naval games would be incomplete without a mention of Ubisoft’s Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific game. This is an outstanding simulation of WW2 allied submarine operations. In SH:WotP the player takes direct control of a submarine with incredible detail — this is as real as it gets.

Overall a nice collection of titles to keep any old sea dog happy.

[Updated: 10NOV08]

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