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Naval Battles

sean johnson
United States
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In the summer of 2010 when our son was only about seven months old we took our first family vacation. Since we had a six month old, we did not plan anything extravagant. We only planned for three nights away and for the most part only had one or two things planned a day. On one of the days we went to Newport Aquarium. We ended up having a lot of extra time that day. With not much to do, we decided to see if we could find a game store close to us. A google search turned up Newport games. It was a fairly small store that really specialized in war games and miniatures. They had every single issue of Strategy and Tactics (with the games) for sale. They also had several rare war games like The Siege of Jerusalem (second edition). The owner was a very nice gentleman, and the store was fun to browse. Since we had sought the place out and were on vacation, we had to buy something. Knowing nothing about it in advance we agreed up on Naval Warfare (it was that or Toboggans of Doom). So was this random game purchase a pleasant surprise or is this a game that will soon be departing our collection?

Game Overview
In this game, players will control a fleet from one of six WWII countries (USA, Germany, UK, Italy, France, and Japan). Players begin the game by putting together 25 points worth of ships (because getting exactly 25 can be tricky and use certain ships we play with 25ish usually 23-27 is allowable). Players then arrange their ships into three lines. Often, the smaller ships and torpedo boats are on the front line, the ships with big guns are on the second line and the carriers are on the third line. Players are then dealt seven cards and the fight begins.

A player's turn goes through four stages. First, they may reorganize. During this step they can move what line their ships on in as well as play cards that bring in reinforcement ships. Next they can play prepare cards. These are cards that can provide +1 to dice rolls or other special abilities. Next they attack. To attack a player plays attack cards. Attack cards must match up with a gun on a ship. To play a 6" attack card for example, I must have a ship in play with a 6" gun. Each gun or torpedo tube can only play once a turn. All attack cards are assigned to their target ships. The defending player can then play defense cards to discard the attack cards. Large and small battery attacks that are not discarded get instantly applied. Torpedo attacks and and air attacks require a dice roll to succeed. Air attacks are especially powerful because a successful air attack sinks a ship. Otherwise, once a ship takes damage equal to it's hull strength it is sunk.

Typically, small guns can only fire from the front line to the opponent front line. Big guns can fire from the second line to the either the first or second defending line. After all attacks are resolved, a player may discard any cards they do not want. They then draw back up to seven cards. It is then the next player's turn. This continues until one player destroys 25 points in opposing ships.

The Game We Played
My wife played the French Navy and I took on the mighty navy of Imperial Japan. I went first, and got off to a good start by sinking two ships because my wife did not have any defense cards in her starting hand. My next couple turns, I continued to pick off her smaller ships. My wife tried to draw a reinforcement card so that she could shore up her sagging picket line and protect her bigger gun destroyers. She attempted to turn the tide with an air raid that took out my big flag ship. This gave her an instant seven point boost. It also technically gave her the lead. However, I had drawn a a couple of more reinforcement cards than her so my higher value ships were better protected. After weathering her next bombardment, I had a hand with all attack cards and the ability to play most of them. My ships fired at will, and my planes found their mark. I sunk two ships that turn which put me over the needed points. I won 27 to 17.

Our Thoughts
My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: This game is quick, simple, and very luck based. However, I find it fun. I think the theme really comes through in this game and that is why I like it. I also like it because I know that this is the closest that my wife will ever get to enjoying playing a tactical naval war game with me.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This game is not bad. It is all luck though, so I think there are other games I would rather play with just two players. This is a game that I am not opposed to playing though.

Combined Rating: 6.5
This may not be one of our go to favorites but this is a game that will occasionally find its way to our table. This fact combined with the story of how we acquired this game mean it is one that we will be keeping.
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