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Subject: Sixth Fleet Still Sails Swift and Strong: A Review rss

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Brad Smith
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Nishisonogigun
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I stumbled upon a used copy of Sixth Fleet while browsing an online game store and decided to take a chance on it after reading through this section of BGG. After playing the game solidly for the last three weeks, I thought I would give it a review. This is my first one, so please be gentle!

Sixth Fleet is a modern naval wargame published by Victory Games way back in 1985. As a simulation, I'm not sure of its accuracy although a good deal of research and thought seem to have been put into it. Much of the rulebook contains descriptions of each unit and class of ships along with some theories about how all of this military hardware might work together (or against each other) in a modern conflict. Back in '85, the Cold War was still raging so there's a lot of speculation about capabilities and characteristics of Warsaw Pact ships. Overall, however, the designers seemed to take an honest shot at hypothesizing about them.

As a game, Sixth Fleet is simply incredible in so many ways. First, the components are excellent. The map is large and colorful and provides key reference tables and charts along the side so as to reduce the burden of looking up rules in the book all the time. The counters are quite standard for 1980s wargames, providing a small silhouette of the unit along with lots of clearly visible information. They aren't exactly glamorous when compared to counters today, but they are functional and hey, we could all stand to use our imaginations a little more, anyways.

The mechanics are fairly fluid and they make sense. Usually, one side will activate a certain unit type (submarines, for instance) and conduct their movements and attacks with those units and then the other player will do the same. All combat is handled using a six-sided die and then consulting a combat results table. Having never really played a game using a CRT, I found constantly looking at the numbers and comparing results to be a distraction at first, but I'm slowly getting used to it as I play more often.

The game offers about a dozen scenarios focused on various potential conflicts that could arise in the Mediterranean, usually centered around the Soviet and American forces. One thing that I really appreciated as a newcomer to the series was the gradually increasing complexity of the scenarios with optional rules that could be used or not used, depending on the whims of the players. The first few intro scenarios probably take less than an hour to complete but by the intermediate scenarios, a single game could take many hours to complete.

Overall, I really became absorbed with different aspects of modern naval warfare and learned quite a lot from this game. I did get the sense of being a commander of a large group of units and found myself relishing the sheer destructive power unleashed by sending out an entire carrier air wing on a Soviet surface group and the sickening stomach pit that sticks with you after unleashing a tactical nuclear weapon, knowing that you've killed the enemy but also crossed a big line with unpredictable consequences.

Sixth Fleet still holds up today as a great game. It may be too complex for non-wargamers but anyone who loves the idea of big modern ships should enjoy it. The game is crying out for an update with revamped counters, a smaller map, and a revision (or perhaps elimination) of a CRT but as for now, it still stands as a great example of ambitious and smart game design from a bygone era.

Thank you very much for reading.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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enragedbees wrote:
This is my first one, so please be gentle!

God, now even wargamers are doing this. Would you like some warm milk? devil

Once I got past that bit, I enjoyed the review.
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Paul O'Connor
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The Fleet series is one of wargaming's treasures. I just spent most of a long weekend playing through the first half-dozen scenarios of 2nd Fleet. The rulebooks of this series are masterful, serving equally well for reference as well as learning the game, and the scenarios are interesting and frequently brilliant. Enjoy!
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Brad Smith
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Sphere wrote:
enragedbees wrote:
This is my first one, so please be gentle!

God, now even wargamers are doing this. Would you like some warm milk? devil

Once I got past that bit, I enjoyed the review.


Thank you very much...and I will stop doing that from now on.laugh
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Joey Konyha
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I was just going over the rules to this for a solo play via VASSAL today. Was modern when I received it, a history lesson today. I think I will see what is up with Gulf Strike...
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Talorien
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Fleet Series with just bigger counters would be awesome.

They're great but are fiddly and do take quite long. Still some of my best game memories though.
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Dampenon Fabien
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Rookies talk about Strategy, Grognards about Logistics...
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Thank you for the review.

I'm a fan of Fleet Series and Six Fleet is my favourite because of the background but rules have been really improved in the others Fleet Games (particulary about Detection, creating Local and Strategic Detection, and by using ten-sided dice instead of six-sided).

I recommend 3rd Fleet, the last game of Fleet Series, because rules are the latest, it proposes three different theaters of operation in one box and all are playable on one map !

Have a good play !
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Jim Ransom
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There are two kinds of ships: Submarines, and Targets.
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Thanks for your review, Brad. The Fleet series has held up well over the years. I picked up 6th, 5th, 2nd, and 7th while I was still a young Navy lieutenant. Now that I am a grizzled retired Captain, I can see that the designer did a fine job researching the games and putting together a fun, playable game of modern naval combat.

Found the comment about small counters amusing though. Back then they were just fine. Now I've been spoiled by larger counters in newer games. And, come to think of it, maybe my eyesight started deteriorating because of staring at too many tiny VG counters for too long. Perhaps there's a class action lawsuit out there somewhere?

Wish I hadn't lost 6th Fleet in a basement flood 10 years ago. Will have to find a copy one day and get it back to the table.
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Gregory Wong
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Welcome aboard. I'm a huge fan of the Fleet series. The trouble is, I have trouble finding opponents. I often volunteer to GM a game at cons, but, alas, no one signs up.

Quote:
The counters are quite standard for 1980s wargames, providing a small silhouette of the unit along with lots of clearly visible information. They aren't exactly glamorous when compared to counters today, but they are functional and hey, we could all stand to use our imaginations a little more, anyways.


I like the older counters better than some of the new fangled ones. The Fleet series packs a lot of information on a ship counter, but it is all clear and easy to read. Some of the counters on new games are difficult to read. Just because you can use a fancy cool-looking font doesn't mean you have to.

Also, check the Files section. I designed an intermediate scenario where the Soviets have taken the island of Lemnos in the Aegean, and NATO tries to take it back.

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Bob Roberts

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saxophone wrote:


I like the older counters better than some of the new fangled ones. The Fleet series packs a lot of information on a ship counter, but it is all clear and easy to read. Some of the counters on new games are difficult to read. Just because you can use a fancy cool-looking font doesn't mean you have to.




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Amechi Amanugi
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Great review! I've owned Sixth Fleet for many years now and picked up 2nd Fleet some years later. Then this past year I managed to acquire the rest of the series (these are the physical games I'm talking about) and cherish them! I enjoy the solitaire play. It's easy to come up with little systems to help the randomness of the other units. Thanks for the review!!
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Sim Guy
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Nice review. And as many above, I am a big fan of the series, which has held up well, probably due to the demise of the cold war. I own them all and play them using the 3rd Fleet rules - as also suggested by earlier posts. The series does a good job of marrying the elements of surface, subsurface, and air forces without too much complexity fiddling around with the fine details of the different weapons systems. If you can find them get them.
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Frank Prisciandaro
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Thanks for this review, I have a copy of this particular version up for trade, I bought it when it first came out mainly because I was in the 6th fleet when I served in the Navy, and also was serving during the time period of the game, I even wrote to VG about the lack of a counter devoted to the ship I served on the USS Puget Sound AD-38, see my avatar, the reason for the letter, which I found odd was because my ship was the Sixth Fleet Flag Ship, and not just a cruiser or tin can. I dunno maybe because the ship was a dull Auxiliary Destroyer Tender and not a sexy CV or BB was their reasoning but I never received a response...
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Lawrence Hung
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goldenboat wrote:
The Fleet series is one of wargaming's treasures. The rulebooks of this series are masterful, serving equally well for reference as well as learning the game, and the scenarios are interesting and frequently brilliant. Enjoy!


Yes! The rulebook worth the ticket alone!



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Lawrence Hung
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jpr755 wrote:
Thanks for your review, Brad. The Fleet series has held up well over the years. I picked up 6th, 5th, 2nd, and 7th while I was still a young Navy lieutenant. Now that I am a grizzled retired Captain, I can see that the designer did a fine job researching the games and putting together a fun, playable game of modern naval combat.


I picked up 2nd, 3rd and 7th Fleet, missing out 5th and 6th, thinking that it was looking way more cool navigating the Barents Sea than the Indian Ocean, and a truly hot spot of the Cold War much more than the Gulf Region. It is way cool to hold all the fleet assets from both sides in boxes. Now I should be thinking to complete the remaining two in my collection.

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Jim Ransom
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mortificator wrote:
Thanks for this review, I have a copy of this particular version up for trade, I bought it when it first came out mainly because I was in the 6th fleet when I served in the Navy, and also was serving during the time period of the game, I even wrote to VG about the lack of a counter devoted to the ship I served on the USS Puget Sound AD-38, see my avatar, the reason for the letter, which I found odd was because my ship was the Sixth Fleet Flag Ship, and not just a cruiser or tin can. I dunno maybe because the ship was a dull Auxiliary Destroyer Tender and not a sexy CV or BB was their reasoning but I never received a response...


In the 70s and 80s, the Med was a hotspot for the Navy, and a good reason why I had to have this game.

A brief trip off-topic: My introduction to the "real Navy" was during my 3rd class midshipman cruise on USS ALBANY, then 6th Fleet flagship in Gaeta Italy in 1977. I have very fond memories of the ship, crew, and Italy. I've been lucky to return to the country many times, and love the people and the land. And the food!
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Frank Prisciandaro
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CG-10 Yup we relieved you, thanks for the memories. I am lucky though I was born in Italy and speak and understand Italian, so returning there in my late teens early adulthood was a major head trip, I even took a trip down South to my hometown of Bari on one of my Annual leaves, I'll always be fond of my 4 years of active service, although I could've done without the stupid inspections and other Mickey Mouse crap we had to deal with, on a daily basis... yuk If you want a copy of the game, I'll gladly trade you for it, are you interested? By the way I think your ship was one of the game counters, not sure, have to check it out.

jpr755 wrote:
mortificator wrote:
Thanks for this review, I have a copy of this particular version up for trade, I bought it when it first came out mainly because I was in the 6th fleet when I served in the Navy, and also was serving during the time period of the game, I even wrote to VG about the lack of a counter devoted to the ship I served on the USS Puget Sound AD-38, see my avatar, the reason for the letter, which I found odd was because my ship was the Sixth Fleet Flag Ship, and not just a cruiser or tin can. I dunno maybe because the ship was a dull Auxiliary Destroyer Tender and not a sexy CV or BB was their reasoning but I never received a response...


In the 70s and 80s, the Med was a hotspot for the Navy, and a good reason why I had to have this game.

A brief trip off-topic: My introduction to the "real Navy" was during my 3rd class midshipman cruise on USS ALBANY, then 6th Fleet flagship in Gaeta Italy in 1977. I have very fond memories of the ship, crew, and Italy. I've been lucky to return to the country many times, and love the people and the land. And the food!
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