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Naval Battle in Archipelago» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Great game with some production issues rss

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David Griffin
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This game was my first delivered Kickstarter and will always have a place in my heart. It was also an odd choice for me because though I love naval games and love the minis in the game, I seldom buy games without a decent solitaire mode these days even if I like the theme.


Naval Battle in Archipelago is essentially a sandbox modern naval game in an island chain using units up to cruiser size for the expanded version and slightly smaller for the regular version. There is no attempt to create replicas of actual ships and aircraft but rather archetypes of the various unit types. Likewise it’s a symmetric game where players use points to buy forces to compete. There is an attempt to provide scenarios to provide objectives, but I’m not sold on the quality of those scenarios as much as I am with the general gameplay.


There are some production problems. First, the ships and planes require cutting out and affixing stickers in order to tell units apart. This is fiddly and the stickers come off very easily, mostly due to the unit surfaces being rough I think. This take forever and isn’t a great long term solution. Second, the dice require stickers rather than being engraved. Third, the boards just lay next to each other and are easily jogged apart (a lot). Some kind of clip to hold the boards together would be nice, or just mounting the entire board in a 4 fold and 6 fold system. Lastly (and more annoyingly), the stands for the aircraft just don’t work well to keep the aircraft above the board. The stand pegs, made up of plastic folded over, tend to fall over due to the stand not pinching the stand peg tightly enough, and even if that problem is solved, the stand bases are too light to hold the mini down without flipping. You can just put the aircraft on the board since there is no real “variable altitude” in the game.


The game itself is solid. The point values for the units seem to be very well considered and the battle is nicely tactical (and strategic in the unit selection) and mixes serious skill in with the die rolls for hitting with weapons. The island terrain and the various kinds of units mean the units aren’t just charging each other and firing away (which can be fun but perhaps a bit too repeatable). Here, torpedoes and AAMs have to hit from behind. Some units can traverse shallow water and some cannot. Hovercraft can fly over islands. Aircraft are fast but have limited duration. It all makes for a very fun knock down drag out battle which is different every time.


It’s really a great game and I got a colossal amount of stuff in the box. If anything you needed a bigger box, at least for the Kickstarter version. I definitely got my money’s worth and it’s quite a lot of fun to play, even with me playing both sides.

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Lance McMillan
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Lakebay
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Looks slightly similar to Seastrike in concept.
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Barry Kendall
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Looks slightly similar to Seastrike in concept.


To some degree, yes, but there are many differences. I own (and very much enjoy) both games.

"Seastrike" is essentially a miniatures game with counters for minis. Movement and range are measured using a plastic game-specific measure. "Naval Battle" is a board game which can be played with the provided miniatures. Movement and range are measured using the spaces on the board.

"Seastrike" uses an ingenious deck of specialized cards to resolve numerous game activities from hit and damage resolution to whether an attack aircraft makes it off the ground or is lost in a non-combat accident.

"Naval Battle" resolves combat using die rolls which determine whether a given type of ordnance reaches the target, whether gunfire, torpedoes, or a variety of missile types.

Both games offer a number of different warship types, tending toward smaller surface combatants. Both games also provide both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft and submarines. "Naval Battle" in its expanded version adds fascinating stuff such as repair ships, munitions ships, landing ships, four kinds of helicopters (some of which can transport troops), and even an offshore oil platform.

"Seastrike" used rub-off chinagraph pencils to record certain information on each ship counter, including upgrades to weapons or sensors (longer-range missiles or torpedoes, for instance--each improvement is "funded" out of one's starting "budget" out of which vessels or aircraft are selected for the scenario) and damage.

"Naval Battle" uses an off-board display for every single platform in the game, using counters to mark damage and also utilizing appropriately-marked counters to record ammunition supply. To launch a torpedo, remove it from the ship display and place it on the board: it may reach the target, come up short, and even motor around into the next turn.

Both games assign values to each piece type, defined in "Seastrike" as cost (in "pounds," apparently defined with references to 1960s costs) and in "Naval Battle" simply as "points."

"Naval Battle" includes both cut-out stand-up fold-over cardstock pieces, and 3D-printed miniatures. The minis are offered in two sizes (the smaller of these are really small--perhaps half an inch for a torpedo boat).

These are not the "smooth highly detailed" "Shapeways" finished minis, but they are fine for game purposes with one caveat: the flat portion of a ship's deck where the identification sticker should go is actually not smooth and does not offer a good adherence surface. I recommend gluing your stickers to the deck using a small drop of gap-filling superglue rather than depending on the sticker's adhesive material.

Likewise, gluing the planes and stands together is a good idea if you want to depict them "in flight." A metal washer glued to the bottom of the plastic plane stand will provide weight needed for balance.

I agree with Lance, the game reminded me of "Seastrike" too when I first read about it. The complexity and playability are comparable, though there is more close-in tactical "feel" to "Naval Battle" thanks to the multitude of piece types, added assets (such as troops) and mission-driven scenarios. The addition of "terrain" in "Naval Battle in Archipelago" takes things a step beyond "Seastrike" islands: there are shoals and shallows, deep water and islands to fight around and on. Lots of choices, decisions, and action.

I won't be parting with either one; my only complaint is I wish I had more time and opponents to enjoy them with. Huge, huge fun!

I do look forward to more Forsage games in the future. They tried very hard to produce the best game possible with limited experience both in KS and in large-scale production and I think they should be proud of this game.

EDIT: Forgot to compliment the OP on the very nice photos here. Well done.
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Jonathan Tornabe
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Yes, I too think they put together a wonderful game. I went for the lager set and am extremely happy. Definitely could use bigger box to have good organized storage but that's with a lot of games. The putting together is taking sometime but its worth it. I would really like if there were anyone that puts together a solo varient or a solo mission.
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Milos Zikic
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Well thanks all of you guys for such great an in depth reviews. I'm so hyped that I think I'll burst. I'm already thinking about solo ai and scenarios just waiting for my copy to arrive. I'm glad to hear it is such a good game. I think I also made a might have a solution for a sticker /aircraft problem but I can only say when I test it.
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Jonathan Tornabe
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Hypnobard wrote:
Well thanks all of you guys for such great an in depth reviews. I'm so hyped that I think I'll burst. I'm already thinking about solo ai and scenarios just waiting for my copy to arrive. I'm glad to hear it is such a good game. I think I also made a might have a solution for a sticker /aircraft problem but I can only say when I test it.



Sounds good. Keep us informed and I'm sure we could help you playtest any ideas.
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David Griffin
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It's really a well designed little game. Very fun to play, especially with a point based battle.
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Michael Sweazey
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Hey David,

If you ever want to get together and play this, let me know...i’m In your neck of the woods! I haven’t gotten my copy to the table yet, but if you’re willing to put up with someone who hasn’t played it yet, you’ve got an opponent!

Michael
 
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David Griffin
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msweazey wrote:
Hey David,

If you ever want to get together and play this, let me know...i’m In your neck of the woods! I haven’t gotten my copy to the table yet, but if you’re willing to put up with someone who hasn’t played it yet, you’ve got an opponent!

Michael


That would be fun, but give me some time to refresh my memory before we try it. Where are you? Note that I'm going to Origins this year so I'll be out of town next week.

Really the only rub is those stickers coming off the little ships. And the lack of a solo mode. This game really sailed under the radar. I never see it being played.
 
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Michael Sweazey
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I'm in the area of Due West & Mars Hill Rd and work at KSU. The stands and the stickers are the main things that have kept me from getting it to the table.

Whenever you're available and bored, PM me, and we'll get together!
 
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David Griffin
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msweazey wrote:
I'm in the area of Due West & Mars Hill Rd and work at KSU. The stands and the stickers are the main things that have kept me from getting it to the table.

Whenever you're available and bored, PM me, and we'll get together!


Ok, but if my feeble memory fails, contact me in a couple of weeks when I'm back. I typically play at Hobbytown on Barrett Parkway. Sometimes also at GigaBytes.
 
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