Pete Belli
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In the early 1970s disputes over fishing in the waters around Iceland led to a military confrontation known as the Cod Wars.

COD WARS: Iceland vs. Great Britain in the 1970s matches the coastal patrol force of Iceland against the fishing vessels of Great Britain and their Royal Navy escorts. It features a diceless conflict resolution system with a scoring method based on fish tokens and diplomatic tension. In this unsual wargame nobody gets blown to bits by an atomic bomb, no great cities are reduced to rubble, and only the codfish die.

This illustrated Session Report will document the second half of a complete game of Cod Wars. This is the conclusion a session portrayed in a previous report:

Damn the net cutters! Full speed ahead!



Play this game one time and you’re hooked!

The second round begins with two British fishing fleets with their Royal Navy escorts just outside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Iceland. Two groups of Icelandic coastal patrol boats are in the Iceland hex. Fishing grounds which were exploited by the British during the first round contain circular markers. These areas may not be "fished" again during the game.



Initial Positions

During the first round the British player concentrated on fishing in areas close to international waters. This strategy offers rapid benefits in the form of early victory points but increases the challenge faced by the British in this session. All of the potential fishing grounds are close to Iceland and it will be easier for the Icelandic player to defend this smaller nautical perimeter.

A more thoughtful British commander might have sent one fleet on a deep penetration of Iceland’s sea frontier during the first round... this would have left some choice fishing grounds closer to the EEZ boundary available for quick exploitation.




Turn 1

On the first turn one British ship steams ahead while the Icelandic player places both vessels in a defensive posture.




Turn 2

On the second turn the British ship sails into the EEZ and begins fishing. The aggressive Icelandic player immediately intercepts the British and forces a confrontation.




Collision!

Each player draws one card at random from his or her confrontation card deck and examines the tactical option available without revealing the card to the enemy player. Remember, each nation wants to keep the Diplomatic Tension level from become volatile and avoid an incident that will escalate the conflict. The British player draws an interception card. This maneuver is provocative but relatively low on the diplomatic scale. The Icelandic player draws a dangerous collision card. Refusing to countermand this aggressive action, the commander back in Iceland allows the maneuver to continue. The Icelandic player has planned a military strategy which might allow him to win the game regardless of any fluctuation in world opinion.




Diplomatic Crisis

Since the interception card is considered to be less provocative than the collision card the diplomatic tension level is moved one space in favor of Great Britain. The British player now has ten of the thirteen victory points needed to win.




Turn 3

A British ship always returns to the U.K. after a confrontation so the British player only has one ship to maneuver during turn three. The second British vessel sails directly into Icelandic waters. Now the strategy formulated by the Icelandic player begins to pay dividends. The Icelandic player knows that these sneaky trespassers must "fish" during the next turn; the British player is not permitted to go two turns without gathering some delicious cod. By moving one patrol boat to the only two point "golden cod" hex within range of the British ship the Icelandic player will force the enemy fleet to accept just one victory point for fishing. Since one of the patrol boats from Iceland will intercept immediately and trigger another confrontation this will be the last British maneuver.




Turn 4

Unable to enter the golden cod hex because it is occupied by an Icelandic vessel the British player pushes ahead in a forlorn effort to make something happen. He gets one more victory point for fishing but since he knows the Icelandic player will be plowing through the waves in his direction on an intercept course the situation is hopeless. Regardless of the outcome of the confrontation (and the incident could go either way because Iceland expended that risky collision card last turn) the highest possible score for the U.K. is twelve points. The British player concedes and is immediately assigned to tugboat duty on the Thames River.



Analysis

The get-rich-quick policy of the British player led to an early harvest of victory points but put him in an awkward strategic position during the second round. He played into the strength of Iceland by allowing the first series of confrontations to happen on the outer edge of the EEZ.

The British player also failed to exploit several intresting tactical opportunities. Instead of isolated jabs at the Icelandic player the U.K. admiral should have used a combination of one-two punches to keep the enemy guessing. Fishing during every early turn in each round gives the British player a chance to play cat-and-mouse with the patrol boats.

Iceland’s commodore played cautiously but his patient, steady strategy paid off. Blocking the only available golden cod hex during that last move was a brilliant little maneuver but the Icelandic player still had an excellent chance of coming out ahead in the diplomatic arena during that final confrontation.


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Pete Belli
United States
Florida
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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While we're on the subject of strategy... there is another crucial reason for a careful British player to leave some of the fishing grounds near the EEZ boundary available for exploitation in the second round of the conflict.

When the historical event is a "NATO Crisis" the maneuver capability of the U.K. player is reduced on the first turn. If no cod hexes are within easy sailing distance the British player cound find himself hamstrung by these restrictions and unable to reach the fishing grounds during the subsequent turn. London will call a halt to the operation if no successful fishing expeditions are completed within two turns.
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