Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
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I've finally posted the latest version of the rules I've cooked up to help generate more 'realistic-feeling' scenarios and campaigns. It is certainly an example of 'design for effect', and much of it is presented as suggestions or guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. I'd encourage any A&A WaS admirals to take a look and maybe give these rules a spin. They don't really impact the basic tactical rules of the game, but instead simply attempt to put the games into a more historically plausible framework. These rules have been moderately playtested with some of my A&A WaS buddies, but I would not say they've been exhaustively playtested. Please feel free to comment, question, and suggest changes or improvements.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/64224/aa-war-at-sea-sc...

Here, from a post in my most recent session report, is some of the background regarding the "break contact" rule, which really is the heart of this rule set:

"...I have played too many games of AA WaS where the end of the scenario map was denuded of all but 1 or 2 ships of the winning side, with everything else going to the bottom. I'm a naval history buff, and having devoured books on the subject for years, I wanted my games to end in a historically plausible way. I've worked on the "break contact" rule concept for a couple of years, and it has evolved quite a bit. Originally, I just looked to use the percentage of total points lost versus starting points as the means to trigger the break contact order. Taking this scenario as an example, I took the starting points, 300 per side, and figured that if losses for a side totalled a certain percentage, that side's admiral would be compelled to withdraw. At first, I set the percentage higher, something like 50%, or even 67%. However, I found that losses that high took longer to reach, and that later in the game both sides were usually heavily engaged in the middle of the map. This meant that by the time the retreating fleet reached the edge of its side of the map, it was often totally wiped out, which again was something I was trying to avoid. That's how I got to the suggested 40% figure in the rules right now.

I've also played with the idea that each side might have a different percentage for a given scenario, based on historical considerations. For example, in a Mediterranean scenario in 1941, one might give the British fleet a 40% break contact value, but the Italian fleet a 33% break contact value, based on the fact that the Italian fleet commanders generally avoided major fleet battles if the situation was even hinting at going the wrong way for them. I've also given thought to varying the probability of breaking contact between two fleets by varying the D6 roll result requirement for each side once a break contact check is triggered. Right now, if any of the three conditions is met, a D6 result of "1-5" results in the break contact order being issued, only a roll of "6" allows the admiral to avoid breaking contact that turn. Perhaps, using the Med example again, both fleets might have the same percentage of points value (say, 40%) to trigger the check, but the British fleet only breaks contact on a roll of "1-3", while the Italian fleet breaks contact on the "1-5" roll.

The second possible condition which I added to the break contact rule, that of if at least half of one's capital ships (with a minimum value of 20 points) were sunk or crippled, was inserted when we started to notice that just playing with the percentage of total points rule was resulting in both admirals playing for cheap kills of low value units like cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft. It didn't seem right that an admiral was likely to leave the area if he had lost a bunch of destroyers and a handful of cruisers and planes, if his main units were still intact. Instituting this capital ship rule shifted attention back to the historical aspect of WW2 fleet battles, where both sides tended to concentrate on sinking each other's big ships. I later tacked on the minimum 20 point value requirement to protect against the sinking of small escort carriers triggering the break contact check. I can see perhaps counting the loss of such "light" capital ships as a "half-capital" loss for the purposes of this rule - I might play around with that.

The last of the three break contact conditions, where a side only has its carriers, and their immediate (same hex) escorts left on the board, was another bow to the notion that any carrier admiral who had lost their surface screen was not likely to stick around for the enemy's surface ships to arrive. At the suggestion of my buddy Dan, I later added the exception that if the escorting ship in the same hex were a battleship or battlecruiser, no break contact check was required, because the strength of such an escort might give the carrier admiral enough confidence he could withstand an enemy surface attack that he would stay and fight.

With all three of these "break contact" conditions working in unison, I think I've finally gotten a system where the likelihood of one or both sides retiring from an engagement more or less conforms to the battle descriptions I've read from World War Two. More playtesting is required, and I'm open to ideas from the rest of you as to how this approach might be further improved. I have to say, based on how this scenario worked out, I'm fairly happy with the result - both of us had significant forces remaining when we concluded the battle - the end condition "seemed right" from a historical, esthetic perspective."
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James Jenkins
Thailand
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
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Seems like you've done a lot of research. I'll take a look at this, and report back in a bit. I served as a Torpedoman's mate in the 80's and 90's aboard a US Cruiser. WWII PAcific Theater is my favorite period, and I have many (mostly Strategy) naval wargame titles on my shelves.
 
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