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Subject: Review (Tactical Game only) rss

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Jack Thomas
United States
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The tactical component of this game comprises a single sheet of instructions with charts on the reverse side and a sheet of miniature-sized counters (including all relevant information about the vessel) printed on cardstock. The very vague rules claim to be a modified version of the Fletcher Pratt system (which I have not played).

I've played only a single game using these rules and it left me with the impression that there was something, if not much, missing. The rules have a short paragraph each on movement (including turning), firing and damage, and laying smoke. Conspicuously absent are firing arcs (or even descriptions of angles for them), no mention of initiative or if movement /firing is simultaneous (that's the way we played it), how much a ship may increase or decrease its speed per turn, whether a ship may fire on multiple targets (we allowed for it), or fire over other vessels (we assumed they could).

The rules do incorporate the real specifications for each vessel, but in the end, this seems to a drawback. For example, the damage points a ship can withstand is equivalent to its displacement. The Goeben, for example, can take 22,980 points of damage before sinking. And the damage chart uses gun size vs. armor belt thickness to determine damage. And this is probably where you want to have a calculator handy.

A hit may do, say, 845 points of damage. Once you total the damage done in a turn, you compare that to the chart for a particular vessel. At certain multiples of damage amounts (which seem to match percentages of the ship's total, such as 20%), the ship suffers accumulative reductions in speed and guns.

While the rules are quite simple (too simple to even be considered complete), it becomes quite laborious keeping track of damage, speed, guns available, and other multi-turn results of the heavy damage (critical hit) table, such as fires and bridge hits effects.

We played the game using the counters mounted on 1/4" foam board to simulate miniatures and ease movement, on a 4x8" table. With the scale at 1" = 500 feet and starting distance (visibility) at 33,000 feet (66 inches), this was probably the minimum amount of gaming space you would want to use.

All in all the gameplay was enjoyable, particularly for me having just finished reading THE ESCAPE OF THE GOEBEN, by Redmond McLaughlin, though somewhat spoiled by long delays in record keeping and ship-specific chart consulting. However, now that we've ironed out the deficiencies (to our own satisfaction, at least), a second game should go more smoothly and I'll have the foresight to have a full prepared Excel spreadsheet handy!
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Chris Geggus
United Kingdom
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Go easy on the game Wolf, it is 37 years old now! I remember playing it some while after it came out and I was pretty impressed with the design, idea, playability, novelty, everything. But, like all of us, it's obviously showing it's age now.

However, nice to see a golden oldie reviewed like this. It may make some people break out their old copy one more time and push a few counters around. Can't be all bad.

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