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Subject: Bigger? YES! But... rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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War At Sea 2



An Expansion/Variant for The War at Sea
Designed by Paul Kaster & Alan R. Moon
Published by the Avalon Hill Game Company (1977)



War at Sea 2 is a variant/expansion for the Avalon Hill edition of War at Sea. As the kit includes rules, counters and a map it will work with the Jedko and L2 Design Group editions as well. If you have already played the original War at Sea you might like to skip the first section of the review and straight to the Second Act. If you are unfamiliar with War at Sea, then the First Act is just for you.


Act I

A long time ago in a country on the underside of the planet a man, descended from convicts, had an idea. His idea was to publish wargames that were innovative. His games were so good that Avalon Hill decided to get the rights to them so that they could publish the games themselves. One of these games was called War at Sea.

The idea behind War at Sea was to have an innovative system that allowed two players to simulate the naval aspects of World War II in the European Theatre. The game plays quickly, taking no longer than 90 minutes for most people.

The concept behind War at Sea is that there are six sea areas (North and South Atlantic, Mediterranean, Baltic, Barents and the North Sea). The Allied Navies (Britain, Russia and the USA) have a massive numerical superiority. The Axis Navies (Germany & Italy) are numerically inferior but the Germans do have a technical superiority. The Allies receive a small number of points for controlling each area. The Axis, generally, receive large numbers of points for controlling those same areas. The essence of the game is that the Allied Navies move first. They need to spread out to control as many sea areas as possible. The Axis Navies move second, knowing where the Allied ships are. This allows them to calculate the battle odds and to try to control as many areas as they are willing to. If they only fight in one area they will probably have numerical superiority but may not get enough points. If they spread out to gain areas they may be pushing their luck and suffer bad attrition as a result.

The game is a real balancing act for both sides. How thinly can the Allied ships be spread and still maintain control. Do the Axis try to maximise their points or do they gamble by going for lots of areas even though that may reduce the chance of success in individual battles..

I think it is a great game. I have seen the game won by big margins by both sides. Despite rolling lots of dice I don’t think luck plays much part in the game.




Act II

I rather enjoy simple wargames. I find that the simpler the rules the more important the skill-level of the players. In some of the highly complex games the person who knows the rules better will win simply because they have more options available to them. I have played War at Sea countless times but have played War at Sea 2 only once. It is not that it is bad but simply that by adding more counters all that is achieved is a reduction in the elegant simplicity of the original design.

I guess it is only natural that simple wargames lend themselves to people who want to make them more complex. War at Sea 2 is a compilation of several variants that appeared in The General magazine. The expansion adds rules, counters and a larger map. It also doubles the playing time of the game.



Map
The map is unmounted and is about twice the size of the original map that comes with the Avalon Hill edition of the game. As well as the six sea areas on the original map this map adds three sea areas – the Caribbean, the Black Sea and the Cape of Good Hope. It adds several ports to the game as well.



Counters
War at Sea 2 adds quite a few counters to the game. All the navies get extra ships and there are some new counters for Frogmen and X-craft. The French & Greek Navies appear. The French ships, at the end of the first turn, will either be scuttled, remain Allied controlled or become Axis controlled. This is done by rolling dice. The number of points the Axis are ahead or behind will have a bearing on the result – the better the Axis have done on the first turn the more likely it is that the French ships will become Axis controlled.

There are also three more convoys included in the expansion – Tiger, Torch and Afrika Korps convoys.

Charts
There are three Order of Battle cards supplied with WAS2 and these certainly make it easier to set up the game.

How Does It Work?
To be honest, it works just like War at Sea – except that it is bigger and has more counters. The core rules all work the same as in the basic game. There are more special rules to cope with the two new navies, the extra convoys, the Frogmen, the X-craft and the extra sea areas.

Personally, I find that the basic War at Sea offers both players several options regarding overall strategy. I feel that the addition of the French Navy forces the Axis to fight for more areas on the first turn of the game so as to have a chance of gaining as many French ships as possible. This means, especially against a substantially stronger Allied navy (due to the French navy), that the attrition on the first turn is going to be much worse for the Axis. The Allied player can even adopt the approach of throwing away the French ships as each French ship that the Axis sink is one ship that won’t become Axis controlled on the second turn.


I enjoy both simple and complex wargames. I enjoy both small and large. War at Sea was designed as a quick-playing, fast-moving wargame. I enjoy it as such. I enjoy the subtleties and the range of options available to players. I don’t believe that it improves the game and feel that it decreases the strategies available to players – but that is my opinion.

If you are one of these people who wants more counters and thinks bigger is better you may actually find War at Sea 2 an improvement.


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Robert Wesley
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'moi' DOTH 'scoff' at YOUR 'temerity'!

Why, "BACH! in the 'daze'!" then we'd parlay this'n & that'n other'n ONE'n unto: "Victory at SEA!" with the W~H~O~L~E 'shebangenchilada'! I don't wish to condemn nor denigrate your 'longevity-factoid', while: "dag, yo!"
arrrh
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David G. Cox Esq.
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GROGnads wrote:
'moi' DOTH 'scoff' at YOUR 'temerity'!

Why, "BACH! in the 'daze'!" then we'd parlay this'n & that'n other'n ONE'n unto: "Victory at SEA!" with the W~H~O~L~E 'shebangenchilada'! I don't wish to condemn nor denigrate your 'longevity-factoid', while: "dag, yo!"
arrrh


You know Robert, no one can put a sentence together quite like you.

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James Lowry
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da pyrate wrote:
You know Robert, no one can put a sentence together quite like you.

Thank goodness.

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Graham Lockwood
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I can only hope that Robert does not look anything like his dog (if it is indeed a canine).
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Robert Wesley
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Rindis wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
You know Robert, no one can put a sentence together quite like you.

Thank goodness.

This is a wonderful 'rendition' of what condition 'moi' condition's 'rendition'... whistle
 
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Robert Wesley
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All right, so to bring this BACH! "on track", then does anyone KNOW what them 'blank' counters used to contain? Where is the 'scan' with these and yes, they were FOR other VARIANTS!
surprise
 
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Jim Marshall
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Thanks for this, I played quite a lot of War at Sea back in the day and had heard of (but never seen) this expansion set.

I tend to agree with you - unless you're allergic to dice, as it stands War at Sea is a pretty fine quick-playing wargame. If I wanted something similar but with broader scope and a longer timeframe I'd be tempted to pull its offspring Victory in the Pacific off the shelf.
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