A player's summary of Ken Stuart's enjoyable browser game:
The designer has put the experience of playing a double-blind WW2 carrier boardgame onto a computer screen, with the Fighting Flattops browser app as the referee and scorer. It is a challenging operational/tactical game of naval-air warfare, played against a human opponent in a series of hourly turns (thus 24 per day of a scenario). There is no AI to play against, and it is not a cartoon view.
There is a growing range of scenarios (with the best being set in 1942-43 in the seas around the Solomon Islands). Scenarios usually allow for a historical start position or give the player a choice within a marked area.
Visually, the game displays a Google Earth map of the South Pacific section of the planet, using a layer with ship, plane, sub and base icons. Task force and air group icons can be grabbed and dragged on the map to set a new course, or units can be given orders on the selectable tabs, to manage:
- naval task forces (showing ship names, silhouettes, damage status, maximum speed, and ammunition remaining, plus the task force's current speed and mission),
- air groups (once they are airborne - showing mission, range to destination, and aircraft range remaining),
- air bases (to allocate aircraft into an air group ready for take-off, and give them a mission, and/or to ready planes just landed),
- carriers (operate like air bases, but they of course they move) and
- submarines (individually).
In the historical scenarios, ships and aircraft are provided in the historical numbers and types. For example, the USS Enterprise will go to the Battle of Santa Cruz with 13-14 TBD Devastators aboard, while the USS Hornet has newer TBF Avengers instead. Both have 30+ SBD Dauntlesses and 30+ F4F Wildcats.
Carriers and bases have capacity to handle a certian number of aircraft per hour for re-fuelling/re-arming. Damage from bombing or naval bombardment will reduce those numbers. Carrier operations are affected by the wind direction, so their whole task force turns into wind if launching more than 5 aircraft, which can be inconvenient. Storms will prevent take-offs from carriers and/or airbases.
While FF is a naval-air game, surface combats and shore bombardments also occur. Amphibious landings are included in generic form, to enable an enemy base to be invaded or a friendly one to be resupplied. The USN and IJN forces and bases in the Pacific are the main features, but the British, Dutch and Australians are present in some scenarios.
Players independently enter the moves and orders for their units, though both players can be online simultaneously doing that. When both players have completed a particular phase, then either of them can continue on to the next phase.
It is free to sign on to the website and play (though you can pay an annual subscription to have access to scenario-building tools and a few other benefits - like keeping the website going). This game is a 'must-play' for those who love WW2 naval-air.
This summary was written by Paul Haseler (aka Mollusc), a player of Fighting Flattops since April 2010) who has no other connection to the game or its publisher.