Thoughts on the Game so Far

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    My friend and I have played three games of Victory at Sea so far. We have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. This post is not meant to be critical. We have been playing the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States Navy. He has been playing the USN and I have been playing the IJN. We took air craft from the Mongoose publication and attempted to update them to the current rule set. We used the example of the Fairey Swordfish and the Stuka to update the old USN planes and the IJN planes. Please see below for these planes:</p>
    Val: dive bomber, 17″ speed, +0 dog fight, tough, 2 damage dice, devastating, one shot, 15 points, carrier capable: yes

    Kate: torpedo bomber, 22″ speed, +0 dog fight, tough, 3 damage dice, devastating, one shot, 20 points, carrier capable: yes

    George: fighter, 27″ speed, +5 dog fight, tough, 0 damage dice, 25 points, carrier capable: no

    Betty: torpedo bomber, 19″ speed, -1 dog fight, tough, 3 damage dice, 15 points, carrier capable: no

    Airacobra: fighter, 27″ speed, dog fight +2, 0 damage dice, tough, 20 points, carrier capable: no

    Kitty Hawk: fighter, 25″ speed, dog fight +2, 0 damage dice, tough, 20 points, carrier capable: yes

    Hell Diver: dive bomber, 21″ speed, dog fight -1, 3 damage dice, devastating, 20 points, carrier capable: yes, 20 points

    Dauntless: dive-bomber, 19″ speed, dog fight +0, 3 damage dice, devastating, tough, 20 points, carrier capable: yes

    Devastator: torpedo-bomber, 15″ speed, dog fight -1, damage dice 4, devastating, tough, 15 points, carrier capable: yes

    Wildcat: fighter, 24″ speed, dog fighter +2, damage dice 0, tough, 20 points, carrier capable: yes

    Avenger: torpedo-bomber, 22″ speed, dog fight +1, damage dice 4, devastating, tough, 20 points, carrier capable: yes

    Mustang: fighter, 33″ speed, dog fight +5, damage dice 0, 25 points, carrier capable: no


    Here are the pros and cons of the game as I see it so far:


    -Interesting movement system

    -Interesting order options

    -Unforgiving combat

    -Flavorful fleets based on historical navies with special rules

    -Interesting combined air and naval combat

    -Interesting ship classes with pros and cons

    Cons (things that may need improvement):

    -Any weapon with devastating is absurdly powerful. This rule needs updating. A Fubuki destroyer for the low, low cost of 50 points has the potential to do 4.5 times the damage of the Yamato’s main guns. The Yamato costs 1,000 points…. Granted, the Fubuki must get very close to have any chance of doing damage and can only do it once.

    -Anti Aircraft guns seem underwhelming. The fact that they only hit on a 6 and even the largest ships only get 5 to 9 shots of local AA plus having to direct the AA guns to specific flights means ships are a low threat to air craft

    -Scouting is super broken. In ship to ship combat, if you’re opponent gets 10 scout rolls and you don’t, you basically lose. In our second game, half my friend’s army had to face my entire fleet that was already half way across the board. Most of the tiers are fine. The only issues are 7 scout rolls and 10 scout rolls. The ability to reposition your entire fleet is extremely strong. My friend and I house ruled the following modifications:

    7 dice rolls: ability to reposition 10% of your fleet rounding to the nearest whole number to allow the ability to scale with larger games, +1 roll to reserves. We also changed the way scouts come back in. Rather than just always coming on a 6+, reserves come in on a 6+ turn 2, 5+ on turn 3, 4+ on turn 4 and so on. If you get at 7 scout rolls, you get a plus one modifier, so on turn 2, scouts return on a 5+. We thought this would represent scouts getting the word early that the enemy fleet had been contacted and high tailing it back to fight.

    10 Scout Rolls: +2 to scout returning rolls, ability to reposition 25% of your fleet rounding to the nearest whole number.


    What are your thoughts? Do these rules for planes seem acceptable? We couldn’t figure out how to balance torpedo bombers. They hit less than dive bombers and are hit more easily by AA. They are just worse than dive bombers.


    Good stuff, coming up with stats for all those types of planes.

    I’m also having fun trying out Victory at Sea. So far, my experience with aircraft has been different; maybe it’s a difference of tactics in our games, or expectations as to how effective AAA should be, or the luck of the dice. I find that ships swat down planes in droves; that, if the game leans one way, it’s skewed pro-ship, rather than pro-aircraft. (Which I don’t mind; it’s primarily a ship game). From what I’ve seen, when a ship is caught on its own by a massed force of bombers, it’s toast, but a group of ships can fight off hordes of aircraft, especially if they fly in piecemeal.

    I agree that torpedoes are way, way deadlier than guns in the game, but I think that’s on purpose. The game reflects the idea that it’s unusual for a capital ship to sink after a few shells (when it does, as with the Bretagne or Hood, it’s due to a huge secondary explosion), but not after a few torpedoes (as with Royal Oak, Barham, Repulse, Shinano, Shōkaku, etc.). In WWI, a battleship (Szent István) was sunk by a motorboat. So the Yamato vs. Fubuki-class comparison doesn’t seem awry to me, in terms of firepower or cost.

    Of course, whatever history says, I want battleships in my fleet. I think the trick is to screen them, so the enemy never get close—the player whose battleship is under torpedo attack from point-blank range is probably not winning.

    One aspect of the game I do find a bit iffy is the Type 93 torpedo’s accuracy. A torpedo would only move something like 10” per turn, so it seems strange that it can just insta-zap ships at 17” like other torpedoes at 3”. Just because the Type 93 has more range doesn’t mean it’s going to be that much more accurate, especially against a moving, manoeuvring target. (Maybe the accuracy should gradually decline, rather than remaining steady before falling off a cliff at 20”.)

    I haven’t yet had a game where a player rolls 10 scouting points; you must be having epic battles!


    How have you interpreted the use of defensive local AA during the gunnery stage? On Page 16 of the rulebook, the description of Shooting Down Aircarft sounds to me like you fire AA only once per ship and may split dice among flights. It also says that a flight is only hit on a 6. So, something like the mighty Yamato against a flight of tough USN bombers would statistically only get one hit, needing two to destroy a flight. So, even the Yamato, one of the chunkiest ships in the game, won’t statistically shoot down a single flight of dive bombers during the gunnery phase?

    Am I reading this correctly? Can the ships actually shoot at every single plane as they approach in the movement phase? Maybe that is where AA becomes strong?


    And to answer your question, we have played one 750 point game and two 1,500 point games. My friend got very lucky on his scout rolls game one and repositioned his entire fleet.


    I understand the rules the same way. One difference I see: I’ve never had a game where planes have the “tough” rule. If there’s a big air attack, I circle the wagons: if smaller ships are around the battleship acting as shield, one or more usually get to fire local AA during the movement phase, and then, most importantly, they get to pour their dual-purpose guns in during the shooting phase, before the aircraft attack. A typical situation I see looks like this: six flights attack, three are shot down, the remaining flights expend their weapons (effectively taking them out of the fight), and one lands a hit. One hit per six flights doesn’t seem too bad from the ships’ perspective. It’s different if the ship is alone; I agree that a ship on its own is vulnerable to a massed group of aircraft.

    I don’t have the Yamato yet (I’ll get it though, of course!), but I treat my (relatively sissy) battleships as “glass cannons”; I do what I can to keep them shooting in the back while my smaller ships get in the way of the enemy. Precious battleship vs. small things with bombs or torpedoes is a match-up I try hard to avoid. I have zero experience playing with or against the Yamato, but I can’t imagine Yamato being worth the points (in a competitive game) unless you had some serious rings of defence. (Zeroes, cruisers that enemy bombers have to fly over or near to, etc.).

    My understanding is the actual Yamato, with help from the Yahagi and accompanying destroyers, only shot down two or three flights of aircraft before being sunk. I hope your Yamato is sent on a more fortunate mission (with air cover!).


    Interesting! I am going to have to give your ship grouping idea a try. I can’t say I have kept my formations that tight. Do you play Japan? Have you had luck using the Group 2 Fubukis with DP guns as AA screens? They seem the most economical Japanese AA screen to me.

    On the note of competitiveness, I have been most impressed with the stock Agano, 1943 Mogami, Shokaku-Class Carriers and Fubukis-Class Destroyers. I think the Agano-Class is my favorite. Solid special rules with armoured deck and torpedo belt 2, main gun armament well suited to harassing destroyers, strong torpedo compliment capable of eliminating heavier ships and 3 scouting aircraft! The aircraft is what sold me on this class. The only other cheap source of Japanese scouts is the 1943 Mogami, and you can only take a single version of that ship.


    Beta rules allow for converted civilian seaplane tenders. 5 planes for 50 points.. :Italian finger-kissing noises:

    Also, land-based scout floatplanes, 5 points for each. Petes are bread-and-butter.


    Oh my. Where do I find these beta rules? Those sea plane tenders seem amazing.


    Do the beta rules have rules for planes outside of Zeros and Corsairs for the USN and IJN?


    I’ve played as Japan, the UK and the US. As the US and UK, I pretty much always bring a battleship and screen it, and it seems to work well. I’ve never used a battleship as Japan (the Kongō model is one of my favourites, but it’s not worth anywhere close to 375 points), so I don’t really have anything to screen. My IJN strategy is a big torpedo rush: while the carrier hangs back and launches aircraft, my destroyers and cruisers use their speed and manoeuvrability to keep the enemy 12 to 17 inches away and launch torpedoes until there are no more enemies. It turns into a race of torpedoes vs. guns/Corsairs. (I like those odds; as you pointed out, the “devastating” rule is, well, devastating.)

    I think you are absolutely spot on as to which Japanese ships are best for their points in general: Fubukis, Aganos, and Shōkakus. No doubt in my mind, these are “top tier” ships for their cost. Against an enemy with aircraft, I agree completely, the best Fubuki spec is the 1943 Group 2. That upgrade is 10 points very well spent.


    The beta rules are for mongooses v2 of the game… some of the rules have been changed… so float planes might not actually appear as while they are in the beta they are also included in the aircraft X trait…. but no observation planes are in the QSR.

    So i’d hold off until end of Jan when the rule book is released before trying to alter anything, just because you dont want to confuse your self really :p



    I’m hoping that the full rules will allow for the historical anti-torpedo tactic of turning away.  It’s something that big ships did historically when the torpedoes were spotted in time, and it puts commanders into a “risk the ship or risk the formation?” situation.  As an historical example, Yamato was forced to turn away due to a torpedo attack in the battle against Taffy-3, and spent the rest of the battle in a futile effort to catch up with the rest of the ships.  It would be nice to see that sort of thing in the full rules.

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