Mechanics - The turn sequence

(Updated for version 1.5)
Welcome to the game articles in which I will introduce you to the basics of Naval War. Note that this is not the rulebook (read that one for yourselves you lazy gits!) so in case of an error in these articles (or if the rulebook is updated and I didn't get to these articles yet) the rulebook is always right.
Lets start out with the turn sequence to give you all a rough idea on how the game is structured:
The game has 5 phases:
  • Initiative phase
  • Preparations phase
  •  Direct activations phase
  •  Remaining actions phase
  •  End phase
 Naval War does not use a standard I-go You-go turn system in which all actions by a player are resolved after which the other player can resolve all his actions and the turn ends. Instead, Naval War is driven by activation orders. In the next article the concept of orders will be further elaborated on but for now it is enough to know that activation orders are needed to have your ships perform any actions like shooting, moving and such.
In the initiative phase scouting is handled and a roll-off decides which player may decide who goes first in each phase.
In the preparations phase, players launch and land aircraft, collect their entitled amount of order tokens (needed to play orders, see next article), call in air support and handle other stuff to prepare for the activations phase.
Then, in the activations phase, players alternate playing activation orders. Some orders can be issued in the activations phase, like moving a squadron of ships. But this action can also be postponed to the remaining actions phase. The nuance is in the timing and in the costs. Activations will cost you an order token while remaining actions are free. So the question is, how important is the action for your strategy? Players alternate activations during the phase, so sequencing your actions and planning ahead becomes very important. Activations also involve changing targets, changing speed and heading and initiating attacks. Once you've put your ships on the right track with your activations you can economize on order tokens in subsequent turns by switching to remaining actions.
Basic activations
- Maneuver
- Form an air group
- Gunnery/ASW attack
- Torpedo attack
- Air attack
- Submarine search
In the remaining actions phase all actions are handled that do not cost any order tokens.
Now, this might still sound a little confusing, so some examples are in order: Maneuvering your ships during the activations phase will cost you an order token but will allow you to change the heading of your ships and also allows you to augment the movement of your ships with further orders (see next article). Not moving your ships in the activations phase allows you to move them for free in later turns in the remaining actions phase by a 'compulsory movement' activation. However, during compulsory movement, you are not allowed to significantly change the heading of your ships or to augment the movement by orders.
The result of this system is that the players constantly need to make choices as to what activations they will play. Since players alternate activations, sequence really becomes important. Do I move my ships out of range before the enemy can fire? Or do I order to fire before the target can move away? Should I hold my torpedoes untill the opponent has expended his movement, with the risk of getting shot before I can order a launch or do I launch my torpedoes now and risk that my opponent moves his ship out of the spread in his activation. Do I use my big guns to shoot at small targets, having to switch targets each time expending lots of my order tokens, or do I use the big guns to target that battleship? Once the range is found, subsequent rounds of shooting can be done with the indirect 'Repeat fire' activation, saving your order tokens to do other things.
In the end phase damage effects like fires and flooding are handled, together with torpedo damage and aircraft fuel consumption. Then the board is cleaned up for the next turn.