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It seems that each subsequent version takes longer to complete, version 1.4 took about a year, version 1.5 has taken 2 years to complete. Reading back my notes of version 1.4 I noted that it might as well be version 2.0. I can say the same again for version 1.5. The game takes such strides forward improving thanks to the numerous suggestion and feedback threads. Still, the increased time between releases also indicates that the game is maturing.
Streamlining and consolidating gameplay was a major focus for this update. The air phase saw considerable changes taking care of multiple unbalances and exploits. The command station gained improved flexibility with the command station cards and the player has many new options with the introduction of the tactical order tokens.
1. Turn order changes
The indirect activations phase has been renamed to the remaining actions phase to make it more distinct and to emphasize that no order tokens are needed for the actions in this phase. The word 'activations' in the name confuses new players that think that more activations are played in this phase.
Between the initiative phase and the activations phase, a new phase has been introduced. The preparations phase gives some much needed structure to the game by defining the order at the start of the turn. Launch and land aircraft -> Generating order tokens ->Calling in support -> rally broken off ships
2. Basic activations and air groups
There was a balance problem for fleets with aircraft. Since aircraft did not generate order tokens, but order tokens were required to get them on the board in 1.4 (launching or requesting air support) a fleet with aircraft was starved for order tokens compared to fleets that did not bring aircraft. I've added order token generation for each air group consisting of 5+ flights that is in the air. This resulted in the removal of the extra order tokens for carriers.
The basic activations of launching aircraft and requesting air support have been removed as activations and have been moved to the preparations phase. These actions no longer require order tokens. You still need order tokens for an attack run though, but the reduced order token requirement should bring aircraft-heavy fleets better on curve.
In addition to the above, air groups are now formed during the turn instead of only at the start of an attack run. This allows air groups to form and move together. This makes it possible to alternate the movement of air groups. Adding flights to an air group outside the range of a carrier requires an activation.
Launching and landing aircraft now happens at the same moment in the preparations phase. This removes any bookkeeping for carrier capacity during the turn. This also makes the aircraft cycle three turns instead of two. Surprisingly, this has almost no effect on their effectiveness or use. Instead it really streamlines carrier operations. It is still possible to strike in the first turn, but this now requires an extra activation.
Fuel tokens have been added. Flights/airgroups now start with 4 fuel tokens at launch and spend one at the end of every turn.
3. Order token curve & officer tactical orders
Since order token generation is stable until the fleet composition changes due to kills and broken off ships, most fleets end up with many excess tokens in the early game, because except for movement nothing much happens. Then, when the battle gets intense, the curve drops off because ships break off, but at that point in the battle you would want more tokens because there are so many ways to spend them when combat is going on.
Increasing the order tokens will make the early game worse and the late game a bit better, while vice-versa the opposite happens.
I’ve come up with a solution that I think will address this issue: Normal order token generations is still determined by the squadrons in your fleet and their composition, providing a steady stream of order tokens each turn. In addition to that, the officer now has a finite order pool of order tokens called tactical orders, few for lower officers, up to three tokens for an admiral. These order tokens are one-use only but can be used at any time. This gives the player fewer order tokens to worry about in the early game when fleets are closing but gives a pool of extra tokens to be used when the going gets tough. Of course, as a result, the fleet flagship will no longer generate order tokens each turn.
Thanks to player input, a base generation of one order token is added to the game. This compensates for the loss of the fleet flagship token. This to ensure that even when your fleet is scattered, at least a small amount of control remains in the players’ hands. However, because you likely won’t need that token in the early game, this ‘Battlestations!’ token only becomes available after the first attack activation of the game.
Since air groups generate their own tokens now and are no longer needed for launching, the extra order token for carriers is removed.
4. Risk vs. Reward
The system of disruption, and the added penalties of failing an order discourages players from using the command station. This balance is always tricky, and expect tweaks to the system with each update. Last update a base difficulty of 2+ was added for all activations. I’ve now expanded on this concept by making the base difficulty variable depending on the impact of the order on the command station. An order with a big impact on the game might have a base difficulty of 3+ while an order with a small impact might be a 2+. To compensate and to bring balance back into the risk-vs-reward equation, only orders that fail the base difficulty value will cause the negative effect of an order. If disruption markers are added and an order fails because of the increased difficulty, most negative effects do not kick in, the order usually just fails. So a flank speed order (base difficulty 2+), with two added disruption markers (increasing the difficulty to 4+) will only cause engine damage on the roll of 1, on 2 and 3 there is no negative effect, just no added movement distance. This decreases the risk, but still allow for effective disruption.
5. Command station Cards
The command station is currently one page for each fleet; this works quite ok, but I’m not completely satisfied with it.
- There is not much typing room to elaborate on an order, so this limits the available options.
- There can only be a fixed number of orders on the command station, this already led to the creation of carrier-fleet only command stations because too many specialized orders will not work on a single command station.
- Requests have come in for scenario-specific, era specific and fleet specific command stations. This would cause a wild growth in the number of command stations.
So I have reworked the command stations into Command station order cards. Each card has enough room for the order rules and specifics and each fleet can build their own deck as they wish (within the constraints of the cards)
The current command stations contain 12 orders, so to keep things interesting, fleets can build a deck of 10 command station cards to suit their needs, with one card held in reserve. At the start of the battle you can switch out one order for the reserve order.
The advantages are obvious:
- There is enough room on a card to describe more complex orders.
- Orders can be more specialized (DD only or BB only orders), orders might be limited to an era, scenario, fleet type or OOB.
- Orders become more meaningful as you have picked them to suit your fleet
- Complexity can be increased or reduced by playing with more or less command station cards.
The Russians are here!
I’ve added the Soviets to the database and command station cards. This will open up possibilities of battles involving the USSR fleet.
With the increased importance of the initiative roll, the rules for scouting have been streamlined (scouting is no longer a passive special rule but aircraft have to actively scout, disabling them from attacking). In addition some experimental rules for shadowing have been added to allow ships to scout too. Finally, the scouting bonus can be a + OR a - on your initiative roll. Sometimes you might really want to leave the initiative to your opponent. In the remaining actions phase, ships and flights can be set to scouting. They cannot perform any activations in the following turn when they are scouting.
Fleet builder update
I’ve been updating the fleet builder to give complete data-cards as output, including pictures for the ships, officers and aircraft. It now also includes options for color/greyscale and images/no-images to save printer costs. It now also has the option to compose your custom command station.
Task Force 1
I added Task force 1 to the Midway OoB, this is a very interesting force containing the seven remaining US battlewagons and CV-1 Long Island as a last resort blocking force to protect the US west coast in case of a Midway defeat. This is a great opportunity for a what-if pitting the old battlewagons against the Japanese Main Force. It was to good not to include.
Small changes and additions to the datacards and fleet builder:
- Cleveland cruisers have had their aft guns RoF reduced from 8 to 6, this was a typo
- Akizuki now has the correct speed
- Type XXI U-boats have their submerged movement increased to 10
- HMS Eagle
- Alaska class cruisers
- No.1 class landing ship
- Okinoshima-class minelayer
- Dorsey-class minesweeper
- Stribling class minelayer
- P38 Lightning
- OS2U Kingfisher
- Fairy Barracuda
- FW 200 Condor
- US PT-boat
- USS Montana
- HMS Lion
- Tone-class cruisers now have the 'hybrid carrier' special rule. It can load one floatplane flight.