Game Description

War at Sea is a simple area movement game of the Battle of the Atlantic including the Mediterranean. First published by Jedko Games (John Edward's company), it was licensed and published by Avalon Hill in 1976 and is still in print! War at Sea is a game, not a simulation. Face-to-face (FTF) it is playable in an hour, PBEM games can comfortably be finished in a month.

Because of its simplicity and ahistoricality, War at Sea has spawned possibly the most variants of any AH game (see the list of General articles below for some examples). AH even went so far as to publish War at Sea II which provides some new paper mapboard areas to mate with the existing ones and die-cut counters for some of the variants. Notable among variants was the 'Victory at Sea' variant which links War at Sea and its sister game Victory in the Pacific into one massive game.

Details of this PBEM Game

Allies: Eric Pass
Germans: Steve Baldwin

We are using the 'Tournament' American ship activation rules which allows an increasing chance for American ships to be activated on each turn after Turn 4. On Turn 4, American ships activate as normal on a 6, on Turn 5 any remaining American ships activate on a 5 or 6, on Turn 6, a 4,5, or 6 and so on.

We are using the Danish Dieroller ( to generate the die rolls for the game.

In the previous match, Steve won by 4 POC as the Allies using a partial Mediterranean-first strategy (see AH General articles for description of this strategy).

Events so far

Turn 1
The Allies abandon the Mediterranean and try to control the other four sea areas. The Germans go to the South Atlantic in force and use their 3 U-Boats to successfully interdict the North Sea keeping it uncontrolled. Surface combat in the South Atlantic is vicious, the Allies lose the Revenge and the Ramillies takes 4 damage but is not sunk while the Germans lose the Gneisneau, Graf Spee and Admiral Hipper and the Lutzow and Blucher are disabled to the Neutral Port but hold the South Atlantic for 3 POC. The Axis go up 4 POC in total this turn.

Turn 2
The Allies again try to hold the same four sea areas and increase the ASW component of the North Sea to 15 dice. Of the four sea areas, the North Atlantic contains the lightest force (2x5-5-3 Nelson, Rodney, 4-4-4 Queen Elizabeth and 0-1-6(2) Glorious) so Steve sends all the Germans there except for the Admiral Scheer which scoffs the free POC in the Baltic. The U-Boats are also sent to the North Atlantic. The Lutzow fails its Speed Roll and returns to the Neutral Port costing Steve 1 POC at the end of the turn.

In the ASW phase, 1 U-Boat is killed, 1 disabled and the third ineffectively attacks the Nelson. Allied airstrikes are deadly however and the Bismarck is disabled to France. In the follow-up surface attacks, the Scharnhorst and Blucher are also disabled to France. The German counterattacks, even with the combat bonus, are ineffective so the Prinz Eugen retreats to France and can not be pursued. POCs are even at 3 earned but the Lutzow costs 1 POC and the Allies reduce the margin to 3 POC for the Axis.

Turn 3
The Russians fail to activate this turn and the North Atlantic is closed to the Axis except for the U-Boats. It is lightly held with 2 carriers, one of which is the Eagle and Convoy 1A. Only 3 ships but 9 ASW dice. The other three areas are strongly held, particularly the South Atlantic as the Lutzow must sail or cost another POC. I expect he'll reinforce the SAO with the ships from France. No! Steve avoids combat this turn, abandoning the Lutzow to the Allies in the South Atlantic, sending the Tirpitz and Admiral Scheer on holidays to the Baltic from Germany and holing the rest of the ships up in the French ports. 3 U-Boats go to the North Sea.

During ASW, again 1 U-Boat is killed, 1 disabled and one unsuccessfully swipes at the Ark Royal. Steve U-Boats are keeping the sealanes open for him. A little bit of luck for him, as usually using the U-Boats in small groups is a sure way to piddle them away. I chose to hit the Germans in France with my LBA instead of the Italians in the Med reasoning that a '6' is necessary to do any good in either case. The point is moot as no hits are scored. I opt to not do an Airstrike against the Lutzow in the South Atlantic as I don't want to risk a disable when I have 23 dice worth of surface firepower on tap. Murphy bites me when all I can get with these 23 dice is a Disable to send the Lutzow back to the Neutral Port. Not a single 6! The POC is even for the turn and the overall score remains at +3 POC. Convoy 1A advances to the Barents and the British ships in the Barents go to Russia.

Turn 4
The Americans are raring to go and 4 of them (Texas, New York, Wichita and Augusta) pour out of the starting gate on Turn 4! The Russians fail to show again. However, all sea areas are available to a German presence. Steve goes to the North Atlantic in force with all available ships; 2x4-9-6 Bismarck & Tirpitz, 3-5-7 Scharnhorst and 2x1-2-7 Blucher & Prinz Eugen. Both 4-9-6s make their Speed Rolls. The 2-2-5 Lutzow bites the bullet and moves to the South Atlantic where she is sunk. Steve sends his LBA to the Barents but they fail to disable or sink Convoy 1A and it will put into Russian for 3 POC. This won't matter much as the Germans carry the North Atlantic, sinking the Texas and New York and the valuable Convoy 2B for the price of some damage on the Scharnhorst and Bismarck. The two disabled German ships go to Germany, no problem as the 4 U-Boats in the North Sea easily stave off the 12 dice of ASW with only 2 disables and make the North Sea uncontrolled again.

Turn 5
The 3-3-3 Okt Rev sails this turn for the Russians while no new American ships join the Allies. I parcel my forces out pretty evenly. Steve opts to not challenge me and repairs the Bismarck and Scharnhorst in Germany while sailing everyone else to the Baltic to take out the pesky Russian. The LBA and all 6 available U-Boats go to the Barents where 2 are killed, 2 disabled and 2 can attack. Both U-Boats attack the Ark Royal disabling it to Russia, while the LBA puts 1 damage on the 4-5-6 Anson. The Okt Rev takes a lesson from the Lutzow in Turn 3 and gets off with only a disable in the face of overwhelming firepower but crappy die-rolling!

The POC come out even as the Allies hold the North and South Atlantic and the North Sea while the Axis hold the Baltic and Med.

Turn 6
I put heavy presences in the North Atlantic, to guard my Convoy 3C, my last one; in the Barents and the North Sea. The South Atlantic is only lightly guarded by 3x4-4-3 BBs. Steve sends most of the fleet on a cruise to the Baltic where the Russians fail to show again. The Italian BBs are split between the Med and Italy but all four Italian cruisers roar into the South Atlantic supported by all 7 U-Boats. LBA on both sides is ineffectual and the ASW in the South Atlantic kills 1 U-Boat and disables another while the counterattack only sends the 4-4-3 Resolution to the Neutral Port. So the surface combat will pit 2x4-4-3 British BBs vs the 4x1-1-7 Italian cruisers.

The first round of combat sinks 1x1-1-7 and disables another while 1x4-4-3 goes to the Neutral Port. In the second round, another 1-1-7 is disabled as is the last 4-4-3. The Italians hold the sea area for 3 POC which brings Steve's total to +7POC. There are only 2 turns left and even if my Convoy 3C does survive and make it to Russia I still have to make up 4 more POC. Since we are getting close to my moving date, I decide to concede the game to Steve.

Summary & Analysis

Steve played well and he was able to capitalize on two errors (in particular) of mine. The first was killing Convoy 2B in the North Atlantic in Turn 4and the second was not sending enough ships to the South Atlantic in Turn 6.

This means Steve won both ends of the double-ender and I tip my hat to his superior play.

Steve and I will be playing something new soon so look for it in this space sometime after Christmas.

Other Links for War at Sea information

Game Info
Bruce Monnin runs the War at Sea PBEM Ladder. Contact him for more details.
Questions & Answers

Books & Magazine Articles
Avalon Hill General articles

This file last updated 01/08/98.

This page is maintained by Eric Pass

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