Locarno24's playtest thread.


Cosmic Mongoose
Well, that was good fun!

We hadn't played Victory at Sea in years, so wanted something simple (ish) to get us back in the spirit of it.
We decided to try the Bismarck versus the Hood - obviously the latter is at a disadvantage (500 points versus 600) but we thought it should be close enough to have a good game.

~ This was played on a 'clean' 4'x4' table.

~ Bismarck's 4 aircraft couldn't be enough to net any useful bonus, so we ignored them.

~ Hood was forced to set up first, and set up centre, heading up-table, to close as fast as possible (no armoured deck, shorter range guns than her foe, and torpedoes that the Bismarck lacks means long range bad, short range good).

~ With full steam, the Hood got into visual range of the Bismark in the first turn. Whilst it only had fore turrets to its opponent's full main battery, it got its shot off first, landed one hit....which was a critical....to Vital Systems. We thought for one moment it was going to be a reverse of history, but in the end the result was Bridge Smashed - still bad, but not as bad as it could have been.

~ Both ships traded fire as they closed. With the Bismarck unable to perform special actions, Hood turned slightly to unmask her aft guns and slowed to Evade. Needing a 5 to hit whilst the Bismark needed a rerolled 4 kept the weaker-armoured battlecruiser within shouting distance as damage racked up. Both sides took low-level engine and crew criticals repeatedly and repaired them repeatedly.

~ Once things got into short range, damage started coming in dozen-point blobs as the capital ships were now missing with the odd shot rather than hitting with the odd shot. One torpedo salvo fired but only did a couple of damage due to Bismarck's Torpedo Belt 3.

~With the Bismarck reaching Point Blank range of its main guns first, and initiative - which had been firmly in the hands of the Hood for the first few turns - suddenly swapping to the Bismarck, the Hood was quickly crippled, losing both X and Y turrets. With an Engines 2 critical, it was half speed, -1" speed, and minimum of 3" move to turn, essentially locking it on a given course.

~ This continued for a turn or two, with the Bismarck passing in front of the Hood and continuing to batter it. Then, the Hood won initiative and by slowing got a decent shot with its torpedoes. This time, it got four damage through the torpedo belt, managing to cripple the Bismarck as well - and with a horrifying roll, the Bismarck lost all four turrets in one fell swoop.

~ Sadly the Hood, by this time, was 1" away from the board edge, facing it, so had no choice in the next turn but to sail cleanly off it. The Bismarck was equally locked to a reciprocal course, heading the other way whilst ineffectually firing twin-linked Light Weapons at the Hood.

~ In the end, Hood disengaged with 16 hit points left, whilst Bismarck had 26, but had an escalating Fire critical, CQ reduced to 4 and no ability to use All Hands On Deck! so it might well have killed itself shortly afterwards.

It was a very good game. The rules felt simple, and realistic. The Bismarck losing all eight main guns in one go was kind of harsh, though, instantly tilting the game had the Hood still been able to change course.

Questions that came up in the game have been put in the original thread in this forum; I should probably put them in here in the future.
Coastal Invasions

"The total number of Headquarters Objectives will usually be dependant on the size of the attacking fleet, but each Headquarters Objective will have one Beachhead Objective and six other Objectives of the defender’s choice. "

No guidance given for fleet size per Headquarters Objective

Also no guidance for transport capacity (even the Troop Ship!)
When using Long Lance torpedoes to fire a 'Fan Salvo' preliminary bombardment:

"Any ship capable of firing 3 or more Attack Dice of Type 93 torpedoes into a single fire arc may launch a ‘fan salvo’ after fleets have been deployed but before the battle begins, with the intention of hitting multiple enemies. Roll one dice for every 3 Attack Dice of torpedoes taking part in the salvo (this will expend the ship’s torpedoes for the battle if they have the One-Shot trait). A random enemy ship will be hit on the roll of a 6. These torpedoes can be evaded as normal."

Since this hits random enemies, is this attack still restricted by arcs of fire or can a destroyer flush both torpedo broadsides? (since it could easily have done a 180' turn during a putative 'turn zero'

How are the torpedoes evaded?

"Immediately make an Opposed Crew Quality check (see pXX) between the attacking ship and its target (assume that aircraft-launching torpedoes have a Crew Quality of 5 in this case). If the target ship succeeds in the check, an additional -1 penalty is imposed on the Attack Dice of the torpedoes. If multiple enemies are launching torpedoes at the same ship, it must make an Opposed Crew Quality check against every enemy.

Ships that did not move at least 3” in the turn or are performing Special Actions may not attempt to evade torpedoes."

Since the torpedoes are not fired at a specific target but hit a random enemy ship on a 6, how can they be evaded? And when, if they do, do the penalties for evading apply?

~ The entire fleet needs to evade - which means a ridiculous number of opposed CQ checks
~ Specific ships may evade, in which case (as there is a -1 to hit) those specific ships cannot end up being randomly hit targets

The idea of being forced to make an opposed CQ check against the attacker for what is essentially random scatter fire doesn't make sense.
We played the Battle Of The River Plate scenario on a 6'x4' board.

Turn 1:

The Exeter moves first, heading more or less straight at the Graf Spee.
The Graf Spee turns to starboard, ending up pointing SW.
The Achilles and Ajax head more or less straight at its new position, turning a little at the end of their move so their X and Y turrets have arc.

A pair of 11" shells make a nice mess of the Achilles, with a Shrapnel critical and 4 damage.

The Exeter fires and wings a few damage points off the pocket battleship. It only has one aft turret, unlike the smaller Leander-class, so I figured keep head-on and present a smaller profile.

The two Leander-class....are out of range, with the range being about 26-27 inches to the Graf Spee.

The Achilles fails its damage control roll

Turn 2:

A change in initiative leads to the Graf Spee moving first. It moves and turns to starboard again, now pointing West and heading straight for its exit board edge.

The first Leander moves. "I don't think that's gotten any closer" says my opponent. He's right. Since the Pocket Battleship and the Cruisers are all the same speed (6" per turn), and there is no 'increase maximum speed' special action, I am essentially stuck driving after the fleeing Kreigsmarine ship without being able to range on it with 2/3 of my force.

Exeter lands a single shell, causing a point of damage.

Unsurprisingly, the Graf Spee switches targets to the Exeter, as the only ship which is a threat, fortunately missing.

Turn 3:
Everyone keeps chasing. Now 24" to the board edge.

Exeter causes 2 damage and a critical. Annoyingly, Shrapnel (crew 1), which is fixed immediately (along with the Achilles' crew critical).

Graf Spee does a point of damage back with a single 11" shell from the Y turret.

Turn 4:
Now 18" from escape
Another damage to the Exeter.
Exeter also misses due to extreme range.

Turn 5
12" from escape
Exeter misses again, as does Graf Spee

Turn 6
6" to go.
The last chance to stop the pocket battleship - and a string of 1s and 2s leaves Exeter without a single hit.
Graf Spee fires a last salvo and also misses

Turn 7
Graf Spee escapes.

So....That wasn't much fun at all.
Either this scenario specifically needs to be on a 4'x4' board (which would let the Leanders start inside extreme gun range, or some sort of speed advantage needs to be handed to the lighter ships. Chasing a ship with the same speed as you and longer range guns which starts outside your range is not great entertainment...
In the Japanese fleet list index, the Nagato-class Battleship is listed as 400 points. In the ship's own entry, it's 380 points.
Whilst a points value is only really a guide, some of the ships with the same price point are fundamentally not equal.
I accept that as 'battle priority', 'war priority', etc, this was inevitable with only 5 'prices' a ship could have, but given that the granularity of a more normal points system has been added - such that refits often 'tweak' a ship's price up or down by 5 or 10 points - having two ships having very detectably different capabilities is not on.

Was getting bits together for an intro playtest at my LGS - essentially a 'tabletop world of warships' where everyone either gets one of the 800 point battleships or two of the 400 point ones, players are split into two teams, and things are 'settled the old navy way' - first one to die, loses.

Directly contrasting the three 800 point American battleships is a good example.
The North Carolina and South Dakota are a good comparison; they have essentially the same stats and main armament with the newer South Dakota trading 1" of the older ship's speed for Advanced Radar, an extra point of Torpedo Belt, and an extra two points of Local AAA.

The relative value of 1" of movement versus situational traits will depend on a given matchup - i.e. whether darkness, torpedoes and aircraft area part of the game being fought - but you can make a sensible argument either way.

Comparing either class to the Iowa does not look good; the Iowa has the speed of the North Carolina and the beneficial traits of the South Dakota ...plus extra benefits.
And we're not talking slight improvements, here - the 'extra benefits' include:
~ The same amount of extra hit points and crippling limit as the total hit points (26/8) of a 100 point Wichita or Portland-class cruiser.
~ A 5" increase in main armament range such that its 16" guns consider it Long Range, rather than Extreme Range, out to 30"- effectively a 1/3 increase in firepower when trading shots broadside on at the horizon.
~ Non-local (5") AAA with better AD than a 200 point Oregon City-class Heavy Cruiser

Don't get me wrong, the Iowa is clearly not as good as the 950 point Montana and should cost less. But the class should also still obviously cost more than 800 points.
We had a brief game on friday.

Three players a side, with each having either a 'big' battleship or a pair of lighter ships.

~ Iowa-class Battleship
~ North Dakota-class Battleship
~ 2 x Colorado-class Battleships

~ Yamato-class Battleship
~ 2 x Nagato-class Battleships
~ 2 x Kongo-class Battlehips

We only had had time for a couple of turns - but managed to see one Japanese and two American battlesips sunk (Battleships trading fire en masse hurts: who knew? :mrgreen: )

It was mostly criticals doing the killing (which feels appropriate) - watching massed criticals flash back and forth resulted in most of the damage done. 2 ships were killed in the second end phase by escalating criticals and heavy weapons really, really hit a lot harder than otherwise identical statted guns than I expected. Every kill was ultimately caused by a ship reaching the infinite Explosion and Multiple Explosion critical cycle.

One Nagato and one Colorado went down to massed fire and subsequent escalating criticals. In the second turn, the Yamato happened and then continued to happen for some time - rolling something like 8 criticals which tore the ship in one go.
The main thoughts:

1) The game was very simple, at its base level, and was fun to play even for people used to a much less detailled wargame (FFG's X-wing) and who had no experience of a previous A Call To Arms-based game.

2) The game was played with some quickly-created ship sheets. One thing which alway helped games of ACTA were ship sheets from places like Burger's Ship Viewer. Having something similar available as a .pdf to print as needed would make things much easier. Yes, I'm sure someone will create them anyway, but it'd be nice to have 'proper' ones, maybe with a bit of artwork (there are top-down views of most ships in the old VAS token sets, after all).
Spähkreuzer - whilst spelled correctly in the fleet list entry, the fleet list index has a spurious double K.
locarno24 said:
Spähkreuzer - whilst spelled correctly in the fleet list entry, the fleet list index has a spurious double K.

Project Jade carrier
"takes damage as a Civilian"

Is this intended to be anything other than suffering criticals from weak weapons?
I also wanted to ask about record keeping and ship sheets. Unless I missed them, I did not find anything in the play test pack.I used sheets from the prior Victory at Sea set and created my own in that style for ships that didn't have a damage sheet.
I did look at Burger's Ship Viewer as Locarno24 suggested in May 2018. I wondered what others were using. I agree with his suggestion of providing a PDF download of a basic template to mark of crew, engineering, hull damage, etc.
Just got a PM from Matt asking for my name to be added to playtest credits - but can't reply as the site claims he's disabled private message receipt.
If it's still within timescale, my name is Joseph Cowlishaw.
locarno24 said:
Just got a PM from Matt asking for my name to be added to playtest credits - but can't reply as the site claims he's disabled private message receipt.
If it's still within timescale, my name is Joseph Cowlishaw.

You can send an email to msprange@mongoosepublishing.com (though he'll probably see this).