Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wee Gamers Presents ... Victory at Sea

Victory at Sea (shortened to VAS, for convenience) is a game of naval warfare originally set in the battles of WWII from the powerhouse of Mongoose Publishing.

The Age of Dreadnoughts expansion allows players to transfer their games back to WWI, when dreadnought battleships and their big-guns were the kings of the sea, before all those nasty carrier-borne aircraft and insidious submarines REALLY got going.

Wee JB takes a look at VAS and Age of Dreadnoughts..........

Mongoose Publishing describes Victory at Sea,
The Second World War saw naval warfare evolve from the clash of mighty dreadnaughts, which had been the preoccupation of navies for half a century, to a conflict dominated by the aircraft carrier and submarine.
The Battle of the Atlantic saw German U-boats attempt to strangle the economy of the United Kingdom, with fast commerce raiders such as the pocket battleships and the mighty Bismarck attempting to slip into the Atlantic to wreak devastation upon the allied convoys.
In the Mediterranean the Italian and British fleets squared off as each side attempted to settle the fate of Egypt and North Africa, as both sides attempted to strangle the other’s supply routes.
In the east mighty carrier fleets clashed as the Imperial Japanese Navy tried to hold on to the rapid conquests of 1942, whilst all the while American submariners strove to paralyse Japan’s industrial might via attacks on her merchant fleet. It was here that mighty battleships clashed in ferocious night battles amongst the Pacific islands.
Victory at Sea brings these conflicts to life allowing budding admirals to re-fight the epic battles of this conflict, or to create their own fleets based upon the ships of the day and fight entire campaigns. Over seventy different ship classes are detailed, allowing a wide array of different battles to be fought with eighteen scenarios included.
Based upon the award winning A Call to Arms games system, Victory at Sea is a fast flowing game that will allow novices and veteran gamers alike to enjoy recreating the epic struggles between the mighty fleets of the era.

Spanning the entire First World War, Age of Dreadnoughts is a complete naval miniatures game based on the hit Victory at Sea rules system. Now you can play out these confrontations on the tabletop with entire fleets drawn from the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet, the Kaiserliche Marine’s Hochseeflotte or any one of the many other nations featured. From skirmishes involving single cruisers hunting down merchantmen and surface raiders to the clashing of fleets against implacable enemies, Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts is your gateway to exciting battles that take place in the on the oceans of the Great War.

  • You've ever wanted to control fleets of ships and Battleship just wasn't quite enough for you. 
  • You love watching old war movies like "Sink the Bismarck!".
  • You embrace romantic ideals about the sea, wearing sailor-hats, thick woolly jumpers, aldis lamps, signalling flags or enjoy quoting "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!" in outrageous British accents.
  • "Harpoon" is a bit too complicated for your liking.

  • Games Workshop's Battlefleet Gothic (or Space Fleet, remember that?)
  • Mongoose's Babylon 5 - A call to arms (VAS is based on the same system) 
  • Battleship!

  • You get to control entire fleets of tiny ships! 
  • Carefully manoeuvre your vessels in order to try to "cross the enemy's T" and bring the full weight of your broadsides to bear; or just sail along the enemy battle-line and smash 7 shades of *heck* out of each other with 870 kilogramme shells. 
  • Jump for joy when your nippy little destroyers manage to penetrate the enemy's own destroyer screen to torpedo and sink a (pre-dreadnought, but still) battleship with just 2 hits.
  • Crap yourself when you try the same thing against a "modern" super-dreadnought and the torpedoes just bounce-off.
  • Desperately make smoke with those self-same destroyers as they run and hide.
  • Pray your opponent can't hit, damage, then roll four sixes in a row to detonate your prized-flagship's magazines.

  • VAS (Age of Dreadnoughts) is self-contained, you don't need to purchase the original WWII VAS to play. 
  • The rules are fairly simple so it's quite easy to just play, but the options are there for complication (aircraft, shore batteries, minefields and a full campaign system included) as well as scenarios for several historical actions.
  • There is no specific accompanying miniature range that is being hawked, and the system is flexible enough to play in a variety of scales.
  • 5 Different navies represented, and information for civilian vessels too (a further expansion (Far Flung Seas) expands on the vessels available for these and also adds four more navies to the range) 
  • By wargaming standards it's incredibly cheap! The rules plus two (in case no-one else you know plays) 1/3000-scale fleets of 2 battleships, 1 battlecruiser, 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers can be yours for £40 (at time of writing). The only other thing you'll need is some pencils & paper and a few 6-sided dice.
  • No need for terrain! Since you're "at sea" any flat surface will do - but don't be surprised if you want to get a blue tablecloth to play on.

Having belittled our resident WWII naval afficionado (and USN enthusiast), Scott, with complaints that we don't want to play games where it's just hordes of aircraft bombing and torpedoing our precious ships he gallantly deigned to play a game in WWI. He is now sold on WWI as well and is picking-up a fleet of his own. We're in the planning stages of a short "alternative history" campaign.  In return I've been reading-up on a few surface actions from WWII and am going to collect a small RN Indian Ocean force to take on Scott's Japanese heavy cruisers.

Victory at Sea and it's various expansions are published by Mongoose publishing  

You don't even need miniatures! You could just print out some little plan views for an even cheaper game! Still if you're like me you're going to want an actual fleet of minis so here are some resources:

Miniatures in 1/3000 scale:
Skytrex's Davco line - a good selection, with pictures of some of the ships and good entire-fleet deals.

Navwar's 1/3000 naval vessels line - far more extensive range and sometimes even cheaper. No pictures though, and no facility for online purchase, orders made by fax, but the service was swift enough.

Miniatures in other scales:
Alnavco supply several ranges in 1/2400 as well as 1/1200 & 1/1250 (these last two are considered interchangeable) - Some beautiful and incredibly detailed models, but some are MUCH more expensive than 1/3000 and even some larger scales.

Airfix, Tamiya & Revell make some plastic kits in 1/1200, 1/600, 1/700, 1/350 which are relatively affordable, although again nowhere near as cheap as the 1/3000 miniatures.  The ranges of vessels available in these are also limited, and larger scales do make for range problems on a normal table-top. Still, a fleet of these would look nice, wouldn't they!

James Bryant (Wee JB) is an officianado of wargames systems on land, in the air and at sea. He also likes children but could not eat a whole one. At least in one go.  He also really enjoys Battletech, messing around with systems and coming up with his own.

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