Axis and Allies: War at Sea Review

The Axis and Allies series contains many sub-collections that range from ground-based warfare in WWII to aerial combat and a variety of different battles/periods during WWII, all of which are depicted in tremendous detail that will please any fan of miniatures and the collecting of them to form fully-fledged sets. Axis and Allies: War at Sea offers the same highly-detailed and historically-accurate miniatures but this time the war is on the waves. The collection consists of a two-player starter pack to get things going and also booster packs, all of which contain differing quantities of randomized miniatures to set your naval warfare games alight with realism and fun.

Axis and Allies: War at Sea

Axis and Allies: War at Sea offers the same highly-detailed and historically-accurate miniatures but this time the war is on the waves. The collection consists of a two-player starter pack to get things going and also booster packs, all of which contain differing quantities of randomized miniatures to set your naval warfare games alight with realism and fun.

From the Box

Now, the Axis and Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea set comes in two different forms. The first form is the starter kit, which is intended to be a pack that can be played right out of the box. The second form this series come in are booster packs that contain models that supplement the gameplay. Obviously the booster pack only contains miniatures and accompanying stat cards; each booster pack contains 5 miniatures selected at random to appear in each of these packs.

This just leaves the contents of the Starter Pack, which is the pack that most beginners will be opting for since it contains all that you need to play the game right out of the box. In the starter pack you can expect to receive 9 miniatures with accompanying stat cards, 2 double-sided player mats (one per player if you're into 1 vs 1 naval combat), 6 island cards, a total of 8 six-sided dice, damage counters, a starter's guide booklet, and of course the advanced rules booklet that dictates the precise manner in which the game should be played.

It should be noted that War at Sea isn't anywhere near as complex or comprehensive in nature as many Games Workshop games like The Hobbit Battle Strategy game - the Axis and Allies sets have always opted for the swifter and more easily accessible route, allowing players to still enjoy depth of strategy but also to play relatively quick games instead of them being drawn out for hours or even days.

Axis and Allies Naval Miniatures - The Wider Collection

Of course the above starter pack and booster packs don't constitute the entire collection. The Naval Miniatures collection as a whole totals 64 models (1:1800 in scale), all fully pre-painted in splendid detail and consisting of a variety of vessels including destroyers, cruisers, battleships, subs, and even aircraft.

The stat cards of each of the vessels do their best to reflected their respective piece's actual attributes, allowing you to immerse yourself in an authentic experience that reflects the realities of the naval warfare of WWII to a reasonably accurate degree. There are also additional vessels that can be purchased such as this cruiser collection from Wizard.

Gameplay and Rules

As with all the great games, the gameplay of Axis and Allies: War at Sea is surprisingly simple yet possessing depth that arises from the stats of each unit as well as the design of the game in general.

The objective of the basic game is to capture objective markers on the map that are worth 50 points, with a total of 150 points being required to emerge as the victor of the game (additional points are also earned with destroying ships and meeting additional objectives). This kind of battle allows for an interesting array of tactics yet dictates a relatively quick pace so gameplay never becomes stagnant.  

You'll get to play a mixture of vessels including ships and submarines as well as aircraft, each with different rules applying to them as well as their own stats/special abilities that are indicated on their stat cards. The initial movement is decided by a roll of the dice, also known as the initiative. The highest-rolling player gets to move second, allowing this player to take advantage of having seen the first-moving player's tactics laid out in front of them.

Ships are moved according to their speed rating and after the water-based phase the aircraft are then moved to any position on the entire map with no restrictions. Air defence is the next phase that is initiated, with players paying attention to their defensive stats as well as any vessels that may have anti-aircraft capability can then be used pending rolls of the number of dice that is equal to their anti-air value. Aircraft can then be used to attack after the air defence phase.

Following the aircraft attack phase, ships then attack with ASW and guns, followed lastly by the torpedo phase of play after which aircraft must return to base ( if they land on an aircraft carrier they may be redeployed in the next round but if they return to base they must use a turn to rearm before returning to battle). In all instances, destroyed vessels must be removed from play after each phase.

Conclusion

Though many may be disappointed at the relatively few models you get with the War at Sea Starter Pack - http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=ah/aam/WarAtSeaStarter, the gameplay of War at Sea is swift, entertaining, and filled with strategy and offers a miniature take on warship sims like Victory at Sea - http://www.victoryatseagame.com/. Its depth doesn't get players bogged down but is sufficient enough to feel realistic and well-thought-out, though hardcore war-game vets may very well be disappointed that the game isn't a serious war simulation.