A new Kickstarter campaign from Italian based LuxLu has sailed into view. Naval games seem to be coming back under the spotlight and this new offering of 1:1850-1:3000 WWII fleet action could prove very popular.
I was lucky to get a bit more information from Luca at LuxLu regarding what we can expect from the Admiral Kickstarter. Luca was keen to point out that the game is being professionally translated so to excuse any oddities in their communication when talking about the game. Given my Italian is non-existent, I have no cause for complaint there.
A brief bit of history
Admiral dates back 10 years or so when two colleagues were looking for a naval game they could both enjoy. The ones they found on the market always seemed to fall into one of two extremes. Either the system was too simple, and bearing little resemblance to naval warfare, or it was too complex. We’ve surely all encountered rules where it may well be an accurate simulation but slows down to the point of being unplayable! Admiral then is intended to be the Goldilocks of naval games. A set of rules designed to simulate various aspects of battle but not getting bogged down in minutiae.
An official release of the game followed five years ago in Italian and, proving popular despite being a relatively niche genre, led to a number of thematic expansions. Thousands of hours of game time and player feedback have led to refinement in the rules to the point that a revised edition seemed a good venture. The team decided that incorporating the core rules and expansions into a single translated volume was the best way to go and, thus, here we are.
The rules system
Designed to quickly and easily manage every aspect of a naval clash, Admiral seeks to differentiate itself by taking into account the ‘positional’ factors critical at sea. Manoeuvring is a key focus and reflects the inability of ships to turn on the spot or instantly stop or accelerate to maximum velocity in the blink of an eye.
In an over-simplified summary, each ship will move a number of centimetres equal to it’s current speed in knots. In order to alter course you need to use the handy turning template. As ships don’t turn like cars or tanks, you rotate as you move which adds to the ‘recreation’ aspect of this as a naval game.
A shot across the bows?
To allow for and represent the myriad of weapon systems that could be present, Admiral makes use of a range of polyhedral dice. Apart from the humble, and oft ubiquitous d6, you’ll also need a handful of d8, d10, and d12s.
When I want to attack I take a dice representing the strength of the battery and apply any modifiers. I’m looking to roll greater than the defence roll of my opponent’s ship. Examples of modifiers could be range, how fast the enemy is moving, and whether or not my ship has suffered damage. On top of battery fire, one also has access to torpedoes as well as rules for fighters and bombers!
Damage is broken down into light, severe, and critical. Light damage occurs on a hit that failed to penetrate armour. Although considered repaired at the end of the turn, it’s not something you can ignore. Light damage can trigger critical damage or automatic responses from your crews. Severe damage results in loss of structure. Structure is a simplified means of tracking ongoing damage to your ships. Reduction in structure will negatively effect the efficacy of your ships in battle. Bear in mind however that you have a crew of trained sailors and may well be able to repair structure through damage control rolls. Critical hits represent additional specific damage which might occur. Think along the lines of damage to the gun batteries or maybe even a bridge hit!
After setting up on your table of choice (the game suggests 180×240 cm or 120×180 cm) you’ll consider scenario and meteorological effects. The turn system requires a bit of thought and tactical planning and is something I see more of in modern games. Players will have activation cards for their ships which they must place in order during the tactical phase. Each player will then take it in turns to reveal their card and activate their ship in question. Each unit will, assuming you can, move, shoot, and carry out any special orders available. When all cards have been drawn you move on to a clean-up phase before getting your cards in order again for the next turn. I like this as it means there’s more reactive play rather than having to sit there and watch for half a turn.
What’s in the new book?
The new collected volume contains all the rules you’ll need to recreate the battle for naval supremacy during WWII. With characteristics for over three hundred naval units, pretty much every class of vessel is covered. With everything from aircraft carriers to torpedo boats, as well as submarines, the intention is to allow for historically ‘probable’ games.
In addition, there’s fifty-nine pre-generated missions with details such as dates and locations, as well as the forces involved. This allows for recreations as well as that old favourite of ‘what-ifs’ that war gamers love to dabble in.
What about models?
Although simple conversions allow for the use of the rules up to 1:3000, the default is set for a scale of 1:1850. Many veteran naval war gamers will have their preference for manufacturer and no doubt models all ready to go. For newcomers, LuxLu have taken the somewhat unusual step (although growing more common) of using laser cut models.
Commissioning a range of metal or resin models to cover all of the forces they wanted would have proven prohibitively costly but the player base was keen to have ship models to use. Collaborating with Marco Arcari of Labmasu lasercut studio, the team have designed ships that can be cut in layers. The end result are models which are easy to assemble and at a far cheaper cost. I’ve not seen the models first hand, but the pictures look great with a wealth of detail and accurate silhouette.
I’ve been a fan of Age of Sail games for a while and have dabbled in some Hoschseeflotte miniatures in the past but never taken the plunge with WWII; Admiral may very well change that. The demo set I looked at was an easy to follow contained set of rules with low model count, Admiral should have a relatively low cost to entry. Depending on scenario, other than a blue sheet, one won’t need to invest much in the way of terrain either!
What do you think of the ideas in the game? Maybe you’ve played the original edition or this seems right up your channel. Either way, we’d love to hear your thoughts below or over on our Facebook page.