Welcome to the game articles in which I will introduce you to the basics of Naval War. Note that this is not the rulebook (read that one for yourselves you lazy gits!) so in case of an error in these articles (or if the rulebook is updated and I didn't get to these articles yet) the rulebook is always right.
Lets start out with the turn sequence to give you all a rough idea on how the game is structured:
The game has 4 phases:
Direct activations phase
Indirect activations phaseEnd phase
Naval War does not use a standard I-go You-go turn system in which all actions by a player are resolved after which the other player can resolve all his actions and the turn ends. Instead, Naval War is driven by activation orders. In the next article the concept of orders will be further elaborated on but for now it is enough to know that activation orders are needed to have your ships perform any actions like shooting, moving and such.
In the preparations phase, players collect their entitled amount of order tokens (needed to play orders, see next article) and a roll-off decides which player may decide who can make the first activation in each phase.
Now, what is the difference between a direct and an indirect activation? The nuance is in the timing and in the costs. Direct activations will cost you an order token while indirect activations are free. Direct activations are all played before the indirect activations. So the question is, how important is the action for your strategy? Players alternate activations during the phase, so sequencing your actions and planning ahead becomes very important. Direct activations also involve changing targets, changing speed and heading and initiating attacks. Once you've put your ships on the right track with your direct activations you can economize on order tokens in subsequent turns by switching to indirect activations.
|Direct activations||Indirect activations|
|- Maneuver||- Compulsory movement|
|- Launch- or call in air support||- Air movement|
|- Gunnery/ASW attack||- Repeat fire/ Rapid fire|
|- Torpedo attack||- Rally|
|- Air attack||- Damage control|
|- Submarine search|
Now, this might still sound a little confusing, so some examples are in order: Maneuvering your ships during the Direct activations phase will cost you an order token but will allow you to change the heading of your ships and also allows you to augment the movement of your ships with further orders (see next article). Not moving your ships in the direct activations phase allows you to move them for free later in the indirect activations phase by a 'compulsory movement' activation. However, during compulsory movement, you are not allowed to significantly change the heading of your ships or to augment the movement by orders.
The result of this system is that the players constantly need to make choices as to what activations they will play. Since players alternate activations, sequence really becomes important. Do I move my ships out of range before the enemy can fire? Or do I order to fire before the target can move away? Should I hold my torpedoes untill the opponent has expended his movement, with the risk of getting shot before I can order a launch or do I launch my torpedoes now and risk that my opponent moves his ship out of the spread in his activation. Do I use my big guns to shoot at small targets, having to switch targets each time expending lots of my order tokens, or do I use the big guns to target that battleship? Once the range is found, subsequent rounds of shooting can be done with the indirect 'Repeat fire' activation, saving your order tokens to do other things.