Board Wargame Review - Command at Sea: "The Rising Sun"Title: Command at Sea: "The Rising Sun"
Company: Clash of Arms Games
Release Date: First Edition 1994, Third Edition 1998
Designers: Larry Bond, Chris Carlson, and Ed Kettler
Items enclosed: Basic Rules book, Scenario Book, Ship and Data Annex Book, Scenario Generator, Jumpstart Scenario Book, 140 die cut ship counters, 260 die cut aircraft, 4 dice (2 10-sided, 2 six-sided).
Reviewed By: Harold C. Hutchison
The Pacific Theater of World War II was the theater with some of the biggest, most vicious and decisive naval battles in history. The first two years were arguably a naval wargamer’s dream – two opponents who were matched closely enough that the result could go either way. Virtually any scenario could occur in those two years – and this game models just about all of them, from carrier battle to surface engagements, and even submarine actions – and did.
The simulation covers the timeframe from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1943. Overall, this decision of timeframe was a good choice. After 1944, many of the engagements were very one-sided, and so the end of 1943 is a logical cutoff point for this simulation.
The system is extremely realistic, and covers virtually everything from navigation to surface combat to amphibious assaults. The system is somewhat complex, but the realism it provides is well worth the complexity. Just about every variable is covered, and the Basic Rules Book also provides excellent background information on in the operational and tactical levels of operation.
Each scenario is based on actual battles, starting with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 to the Battle of Cape St. George on November 25, 1943. Historical orders of battle are provided, along with the initial tactical dispositions of both sides. Even both sides’ readiness is accurately modeled, through delays in firing (to model the fact that the Japanese ships at Cape Esperance were not at General Quarters) or enhanced damage (to model the poor readiness of the USS California at Pearl Harbor).
Variations on the historical scenarios are also provided. For example, for the Battle of Balikpapan, there is the ability to add the light cruisers Marblehead and Boise to the four destroyers that launched the attack. There are also options to give the Americans a heads-up prior to Pearl Harbor.
This is a nearly comprehensive listing of ships, planes, submarines, sensors, and weapons in the game. Equally valuable in this annex is Annex J, with conversion factors. This is particularly valuable if one wishes to implement newer ships (like the Iowa-class battleships and the Alaska-class large cruisers on the American side, or the Shinano on the Japanese side).
The Data Annex also tracks various modifications made to ships, like the Mogami’s conversion to a seaplane cruiser along the lines of Tone and Chikuma. It also tracks the changes in anti-aircraft armament from 1941 on ships from both sides (Allied and Japanese), and gives operational histories of various ships, mostly on the Japanese side.
A simple item, which allows for people to quickly generate a scenario of their own. The instructions are simple, and easy to follow. The players have a wide latitude in determining what units can be used.
The Jumpstart Module is designed to be a quick introduction to the Command at Sea system. For a person trying this game out for the first time, it is quite useful, and features a small-scale engagement off Guadalcanal between the United States Navy and the Japanese Navy.
For this review, the “That’s for Savo Island” scenario was used. Playing the American side, and starting with the S-44 in attack position (750 yards from the Japanese cruisers), as an effort to test the realism of the scenario, I fired the historical four-torpedo spread that the S-44 fired against the Kako.
The historical results (three torpedoes hitting the Kako), were exceeded in running this scenario (four hits scored). The four torpedo hits did most of the damage on their own, and the flooding finished the job. Historically, the cruiser sank in seven minutes. In the scenario, the roll of the dice meant seventy minutes elapsed between the hits and the sinking, achieving a decisive victory for the American side.
The simulation was able to provide a result that closely tracked historical events. It took about 20 minutes to play the scenario from the attack point.
“The Rising Sun” module of “Command at Sea” is a worthy naval simulation that is on par with what one would expect from the designers of “Harpoon”. The realism is there, and the ability to add new platforms and create scenarios is also present. It is perhaps the finest World War II naval-air simulation available. The only thing missing is a computer version of this simulation to join the Harpoon 2002 and Harpoon 3 games currently on the market.
© 1998 - 2013 StrategyWorld.com. All rights Reserved.