Moves 30 



Modifications for an Old Favorite 

by Karl Wiegers and David Bieksza 

I've always considered "CA" to be a game deserving of a good home - and
have been a little peeved over the indifferent ratings it's received.
Gamefolk have said: it lacks "salt." Herewith, Wiegers and Bieksza shake
the shaker. 

During breaks in the action at the local Conflict Simulation Society, a
pair of veteran wargamers will sometimes play "CA," a one-on-one war
duel. They require neither map nor counters - just a die. Whoever first
rolls three "ones" sinks the enemy. 

This anecdote points out two of the most striking characteristics of
"CA." First, to naval historians the game's compromises with historical
accuracy mean most of the scenarios are inevitably decided by rather
mechanical die-rolling. But second, to gamers this veteran title still
retains a considerable measure of appeal. Specifically "CA" was, and
remains, an exciting and fast-moving simulation of modern naval combat. 

With the resurgence in popularity of naval games, and with the
appearance of such highly advanced tactical simulations as Dreadnought
and Fast Carriers, we believe the time has come to offer a series of
variations to "CA" to rescue it from its dusty place on the back shelf.
We have developed several new rules and scenarios which we believe add
considerable depth and moderate complexity to this highly playable game.
Our intention is three-fold: to place more emphasis upon the importance
of tactical maneuver (or more simply "seamanship"), thereby improving
the historical accuracy; to incorporate some of the recent advances in
the "state of the art" of wargame design, thus taking advantage of the
increased sophistication of the average wargamer; and to retain the
game's playability while enhancing its interest and enjoyability. 

The modifications we outline below reflect a compromise, as always,
between strict historical accuracy and ease of play. In keeping with the
intention of the original designers, we tended toward the latter in
play-testing the various rules. Thus, we were forced to reject some
intriguing rules which, in our opinion, stifled the rapid pace of the
game or drastically upset the play-balance. At the end of the article we
will comment more fully on these rules. In addition, we have
incorporated some earlier ideas into our rules. We urge interested
readers to consult three excellent articles by Steven List, Jerrold
Thomas, and William C. Harting in MOVES #11. 

[8.0] Combat Results Table 

The anecdote that opened this article serves to illustrate a valid
criticism of "CA"; too great a reliance on luck when ships of equal
strength engage each other. The source of this shortcoming rests largely
in the Combat Results Table. It's hard to score a hit, but when you do
you put the target in a world of hurt. Historical rationalizations
notwithstanding, we feel that more than three hits should be necessary
to sink a ship, so proportionately less damage should be caused by each
hit. Also, at least a small probability should exist for sinking a ship
in a single overwhelming attack. Similarly, odds worse than 1-1 should
not be entirely ineffective, for small guns were quite capable of
inflicting extensive superstructure and armament damage even against
capital ships. Accordingly, we offer a new Combat Results Table for
determining hits and damage. 


In conjunction with the new CRT, we propose that each ship now has the
capacity to absorb up to three Power and three Weapon hits. One P hit
reduces a ship's maximum speed to "4", two P hits reduce the maximum
speed to "2", and after three P hits the ship is dead in the water.
Similarly, each W hit reduces both gunnery and torpedo strengths by
one-third (fractions are rounded to the nearest integer). Three W hits
render a ship completely without offensive capability. P hits or W hits
in excess of three are ignored. 


Now that we've fine-tuned the progressive effects of punishment, we
reset the amount of damage a ship can absorb and remain afloat. Five
hits of any kind will sink a ship. An important point is that when hits
are ignored because three of that type have already been accumulated,
they do not contribute to sinking. For example, a ship whose current
damage status is two W hits receives a "PW2" combat result via gunnery.
The target is not sunk - the P hit reduces its top speed to "4" and one
W hit reduces its firepower to zero, but the second W hit is ignored.
Another P hit is necessary to sink the ship. Had the "PW2' results been
achieved via torpedoes, however, the target would have been sunk with
three P and two W hits, since torpedoes cause only P damage. 


Keeping track of each ship's accumulated damage is easily accomplished
using SPI's Simultaneous Movement Plotting pad. These forms are also
useful for recording torpedo expenditures, reloads, etc. This method
takes advantage of the fact that most wargamers have stacks of pads left
over from recent SPI land tactical games. Even better, this method
avoids the awkwardness of stacking damage markers on ship and
speed/facing counters. Simply record the ship designation in the
left-hand column under "unit". Columns 1-3 are reserved for P hits, 4-6
for W hits, and 7-12 for torpedo bookkeeping as required. Check the
appropriate boxes as hits accumulate, and torpedoes are fired and
reloaded. Marking down the reduced firepower of a ship in columns 4-6
also speeds play. 


As pointed out by Steven List in MOVES #11, the present "CA" rules do
not yield any tactical advantage for skillful maneuver of one's ships.
Were it not for torpedo attacks, and to a lesser extent special scenario
victory conditions, the opposing forces might just as well steam within
range, drop anchor, and blaze away. One way to remedy this obvious
oversimplification is to make a ship's gunnery strength dependent upon
its facing, as indi cated in the following rule change. 

[7.15] Effect of Facing on Gunnery Fire 

A ship's net gunnery strength is halved (retaining fractions) when its
Line of Fire passes through its adjacent bow or stern hex. The Line of
Fire is determined just as in land tactical games, from the center of
the firing unit's hex to the center of the target unit's hex. This
penalty does not apply when the Line of Fire coincides with the hexside
of the bow or stern hex, i.e., 30' to either side of the ship's keel. 

The advantage of being broadside to the target is now apparent. The
classic maneuver of "Crossing the T" can thus be an important aspect of
"CA" tactics. For the sake of simplicity, ships dead in the water are
immune to this rule. 

[7.31] Splitting Gunnery Fire 

Also from List, CA's, BC's and BB's should be permitted to split their
fire, applying half of their net gunnery strengths (retaining fractions)
to each of two targets. A tricky situation arises when the facing and
split-fire rules are combined. The gunnery strengths printed on the
counters seem to reflect the hitting power of the main turrets only. The
broadside rule, then, simply reflects the inability of the aft turrets
to engage targets lying off the bow, and vice versa. The split-fire rule
allows the fore and aft turrets to fire independently. Therefore,
splitting of fire cannot be applied to two targets when both Lines of
Fire pass through the same bow or stem hex. 

Similarly, suppose a ship attacks two targets; the Line of Fire to one
passes through the bow hex, but the other Line of Fire does not. The net
gunnery strength of the ship is not quartered - halved for splitting
fire and halved again for facing. Because the forward turrets can be
brought to bear on the target off the bow and the aft turrets on the
other target, the net gunnery strength is only halved and applied to
both targets. 

[7.32] Combined Gunnery Fire 

The following rule indicates how to handle combined gunnery fire on a
single target using the new CRT. The net gunnery strengths of all
attacking ships are added together to determine the combat odds. The die
is rolled, '7' is added to the number obtained, and the combat result is
cross-referenced in the modified CRT. This procedure corresponds to an
effective gunnery strength of about two-thirds the total strength,
rather than the factor of one-half currently embodied in the rules. Thus
we remove the unreasonable situation that two ships of equal strength
firing on the same target are no more effective than one, and at the
same time we retain the penalty for trying to plot fire on a target
partially obscured by the shell splashes from another friendly ship. 

Figures 1 and 2 present examples illustrating the application of these
alternate gunnery combat rules and the use of the modified CRT. In
Figure 1, the USN CL-la (hex 2610) and CA-2d (hex 3210) have one P hit
apiece. Both ships can fire broadsides at the IJN CA-1d (hex 3006),
which already has two P hits. The combined gunnery strengths are 13 + 9
= 22, yielding 4-1 odds. The die roll is 5, and 2 is added to it because
of the combined gunfire. Cross-referencing a die roll of 7 at odds of
4-1 gives a result of "no effect." 

In Figure 2, the IJN DD-4b is now in hex 3207 with one W hit. The USN CL
again fires a broadside at the IJN CA, but the USN CA splits its fire.
The attack on the CA is at a combined gunnery strength of 6.5+9 = 15.5,
yielding 3-1 odds with 2 added to the die roll. The attack on the DD is
at a gunnery strength of 6.5, yielding 3-1 odds with no addition to the
die roll. Note that if the IJN DD wished to fire on the USN CA (if this
was the IJN player-turn), it would do so with a net gunnery strength of
1, since its face value gunnery strength has been reduced by one-third
due to the W hit, and by one-half due to the Line of Fire passing
through its bow hex. 


We agree with the earlier MOVES articles that the torpedo rules are
greatly oversimplified, and so are quite inadequate. For example,
cruisers shoot torpedoes at full effect in the game, yet a glance at any
deck plan shows that their torpedo tubes were grouped on opposite sides
of the ship. Only half the total number of tubes could be fired at any
one target. Although destroyers, generally employing multiple tubes on a
rotating mount, were free of this restriction, they shared the
constraint that torpedoes could not be fired directly forward or aft.
The following rules are proposed to reflect these (and other) historical
facts, as well as to further emphasize the importance of proper tactical

[7.16] Effect of Facing on Torpedo Combat 

Torpedo-armed cruisers may fire only half of their net torpedo strength,
rounding fractions to the nearest integer, at any one target. (Remember
that W hits reduce torpedo strengths in the same manner as gunnery
strengths.) Since port and starboard torpedo tubes are fired
independently, they may also be fired simultaneously. Of course, the
targets must be on opposite sides of the ship, and rare is the armchair
admiral who will offer such a tempting situation. Likewise, port and
starboard tubes are reloaded independently, and simultaneously if need
be. In consequence of this rule, detailed records must be kept regarding
the loaded/fired/reloading status of each set of tubes. (SiMove pads are
handy for this.) But the additional realism far outweighs the
complication of the necessary bookkeeping. Another obvious rule is that
the Line of Fire must not pass through the bow or stem hexes adjacent to
the firing ship. Firing down the hexside of the bow or stem hex is
permitted, however. 

[7.44] Contrary to the original "CA" rules, we maintain that torpedoes
cannot be fired through another ship, friendly or enemy, at a more
distant target. If the Line of Fire passes through an occupied hex, the
intended target may not be fired at. If the Line of Fire coincides with
a hexside of an occupied hex, the target may be fired at unless this
hexside is common to two adjacent occupied hexes. For the purpose of
this rule, all torpedo attacks are considered to take place
simultaneously. Thus a ship sunk by one torpedo attack still blocks the
Line of Fire for other torpedo attacks in the same player-turn. 

[7.33] Torpedo Spreads 

This rule regards torpedo spreads. A spread of torpedoes may be fired at
two enemy ships provided (1) they occupy adjacent hexes, (2) they are at
normal, not extended range, and (3) an unobstructed Line of Fire can be
traced to both. In this case, each target is attacked at one-half of the
torpedo load fired (i.e., an additional reduction after the effect of W
hits and cruiser torpedo restrictions). Note: just as in Gunnery Combat,
ships dead in the water are immune to rules involving bow and stern
hexes. D.I.W. cruisers are still halved, but the owning player may
freely choose whether the port or starboard tubes will fire. 

Figures 2 and 3 present examples illustrating the use of the,new torpedo
attacking rules. In Figure 2, the situation is the same as in the
earlier example. The IJN CA has a torpedo strength of 20, but since both
of the USN ships are on its port side, only half of this strength can be
fired. The cruiser may attack the CL at 2-1 odds or the CA at 2-1 odds.
In either case only the port torpedo tubes require reloading. The IJN DD
cannot launch torpedoes at the USN CA because of facing restrictions,
but a clear Line of Fire can be traced to the USN CL. Due to the W hit,
the destroyer has a net torpedo strength of 14, so it can obtain 3-1
odds on the target. 

In figure 3, the undamaged IJN DD-4a (hex 3208) is engaging three USN
ships, CL-1a (hex 2810), CA-2d (hex 2911) and DD-2b (hex 2612). The IJN
DD cannot fire torpedoes at the USN DD because the Line of Fire is
blocked. However, it can fire a torpedo spread at the cruisers. Each
attack is resolved separately, with a torpedo strength of 10 applied to
each target. Both attacks are at 2:1 odds. 

[7.64] Radar Rules 

In the "CA" article in S&T #38, David C. Isby pointed out the
substantial advantage the Americans held over the Japanese with the
development of search and fire control radar. U.S. ships employed
advanced search radar by October of 1942 (Battle of Cape Esperance), but
even inferior Japanese equipment was not available until considerably
later. The following rules simulate the sighting advantages offered by
search radar. 

In any night scenario dated later than August of 1942, all USN ships can
spot IJN ships at a range of 30 hexes. In any night scenario dated later
than June of 1944. all IJN ships of the classes BB-1, BB-3, and CA-2 can
spot USN ships at a range of 15 hexes. For the sake of simplicity, radar
is immune to all damage, and a single radar-equipped ship can spot for
any number of non-radar-equipped ships. 

[4.5] Damage Control Phase 

In order to reflect the often remarkable ability of heavily damaged
ships to build up steam, rig emergency steering, and so forth, we have
inserted a Damage Control Phase after the Acceleration /Deceleration
Phase of each player-turn. During the Damage Control Phase, the phasing
player rolls a die for each of his ships with power damage. A die roll
of 6 removes one P hit (erase one check in the P hit columns of the
SiMove pad). Such ships may accelerate as usual in the following
game-turn. A ship which was D.I.W. may move off in any direction the
owning player wishes. As a ship could be made seaworthy more easily than
a turret could be repaired, damage control applies only to power damage.
Once inflicted, W hits are permanent. This aspect of the rule ignores
the fact that turret movements are intimately linked to the ship's power
plant, but such simplifications often spell the difference between
suitable realism and unnecessary nit picking. 

[7.51] Freak Gunnery Hits. 

Both our modified CRT and the original one categorize the damage caused
by direct hits or very near misses into two abstract types: (1) Power
hits, representing impairment of the seaworthiness of the hull and
wreckage of essential propulsion equipment; and (2) Weapon hits
representing massive destruction of deck facilities, especially turrets.
But on occasion a W-type hit would have a secondary effect. Fires could
break out in a dozen places at once, or intraship communications could
be lost. Whatever the specific calamity, most often it would be
controlled within a short time. To simulate this aspect of naval warfare
which frequently bedeviled the larger vessels, we present the Freak Hit

Whenever a W hit is obtained on a ship other than a DD, a Freak Hit may
occur. Roll the die; if the result is a 1 a Freak Hit has indeed
occurred. Roll the die again to determine the specific additional
consequence of the W hit according to Table 2. Unless otherwise stated,
the Freak Hit takes effect in the next player-turn (i.e., the owning
player's) and lasts that player-turn only. Note that the Table is rolled
only once if two W hits are scored. It is not rolled at all if the W hit
is ignored due to the previous accumulation of three W hits. 


The following rules involve "naval opportunity fire" employing vessels
omitted from the counter mix, submarines and PT boats. These rules, as
is our intention, emphasize the importance of tactical maneuver. One can
lure his opponent's forces into the jaws of a lurking submarine, or call
in PT boats to thwart a potential torpedo attack by a destroyer. 

[12.11] Sneak Submarine Attack. 

Each player receives one submarine attack per scenario. At the beginning
of the game, each player secretly writes down the hex location of his
submarine and the game-turn on which the sub will be ready to fire. The
location may be any fullsea hex, but the attack may not be plotted to
occur earlier than game-turn 3. Both USN and UN submarines have a
torpedo strength of 10. 

The attack is resolved at the end of the Damage Control Phase of the
enemy game-turn. The sub automatically fires at the largest enemy ship,
within four hexes of its position, which satisfied two additional
conditions. First, no attack can be conducted at less than 1-2 odds.
Second, an unobstructed Line of Fire is required. If no enemy ship is
within four hexes, if all potential targets have defense strengths
greater than 20, or if friendly ships block the Line of Fire (a blocking
enemy ship would be shot at instead), the Sneak Submarine Attack is
simply lost. Neither the torpedo spread nor the extended range options
may be employed. Without seriously affecting the play balance, this rule
vividly recreates the frustrations of coordinating slow-moving
submarines with surface actions, a role for which the doctrine of both
navies called. 

[12.12] PT Boat Attack. 

In each scenario involving land, the USN player receives one PT boat
attack. Once during any IJN Gunnery Combat Phase, the USN player
designates a single Japanese DD as the target of the PT boat attack.
This DD cannot fire either guns or torpedoes, and in the subsequent
Movement Phase it must turn two hexsides away from the nearest USN ship
and expend the remainder of its movement points in a straight line. This
rule represents a diversionary attack by PT boats on an enemy destroyer
(PT boats take on cruisers and battleships only in old war flicks),
which then turns to avoid the torpedoes launched and uses its armament
to chase the boats away. No damage is ever inflicted on the destroyer,
of course. 


The history of surface actions in the Pacific is not so sparse that we
couldn't find material for two more scenarios representing actual
engagements. Below we list Scenario 13, an early cruiser-destroyer
battle, and, following that, Scenario 14, a little-known encounter in
the Aleutians. (For those who count only ten scenarios in the rules
folder, Scenarios 11 and 12 appeared in MOVES #1l.) 

GAME-LENGTH: 15 Game-Turns. 

SPECIAL RULE: Daytime; the usual night-time sighting restrictions are

VICTORY CONDITIONS: Based on point schedule (below). ISN ships not
exited from west edge of the map by turn 15 are considered sunk. 

GAME-LENGTH: 12 Game-Turns. 

SPECIAL RULE: Daytime; the usual night-time sighting restrictions are

VICTORY CONDITIONS: Based on point schedule below. USN ships not exited
from west edge of the map by turn 15 are considered sunk.


The victory conditions outlined for each scenario often seem to be
strategically-oriented constraints on a completely tactical situation.
Furthermore, our suggested rules modifications tend to render the
victory conditions unattainable by both sides. Thus below we offer a
Victory Point Schedule as a blanket replacement for all the original
victory conditions. The player who best maneuvers to inflict the
greatest punishment on the enemy (i.e., scores more points) is the
winner. Points are awarded for sinking in lieu of points for individual
hits. W and P hits are awarded points equally. No points are awarded for
P hits removed by successful Damage Control. Nor are points given for
any type of hit ignored because three of that type had already been
accumulated by the target. 

Postscript: Omitted Rules 

As a final note, we will reflect on some rules which, at face value,
seemed to be natural additions to "CA." Each one, however, contains a
fatal flaw that in some way upset either playability or historical

Collisions. "A collision at sea can ruin your day," but not when the sea
is blue-printed paper. Friendly ships, even battleships, collided with
exasperating frequency. But the Pacific Ocean in "CA" is dead calm, with
unlimited visibility, and with perfect ship-to-ship communications -
negating the major reasons for the occurrence of collisions. In terms of
the game itself, a collision rule would have to involve two ships
present in the same hex. But a halfway competent player can easily avoid
"stacking" his ships, and keeping track of hexes through which two ships
happen to sail requires back-breaking bookkeeping. 

Air Power. All seem to agree on the lack of merit of merging "CA" into
"Fast Carriers." But why not the reverse? Air power could be the
equivalent of off-board artillery in the land tactical games.
Unfortunately, as the S&T article pointed out the presence of aircraft
in a naval battle was not an auxiliary factor, but the deciding factor.
Imagine the frustration of a player who maneuvers his ships with
consummate skill, only to have them smashed by an invisible and
irristable force. The historically faithful application of air power is
just no fun. 

Smoke. At first, such a rule appeared to be a mandatory addition. In
both history and miniatures games, smoke screens frequently sprang up to
mask the movement of capital ships or protect damaged ships. In "CA,"
reasonable smoke rules instead created "instant terrain" which players
exploited in a most ahistorical manner. One dirty trick called for heavy
ships to fire broadsides, then light ships to lay a smoke screen
protecting them from return fire. Rather than cook up a convoluted rule
to prevent these shenanigans, with regret we omitted smoke altogether. 

Command Control. By analogy to land tactical games, we considered it
appealing to add "Panic" to naval actions. At random, certain ships
would not function as the "Task Force Commander" intended. Panicked
ships could move off unpredictably, launch uncoordinated torpedo
attacks, fire on the wrong target or even on friendly ships. Naval
history is full of such blunders. Yet on closer inspection, the analogy
proved false. A cruiser steaming past Savo Island is not in the same
situation as a platoon of Tiger tanks clanking through Arracourt. If
nothing else, the man on the bridge is many pay grades higher than the
man in the turret! "Panic" in this sense is not justified - the autonomy
and initiative of the modern ship captain largely cancel out presumed
communication difficulties. True, many of the scenarios featured
bonehead actions by the participants in the actual event. But to
properly depict these situations, a straightjacket of ad hoc rules would
be necessary- a straightjacket which "CA" neither demands nor deserves.

NB submitted by John Kula (
on behalf of the Strategy Gaming Society
originally collected by Andrew Webber