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Posted on Jul 8, 2007 in Boardgames

War at Sea: Cruisers

By Paul Glasser

The cruiser is the workhorse of every fleet, and a wide range of units are available in War at Sea, each playing a different role.

Some ships, like the USS Atlanta, are best suited for air-defense. Armed with 16x5in. guns, 9×1.1in. guns and 21 torpedo tubes, the Atlanta is a cheap gun platform, with a cost of only 12 points. Its main attacks against other surface ships are relatively weak, and its armor is not very thick. However, with the special ability anti-air Specialist the Atlanta can put up a thick cloud of AA fire. During the Air Defense phase, the Atlanta can make two powerful attacks against enemy aircraft and thereby serves as an effective supplement to any strike force.

Heavy cruisers, like the Tone, cost almost twice as much as the Atlanta. However, the Tone offers a significant boost in firepower, and two unique abilities that have the potential to devastate an opponent. Armed with 8x200mm guns, 8x130mm guns and 57x25mm AA guns, the Tone can throw a significant amount of steel at any opposing ship or aircraft. The Tone is also armed with powerful Long Lance Torpedoes, which do three points of damage, instead of the normal 2 points of damage. That’s enough firepower to take out another cruiser in a single shot, or seriously damage a battleship. In addition, the Tone functions as a scout cruiser and allows friendly aircraft to roll additional attacks against enemy surface ships. The Tone is best used in an aggressive manner to maximize its main guns and devastating torpedo attacks.

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The Germans can also draw on "pocket battleships," like the Graf Spee. Armed with 6 x 280 mm, 8 x 150 mm and 6 x 105 mm guns, the Graf Spee will offer a serious threat to anything short of a battleship. However, with only 8 x 37 mm and 10 x 20 mm AA guns, the Graf Spee will be vulnerable to air attacks. At a cost of only 21 points, the main draw back of this unit is its relatively low armor values.

Although not able to threaten larger ships, the HMS Ajax is designed to chase down fleeing enemies. With the ability pursuit ship, the Ajax can follow enemy ships even after the movement phase is complete. At a cost of only 13 points, the Ajax is a good choice for any fleet.

Overall, cruisers are designed to engage other cruisers or destroyers. However, they usually lack strong AA firepower and are unable to attack submarines. A cruiser division won’t last long without support from fighters or friendly destroyers.

Submarines are the final element of any fleet. Although uniformly slow, submarines can deploy in advance of surface ships, which start in the back row of each map. Submarines can’t contest objectives either, and they are unable to defend themselves against airplanes. They also have low hit points, and it only takes one successful attack to cripple them. When units are reduced to one hit point, they suffer a minus 1 penalty to all their stats (minimum value of 1).

Each unit, like the HMS Truculent, USS Barb, U-510 or I-19 have a special ability that sets them apart. However, they all share the common ability submerged shot and can engage enemy submarines in the same sector. Aside from local enemy submarines, only a few select units, like destroyers and patrol bombers, can engage them.

Although most battleships are able to partially resist torpedo attacks, submarines are still a potent weapon against destroyers and cruisers.

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