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Posted on Oct 27, 2009 in Boardgames

Axis & Allies – War at Sea: Flank Speed Booster Set

By Paul Glasser

Flank Speed. Booster set for Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures War at Sea game. Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. $14.95 per pack.

The expansion set introduces new special abilities and units that will improve gameplay.

The new War at Sea: Flank Speed booster set is a good addition to fleet but unfortunately doesn’t live up to its potential. The 40-piece set is on sale now and includes many new units from New Zealand, France, Canada and the Soviet Union.

Minis in this set seem to be less likely to be warped or suffer from sloppy paint jobs than has occurred in previous releases, but a number of design and copy-editing errors are still present. For instance, the colors of the Italian roundel are reversed and units with the ability to lay smoke still have the incorrect card text. There are other small errors, such as incorrect icons for the A6M5 Zero and listing the Jill torpedo bomber as an “air” instead of aircraft.


Despite these flaws, the expansion set introduces new special abilities and units that will improve gameplay – especially when it comes to convoy scenarios.

Players rarely opt to play convoy scenarios because the odds are stacked against the defender. But the addition of designated convoy escorts like the HMCS Sackville and HMNZS Leander will help the Allies keep their cargo ships intact. In order to attack the convoy, the Axis player must attack the Sackville or Leander first each turn when they are present.

Other additions include bombers like the American SB2C Helldiver and German JU88A-4 which feature light defensive armaments and are able to better survive fighter attacks.

The JU88A-4 introduces a combined-arms strategy – it receives benefits when attacking in concert with dive-bombers. The JU88A-4 also has the ability to divide defensive fire and assist allies in reaching the target.

The Soviet ships rely on the ability to lay mines – a useful tool to defend a key objective.

The Japanese improve their ability to launch devastating "Long Lance" torpedo attacks by deploying the cruisers Oi and Aoba. The Oi has the highest torpedo attack of any unit in the game and can move with an ally before making an attack. The Aoba boosts the gunnery and torpedo attacks of adjacent ships. Combined, the Oi and Aoba form a deadly combo; however, they are relatively expensive and thinly armored.

The Italians also receive a big boost in the set. The heavy cruiser Gorizia grants the Regia Marina a flagship bonus and the Pegaso is a capable sub-killer. The Aquila is unremarkable but finally gives the Regia Aeronautica the ability to launch air attacks every turn. The RE2001 CB is a dual-purpose fighter-bomber, but it is expensive and doesn’t excel at either role.

Overall, Flank Speed is good but retains too many of the series’ previous errors.

Third-Party Gaming Accessories
Some accessory kits that players might enjoy using with War at Sea are now available from third-party vendors; these are not produced or licensed by Avalon Hill/Hasbro.

Gale Force 9 offers two island terrain sets originally designed for WizKids Pirates game that also work well with War at Sea. Each kit retails for $30 and includes six fully painted ceramic terrain features, such as archipelagoes, rocky islands and shoals. The terrain pieces fit the War at Sea maps well and are a vast improvement over the island cards that come with the starter kit.

Litko Aerosystems manufacturers a wide variety of laser-cut plastic markers, such as smoke screens and explosions. The markers come in a variety of styles and sizes and prices vary from $5 to $10. The pieces are easy to assemble and come in packages of 5 to 10. I found that the small flame markers work well to represent one point of damage and the medium “flaming wreck” tokens can simulate two points in War at Sea. The small smokescreen markers are just about the right size for the task; a single marker completely screens destroyer-size vessels and partially conceals larger ones such as battleships.

Photos below include third-party accessories not found in WaS: Flank Speed.