Great War at Sea: Jutland 2nd Edition
Online Play

By Matt Hazencroft Brown
April 2024

The WAS-FC VASSAL module for Great War at Sea: Jutland Second Edition is now available at WAS-FC.

The Jutland 2e module is a big advance from the earlier modules for Great War at Sea (GWAS) and Second World War at Sea (SWWAS). The point of doing VASSAL modules in the first place is to enable people to play across distances with others, to be able to save and return to the game without having to clean up a tabletop game in process, and to make it easier for people to see the counters because you can zoom in on them.

In the tactical game, we have tackled some of the pain points of the GWAS system, the recording of damage in separate ship data sheets or in property sheets attached individual ship counters.

In Jutland 2e, when your ship takes a hit of whatever sort, with a keyboard command or menu command on the ship counter’s dropdown menu, you can decrement that damage from the listed values. In the example below, SMS Derfflinger on the left at full strength with the damage menu extended. On the right as she appears having taken an 11, 7, 9, and 3 damage die rolls showing her current damage values and as having fired her guns and having moved. (The fired and moved markers disappear at the end of the segment when you clear them manually.)

Open in new tab to embiggen the image.

The 3 damage roll is a hit on the torpedo mount and that shows as an x on the torpedo mount to indicate that the mount is not reloadable. If the torpedoes were expended by firing, a one time event per ship in GWAS and SWWAS, the torpedo marker or box would just disappear and then be able to be reloaded according to various rules.

In previous versions of the modules, the damage was kept in the ship data property sheet where you could tick off boxes as damage occurred.

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The hull damage display specifically is a departure from the cardboard counters, but was necessary to show how badly damaged the ships were getting so we added that to the lower left of the counter and that shows how many remaining hull boxes remain out of how many original hull boxes the ship began with. We are going to have to solve the space and placement issue on the SWWAS ships when we start work updating those modules.

There is a YouTube video linked from the WAS-FC site that shows how well it plays out for Arbuthnot’s Folly, Battle Scenario Eleven. It makes a huge difference not to have to tick a box or open a window or mess with ship data sheets in paper format. These changes in Jutland 2e made for a fundamentally new experience.

In tactical naval games the ships are almost more like RPG characters and keeping their data with them just makes more sense than a stack of paper. But this is why VASSAL is a great way to play, it uses the dumb computer to take care of the tedious bits and allows you to focus on the fun.

In the operational game we had other challenges we wanted to fix.

As players in the operational system, we have a god’s eye view of the operational map and all the fleets. The solution on the desktop and the older VASSAL modules, masking task forces and plotting moves and using decoys on the tactical fleet, or working just on paper, plotting your moves was difficult and removed immediacy from the game.

How do you solve this?

Computers are really good at presenting and making things happen based on conditions so we took that strength and applied it to the fleets.

In previous modules, you had separate operational maps, one shared and one for each side. Or you could play on the shared map and keep record of fleets moving off the board on paper.

Our developers, Henrik and Robin, have been passionate about this since the beginning and so we changed all that for Jutland 2e.

Now on the operational map, each player can set the visibility of his or her units so that the opponent cannot see the units unless the piece becomes spotted. The Solo player though and the Umpire player can see all the units of both sides so you can work out which fleets need to make contact checks. That creates a true double blind environment for two players and an umpire, or you can play as Solo player just like you do now with masked fleets and decoys and all that.

In this battle, from North Sea 1914, “The Gales of November,” you can see the map from the Solo player’s view on the top with all fleets, plots and mines visible then Entente player’s view next and the Central Powers view on the bottom. Note that one RN fleet is spotted and one mine hex side is visible although the Entente laid it.

Solo player and Umpire player view. Open in new tab to embiggen the image.

Solo player and Umpire player view. Open in new tab to embiggen the image.

Solo player and Umpire player view. Open in new tab to embiggen the image.

Again, this makes the game a lot more immediate and less reliant on paper bookkeeping.

We have also developed a plotting system that now shows your plots directly on the board so that they only show to the player’s side and now that you have a plot, it stays on the map and you just move your fleets along it as you play. That is the little numbered plot markers in the graphics above

I don’t know every VASSAL module available, but all that I have played still use a lot of traditional wargame indicators for damage or condition of units. They have damage counters, or moved markers (VASSAL gives you this for free actually) and Fired markers and so on. While I love this and it reminds me of days past, it isn’t really using the computer for what the computer does best.

We believe that this is actually an innovative use of VASSAL and when we asked the VASSAL team how to do some of these things, they offered that this was a really uncommon solution and hopefully in the future we can share some of these techniques with the community to use in their modules.

As always, thank you to my core team that worked on this, Robin and Henrik, and to the many players I have contacted to help us evaluate the work we are doing and keep us improving the GWAS and SWWAS experiences for all of us.

And a big thank you to Avalanche Press that makes this possible for us to do.

Go buy the game or the upgrade if you have an old copy, download the module and play me a game.

You can download the module here, if you own the game.

Order Jutland second edition here.

The Jutland Experience
Jutland Second Edition (full game)
Jutland: North Sea 1914
Jutland: Dogger Bank
Journal No. 46: Iron Dogs
Retail Price: $209.96
Package Price: $170.00
Gold Club Price: $134.00

You can order the Jutland Experience right here.

Jutland 2e: Downloadable Upgrade
You can transform your old copy of Jutland into the splendid new Great War at Sea: Jutland Second Edition.

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