Second World War at Sea:
Second Edition Games

With a new set of rules for Second World War at Sea, we’re re-issuing most of the series games with updates to reflect the new rules (adjustments to the special rules, for the most part) and new graphics standards (basically, full-color play aids).

Second World War at Sea has been our most popular game series since the release of the very first game, and there are good reasons for that. It’s a solid game system, easy to play, and best of all the games all use the same rulebook: learn to play one game, and you can play them all. Hundreds of scenarios, nearly endless play opportunities. Playing games is fun; reading rules for them, not so much. Read them once and then play and play and play.

The new edition rules are even easier to play with. They incorporate over 15 years’ worth of play experience and incremental improvements that we used to include in the special rules of new games. And they have full-color charts and play aids, which you don’t really need, but they make things more fun. Better history and better fun for what was already the world’s finest series of World War II naval wargames (okay, it’s also the only series, but you have to take what love you can).

We have three new series games in the pipeline now: Midway Deluxe Edition, South Pacific, and La Regia Marina. All of those will have the new full-color player aids (airbase cards, carrier cards and such) we debuted with Tropic of Capricorn, and of course the Second Edition rules set.

Seven older series games are getting overhauled: some of them a minor refit, and a couple are receiving a serious rebuilding. Here’s a look at the changes in store for the series games:

Eastern Fleet
Eastern Fleet is receiving the most radical overhaul; we’ve added a small new sheet of playing pieces and completely replaced the old scenario book. The game has grown by 70 pieces (from 210) and now has forty scenarios (the original only went to 11, but all of those have either been thrown out or replaced).

Eastern Fleet was the second Second World War at Sea game, designed while the first was still in development, so it never had the extensive special rules section of the later games (which it needed). It now also sports the same random-selection mechanic for aircraft as the other games in the series, which is much more historically accurate (you shouldn’t know exactly how many planes the other guy has and exactly where they begin play) and makes for better game play (see above).

In addition, we’ve modified the map (it still has the same basic artwork of the Bay of Bengal and surrounding seas) and given Eastern Fleet full-color airbase and carrier cards.

All of that makes it pretty much a new game, and we’re treating it that way (it has a new stock code).

We’re not changing the playing pieces or map in Bismarck’s second edition, but we did toss out the scenario book and replace it with a completely new one that now sports 40 scenarios (the old one had 14) and has a new special rules section to mesh with the Second Edition series rules. As with Eastern Fleet, Bismarck’s second edition has full-color airbase and carrier cards.

And also like Eastern Fleet, Bismarck has received a serious enough upgrade to be treated as a new game with a new stock code.

Arctic Convoy
Produced a few years after Bismarck, Arctic Convoy’s first edition came much closer to the standard we want to see, but it still merits revision to bring it into line with the second edition of the series rules. And as with the other second editions, Arctic Convoy now has full-color weather, airbase and carrier cards.

Horn of Africa
A more recent release, Horn of Africa came much closer to the standard we want to see in Second World War at Sea series games. The new edition has revised special rules and full-color play aids, but the scenarios themselves were already very good.

Sea of Iron
The most recent Second World War at Sea game, Sea of Iron also was a very satisfying game as published. Changes for the second edition are all aesthetic: they have the new special rules section that meshes with the new series rules, and full-color airbase and carrier cards.

Coral Sea
We haven’t made the new edition of Coral Sea available for sale just yet. The map and pieces will remain the same, but I want to re-work the scenario book to serve as a true introductory game to Second World War at Sea, much as Invasion 1944 does for Panzer Grenadier. It will also have many more scenarios than the first edition, and of course the full-color airbase and carrier cards like the other second-edition games.

Strike South
Strike South is one of the older games in the series, pre-dating the random-aircraft-allotment mechanic, and so it needs an overhaul almost on the scale of that of Eastern Fleet. That’s why it’s not for sale yet.

Strike South will get additional playing pieces; for one thing, it needs more aircraft pieces for the random mechanic to work, for another, there are some additional ships that need to be in there to allow more scenarios. As published, the first edition of Strike South had 15 scenarios; that needs to go to at least 40 for the second edition. And of course the full-color displays will be added, though we’ll keep the maps and the existing playing pieces in the game.

Leyte Gulf
The legendary Leyte Gulf is simply outside our capacity to reprint: too many pieces, and maps of a size we no longer have the capacity to print. I’d like to return to the topic with a large new game and an expansion set, to bring size and cost down to merely “really high” from “stratospheric.”

And that’s what’s coming to Second World War at Sea: a renewal of the entire line, followed by more new games and more new supplements. It’s going to be a fun ride.

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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.