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SS Youth in
Beyond Normandy




Solitaire Play in
Second World War at Sea

December 2012

The operational movement system in our Second World War at Sea series employs a thick fog of war. Players hide their ships from the enemy by grouping them into generic-looking fleets. They then pre-plot the movement of those fleets on the operational map to reflect the difficulties and uncertainties of reacting to enemy fleet movements over large bodies of water.

Given the fact that so much of SWWAS operational play depends on not knowing where the enemy really is or how friendly fleets will react, some gamers might think it's not possible to do it solitaire. But this isn't the case. You can play almost any SWWAS scenario solitaire through the simple use of random movement tables for intercept fleets and random mission assignment tables for air units.

Indeed, SWWAS solitaire play offers a whole new level of challenge, requiring you to plan the strategy of both sides at once. It also lets you experiment fully with the capabilities of both sides' units, so that you'll be better able to use all the tools at your disposal when facing a live opponent.


Random speed and direction tables are provided at the end of this article. They require the use of either a 20-sided die, or a 10-sided die (included with our Granada and Tears of the Dragon games) rolled together with a six-sided die. A roll of 1-3 on the six-sider = 1-10 on the 10-sider; a roll of 4-6 on the 6-sider = 11-20 on the 10-sider.

Early rounds of playtesting.


SWWAS solitaire setup is much the same as with a two-player game. Determine the best battle plan for each side, and divide ships between fleets accordingly based on scenario limits. Place all fleet counters in use on the map with their numbered side up for easy reference. Flip them to their generic sides whenever they're spotted by enemy units, and then flip them back to their numbered sides when they evade contact. Air units of both sides go in the ready boxes per scenario instructions.

Submarine flotillas can go on the map, since you know where both sides' subs are. I use the numbered sub counters from U.S. Navy Plan Black to designate the locations for each sides’ subs. You can use spare multi-ship counters to designate the locations of motor torpedo boat flotillas as well, placing them on the map on each day's first night turn and removing them on each day's first daylight turn.

If a scenario allows you to place minefields before game-start, wait to place them until both sides have preplotted the movements of all bombardment, transport and escort fleets (see Fleets, below). Then make a list of all zone boundaries at which each mine-capable side would consider placing mines. Number these zones, and roll randomly a number of times equal to the number of minefields available. Place a minefield in each zone whose number you roll. If you roll the same zone’s number multiple times, place multiple minefields there subject to limits in the scenario instructions. You can make a note of which boundaries contain minefields, or if you're using a sheet of plexiglas to cover the map, you can draw the minefields on the zone boundaries using an erasable pen.


Preplot the movement of all bombardment, transport and escort fleets normally. Then designate which fleets will have intercept missions.

During each turn, skip the Orders Phase (Phase III), and roll for each fleet on the Fleet Speed and Direction tables during the Naval Movement Phase (Phase VI). You don't need to roll on the Speed Table for fleets that are making best speed for the enemy. Similarly, you don't need to roll on the Direction Table for an intercept fleet that's making for port via the shortest possible route (abort missions are preplotted).

Each result on the Direction Table tells whether you can move a fleet in the “desired direction.” The “desired direction” is the actual direction the fleet would like to move at the instant it’s moving. For example, if a fleet wants to move directly northwest from its current location this turn, a result of “desired direction” allows you to move the fleet directly northwest at whatever speed the Speed Table says it will move. If the fleet is trying to end up in or move through a specific zone or zones for the purpose of contacting or avoiding an enemy fleet, a “desired direction” result allows it to do so as long as the zone or zones are within the fleet’s movement range this turn.

A result of “Left of” or “Right of” desired direction means the fleet can’t enter the zone(s) it wants to, and follows a path from its starting hex that aims left or right of the target zone at an angle of less than 90 degrees. A result of “Left and away” or “Right and away” from desired direction means the fleet moves away from its desired direction of travel at an angle greater than 90 degrees. “Directly away from desired direction” is self-explanatory.

When moving in close proximity to enemy fleets, it may be necessary to roll on the Direction Table for each zone a fleet enters. Do so or not as the situation dictates. In addition, alternate moving both sides’ fleets when they're in close proximity to each other so it’s easy to keep track of fleets that cross each others’ paths. Roll for contact as normal.


Submarine flotillas move on every even-numbered turn. Subs can move a maximum of one zone whenever they move, so roll on the Submarine Movement Table to see if it moves or not, and then on the Direction Table just as with fleets.

Air Units

On the first daylight turn of each game day, assign each air unit a mission for the entire day. Check each air unit to see what type it is, and then roll on the Air Unit Mission Table corresponding to its unit type.

Units that receive CAP, Search, ASW or Sweep missions go in the corresponding box on the air unit card and stay there for the day. Units that receive Naval or Land Strike missions stay in the ready box until you decide to use them. Write their missions normally during the Air Unit Assignment Phase. If there's enough daylight, or if they are night-strike capable, they may fly more than one strike mission per day as normal. If a roll gives a unit a mission that makes no sense (for example, ASW in a game with no enemy submarines), reroll.


The air and naval combat systems in SWWAS are very easy to use in solitaire play and require no special rules.

That's it! Everything else is the same as normal SWWAS play. Have fun playing SWWAS solitaire!

Click here to download the SWWAS Solitaire Tables.

Or click here to see all our great Second World War at Sea games.