Great War At Sea: 1904-1905
The Russo-Japanese War
[The Naval War for the Far East]

Japan entered the modern age in 1868, with a new young emperor determined to make his island nation a world power. After decades of steady progress, Japan began its own practice of colonialism, defeating China in 1894. As the Japanese began to infiltrate the semi-independent Kingdom of Korea, they ran into Russian agents doing the same. Despite Japanese offers to negotiate, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II was set on war.

Admiral Togo’s flagship Mikasa


Nicholas hated the Japanese; as a young man, he had visited Japan. Drunk one night, he urinated in a Shinto temple. The Japanese policeman who found him watering the ancestors beat the prince savagely. Nicholas escaped with his life, but with his dignity sorely affronted. Now was his chance for vengeance. It would be, his Finance Minister Sergei Witte assured him, “a short, victorious war.”

1904-1905 covers the naval side of the Russo-Japanese War, which opened with a Japanese surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet’s base at Port Arthur in northern China. There are 19 scenarios, or game situations, provided, including the climactic Battle of Tsushima. There’s also a campaign game, in which players can “game” the entire naval war.

The Russian battleship Kniaz Suvorov,
flagship at Tsushima


The Russian fleet is a mixed bag of modern battleships and ancient ironclads better suited for a museum. The Pacific Fleet that begins the game in the Far East has modern ships stationed at Port Arthur and a cruiser squadron in Vladivostok. Between them lies Korea, occupied by Japan. The Russian strategic situation is difficult.


The Japanese have a better fleet; though not as large, their armored cruisers outclass their Russian counterparts and their torpedo boats are more numerous and more effective. They are also better-led after the death of the Russian Admiral Makarov.

The map covers the Japanese home islands and the seas around them. As with other games in the series, it’s divided into zones 32 miles across. Fleets attempt to locate one another on this map. When contact is made, play moves to a tactical map where ships manuever and fight. There are special overlays for Port Arthur and Chemulpo, so players can use the actual terrain of these key coastal zones.


1904 won its Origins Award due to play balance and simplicity. Without aircraft, play is even faster than in other games in the series. The strategic situation is challenging to both players, and competitive balance is keen without sacrificing the historical accuracy of the game as a simulation. Unlike most wars, the Russo-Japanese naval war took place between evenly matched opponents, and that makes for a tense and exciting game.

The book supplement Great White Fleet includes advanced tactical rules for the pre-dreadnought era, well-suited to players of 1904 who’re looking for more detailed action. There are also more scenarios, and background on the Japanese fleet of the era.

1904-1905 includes:

  • 210 Counters
  • One 25"x30" strategic map
  • One 25"x25" tactical map
  • 16 page Rulebook
  • 12 page Scenario book

Stock #0010

Price: $44.99

Status: Out of Stock