The Games You Want to Play – Part XXIII…
Blue Water Navy: The War At Sea
We have finished a few of the starter scenarios and are preparing to dive into the campaign game for Blue Water Navy. I have been promising an update on this game once we started the campaign, but I thought I would share a quick introduction to the system in advance.
Blue Water Navy was designed by Stuart Tonge and released by Compass Games in 2019. It is an in-depth play of a theoretical World War III naval action between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that could have occurred during the 1980s. In fact, you can start it in different years, which can change the force pool. The area of combat stretches across the North Atlantic and includes the Mediterranean and Arctic. In addition to the naval and air battles over sea, the game uses a neat mechanic to abstract the land war as the Soviets invade Western Europe – the Soviets move methodically from east to west, but the arrival of convoys can slow their march.
The map is large, attractive, and well-designed to meet the needs of game play. Game critical items are clearly show on the map, though it can take a moment to remember how the large airfield and port icons (where you place your counters) tie into the smaller locations that indicate the locations of the actual bases and ports. Still, it is a helpful mechanic that lets you keep your counters on the board for ease of play and planning while avoiding micro-stacks all over the board. In fact, the board is setup to keep all of your pieces handy in nearby boxes (i.e. task forces) or in zoomed-in areas (i.e. the Soviet “Boomer Bastion”) for ease of access and combat.
As a confession, I have not played a serious, grognard-level wargame in decades, so I was a little trepidatious as we set forth on this adventure. Luckily, Don Herndon, the designer of No Peace Without Spain, is a friend and had helped Stuart with some elements of the game’s design and he agreed to walk us through the game play. Also, the designer did a great job of creating interesting starter scenarios that introduce the players to various game mechanics.
So far, we have played scenarios that address a NATO raid on the Soviet “Boomer Bastion”, a NATO convoy crossing the Atlantic, and a Soviet amphibious invasion of Norway. Each one expanded our knowledge of the system and was a fun play in its own right.
This game is well designed and you can tell that the designer spent a lot of time researching the topic and fine tuning the system. However, this is a serious game for serious gamers and includes a broad selection of tables. At the same time, the scenarios are well designed to slowly ease you into the campaign game.
Despite my initial misgivings about diving back into the world of charts and tables, I have enjoyed our games and look forward to taking on the campaign – in team play!
Be sure to vote for this game for the cruise!
See you onboard,
Gaming By Sea