Monday, July 23, 2007

Axis & Allies – War at Sea: Tabletop Conversions

Ok; so these are my rules for converting W@S to a tabletop environment. They may not be complete as yet, but I feel they meet the basic needs of the game as it stands. You will need a copy of the game, obviously, to play these adaptions.

I would add that the major diversion from the original rules is an effort to make submarines work more realistically. This makes them more effective, so as a consequence they are limited in availability.


All normal rules apply, including the official clarifications of July 2007 (available here); except where they would clearly contradict the adaptions for the table top listed below.

Sectors conversion

*You may select to enlarge the effective battlefield by using a smaller table dimension scale for sectors; using the 6 feet scale on an 8 feet table increases the play area by 50%.

Army limits

Due to their higher efficiency (read: bias) American ships work out significantly cheaper than other navies, as a consequence for balanced games, a fleet including more than one third of its points as US vessels /aircraft, is capped to 90% of the maximum fleet value (e.g. 90 points in a 100pt per side game; 180 in a 200 points game, and so on).

Submarines are limited to comprising 25% of available points values.


Fleets may deploy upto one sector depth in to the short edges of the table, normally on opposite sides. Submarines may begin forward of this point but must be at least one sector from the centre line of the tabletop.

Unit Cohesion

Vessels may not be less than 2cm from each other, regardless of sector scale.


Each sector of movement equals one move sector listed on the table above for the table scale in use, e.g. a Fletcher class destroyer on an 8 foot scale may normally move up to 30cm (2x 15cm sectors).

Movement is measured from the prow. The front of the ship may not travel more than its permitted movement from its last position; and may travel less.

Turning: if a boat turns over 45 degrees it must have first travelled forward its own length; and then at least its own length in the direction it intended. If a boat turns 90 degrees or more it must do two 45+ degree turns in effect.

Turns of less than 45 degrees total for a full move are done without penalty.

Ships may not go within 5cm/their own length (whichever is greater) of land without the shallow draft rule on their card. Ships using shallow draft rules may attack other ships in shelter of same coast, but otherwise apply core rules.

Special movement rules on cards such as ‘sub-hunter’ are applied in as close a fashion as possible on the table, following any dictated restrictions.

Submarines (new rules)

Submarines are deployed as normal at the start of the game, but count as hidden; for each turn they are hidden they remain stationary on the table but their card is given a counter/marker die. When found (see below) or first declaring an attack they may move their normal turn of movement, plus any distance up to the sum total of moves saved by being concealed. E.g. an Italian sub remains concealed for 4 turns before declaring an attack, it first gets its normal move (1 sector) plus up to 4 more sectors of saved movement towards its declared target. Once a submarine actually moves, it may not become concealed again.

Submarine hunting (new rules)

If a submarine is hidden it may be searched for by any vessel which can by use of flying, normal movement or special abilities come within its ‘0 Sector’ range. Once in this range roll a D6 to try and find the submarine needing as follows:

> Aircraft other than Patrol Bombers: 6
> Normal ships: 5+
> Patrol Bombers, Ships with ASW weaponry: 4+
> Ships classed as sub-hunters, with ASW and sub-hunting special rules: 3+

Once discovered the submarine may be allowed to move. If found by aircraft it may move as normal, but the aircraft in its sector ‘0’ range all move with it to its new position. If found by ships; it may move up to the speed of the discovering vessel, if able. But the discovering vessel may choose to pursue for free (maintaining the same relative position), or remain where it was. If forced to move as a result of discovery the movement need not be towards a declared target.

Air attacks

Carried out as per core rules. As well as the targeted ship, a single friendly ship whose conning tower is within the Sector ‘0’ range of the conning tower of the ship under air attack may fire on aircraft involved in attacking a vessel. Vessels with the 'Close Escort' Special ability may perform antiaircraft fire on a target that two other ships have fired on, providing it is within 'Sector 0' of the target ships conning tower.

Carrier based aircraft now get rearming counters. Land based aircraft get two rearming counters. Therefore aircraft can be caught on deck (q.v. Midway).

Naval attacks

Carried out as per core rules. Excepting that ranges are measured between the conning towers of the vessels involved. The conning tower is normally to the front of the ship and represents the highest point of the superstructure. Where no conning tower is obvious, (e.g. PT boats or the Shoho carrier), measure from/to the centre of the model.

All ships may fire about them in a 360 degree arc, with the exception of Sumarine torpedoes. These may only fire forward in an arc 45 degrees either side of their centreline (i.e. a total of 90 degrees, forward only). This restriction reflects their need to carefully line up a target and balances some of their other advantages.

Shallow draft vessels (as defined on their cards) may not be targeted by torpedoes.

Ships, including all destroyers, cruisers and Battleships, receive 2 rearming counters after firing torpedoes. They may only remove one rearming counter per turn; and may not fire torpedoes whilst rearming counters are on the vessel. Submarines and Torpedo boats do not receive rearming counters.


In a conventional game, objectives carry the normal value. To seize an objective a vessel must make contact with the objective whilst no opposition vessel has any part of it within Sector ‘1’ range (e.g. 20 cm on a 6 foot table).

Well that's all, if anyone tries them I'd appreciate feedback.


  1. Hi,

    We just tried playing your rules today, and they work out great! One question we had was about the number of aircraft that can be attacking one ship. As your rules currently stand, you can have an unlimited amount of aircraft concentrated on one ship. Is there something that I am missing?

  2. Hi.

    As stated, though rather vaugely; treat it the same as the core rule which is IIRC four aircraft per sector. Only treat that as per ship, counting both friend and foe aircraft.

    Hope that helps, and I'm glad you are enjoying using my rule modifications.