TITLE: Task Force: World War II Fast Play Naval Rules
AUTHOR: Benjamin King
PUBLISHER: Ben King
PUBLICATION DATE: 1994
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM: None known.
PRICE (with date): $18.00 (in 2008)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: World War II 1939-1945
Task Force is a comb bound booklet with a card stock cover. The book runs 34 pages and also includes a card stock page of necessary templates.
SCOPE: Task Force is a game of tactical naval combat set during World War II.
FLEET SIZE: Task Force will work well with as few as a single ship per side and as many as 50 or possible even more.
BASE UNIT: Each ship is represented separately. Aircraft are operated in sections of 5 aircraft. There are no formal “units” in the game.
- Ground Scale: Not stated (heavy guns fire a maximum of 40”)
- Time scale 1 turn = 2-3 minutes
- Figure/Base Ratio: 1 figure = 1 ship or 5 aircraft
- Recommended Figure Size: Written for models in 1:2400 scale or smaller.
- Table Size: 30” x 30” is recommended
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in 2-3 hours
BASING SIZES: No basing is required but the rules do note that basing the ships makes turning and movement easier. Aircraft bases must clearly show course and altitude.
- Roll For Initiative: Each player rolls a D20, high roll wins. Both players announce which ships, if any, will launch torpedoes.
- High roller launches torpedoes
- Low roller launches torpedoes
- Movement: High roller moves his ships first.
- Movement: Low roller moves second.
- Torpedo movement and damage assessment
- Ranging: Announce shots and determine straddles
- Shell Damage: check for fall of shot and penetration of shells
- Air-to-air combat is resolved
- Anti-Aircraft fire
- Bombing attacks are executed and any bomb damage determined
- Vital Damage: Roll for critical hits
- Fleet Morale: If required fleets perform a morale check
- Aerial Torpedoes
Movement: Because there are no written orders movement is fairly simple. Each ship has a turning radius value from 1 to 5. This corresponds to a circular turn template. The larger the number the larger the radius. The edges of the circle are marked like the face of a clock. One knot of speed moves the ship one mark around the turning circle.
Ships are free to perform any maneuver they like subject to only a few restrictions. First, ships may only speed up or slow down 50% of their current speed. Movement is timed - 5 minutes for new players, 3 minutes for veterans. That’s it!
Ranging & Fire Control: When firing guns the first step is ranging. To range in you must equal or exceed the range (in inches) on the dice. Ranges are measured from front funnel to front funnel. Which dice you roll depends on two factors. First, whether the guns are Heavy, Medium, Light or Very Light. Second, what kind of fire control the ship has. They may have Standard Fire Control, Early Radar or Gunnery Radar. Cross referencing the gun type with the fire control type on the ranging chart determines what kind of dice that gun will roll for ranging during the game. For example, a Medium Gun with Standard Fire Control will roll a D12 plus a D5. With gunnery radar that same gun would roll a D20 plus a D12.
There are only a handful of modifiers to the ranging roll. No charts needed - compare die roll to range and you’re done!
The biggest modifier in the game is for successive targeting. For every consecutive turn of firing at the same target, the firer gets a +1 to their ranging roll (there is a maximum of +12 for heavy guns, +7 for medium, +6 for light). They get a +2 for a turn in which they straddle. For ships with Gunnery Radar the bonuses are +2 and +4 respectively, with maximums of 24, 14 and 12. This means that at even long range, after a few turns ships will hit each other more often than not. Note the bonus is not for penetrating or causing damage, just repeatedly targeting the same enemy ship earns you the bonus for that ship.
Fall of Shot: If the ship’s fire has ranged in, the next step in gunnery s to determine how many shells hit - this is called the fall of shot. This is determined with the roll of a D20. One simply cross references the die roll with the number of firing guns on the Fall of Shot table to determine how many shells hit.
Penetration: For each salvo, penetration is checked on the appropriate chart. There are separate penetration charts for heavy, medium, light and very light guns. Again a roll of a D20 is cross referenced on the Penetration Chart to the gun size, target’s armor and range. At longer ranges a second D20 may be called for. This determines if the shot had sufficient arc to hit the deck armor or if it hit the belt armor instead. Obviously it is much easier to penetrate deck armor than belt armor. Note that guns are rated for what armor types they can penetrate. A 3” pea shooter can’t penetrate A-class armor.
Damage for penetrating shot is simple multiplication - the damage factor of the given size of gun times the number of shells that penetrated. For example, a 9” gun does 4 points of damage per shell. If a salvo of 3 shells penetrates it will do 12 points of damage. Salvos either all penetrate or not.
Hits that fail to penetrate may cause minor damage in some cases, but these do not count for Vital Damage.
Ship Damage: Each ship has a Damage Card. On each card there are four rows of boxes. As ships take hits the boxes are crossed off. When a row has been completely crossed off, the ship loses 25% of its guns and some of its speed. Damage (other than Vital Damage) is not location specific.
Vital Damage: Vital Damage represents the possibility of critical hits. Vital hits are determined by a D20. Depending on how many shells penetrated the ship, the more likely Vital Damage is. If there is Vital Damage a series of die rolls determine location (either Steering, Propulsion, Gunnery or Magazine) and severity (from temporary loss of speed to KA-BOOM!).
Torpedoes: Torpedoes, as would be expected, are again a simple affair. They are fired prior to either side moving ships. A wake is laid down along side the firing ship in the direction the torpedo was fired. If a ship ends its movement on a torpedo track there is a possible hit. As with guns, torpedoes do a standard amount of damage but count as two hits for Vital Damage checks.
Air Rules: In Task Force aircraft are treated somewhat generically. There are three type of aircraft - fighters, dive bombers and torpedo bombers. These are extremely fast (duh!). Where as a fast ship might move 3” per turn, aircraft cover between 12 and 18” per turn. Each aircraft model represents a section of 5 aircraft - carriers have a definite launch and holding capacity.
Aircraft operate at three general altitudes and have basic movement rules for turning, changing altitude and duration. Planes move by type with the high roller moving first. Torpedo planes move first, dive bombers second, fighters last. Following movement air combat is resolved. Aircraft combat range is 2”.
Air-to-air combat is a three step process. First air factors are determined. The attacker’s aircraft type is cross indexed with the defenders on a chart the Aircraft Advantage yield a multiplier. The number of aircraft is multiplied by this factor and the two sides’ factors compared on the Air Combat Ratio chart. This yields a number of Air Attacker Points. The number of points is compared to the roll of a D20 on the Air Combat Results table to determine how many enemy aircraft are shot down.
Anti-Aircraft Fire: AA fire is carried out using the air-to-air combat mechanism, but the firing ship’s AA values are used to calculate the Air Attacker Points. Ships have three AA values (long range, short range and combined). They may fire these at separate targets or combine them.
Dive Bombing: Dive bombing also uses the air-to-air combat mechanism but the attack value is obtained by cross indexing the target ship’s Air Vulnerability factor with the dive bomber’s combat factor. Roll a D20 and compare to the Air Attack Factors to determine the number of hits. Bomb damage works like shell damage checking for penetration, etc.
Fleet Morale: Fleet morale only applies in scenarios with 4 or more ships per side. The morale check is a comparison of ships lost to total ships. The die roll is modified by the fleet’s morale level (Elite, Veteran, Average or Substandard), friendly losses and enemy losses.
A morale check starts with the morale table. Comparing ships in the fleet with ships lost yields a Fleet Condition. The roll of a D20 is added to this along with any modifiers. If the result is 65 or less the fleet will flee; between 66 and 85 it will withdraw, 86+ it will fight on. Morale may be checked by ship, squadron or fleet by mutual agreement prior to the battle.
The rule book includes extensive ship data charts. Each ship is rated for:
- Name - the name of the class of ship
- Type - whether it is a cruiser, destroyer, battleship etc.
- MA Main Armor - Rated form A (best) to J (worst)
- DK Deck Armor - Rated form A (best) to J (worst)
- KN Knots - The maximum speed of the ship
- TC Turning Circle - a value form 1 to 5 determining which turning template is used
- BN Base - the number of hits the ship can take
- Prime - the caliber of the main guns
- BDSD1 - the number of main guns and how many in a broadside. the abbreviation 12B10 means there are 12 main guns with 10 in a broadside
- SEC - the caliber of the secondary guns
- BDSD2 - same as BDSD1
- TER - the caliber of the tertiary guns
- BDSD3 - same as BDSD1
- TT - the number of torpedo tubes
- STD - Standard Torpedo Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a fully functioning torpedo
- MTD - Minor Torpedo Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a partially functioning torpedo
- LLD - Long Lance Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a functional Long Lance torpedo
- LLM - Long Lance Minimum Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a partially functional Long Lance torpedo
- ATD - Aerial Torpedo Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a functional aerial torpedo
- ATM - Aerial Torpedo Minimum Damage - the number of points of damage caused by a partially functional aerial torpedo
- SRAA - Short Range Anti Aircraft - The ship’s short range AA factors
- LRAA - Lon Range Anti Aircraft - The ship’s long range AA factors
- CAA - Combined Anti Aircraft - The ship’s combined AA factors
- AV - Air Vulnerability - a measure of the ship’s vulnerability to dive bombers
There are a number of campaign and scenario booklets available separately.
While there are a few gray areas in the rules, I find they read very well. They are fast play of course, so no tracking individual guns or turrets. So these may not be for everybody. The physical book is “old school” but neat enough. The same basic game system is also used for King’s pre-Dreadnought Sides of Steel and his WW1 Dreadnought (with suitable changes and additions of course).
One minor gray area is how aircraft are handled. They are represented by sections of 5, but are tracked individually. So there is a damage track for each flight. But it is not clear if flights may be combined etc. A minor issue easily resolved ut best to address it before the game.
Another issue - it has always been unclear to me how exactly torpedo damage is calculated. I have always assumed the value given is the damage the ship sustains from a torpedo hit of the given type, but would have liked a definitive example or clearer rule.