2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Naval Operational

#1 Harpoon vs #8 3rd Fleet

Very few wargames have had as much clout and influence as Harpoon. The game was responsible for helping to launch the writing career of Tom Clancy and almost singlehandedly brought on a golden age in naval wargaming during the 1980s. And of course, Harpoon the tabletop game led to the PC version of the game which brought computer wargaming into the mainstream. 3rd Fleet, while being a quality naval wargame itself, simply is not in the same league as Larry Bond’s classic.

Winner: Harpoon

#3 Sixth Fleet vs #6 Modern Naval Battles

Two very different game systems are presented here in this matchup. Sixth Fleet is a traditional map-based game simulating air and naval combat in the Mediterranean between the US, Soviet Union and their respective allies in the later years of the Cold War. Modern Naval Battles, on the other hand, is a card game where players maneuver their fleets, attack the enemy and defend their own ships. A very abstract game that is not set in a particular sea region, it was considered quite playable and even won the James F. Dunnigan Award for Playability and Design Winner in 1989. A solid wargame, but it doesn’t match up very well to Sixth Fleet, which spurred the venerable Fleet Series.

Winner: Sixth Fleet

#4 Seventh Fleet vs #5 Blue Water Navy

This round can certainly be considered The Fleet Series Versus The Rest of the World. Yet no other matchup so closely compares an original Fleet Series release to a more contemporary title that can be considered a spiritual successor to 2nd Fleet and Sixth Fleet. Seventh Fleet examines modern air and naval combat in the Western Pacific in the late 80s and early 90s. Its vastly improved from the earlier Fleet games. Blue Water Navy examines how a naval war between the NATO and Warsaw Pact navies would’ve went in the 1980s. The rules are not user friendly and require considerable time and practice to get used to. But once that’s done, Blue Water is a great game that allows players to embrace their roles as fleet commander and concentrate on the big picture decisions, instead of worrying about individual ships and submarines. For a newer game, Blue Water has definitely raised the bar for naval simulations set in the later Cold War years.

Winner: Blue Water Navy

#2 2nd Fleet vs #7 Seapower And The State

And in the final round of Fleet Series Versus The Rest of the World, we have another unique battle between two very different game types. Seapower is a grand strategy naval game that places the player in the shoes of the NATO or Soviet naval commander at the start of WWIII. The players are forced to contend with real world issues as they struggle to fight the war at sea in different naval theaters around the world. I’ve really enjoyed playing this game, and despite the less than stellar maps and charts, I still play it every so often. However, its not 2nd Fleet, a game that carefully presents and examines how WWIII would be fought in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. There is no other game available that can compare with 2nd Fleet in this regard and as a result, it moves on.

Winner: 2nd Fleet

4 Replies to “2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Naval Operational”

  1. Would Harpoon really be considered an Operational-level game? The level of detail and the ability of each player to realistically control only a limited number of platforms would put Harpoon firmly in a Tactical-level category. Just my two cents.

    As an aside, I am very much enjoying your forays into WWIII gaming and literature. I have gleaned a number of titles to check out. Just great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great question. Honestly, I think it is an operational level game because you can run a fleet and set up a theater-wide naval war if you want.

      Thanks! I really enjoy jumping into WWIII games and literature and presenting some interesting titles!


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