Axis & Allies War At Sea Axis U-Boat Terror

Recently in the podcast I’ve been talking about the War at Sea Collectible Mini game. I thought I’d take this opportunity to spend a little more time on the game. I’m going to discuss a 100pt Axis fleet I made and also the scarcity of the game.

The fleet I made is a combined force of German and Italian forces. This past Wednesday I was at Battleground Games in Abington for War at Sea night. I played an intro game, to get the feel for the rules, with Rick using an Allied fleet. I won by 6 points although it was more of a draw.

For the same game I used my German/Italian fleet. The fleet is composed of:

1 Duca D’Aosta

1 Bolzano

1 Nordmark

1 Koln

3 U510

2 FW 200 Kondor

1 JU 87B Stuka

The primary strategy is to use my U-boats to control the seas and prevent my opponent from getting near objectives or any of my surface vessels. They are helped with the Wolfpack special ability (+1 Attack Dice for Torpedo attacks if other subs in the fleet have the Wolfpack ability). Additionally, the Kondors could use their Pinpointer special ability to confer another +1 Attack Dice to each U-boat attacking the designated target. This means at 2 spaces away each U-boat would get 4 torpedo dice with a maximum of 5 dice for 0 and 1 square away.

With the submarines controlling under the surface the Italian cruisers form the core of my surface fleet. They are complemented by the Koln and Nordmark. The Koln comes in handy at the beginning of the game because it can basically advance deploy. After deployment it gets to move another 2 spaces. The

Nordmark would come in very handy if any ship took too much damage. Since it could repair 1 point of damage, once per game, it could keep a ship or submarine from sinking at a pivotal moment.

There are 2 major downsides to this list. The first is the reliance on land based aircraft. Having the Kondors sit out every other turn keeps the effectiveness of the subs down. The Stuka also sits out, which gives your opponent free reign of the skies.

The second is spending a 1/3 of your points on subs. That’s a major investment on the possibility of rolling a 6. I’ve been lucky, of late, in this regard and managed to do major damage. All your opponent needs to do is be faster than your subs and stay out of range to survive.

Also, the cruisers are average and anti-air capabilities in the fleet are less than overwhelming.

In my game against Rick I dominated. I controlled the entire center of the map with my subs and took out his anti-sub capabilities (destroyers) with my Stuka. He only had one plane, a Swordfish, that didn’t touch my subs.

One major advantage Rick had was fielding the French battleship Richelieu. The Richelieu is incredible for 2 reasons. First, it has a low points cost for a battleship. Second, it has an extended range special ability letting it hit targets 5 squares away (when it is undamaged).

The Richelieu forced me to keep my surface vessels hiding behind islands thereby negating their effectiveness. He even managed to damage one of them.

My Axis fleet has the potential to do very well and it emphasizes one of the terrors of WWII naval warfare…the submarine. I know a lot of players will take a carrier in their fleet and try to win the air war. After all, carriers were the new star replacing battleships. Other players will go for the big battleships to fight their way to victory. But, we can’t overlook the submarine and the terror it drove into the heart of seamen everywhere.

This underscores the importance of those tiny destroyers like the 4 point Type 13 Subchaser for Japan. Vessels like the Type 13 and the HMS Javelin should be numerous in your fleet to defend against air and sub attacks.

I was also going to discuss the scarcity of the game. As this is already a long post I’ll make this short and elaborate on it at a later time.

When the game came out Wizards under estimated how successful it would be. They got slightly burned with the lackluster performance of the regular Axis & Allies mini game so they scaled back the distribution on this.

A lot of FLGS will be limited on their stock and after that goes they will not get any more until September. Even the distributors are out. I spoke with Derek Lloyd, owner of Battleground Games, about this very issue. He said that even his secondary and tertiary distributors, who normally have plenty of extra for backup, are out. After hearing that I contacted Neal Catapano, owner of, who does a big online business and usually has a large stock. He said that he is out and isn’t expecting anything until September.

Now, Wizards could be wrong and could have more coming to you before September but don’t hold your breath. What does this mean for the new player who just started or who wants to get into this incredible game?

Buy whatever is at your local store while you can. I bought up everything at Battleground (excluding some starter boxes) to bulk out my own force. You need to get it now while you can.

Don’t be discouraged by the news. Talk with current players and play at your local store. I’m sure, if you ask nicely, the players will let you use their stuff to play against them until more comes in for purchase.

Trade. You may have items for other games (such as regular Axis & Allies Minis) that War at Sea players want. See if you can trade that for some of their extra ships.

Buy Online. Check out eBay to buy singles or try to buy from players you know to get their extras.

Talk to your store owner. Ask him to order a few cases of the game. Have him pressure his distributors and Wizards to work as quickly as possible.

Lastly, split the cost. Go in with a friend on a couple Starters. You will each get a set of rules, tokens, dice, maps, islands, and forces. You can split the models up and each have a usable fleet. One person can be Axis and the other Allies. When you get bored you can swap the models.

Before you know it September will come and more boosters and starters will be on the shelves for you to buy. Until then just keep playing and talking about the game.

4 Comments on “Axis & Allies War At Sea Axis U-Boat Terror”

  1. Eliot

    Thanks so much for this post. This info is really helpful. I was wondering about the picture with the storm marker in the background of the Japanese carrier. It looks fantastic. Did you make that? If so, what did you use to make it with?

  2. Jonathan J. Reinhart Post author

    Hi Eliot. I’m glad that you liked the post. Something to consider is that this post is from 2007 and there have been many changes to the game since then. There are newer, and better, units to field with new and improved special abilities.

    I would not play this fleet today with the many other options available. But, the basic premise remains for the build. A submarine centric force with support can, when you roll those 6s, make a large impact.

    Even if a ship has Torpedo Defense the ship continues to take damage. It may only take 50% of your torpedo’s damage. But, that is damage, which is not subject to any checks with Armor values. It goes straight to the hull.

    That storm squall was originally posted on the Axis & Allies ForuMINI. Unfortunately I do not know how it was made. My best guess is that a base, maybe thin card or plastic, was created. The vertical sheet of rain was probably made with thin card that was cut, and painted, as it appears in the picture. A shelf is placed on top and then cotton balls are probably stretched out and glued on top.

    Be sure to check on eBay, or the Axis & Allies ForuMINI, before trying to make this on your own. Many intrepid hobbyists have created this sort of thing and you can buy fantastic items at low prices. There’s a few eBay sellers who sell customized objective markers that look like sinking ships and planes (they use actual game pieces). Simply fantastic stuff. So, look around and see if you can find something that you like. Alternatively, the ForuMINI is a great place to ask if someone will make something like this for you. The people there are amazing and trustworthy.

    If you are interested in War at Sea then maybe you would enjoy the other War at Sea blog posts. Clicking that link will connect you to all of the War at Sea posts.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Eliot

    Yeah, there are some great new units. I was disappointed that Surface Action didn’t have any Dutch ships like HNLMS Java or Tromp, but glad they had USS Edsall for the early war ABDA days in the Pacific. I play War at Sea on a hex grid that covers a large table. I also scrap the return phase rule for aircraft and use the special rules dictating how far air unit types can go and how many turns they can be in flight before fuel constraints require them to land.

    I did notice that your post was quiet old. I posted a reply with serious doubts as to whether I would get a response. I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks for your help trying to figure out how the rain squalls were made and thanks for the link. I will definitely check it out.

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