War @ Sea: GenCon 2007 Update

Richard Baker, War at Sea game designer, promised news on the upcoming Set 2 would be available and GenCon. Per the official forum it was announced that Set 2 would be out in 2008 and hopefully early 2008. Now, it has been announced that Set 2 will be out summer 2008.

Additionally, the makeup of Set 2 has been made public. It will consist of 60 models with half the set consisting of new models. The other half will be so called “sister ships.” That is to say they will be ships already released but with new names. There were many classes of ships and many ships in a class. For example, the USS Enterprise is a Yorktown class carrier. The Yorktown class consisted of the USS Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. You can bet one of them will be in the class.

Other examples are the Yamato battleship (the Musashi as sister ship), USS Iowa (New Jersey, Missouri, & Wisconsin) and the Vittorio Veneto aka Littorio class BB (Littorio, Roma, and Impero) not to name the multitude of destroyers and cruisers.

To those who, like me, are frustrated by the release date for Set 2 and for those who, unlike me, are upset by the number of sister ships in Set 2 we can find an answer from Richard Baker who said “…to be honest, we were sort of caught off guard by the success of the game” in his official Gen Con blog. Another reason for the delayed release of Set 2…at least according to WoTC, is the release of Axis & Allies Minis 1939-1945 around Christmas 2007.

He also said of the sister ships, “Most of these have different paint jobs, different special abilities to reflect their own unique war history, and in some cases slightly different stats. For example, we have the HMAS Canberra in set 1, but in set 2 we’re doing the HMS Kent. The Kent has a nearly identical profile, close enough that we can use the same model again, but it had a really spectacular dazzle camouflage scheme, and it also had a much improved internal armor belt than its Aussie sister. You won’t have any trouble telling the two ships apart!” (see for yourself, the HMAS Canberra below left and HMS Kent below right)

On one hand I’m excited by the inclusion of sister ships. When I started collecting War at Sea I held back from getting duplicates for this very reason. Although I now am trying to max out the historical limits on ship class I still think the sister ships are a good thing. However, I think filling half of Set 2 with sister ships is pure laziness.

I’ve discussed this before on the official War at Sea forum to no avail. But, in a set of 60 models, they couldn’t go to 64 like in Set 1?, no more than 1/4 the set should be duplicates of a prior set. What WoTC should have done in this 60 model set is make 15 duplicates, 40 new models, and 5 models from minor nations. The Danes and Russians, for example, would have been a nice way to fill up those 5 slots.

We already have 3 French ships that need to be added to, 2 Canadian vessels that need more support, a Kriegsmarine that is almost filled (where’s the Graf Zeppelin, Prince Eugen, and more U-boats?), a fairly useless Italian fleet, and gigantic USN and IJN to fight each other. Most of the sister ships should go to the USN, IJN, Kriegsmarine, and even the RN with a couple tossed to the Italians.

The release date is set and Set 2 is likely already composed. So, enough with the theoretical approach and let’s get down to what is known. Set 2 is 60 models, which I’ve already said, with about half (30) being duplicates/sister ships, which I also have said. The HMS Kent will be included, although it is really the HMAS Canberra. Additionally the British will get the HMS Warspite. Richard Baker has publicly said that the Graf Zeppelin will not be in Set 2.

I doubt a Set 3 will see the light of day, too many people are pissed off by the late release of Set 2 and the high number of sister ships, which means whatever isn’t in Set 2 won’t see play…or will it? I am predicting that a rise in demand for custom models will occur. There are several people on the War at Sea forum, and I’m sure many more across the globe, who convert or scratchbuild their own models and make their own official looking cards to match. I’ve seen an incredible Graf Zeppelin made this way.

I am also predicting a rise in demand for multiples of models in Set 1…for the time being. As we get closer to Set 2 the demand for that 4th Graf Spee you have floating around will decrease. Until then the secondary market is booming for singles. Prices have come down with the restocking of the game but rares still sell for $5-$10 online and commons even go for about $1.

At the end of the day, fans will likely stockpile the game because it will eventually die. Years from now when you want to play a fun naval beer and chip game you can pull out you hundreds of models and play with your friends and family.