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"Are there any dedicated modern submarine rules?" Topic


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Thylacine DF02 Jan 2011 5:54 p.m. PST

G'Day

Are there any tabletop wargame rules specifically aimed at modern submarine combat (post WW2)?

I ask because I can vaguely remember seeing a set of rules in a paper catalogue a very long time ago and of course in this case my memory has failed me in remembering what these rules were called. I ask because I have a number of 1/700th scale submarine kits, assembling the reminder and then pushing them around the tabletop would be a cool project for the coming year.

I have rulesets like Harpoon and Warship Commander but since my mind is playing tricks on me I'd thought I'd ask if anyone has ever seen any dedicated submarine combat rules for the tabletop?

Cheers

Derek

Top Gun Ace02 Jan 2011 6:39 p.m. PST

Probsub.

I'm not sure, but they might be by Tabletop Games. I don't know if TTG is still in business though.

Primarily deals only with nuke sub vs. nuke sub combat. No stats for diesel-electrics, or the new fuel cell boats. I don't recall much in the way of stats for surface vessels, aircraft, or helos either.

Harpoon is probably the best set commercially available.

I also believe there's a free set on the Narrow Seas Yahoo Group, which some people were playtesting, but don't know much about it.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2011 7:20 p.m. PST

Avalon Hill had a game called Attack Sub which was actually quite good, but I'm not sure if you can convert it to miniatures. I've run several "sub hunts" with Harpoon 4 over the years and they're more work than fun, plus there's no need for miniatures as no one actually sees anything. They do prove to be a tense simulation and gamers seem to learn a lot about modern sub combat, but I definitely wouldn't say there's anything fun about it!

Top Gun Ace02 Jan 2011 7:23 p.m. PST

You can play without minis, if desired, but I prefer to go the other way, and have way more subs than needed on the table, especially when battling surface ships.

Makes the surface vessel commanders a bit paranoid, like they really should be.

A GM is very helpful for running these types of game.

Sundance02 Jan 2011 7:29 p.m. PST

Shipwreck is considerably easier than Harpoon, but I don't remember the specifics of sub rules in it. In fact, it's so much the opposite of Harpoon that it's almost too simplified. I think GQ is more complicated!

Waco Joe02 Jan 2011 8:07 p.m. PST

Slightly off topic but I wonder how difficult it would be to modify a rules set like Canvas Eagles/Blue Max for underwater battles? Surface ships stay at level 10 and subs go from 0 to 10. You would have to modify the maneuvers (I don't think subs can do an Immelman)but that should be doable.

Thylacine DF02 Jan 2011 9:01 p.m. PST

G'day

Probsub was the one I was thinking of, thanks for that.

Cheers

Derek

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2011 11:12 p.m. PST

There was and is I suppose, a set of Apple II DOS based rules that can run on a MS machine using emulation. They are called "Grey Seas, Grey Skies" and you can find several sites that you can get them from using Google.

I've played them at conventions and at home using a table top surface as a plot table with miniatures. Worked well.

Have not played them for years, but if I recall one could modify the rules for most submarines, surface vessels and weapons.

Dan

daveshoe02 Jan 2011 11:22 p.m. PST

Probsub had some interesting concepts in it, but it was pretty limited in scope.

The problem with doing submarine games, in my opinion, is that they are really about detection and identifying the other guy and then shooting (which is probably why aegiscg47 said they weren't much fun), unlike most miniatures games which are about shooting.

I posted the test set of rules that Top Gun Ace mentioned on the Narrow Seas Yahoo group. The rules are still a work in progress, but if you are interested in them you can get them from the group or contact me (or post your e-mail) and I can send you a copy of what I've written.

Dave

David Manley02 Jan 2011 11:55 p.m. PST

I've been working on a set of modern sub vs. sub rules for about a decade now. Still can't quite get them right :( I also worked on a set for \Felix Enterprises called Krazy Ivan before Felix went Bleeped text up, and we never got those working well either.

The Canvas Eagles / Blue Max idea is interesting, as its something I've done. Not using those rules but developing the Air War C21 system to cover a science fiction submarine setting (think Stingray or (shudder) Seaquest DSV) – although it would work for more "conventional" boats as well.

sector5103 Jan 2011 2:45 a.m. PST

I would go for computer games where all the variables can be handled by the machine.

Number603 Jan 2011 12:57 p.m. PST

To make a game out of a situation you have to give the players decisions to make that affect the outcome.

That's hard to do in a one-on-one situation which is dominated by the best equipment, the best training, and the first shot.

Lion in the Stars05 Jan 2011 3:53 p.m. PST

The problem with doing submarine games, in my opinion, is that they are really about detection and identifying the other guy and then shooting (which is probably why aegiscg47 said they weren't much fun), unlike most miniatures games which are about shooting.
Quoted for Truth! I've spent a lot of time playing either virtual tag or 'where the @#$%@#$% is that @#$%@#$ Ohio?!?' It's all about figuring out where the other guy is and getting in a position to shoot him where he can't shoot back.

It's hard to get people excited about detection/identifying. The shoot is almost an afterthought, since few subs can 'outrun' a modern torpedo. Worse, it's a game of eggshells armed with sledgehammers, since a single heavyweight torpedo is just about guaranteed to catastrophically kill a sub, and even a near-miss will put a ship out of action for a while.

I'd suggest starting with Full Thrust, personally. Standard torps are salvo missiles, supercavitating torps/subroc are pulse torps (ignore the separate launcher requirement, as well as the magazine mass. only the number of launchers matters). 1 movement unit is about 500 yards, and a turn is 3 minutes. You have a limited number of launchers, and reloading them takes about 4 turns (varies with crew quality).

Another complication is that you need to include depth effects. There are (generally speaking) 8 depth bands that matter: surface, periscope depth, very shallow, shallow, mid, deep, really deep, and crush depth.

Surface to very shallow is a different sensor environment than deeper water, but it's really only applicable for shooting surface ships. 'Very Shallow' is a transition point, you generally don't linger there. The advantage of being shallow is that torpedos *usually* are set to ignore targets at certain depths. If you were deep and get shot at, coming shallow might make you not-a-target in the torpedo's mind. It's also noisier close to the surface, so it's easier to hide.

Shallow, mid, and deep are the normal operating depths. Really deep is below test depth (in other words, go this deep and you are likely to break something, roll some system checks). Crush depth is just that: The point where your ship imitates a beer can. Problem is, you need to go deep to go fast quietly and safely.

'Terrain' (ie, thermoclines) has depth bands, too. The basic rule is that you can 'see' where you are: inside or outside. You can't see into or out of the terrain.

You should roll system checks after any close explosion: the favorite trick of the trainers was to go from a torpedo evasion drill (go deep, go fast) into a 'jam dive' drill (a nasty control-surface problem that requires *immediate* response or you die right now). Even proper response to a jam dive makes you a sitting duck.

That's the quick&dirty rundown. Do a search for 'too many torpedoes' or 'alien subwar project', you'll see some more notes.

soulman11 Jan 2011 4:18 p.m. PST

A little late for me to type, but i have designed a simple set of rules for modern and near future combat, movment is like calls to arms or battleflet gothic, with levels of depth, depth and speed and firing increase the noise you make and easier to detect etc…

I`m looking at hidden movment, alittle like space hulk blips, with no turning, when a sub trys to detect it, a roll is made based on the subs abilities and the captain, both subs make the roll, and the winner places the other sub in any direction he wishes…
Normaly behnd it for a good shoot etc.

Its alittle like a dogfight, you try and detect a sub fully to fire torps, and then a tohit roll based on the subs evade score and speed for a hit..

Damage is simple, mainly one hit can sink a sub…
Thats for the modern sub combat, extra rules are for more "seaquest" sub combat, with toprs, lasers etc, one man fighter subs too, and the scale can be for standed subs, or fighter combat instead.

The main differnce is that space battles tend to have ships slugging it out side by side etc, where these rules is about getting into firing range before you are detected and getting a lucky shot off…

By working on the near future combat, submarines can take more damage.
Ie/
Suba take 4 hits
Torps do 4 hits
Lasers can do 1 so can rockets etc…

The rules are in my yahoo group but i can email them if you wish, needs to be play tested and its set at modern combat at the moment..

Thanks for reading….

noelwarlock19 Mar 2017 4:37 a.m. PST

I am working on a Sub vs Sub combat game using Hex mats like Blue Max movement system in 1/700 scale. For detection I was thinking on using a small hex mat with Navwars 1/3000 scale models that only the umpire sees where the subs are. Once detection has been made the 1/700 models are place on the big mat.

Lion in the Stars24 Mar 2017 8:40 p.m. PST

I wrote up a mod of Full Thrust for submarine combat, PDF is here: link

You will need Full Thrust 2 or FT Continuum to play.

Mako1128 Mar 2017 2:08 a.m. PST

Looks great at a first glance, Lion.

Thanks for sharing.

Any thoughts on the more modern AIP subs, like the Swedes have, and/or those the Germans are producing?

Would also love to see some stats for the smaller subs of the West Germans, Swedes, and others in the Baltics region, for the Cold War period as well. Heck, might be fun to do a bit of gaming with those ancient Whiskey class, and other small subs in that theater too.

From what I've read, the Baltics was a fairly crowded, and shallow little "lake" for Cold War submarine ops, with a very challenging tactical environment, given all the currents, salinity changes, thermoclines, etc., etc., there.

Might be fun for a small skirmish or three, or to try to hunt down some subs intruding into Swedish, and/or other territorial waters.

Lion in the Stars28 Mar 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

There are stats for some AIPs in the tables, Kilo and Lada Russian boats, Song and Yuan Chinese boats, the Type 212 used by a lot of people, the Japanese Souryuu, and even the Shortfin Barracuda the Aussies are buying.

Unfortunately, my ship design system breaks down for those small subs. Anything under 4000tons, really. The weapons systems are far too heavy, even with "free" torpedo magazines. And those small subs are often crazily heavily armed: the Israeli Dolphin-class have 10 torpedo tubes!

Mako1129 Mar 2017 3:13 a.m. PST

Ah, I see.

I was just curious about your thoughts on the small SSK's quietness, relative to the others.

Any ideas on basic detection and noise ratings for your average surface vessels (frigates, DDs, etc.), and/or thoughts of adding in sub-hunting helos and sonobuoys to the fun?

Also, are there any rules for different sonar detection capabilities (other than just active/passive), or are you just lumping that in as an aspect of crew quality?

Haven't read the rules in detail, but at a first pass, it appears that the sub detection ranges you've listed are primarily for the targets themselves, based upon their noise levels. I didn't see anything on the searching subs' varying sensor quality, but perhaps I just missed that.

Lion in the Stars05 Apr 2017 10:27 a.m. PST

I was just curious about your thoughts on the small SSK's quietness, relative to the others.

A small SSK on batteries or AIP should be extremely quiet, since all you have is the electric motor spinning the prop. With a good low-speed motor (or a high-speed screw), you don't need reduction gears, which is the major cause of propulsion noise. If you're smart with your motor controller design, you get a small, short-ranged noise from the motor whine.

Any ideas on basic detection and noise ratings for your average surface vessels (frigates, DDs, etc.), and/or thoughts of adding in sub-hunting helos and sonobuoys to the fun?

Large ships are detectable at ranges measured in tens of km, we held one of those high-speed catamaran ferries at more than 60km (though those are really noisy). That'd be 120MU in my game. I'd honestly not even bother with a passive detection range for surface ships, and say that any sub Shallow or a Periscope Depth can detect any large surface ship on the table. I'm not sure about pleasure craft, though anything with an engine will be detectable.

For the helicopters, I'd just allow their operating player to choose a position on the table to place his sonar every turn. Might need to slow that down a bit, for game balance, but normally there'd only be one helo in each cardinal direction of a fleet or convoy, so one helo on the table.

Also, are there any rules for different sonar detection capabilities (other than just active/passive), or are you just lumping that in as an aspect of crew quality?

I'm not sure how to handle acoustic daylight as a detection method in-game. With enough sensors, it works like Daredevil's sight or the images from Seaquest. So it'd be a total game-changer for initial detection. But it's not good enough for shooting.

it appears that the sub detection ranges you've listed are primarily for the targets themselves, based upon their noise levels. I didn't see anything on the searching subs' varying sensor quality, but perhaps I just missed that.

I only served on one class of subs, so I don't really have a good feel for varying sensor capabilities. I've honestly assumed that most sonar systems are broadly comparable, though apparently the system on the Astute class is substantially better than the norm.

Weredoomed200318 Apr 2017 2:35 a.m. PST

I use a conversion of the old Avalon Hill card game Attack Sub' for the tabletop with 1/700 models. Works really well for sub v sub and sub v surface/helos. The conversion is in the files section of the boardgamegeek site gor attack sub. But if you email me I can send you the docs (and a link to download the attack sub game components)
Rob

Private Matter20 Apr 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

Did anyone mention Snap Shot? I dint notice doing a quick scan on the thread but these are good rules that I used to play in various scales.
snapshotmodernsub.webs.com/rules

alan L10 Mar 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

Have a look at Conn Sonar on Facebook.

Captain Carter17 May 2019 8:59 a.m. PST

Hi
Bit late to reply to this, but I wanted to do something along these lines once as I'm interested in Submarine warfare from 1960 on wards. But I gave up is its quite boring to play on the table top due to the search locate evade etc. Then the complex of modern weaponry, depth and so on. So in the end I turned to the PC. Attack Sub 688 and Cold Waters I would suggest. Let the PC do all the complex work

Lion in the Stars17 May 2019 10:48 p.m. PST

Yep, it is a lot easier to let the PC do the work.

Rev Zoom31 Aug 2019 7:23 p.m. PST

Conn…Sonar! is very, very good. Just what I was looking for in modern sub rules.

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