Help support TMP

"Naval Rules Recommendations" Topic

27 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please use the Complaint button (!) to report problems on the forums.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the WWII Naval Product Reviews Message Board

Back to the WWII Naval Discussion Message Board

Areas of Interest

World War Two at Sea

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

Microscale LCT(5) from Image Studios

Thinking to invade German-held Europe? Then you'll need some of these...

Featured Workbench Article

Basing Small-Scale Aircraft for Wargames

Mal Wright Fezian experiments to find a better way to mount aircraft for wargaming.

Featured Profile Article

War at Sea First Game

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian tries the naval wargame in the Axis & Allies series.

Featured Book Review

5,390 hits since 5 Nov 2011
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Private Matter05 Nov 2011 3:53 p.m. PST

I am looking to start back into Naval gaming after a 25 year absence. I have 1/2400 ships and am looking for rules that will enable me to game Atlantic convoys, Surface actions and air attacks with equal playability. I want rules that do not require a PhD to figure out and can produce a game that game be played in a few hours with less than 10 ships per side.

With your recommendation, can I ask that you explain a bit about the rules and why you are recommending them. Sell me on them.

21eRegt05 Nov 2011 6:43 p.m. PST

I've played all the extremes from SeeKrieg 5 to using the Avalon Hill game of Jutland with miniatures. I've settled on the Naval Thunder family of games from Steel Dreadnaughts.

They cover 1898-1945 with some thoroughness. WWI has only the British and German fleets at the moment. However, the rules play very smoothly, are easy to pick up, and have a realistic "feel" to them. After searching for 30 years for a set of rules that everyone can be satisfied with I think I've found it. We just played a "what if" Pacific action. Read about it and others on my blog:

Best wishes finding rules you will like.

HistoryPhD05 Nov 2011 8:12 p.m. PST

Personally, I use Command at Sea by Clash of Arms Games. Highly detailed and realistic, but I find it quite playable and not too terribly bogged down with paperwork.

21eRegt05 Nov 2011 8:58 p.m. PST

Command at Sea would be my second choice for a group game. Very pricey compared to Naval Thunder but also very complete. I have all the boxed sets and supplements.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Nov 2011 9:39 p.m. PST

Take a look at:


David Manley06 Nov 2011 9:56 a.m. PST

Victory at Sea from Mongoose is a good, quick set of rules (I helped with their development), and General Quarters in all its guises is a good game too.

HistoryPhD06 Nov 2011 10:53 a.m. PST

@21eRegt: I do agree it's pricy, but like everything else, you get what you pay for. Having tried a few rules sets, CaS is the one I like best. Good balance of realism and playability.

Charlie 1206 Nov 2011 2:51 p.m. PST

General Quarters 3 would be my choice. Easy to learn and play. Also has a very good feel for the period. GQ3 is the complete package; surface, air, sub-surface combat is included along with a full campaign system. And the ongoing support from the publisher with freebies and updates is outstanding.

Omemin17 Nov 2011 10:18 a.m. PST

I use Seapower II & II from Alnavco. Just got word that they're out of production, though.

Drabanten22 Nov 2011 11:09 a.m. PST

IŽll second coastal2 above, General Quarters 3.

HesseCassel10 Dec 2011 3:41 p.m. PST

I'll third General Quarters III.

My buddy actually dragged me into it after I had decided upon Naval Thunder. I like Naval Thunder a lot – it's sort of like The Sword and the Flame of naval games.

However, as my friend pointed out and now I agree, having read a slew of memoirs and histories…naval warfare is a technical enterprise first and foremost. To the technical difficulties are then set the forces of nature and the vagaries of people. If your set of rules doesn't take the technical work seriously, then you end up with rules that do NOT play the way your read the war, as you are not burdened with the sorts of decisions facing naval officers.

We found GQ3 to be a little bit of work, but worth figuring out. Granted, this was due to the fact that we started with night battles around the Solomon Islands (Gauadalcanal) and have continued to fight there. Daylight battles between ships are quite simple. If you add in airplanes, carriers and submarines, then it becomes a bit more complex. We haven't tried to do that yet.

So if you want something that is fast and furious, then grab Naval Thunder. But be prepared to have to write your own special rules in and modify it so that it plays more like what you read. If you want something that you can trust to take into account the technical side, but still be playable, then I'd try GQ3.

For more info, both sets of rules have extensive forums with lots of batreps. I've been posting detailed accounts of our battles in IRonbottom sound (looks like another one is coming on Monday, btw).

Good luck!

JJMicromegas11 Dec 2011 6:01 p.m. PST

HC can you please provide the link to Ironbottom sound?

I would strongly recommend the campaign air rules for GQ3, it streamlines the movement and calculations of air combat without losing any of the accuracy of the combat itself.

HesseCassel11 Dec 2011 7:38 p.m. PST

Hey JJMicro – the problem with English, typed fast in messages, is, as always, punctuation. :)

My post should say that I've been posting details accounts of our Ironbottom Sound battles in the ODGW forum for "The Solomons Campaign". I haven't posted here at TMP. Their website is, and it is easy to join. I can't remember if you have to join just to READ the posts, however. I guess I should post the batrep here, however, as so many people here have not only given me an interest in WWII naval gaming, but helped completely change what I was looking to do and I'm having MORE fun than I would have my way!

HesseCassel13 Dec 2011 7:38 p.m. PST

OK, I posted some batrep and scenario info here under the product review section, hope that helps.

Spudeus23 Jan 2012 1:01 p.m. PST

I'm completely new (not to wargames, but to WW2 naval), but am seriously considering No Safe Port (mentioned by someone here at TMP; can be found at

From what I can tell, it looks to have a good amount of 'crunchiness' without being needlessly complex. Basic, advanced and optional rules allow you to scale it to your needs. Plus a campaign system!

Dameon23 Jan 2012 8:56 p.m. PST

I'd suggest Victory at Sea (VaS) WITH the Order of Battle (OoB) as well. The OoB introduces some more rules to VaS, especially much better air rules, and greatly expands the fleet lists.

The complexity of games like SeaKrieg V make VaS look like a beer and pretzels game by comparison, but it really isn't THAT simplified. I have played other systems and I keep finding myself drawn back to VaS for it's simplicity yet satisfying game play.

A VaS game with 6 ships per side took myself and a friend (both of us somewhat experienced with the rules set) about 2.5 to 3 hours to finish. And I mean FINISH, not one of those play for 6+ hours games where finally one side has a few more damaged ships than the other and people decide to who would have won and call the game, but actually played until the last salvo!

JJMicromegas23 Jan 2012 9:02 p.m. PST

In comparing game times, I played a game of GQ3 on Sunday in 4 hours to almost the last ship standing. I had 7 destroyers, 4 CLs and 1 CA. My opponent had 2 CA's and 4 CL's.

We probably played the game past the point where it should have realistically gone but both sides kept passing morale tests. We didn't use the optional Force Morale rules

afilter24 Jan 2012 4:10 a.m. PST

I have played VaS and Naval Thunder and highly endorse Naval Thunder as my go to rules.

Slojax21 Apr 2016 4:27 p.m. PST

Couple of years ago, there was talk around the interwebs about a new set of rules on the horizon, entitled Fleet Admiral. Anybody out there have any idea what became of it?

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2016 10:13 a.m. PST

See this thread about Fleet Admiral.

Lascaris14 May 2016 6:53 a.m. PST

Continuing the threadnomancy which, if any, of these rules are soloable? I really like GQ3 but think the mechanisms, especially torpedoes, are difficult to resolve solo.

Tim White06 Jun 2016 9:05 a.m. PST

I would think that VaS and Naval Thunder are quite soloable – both of them have pretty straight forward torp systems. But ya, I know what you mean about GQ3. Even GQ1&2, though much simpler, make it hard to solo because of the torp rules.

Personally my go to Naval game right now is Grand Fleets 3. Does pre-dread to WWII and has rules to make up your own ship stats (from historical ship data).

Part time gamer14 Sep 2016 10:41 p.m. PST

Ive played SK5, well its the rules the local group plays and Ive enjoyed a number of games with them but have to say, it is one 'chart 'IN-tense' game. Usualy not my style. Surpised I stay with it..
If you have never played it, in IMHO it helps to have a 'Ref' handle the charts while others run the ships.

I understand there is rules set for the PREDrednought period by Naval Thunder. Have you, or anyone every played this period with them, or what rules would you suggest for 1880-1905?

kevanG05 Oct 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

I always go for GQ3 over GQ1 & 2 as it is scaleable for battleships to torpedo boats.

But I dislike the torpedo rules.

The best fun torpedo rules I have seen are the ones in "bag the hun", so intend to write a version of those to scale to GQ3

Old Contemptibles12 Oct 2017 12:48 p.m. PST

We used to use General Quarters and it gives a good game.

"I want rules that do not require a PhD to figure out and can produce a game that game be played in a few hours with less than 10 ships per side."

Its just my opinion but you may want to consider something besides Naval gaming. I have found that other than a few board games. That naval wargaming from 1905 to WWII will require you to enter a PhD program.

I have nothing but respect for all you guys who play them. I can play them but having someone around who is smarter than I am to help with the rules is a must for me. But they sure are fun.

1968billsfan19 Feb 2019 3:04 p.m. PST

I like Naval Thunder. Our group plays a lot of different periods and genres, so we will not play naval enough to get fluid with playing a complicated game. NT is easy to pick up and gives enough of a feel of the period/type to be enjoyable rather than a chore to play, even the first time.

Levi the Ox19 Feb 2019 8:20 p.m. PST

Highly recommend General Quarters 3!

In my experience the strongest feature of GQ 3 is that it incorporates enough technical detail to generate believable results, while still keeping the player immersed in the narrative of the action, so that players think in terms of tactical decisions rather than game mechanics.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.