Command at Sea (CaS)

Brief Description Tactical naval rules simulating surface, submarine, and air attacks on naval units, shore installations, and aircraft. Current data booklets cover the Pacific Theatre of WWII from 1941-1943; additional data booklets are projected.
Period WWII naval
Scale Each figure represents a single ship or plane. A variable ground scale is used, with a "typical" scale being 2" = 1 nautical mile. Each Tactical turn represents 3 minutes; Intermediate turns are 30 minutes. 1/2400 or 1/3000 scale miniatures are recommended, though other scales could easily be used as well.
Basing Individual
Contents A boxed set, titled The Rising Sun, contains the rulebook and all current supplements. These materials are also available separately, and comprise:
  • 128-page Standard Rulebook
  • 16-page Jumpstart rules booklet
  • 86-page Scenario Book
  • 144-page Data Annex
  • Countersheet 1, 1/2" x 1/2" Plane Counters and Markers (280)
  • Countersheet 2, 1/2" x 1" Ship Counters (140)
Designers Larry Bond (LLBOND@AOL.COM)
Chris Carlson (SoundWiz@aol.com)
Ed Kettler (ekettler@aol.com).
Publisher First edition published 1994 by Clash of Arms.

A detailed description of Command at Sea is also available.

What You Think

Craig (kingspud@senet.com.au)
I like it. I own all the modules so far, and find the scenarios a great reference. The club I game at tried a few different systems for a while and none of them seemed to 'feel' right.

I find the critical armour system a bit too abstract for my mind - the way it plays, there seems no point in many ships having armour at all. The critical system that was used in Harpoon3 I thought was a better system, where any armour at least had a small chance of stopping some crits.

The gun system seems 'wrong' to me. I can't prove it but it just seems too easy to put hits onto a target.

The air-to-air combat table is a bit too linear for my liking as well, but since this is a naval game that isn't a major hassle. (My major hassle is that my club are all land gamers and I never get to play the bloodly thing.)

Jay Martino (mjmartino@igs.net)

The rules are one of the most comprehensive sets of naval rules I've seen. They include great detail on things that are usually supplemental in other rules sets, things like:

  • torpedoes
  • air operations (great detail here)
  • amphibious operations (which are a nice segue into a ground combat game)

The basic ruleset is really just a set of tactical rules for conducting any of those sorts of operations. The operational element is alluded to: they have two turn definitions: 3-minute Tactical, and 30-minute Intermediate. By saying "intermediate," I get the impression that there will be an Operational turn sometime in the future.

I have a few problems with the rules, particularly the gunnery rules (which seem to be the only element that was abstracted for faster play), but I feel the rules overall are well worth the huge price tag that Clash of Arms is asking. Considering the many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars I've spent on naval reference books, I'd say CaS was a bargain.

Mike Mathews (mmathews@vax2.winona.msus.edu)

I own all of the Command at Sea sets and supplements and am over all pleased with the game it gives.  Experienced players should be comfortable running a squadron in combat, despite a reasonably high level of detail. Our group found that it could easily play at a 10-15 minutes-per-turn rate, each controlling several ships of varying size.  One exception would be aircraft carriers, which require a great deal of paperwork and note keeping in my opinion.  Players who wish to control carrier ops would be well advised to keep any other responsibilities low.

Along those lines, we found the only troublesome area that of air operations.  Air attack combat, so vital to WWII operations, took the longest time to grasp.  Part of that no doubt is just a function of getting used to the rules and some transfer of knowledge from other gun oriented systems.  The gunnery rules have some abstractions for the sake of playability that might not sit well with gamers used to other systems, but I feel that in this case the abstraction gives a very realistic set of results.

The data annex included with the boxed sets and available for purchase on the side is one of the most complete I've ever seen.  Some of the ratings are different than what we might be used to, but the depth of research is such that I tend to trust them over others.  It's always a difficult process to translate armor and explosive values into a game, especially when the quality varied from nation to nation.

My only real grumble is with the scenario booklets for Supermarina and (to a lesser degree) No Sailor But a Fool.  While the scenarios provided for Rising Sun are very complete and for the most part useful, I found a large number of the Supermarina I and II games to be of little or no value. Perhaps as solitaire outings, but not for a competetive game.  Others I frankly can't even see any solitaire potential in them from a "fun" standpoint.  Finally, by placing a significant number of one-sided or land-sea engagements in the booklets, they ensure that it will take at least three supplements to get through the wars in the Med.  But that is a quibble more with Clash of Arms than with the Command at Sea game system. Overall, I give it high marks.

Paul A.K. Amala (amala@llnl.gov)

I think the cardboard counters are a nice touch; it allows you to get started fast, and slowly build up your expensive fleets of minis. The counters are very polished, but the books have a cheesy feel -- not up to current standards of printing, in my opinion.

I wish the rules were organized differently too; for me the current organization just doesn't work.

But a good game, even though it is a bit too complicated for large actions. Expensive, but worth it. Lots of ship data and scenarios. Buy it through something like Hudsons or Commisary and save money.

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Online Resources

Publisher's Miniatures Rules Page
With links to pages about all products in the CAS line.
2nd Edition Rules Clarifications
Includes the official errata for CaS, as of 29 January 1996.
1st Edition Rules Clarifications
Includes the official errata for CaS, as of January 1995.
Naval Miniatures Library
Guide to which ships are produced by the miniatures companies.
Naval Article Index
Comprehensive index of magazine articles, covering all issues of Naval SITREP and Naval Wargaming Review.

If you know of other resources for this game, or if you have material you would like to make available to the Net, please let us know.

Last Updates
24 January 2001official page temporarily taken offline
6 July 1999comments by Craig
22 October 1998link to publisher's website
10 January 1998added Jay Martino's comments
9 January 1998added Mike Mathews' comments
Comments or corrections?