Design History – Victory at Sea

The next edition of Victory at Sea has been in development for quite some time now (won’t be coming out until we have got it all right!). However, I thought it might be fun if we posted the design note updates, from most recent to oldest, so you can see the changes the game has been through…



  • Kriegsmarine and Regia Marina are now both completely points-costed – again, not saying these are the final values for all ships, but they will be very close now. US, Japan and France hopefully all in next update!
  • Aircraft attacking ships ‘to hit’ rolls have been tweaked – bombers now have it a bit harder, torpedo bombers a bit easier.
  • Rules for using star shells and searchlights in night battles are now in.



  • Royal Navy is now completely points-costed – not saying these are the final values for all ships, but they will be very close now. This includes aircraft but not (yet) MTBs. Everything in every other fleet should be balanced off equivalents in the Royal Navy list.
  • Aircraft in all fleets have now been updated to the new rules.
  • AAA now never modified for anything. You need a 6 to hit most aircraft, a 5 or 6 to hit torpedo bombers on an attack run – that is it.
  • Radar now only provides bonuses to hit (or, rather ignores range penalties) if the ship can actually see its target.



  • Aircraft tweaked. Survivability has gone, and Aircraft Traits have been added (they were kinda already there, just made them official now).



  • Aircraft almost completely re-written – got rid of the rules bloat, made them a bit more potent overall. Note, only Royal Navy aircraft have been updated thus far.



  • Lumbering removed from Ark Royal, Audacious, G3, Lion, Malta, Illustrious, Implacable, Indomitable, Renown, Vanguard, Graf Zeppelin, Project Jade, Littorio, Lexington, Dunkerque, Richelieu.
  • Lumbering now permits evading torpedoes, albeit at a penalty.
  • Added rule for Local trait that means its Attack Dice can now be rolled against every Flight that flies over a ship.
  • Added a Scenario Template, so you can create your own historical scenarios!
  • Japanese Long Lance ‘salvos’ tweaked.
  • Only Level Bombers can move out of a dogfight now (though they can still ‘drag’ the dogfight with them). Fighter Flights can now run out of ammunition.
  • A few more points tweaks on the Royal Navy.
  • Only a quarter of your points can be spent on Flights that are not based on one of your own carriers.
  • Beaufighter no longer a carrier aircraft (though I maintain it was, in theory, possible).
  • You can no longer evade torpedoes if you are performing a Special Action.
  • Clarified that AAA Attack Dice do not ‘stack.’ You must try to destroy Flights with one weapon at a time!
  • By default, each carrier can now start the game with two Flights in the air.



  • Aircraft can now have veteran and green pilots! Escorting rules tweaked. Fairey Swordfish a bit tougher.
  • Orders of Battle updated (but far from complete!).
  • Lots of points updates for the Royal Navy.
  • Agile ships now make turns every 1” rather than turns of ninety degrees.



  • Coastal invasion rules are finally in!
  • ‘Fast’ target modifier for shooting now covers ships that move 7”. Fast battleships and carriers that used to move 7” have been reduced to 6” to balance this.
  • Ships must now move 2” in a straight line before turning.
  • Level bombers may now ‘drag’ a dogfight. Slight change in how support works in dogfights.
  • Emphasised that ground attacks can be made against sea targets.
  • Radar tweaked. Now locks onto largest targets, and cannot be used on targets near land.
  • Lumbering ships can now longer use Evasive! or evade torpedoes.
  • Aircraft dropping torpedoes now have a ‘temporary’ Crew Quality when a target tries to evade them.
  • Another perspective added to the Battle of the River Plate.
  • Added two ‘which is best’ articles.



  • Started points tweaks on the Royal Navy.
  • DP guns now work against MTBs as well as aircraft.
  • Clarified that aircraft launched in one turn cannot be moved in the same turn (need to climb and build formation). Carriers can now perform Special Actions while launching and recovering aircraft, except Evasive.
  • Hawker Typhoon points and Dogfight reduced.
  • The Wakeless trait is now in. Tweaked Lumbering.
  • Evasive! Special Action tweaked – if two ships did it and fired upon one another, we got into a situation where you re-rolled a re-roll, and that is a no-no in Victory at Sea (in fact, all Mongoose games).
  • Now have three separate bomb loads for aircraft – normal, dive and ‘heavy,’ the latter representing heavy bomb loads (Lancasters, B-29, etc) rather than Tallboys and the like. Dive bombs now more powerful.
  • Fighters can now escort other Flights.
  • MTB Sections now have to move into base contact with the ships they attack – I know they should be able to launch torpedo spreads at range (and maybe we can look at a rule where several Sections get together and do this) but there was a fair bit of rule abuse going on. Depth charge attacks now made more difficult to pull off to compensate. Smoke screens also adjusted – way too much abuse there!
  • Coastal craft rules now finished, blend of MTB rules for movement and ship rules for shooting.
  • Mr Bax sent in some hella-detailed fleet lists – peruse at your leisure. So far the following have been updated: Regia Marina, Kriegsmarine, Royal Navy, US Navy, IJN, and Marine Nationale. Soviet Navy requires more research!
  • Kriegsmarine Radar rule tweaked. Points costs of Radar upgrades changed – this is way more effective on a battleship than on a destroyer.
  • Added Unwilling Soldiers rule to Regia Marina. Added Fire Fighting rule to IJN.



  • MTBs do not get Large Silhouette when attacked. Slight tweak on Crew critical table. Light Guns and AAA ignore penalty for Fast Moving Targets. Fires on ships must be tackled before any other repairs. Long Lance fan salvoes tweaked. 1” separation rule for ships removed.
  • Only Fighters can start dogfights.
  • If on Critical Score 6 and another critical hit is taken, the Critical Score 6 extra damage and penalties are applied again. Devastating trait now lethal, with critical hits far more common. Damage Dice only score critical hits on ‘natural’ 6s now.
  • Kamikazes now more likely to start fires.
  • More shore batteries added. Trying to resist complication here – do we really need Radar on these things?



  • Updated a few of the background articles with your comments. Added a tad more to the Free French article, still need more.
  • Changed measurements to be made from a ship’s bridge, rather than the centre of the miniature.
  • Torpedo arcs altered to be 180 degrees from stated arc, not just sides.
  • Air-dropped depth charges no longer Devastating.
  • Coastal Craft have been added to the MTB section.



  • Okay, the Big Update after a near three month break. All the new ship stats integrated into the rules – any ship in a fleet list that has an asterisk next to it has not been updated and needs attention! All Crippled thresholds set to 1/3 of Damage.
  • New traits added; DP, Local X, and Restricted.
  • Stats for MTBs added across all fleets – note that some from Order of Battle have not been included because either a) I could not find any background information on them (just need a paragraph!) or b) they were not MTBs but other coastal craft, and I am not certain they should be using the same rules. That can be discussed.
  • Rules for Submersibles are in. This is really just the core mechanics, as I am not too happy with the sub scenarios right now – they need a bit more ‘cat and mouse’ about them, but at least we can start fiddling with the rules.
  • Observation aircraft in, along with some ASW types.
  • Civilian ships now have points costs for Convoy scenario.
  • Kamikazes are now in – aircraft, subs and MTBs.
  • The Soviets are in! However, they have not been updated with the new ship stats, and so they are all a bit iffy right now.



  • Revised AAA weapons (again). Single roll now needed to resolve their fire, still takes into account agility and toughness of aircraft. Aircraft stats revised. Dedicated bombers now have bigger bombs (AP increased, but remember Armoured Decks still apply).
  • Removed AP from Torpedoes (not needed with Devastating rule). –2 to hit with Torps is back.
  • Made Bolzano a ‘variant’ of Trento class. Civilians get a Seaplane Tender.
  • Allowed Swordfish the option of carrying bombs.  That will open a can of worms…
  • Added rules for barrage balloons and torpedo nets.
  • Attack on Taranto is now in, along with Matapan.



  • Made the Attack on the Northern Patrol a little easier on the Allies.
  • British destroyers tweaked a little. Leander and Perth both had increase to AAA range.
  • Ship ‘upgrades’ given to Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, King George V, Nelson, Resolution.
  • Revised aircraft and AAA again – updated all AAA Attack Dice to reflect this. Level Bombers now a new type of aircraft. Also allowed any Fighter to carry small (max. 250 lb-ish) bombs and/or rockets. Now divided carrier-borne aircraft from the rest.
  • Coasts and shorelines are now in the game – along with suitable defences and buildings to shell.
  • Finished the US Navy. Between them and the British, we have our work cut out filling a complete range of models… Also added a ‘bloody awful’ rule for US torpedoes in the early stages of the war.
  • With Damage relating to 1 point per 500 tons, gone through all the ships and made things a bit more accurate.
  • The IJN fleet list is now in. Have fun in the Pacific.
  • The French are in!
  • MTBs are in the process of going in. Checking stats and doing write ups of each class, so this may take a couple of updates to work through. The rules are in place though.
  • Wasn’t happy with the –2 modifier on torpedoes, and the Long Lance really should up the problem. Changed to –1. Haven’t changed air-launched torpedoes at all (they had plenty of problems actually getting to launch the torpedo, let alone getting it on target). Overall, it now means it is (just) possible to hit a big ship at long range.
  • Split the Leipzig from the K-class – look right to you?



  • The Americans are here! Yay!
  • Improved Torpedo Belt on the Erebus.
  • Started adding Order of Battle appendices.
  • Guns on British, German and Italian cruisers revised. New destroyers for Britain, France and Italy. Tweaks on both sets of ship throughout all existing lists, as suggested on forum (Prinz Eugen, Kent, London, Surrey, Emerald, JKN, Tiger, Trento, Zara, Hunt, JKN, Tribal)
  • Tweaked critical hit charts.
  • Civilian Shipping added.
  • New scenarios and charts (not maps, sorry David!) added. Includes a few lop-sided battles for you historical purists – do they match what really happened?



  • Reworded Heavy trait slightly to make clearer.
  • Minimum movement now needed to be able to evade torpedoes.
  • In night battles (only), initiative winner can force his opponent to fire first. Spotting range reduced in Bad Weather.
  • More changes on aircraft – can now be bought on their own, points costs now split away from carriers (you have to buy aircraft for the carriers now), bombs less accurate. AAA simplified again, should be a little fairer.
  • Movement rules slightly tweaked to completely avoid stacking. Also put in a 1” minimum distance rule between ships.
  • More points values adjusted for ships across the Royal Navy, Kreigsmarine, and Regia Marina.
  • Italian AAA Attack Dice adjusted to fit in with other two fleets.
  • The British and German fleets have been expanded to include many more ships (all of those from Order of Battle). If you think there are any others that should be included, let me know!
  • Devastating and Torpedo Belt traits altered.
  • Final ships added to Battle of Calabria – map coming, though if you know the battle well, you can probably muddle through right now.



  • Still not happy with torpedoes. Reduced the Damage Dice of all by one, and gave them AP +2.  Will still wreck a cruiser, but can now actually hurt battleships. Also changed the Torpedo Belt trait to make it way simpler.
  • Adjusted bomb damage from aircraft, assuming these are 250-500 lb. Still nasty!
  • Cruisers now only earn 1 dice for scouting but can now use their aircraft.
  • Removed Dodging from aircraft.  Now, if you hit one, it goes down. Have halved AAA Attack Dice to compensate. Slightly altered rules for being/not being able to move away from an enemy Flight in a dogfight. Restructured Dogfight scores.
  • Carriers can now recover aircraft at night and in bad weather but must make difficult Crew Quality checks in order to do so. They may also rearm planes that have used One-Shot weapons, but Crew Quality checks are needed to do so here as well (they have to work very quickly).
  • Slight change to Crew Critical 3 to stop ‘Bouncing Crit Syndrome.’
  • Ships now only have to move 1” before they can turn (saw a video the other day of one turning – yup, they can do that quickly).
  • Added the Eagle and Resolution classes to the Royal Navy – needed for Battle of Calabria.
  • And the Battle of Calabria scenario has been added. No maps yet but if you Google the battle, you should find a map that can pretty much point you towards what I am intending… Also need to add Italian destroyers.
  • Plummeting shells now only apply to main guns, and only at their extreme range.
  • Added background on the Atlantic Convoys.
  • If you are on fire at night, you will be spotted!
  • Started to adjust points costs of ships, based on playtesting.
  • There is now a maximum range at which guns can fire. Adjusted ranges for bad weather, night and radar. Also twiddled with to hit modifiers. Added beyond horizon attacks, so observation aircraft now have a second reason to exist!



  • Number of torpedoes on some ships tweaked. Arcs increased. Submersibles can no longer split their torpedo fire but can still withhold some AD.
  • Come About special action now makes sense. Flank Speed special action deleted.
  • Effects of Crippled tweaked. Ships now crippled when they hit half damage.
  • Night battles and radar are back in the game, both slightly tweaked from the previous edition.
  • Change to Initiative – if you lose, you automatically move first.
  • Aircraft are back in, suitably tweaked and with new rules added (note, while similar, there are some big differences between these and the draft rules on the forum). New Special Action added for carriers. Aircraft Speeds back to original scores.
  • Germans no longer have bonus to hit at long ranges.
  • Evading ships may no longer use torpedoes. More than one smoke counter can now be laid behind a ship going at speed.
  • The Victory at Sea core/default scenario added.
  • Victory Points added to Advanced Rules.
  • AP removed from torpedoes – they really did not need it. May take an AD off them all as well…
  • Point blank, long and extreme ranges now dependant on actual weapon ranges. ‘Plummeting Shells’ rule adjusted.
  • Some traits can no longer be lost.
  • Vital System Bridge Hit critical can now be repaired (allowing secondary command point to be established).
  • Carriers can now use light guns in bad weather. Destroyers and civilians have their Speed halved.
  • If you didn’t move, you cannot evade torpedoes!
  • Detection with Radar now limited, Advanced Radar trait added.
  • More ‘background’ articles added, along with the Battle of the River Plate scenario.
  • Updated Damage on subs and destroyers for better accuracy.
  • The Italians have arrived!



  • Turning rules now changed.  Much simpler and with the added bonus that they actually make sense! Turn characteristic removed.
  • Torpedoes now have ranges and are different dependant on type.
  • Splitting Fire now incorporates torpedoes on submersibles.
  • Added Lumbering trait, though no ships have it yet.
  • Advanced Rules chapter now added for playtesting. Ignore all rules that are in italics! Brand new Evading Torpedoes rule added.
  • Added rules for Opposed Crew Quality checks.
  • End Phase chapter beefed up with Escalate and compulsory movement rules.



  • Added the AP stat to weapons, re-jigged the dice according to discussions on our forums, increased Damage scores, and lost the AP/Super AP traits.
  • End Phase properly re-jigged for the new rules (simply missed it before, sorry!).
  • Extra damage from critical hits modified to adjust for new Damage scores.
  • Weak weapons only have a restriction on causing critical hits now.
  • Added the Heavy trait.
  • Added the Kreigsmarine fleet list!