My Thoughts On Salvo! Denmark Strait

Alright, so as it turns out, Salvo also has an expansion, though dealing with the Battle of Denmark Strait. However, I’m gonna go away from the norm of how I play games and instead tell you an experience that I had. For the first time, I played a solo game with a pencil and paper.

Playing without the trusty computer to do calculations and automated die rolls was extremely different, to a satisfying degree. It helped that the game I picked, Salvo, was a quick and easy game that I could play while waiting for my D&D session to begin. Though no one managed to ask me what I was playing so I could plug the game.

Salvo: Denmark Strait is a pretty okay expansion, based off the Battle for Denmark Strait. You get one new German ship (Prinz Eugen) and four new British ships (Suffolk, Rodney, Norfolk, and King George V). The game is not that much the same, though instead of descriptors to say how far away both ships are, it now instead uses Relative Range. So if a ship is four ranges away from another ship, they are at Relative Range 4.

Now, personally, I find the other way of determining range to be more effective, but I can understand where they’re going with this. The system’s no different to how it’s done in Battle over Britain, where a similar thing is done with Range Indexes.

Functionally, Salvo: Denmark Strait plays exactly like Salvo except for that change of how range is done. What sets it apart from the original Salvo, it seems, is that you play two on two instead of one on one. This makes for a pretty interesting way to play the game.

AI is roughly the same as before, though with the added concept that they’ll always focus on the closest ship when it’s time to run away or close in. I like that as well.

For my pen and paper session, I played Hood vs. Bismarck. Not for any historical merit, but because they shared the same gun size, which is actually a huge decider for some mechanics in the game, as ships with smaller guns will tend to run away from ships more and it also determines how far they can shoot. I figured I’d play an even ground.

For a good chunk of the game, I chose to close into my enemy and firing at close range, since there’s a good bonus for firing at close range. However, then I realized I had to input a lot of modifiers. These are stuff like if the weather is misty, if the target got straddled one turn ago, etcetera.

But that’s just to hit. Salvo runs on a “roll to hit, roll for damage” system, much like D&D. Hitting is easy if the modifiers are right. It’s damaging that gets tricky. Okay, so the modifiers are as follows:

  • You roll three six-sided dice.
  • You have to subtract the armor of the ship.
  • Add the points of the guns on your ship depending on what side you’re on.
  • Add points depending on how close to the ship you are.
  • Subtract any damage you had on your turrets and then subtract one if you have eight inch guns.

In a fast paced game, this can be a lot. Especially when you need to add up the points. There’s so much to keep track of, and then when you finally damage your target, you also have to keep track of how damaged they are. There’s a heavy amount of note taking to take in this game, so while I did a good job at playing on paper and pencil, the rushed pace I set it to made it pretty much a hassle, to the point where I just threw up my arms and accepted any and all dice that rolled close to fifteen, which is one of two critical spaces. Oh, right. There’s two types of criticals: Special Damages and Critical Hits.

So yeah, I didn’t have as good as a time playing Salvo’s Denmark expedition as I did with the sister game Battle over Britain, which, while I also flub a bit on the rules, had that fast pace that gets so fast that I don’t even bother to give a turn by turn commentary and instead just say who died.

However, I believe it’s because of how I played the game. It was thirty minutes until my group began their D&D session, so I didn’t have as much time as Minden would recommend me to play Salvo. That said, it also might be because I only took brief notes instead of going more in-depth.

In a way, the two games play out like the vehicles they’re based around. Battle over Britain is fast paced and typically does cool things much like an airplane whereas Salvo is slow and needs heavy maintenance like how a ship needs to be crewed during its lengthy expeditions.

So I figured I’ll give Salvo a more paced out Solo Wargame Voyage. In fact, it’ll be the first pure wargame that I’ll break out the variation rules for Mythic GM Emulator (as described by Solo Nexus) and describe turn-by-turn. Our scenario is the one suggested by Salvo: The Battle of Denmark Strait.

However, before we end this, I want to give a shout out to a reviewer. If it weren’t for him, I probably would have still been reading the rules for Battle over Britain rather than outright playing it. His name is marcowargamer and he reviews war games. He managed to review both Battle over Britain and Salvo while explaining the rules in a more simplistic way, thus allowing me to understand a bit of how to play and grasp the rules for myself.

However, a special mention goes to his Salvo review. When he gets to explain how the game is played, he shows us a paper he has, which acts as both a cheat sheet and a sort of progress sheet. You have all the necessary info you need all in one page and then for stuff like current range or weather, you have a list and a coin next to the current range/weather.

Check him out, he is amazing and best part is that he’s still doing videos, so you can even subscribe to him if you like. I will definitely take some inspiration from him and make my own sheet. Well, I’ll work on this battle for a while. Bon Voyage, Gamers!

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