SOPAC Rule Corrections/Clarifications/Enhancements

This is my personal collection of rule corrections, clarifications, and enhancements for the Second World War at Sea Series Rules by Avalanche Press (particularly for the SOPAC game). I want this to be a comprehensive list, so I have included data from other sources. I have tried to note the source of the information with the following keys:

Don't forget to visit my main SOPAC page here.

I will now list each section in the original manual that I feel need clarification.

Overall Comments

[AP] "Major ports have an anchor symbol inside a circle with a different-colored circumference. Minor ports have an anchor symbol in a circle whose edge does not differ in color from the rest of it.

3.0 Prepare for Play

5.0 Naval Operations

5.2 Plotting Movement

5.27 Combat Effects

[Enhancement] Should you be able to leave ships that suffered a speed loss during combat behind after combat has ended? In other words, can the main task force continue without interruption after leaving the speed-loss ships behind in a new task force? Section 6.46 Exiting the Map says that all ships that exit the map during battle go into a new task force. One could argue that the wounded ships would eventually exit the map if the battle lasted long enough. In addition, section 6.48 Concluding Combat allows remaining task forces to exchange ships. Surely if you can exchange ships, you could also leave wounded ships behind when reforming after combat?

An intercept mission can re-plot movement after combat, so they could do this split first thing before their next move. But, this capability would really matter when you want to do a pursuit with the healthy ships and leave the slow ships behind (because ships with reduced speed would pretty much prevent the group from pursuing).

This could also affect transport and bombard missions. They can't be split at all, so one ship with a speed loss or that is dead in the water could significantly slow down these missions. If they could choose to leave their damaged ships behind, they could at least press on with their original schedule, albiet without some of the ships (who would presumably abort to port).

In addition, maybe you should be able to split off some healthy ships to protect the damaged ships? Let us say your "intercept" task force has a speed of 2+, and you catch a transport group, with a speed of 1+, and then, let's say, a group of light cruisers and destroyers with a speed of 3 escape the battle, is it not logical to think that the attacker will split off his slower 2+ guys (like maybe the BB's), if he wants to be able to catch the group that escaped?

5.28 Pursuit

5.7 Contact

5.77 Automatic Contact

[AP] The rules say that "Contact always occurs between all task forces that remain in a port and all opposing task forces that enter that port zone and desire combat." If the entering task force does not desire combat, a normal check for contact is performed. If, on the next turn, both task forces remain in port, contact automatically occurs. If, however, one task force leaves port, no check for contact is done (as you must enter a zone that contained an enemy task force (5.7 Contact)).

6.0 Surface Combat

6.3 Set Up

6.31 Stacking Limitations

6.33 Placement

[AP] The rules say "When all dark blue hexes are filled and ships remain unplaced, place them in the three light blue hexes adjacent to the three dark blue hexes..." By "filled" it means that each of the three hexes must have 12 ships each.

6.4

6.46 Exiting the Map

[AP] I had no problems with this section until I read the Bomb Alley scenario book. It talks about crossing a minefield (placed on zone boundries on the strategic map) when exiting the map during combat. It turns out that when you exit the map, your new task force goes into a different sea zone in the direction that you exited.

6.5 Gunnery Combat

6.53 Gunnery Restrictions

6.54 Reductions to Gunfire

[Grognard] "A ship which engages multiple targets using its different fire values may be the first ship to fire against one target and a subsequent ship to fire against another. However if a ship uses two or more of its different fire values against the same target then it must either fire as the first firing ship or as a subsequent firing ship with all of its fire values, not both."

6.55 Gunnery Hits

[Grognard] "The maximum modifier that can be applied to the die roll is +1 regardless if there is more than one modifier which applies to a ship's gunnery factors during firing."

6.6 Torpedo Combat

6.61 Torpedo Restrictions

[AP] Torpedoes may be launched through hexes containing friendly and/or enemy ships.

6.63 Hits

[Grognard] "The maximum modifier that can be applied to the die roll is +1 regardless if there is more than one modifier which applies to a ship's torpedo factor during firing."

7.0 Ship Damage

7.7 Movement and Flotation Damage

7.71 Speed Loss

[Grognard] "This speed level reduction occurs only once in the game as soon as the ship has lost more than half of its hull boxes. There is no further speed level loss if further hull boxes are lost later on in the game. This speed level reduction is in addition to those which occur from hit results on both the Torpedo and Gunnery Damage Tables. Note that it is indeed possible for a ship to receive a two level reduction in speed if an eleven is rolled on either table, one level for the damage result and one level if the number of loss hull boxes becomes more than half as a result of the hit."

7.8 Aircraft Carriers

There is some grammatical problems in this section that makes it difficult to understand. It appears that the flight deck damage on the carrier is in addition to regular damage, but only applies if a hit on a primary or secondary gun is achieved.

In other words, if a secondary gun is hit on an aircraft carrier, it loses a tertiary or AA (since it has no secondaries), and also a flight deck box.

My assumptions have proven to be correct as this section has been reworded in the Bomb Alley version of the series rules.

8.0 Damaged Ships

8.2 Carrier Operations

[Enhancement] According to the Avalanche FAQ, aircraft on patrol (ASW, Search, CAP) that can no longer land at their base (reduced capacity or sunk carrier) can land at any other legal base within range. But, what is the range? If some CAP fighters with a value of 17/1 have been on CAP for three turns, and their carrier is sunk, can they fly 17 zones to land? It seems a bit unrealistic. I don't know how long aircraft stayed in the air on these patrols in real life (i.e. did they land and refuel?), but it seems there should maybe be a range penalty (i.e. range is reduced by 4 for each turn it was in the air). You may want to consider this as an optional rule. According to Avalanche Press, the rule is accurate even if it is over-simplified.

8.24 Exploding Aircraft

[AP] No steps of aircraft are actually lost because of this rule.

9.0 Special Rules

9.1 Shore Bombardment

9.13 Ammunition

I wondered why the first round of combat would be affected by a bombard mision, but then I saw this: "Ships on bombardment missions tended to have bombardment ammunition already loaded to save time. If they ran into opposition they fired it out. And once they ran into a fight of any size, very few commanders would try to continue on with a bombardment mission."

[AP] If a task force on a bombardment mission does engage in combat, it must abort and return to a friendly port for three turns before starting a new mission (or trying the bombardment again). It can not switch to an intercept mission.

9.3 Torpedo Special Rules

9.32 Torpedo Reloads

[Grognard] "If a ship receives a torpedo mount hit while in the process of reloading then the torpedo mount is destroyed, the hit is not ignored just because there are no torpedoes in the tubes."

9.34 Reductions

[Grognard] "Allied ships which are with the Americans in the scenarios (i.e. the Australians) do not suffer a reduction in their torpedo factors."

[Pending] The rules say that all American ships prior to Sept 1943 should have their torpedo factors quartered. But, since the entire game of SOPAC takes place before this time, do the markers and data sheets already reflect this reduction? My initial answer from Avalanche Press seems to indicate that the torpedo factors DO need to be quartered... but I assume you at least get to round up. I confirmed this with them and it is indeed correct.

9.5 Cargo

9.51 Cargo Capacity

[Enhancement] In Bomb Alley, large transports have a cargo capacity of three. Maybe this should apply to SOPAC?

9.53 Loading and Unloading

[Kirk] It appears to take three turns period when in port to load/unload. If a ship is destroyed before these turns are complete, I assume all cargo is lost (i.e. no victory points)?

10.0 Air Operations

10.5 Air Missions

10.54 Mission Assignments

10.6 Air Movement

10.62 Carrier Security

[AP] Although players are not required to reveal the location of a carrier, if they choose to do an ASW patrol, they must show its point of origin. This would reveal to the other player that a carrier is present in that sea zone.

10.8 Combat Air Patrol

[Enhancement] The range of CAP in the Bomb Alley game has been simplified to just two zones regardless of the range of the aircraft on CAP. It's up to you which method you prefer.

10.84 Sweeps

[AP] Assuming a sweep mission has targeted an airfield or carrier with CAP in the air, does the CAP still roll for intercept in addition to the sweep player rolling for intercept? If so, I assume this means the CAP player does not know it is a sweep mission until after he intercepts (which would make sense in general). Answer from AP: "That's right; one reason you use this mission is to bait the CAP into coming after it."

10.9 ASW Patrol

10.92 Hunter Killer

11.0 Air Search

11.1 Procedure

11.3 Interception

12.0 Air to Air Combat

12.1 Procedure

13.0 Air Strikes

13.1 Restrictions

[AP] The official answer is that a task force must be sighted by search aircraft as communications were not good enough for sub sightings or sightings by other task forces (i.e. an attack the previous turn) to be usable.

13.2 Target Location

I had previously sent a question to Avalanche about target location and CAP, and this is what they said:

Locating a fleet and being intercepted by CAP are actually two separate issues. Planes on a Strike mission only fight CAP if the CAP makes a successful interception dieroll (whether the strike planes locate the fleet or not). The Strike planes make a separate dieroll to see if they locate the fleet.

But after re-reading the rules, it says:

If the flight fails to find the target, the attack is aborted (the bombs are discarded), no air-to-air combat occurs...

Maybe they meant to say "no combat occurs"? Well, somebody else replied to my same question ("If some planes go on an attack mission to a suface group that has CAP, but they do not locate the target, do they still have to fight the CAP?") with an answer of "NO". So, I don't know which way it is supposed to be.

My last email from Avalanche Press says "The CAP still gets a chance to fight the strike."

13.3 Naval Strikes

13.34 Anti-Aircraft

13.35 Strike Resolution

[Grognard] "The reference to the Naval Strike Table is incorrect, there is no such table. Instead the reference should be to the Bombing and Air-Launched Torpedo Modifier Table."

13.4 Port Strikes

13.5 Land Strikes

14.0 Salvage

16.0 Submarines

16.3 Submarine Contact

16.31 Procedure

[Kirk] What happens if a task force has only carriers and a sub rolls a 10 or an 11? I guess it just sucks to be you, since a 10 means you can attack something like a DD, but there aren't any.

16.33 Submarine Recon

[Enhancement] I allow sub-contacts to "spot" TF's for air strikes, however, since the sub-spot happens after air strike plotting, a spot can only affect air strikes on the subsequent turn, so air strikes don't get the +1 for target spotted as it was not spotted this turn. Effectively, the sub does spot the task force, but it only lasts one turn (the next turn) and you never get a +1 for it. This represents the delay the information would encounter. According to Avalanche, this type of communication wasn't possible (i.e. a sub accurately reporting the position of a task force within 4-8 hours of spotting it).

16.4 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)

[Grognard] "The ASW Modifier Table is only used against subs which are attacking the task force. It is not used against subs which are attacked by wandering ASW patrol planes as in Rule 10.92."

16.5 Submarine Attack

[Enhancement] In the Bomb Alley rules, a torpedo hits on a 5+. Is this appropriate for SOPAC? I don't know... but considering all US subs get a -1 in SOPAC, they can't hit by the rules unless they are attacking an extra-large target or non-moving target. I kind of think that a 5+ should be for the Japanese and a 6 for Americans.