By Dave Gregory of PT Dockyard ©2000

Published by Last Square, Madison, WI

(Review by Warren Peterson)

"Flaklighter" is a set of miniature rules for recreating World War II coastal naval engagements using 1/600-scale miniatures. They are published as a loose-leaf wire spiral bound booklet. Scales used in the rules are 1 inch of gunfire range for every 50 yards, 1 turn sequence equals 30 seconds, and 1 inch of movement for every 3 knots speed. The game turn sequence consists of:

§ Spotting
§ Movement
§ Torpedo Attack Resolution
§ Depth Charge Attack Resolution
§ Gunfire Attack Resolution
§ Star Shell / Flare Firing
§ Random Event

Spotting is handled as a percentile (0 to 100%) chance based on a number of factors. The factors include weather, range, ship size, ship speed, and amount of daylight. In addition to visual spotting the rules allow for spotting by sound detection and radar.

Movement is straightforward with ship speed determining movement distance and ship turns being governed by a turning radius based on ship size.

Gunfire is based on three general types of weapons. The weapon types are light automatic (machine guns to 20 mm AA), medium automatic (2 pounder pom pom, 37 mm to 40 mm AA) and single load (single fire guns from 37 mm to 6-inch). Fire factors are assigned for each weapon type. Gunfire combat is resolved by totaling fire factors for a weapon type, rolling either a D10 or D20, then cross referencing results on a table to determine hits. Rolling on a damage table then randomizes damage and effects from gunfire. Results of which are recorded on the ship's data sheet.

Torpedo fire is fairly simple. Ships launch torpedoes on a path towards an enemy vessel. Markers are used to represent the path on the tabletop. Torpedo speed and strength are based on the torpedo type. Statistics are provided in the rules for a wide variety of torpedo types. When a torpedo contacts a ship, rolls are made to determine if a detonation occurred then what the results are from the detonation. It is not unusual for torpedoes to miss or to be duds when they hit. However, a hit from a torpedo is usually the end of a ship.

The rules also include procedures for smoke, star shells or flares in nighttime engagements, rockets, depth charges, ramming or collisions, submarines and random events. Optional rules provide for variations on disengagement, vessel identification and friendly fire. Lastly, the rules include a rudimentary aircraft versus ship combat procedure. An appendix to the rules provides a host of information on various ship types from small harbor defense vessels up to destroyers for every nation involved.

What I like about the rule set is its adaptability. Ship statistics can be modified to suit a specific model or a variation of a ship type. In addition, the turn sequence is modifiable to suit personal tastes. I usually like to have the spotting phase following the movement phase, and have the players' plot their ship movements one turn in advance. This tends to make things a little more unpredictable when maneuvering in close proximity to the enemy (or terrain such as islands). The rules can also be modified to allow play on hex-based game table covers.

There are several things I don't like about the rules. One item is the lack of play examples. In my opinion, a detailed description of several turn sequences can assist a player in developing a good picture of the game's flow and help answer rule questions or nuances. In addition, the provided ship data needs to be evaluated in regards to a specific model and its armament. Although the data is easy to modify, the player needs to be sure the data accurately reflects the model on the tabletop. There are no scenarios provided in the rules, no information on model basing, painting or naval flotilla organization to help a player select or organize his forces. A helpful addition to the rules would be a brief description of the ship type with a silhouette or photo. This would enable a player to better select his forces and plan a scenario.

Overall, I would recommend the rule set to anyone who enjoys World War II coastal action.