Victory at Sea

Last updated 1st October 2008

Victory at Sea is a set of fast play WW2 naval rules from Mongoose Publishing, based on the "A Call to Arms" set of SF starship miniatures rules. VAS serves well as as an introductory set of rules, and has developed quite a following amongst players who otherwise wouldn't be attracted to naval wargaming. As such it serves as an excellent gateway to more mainstream historical naval rules.


Suggested Changes to VAS- Order of Battle

Changes to Original VAS

New VAS Stats

Ship Cards

Destroyer Commander!

General Chase!

Victory on the Rivers


Other VAS Sites


Suggested Changes to VAS- Order of Battle

VAS was joined by a supplement entitled "Order of Battle" (for which I was one of the contrubutors). The link below takes you to a set of suggested changes for OOB which was generated by the OOB Development Team.

Order of Battle Suggested Changes

This should not be confused with the MGP official errata which will hopefully be posted soon.

Changes to Original VAS

The original rules fall a little bit short in some areas of realism. Some of these points were addressed on OOB. The following are a suggested set of amendments that will serve to increase the level of realism, whilst retaining as far as possible the "fast play" nature of the rules. They are intended pprimarily for use by players who have VAS but not "Order of Battle. However, players who have OOB might find some ideas here that would help them too.

I have also included links to other sites of interest to VAS players. They can be found at the bottom of the page.


The rules disallow premeasuring, stating that "Captains and admirals of the Second World War did not have sophisticated fire computers tied into radar and satellite surveillance to rely upon, trusting instead to their own judgement". In fact captaisnand admirals generally DID had sophisticated fire control systems, optical rangefindrs and, in many cases, fire control radar. As a result I would suggest ditching this rule (although only allow measuring to enemy vessels during the gunnery phase).


Ships in VAS turn at far slower rates that their real life counterparts. I am still developing an alternative turning system based on turning circles. In the meantime the following is recommended.



VAS does not have a declared ground scale but the actual scale used in determining gunnery distances was 1" per 1000 yards. The current gunnery system allows firing out to the extreme range of each weapon and in many cases these wrere never achieved in action. To better recreate the limittaions of naval gunnery the following rules are added:

No gun may fire at a target more that 30" away unless the following exceptions apply:

Long range gunnery modifiers do not stack. A firing player can claim a +1 for one of Radar, Improved rangefinders or Spotter aircraft.


Revised Damage

When rolling Damage Dice use the following system to determine damage and whether critical hits are caused:


Line of Sight

There are no LOS limitations in VAS. This can lead to some unusual situations. To counter this, treat LOS as blocked if:

To make things a bit more tricky extend the area blocking LOS by 1" from the model.

All ranges should be measured and LOS judged from a constant point on the models. Common points such as the Bridge or fore funnel are recommended.


Rapid Fire

Rates of fire for 6" and secondary guns were sufficiently high to notably increase their volume of fire in close quarter actions. To reflect this allow 6" guns and secondary batteries a +1 Attack Dice modifier when fring at 10" or less. (a simpler approach is to allow all guns a +1 at 10" or less)


"Weak" Guns

In the current rules guns that are listed as "Weak" cannot cause critical hits. This is OK for hits by small guns against capital ships but is less satisfactory for gunfire against and between smaller vessels. Instead, allow weak 6" guns to cause criticals on hits where they cause damage (see above). They still suffer the -1 Damage Dice penalty. Secondaries are allowed to cause critical hits on any vessel with an Armour value of 2.


Fast Moving Targets

The -1 modifier applied to gunnery against fast moving targets is a good representation of the problems faced by large guns with low rates of fire against fast moving targets. It does however cause a problem for smaller guns designed specifically to deal with these kinds of threats. I suggest you ignore the modifier when firing 8" guns or smaller at fast moving targets. (A simpler approach is to ignore the modifier for fast targets completely).

Also delete the -1 modifier for ships movint at Flank Speed (or better still, delet the "flank speed" action entirely, adding 50% to the maximum speed of a ship designed to travel 30 knots would be nothing short of an engineering miracle!)



Torpedo fire against ships with torpedo side protection systems ("Torpedo Belt" trait) is ahistorically penalised. SPSs did not run the whole length of the ship and were, in many cases, compromised regardless of their design. I suggest the following changes:

1) All ships are treated as having armour of 2 against torpedoes, unless they have the Torpedo Belt" trait.

2) If a ship has the "Torpedo Belt trait this allows it to use its Armour Value against torpedoes or mines.

3) In addition, roll a d6 for each damaging hit

 1 Torpedo hits the bow. Normal damage plus speed reduced by 1
 2-5 Torpedo hits the side. Normal damage only

Torpedo hits the stern. Normal damage, and Roll a d6:

  • 1= props damaged, speed reduced by 1,
  • 6 = steering damaged, turn number reduced by 1.

  • In additon, all ships hit by torpedoes will suffer at least one automatic critical hit, regardless of whether any other damage is taken. This represents the shock effect of the underwater explosion.

    Torpedo Launching

    At present the standard rule appears to be that torpedoes are launched at the same time as guns are fired. This leads to some ahistorial aspects as DDs dash in from long range and launch their fish before receiving fire. In order to make life a bit more risky for destroyers (and everyone else for that matter) torpedo launch and resolution is conducted AFTER all gunnery has been resolved.

    In addition, ships that are "Crippled" cannot launch torpedoes (it is assumed that they are heeling such that the mounts are unusable, or fire control systems are adversely affected).


    Torpedo Tubes

    Torpedo tubes currently cannot be damaged. To recrify this minor error treat torpedo tubes as "Turrets" when assessing weapon critical hits (i.e. critical hit 5 may result in the loss of tubes), and when rolling for turret/trait loss if a ship is crippled.


    Torpedo Reloads

    Torpedo reloads to those surface ships that have them should be restricted to one set of reloads only. It should also be applied to most submarines



    The effects of aircraft ave been deliberately understated in VAS, but to such an extent that aircraft carriers are virtually worthless. In order to redress the balance, increase the number of flights of aircraft in VAS by a factor of 3. For example, a carrier that operates two flights of Swordfish and one of martlets will now operate 6 flights of Swordfish and three flights of Martlets. Other aspects of the rules that relate to flight number sare also increased by the same margin, e.g. carrier launch and recovery rates are tripled, ships can now be attacked by up to nine flights.

    (alternatively multiply aircraft AD by 3 if you do not want the able swamped by aircraft. This and the above have different implications for AAA)


    Fighters vs. Ships

    At present fighters are prevented from making attacks on shipping. However, many fighters werecapable of carrying useful bomb loads. A notable example is the Fw190 that caused serious damage to WARSPITE off Salerno in 1943. Fighters may therefore be used as fighter bombers. If used as such they move in the "bomber" portion of the turn. Dogfight and Target numbers are decreased by 1. Dodge is increased by 1. Fighter bombers have 1 Attack Die and 2DD (if carrying up to 500lb bombs) or 3DD (if carrying 1000lb bombs). They may jettison their bombs at the start of any turn. Once bombs have been dropped or jettisoned they revert to fighter status.


    Aircraft Endurance

    Fighters are blessed with inexhaustable supplies of ammunition in VAS. Tocounter this allow each fighter flight to engage in only two rounds of air to air combat before being forced to break off to refuel and rearm. If engaged in a dogfight by enemy aircraft whilst returning they may return fire, but they may not initiate combat themselves.



    Only aircraft designated as fighters can initate dogfights



    AAA Attack Dice do not need to be allocated to individual flights of aircraft. Attacks can be rolled "en masse" and hits distributed amongst the attacking aircraft as desired. The exception is where aircraft have differing target numbers, where AD can either be allocated by type, or the defending player can opt to take the higher number as applying to all attackers and then distribute hits amongst all types.

    The AAA values do not take into account the Dual Purpose AA guns that armed many Allied (and some Axis) ships. To reflect this, ships that were fitted with Dual Purpose guns can use their Secondary armament AD against attacking aircraft in range. DP guns used for AA fire cannot be used against surface targets in the same turn. Ships in the current rules to which the Dual Purpose rule applies include:



    Aircraft Carrier "Reloads"

    At present, aircraft launched from carriers are "one shot wonders", since there are no formal rules for rearming after recovery. Aircraft handling is a complex subject that could be the subject of a host of specialist rules, but to remain in keeping with the VAS rule system the following is suggested. Each carrier has a set of three boxes representing its aircraft handling state. These are "Refuel", "Rearm" and "Ready". Once a flight has landed it is moved to "Refuel". At the start of the each turn torpedo or bomber aircraft in "Refuel" may be moved to "Rearm", and torpedo or bomber aircraft in "Rearm" may be moved to "Ready". Fighters may move direct from "Refuel" to "Ready". aircraft in "Ready" are available for launch in the current turn. The numbers of flights that can be moved into each box is the twice the carrier's launch / recovery rate.

    A 4th box can also be added, "Hangar". Aircraft in this box are not fuelled or armed (this is a placeholder for future thoughts on this subject).


    Observation aircraft

    Observation aircraft achieve an efficiency and importance in the rules that they never achieved in reality. In order to grant the 1AD attack bonus the aircraft must be within 4" of the target (and thus vulnerable to AA fire). Observation aircraft do not confer bonuses if the target is within 20" of the shooter and the shooter has a line of sight to the target (spotting from the firing ship was generally considered superior). No AD bonus is applied to gunfire over 30". Observation aircraft do not give initiative bonuses.


    Long Range Fire

    The long range gunery modifier given to Kriegsmarine ships is historically questionable and should probably be deleted. However, if you chose to retain it then the following is suggested:


    Critical Hits

    Amend Weapon critical hit 6 to read "No weapons can fire for 1d3 turns, One main turret destroyed. Halve Secondary AD if ship has no main armament". (magazines were generally located under or close to the weapons they served. A magazine explosion would inevitably result in the loss of those weapons)



    Fire, whilst serious, appears to pose a risk only the crew and not to the ship itself. It is suggested that all references to "crew" are deleted and instead fires result in the chance for additional critical hits.

    When making damage control checks to extinguish fires, any natural rolls of 1 result in the possibility of critical damage. Roll 1d6. On a 5+ the ship suffers a critical hit.


    Ships Stat Corrections

    There are a few obvious minor errors in the published ship stats:


    New VAS Stats

    Original Rules







    Spanish - Provided by Achiles:

    Ship Cards

    Some lovely ship cards by John Hill:









    Destroyer Commander!

    I've been tinkering with the VAS system and generated a variant for destroyer actions. This is very much a "work in progress". See the first draft here

    General Chase!

    Another "work in progress", this time covering the Age of Sail. See the latest draft here

    Victory on the Rivers

    VAS for Ironclads, set initially in the American Civil War but recent updates have added European ships so that you can fight out the Lissa campaign and the Franco Prussian War

    Latest draft here


    A draft set of variant rules from Scott Elaurant can be found here. Please note - these are NOT based on the planned "Victory at Sea - Age of Dreadnoughts" rules from MGP (which I'm working on at present)

    Other VAS Sites

    Burger's Ship Viewer - an excellent site wherein you can create your own VAS ship and fleet control sheets.

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