Cruel Seas – Close Quarters Supplement

I have covered Cruel Seas starter set, Strike Fast, Strike Hard, in late september. Earlier this year Warlord Games a supplement for it, Close Quarters.

Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement

This supplement was released as an 68 page softcover and costs 20 GBP. It was written by Dr. John Lambshead, yes, that Dr. John Lamshead, who wrote the Germany Strikes! supplement for the first edition of Bolt Action, as well as the Campaign Sea Lion and Campaign Gigant supplement for the second edition. And of course the book on writing and designing wargames rules, together with Rick Priestley.

Unlike the Bolt Action Supplements, only the core rule book of Cruel Seas covered a special miniature, Close Quarters is released just as it is. So what can we expect from this new addition to the world war 2 naval skirmish?

Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement

New Scenarios
The biggest focus is obviously the 11 new scenarios along with the new scenario generator. These are not limited to a certain area, like the european theatre of war but all over the world, covering battles in the Mediterranean, to the Baltic Seas and Pacific.

Baltic Seas
Scenario 1 - Moshchny Island
Scenario 2 - Someri Island
Scenario 3 - Operation Drosselfang - Battle of Nerva

Lake Ladoga
Scenario 4 - Attack on Sukho Island

Pacific Island
Scenario 5 - The Tokyo Express
Scenario 6 - Barge Hunting
Scenario 7 - Mariveles, Harbour, Corregidor

English Channel
Scenario 8 - Operation Chariot
Scenario 9 - The Granville Raid

Scenario 10 - Battle Squadron
Scenario 11 - Island Cruise

These missions are a mix of convoy missions along with  taking / attacking islands or harbours. Some scenarios are have quite crowded setups, so you'll need either nimble or be careful / slow with your vessels. From my point of view, a good decision, as this stays true to the game. If I wanted vast open spaces on the high sea, I'd go with a different game, for example Victory at Sea. So this moves the small and mid-sized torpedo boats into focus, which fits the game.

And to keep you going beyond that, the scenario generator is quite advanced and broad, in what it covers. So the potential replay- and added value of that chapters alone could be worth the supplement for you.

Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement

New Vessels
As you would expect from a supplement, we do receive new generic ships as well as special units (ships and aircrafts) for Royal Navy, US Navy, Kriegsmarine, Soviet Navy, Imperial Japanese Army & Navy, and Italian Regia Marina. But that's not all, two new navies are included in this book as well, the Finnish Navy and Yugoslav Partisan Fleet.

The generic new units cover an armed de-masted mediterranean schooner and the Kriegsfischcutter, yet the last one is listed with the Germans. It is basically an armed trawler. To give you a brief overview, what new ships your Navies now have access to with Close Quarters. A few examples from each nation listed, where as the Kriegsmarine receives the largest addition;

In addition there are the Q-Ships, decoy vessels, which are regular armed vessels but disguised as (armed) civilian ships, thus making them appear much less harmful or dangerous, so to either bait the enemy or hope that they will ignore them. Interesting aspect of the game, especially with convoy missions or special scenarios. Not something I would use in a regular game.

But that's not all. There a two new navies introduced with this book. On Side of the Axies the Finnish Navy, which was part of the Naval Detachment K. The list covers gunboats, patrol and torpedo boats, and as they received equipment from the Third Reich, a Siebel Ferry.

And on side of the Allies, or better said against the Axis was Tito's private Navy, the Tiger Fleet or Yugoslav Partisan Navy, which was build around former Royal Yugoslavian Navy ships, captured German patrol boats or uparmored civilian ships.

New Rules
Beside the deeper coverage of aviation and submarine rules, an entire new set of rules are the Invasion Rules. We're not talking about D-Day, but things like the island hopping in the Pacifics. And as such, these rules are build around landing on a beach or invading an island or coast. We see landing troops and appropiate landing crafts, along with new coastal defences, from improvised positions to large bunkers incl. sea forts, even covering rules for the Maunsell Sea Forts. Yet for the Maunsell Sea Forts are no specific scenarios included, maybe something to go along the Operation Sea Lion.

The expanded aviation rules provide a lot of new options to the aircrafts and everything flying to the Navies of Cruel Sea. Beside the general rule update, the new profiles for aircrafts of different kinds are quite vast. The longest list of new aircrafts is the one of the US Americans, which isn't a surprise, as they produced for different theatres of war and as such have fighters like the P-47 Thunderbolts or Grumman F4F Wildcats (which I recently built as a Trumpeter kit) or dive bombers like the Douglas SBD Dauntless. The British have a bit fewer addition to their airforces, yet, through lend-lease, a couple of the US build aircrafts saw service within the commonwealth, so feel free to use the profiles as well (for example the F4F Wildcat as Martlets). Yet, the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm has some iconic aircrafts, like the Supermarine Spitfires or de Havilland Mosquitos and even the flying boat Vought OS2U kingfisher. With the Russian navy having well known names like Shturmovik (Ilyushin Il-2) or Tupolev Tu-2 on their list.
On the side of the Axis, the Kriegsmarine has a list, that reads like the who-is-who of any aircraft model builder. Among others, Messerschmitt Bf 109 (in its english Me 109 designation), Junkers Ju-88 and Ju-87 Stuka, as well as the Focke-Wulf Fw200 Condor. On top of that, the Kriegsmarine has access to the German Guided Weapons, the Fritz (Ruhrstahl SD 1400) and Henschel HS 293. The Italians have mostly access to fighters and bombers by Fiat or Savoia-Marchetti, Fiat G.50, Fiat BR.20 Cicogna, SM.79 Sparviero or SM.81. And the Japanese have a brief list of different aircrafts with english first names, along with an update for the Kamiza Rules in the Cruel Seas Rulebook (pages 56-57).

The expanded rules for flying boats / seaplanes are interesting, but to be honest, more like something that you would build a scenario around. Because you have a hybrid, that has access to both rules, boats and aircrafts, including landing and getting back into the air.

As for the Submarines, the intro of that rule subsection stresses that Cruel Seas isn't a submarine hunting game (you would go for a different scale and game mechanics, than a coastal torpedo boat skirmish), yet the Run Silent, Run Deep supplement is available for free, as an alternate approach to this kind of rules. As such these cover the submerging, depth charges, moving while submerged and so on, incl. rules for human torpedos (yes, that is as crazy as it sounds, but beside the japanese vessels not intended as suicidal as it may seem).

Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement Cruel Seas - Close Quarters Supplement

The combined army lists of the main rules and this supplement provide a broad selection, from very elite Royal Navy fleets, to special themed fleets of the US Marines and ragtag fleets of the partisans. What I really like about Cruel Seas and these new rules, how well you can tie them with other rulesets, like Bolt Action. With the invasion rules and extended aviation, you can play an inverse invasion for example for a Dunkirk mission. Or go the other way around for a huge D-Day landing, with followed up Bolt Action battles.

Close Quarters is well done, packs a lot of content, yet at 68 pages and the comparison to other supplements by Warlord Games, first of all the Bolt Action range, a price of 20 GBP seems a bit steep, so maybe 15 GBP would be a more suiting price. Still, the scenarios alone, more precisely the generator adds quite a lot of new game content to Cruel Seas. It makes good use of the scenic battles, with the different resin and plastic kits. But to be honest, if you don't have that much knowledge about naval wargames, I still feel the entry barrier quite high. A lot of of designations are abbreviated or not further explained, at least no as beginner friendly as for example Bolt Action is, and that could be handled better for my taste. Looking up some things on Wikipedia or having a few Osprey books at hand will be helpful. That is one of the reasons, why I added a couple of links into this review, to further explain some of the names (as they sometimes are not self explaining or used multiple times within military context).

Cruel Seas is a brand of Warlord Games. Close Quarters is a supplement and not a stand-alone and as such requires the Cruel Seas main rule book to be used.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

Posted by Dennis B.

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