This is one series that I really like, and played 2nd Fleet most of all. The modern operational naval gaming world is really dominated by computer games, especially the Harpoon family and to a lesser extent Jane's Fleet Command, but Joe Balkoski's Fleet series remains a favorite from the Victory line.

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I was a latecomer to this series. I had heard of it, of course, since the 1980's but never actually played any of the games until about 2 years ago (Sixth Fleet). Wish I hadn't waited so long, because it's a great game.

I've been trying to bag a copy of 7th Fleet from Ebay, for a reasonable price, but no luck so far. I suppose that 2nd Fleet would present some interesting scenarios as well.

I haven't played any of the series games other than Sixth Fleet, but I'm told that the rules vary considerably from game to game, which I'm not too thrilled to hear. I mean, the beauty of a series like this is that you don't have to re-learn the system with each new game.

Are there, in fact, significant differences in the basic rules for each game in the series?

With Joe Balkoski's systems, especially the Fleet series and the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War, he reexamines everything. There are major differences in combat resolution, even aircraft basing from Fleet game to Fleet game. For example, in the later ones land-based aircraft can't rebase. The basic flow and the most essential systems remain the same, but the implementation evolves over time.
This series was one of my favorites for many years and I wouldn't mind playing them again after several years of not playing them. There are many significant differences among the five games, though as James said, the basic scales are identical and the basic system is essentially the same. The biggest difference in rules is between 6th to the others. In 2nd and all later games, detection can be strategic (removed maybe at the end of the day) or local (may be removed at the end of the turn); combat is d10 instead of d6. Subs become harder to detect and sink as the series goes on, and become more effective attackers in 3rd as well. Land-based aircraft can always rebase in all the games, but they suffer such long delays before they can reactivate that rebasing is pointless except in a long campaign game.

I wrote a detailed list of all the differences among 7th, 5th, and 3rd which can be found on under 7th Fleet. It omitted 6th and 2nd since they were not used in the WBC "5th" Fleet tournament for several years while the others were. If you have access to The Boardgamer and Old Soldiers you can find articles I wrote on the strategies of all the short scenarios for 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet. An old General also has an article of mine on general strategy and tactics of 7th Fleet that applies nearly just as well to the other games of the series.


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