I’d like to talk a little about the new Naval Display that will appear in Next War: Taiwan (NWT) and some of the changes in the naval rules that go along with the situation presented by moving the series into the realm of major amphibious operations because, well, Taiwain is an island!
As you can see from the above, there’s quite the change from the simple At Sea and In Shore Boxes which appeared in Next War: Korea (NWK) although those elements are still present. The At Sea Box can now either be an actual box, as in NWK, or the entire Sea Zone (as shown above). Looking closely, you can also see large red/blue hexes in some At Sea Boxes/Sea Zones. These represent Land Areas which are operationally or strategically important, but which aren’t large enough to represent either on the main map or with maps of their own. In these cases, other than Penghu (in the Taiwan Straits), they represent collections of islands. Rules for how to move to those Land Areas are, of course, included, but you can also see that some are marked on the map, i.e., Helicopter movement (both Attack Helicopter and Airmobile) to various Land Areas and Airmobile/Paradrop into Penghu). All Land Areas can always be Amphibiously Assaulted from the associated In Shore Box. One other nuance about Land Areas before we move on: both players must undergo Clearing Operations to take control of a Land Area.
Because of the nature of the operational and strategic situation within the game, the naval rules from NWK simply weren’t going to cut it. They were far too abstract, and, furthermore, there was no way players could really interact with each other’s naval units. Since control of the sea lines of communication is important in this situation, that needed to be reflected in the rules. So, there’s a major overhaul of how both Sea Control and Contested Sea Movement work.
Rather than a sliding scale which gradually moves towards U.S. control of the sea, Sea Control is fixed scale with multiple Die Roll Modifiers (DRMs) which can affect it. As a side note, because the Next War Series is primarily a game focused on land warfare, individual ships are not depicted in the game. In keeping with this level of abstraction, submarines and ASW assets, which are arguably critical to control of the sea, are abstracted out into tracks which fluctuate due to in-game events such as the arrival of naval reinforcements or the destruction of Ports. Some of the things which can affect Sea Control, as DRMs, are the Submarine Threat Level, the ASW Level, the presence of naval units (friendly of enemy), Air Superiority Level, and, for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), whether or not they elect to expend a Cruise Missile point (which represents their Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities).
Contested Sea Movement didn’t change as drastically as Sea Control, but there are some changes. For instance, in the Advanced Game, rather than simply Aborting a movement on a poor die roll, players have the option of continuing the move but taking a Strike 1 or Strike 2 (depending on how bad the roll is) marker on the naval unit. This represents a hard choice since three Strikes and you’re out! The naval unit is removed to the Game Turn track several turns ahead and your opponent scores Victory Points. In addition, embarked units on an AMPH are subject to step losses when the AMPH takes a Strike hit.
To expand on the above, Naval Units are now subject to Air and Cruise Missile Strikes as well as Naval Surface Combat, and there are a whole new slew of rules to cover the various interactions including Point and Area Detection, Naval Air Units conducting Air Strikes vs. Naval Units, Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) effects, and more.
Hopefully, as you can see, the new rules allow players to game the effects of the naval situation without an overburdening of detail. Much of it remains abstract, but the important parts are present and players can interact with them within the confines of the known sub-systems albeit a bit altered.