Naval Thunder Overview

Naval Thunder a series of naval wargames from Steel Dreadnought Games.  Various versions of the game allow you to play out World War II, World War I, or pre-dreadnought naval battles, using a very similar underlying core engine tweaked according to the period you are playing. 

Naval Thunder is played on an open tabletop (no squares or hexes) and uses ten-sided dice for all die rolls. It has a straightforward turn order consisting of movement, shooting, and end phases.


The Movement Phase

The movment phase is broken down into three steps: battleship movement, cruiser movement, and destroyer movement. Heavier ships move first, allowing smaller ships to see and react to the movement of their larger cousins. Movement is handled simultaneously based on movement orders that are pre-written each turn. Allowing all players to do their movement simultaneously speeds up the game and forces your opponents to try to predict your actions, just as the real admirals had to.

 For those who don't like writing movement orders, two optional movement systems are provided.



 The Shooting Phase

 The shooting phase is broken down into four steps. Again there is a battleship shooting, cruiser shooting, and destroyer shooting step that usually corresponds to the ship's movement step.  The movement and shooting steps a ship is assigned to are clearly indicated on the data card.  

Damage takes effect at the end of each shooting step. Consequently, heavier ships have a chance to damage lighter ships before they can fire. One effect of this approach is that the secondary batteries on capital ships are actually useful (but not too useful) in beating off attacks by destroyers.

The fourth shooting step is the torpedo resolution step where torpedo attacks declared in all of the three prior shooting steps are resolved simultaneously.

The shooting and damage resolution process in Naval Thunder is fast, but full of naval flavor. You will get a real feeling of unleashing powerful broadsides at your opponent. In brief, each ship is assigned a base target number based on its type (battleship, battlecruiser, heavy cruiser, etc.). To this base are added modifiers for range, rate of fire (if you're close enough for it to matter), evasive maneuvers (yours or your targets) and so on.  

With only a couple exceptions, all the modifiers are just added to the base number (instead of subtracting or otherwise modifying). This makes it very easy to add up what you need to hit - usually taking only a second or two. Then you roll one d10 to hit with each of the guns you are shooting (there are no abstract attack dice or tables in Naval Thunder).  Any shell that equals or exceeds the modified target number is a hit!

For each shell that hits, you then roll to penetrate the target's armor. Each gun has a base penetration value which is modified for range and added to the d10 roll. The total is compared against the target's armor value as shown on its data card.

If you beat the target's armor value, you do full damage, plus possibly some additonal damage in the form of knocking out turrets, starting fires, causing flooding, and much more. . . including the ever popular magazine hit. (Boom!) If you don't penetrate, you do reduced damage and no special damage.

Some guns are small enough compared to the target's armor value that they do no hull damage at all. You can shoot all the 5" shells you like at a battleship, but you will never sink it. These weapons can still be used to savage your opponent's superstructure, wiping out bridge personnel, secondary batteries, starting fires, and so forth.

The shooting/damage resolution process is extremely fast.  Resolving the attacks for all of a battleship's weapons, takes only seconds.  However, Naval Thunder doesn't sacrifice detail for its speed of play.  As the game progresses, ships suffer incremental damage to specific turrets, bridge hits, rudder jams, fires, flooding, and much more.  But record keeping is easy and the pace of play never slackens.


 The End Phase

 During the end phase you make damage control checks to put out fires, contain flooding, free rudders and so forth. You also make command checks for heavily damaged and/or isolated ships to see if they decide to/are ordered to return to base. 


Aircraft & Submarines

 Rules for aircraft (WW2) and submarines are seamlessly integrated into the Naval Thunder core game. Just as in real life, aircraft are a potent but brittle weapon that can shape the outcome of naval engagements. Submarines are a constant danger and you must carefully screen your capital ships with your destroyers to prevent unpleasant surprises.


The Options 

One of the ways Naval Thunder is unique is that it is a very flexible system that can appeal to naval newcomers and salty veterans alike.  In addition to the very easy to learn basic game you get a host of optional rules for adding layers of detail. A few examples from the World War II version (Naval Thunder: Battleship Row) of the game include: faulty magnetic exploders on US torpedoes, poor late-war Japanese damage control, crew quality modifiers, US friendly fire during night battles, land-based aircraft, smoke screens... it's all there and much more.

 Best of all, nearly every option is completely modular. You pick and choose exactly how detailed you want Naval Thunder to be, and the rules allow you to go there. By adding additional layers of detail to the game, even single ship duels can be thrilling engagements.

There are options for going the othe way as well. Want to run Leyte Gulf with your buddies on a Saturday? No problem. Optional rules allow you to expand your scope of control to encompass an entire battlefleet... for those days when a handful of capital ships and their escorts on each side are just not enough!


Why You Should Buy Right Now!  

The number one reaction of people who play Naval Thunder for the first time is to say, "Wow!  This is really a lot of fun!"  Visit our Testimonials page to see what some of our other customers have said.

The games come with data cards for virtually every combatant of the two navies contained in each core rules product.  The ship data is thoroughly researched and painstakingly generated from detailed technical information on the actual historical vessels. . . but we did all the work so you don't have to. You get to experience the thrill of naval combat in a fast paced and exciting game and know that the results of your decisions are a pretty close representation of how it would have worked out historically.  With Naval Thunder your focus is on commanding your fleet, instead of math and rules.

Steel Dreadnought Games is a labor of love. All our games are meticulously researched and crafted. We design, develop, playest, redesign, playtest, redesign, clarify, playtest, etc. etc. etc. until the rules are just right. There are no rushed production schedules or horrible editing oversights.  At Steel Dreadnought Games we know that quality is important to our customers.  Nothing goes out the door until its right and the rules are written to be very clear and unambiguous.

Get yourself a copy of one of our Naval Thunder wargames, and experience the thrill of naval miniatures combat as never before.  Are you ready for the most fun naval wargame you will ever play?