Saganami Island Tactical Simulator
Saganami Island Tactical Simulator Cover Art
|Designer(s)||Ken Burnside, Thomas Pope, David Weber|
|Publisher(s)||Ad Astra Games|
|Players||2 or more|
|Playing time||1.5 to 4 hours|
|Random chance||Dice rolling|
|Skill(s) required||Strategy, Tactics, Mathematics1|
|1 All the tricky math is in rule sidebars and hidden in the play aids, keeping the math required at an elementary school level.|
Saganami Island Tactical Simulator (SITS) is a tabletop wargame set in the Honorverse, a series of military science fiction novels written by David Weber and others and published by Baen Books. The first edition was based on the Attack Vector: Tactical game engine, whereas the second edition featured a rewrite of those rules. Originally published in 2005 by Ad Astra Games, the second edition was published in 2007, and is based on the as yet unreleased Squadron Strike movement engine, which uses whole turn pre-plotted movement, rather than segmented movement and time keeping.
The game was developed in concert with Honorverse author David Weber and is considered canonical to the universe. The game is described, in an in-universe introduction in the rules pamphlet, as an aid issued to Royal Manticoran Navy cadets at the Saganami Island Naval Academy (from which the game gets its name) and is used by cadets at the Academy to prepare themselves for the much more complex computerized simulators. The game, the introduction continues, is also used by Manticoran line officers on active duty starships to wargame, in the military sense, various combat scenarios before engaging in the time-consuming process of programming the ship's simulator.
The game play focuses on single ship or small unit engagements, as shown in the earlier books in the Honorverse series. Players use ships pulled from the Honorverse books, or created by the game designers specifically for the game, in deathmatch-style simulated combat or in scenario gaming, where one side attempts to prevent the other from achieving an objective, such as the protection (or destruction) of a convoy.
The turn sequence has players plotting ship movement by use of grease pencils or eraseable markers on laminated cards; all movements are plotted simultaneously, as are all fire decisions, then are resolved in turn. Effects, if any, of battle damage or damage control efforts are applied after weapons fire is resolved, and the next turn begins.
Gameplay itself resolves completely around ship-to-ship combat. The ships in the game are designed to give players playing the different factions (as of Second Edition players can "command" warships Manticoran, Havenite, Andermani, or Silesian) certain advantages, in line with the advantages each faction enjoys in the Honorverse books. However, each faction enjoys similarly derived disadvantages, as well. For example, a Manticoran battlecruiser is, individually, greatly superior to a Havenite battlecruiser. However, the Havenite vessel, as in the books, carries more powerful warheads on their missiles, and each Manticoran ship is worth significantly more victory points than the Havenite counterpart.
The primary shipboard armament in the game, as is in the books, is the impeller drive missile using bomb-pumped X-ray laser warheads. Salvos of missiles are launched at enemy vessels, and are whittled down by the defenses of the target (abstracted as electronic countermeasures, countermissiles, and point defense laser clusters).
The mechanism for "culling the missiles" abstracts down to three die rolls (one for ECM, one for countermissiles, one for point defense lasers), each one knocking out missiles on their way in; ECM knocks out a percentage of missiles, counter missiles and point defense tell you how many inbounds you shot down.
Whatever makes it past the three layers of defense hits the ship, where a system takes warhead size, target size factor, Defense|sidewall strength and a die roll to determine how much damage the missile does to the target. Each missile that hits has its entry point rolled on a hit location matrix that has the port and starboard sides of the ship on the top and bottom and fore and aft on the left and right sides. Each damage point moves down the row or column of the matrix, identifying what gets hit; the system is marked on the system damage tracks and combat resumes.
The SITS 2nd Edition game scale has one map-printed hexagon at 240,000 km, and one turn as the equivalent of approximately 6 minutes in the universe of the game. An in-game thrust factor of 1 is equivalent to an in-universe acceleration of 190 gravities. The physics of ship movement are Newtonian; that is to say, a ship with a given thrust vector will continue to move at that same vector until thrust is applied again.
There are sidebars throughout the rulebook explaining when the game breaks away from the numbers used in the novels, and why those decisions were made. The first edition game hewed much closer to the numbers given in the books, but did not capture the feel of combat in the books as well.
SITS features several game aids, some developed from Attack Vector: Tactical. First among these is the Attitude/Vector Information Display, or AVID. The AVID is designed to provide a visible reference for each ship's current attitude, planned attitude changes, as well as current velocity in three-dimensional space. In combination with the Range/Angle Lookup Table (RALT) (a chart that runs out the Pythagorean Theorem, color-coding angles of fire to match the color-coded rings of the AVID), doing the spherical trigonometry implicit in a three-dimensional combat environment is greatly simplified.
To simulate 3-dimensional space using a 2-dimensional map, box miniatures (card-stock paper cubes, shipped in sheets with pre-printed ship graphics) are placed on the map, using tilt blocks and stacking tiles to simulate angle and altitude, respectively. Tilt blocks are plastic cubes with wedges cut into them, at angles of 30 degrees for one cut and 60 degrees for the other. This allows any combination of 30 or 60 degree increments in ship flight dynamics—pitch, yaw, and roll—to be depicted using one or two tilt blocks. (Yaw is represented by turning the whole stack of box miniatures, tilt block(s), and any stacking tiles.) Stacking tiles are colored plastic tiles, designed to fit into the bottom of tilt blocks, with different colors representing different numerical values above or below the surface of the map sheet. Signifying altitude "below" a map sheet is done by adding a single black tile to the top of the stack.
Jayne's Intelligence Review
The license under which Saganami Island Tactical Simulator was created has also allowed Ad Astra Games to produce the Jayne's Intelligence Review series of books, which add further depth and detail to the Honorverse. These books are also vetted by David Weber, and are also considered Honorverse canon. The concept of the Jayne's series is loosely based on that of the books by Jane's Information Group, a United Kingdom-based company which provides unclassified reference works on military organizations, technology, and equipment. Each Jayne's guide covers one space navy as seen in the Honorverse books, as well as its attendant marine corps. Released so far have been books covering the Royal Manticoran Navy (including the Royal Manticoran Marine Corps) and the People's Navy (and the People's Marine Corps). Planned future books as of 24 February 2008 will also cover the Grayson Space Navy, the Imperial Andermani Navy, and the Silesian Confederacy Navy. The Jayne's guides and Saganami Island expansions are planned together, so that information in one will be consistent with information in the other.
Ad Astra databooks
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator (2005) ISBN 0-9748797-4-6
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Manticoran Fleet Box 1 (2006) ISBN 0-9748797-5-4
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Havenite Fleet Box 1 (2006) ISBN 0-9748797-6-2
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Andermani Fleet Box 1 (2006) ISBN 1-934153-02-8
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Silesian Fleet Box 1 (2006) ISBN 1-934153-05-2
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Havenite Fleet Box 2 (2010)
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Shipbook 2: Silesian Confederacy (2006) ISBN 0-9748797-7-0
- Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator: Shipbook 3: The Short Victorious War (2010)
- Jayne's Intelligence Review: The Royal Manticoran Navy (2006) ISBN 1-934153-08-7
- Jayne's Intelligence Review: The People's Republican Navy (2007) ISBN 1-934153-09-5
- Honor Harrington: Ships of the Fleet: 2006 (2005) ISBN 0-9748797-2-X
- Honor Harrington: Ships of the Fleet: 2007 (2006) ISBN 0-9748797-9-7