Atlantic Storm: description of play

Ben Knight

Staff member
Oct 16, 2017
Maryland, USA
Atlantic Storm is a multiplayer, competitive card game about the Battle of the Atlantic from 1940-1943. The Admiral’s Edition also includes rules for solitaire play, but I will explain that in a different thread.

The game contains two card decks: Force Deck, and Convoy Deck. The Force Deck comprises warships, submarines, aircraft, and event cards from both sides (Allied and Axis). Each player has a hand of cards drawn from this deck, so typically a player has a mix of Allied and Axis cards in hand. Force cards have three combat values: air combat, surface combat, and sub combat. For example, U-552 (Erich Topp) has combat values of 0 air, 1 surface, and 3 sub.

The Convoy Deck comprises merchant convoys. Each convoy is defined by its historical designation, size, the year it sailed, and what ocean it crossed (North Atlantic or Arctic). A convoy is the centerpiece of each “battle”—it provides the setting for the combat.

A battle consists of one round of play and always begins with the round leader. (The round leader shifts from one player to the next each turn, so everyone is round leader several times during the game.) The round leader draws two convoys from the Convoy Deck, picks one for the battle and discards the other from the game. The round leader then calls the “suit” for that battle: air, surface, sub, or combined. The suit determines what combat values are used to resolve that battle. The “combined” suit means you add all three combat values together.

Each player, starting with the round leader, gets to play one card into that battle (some circumstances or card effects allow you to play more than one card). If you choose not to play, you must discard. You may play on either side of the fight, Allied or Axis. However, every force card has designations for the years it can be played, and what ocean(s) it can be played in. The convoy determines the ocean and year of the battle, so this can limit which cards in your hand are playable.

After everyone has played or discarded, you compare the total combat value of each side to determine which side wins the battle. The cards on the losing side are defeated and become the “spoils” along with the convoy card. The person who had the strongest play on the winning side then divides the spoils between himself and each person who played on the winning side in that battle.

After dividing the spoils, the players refill their hands with force cards, and the next person in line becomes the round leader for the new round. The above process is repeated until the Convoy Draw Pile is empty.
Collecting spoils is how you gain victory points. Each convoy and force card is worth a certain amount of points. After the final battle is over, the players count up the points they have earned in spoils, and the person with the most points wins the game.

As you might guess, there is much uncertainty in every battle, so table talk is encouraged. Everyone’s plays are face-up, so you can see what has been committed to a battle, but you don’t know what the players going after you in the round will do. Furthermore, some combat values are determined by a die roll, and those rolls don’t happen until everyone plays. Do you tip the battle toward one side or the other? If one side is ahead, do you join it, or do you convince the players going after you to help you fight against that side? Who seems to have the most spoils already, and should you support that player or will supporting him only put you further behind? Do you commit your best force to this battle, or do you save that force for another battle?

Certain force cards are “victims of fate”—they are immediately destroyed if someone else plays the fated card against them during that round. Playing such a card can be risky. For example, if you play the Hood, a person going after you in the round could play the Bismarck and claim “fate” against the Hood. That person would immediately grab the Hood as a spoil, and you no longer have a play in that battle.

Experienced players study the cards and learn how to minimize such risks. For instance, the Bismarck is not playable until 1941, so the Hood could be played in a 1940 battle without fear of being victimized. Experienced players also keep track of what cards have been played, so if you saw the Bismarck get played in an earlier round, you know the Hood is not currently at risk of being fated. In short, the more you study the cards and watch the card plays, and the more you know about the Battle of the Atlantic, the better you will do in the game.

I hope this description inspires you to try it out!

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