War games that simulate naval battles typically involve at least two players, models, lots of time and complicated rules covering everything from engines to guns. For a solo player, handling large battles and lots of rules bogs down play, especially if the gamer is using war game rules designed for two players, because he must play all the sides. Instead of adapting a game for solo play, try one of these solo naval war games.
Minden Game's SALVO!'s elevator pitch is "A game system emphasising historicity, simplicity, and fun for solitaire naval gamers." During play the gamer plays one or more warships, while the game's system controls the other side. SALVO!'s small size allows an entire battle on a tabletop. The primary game includes ten World War II boats and basic rules. The Advanced, Pacific and Mediterranean rule add-ons include more ships and rules for players that want to expand the game's scope. Set up takes about one minute, and a game plays out in about ten minutes.
The Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame
The Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame was originally designed to reflect and simulate the lessons learnt during World War I naval battles, but the update adds rules that take the game into the World War II era. Many war game rules use dice to determine gun hits, which slows down play and holds successful tactics hostage to randomness. To avoid rolling lots of dice, the player scores a hit when an opponent boat falls within an estimated firing range represented by a cardboard playing piece. The game scales from solo play, using the included optional dice rules for controlling the enemy, to as many as 60 players.
Brien J. Miller's Silent War works best for solo play, but two players can use the rules for a head-to-head game. The game simulates the World War II submarine war against Imperial Japan. The player takes the role of the Commander Submarines, US Pacific Fleet and controls subs during single encounters or longer campaigns. A single sub patrol scenario takes only ten minutes to play, but a campaign may take as long as ten hours. The game includes counters for every sub deployed in the Pacific during World War II, and the map spans from the Aleutians to Australia. The system is expansive and includes rules for torpedo improvement, submarine repair and readiness, war progress, patrol and search, wolf packs, and merchant shipping.