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Cod War - Tactical Rules

The rules were written with 1/1200 scale models in mind. Double all distances if 1/600 scale models are used. 1/3000 scale miniatures could be used, but the visual appeal of the larger models will be lost and, after al, the key feature of the events of the Cod Wars was VERY close manoeuvring!

The rules work best if one player controls only a single ship. If the appeal of driving a trawler for the game is limited it is suggested that the RN players control no moiré than one warship and one trawler. A typical scenario would include 1 or 2 warships, 2 to 4 trawlers and one or two Icelandic gunboats. There are bother opportunities for scenarios – see the end of the rules.

The rules suit a table at least 6 feet by 4 feet. If a smaller table is used then I suggest using centimetres instead of inches. All die rolls use one or two 6-sided dice (referred to as d6).


Ships are essentially grouped into 4 classes; Warships, Small Warships (the only Small Warship deployed was HMS Exmouth, a trials vessel fitted with gas turbines), Icelandic Coast Guard Vessels (referred to hereafter as ICGV) and Trawlers (which can be side trawlers or the less common stern trawlers)


If two or more players on a side are attempting to co-ordinate their activities they must speak clearly to each other, giving the opposition a chance to hear them (communication between ships in these close situations tended to be via VHF in the clear, which anyone with a receiver could hear). Pre-game “team talks” to agree tactics are OK – but not once the action has started.

Players may also declare their intentions to the opposition, in terms of the following signals:

  • Turning to Port

  • Turning to Starboard

  • Going astern

These signals were typically given using the ship’s siren (e.g. 3 blasts means “I am going astern”). If a player declares an intention in this manner their vessel MUST comply with that intention in the movement for that turn (to do otherwise would be a serious contravention of the maritime “rules of the road” and was definitely bad form!)


Ships move at 1” per knot of speed. Ships may increase or decrease speed as follows:



3 knots

3 knots

2 knots

3 knots

5 knots

5 knots

Propulsion Diesels Steam Turbines Gas Turbines

Ships may move astern at up to 5 knots, but must decelerate to a stop and spend one turn stationary when changing from ahead to astern or vice versa. Trawlers must continue to make headway at all times whilst nets are deployed.

Orders for movement must be written in advance using a recognisable notation. For example a ship doing 20 knots might be ordered thus:

5, P(4)3, 2

meaning ahead 5”, turn to Port using turning circle 4, turning 3” around the circle, then go ahead 2”. Orders are written in secret and are written individually – no collusion between players is allowed during order writing (see above).

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