The Lost Admiral
Your first order of the day is to create a new Officer as your player alter-ego. You start out as a lowly Seaman and using perseverance, cunning and brilliant planning earn your "notches" to achieve your place among the Admiralty. You earn "notches" by battling your way through either Single Scenarios or Campaigns. The higher you set the difficulty level (1-11), the faster you will see your "notches" increase.
The game comes with 9 maps. Each map roughly corresponds to the 10 preset scenarios. The campaigns consist of several of the scenarios in sequence with the added twist that most campaigns will have a specific mission to accomplish as well as introduce a special super- ship, the Flagship. You may play either as the "red" or "white" player in scenarios and campaigns. Victory conditions, strategy and missions are different depending upon what side you play.
Your objective is not total wanton destruction of enemy, but the taking and holding of territories. Cities are given point values, some higher than others (range is 000-500). You must hold a city for 1 turn to be credited with points. However, it's in only the lower, 200-point cities that you may build new ships as the game progresses. Other than these cities, you are allocated a fixed number of "build points" at game start -- you place the ships you want in your starting home cities until your build points are used up. A "win" consists of a point comparison between the 2 players at the end of the game, but in some cases you may not need more points, just be within a certain percentage.
Combat outcome is fixed. Each ship will do a given amount of damage to any other ship. A handy damage matrix comes with the game. A Carrier adds 1 point of damage when adjacent to a battle square (presumably to simulate air support). When a ship has lost all it's hit points it's sunk. A partially damaged ship may retreat to a friendly-occupied city to repair damage (may be 1 or more turns).
Tactics becomes a game of cat and mouse. You must try to match your ships against the enemies which are least able to defend them, and conversely keep your vulnerable ships protected against your enemy's strengths. You need to do this while trying to anticipate what the enemy may have lurking in a square just adjacent, but out of sight. Of course you could move your Carrier up to find out, but if that next square holds a couple of Battleships ....
If you're looking for a solid strategy game that's easy to learn, has great depth and balance, a nice intuitive interface, and a great computer opponent, then I can highly recommend this game.