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Lost Admiral Returns

Player's Manual - Game Rules



Battleships are lots of fun in Lost Admiral Returns.  Unlike most Battleship Games, you can maneuver these massive killing machines to dominate the battle ocean.  You can also enjoy the flavor of famous wwii battleship combat with your choice of famous ships such as the Yamato battleship, Battleship New Jersey, Battleship Texas, Battleship Missouri, or any other battleship that comes to mind.

Game Rules - How to Play LAR

Win by controlling cities for Victory Points:

The key to victory in Lost Admiral Returns is to control as many coastal cities as possible for as long as possible during the battle.  Each city you own will give you Victory Points (VP) EVERY turn you own it.  These points are accumulated throughout the game, and compared to your opponent's VP total at the end of the battle.  If you can outscore the opponent enough, you win!  Every battle has two sides, simply labeled "Red" and "Yellow".

To claim a coastal city as your own, you must keep a transport or armed-transport (AT) in that city's harbor hex at the end of a given turn.  If you are the only player with a transport there, and your transport is still alive at the end of a "turn", you get the VP value of that city added to your VP total.  You also gain the resources for that city, and resources are covered further down in this webpage.

Each game turn you will get to move any or all of your ships up to their maximum movements points, and then fight combat for all hexes where you encounter the enemy's ships.  Transports are protected from participating in combat IF there is a friendly warship (non-transport) to fight the enemy in the same hex.  So it is advisable to keep an "escort" with transports when possible.

Defeating the enemy's warships with your warships is not so important as claiming cities with your transports.  In other words, you can be losing the fight between war fleets, and still win the battle if you can hang on to enough cities long enough to outscore your opponent.  As a result, finesse will win the day as often as brute force.  Buy time for your transports by delaying enemy ship movements wherever possible.  Sneak your transports and their escorts around enemy fleets to capture distant neutral cities and hold on to those cities as long as you can, keeping an eye out for raiding enemy warships.  In fact, send some warships of your own raiding the enemy's distant cities, bypassing the violent clash of larger warship groups where possible.

Each game turn consists of the following (see Battle Setups further down in this chapter for more on game turns):

  • Red moves
  • Combat for all ships (both sides fire once) after Red's moves.
  • Yellow moves
  • Combat for all ships (both sides fire once) after Yellow's moves.
  • City ownership is adjusted based on transports, VPs are awarded along with city resources, newly constructed units are placed in cities, and a new turn starts (with Red new moves)
  • Turns continue until the end of the battle, usually between 12 to 30 turns total.


Ships available for conquering the oceans:

Units come in several different flavors in LAR.  You have capitol ships, used in your war fleets to smash the enemy's lines and win victory for a given area.  Smaller warships serve as auxiliaries to the capitol ships, as escorts for transports, and as fast raiders against distant enemy cities.  Transports and armed-transports do the actual turn to turn job of occupying cities and claiming those city Victory Points for your side.

Most ships move 2 hexes per turn, taking them a while to move from their starting locations to worthwhile nearby cities or enemy forces to attack.  Smaller ships tend to move faster, making them better at flanking, raiding enemy cities, or (for ATs) at claiming cities.  During movement, your ships will have to stop when they enter a hex containing an enemy unit.  If your ship started the turn in a hex with enemy units, you will be able to move out of that hex (if you want).

You will normally not be able to see an enemy ship until you enter that unit's hex with one of your own units.  The exception to this are your CVs, which reveal enemy surface units out 2 hexes from the carrier at all times during your turn.  You will also still be able to see enemy units that you just fought in the previous combat round.

There is a "stacking limit" of up to 2 friendly ships per hex (small square / brick on the movement map) that is enforced at the end of each movement phase.  If for some reason you have more ships than allowed in a stack at that time, the extra ships are destroyed.  Fortunately, you can have any number of ships in a city harbor as long as you have a live transport (or AT) in that same hex.  You do not need to own the city to get this unlimited stacking ability for that hex.

For all ships, refer to the damage chart page for details on their abilities, or better yet, print out the printer-version damage charts so you can keep them beside your computer.

Capitol Ships:
  • Carriers (CV) are used as the eyes, ears, and hammer helpers of the fleet.  They are the only ship in LAR that can spot enemy ships outside of their own hex, up to a distance of 2 hexes away.  They can not spot submerged submarines this way.  Additionally, Carriers give a bonus of +1 to damage for all nearby (within one hex) combat attacks against enemy surface ships.  Again, this bonus does not apply against enemy submerged submarines.  Carriers do quite a bit of damage in combat, but are easily sunk by most types of other warships.  They cost $21 at the start of a battle.
  • Battleships (BB) are the core offense unit for war fleets.  They do large amounts of damage to just about any other type of warship, and are hard to sink.  Their Achilles heal is that they can not hurt submerged submarines, meaning that help from friendly Destroyers or PT Boats is needed for Battleships to survive enemy submerged submarine attacks.  They cost $20.
  • Cruisers (CR) are smaller versions of Battleships, good at everything, but excelling at nothing.  They are able to fight with submerged submarines, but are rather costly to use in this way.  They cost $15.
Regular Warships:
  • Submarines (SS) are the bane of capitol ships, able to kill such ships in only a few shots, and costing quite a bit less than the cost of a CV or BB.  Submarines are easy prey for Destroyers and PTs when the submarine is submerged.  While surfaced, they can move 3 hexes per turn, but are vulnerable to capitol ships.  They cost $12.
  • Destroyers (DD) are very versatile.  Moving 3 hexes per turn and able to kill submerged submarines in one shot, they make excellent escorts for capitol ships, transports, and are good at raiding distant enemy cities.  Capitol ships quickly kill Destroyers.  They cost $10.
  • Patrol Boats (PT) are inexpensive ships that can move 4 hexes, making them great for scouting enemy locations, and raiding distant enemy cities.  They are helpless against capitol ships and Destroyers, but are good Submarine hunters.  They cost $4.
Transports class:
  • Transports (TR) are the cheapest way to keep ownership of cities.  Simply "Anchor" them in a city harbor and keep them safe to keep earning that city's VPs every turn.  The are killed in one shot by every type of warship out there.  They cost $3.
  • Armed-Transports (AT) are better than Transports, being able to move 3 hexes per turn (rather than 2), and can kill Transports in one shot, and fight PT boats on equal terms.  They cost $8.
  • Flagships are usually beefed up versions of Carriers and Battleships, though there are rumors of other types.  They usually can take more damage before sinking, and can be outfitted with a wide variety of special modules giving them unique abilities such as moving faster, performing better in all aspects of combat, or perhaps denying the enemy VPs for their nearby cities, repairing nearby friendly ships, or other very useful tricks.  See the Flagships chapter for more information.  During movement and combat, your Flagship is shown with a small colorful nationality flag of one sort or another flying over it.
  • Mission Ships appear in the game as regular ships with a small green flag flying over them during movement and combat.  These ships are usually under your control, and are part of any special missions you are undertaking in the battle.  The are usually given to you at the start of the mission, or "created" from some of your normal ships when you do certain mission steps, such as picking up lost crewmembers from a water zone in the "Rescue" mission.  When mission ships are carrying cargo for the mission (such as rescued people) they will often revert to being normal, non-mission ships after delivering that cargo to the desired destination (such as a home city for the "Rescue" mission).


Cities vary in value:

All cities are normally worth between 200 to 500 VPs each turn.  Only 200 point cities are able to construct new ships during the battle.  Each owned city will generate a certain number of resource points for the side that owns them.  These resources are Materials, Leadership, Engineering, and Armaments.  Each type of ship takes a different mix of resources to construct, and will require two turns to finish before appearing on the battle map in the 200 point city where they were "built".  Capitol ships take 3 turns to construct.

"Home" cities are the cities that Red and Yellow start the battle owning.  These cities have a special "home" flag next to their ownership flag, and sometimes serve a distinct role in special missions, such as the destination port for rescued crew members.  These home cities are also worth TWO TIMES their normal VP value to the enemy side, if captured by the enemy.  This bonus makes enemy home cities worth the trouble of capturing.


Battle Setups set the pace for the whole fight:

Each battle you fight will have certain home cities and total forces for each side to start with.  The Classic Maps have predetermined strategic positions for Red and Yellow that favor one side or the other.  For instance, Red has the upper hand in Map #1, while Red will often do a fighting retreat on Map #9.  Random maps have unique setups for every battle, and can favor either (or neither) side.

Total forces usually range between 200 to 500 points ($$) of ships for each side.  These ships are purchased via the Unit Selection menu, and placed in the home cities for that side.  Total home cities for each side will range from 1 to 6 or so, depending on the type of battle parameters chosen.

An official "Win Ratio" is determined for the battle based on the starting setups and type of map.  This ratio represents how many more VPs one side will have to score compared to the enemy side.  The ratio can be as high as 100% or more (meaning that side must score two times as many VPs as the other side).  Most battles will require a more modest ratio of 20-60%.  For instance, Map #1 requires that the Red side score 28% more VPs than Yellow just to "barely win".  If Red outscores Yellow by a ratio of 48%, the extra 20% is considered to be the "won-by" percent.  The more you outscore your opponent, the bigger your victory, as long as you exceed the "win ratio" assigned to your side for that battle.


At the end of a battle, Rewards are given to both the Victorious side, and to the losing side:

Rewards are given to both sides based on how well they did in the battle.  The winner will tend to get more rewards than the loser, but the losing side will get slightly different types of points than the winner.

Reward points are normally used to build flagships, and to progress in the Save the Admiral Campaign.  Click on those two keywords to learn more.

The struggle for Victory Points is just one part of how rewards are given.  Additional points are awarded for completing any special missions involved for that battle.  And you will regain a certain percent of the value of any flagships you used in that battle as new points to spend in future battles.


Complete many battles to explore all parts of LAR:

Every battle you complete will hone your battle skills, and prepare you for tougher battles.  Play on a range of different maps to increase your officer's rank.  Win battles by larger "won-by" percents to increase the quality of your officer's rank.  After mastering a few normal battles, you can start helping the Admiral in the Save the Admiral Campaign.  You can also practice special missions in regular battles by selecting one during the "Battle Options" stage of starting a battle.

Learn even more about LAR's rules by reading a walkthrough of a Battle by clicking here!


Actions available during movement:

Much of LAR battles are commanded from the movement menu.  Below is a list of all actions available during movement.  These actions either affect your currently selected unit, allow you to switch to moving other units, or let you access other helpful menus for additional options...

  • Right click on new ship - Lets you select that ship to move next.
  • Left click on a map hex - Tells your current ship to move to that hex.  Red buoy markers will surround the hexes your ship can actually reach this turn.  If you click on a hex that your ship can not reach this turn, the game will prompt you to click a 2nd time on that target hex to confirm that you really want your ship to move towards that hex.
  • Right click on an empty hex - Brings up a popup menu of all actions available to you from the movement menu, including "no action" to close out the list of options.
  • Stop current ship [S key] - Marks current ship as "Stopped" for this turn, even if it still has movement points left.  You will not be prompted to move "stopped" ships by the game, though you can still manually select the ship again during the current turn by right clicking on it.  LAR will help you remember what units you still need to move this turn by auto-prompting you to move units that can still move, one after another, until you are done moving all your units.  By "stopping" a ship, you are telling the game that you do not want to move that unit any further this turn, regardless of how many movement points it might have.  You can quickly "stop" your current ship by left clicking on it twice in a row.
  • Anchor (or un-anchor) current ship [D key] - Lets you anchor or un-anchor the currently selected ship.  Anchoring ships will let you avoid accidentally moving the ship out of it's current hex, as you will have to un-anchor first before trying to move.  You can also change the current anchoring status of your ship by right clicking on it twice in a row.
  • Surface (or submerge) submarine [U key] - Lets you change your submarine's surfaced status as long as it has only moved 0 or 1 hexes so far this turn.  Submerge when faced with enemy capitol ships like Battleships or Carriers.
  • Wait to move current Unit [N or W key] - Lets you tell the game that you want to come back to the current ship and move it AFTER you have moved all of your other ships for this turn.  LAR will immediately prompt you to move a different another ship that you have not moved yet.
  • Center on current unit [C key] - Centers map view on current unit.  Useful if you have scrolled the view quite a ways away from where your unit is waiting to move.
  • Select Previous Unit [P key] - Lets you swap back and forth between the currently selected unit, and the last unit you moved.  Useful for going back quickly to your previous unit, and anchoring it or seeing what enemy units it might have encountered.
  • use Build Menu [B key] - Brings up a build menu for constructing new units at any 200 point cities you own.  You will also need a variety of different resources generated by cities you own to construct the new ships.
  • List all ships [L key] - Lists all the ships you own, what cities they are nearest to, and also describes the resources that each city generates per turn.
  • Flagship Menu [G key] - Brings up the Flagship menu, where you can see more details about any flagships you are using in this battle, along with your progress towards any bonus rewards for the good (or bad) performance of your flagships.
  • Zoom map view [Z key] - Toggles map view between a 5x5, 10x10, and 20x20 view of hexes.  Note that the full screen mode will show even more hexes per zoom level.
  • Change Mini-Map labels [I key] - Changes the labels for cities on the mini-map.  You can choose to display the full name and value, show just the first letter of the name, or have no labels at all.
  • Swap to Full Screen mode [M key] - Swaps movement menu layout from the normal view to a "full screen" view.  The movement map view will fill up the entire screen, and all action buttons will be hidden, accessible only by keyboard or using the right click popup menu.
  • view Damage Chart [? Key] - Shows a master list of all ships and the damage they can inflict on other ships during combat.
  • use Damage Helper mode [/ Key] - Toggles a helper mode that will display numbers on top of enemy ships to indicate how much damage your current ship could inflict during combat.  Useful for choosing what enemy ship's hex to move into.
  • view Battle Statistics [T key] - Brings up a menu showing a history of your performance in the current battle.  Tracks how many ships were lost for both sides per turn, VPs earned per turn, resources earned, and also shows a summary of where your ships have moved on the map.
  • Save game to resume later [V Key] - Saves the current game and returns to the main menu.  You can reload your game later either from the top menu of the game, or from the "load games" menu.
  • Project Battle Results [Q Key] - If you have completed at least half of the turns for this battle, you have the option to "project" the battle results and get your reward points immediately.  Use this option if you are happy with your current win percent, or perhaps to quickly end a losing battle and collect your rewards for having fought the battle (even though you lost).
  • use the Escape menu [ESCAPE key] - gives you access to the program options and toggles, along with the choice to immediately exit back to the top game menu, or exit the game directly back to your windows desktop.
  • Done button [F or E key] - tells LAR that you are done moving units for this turn, and are ready to start combat (if any) and then let your opponent move their ships.  Note that the first time you press this button, the build menu will be displayed to remind you to build units.  Click on the Done button a 2nd time, while the build menu is still open, to totally end your movement turn.



Special Notes on various rules:

Below are a variety of special notes about subtle rules in LAR sometimes not covered above...

  • Neutralizing enemy cities -  You can deny the enemy side the VPs for cities they would otherwise own in two ways.  You can have a special "neutralizing" flagship nearby, OR you can move a warship and transport of your own into that city harbor.  If you can keep your transport alive to the end of the turn (and assuming the enemy still has their transport or AT), you will "neutralize" the city, so it belongs to neither side.  This means that the VP points and resources for that city will not awarded to either side.  Note that if a 200 point city is neutralized this way, any ships being built there will be (bitterly) lost.
  • Protecting Transports - During combat, transports that are in the same hex as a friendly warship will be "protected" from combat, and the enemy will not be able to fire at them until the defending escort is killed.  This buys the transport an extra turn to flee in.  Note that if no warships are present in a combat hex with more than one transport, BOTH of those transports will be exposed to enemy fire.
  • Sneaky submerged Submarines - When submerged, submarines are "sneaky" in that they will not appear on the movement map during the enemy's movement turn UNLESS they are revealed by a sub hunting ship that enters their hex.  Sub hunting ships are Destroyers, Patrol Boats, and Cruisers.  Note that any other type of ship can enter or pass through that sneaky submarine's hex without seeing or knowing about the submarine, UNTIL the combat phase following that side's movement.  During combat, the submarine will reveal it's presence and attack the surprised ship, often to the detriment of the enemy's war plans.  And submerged submarines are the only unit that can keep moving after entering an enemy occupied hex, as long as non of the enemy units are a "sub hunting" DD, PT, or CR.
  • Resources on Maps - are randomly distributed at the start of a battle.  These resources will sometimes bunch up on certain cities, making those cities vital to have for building ships.  Armaments tends to be the most crucial element needed for ship building, so be sure to locate the best cities for armaments during your battles.
  • Repairing Ships - If a damaged ship of yours ends it turn in a friendly city harbor, the ship will be repaired up to two points of damage.  This is a good way to remove battle damage before a ship sinks, and return to the fight with longer staying power.
  • Special Plays - you will sometimes earn "special plays" from STA Campaigns in LAR.  These plays can be used in any Battle to give yourself a boost up on the enemy, such as calling for a small group of reinforcements to help your side, or spying on enemy locations, or stalling some enemy movement for a turn, or even making some enemy units turn traitor, joining your side.  These plays are best used in tough STA Campaigns, so save them for when you need them the most.  Use these plays by right clicking on the "CF" green Command Fleet button found on the movement menu for LAR.


Speculations and Feedback:

Various subtle rules and new features are added to LAR all the time based on player feedback.  So if there is something about LAR that you wished was different, a special flagship ability you would like to see, a neat special mission you think should be added, an optional rule that would be great for LAR, or any other suggestions you want to make, use your "Journal Button" in the upper left of the game (and upload your journal when Updating LAR) or email the suggestions directly to




For other parts of the manual, use the menu bar on the left:

The manual has various chapters dedicated to all parts of the game, and new sections will be added periodically as new material and updates are made to Lost Admiral Returns.

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