Method of play: The default expectation is that games will be played in real time using VASSAL, ideally also using Skype or Zoom or Discord or WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger (or another similar app) to facilitate audio chat at the same time. Make sure you have downloaded the current version of both the VASSAL application (v3.2.17) and the War at Sea VASSAL module (v2.41) before attempting to begin a game. Normally, players should expect to complete a VASSAL game in a single session - it shouldn't take more than two hours to finish a full eight-turn game - but if both players agree, it can be completed over multiple sessions. Please do not sign up to play in the tournament if you are not willing or able to play games via VASSAL in real time. (If you are not familiar with VASSAL, the GMs will be able to point you in the right direction regarding tips and hints about how to use the application.)
That said, it is also possible to finish an eight-turn PBEM game of WAS within 16 days - averaging one full turn every two days - *if* both players are committed to playing quickly. So, if both players agree to do so no later than 14 days before the deadline, you may play in the more traditional BPA tournament fashion via email. (No PBEM matches may begin after the end of the first Sunday of a given round.) If you are willing to exchange VASSAL (.vsav) or CyberBoard (.gsn or .gmv) move files, you may do so, but if not, the PBEM default is that you communicate your moves to each other via email text. Make sure you are as specific as you need to be to avoid ambiguity and slowing play down: e.g., as the Axis player, don't write "German fleet to the Baltic" without specifying whether or not that includes your U-boats.
Time limits: A time limit of no more than 16 days - a period beginning on a Saturday and concluding at the end of the following Sunday - will be set for each game and clearly communicated to all players before each round begins. Where possible, the GMs will try and communicate the pairings to players early to give you more time to arrange and play your games, but the end-of-round deadline is not movable: all games must be finished, and results reported to the GMs, by the end of the final Sunday night.
If any game runs has not been finished within the allotted time, the GMs will adjudicate the game as follows:
Bidding: Players will bid to choose sides in each game. The player bidding first will be determined randomly as part of the draw for each round: that player must name his preferred side and how many POC, if any, he is willing to sacrifice from his score at the end of the game (only) to play that side. The second player may either accept the POC incentive his opponent is willing to give him, if any, or bid a higher POC amount for the preferred side. (All bids must be in increments of 0.5 POC.) The option passes back and forth in this fashion until one player accepts the non-preferred side and the POC incentive.
(If you are new to War at Sea, you may wish to note that in games between expert players, the average bid has historically tended to be around 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0 POC to play the Allies.)
Dice procedures: If there are disputed die rolls in a game, players will be strongly encouraged to resolve their problems themselves. If they cannot do so, the GM will rule in the following manner:
In real-time games, players should use the in-built dice server within VASSAL. For PBEM games, we would suggest that everyone use the Firish WAS/VitP Die Roller, though the final decision is up to the two players and other options like ACTS or firstname.lastname@example.org are also perfectly acceptable - each player in any given game may use different dice servers, although if there is any question about a dice server's validity, please contact the GM. (GM note: if you don't know what ACTS and/or email@example.com are, ask your opponent or don't worry about it!)
Code of conduct: Greg Smith runs a separate War at Sea PBEM Ladder (which I would recommend to anyone looking for more WAS action!), and at that web link he lists a Code of Conduct which I'd highly encourage everyone - particularly newer players - to check out. War at Sea etiquette is generally a matter of common sense, I find, but if you want any specific pointers, please consider that Code as the Code of this tournament.
Official rules clarifications: The latest Official Errata & Rules Clarifications for War at Sea can be found below:
And for anyone who doesn't have a PDF of the official War at Sea rules, here's the file for you - many thanks to John Sharp for finding a PDF of the 2nd Edition rules that everyone can now use!