5th Fleet (PC)
Get it | Install it | Run it | Saved Games | PBEM | Solitaire | Patch | Module | Rules | Scenarios | Map
This page is about the PC version of 5th Fleet published by Avalon Hill in 1994 and based on the board game depicting hypothetical conflicts in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf in the late 1990’s. Despite being over 20 years old, 5th Fleet PC is still very much a playable game with decent graphics that are better than most DOS games of that time.
Comparisons to the board game
5th Fleet (PC) should be seen as the next evolutionary step in the Fleet Series of five board games published by Victory Games. It essentially IS the board game played on computer, with advanced rules such as hidden movement, and fuel/ordnance supply fully integrated without the need for record keeping on the part of the player. According to Joseph Balkoski, the designer of the Fleet series:
5th Fleet (PC) uses the same sequence of play as 3rd Fleet (board game) — i.e. the six phases of the turn (Air, Surface, and Sub for each player) are randomly determined. Other similarities between the computer game and the board game are less obvious, and there are some key difference. The Avalon Hill GENERAL, Vol 29, No 4, contained a preview article about 5th Fleet (PC) by Mike Innella, VP of Stanley Associates, the company that programmed the game for Avalon Hill. Mike said:
Where to get 5th Fleet PC
Free Game Empire has an option to run DOSBOX in your browser. You may want to turn off the music in the game options - it is choppy over the web.
5th Fleet was distributed on either five 3.5-inch floppies or one CD. The files are the same in each, so there is no advantage to the CD edition over the floppy edition other than not having to swap disks during installation.
Installing 5th Fleet
The best approach these days is to use DOSBOX.
On your modern OS, create a folder to serve as your DOS C DRIVE. Then copy all files from the 5th Fleet installation media to this folder.
Open DOSBOX and mount your C: drive, then run install.exe from your 5th Fleet files repository (the folder on your hard drive where you put all the game files).
The install.exe program merely copies the game files from the repository to a new folder named C:\FLEET.
When the install program asks if it should modify your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, answer YES.
After installation, switch to the game folder - C:\> CD FLEET
Once you've got it running, be sure to exit the game and install the patch.
Install the scenario module after the patched program is working OK.
Getting it to run
When 5th Fleet first came out it used every bit of memory available to PC's of that time. Due to the Expanded Memory (EMS) requirement of 5th Fleet, along with the need for at least 590 KB of conventional memory, it typically required major tweaking of DOS config.sys and autoexec.bat files! Due to these headaches, the game had an uphill struggle for user acceptance.
Thankfully DOSBOX handles all that now.
Note that 5th Fleet runs in a 640 x 480 DOSBOX window — the standard screen resolution in the mid-1990's. This can be changed in the dosbox config file.
There can be one saved game file for each scenario, so each time you click the Save button any existing save file for that scenario gets over-written. A game can be saved at the conclusion of (not during) any phase.
The saved game filename has a .sav extension and is written to the FLEET directory. Combat results are written to a .rpt file and displayed when the saved game is loaded.
If you start a scenario for which a saved game file exists, you will be asked whether you want the saved game or a new game. You can also delete the existing saved game file for the scenario when you receive this prompt. The saved game will not be deleted until you click Delete Saved Game in the prompt (or delete it manually from the FLEET directory).
When you start a saved game the program ignores any player assignment, AI, and WEAX settings that existed on the scenario selection screen and loads them from the .sav file.
Playing by Email
The PBEM rules in the printed 5th Fleet manual employ an outdated method of direct modem-to-modem connection. Don’t bother with the program’s outdated COMNET system using modem-to-modem telecom. See how to play 5th Fleet via email in the online rules manual.
The built in AI is extremely easy to defeat, even at its most aggressive settings. In fact this was a common criticism of the program in the initial reviews. Here's my take on it:
Having said this, an interesting solitaire method is to play a game using the 2-player "hot seat" setting. This is like playing solitaire with a board game, but with hidden movement, there is a level of uncertainty about opposing units as you switch between sides.
Version 1.2 Patch
Download the patch archive (5f_12.zip) and unzip it to your FLEET directory. To install the patch, start DOSBOX, navigate to your FLEET directory, and type patch.
Scenario Add-on Module
NOTE: Apply the version 1.2 patch BEFORE installing the scenario module.
Download the scenario archive (5f_mod1.zip) and unzip it to a temporary directory at the same level as your FLEET directory. Do not unzip directly into your FLEET directory, because the scenario install.exe file will overwrite the same file in the FLEET directory.
To install the scenarios: in DOSBOX, navigate to the directory containing the unzipped scenario files and type install. Fourteen new scenarios will appear on the list in the Scenario screen the next time you start 5th Fleet.
Updated 28 October 2016
This page is maintained by Robert Morss, rdmorss at morssweb dot com
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