Why you should play WAFU rules.

Why you should play WAFU rules.

There are few things more divisive in the Royal Navy than the rule variations known as ‘WAFU’ rules.  For those not aware, personnel in the Fleet Air Arm are referred to as WAFUs, and it's the rules that are attributed to this division of the Navy that we are talking about here.


When I was in the RN, the division between standard and WAFU rules was so entrenched that it was never an option in the messes I played in to even consider WAFU rules, let alone learn them.  However, having formed Uckers International, I felt that it would be overt discrimination if my lifelong aversion wasn’t addressed. 


Having learned the rules in-depth and played many, many games with them, my view has been totally reversed to the point where I now regret having not played them onboard the ships and submarines I served on.


I expect this blog to open up a can of worms so, at the risk of metaphor overload, I’m lighting the blue touch paper and retiring to a safe distance 😄


There are two main variations in WAFU rules - these are called suck backs and blow backs, though there are others known to be used in addition to these.  I’m going to focus on these two in this blog post. 


What are the rules themselves?


You can look at the detail of the rules on our website (https://uckers.com/pages/the-rules-of-uckers ), but in brief a suck back allows a player to hack off a piece that is in their opponent’s channel (deemed to be safe in standard rules) and a blow back allows a player’s piece in their own channel to hack off an opponent’s piece sitting at the foot of the channel (the only time a counter can move backwards in the game of Uckers).


The rules might seem complicated at first, but they use the same principles and conventions found in standard rules and are actually easy to get to grips with once you’ve played them a few times.


To make things easier, we have a video on our YouTube channel that explains rule variations – and suck backs and blow backs are described in depth.  Check it out here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfiQemIvA50  


So why should you consider using these rule variations?


In a nutshell, it raises game strategy and tactics to a much higher level.  As the saying goes, “it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings’ (meaning the game isn’t over until the last throw of the dice) – and these rule variations genuinely can reverse the prevailing tide of the game in an instant.


Let me give you an example to illustrate this.  How often have you found that you are left with pieces nowhere near home whilst you opponent has all their counters either at home or in the channel.  In standard rules, the game is all but done with your opponent rolling only to get the required numbers on the dice to get home.  You have to 'steam bit' and hope that the dice are kind to you and wicked to your opponent.  It’s demoralising and the excitement of the game dissipates, for you at least.


With these variations, particularly suck backs, this isn’t the case.  Your opponent’s pieces in his or her channel are ‘meat’ and the game is still yours for the taking.  The end result is that the game is more fun, exciting and ‘banter-fodder’ for those in-game and post-game ‘discussions’ 😄


Uckers.com and Suck Backs


In the app for iOS and Android devices, we have included suck backs and blow backs as selectable options that are available in the Pro version*, should you wish to give them a go or are familiar with them already.


However, when Tim and I were designing the app, we knew that we had to make some rules hard and fast so we could have consistency in league and tournament matches.  The addition of suck backs in this scenario means that the game has more opportunities to win by skill and judgment rather than on the luck of the dice.  It opens up a range of tactics that otherwise would not be seen in the standard rule set.


We know that this topic will always split the jury, but we ask you to view this with an open mind and, if this is new to you, piques your interest, and challenges your preconceived ideas about WAFU rules, we’ve done our job. 


Let us know your views on this - let's have a healthy debate!


Whatever options you choose though, we hope that you enjoy the app and that it brings us all closer together through game play.




* Pro version (subscription required)

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1 comment

WAFU rules is the only way to play. You can seriously piss someone off by sucking back their last piece 🤣

Paul Haigh

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