Sunday, June 16, 2013

Naval Action at SNS

Dave surveys the initial deployment of Battlecruisers.

While I haven't posted many pictures of our SNS group's games the last couple of months, in my defense I can say that most of those games have had pictures posted at GAJO's website here:

I wanted to get the group involved in some naval gaming, so I developed a series of narrative-linked scenarios that would introduce players to the rules Victory At Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts. I would be using my own 1/6000 scale Figurehead WW1 miniatures. In the first game we unfortunately did not have the sea cloth cover, so instead used some of the sea 2' x 2' boards stored at GAJO. The action was to take place somewhere along the channel, so we weren't worried about the land at opposite corners of the table.

The High Seas Fleet Approaches the Grand Fleet. Ships open fire with misses.

The first scenario was to introduce players to the basic rules, without worrying about squadron formations, small ships, torpedoes, etc. Just big ships blasting away at each other. In the scenario, the Germans are trying to get a Battlecruiser to break through and head out to the Atlantic where it can hopefully make its way to the Mediterranean and the Turks. Different from history, the German player can decide on a different ship than the actual Goeben. To help get the ship away, the fleet has sailed under extreme secrecy. To confuse the Grand Fleet, the German fleet split up and made different tracks back to port while the Battlecruiser squadron made a dash for the channel to give their secret ship a chance. Having been confused, the British fleet broke into different hunting groups, and belatedly a late discovery meant they could only attempt to reach the escaping Germans with their Battlecruisers.

Goeben comes under fire. Splashes soak the battlecruiser.

In Age of Dreadnoughts, when multiple ships fire at the same target, the splashes can confuse the fire directing, so I use ship splash markers from Litko to indicate a ship has been fired at by at least one ship. Then players can know to add the -1 modifier for hitting if they fire at it again from a different ship. In this game, the Germans spread out a little bit, and a couple of the ships made directly for the British battlecruisers and the shortest distance off the table.

Battlecruisers close to dangerous, near point-blank ranges and suffer critical hits and fires break out. Quietly, Von der Tann (at bottom right) fires on Indomitable but steers for a corner of the engagemant zone.

The Germans are mixing it up with the British to confuse them about which ship is trying to make its escape. The British decide among themselves that Seydlitz is the obvious choice. Goeben suffers from major fires, and Seydlitz takes a pounding by two British ships who tenaciously move closer and closer. Indomitable takes hits. Most of the the ships suffer damage except for a couple.

Ships clobber each other at short range but no one does down.

Goeben and Indomitable fit fires as well as each other. Lion and Indefatigable catch Seydlitz in crossfire but the tough ship just takes a licking and soldiers on, giving back just as good as she gets.

...and, there goes the Von der Tann... off to the Med.

Suddenly the British captains see the Von der Tann sneak off the game corner, strategically winning the scenario. But they vow revenge and go after the the Seydlitz with fury. To no vail! CLosing time at the store, and with the game called, the Seydlitz is still afloat and under power, but VERY beat up and will need time to be repaired in a dock along with Goeben and Moltke. Indefatigable, Indomitable, and Lion will also be a long time in drydocks.

Fun was had by all and in the end it looks like Dave W really enjoyed the game and may get into collecting some ship minis. I also played this scenario with the WFHGS group. There, the outcome was a little different.

Death of a battlecruiser.

In the WFHGS version of the scenario, Dennis decided to spread his German battlecruisers wide, and try to spread out the British, which is exactly what happened. In this game, however, Von der Tann made straight toward the center of the enemy at fast speed, drawing their attention. Seydlitz, meanwhile, stayed close to the edge of the battlezone, and snuck off to the Med without a scratch. Poor Von der Tann, however, took some severe crticial hits slowing her down and reducing her firepower. After a particularly deadly barrage, a magzine hit went terribly bad and the ship exploded in a giant cloud of flame. Still, the Germans won, and I have become convinced that players of WW1 naval games eagerly hope to see ANYBODY's cruisers blow up! Such is the legacy of Jutland perhaps.