|HMS Royal Oak trains her guns on a distant target|
Whilst the endless procession of 1/2400 ships roll on and off the production line those that are finished are not sat idle. One of the great joys of Naval Wargaming is the quick set up time for a game, no rooting out trees and hills, getting the right buildings in the right scale, oh no three 6 x 4 cloths on the table, bing bang bosh ready to go.
It's also quite easy to set a game up, you can go for the historical action and let's face it there weren't too many in WW1 or go all pointy (yuk !). We prefer the "Countdown" method, 2 from the top, 1 middle and any four from the bottom please Carol. If your not from the UK that last sentence refers to a cult daytime Ch4 game show.
So we decided on 2 Dreadnoughts, 1 Light Cruiser and 4 Destroyers each for a bit of a mix and with 4 players it was a straight forward 2 German 2 British. All ships were drawn at random from those avaliable and I have put up photos of each of the players forces for the game. I much prefer this "blind" method of force selection as it can throw up some pretty random combinations. Both of the British players selected as their main force one 15" Battleship and an older ship as it's partner, a small Light Cruiser and 4 M Class Destroyers.
I ended up with a Kaiser and a Konig Class Dreadnought and the undergunned Stettin LC with 4 S50 Destroyers. Steve my co-admiral had two Helgoland Class, Breslau and again 4 1913 Destroyer / Torpedo Boats. Table size was the usual 12 x 6 with random start locations. Team Rudd set up sailing North on the top of the table with Team Swift opposite sailing South. The other two forces set up at the southern end of the table so we effectively had two separate games right from the off.
|Early game Warspite ranging on a slightly nervous Kaiser|
The ranging phase of the battle passed fairly quickly with both sides rolling some pretty decent dice. 3 of the 4 German Dreadnoughts were ranged in on the first turn and the British followed on turn 2 even with their reduced ranging dice, so we were into Salvo Fire very quickly.
|German shells ranging on Royal Oak, Helgoland just visible in the distance|
I like to describe people's playing style in terms of a "Jellicoe" or a "Beatty" and today Team Swift and Team Rudd went for Full Jellicoe staying just out of danger in terms of range they lobbed shells at each other most of the day with little effect, a few hits bouncing off armour and a few wrecked secondary guns. Rather than concentrating on hitting things with her 15" guns Royal Oak opted for safety and used manoeuvre to avoid being hit which of course affected her hitting power.
|Mummy Duck and baby ducks.|
The light forces on the northern part of the table sniped at each other at long-range for the course of the game chipping off damage points but nothing was sunk or too badly damaged.
|Eww look at you with your fancy squadron in Echelon|
The other end of the game went a bit "Half Beatty" both sides Light forces moved in for the attack whilst the big ships got into a range where their was a decent chance of causing damage.
The first casualty of the day was the M Class Destroyer Marne, stuck in the Bridge by a German destroyer she decided to disengage, technically out of control the ship turned for home.
The hits slowed down as Warspite turned in towards Team Reilly masking Collingwood from fire (and firing back). In the meantime the German Destroyers had got into a decent position ahead of the British Dreadnoughts as the British Light Forces raced towards the German Battle line.
|German Destroyers move in for the attack|
Team Reilly has left behind their Light Cruiser so that as the British Light Forces came on they where met by the secondary batteries of two Dreadnoughts and the Stettin.
In one of those freak gaming incidents everyone seemed to get Rudder hits which for one German Destroyers the S54 was on the none habit forming side of things as it drove head on into the Secondary Guns. On the plus side the Fuel Fire it picked up from the barrage went out when it sunk. Putting the score back at one a piece.
|That's a bit too close.|
We then reached the high point of the game, S54 managed to get her Torpedoes away but they missed the Warspite. Over the course of the next couple of turns both Kaiser and Markgraf lost a rear turret. But crucially the Collingwood was caught in the rush of Rudder hits, the Germans knew exactly where she would be next turn so the last of the torpedoes dropped in the water.
To add to the excitement S50 rammed into the side of HMS Mystic, neither came off well but the Mystic started taking on water rapidly and quickly sank. As the torpedoes rushed towards Collingwood there was a small change of a deflection hit on Warspite, small chance in a wargame of course it was a HIT !
Warspite took a good chunk of damage, lost 5 knots of speed but more worrying for the crew she caught fire and to keep the theme up the Rudder jammed.
So the torpedoes headed for the helpless Collingwood stuck on her last course, oh the curse of the dice, all the fish went wide and off into the empty ocean beyond.
The next turn determined the outcome of the game, Collingwood hit the Bridge on the Kaiser but the heavy armour saved the senior officers on board, in another querk of fate, Kaiser returned the favour hitting the Bridge on Collingwood, no save this time and the British ship was leaderless. The British Light Forces meet their doom the same turn. The Light Cruiser Galatea and the Destroyer Magic where sunk.
|The British sunk pile.|
The British withdrew with a bloody nose having lost a LC and 3DD, both Warspite and Collingwood had suffered reasonably heavy damage but their Damage Control teams managed to put out the fires and get the Rudder going again. The Germans lost 2DD with another badly damaged, 2 Dreadnoughts had lost turrets but otherwise were lightly damaged.
A good fun game with lots of action (on one side of the table anyway) I'm really pleased with how the rules are progressing and other than a slight modification on Gun penetration they are done. Next job is to adapt them for the mega game, Jutland.
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