Sunday 15 April 2018

Jutland in a Day

Yesterday whilst most of the UK wargaming population were at Salute I took part in another refight of the battle of Jutland. This was run at the Berkeley Vale club in Slimbridge and was organised by Stuart Machin from the Naval Wargames Society. Stuart and I have been working on a WW1 set of fast play rules for a while now, drawing on my "Jutland in a Day" project, "Broadside and Salvo" (my pre-dreadnought rules) and the extensive work that Stuart put in to organising the NWS Jutland game at the NMRN on the battle's centenary.

Setup was completed at 1000, first moves at 1030 once a few players had downed a hearty breakfast supplied by the venue (the Tudor Arms pub in Slimbridge, home of the BV club and the site of a very nice skittle alley which serves as the games room). The initial setup was not quite as the actual battle as Stuart had run a pre-came mini campaign to determine starting positions. In the end things were not that different from reality, the main difference being that the German pre-dreads were left to guard Horns Reef, rather than being dragged out to slow down the fleet and act as a liability. Thus the High Seas Fleet looked rather small when compared with the Grand Fleet.

The Grand Fleet deployed in squadrons in line ahead. The ships used were Stuart's collection of 1/6000 Hallmark models, so no sneezing!

Ahead of the Grand Fleet, Beatty's battlecruisers and the supre-dreadnoughts of 5th BS probe towards the Germans. Contact has already been made between the light forces of both sides.

The High Seas Fleet - the German plan was to maintain much closer liaison between the main fleet (closer) and the battlecruisers (middle top). This was to prove to be a most useful decision

Initial exchanges proved costly to the light cruisers of both sides, which at times were the only targets for the enemy's battlecruisers. Echoing Heligoland Bight they were often rapidly dispatched.

Pillars of smoke denote the final resting place of two British light cruisers....
To the right of the shot the battlecruisers prepare to engage each other.

Between the line of the German BCs (lower) and the RN's BCs and 5th BS (top) a vicious destroyer melee is fought out. Both sides attempted to launch torpedo attacks on the heavy ships of their opponents, but these were frequently frustrated, the few attacks that were launched all failed at this stage of the battle. 

The battleships of the High Seas Fleet turn in echelon towards the battlecruiser action, seeking to engage 5th BS

Inexplicably, and against the best traditions of the Royal Navy, Beatty turns away from the Germans and opens the range. There will be some busy redrawing of track charts in the official histories (or maybe not....... 

5th BS in trouble. Despite roughing up the head of the HSF's battleline the QE superdreads came in for some punishment themselves. Barham, training the line, was heavily damaged, suffered a "fire" critical hit result and was unable to stem the flames. Damage escalated and the ship was lost! If nothing else this represented a severe moral blow to the RN, and the cheers of the Germans could be heard throughout the pub!

Despite their success at putting one of the QEs on the bottom the HSF found itself in a pickle as the  Grand Fleet hove into view. Discretion now being the better part of valour the decision was made to head for the hills (or at least for Horns Reef) and darkness (night was 3 hours away). However, several of the German dreadnoughts and battlecruisers had been damaged and their speed reduced slightly as a result. A tail chase was about to ensue.

A second disaster for the RN! Beatty decided to re-engage to sow the escape of the German battlecruisers. Lion found herself under heavy fire and she succumbed to multiple salvoes that sent her to the bottom. Beatty himself went down with his ship (so in the event no need to amend those charts!)

At that point your intrepid reported was forced to take his leave as emergent domestic requirements forced me to be elsewhere. Final details of the subsequent action are eagerly awaited from Scapa and Wilhelmshaven!

The game itself ran very well. The objective of fighting "Jutland in a Day" was ably achieved as I was informed by one of the players that the game drew to a suitable conclusion. And the rules worked very well, just one or two minor glitches hat were easy to resolve. Once a few turns ha been played everyone knew what to do and we progressed without many hitches (mostly caused by food and drinks breaks and inadvertent shifting of the tables!). So I think a great success.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Dahlgren and Columbiad

My latest set of quick play naval rules have hit the streets - or at least the servers at Wargame Vault. "Dahlgren and Columbiad" is a set of ironclad rules aimed at battles in the American Civil War and the ironclad wars in South America. It is aimed at games involving a small handful of ships and so it compliments "Broadside and Salvo" which was aimed more at fleet actions such as Lissa. It comes with a range of representative ship data for the ACW and South American wars

Dand C is supported by two theatre-specific booklets.

"By River and By Sea" covers the American Civil War in more detail, with two campaign systems and comprehensive ship data for over 175 ships and classes of the Union and Confederate navies.

"War of the Pacific" is something I've been working up to for decades and comprises a campaign system, ship data and brief campaign history covering the War of the Pacific, 1879-1883 between Chile, Peru and Bolivia, and also with my “Iron and Fire” more detailed rules from A&AGE. Ship data for the complete Peruvian and Chilean fleets is provided. Having visited Chile in 1994 and stood on the decks of the Peruvian / Chilean ironclad Huascar this is the culmination of over 20 years planning, and something I'm rather pleased and proud of :)

The third element of this project is the Paraguayan War, or the War of the triple Alliance, which again will feature a campaign system and comprehensive fleet data. This is all set to tie in with the excellent range of 1/1200 models from Spithead.

All three are available from Wargame Vault for a fiver. Links below if anyone is interested.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Naval Wargames Weekend 2018

I have just been advised that  that the UK's Naval Wargaming Weekend will take place on June 30th/1st July. The venue this year has moved, and we will be at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, so at least one game that weekend will have a strong FAA/RNAS theme to it (I'm dusting off my "Wings of Glory" seaplanes, flying boats, coastal airships and Langton 1/200 coastal craft!)

There will be a small charge for participation to cover the hire of the facility in which the games will be played - £5 for one day, £7.50 for both. If anyone is interested in putting on a game please drop me a line.