Saturday, March 3, 2018

Play Testing "Si Vis Pacem" WW1 Naval Rules

It has been a long time since I made a naval post here.  Lately the Jackson Gamers have been assisting David Manley and Stuart Machin of Long Face Games in play testing their latest naval rules.  They have developed "Si Vis Pacem" for quick play WW1 naval gaming, subtitling it "How you can play Jutland in a day."

Here is a report on our final play testing with a brief description of the action, some pictures, and a few comments about the rules.

We used Lord Sterling's 1:6000 scale WW1 ships, which are based on the "Jutland" board game counters.  If you'll remember, we used them back in 2016 to do a re-enactment of Jutland, using Avalon Hill's "Jutland" rules.

Battle Description

Based on the situation of 31 May 1916 (first day of Jutland), the British battlecruiser squadrons, reinforced by the 5th Battle Squadron, are out hunting for Germans. And the Germans are there, but more than VAdm Beatty was led to believe. VAdm Scheer and VAdm Hipper had planned a surprise consolidating the 1st Scouting Group with the 3rd Battle Squadron. The British had 4 super-dreadnoughts and 6 battlecruisers versus the Germans 8 super-dreadnoughts and 5 battlecruisers.

As the opponents spotted each other at 26,000 yards, each force immediately started closing. Soon large caliber shells were raining down on the "steel castles." But the lighter British battlecruisers were at a disadvantage, soon sustaining heavy damage to all and having two blown apart. But the Germans didn't escape unscathed, having several ships sustain heavy damage and several more medium damage. The British battleships also sustained some damage to all four.

Smoke sighted on the horizon behind both fleets had the commanders looking over their shoulders wondering if it was friends or more foes. The three battle squadrons of the British Home Fleet were advancing in a long line from the northeast while the British 3rd Battlecruiser, 1st Cruiser, and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons were approaching from the northeast. The lead British battleships (2nd Battle Squadron) soon made their impact felt by firing on the German 6th Division/3rd Battle Squadron, which included SMS Friedrich der Grosse, Scheer's flagship. Knowing that his fleet was now outnumbered, Scheer decided to call it a day. He had destroyed two British battlecruisers and heavily damaged four more, plus damaged four British battleships. He had averted the Kaiser's displeasure by not loosing any ships, only having four battleships and one battlecruiser damaged.

Photographs (from a high flying Zeppelin)

With the 1st Scouting Group in the lead, the German 5th and 6th Battle Squadrons sail towards the southeast, hoping to lead the lead the British into an ambush.

The British Battle Cruiser Fleet with 1st Battlecruiser Squadron, 5th Battle Squadron, and HMS Lion (fleet flag) and 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron advance towards the Germans. All of a sudden Beatty realized, "By Neptune's beard, those are battleships!"

Later in the action the German 6th Battle Division turns towards the approaching British battleships, the 5th Battle Division and the battlecruisers try to get around the rear of their British opponents. In the background, the British 1st Battlecruiser Squadron has had one ship heavily damaged, leaving the line, while the same has happened to HMS Lion (Beatty's flag ship) in the foreground. In the far background the British Home Fleet sails closer, with the lead, HMS George V, sustaining medium damage which she returned in kind on the SMS Friedrich der Grosse (Scheer's flag ship).

The red puffs indicate heavy damage, the black medium damage, and the white light damage. 

Now a third British battlecruiser sustains heavy damage and withdraws while the remaining three have medium damage. The two lead British battleships of 5th Battle Squadron (center) have sustained medium damage. Three German battleships and one battle cruiser have suffered medium damage and one battlecruiser has suffered light damage. The German 1st Battle Squadron is approaching from off the picture to the right.

With HMS Lion and the two battlecruisers of 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron heavily damaged and fleeing the area, the British battleships attempt to screen them from fire from the German battleships. On the top, one of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron ships is also fleeing.

When your defense factor is a one and you roll a one under fire from a German battleship who has crossed your T, just about any German roll will result in destruction. Here HMS Queen Mary blows up as the heavily damaged HMS Princess Royal flees.

Final shot of the battlefield when VAdm Scheer made his decision to withdraw and declare victory. With 16 battleships of the Home Fleet closing, Scheer really had no other choice.

Comments on the Rules

"Si Vis Pacem" is a quick playing rule set that is both simple and complex.  It is easy to pick up on the rule basics and a player can function without too much guidance after the first round of firing.  Who moves first or second is decided by the side with the initiative while firing is done sequentially with the player having initiative firing a unit of ships first, then the second player firing, then back to the first player.  Torpedo attacks are done the same way after all gunfire which allows ships being attacked to fire at their attackers, potentially driving them away.

There are advanced rules and campaign rules we didn't try, just concentrating on the basics.  The advanced rules add some additional flavor and complexity to the basics, but not enough to take away from the playability of the rules.  Based on what I've read in David Manley's pre-dreadnought "Broadside and Salvo," the campaign rules will allow one to fight their own actions in the North Sea between the British Home Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet.

We are looking forward to the release of "Si Vis Pacem" later this spring and to more WW1 naval games in the future.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jutland with a Vengeance

Yesterday (Memorial Day) some of the Jackson Gamers gathered to play a WW1 naval game in memory of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.  I titled this post "Jutland with a Vengeance" as Jay, Lord Sterling, our game master, used almost all of his 1:6000 scale ships, including quite a few that were not actually at Jutland, such as the SMS Goeben which was in Turkish livery and HMS Queen Elizabeth which was in drydock.  But we had a lively time nevertheless.

There were 7 players, 4 British and 3 German.  I had the task of commanding the German fast scouting group - 7 battlecruisers, 1 armored cruiser (SMS Blucher), 2 light cruiser squadrons, and 4 half-flotillas of destroyers - as Vice Admiral Hipper.  The other two German players (Travis and Ed) split the four battleship squadrons and the other light forces.  I'm not sure how many British squadrons there were, but there were quite a few!  My son Sean commanded the main British battlecruiser squadron as Vice Admiral Beatty so we were bound to "cross swords" and we did.  The other British commanders were Jay, Phil, and Grant (a new addition to our ranks).

We used a slightly modified version of Avalon Hill's venerable "Battle of Jutland" rules.  Jay, Lord Sterling has, where available, glued a 1:6000 scale model of each ship to its appropriate counter.

So without further ado, here is Admiral Hipper's report:

"To Vice-Admiral Scheer,  commanding High Sea Fleet:

Pursuant to your orders, the reinforces fast scouting group discovered advance elements of the British fleet as 10,000 yard range due to thick mist.  We engaged the British ships, sinking one and forcing the others to flee.

The lead ships of the German battlecruiser squadron - SMS Lutzow, SMS Hindenburg (did I not mention some ships were present that never made it to Jutland?), and SMS Seydlitz, plus some of the destroyer half-flotillas.
Shortly afterwards, the British battlecruisers were sighted, steaming towards my command.  After some minutes maneuvering to bring my guns into their most efficient aspect, I began firing at the British.

The lead ships of the British battlescruisers, lead by HMS Tiger.
After several ranging volleys, I concentrated my fire on two of the British battlecruisers, resulting in stupendous explosions as their magazines blew up.  So much for the vaunted British battlecruisers!

Opening moves.  The German battlecruisers and two battleship squadrons are in the center on the dark colored bases.  The German light ships (light cruisers and destroyers) have a black bar on the stern of their bases.  The rest of the ships are British.
The British did score some hits on my ships, most notable reducing the speed of the SMS Goeben resulting in her leaving the battleline to begin her return to Jade.

On the left, Jim's German destroyers launch ineffective torpedo attacks at the British battlecruisers, forcing three to turn away.  The pinkish tags indicate ships that have suffered movement penalties.

The same turn taken from the other German flank as Jay's British destroyers launch attacks against Ed's German battleships, forcing several of them to turn away.  Travis' German battleship squadron is in the left center and Jim's German battlecruisers are beyond him.
As more and more British battle squadrons appeared through the lifting mist, our squadrons maneuvered to get the most effective angles on the British ships.  The British fast Queen Elizabeth battleships were the most dangerous, but lucky hits forced one away with severe boiler damage and a second stopped dead in the water due to steering problems, as well as reducing the gunnery on several others.

The action in the center gets confused as Travis' German battleships and Jim's German battlecruisers turn away from the main British battleship squadrons.
With the British forces seemingly everywhere, Vice Admiral Scheer decided that it was time to return to our bases as we had inflicted a large number of losses on the Grand Fleet.  But before we departed to home ...

Can you say, "Crossing the T?"  as Jim's German battlecruisers (dark bases on right) cross Sean's British battlecruiser line.  The resulting gunfire from the Germans sank the lead British battlecruiser.  Two of the British main battleship squadrons of Queen Elizabeth and King George V class battleships are in the left (KGV) and center (QE) background.
My four remaining battlecruisers were successful in crossing the T of the British battlecruisers, sending the lead one (HMS Tiger, I believe) to the bottom in another stupendous explosion."

All told the British lost six battlecruisers (three from Beatty's squadron and three from the main fleet), several older battleships, and several armored cruisers, plus suffered severe damage on at least four other more modern battleships.  The High Seas Fleet only lost one capitol ship, the SMS Von der Tann, which was overwhelmed by many salvos from the British battleships.  Two or three other capitol ships (SMS Hindenburg, SMS Helgoland, and one other) suffered severe damage and will be under repair for a number on months.

Jay, Lord Sterling, proclaimed a victory for the German High Seas fleet.

But more importantly, all of us had a great time and a great game!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

WW2 Coastal Warfare

It has been a long time since I really did anything "naval" enough to post here.  But my good friend and long-time war gaming buddy Jay and I have finally made the plunge into WW2 coastal warfare.  He and I have been dodging around this genre for a long time.  Jay got it started last year by getting some 1:700 scale plastic motor torpedo boats.  He added a box of various small ships and I followed with another box on MTBs.  Our first game is tomorrow.

So here we go into my endeavors:

This is the Skywave 1:700 scale Motor Torpedo Boats kit.  It contains four each of the three types of boats listed on the cover - American PT boats, German "S" boats (or "E" boats), and British Vospers MTBs.  There is a plethora of teeny tiny parts that I had to use tweezers to install.  Even then some of them got away from me so a couple of my boats are missing vents or flag staves.  Shown propped against the box are two of the American PT boats with their various parts and a inch scale ruler.

Two of my four German boats in their white-grey paint job.  The Germans found that this was the best paint scheme to make the boats essentially disappear at night in the North Sea.  The boats are mounted on 60mm x 20mm bases, to give you an idea of their small size.

And two of my British Vospers, the closer up-gunned into a facsimile of a motor gunboat and the further in its basic motor torpedo boat guise.  I have two of each type.  The British used a slightly darker grey so I used the medium grey of the German's decks on the British hulls and a darker grey on the British decks.  These are mounted on 40mm x 20mm bases.
I'm not sure what rules we'll be using as Jay has the penchant for devising his own using bits and pieces from other sets.  But whatever the rules are, I'm sure we'll have fun if only in trying to keep from running into each other!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Classic Compass Rose

Last December, Litko was offering free items with orders of selected bases and markers during their "Twelve Days of Christmas" event.  As I needed some more bases for my 18th Century figures, I took advantage of their offer and received a free Classic Compass Rose  [catalog link]:

Photo courtesy of Litko website.
It  has an engraved large wooden base in which a smaller wooden base with a smokey plastic ship is mounted.  It can be used as it comes, but I wanted to give it a little pizzazz.  So I tried my hand at some painting embellishments:

I carefully painted the outer circular base with "Ocean Reef Blue" from Delta Ceramcoat line and highlighted the two engraved heads and the points of the inner ring with yellow ocher and flesh.  The inner circle base was painted with the blue and ocher yellow.  The ship was first undercoated with gray matte medium and then painted with a charcoal hull, gray-white sails, and black masts.  The water was painted dark blue with white caps on the waves.

Overall, I think it looks very good and will (hopefully) soon see use in a sailing naval game.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Splash Markers

At our first 1:2400 pre-dreadnought game (Battle of the Yellow Sea), it was quickly apparent that I needed some way of marking which ship was firing at which other ship.  In our WW2 1:1200 naval games, Lord Sterling used two different sized golf tees, suitably painted and marked, as indicators.  But golf tees would be much too big for the 1:2400 ships I use.  Not having a plethora of funds to order the very nice shall splashes from Litko, I decided to make my own.  As I was constrained by time, both the immediacy of the next game and the fact that I'm having to take care of my dear wife, who broke her left leg on Veterans' Day and can't put any weight on it, I went for the easiest solution -- two different sized of flat-headed wood screws glued to some blank board game counters and suitably painted.  I numbered each marker, pairing one large and one small for those ships (battleships, armored cruisers, and a few protected cruisers) who had both main battery and secondary battery guns, resulting in 48 pairs and another 30+ singletons for the smaller gunned cruisers.  They worked very well.  You can see them in action in our fictional Battle of the Sea of Japan game.

Here, the main and secondary batteries from a Russian armored cruiser target a Japanese battleship.

One caution - please dull the points of the screws.  I didn't and several of us, me included, stabbed ourselves during the game!

Later on I plan on adding some sort of filler to the screws to make them look more like water splashes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fleet Anchorage

With the Russo-Japanese War fleets finally finished and a game under my belt (see the Jackson Gamers' blog sometime later today for a report), I wanted to show my "fleet anchorage" or where all these little ships reside when they aren't "afloat" on the wargames table.

The box is an old, no longer usable archival box that was being discarded some years ago.  But it is imminently suitable to store wargaming figures.  It measures 15" x 10" x 3".  I glued some magnetic sheeting from a local sign store into the bottom and then cut two upper "floors" to take advantage of the smallness of the ships.  The upper floors have magnetic tape affixed to them as moorings for the ships.  The Russian battleships and cruisers occupy the lower level; Japanese battleships and cruisers the middle level; and both sides destroyers and, eventually, merchant ships the upper.  All the ships fit with plenty of extra room on the top level.

Part of the Russian fleet on the lower level.  One ship is turned upside down so you can see the metal base I glued to the plastic ship base to provide heft and a mooring for the ship.

Here part of the Japanese fleet sits on its middle layer.  The finger holes on each end aid in lifting this level out of the box.

All three levels of the fleet anchorage.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rest of the Baltic Fleet

Just this past Friday evening I completed the last of the Russian Baltic Fleet (4 battleships and 5 cruisers).  They are presented for your viewing enjoyment.  All models are 1:2400 scale ships from Panzerschiffe Miniatures.  Please click on the photos for a larger image.

The Baltic Fleet was divided into two sea-going squadrons and sent on an immensely long voyage to the Far East, there to meet their doom against the Japanese fleet at Tsu-shima in the Korean Straits.  A few of the ships survived the battle, some were captured and incorporated into the Japanese fleet, and some were sunk.

The four modern battleships of the 1st Battle Division, 2nd Pacific Squadron were already posted immediately preceding this post.

The 2nd Battle Division, 2nd Pacific Squadron consisted of three battleships and one armored cruiser.  The three battleships' pictures have already been posted previously.  The only new ship here is:

Admiral Nakhimov, armored cruiser.

3rd Battle Squadron, 3rd Pacific Squadron, consisting of:

battleship Nikolai I (division flag), one of the first Russian battleships and hopelessly obsolescent;

battleship Admiral Ushakov, also obsolescent;

battleship Admiral Senyavin, of the Ushakov class; and

battleship General-Admiral Graf Apraxin, also of  the Ushakov class.

Cruiser Division, consisting of four of the cruisers (two of which, Aurora and Dmitri Donskoi, have been pictured already):

protected cruiser Oleg (division flag) and 

armored cruiser Vladimir Monomakh (near sister of Donskoi), obsolescent.

There were also two modern "light" cruisers of the same class that were attached for scouting:

protected cruiser Izumrud (meaning Emerald) and

protected cruiser Jemchug (meaning Pearl).

With the exception of one yacht-cruiser (Svietlana), three destroyers, and the fleet auxiliaries that accompanied the Baltic Fleet, that completes all my Russian ships for the Russo-Japanese War.  As Panzerschiffe makes a Svietlana, I may end up getting it although it didn't take part in the Battle of Tsu-shima, having been ordered to escape to Vladivostok at the start to let them know the fleet was coming.  I'm also short four Japanese destroyers.  But for all intents and purposes, the fleets are finished, URRAH! BANZAI!