Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final Enfilade Preparations

With Enfilade being less than a week away, I've been going through my checklist to make sure I have everything ready for my two events and for the other stuff I want to do.

I also want to post some pictures from the ships I recently finished for the Pacific coastal forces game I'm running on Saturday afternoon. These ships are optional forces for the game (the Japanese players will have several possible forces they can choose). The first ship is a Japanese LST from the Tamiya Military Transport Set. Realistically, none of these ships were available in the time frame of my game, but it is a nice looking kit and I wanted something a little different for the game.
Japanese LST cruising off-shore
Overhead view of the LST
You can see my island terrain for the game in the background of all of these photos. The second ship is a W19 class minesweeper from the Tamiya WWII Japanese Navy Auxiliary Vessels set.

W19 class minesweeper
Overhead view of the minesweeper
For a little fun I also took a picture of one of the little sailing vessel/working boat ships I have to act as transports and decoys in my games. It looked like it would fit right in with the island scenery. 
Island sailor
I also realized I never posted the final pictures of the Project 206MR Matka hydrofoil missile boat after I mounted in on a base. So, here it is in foil-borne view.

Project 206MR Matka
Finally, it looks like a really good year for naval games at Enfilade this year. Sometimes there are just a few naval games, but this year there are 16 games (including my two) with a good variety of topics and rules. I'm glad to see this and I thought I'd post the listing of the naval games at Enfilade this year (Note: You can find the whole Preliminary Event List on the NHMGS Enfilade page).
Friday Afternoon
Yalu 1894
Rules: Fire When Ready, Gridley
Description: Sino-Japanese war, 1894, the Yellow Sea: The Japanese fleet under Admiral Ito, attempting to disrupt the landing of troops at the mouth of the Yalu river, encounters the Chinese fleet under Admiral Ruchang protecting it. While the Chinese ships are better on paper, the Japanese are better lead - and apparently suffer less corruption when it comes to their naval suppliers. This battle was one of the first fought between pre-dreadnoughts armed with quick-firing guns and torpedoes. 1/700 scale.

Battle of Midway
Rules: Axis and Allies War at Sea
Description: June 4th 1942, two great forces collide in the Pacific around the strategic island Midway Atoll. The Japanese have sent an invasion force to capture this key island unaware that the American carrier fleet is lurking nearby. Play as either the Japanese or the Americans alongside skilled War at Sea players and relive the battle of Midway. Who knows maybe you'll change history.

Hunt for the Geoben: Battle of the Cervi Channel 1914
Rules: Fleet Action Imminent (GQ3-WW1)
Description: It's August of 1914 in the Med, and the gallant light cruiser HMS Gloucester has been shadowing the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben and light cruiser SMS Breslau all night. In spite of attempts to jam the Gloucester's wireless, the Germans have to assume that British forces are closing in. Can the Goeben & Breslau slip through the Cervi Channel into the Aegean Sea at dawn, or will there be a superior force lying in wait? 1:2400 scale.

Friday Evening
Axis & Allies WWII Naval
Rules: Axis and Allies War at Sea
Description: No need to sign up, just stop by and try your hand as admiral of a WWII naval fleet. Games can take up to 60 minutes to play. No experience necessary to play. Play a historic scenario such as the hunt for the Bismarck or simply play a pickup game against a friend or knowledgeable player on hand.

Battle of Sluys - Medieval Naval
Rules: David Manley’s Medieval Naval Rules
Description: The naval battle of Sluys was fought in 1340 between the naval forces of France and England during the 100 Years War. The English must win to prosecute an effective land campaign on the mainland. The French must win as prelude to a successful invasion of England. The game uses David Manley’s Medieval Fleet Action rules, which have their basis in DBA.

von Spee in the Indian Ocean: Battle of the Maldives 1914
Rules: Fleet Action Imminent (GQ3-WW1)
Description: What if, in August of 1914, von Spee's German East Asia squadron had steamed west into the Indian Ocean instead of east across the Pacific, putting his cruiser squadron across the transport lanes for all the troop convoys from India, Australia, and New Zealand? It's September 1914, and British Rear Admiral Peirse, strongly reinforced by ships from the Med, is attempting to bring von Spee's dangerous squadron to bay somewhere in the Maldive islands. 1:2400 scale WW1 naval. Rules: Fleet Action Imminent (GQ3-WW1).

Incident off Vera Cruz
Rules: Supremacy at Sea: Great War
Description: It is April, 1914. The U.S. has been pursuing Mexican revolutionaries through kinetic military action. This is a major commitment and objective of U.S. foreign policy. It has been learned that Germany may be intending to interfere with these activities. A critical troop convoy is being escorted to Vera Cruz. The President has made it clear that that convoy must successfully reach the port. The convoy escort is authorized to warn any ships coming within visibility of the convoy to break off, and to fire on any ships that may threaten the convoy. Smoke on the horizon! Opening their Jane's the convoy commanders recognize some Teutonic ship profiles.

Saturday Morning
Rules: Fire When Ready, Gridley
Description: The classic Tsushima Straits scenario using David Manley’s “Fire When Ready, Gridley” miniature rules.

Man Your Oars
Rules: Galleys & Glory
Description: Captain your own galley on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Ram your enemies and board them for glory and booty. Please the Gods and you will be favored in the future.

Operation Moravid
Rules: Bulldogs Away! Modern Fast Attack Craft Rules
Description: During the Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi forces equipped oil terminals at the north end of the Persian Gulf as military listening posts (with radar and troops) to track Iranian ship and air movements. On November 29, 1980 Iranian Task Force 421, composed of an LST with marines, a patrol boat, and a pair of missile boats, launched an attack on one of the Iraqi facilities. The attack on the oil terminal was successful, but as the Iranians were leaving they got word that Iraqi Navy dispatched missile and torpedo boats are approaching. Can the Iranians escape or will the Iraqis exact some revenge?

Saturday Afternoon
Roman Seas: Ancient Roman Naval, 48 BC
Rules: Roman Seas
Description: Caesar's Men Must Be Fed: Pompey's naval forces must try to stop a fleet of merchant ships from reaching Caesars forces. I will provide all ship models, crews, dice, etc.

South Pacific Nights
Rules: Action Stations! Coastal Forces Rules
Description: American and Japanese light naval forces (destroyers, patrol boats, torpedo boats, etc.) were the workhorses in the South Pacific. They conducted raids, patrols, resupply, and interdiction missions that often resulted in short, confusing battles. What will be the mission for tonight? A quick patrol off an enemy held coast... dropping off supplies to a beleaguered garrison... Join the game and find out.

Saturday Evening
Axis & Allies WWII Naval Tournament
Rules: Axis and Allies War at Sea
Description: New and experienced gamers invited. This tournament will be held with pre selected WW2 naval fleets from the game Axis and Allies: War at Sea. If you don't know how to play, don't worry! We will have helpful gaming members who will be on hand to help you learn. Prizes have been donated including War at Sea starter packs with all you need to start your own collection

A Lesson for Mr. Roosevelt
Rules: Supremacy at Sea
Description: Time: July 4, 1941, 4 p.m. (In a slightly different timeline).
Situation: The President has agreed to send the 6th Marine Regiment to Iceland to free British occupation troops. As this will be the first overseas deployment of U.S. troops, the convoy is being heavily escorted with two battleships. The situation for enemy forces is a concern. The Bismarck, after an uneventful cruise in May, 1941, was able to dock in Brest and join the Scharnhorst and Gneisnau. The Prinz Eugen is presumed to have returned to Germany as it has not been seen in France. Although it is not expected that Germany will intervene, the Royal Navy has agreed to provide HMS Hood as distant escort for the convoy. As Hitler has just added Stalin to his enemies list, surely he wouldn't want to anger the U.S. too?

Sunday Morning
Closing Wilmington
Rules: Ironclads for miniatures
Description: Fictitious battle based on Union efforts to capture the Confederate port of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River after the fall of Fort Fisher in the waning days of the war. A combined arms battle featuring all those things you love-shore batteries, minefields, ironclads, a Martello tower (!!) and even some land action. Some Ironclads experience is helpful but not required.

Dreadnoughts at Night
Rules: Supremacy at Sea: Great War
Description: It is midnight on May 31st, 1916. Assuming the Grand Fleet was cruising a couple knots slower than it did, the High Seas Fleet in a long line runs right into the middle of the Grand Fleet's night cruising formation. Dreadnought Armageddon follows. Note: This requires minimum 6 players. If fewer are available, we will do a smaller night action based on the situation of Dec 16, 1914 when the High Seas Fleet was within 10 miles of the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and the Battle Cruiser Fleet.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Couple of Short Book Reviews

Sorry I haven't posted any updated recently, I've been pretty busy with work the past week and haven't been able to do much miniatures work. But I thought I would post a couple book reviews as a little blog filler. Hopefully you find them useful.

Both of the books in this post deal with the War of 1812. Considering next year is the 200th anniversary of the war, I expect we'll see a lot more books on the subject.

Perilous Fight: America's Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas 1812-1815, By Stephen Budiansky

Budiansky's book takes a different tack to the naval portion of the War of 1812. Rather than focusing on the details of the naval actions, he turns his eye more toward the personalities involved in those actions, primarily viewed from the American side. While Budiansky does talk a little about the creation of the U.S. Navy, the book really starts out with the American war against the Barbary States in 1803, introducing the reader to Edward Preble, Stephen Decatur, and the unlucky William Bainbridge. After this introduction, the author moves on to the causes of the War of 1812 and general strategies for both sides.

The book goes on to cover the initial frigate vs. frigate victories by the Americans, but more from the viewpoint of how the commanders, politicians, and public viewed the battles than an actual blow-by-blow account. There are some places that I think the author follows some popular legends about these actions, but overall the story is pretty good. However, If you read a lot of book about the early U.S. Navy, there isn't much new in these portions of the book.

One section that does add might add some new information for readers is the chapter on American Privateers. This chapter provides a little about how the privateers outfitted their ships and operations, but the real meat of the chapter covers what happened to those ships that were captured by the Royal Navy. In addition to talking about the conditions on prison ships in the Caribbean and England, the author covers the eventual transfer of many privateers to Dartmoor Prison. I actually found the section on Dartmoor to be one of the most interesting sections of the book. Mainly because it was something that I didn't know a lot about.

The book only briefly touches on the naval actions on the Great Lakes and Chesapeake, but based on the subtitle, that is pretty much what I expected.

Overall, the book was an easy read and good introductory book for people that haven't read anything about the naval war of 1812. It does provide a little more insight into the personalities of the American frigate captains and the Secretary of Navy, William Jones, during the war, but if you are looking for detailed battle discussions, you probably want to look elsewhere. I would recommend the book, but I would also recommend reading Ian Toll's Six Frigates in conjunction with Perilous Fight.

Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812, by Donald G. Shomette

This book is an updated and enlarged version of a 1979 book of the same title. Flotilla covers the formation, operations, and dissolution of Commodore Joshua Barney's Chesapeake Flotilla during the War of 1812. The book is pretty detailed in coverage of the flotilla. The first appendix has the muster roll of every man in the flotilla, including when they joined, their station (what they did), and when they were discharged (or in some cases, killed); while the third appendix has reproductions of some the fleet maneuvers that Commodore Barney planned to use with the flotilla.

The book starts out by looking at the English actions in the Chesapeake Bay early in the war, which included devastating raids throughout the region. For the most part American officials were at a loss on how to combat the British. In late 1813, Joshua Barney proposed the formation of an independent flotilla of gunboats and war barges to stymie the British efforts. Because of Barney's past success, having been a successful captain in the Revolutionary War and privateer during the War of 1812, the offer was accepted and Barney started outfitting the group.

The book goes pretty in-depth into the organization, building, and outfitting of the flotilla and the gunboats (the second appendix of the book lists the cost and materials used in the building of the row galley Black Snake, including the number of rounds for each cannon on the galley). If you are a rivet counter, I expect you will find this very interesting. Because the author is a marine archeologist involved with researching the history of the flotilla, he is very up-front about what is known about the gunboats for the flotilla and what is guesswork.

Once the flotilla is fitted out, the book moves on to its deployment and the battles it fought in. There are some really good descriptions of the Battles of St. Leonard's Creek and militia actions during various British raids (side note: as a wargamer, I found a lot to like in these descriptions, since I could actually see ways of turning these battles into game scenarios). The books continues on with the eventual abandonment of the gunboats and the participation of the flotilla's sailors in the Battle of Bladensburg. It finishes up with a little about the archeological research into the flotilla.

Flotilla covers a little known aspect of the War of 1812 and I really enjoyed this book. This is probably because it was a subject I didn't know a lot about and because I could see myself creating some gaming scenarios based on the actions described in the book. That said, it is a pretty expensive book (I would guess that is because it had a limited print run), so unless you have the extra money to spend on it, I would suggest checking with your local library to see if they have a copy or can get one through inter-library loan.