Saturday, November 25, 2017

Planning for DANG 2017

With November almost over, I’m finally getting around to preparing for my yearly naval game: DANG (Dave's Annual Naval Game). We had our DANG voting earlier this year and for this year's game the voters selected Seastrike!
The box cover of the last version of Seastrike
Normally the games up for vote are historical real or what-if actions. But over the past couple of years I’ve added in a couple imagi-nations type games, where the idea was to pick a historical era, let each side build a navy (within some guidelines), and let them fight it out. This year, I was persuaded to put the old Airel game Seastrike on the list for voting and, much to my surprise, it came out on top.

For those of you that don’t know much about the Seastrike, it small-scale modern naval warfare game that claims to provide a simplified but realistic simulation of the planning and tactics of modern naval combat today. It includes rules missile boats, corvettes, frigates, destroyers, submarines, helicopters, and multi-role aircraft and land-based sites. There are rules for ships up to cruiser size, but no aircraft carriers. Ship and aircraft movement is pretty simple and combat is resolved using special cards, included in the game, that are drawn to check for fire control lock-on and show the damage caused to ships by the major weapons groups. Overall, the rules should be easy for players to pick up.
A sample of the Seastrike combat cards
The next problem was coming up with miniatures and a campaign scenario. Because all the ships were going to be on the smaller side, I decided to check around for some larger ships. During my search, I came across the Amateur Wargames Figures store on Shapeways, which makes a bunch of different modern ships in 1/1800 scale. With the ships somewhat sorted out, it was on to figure out the campaign scenario.

Based on the rules, I wanted to set the game in the 1980s/90s and, rather than it being a superpower proxy war, I decided it would be a short war between two long-time rivals that were supplied weapons by Western Powers (think Greece vs. Turkey or Chile vs. Argentina). The idea being that these two rivals sat on either side of a vital strait and the West has decided that weapons (in our case ships and planes) would be sold in basically equal batches. That way one side wouldn’t get the upper hand on the other and cause problems. But for this campaign, both side are ready to fight, even if it is with equal forces. The campaign will consist of three scenarios, with each side allocating ships to each scenario before it is fought. The side that wins two out of three battles will win the war. Although players must also ensure that they have a navy for the post-war bargaining. There will be some pre-game twists that allow players to purchase modifications for their ships, special armaments, or political/spy maneuvers.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. I think it should be an interesting, quick, and fun game. I'll post updates on the ship and aircraft miniatures as I get them painted.

We've played a wide variety of games for DANG, so I don't really feel too bad about taking a detour away from a truly historical game this year. Here are links to recaps of DANG from before 2010, the 2010 Lepanto game, the 2011 American Civil War river game, the 2012 War of 1812 Lake Ontario game, the 2013 Operation Landcrab game, the 2014 Cogs of War game, 2015 The Shores of Tripoli game, and last year's The Big Stick game.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Some quick thoughts on ARA San Juan

As a former U.S. Navy submariner and general naval enthusiast, I try to keep up with naval events around the world, but I reserve a special place for submarines. This past week I’ve been following the news (and lack of news) on the Argentinean submarine San Juan.
ARA San Juan, a TR-1700 class submarine
For those you that haven’t been following the story, The Argentinean Navy lost contact with the submarine last week. Information about the sub’s last contact and other details have been trickling out all week. Reports of possible satellite contact, flares, life rafts, and underwater noises have raised hope that the crew was trying to contact rescuers. But it has been more than a week since there was confirmed contact and with reports coming out today about an explosion near the sub’s last know position, hope that the sub and crew are okay has diminished.

This latest incident, along with the news coming out of the U.S. Seventh Fleet this past year, is just another reminder of how dangerous being in the military and going to sea (and in particular going to sea in submarines) is, not that we really need that reminder.

I know that submariners are a particularly crafty and innovative bunch, so I still hold out hope that the crew of San Juan (including Argentina’s first woman submariner) will be found safe. But the realist in me knows that time for the search and rescue operation is running out and I expect that it will turn into a search and recovery operation soon.