Wednesday, August 8, 2018

International Naval Wargaming Day 2018

Last year David Manley kicked off the first International Naval Wargaming Day. A day to "Celebrate the birth of the father of naval wargaming, Fred T. Jane, by running or taking part in a game of your own!"
This year, Jane's birthday was on a Monday, which made it really tough to organize a game with other players. But the celebration must go on, so I grabbed some ships for a little solo action.

This year I pulled out some of my Spanish - American War ships for a little pre-dreadnought action using David Manley's Broadside and Salvo rules, which are included in his Splendid Little War mini-campaign. The scenario was an encounter in the Caribbean between heavy ships of the US Atlantic Squadron and Admiral Cevera's cruiser squadron.
Spanish cruisers (L to R - Infanta Maria Theresa, Almirante Oquendo, Viczaya, and Cristobal Colon) steaming to their fate
Two US battleships (Iowa and Indiana) and the armored cruiser New York
The Spanish objective was to escape across the map, while the Americans were trying to stop them.The Spanish cruisers had a little speed edge, but were out-gunned by the Americans, which is a pretty classic naval situation.

The turn sequence for the Broadside and Salvo rules is:
  1. Roll for Initiative 
  2. Roll for Action Points (these are basically command points to order your squadrons to maneuver and repair ships)
  3. Move ships (Initiative winner picks order) and allocate Action Points
  4. Gunnery - Initiative player shoots first and firing alternates by squadron with damage effect taking effect immediately
  5. Torpedo Phase - conduct torpedo attacks
  6. Repairs and Special Damage Phase
Overall a clean and easy turn sequence. Initiative proved to be an important part of the game.

The Spanish won the initiative on the first few turns, forcing the Americans to move first and then ordering max speed to try to slip by. But then the dice turned on the Spanish. The Americans won the initiative on the turn that both sides came into gun range and damaged the lead Spanish cruisers before they could return fire. But the Spanish were able to damage the American cruiser.

Gunnery is resolved by be competitive D6 die rolls, which are modified by the attacking ship's attack factor and defending ship's defense factor, along with some other modifiers for damage, range, etc. If the defender's modified roll beats the attacker, there is no damage. If they are equal, the defender takes a temporary hit. If the attacker beats the defender, the defending ship is damaged with multiples of the defender's roll doing more damage. There is also a chance of critical hits. One level of damage still allows the ship to move and fight, but with negative modifiers. A ship is Silenced with two levels of damage and can move, but not shoot. A ship is Crippled with three levels of damage and cannot move or shoot. Four levels levels of damage means the ship is sinking. Action Points can be allocated to repair Silenced (3 APs) and Crippled (4 APs) ships one level. I used markers to show each level of damage.

Over the next couple of turns the Spanish die rolling was very bad, while the Americans continued to inflict more damage on the Spanish line.
Spanish ships in trouble
The Spanish were able to repair one ship, but things just kept going downhill. In the end all the Spanish ships were sunk and the only damaged American ship was the cruiser New York.
Just before the end
The game played really quick. So quick, that I decided to try another game, but with a different scenario.

During the Spanish American War the American battleship Oregon made a high-speed (for those days) trip from San Francisco to the Caribbean. One of the fears was that Cevera's squadron would intercept the lone battleship. So, I decided to try out the four Spanish cruisers against one battleship.
Oregon, crossing the line (equator?)
The Spanish cruisers had the speed edge, so the battleship tried to put itself in the best gunnery position. The Oregon's heavy battleship armor stopped most hits, while her big guns dealt damage to the cruisers. Oregon did take one level of damage, but was able to silence three of the Spanish cruisers. Just when it looked like Oregon had everything in hand, Cristobol Colon scored a hit silencing the battleship.
Standoff at sea
With almost all the ships silenced, both sides hoped to roll enough Action Points for repairs and the Spanish also hoped for another lucky hit by Colon. But luck was with the Americans. They repaired the battleship first and finished off the Spanish cruisers.

Overall the games were quick, keeping with the fast-play rules, and deadly. The 1-on-1 squadron battles probably weren't as interesting as a multiple squadron action. After playing, I thought I should have created multiple squadrons in the first scenario to see how that would have played out. Another alternative would have been to add some more ships (regular cruisers for the Americans and torpedo boats for the Spanish) to make more squadrons.

The same rules are used with the Russo-Japanese War campaign and I think they would work well there, since both sides have more ships.


  1. Great report. I need to follow your advice about multiple squadrons when playing the ironclad version of the rules. Nice models too.

  2. Good job on getting in a naval game on the International Naval Wargame day. Nice report. 😀 I liked the bit about going over the equator. I just posted my own INWD report on my blog.