Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Morschauser Afloat

It is fair to say that most, if not all war gamers are inveterate rule tinkerers. From simple house rules added to an existing set through to home made versions or even unofficial supplements or variants we are always ‘fiddling’. Readers of this blog will have no doubt seen the various degrees of tinkering I have taken part in – most significantly with the DBSA WW1 Naval variant (which is in fact a variant of a variant!) – so it will probably come as no surprise to learn that I have been ‘at it again’. The target this time was the grid based rules of Joseph Morschauser that have been given a new lease of life by Bob Cordery via his blog: http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.com/. As things stand at the moment, Bob has developed both 19th century and Modern (primarily aimed at WW2) versions and very good they are too – simple, challenging and a lot of fun to play and once again much thanks and appreciation to Bob for his efforts with this. The rules work so well (a tribute to the soundness of the original concept) that I plan to use them for my Balkan Wars project and indeed many other, as yet uncharted ideas.

I was thinking about the rule system as a whole when it occurred to me that the mechanics could be very easily used for naval games. After the relative torture I endured (as did the long suffering members of SEEMS during the play testing!) making a grid based version of DBSA for the WW1 era, producing a set of Morschauser style naval rules was happily much simpler. The mechanics of combat are very straightforward requiring numbers of d6 rather than the use of factors. This makes for a more ‘fun’ aspect as most gamers (including myself) enjoy rolling handfuls of dice in the heat of combat! There is no record keeping and best of all – the ship details I have already tabled for the DBSA set are usable for this version so I will not have to immerse myself in Jane’s or Conway’s for hours at a time! Of course a few details will need to be checked but mercifully not that many and, to be honest browsing through either of these tomes is hardly a trial! An unexpected bonus in respect of using the dice driven Morschauser combat mechanics is that by using differing numbers of d6 for a ship’s vital statistics in conjunction with having superior, normal and inferior categories I am able to better reflect the differences between ships of the same notional type. This is an important consideration as most naval gamers are very well clued up on their favourite warships and any attempt to fudge the detail will be quickly identified and challenged!

Hits are scored by rolling the number of dice indicated by the ship specification chart for the ship and weapon in use with a hit being scored by the roll of a 6 at the final square of a firing ships range, a 5 or 6 for the interim squares and a 4, 5 or 6 when adjacent to the target. A ship may be able to save against any hits suffered depending on the quality of the firing guns and the targets protection. Movement is very simple and like combat is purely orthogonal – ships may turn up to 90 degrees in each square they enter and are allowed to face a corner in the last square of their movement but have to face either the port or starboard square off the ships bow before commencing their next movement. This allows two things – it enables ships to open their fire arcs and it also adds a little to the fog of war as the opponent will not know which way the ship will move off. I have included the long/short move mechanic (used in my DBSA variant and based on the system used by Barry Carter) as it means that ship speeds can be more accurately reflected when used on the grid. Damage is recorded by the use of white counters or shell splashes for hits; these are removed and exchanged for a black counter when a ship has suffered fifty percent damage. When the ship has but a single damage point left it picks up its second black marker and is counted as crippled. As yet I have not included any tactical modifiers, preferring to ‘let the dice decide’. Submarines, merchantmen, minefields, raiders and shore batteries etc thus far do not feature but I am sure can be slotted in as and when needed.
The version I have drafted covers the same time frame as the DBSA variant – roughly 1900 to the end of the Great War. I can see absolutely no reason why the core system could not be tweaked further to cover WW2 and indeed, I always planned to tackle that for the DBSA variant. The biggest addition will of course be the increasing use of air power. One for later in the year methinks – I have enough painting/modelling/research/reading etc, etc to be getting on with as it is!

I plan to play test the rules over the weekend and will look to give them a run out at the club very soon. I am very excited about the potential of these rules; probably more so than the DBSA variant as they offer a more 'gamey' experience.

The rules as they have been drafted thus far are probably only marginally more complex than Axis and Allies: War at Sea and so will be ideal for any solo or club night mini campaigns. Indeed, the success of Axis and Allies at the club was another reason why I was so pleased to be able to bring about this naval variant of Morschauser.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great idea, I've been using a house version of Barry Carter's with a grid 9xrectangle to an A4 blue plasticard (16 x A4) moveable as and where the battle progresses..I only allow 45 deg turns per move however.But it does sound a good bit like yours --- keep up the good work!

Ogrefencer said...

Many thanks! The rules are pretty much at the testing stage and to be honest the most work has been to tweak the DBSA ship specs I prepared. I will post the test results on Sunday. I would be interested to see your house version of Barry Carter's rules and the movable board seems like a good idea.

All the best,

Ogre

Anonymous said...

Hi Ogre, my Carter Houserules are same sort of points definition displacement/deck armour/belt armour making a Q Eliz class BB about 700points. Same damage/firing rates for the various calibres. But only a 6 on a D6 is a hit, but I roll 2x another colour D6 for each salvo for critical damage. Double 6/5 counts as critical. Then for 18/15inch guns 2xD20 14/12inch 1x D20 and 1 xD12, 11/10/9.4" 1 xD20 & 1 xD10 --- MULTIPLY the score ie 2 xD20 max damage is 400 points. I do similar with torps and mines. Not rivet counting but gives a critical dimension to the damage.

Ogrefencer said...

I must confess that I have used Carter's short/long move and the hit dice although not the points damage as I am allergic to recoding damage on paper! I like the idea about critical hits and may well borrow that in some fashion!

All the best,

Ogre