The rule mechanics worked well enough although the final scrap metal count was pretty high. The gunnery was as tense as ever - I am convinced that rolling lots of dice is better than a single with a load of modifiers applied – and torpedo attacks were unusually effective (probably due to some outrageous dice rolls!). Overall I was happy with this aspect of the game. I still think that ship’s facing and fire arcs etc should be represented in some way – this will encourage a little more manoeuvre – but accept the ‘fudge’ of the rules.
We used the standard objective counter and ships sunk points total to determine the winner on a ‘first past the post’ basis. Obviously at 50 points a time the objective markers were hotly contested from the outset (well two of them were – the third was deliberately ignored by the RN) and as these acted as magnets to the opposing sides it meant that ships got up close and personal very quickly. This was OK in respect of the fact it forced players to act but it did feel a little artificial. Similarly, damaged and crippled ships were happy to fight on until sunk and seeing a pair of opposing cripples slugging it out at point blank range like something out of a Rocky film was a little incongruous, to say the least. It did get me thinking about fleet morale and such like and I came up with the following ideas.
A ship sustaining damage rolls a d6 at the end of the turn the damage has been inflicted. If the dice score is equal to or less than the number of damage points carried then that ship must break off the action and retire at its best speed to its own start line and then leave the table. This roll is not made every turn – only when damage is sustained.
A crippled ship must also break off the action and retire at its best speed to its own start line and then leave the table.
The idea behind these two rules is twofold: firstly, it will ensure that crippled ships will take little further part in the action as they are effectively attempting to clear the scene as soon as possible and secondly, once ships start taking hits there is a possibility that discretion may prove to be the better part of valour and a vessel may decide to ‘bug out’. The damage system as it stands does not specify types of damage so should a battleship fail its roll having suffered but a single hit it could be assumed that the type of damage sustained has compromised its efficiency in some way – a good example of which would be the electrical failure on a US battleship (off the top of my head I can’t remember which one but it was during a battle!). The ship was undamaged but with no power so that would certainly ruin your day. A similar thing happened to the Prince of Wales leading up to its sinking so the point is even relatively minor damage could prompt a captain to withdraw (arguably this was what convinced the Italians to withdraw when Warspite scored her single long range hit on the Guilio Cesare.
In a nutshell it means that a commander cannot guarantee that once his ships start taking damage that they will happily sit around and take it. Of course this could be scenario specifically modified if need be; it could even be tweaked for national characteristics should the need arise and is felt desirable.
A further issue was seen to be the fact that whilst the damage effect of hitting a destroyer is about right it does seem far too easy to score hits on them. One of the variants I have seen allows all destroyers to use the ‘chasing the salvoes’ special ability which means that they are allowed a single d6 roll per turn which negates any damage sustained that game turn by scoring, if I remember correctly, a 5 or 6. My own feeling is to make it harder to hit destroyers in the first place – perhaps just 5 and 6s rather than 4, 5 and 6s. A small destroyer speeding along at 30 kts; dodging and weaving as it does, will be a tricky target to hit but make no mistake, a single 6” shell hit exploding in its vitals will ruin its day in no uncertain terms!
Much to ponder methinks, whilst dipping my toes in the Mediterranean and consuming a small quart of Turkish beer - the legendary Efes………………….;-)