Monday, 11 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea

Following on from my recent post and communications with Bob Cordery around the subject of a naval version of Memoir 44/Battle Cry I have spent some time over the weekend giving this some thought. Bob C has already drafted some ideas on his blog and these have been most useful in the formulation of my own ideas. It is no secret that I should like to have a uniform set of rules that cover the era from 1890 to 1945 and certainly using the Command and Colours system as the basis for such an undertaking has many advantages.

The rules will need to be hex based which is not a problem as such – making a cloth with the requisite sized hexes would not be difficult, especially marking the 60 degree angles only rather than the whole hex – all I would need to do is to prepare a suitably sized cardboard template. Given the size of the War at Sea WW2 models this will need to be 8” across the hexsides which would be easily achievable on a suitable bed sheet. For 1/3000th models smaller hexes would be fine - in fact the plain blue sea hexes available as part of the Hexon range would be ideal.

The standard size Memoir 44/Battle Cry! Board is 13 by 9 hexes and so this is the template for the playing area that I shall be working on and so this will determine move distances and combat ranges. Taking a maximum gun range as being 24,000 yards I intend to use a notional scale of a hex being 4,000 yards. This translates as a maximum gunfire range of 6 hexes. The reason I have opted for this is so that a standard sized gaming surface of 13 x 9 hexes will have some room to manoeuvre outside of gun range. Similarly, I want the fastest ships to be travelling at no more than 4 hexes, again to encourage some thought about what happens in a game context. For combat resolution the use of ‘doctored dice’ is a good call – Bob C has suggested d6 with 6 representing 2 hits, 4 and 5 being one hit and 1, 2 or 3 being a miss. This is coincidentally the same regime that Axis and Allies: War at Sea use!

I shall be using a dice based activation system rather than using command cards – this approach has been used quite successfully by Worthington Games – as I think this will enable players to better simulate the specifics of a particular scenario. There will also be the ability to randomly tweak the base activation number (this is the dice based equivalent of the number of command cards per side in given scenario) which should satisfy even the most pedantic admiral!

Combat, movement and orders are therefore fairly straightforward. The basic C and C combat system assumes a number of dice are rolled based on the unit type and this is adjusted for range and terrain – regardless of the damage sustained by the firing/combat unit so that, for example, a unit down to 25% of its original strength will still roll combat dice based on its original strength. I have always had a bit of an issue with this because if a unit is losing effectives then by definition it will lose its effectiveness. As far as a ship is concerned then this can easily be catered for by reducing the number of combat dice rolled or by adjusting the dice rolled e.g. counting 1 to 4 as a miss and 5 and 6 as a single hit – indeed, even a combination of these two methods.

Recording damage will be straightforward and I plan to use white counters for minor hits and black for major. I would also add the caveat that a number of minor hits can be traded up for a major hit although I need to think about this further.

As far as air power is concerned my answer is well, I have no answer, at least not yet. The same applies to submarines, minefields, shore batteries – all are on the ‘to do’ list and will tackled in due course.

The title of this post has been borrowed from Bob (many thanks!) and is a simple but elegant tribute to the naval rule forebears as well as a great idea!

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