Saturday, 30 October 2010

Somewhere in the Black Sea....

This is very much in the nature of a double whammy of a post as not only will I be describing my first experience of using the Hexon terrain tiles but also the first play test of naval rules loosely based on the Memoir '44/Battle Cry! system.

The tiles are magnificent. They fit together really well using the ample supply of clips provided and can be assembled and dismantled very quickly and of course, the set fits in the box for easy storage and transport. The only criticism I have is that the blue is very much a sea blue colour so using them for aerial games may be a shade problematic but that is purely a personal thing. Interestingly enough, the first picture I took of the playtest using a flash made them look like they are sky blue in colour.

Somewhere in the Black Sea....

The Turkish Battle Cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim (ex Goeben) is patrolling in the Black Sea in the hope of disrupting the Russian convoys reinforcing the Caucasus Front. At the same time the Russians have despatched to Dreadnought Imperatricia Marija to safeguard the same, mindful of the possibility that the Turks may be operating in the area.

I set this up on a 10 x 9 playing area with the Russians starting in the top left hex and the Turks at the bottom right. I rated the vessels as follows:

Yavuz Sultan Selim - BB (BC) - 9 hit points, 8 main dice, 4 secondary dice, 1 torpedo dice and a speed of 4.

Imperatricia Marija - BB - 8 hit points, 9 main dice, 4 secondary dice, 1 torpedo dice and a speed of 3.

The German ship is tougher and faster than the Russian but the Russian has better main guns (12 x 12" versus 10 x 11").

Turn 1. Initiative - Russian 6, Turks 11 so the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to starboard and then moved 1 hex forward. The Turks moved 4 hexes in a straight line. The ships were at a range of 7 hexes but the Russian was bow on to the Turks and so was unable to fire at the range with its forward guns - Range 7 with 9 combat dice equals 3 dice rolled BUT 1 dice is deducted for every two hexes (or part of) from range 3 upwards. 3 - 3 equals zero dice. The Turks meanwhile were under no such handicap and rolled 2 dice scoring 3 and 2 which were both misses.

The end of turn one with the Russian ship (the left of the picture) bow on to the Turk.

Turn 2. Initiative - Russian 2, Turks 9 so once again the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to port and then moved one hex forward. The Turks moved 3 hexes forward and turned 1 hexside to starboard. The ships were now at a range of 6 and both ships were able to fire with full broadsides. the Russian rolled 4 combat dice scoring 1, 3, 3 and 4 - all misses. The Turkish response with 3 combat dice was to score 1, 4 and a 5 - which is a hit at that range (Battleship type guns hit on a 5 or 6 at range of 5 or 6) so first blood to the Sublime Porte!

The end of turn 2 with the Russian having turned broadside on to the turning Turkish ship. The white counter by the Russian is a hit marker for identification purposes.

Turn 3. Initiative - Russian 9, Turks 11 so yet again the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to starboard and then moved 1 hex forward. The Turks moved forward 3 hexes and then turned 1 hexside to starboard. The range was now 5 hexes and the Russians rolled 5 combat dice scoring 1, 2, 2, 3 and 5 - a single hit on the Turk. The 4 combat dice rolled by the Turk were a 1, 2, 3 and 4 so all missed.

The end of turn 3 with the Russian continuing to turn inside his faster opponent
and inflicting his first damage of the game.

Turn 4. Initiative - Russian 4, Turks 8 as the fourth turn in succession the Russian were forced to move first. The Russian moved 2 hexes forward and then turned a hexside to starboard whilst the Turk went 4 hexes straightforward. the range increased slightly to 6 hexes and the Russians threw 5 dice scoring 1, 1, 1, 2 and 3 - all of which missed. The Turkish return fire with 4 dice scored a 1, 2, 4 and a 6! The 6 was rerolled and threw a 3 so no further damage aside from the single hit was recorded.

The end of turn 4 with the Russian sustaining a further hit with no reply as the Turk continues to literally run rings around his opponent.

Turn 5. Initiative - Russians 6, Turks 8 and so yet again the Turks made the Russians move first. The Russian moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hexside to starboard and moved a further hex forward. The Turk moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hexside to the starboard and moved 2 hexes forward. the range remained at 6 hexes and so the Russians fired with 4 dice and scored 3, 3, 6 and 6 for 2 hits. the additional rerolls however were a 3 and a 4 and so inflicted no further damage. That would give the Turks something to think about and no mistake! Their return fire with 3 dice came in at 2, 4 and a 6 for a single hit but without success with the reroll, scoring a 4.

The dramatic events of turn 5 as both sides sustain damage - with the Turk coming off worse in the exchange.

Turn 6. Initiative - Russians 4, Turks 7 so once again the Russians had to move first. The Russian moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hex to starboard and moved a further hex forward. The Turk meanwhile moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hex to starboard and moved a further 2 hexes forward. Once again the range remained at 6 hexes so the Russians rolled 4 dice whilst the Turk rolled 3. The Russian rolled 2, 2 , 3 and a 6 for a hit. The extra roll for the 6 scored another 6 for a second hit and so the Turk now had 2 points of damage from a single salvo. The second reroll came up with a 1 so no further damage was inflicted. The Turkish return fire, not withstanding the heavy damage sustained, scored a 1, 3 and a 5 for a single hit.

The Turkish ship had now sustained 5 hits out of 9 points and so, with discretion being the better part of valour the Captain ordered full speed ahead and turned away from the Russian and headed back to Constantinople. The Russian was unable to pursue her faster opponent and mindful of her own heavy damage, headed away from the scene having accomplished her mission.


There was absolutely no problem with the rules other than a couple of minor typing errors and so I was very pleased at how it all worked out. Obviously this was first test and I will need to expand this to include other types but the omens at this stage are pretty good. Firing worked well and the levels of damage inflicted felt about right. I will need to tweak the effect of damage slightly - Bob Cordery had the excellent idea of a critical point at which the damage sustained by a ship determined that it would try and get away if possible - if only so that I can include some potential degrading of a ships capabilities in terms of speed and firepower. The ship capabilities I selected for the two combatants seemed to work well and so the concept appears to be sound so it will be a case of back to the naval reference books again!

In the meantime though I shall amend the draft (which is completely different to the version I sent out a little while ago - sorry about that chaps but this version is a whole lot better!) in preparation for the next play test.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Well done! Both an interesting and well illustrated battle report AND what sounds like an interesting set of naval wargames rules.

I look forward to reading your next battle report.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for the comments - much appreciated.I have a really good feeling about the rules as they stand at the moment which is ironic given the amount of time I spent on the various sets I was working on last year! I need to incorporate a few minor tweaks but the core mechanics appear to be fine. I will tackle these and then move on to a bigger action to see how that goes.

All the best,


SteelonSand said...

Great, detailed report - seems like the rules work in a straightforward way, but are still quite realistic - I was particularly pleased to see the realistic looking engagement distances in the photos, seems like you have things well worked out.

Many thanks for the comments on the Hexon - I had worries about it drifting apart in play, but it sounds like the clips do work!

David Crook said...

Hi SoS,

Cheers for the comments - much appreciated. the only tip re the Hexon I would suggest is that when placing it on the dining table make sure a cloth is underneanth - it stops it slipping. Other than that it is absolutely brilliant!

The rules seem to have hit the target first time but this will only be proven after some more play tests. the visual thing was important so having the ships engaging at a range of 5 or 6 hexes (15 to 18,000 yards) felt about right although in reality probably a little on the long side for WW1. There is more work on the rules to be done but the all important core mechanics seem to tick all the boxes so I well pleased thus far.

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Nice little battle report

I do like the sound of your rules, they seem a very nice alternative to the tactical rules in the Avalanche Games naval series

Good work, keep it up I do like a bit of naval

David Crook said...

Thanks Geordie. The rules are coming along nicely and I am hoping to have the next playtest tackled at the weekend. I suspect I will be heading back to the Black Sea again.

I expect that I shall be painting 1/3000th very soon so may well be badgering you for some tips etc!

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

My latest secret weapon is low cost flexible home brand filler, roughly sculpted to look wavy after a bit of wet-rushing, dry-brushing and while highlighting

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

That is a good tip and one I shall bear in mind when the new stuff arrives. First up though I need to track down a decent colour match for the Hexon tiles.

All the best,