The rules are ready for the test I am running tomorrow and as usual, I am very excited at the prospect. The opposing forces will be the Greeks and the Turks and all I have to do now is to finalise the format of the damage cards. In advance of the test I thought it would be a good idea to explain how some of the rules choices were arrived at and why I have taken the approach I have.
Movement - This was pretty straightforward and all I have done is to take the actual speed of the individual ship in question and to convert this into hexes. I wanted a maximum speed of around 6 hexes (being around the 36 knot mark) and initially this caused a few problems because of the historical closeness in speeds between ships. It felt unrealistic having generic speeds for ship types and so I opted for a variant of the technique employed by Barry Carter in his book Naval Wargames (ISBN 0 7153 6812 5) of having 'long' and 'short' moves. For example, a ship rated as 2/3 can move 2 hexes on a short move and 3 on a long. My variation on that is to allow a ship rated as such as being able to move at the higher rate on any three game turns within the 6 turns making up a map move (1 game turn equals 10 minutes). This allows for an element of uncertainty over movement intentions on the tabletop. Turning is in increments of sixty degrees and costs a movement point to execute. Speed loss from hard turns could be very dramatic and so including this aspect of seamanship was essential. I have increased the number of ships that can operate in a single hex to two for cruisers and four for destroyers - primarily for use with large actions.
Defence - Ships in the original game had a protection or flotation factor based on what looks like the maximum thickness of the belt armour of the ship under consideration. Ships could only be sunk by losing all their flotation value. In the game gunnery first had to destroy the target ships gun factors and then the excess hits went onto the flotation value. Initially I thought this was a little on the abstract side but after having carried out some research on the subject of the effects of naval gunfire on a ship I can see why this approach was used in the original game design. Warships are ordinarily very difficult to sink by gunfire alone - unless a lucky magazine hit occurred or there was an enormous disparity between the weight and effect of the incoming shells and the size and protection of the target ship. I decided therefore, to stick with this approach and so the protection/flotation/defence factor of the ship is equal to the maximum thickness of its belt armour. The original game assumed that a ship would have to have all its gunnery factors destroyed before they could be used on the flotation value. Given that a ship could be hit anywhere - including on or below the waterline - I am allowing the owning player to assign any hits received in any way he wishes. This will mean that hits will be well spread about which is historically accurate.
In the game the above approach was used for ships from armoured cruiser size and upwards. As I wanted to add in protected and light cruisers as well as destroyers I needed to consider an alternative method for assigning the defence factor to the ship. For the two cruiser types I opted to use the maximum deck amour whilst for the unarmoured destroyers I opted for defence factors based on tonnage.
Gunnery - In the original game firing is carried out by the simple but effective method of counting the number of factors available, checking the range, looking up the appropriate column on the gunnery table and rolling a d6. The maximum range in the game for gunfire was deemed to be 20,000 yards. Guns are rated by ship type so we have BB (battleships), BC (battle cruisers), B (pre dreadnought battleships), CA (armoured cruisers) and 'light ships' - a generic heading for protected and light cruisers and destroyers. Whilst these headings were fine for the original game they were too generic for what I wanted to achieve. I would be adding a lot of additional ship types that would not be best served by his approach and so I needed to 'unpick' the generic nature of the firing types and replace this with something with much greater coverage.
The answer to this dilemma came from an old set of naval rules produced by Skytrex and written by John Hammond and called 'Rules for World War 1 Naval'. The cornerstone of the firing rules in this set is the use of F.T.Jane's gun ratings. In addition, the rules assumed a maximum gunnery range of, yes you've guessed it, 20,000 yards. Due to space limitations at home I opted for using a scale of one Hexon tile being 2,500 yards so the aforementioned 20, 000 yards became 8 hexes. With more space this could easily be converted to a 2,000 yard per hex or even greater in required. It was then a simple matter to assign maximum ranges to each of F.T. Jane's gun rates. I have had to combine these as follows:
- A9 and A8 = 8 hexes (20,000 yards)
- A7 and A6 = 7 hexes (17,500 yards)
- A5 and A4 = 6 hexes (15,000 yards)
- A3 and A2 = 5 hexes (12,500 yards)
- A1 to C = 4 hexes (10,000 yards)
- D to F = 3 hexes (7,500 yards)