Friday, 1 July 2011
Revisiting an Old Friend and Learning from the Experience
Some time ago I acquired a copy of a disc of Avalon Hill Naval games included in which was a complete set of the components for the classic WW1 game Jutland. I use the word classic intentionally because the game is quite simply one of the most entertaining games of naval warfare ever designed. For those of you that have not enjoyed the sheer unadulterated pleasure of playing this I will outline the salient points briefly.
The game covers the famous battle of May 31st 1916 on both a strategic and tactical level. Each side has a plot map of the North Sea onto which the moves of their various task forces and squadrons are written in secret. Searches are carried and when sighting on the map occurs play is transferred to the table top and the ensuing battle fought. After six tactical turns the plat reverts to the strategic plotting stage. Tactical combat is handled very simply with ships from armoured cruiser level upwards represented by single counters and smaller ships by division and flotilla sized counters. Ships have protection factors and a number of gun boxes and firing is handled very simply by rolling a d6, counting the number of firing factors and cross referencing the score against a hit table. Depending on the ship type various target types are not permitted to various firing ships and each generic type of vessel has a range limit. Hits are halved above certain ranges, doubled and tripled when closing.
Various additional scenarios and optional rules (including extra counters) appeared in the Avalon Hill General (the in house magazine) and most of these feature as scans on the disc.
I would be less than truthful if I said that I was not inspired and filled with misty-eyed nostalgia about this game as I have played this many, many times and it has certainly given me much unexpected food for thought in respect of the Portable Naval Wargame. So much so that I am planning to incorporate some of the ideas from Jutland into the revision currently being drafted.
One of the rules that really struck me as brilliant concerned torpedo attacks. These are declared at the end of the turn and in the following the target has the option of turning 90 degrees away from the direction of the attack and not firing for the entire turn. The torpedo attack then automatically misses and the destroyers have used up the applicable number of torpedoes.
I have already incorporated ranges based on the measuring 'range finder' included in the game which translate nicely into hexes. I should also point out that the plot maps are in hexes so the obvious connection between that and my Hexon may be a temptation too far....;-)