Thursday, 29 September 2011
Back to the Portable, Portable Naval Wargame
You may recall my recent decision to forego designing a set of land based rules for use with my block armies in favour of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame. You may also recall my throwaway comment about wanting to revisit the Portable Naval Wargame after my previous attempts rapidly assumed the 'tale that grew in the telling' status. I have given the whole subject a high level feasibility overview - aka thinking about it! - and I have come to a number of conclusions about what I should be aiming for rather than what I have been aiming for.
I have been tying myself up in knots over rates of fire, defensive capability, speeds, number and calibre of barrels firing, damage inflicting and recording of the same and all the usual minutiae associated with a set of naval war games rules for the 20th century.
I have tried using chunks of rules from a variety of sources - Jutland, General Quarters, Sea Battles in Miniature to name but a few and have attempted to fuse these into a fast play set of rules that capture that all important 'feel' for the action.
I have failed and the reason for my failure is blindingly obvious - too much of everything and trying to have a mass of detail simplified. If you are going to have a set of rules that worry about the number of barrels firing then the rest of the rules need to be of a comparable level of complexity otherwise they are 'unbalanced'.
I think that rather than trying to make an existing rule mechanic work I need to start from the ground (or sea) up and so one of the first things that needs to be carved in stone is the fact that the ship types will have to be generic. Any historical departure from the 'norm' should be borne in mind IF it had a bearing in the real world. Phil Barker in his experimental naval DBA variant - Damned Battleships Again or DBSA - has hit the nail exactly on the head in this respect and as a model for rules framework his approach has much to commend it.
Damage and the effects of the same are a perennial problem with naval rules. The system used in the rules depicted above is based on an official US Navy damage rating system and this actually seems like a good place to start. Damage is rated at D1 through D4 - D1 is superficial damage with no effect on combat ability, D2 is minor damage, D3 is heavy damage and D4 is dead in the water or otherwise crippled Above D4 is of course, sunk. In the rules every ship is damaged according to the same system - from the largest battleship to the smallest escort. Finding a way to assign damage to each category will be the challenge and this will mean tackling the thorny question of naval gunfire versus target defensive capability.
More to follow - once I have gotten my head around the whole subject.