Thursday, 20 October 2011

Somewhere in the Black Sea, October1915...Part the Second

I was pretty pleased with the way the rules worked out but, as ever, in the cold light of day, there is a number of minor tweaks and revisions needed. There is nothing that would be deemed a 'show stopper' as such but there are a couple of points to consider. The two main points that stuck out concern damage and torpedoes. Taking the latter first (which is rather surprising seeing as they did not feature in the action - this was an oversight on my part, no doubt influenced by the heat of battle aka I forgot about them!) I have changed the torpedo rules or, more accurately, expanded them. There are now three sizes of torpedo - 14/15", 17/18" and 21/24" - each with increasing levels of range and lethality. The range runs at 1 hex for the smallest, 2 hexes for the interim and 3 for the largest. At range 1 a 4, 5 or 6 is a hit, at 2 a 5 or 6 and a 6 at range three. The smallest roll 1d6, the interim 2 and the largest 3 and in all cases a hit inflicts damage equal to the roll of a d6 with any such damage being doubled where the target is a PB, AC or PC. Simple but effective in game terms although don't quote me on the accuracy!

The rather more tricky issue concerns damage. The short but interesting life of the Midilli struck me as odd and I think I now know why. I am not a great fan of the progressive damage system typical of many naval wargames rules as history is full of examples of ships shot full of holes but still fully functioning. The system used by General Quarters was always one of my favourites as damage was usually either hull or weapons based with the occasional aside to the more technical bridge, steering, fire control etc. In the game the thing that struck a chord with me was not so much that the ship was fully functioning when it went under; more the fact that the opening salvo it received (5 hits out of a total of 7 hit points) did not appear to effect the efficiency of the ship other than to fill it with holes. I would have fully expected something to have broken under such a devastating pounding.

With this in mind I have decided on the following course of action. If a ship receives damage equal to or more than its Critical Point (this is usually a third of the total hit points a ship has) during a single game turn then it receives an automatic special hit. These vary in their effects from additional hit points to the loss of speed increments or weapons dice - even the looming spectre of a magazine hit. This will ensure that should a ship be on the wrong end of such a pummeling there will be systemic consequences.

A final point I realised (and I could not in all honesty claim credit for this) was that when firing at extreme range you need a 6 to score a hit. This is also the number that triggers the chance for a special hit. I think that is the potential effect of that curious phenomena known as 'plunging fire' taken care of rather nicely….;-)

The above tweaks have now been incorporated in the rules for the next play test which will see the action going back three years to the Balkan War and, for a change, the gallant Bulgarian navy will hoping to replicate its finest hour taking on the Turks.


El Grego said...

I like the idea of the Critical Point, although should it be automatic or just highly likely?

For the torpedo system, is it for a spread or a single launch? the 1-hex range hit probability might be a bit too much also, maybe just 5-6 for pre-dread/WW1 torps?

David Crook said...

Hi EG,

The special hit for receiving hits equal to or more than the Critical Point in a single game turn (remember that this would be a third of its total hit points) will be automatic as my feeling is that a ship receiving such a devastating salvo would certainly have something systemic broken as a result.

Under normal circumstances the chance of a special hit depends on scoring heavy hits which then have the chance to increase to a special hit.critical/special hit.

Torpedoes are launched as single salvoes and you are right about the early type. I am testing this at the weekend so may revise this but given that torpedo fire comes after all gunnery has taken place and any gunnery damage taken effect any ship still able to use a point blank torpedo would deserve a break in my opinion!

Seriously though, the relative ease of hitting also makes any ship threatened by a torpedo attack from destroyers pay proper attention to them - perhaps more than the effect would warrant but their is a historical precedent for this. The Royal Navy spent much of WW1 convinced that the Germans would lure them over a planned mine and torpedo barrage so caution was factored in to operations.

I guess what I am saying is that this system means that players should not ignore the threat of a torpedo attack because it can hurt you and badly.

I hope that makes sense!

All the best,