Monday, 21 November 2011

The Portable Naval War Game (Again)....Part 1

Movement.


In my previous rule sets I spent a lot of time worrying about quite minor differences in speeds between ships. One of the problems with using a grid is that you limited in how you model speeds unless you use one grid area for one knot. This of course in impractical (unless using a football pitch to game on) and so compromises are required. The period under consideration has ships of widely different speeds in use (usually due to age) and so translating these into a reasonable number of movement points is quite a challenge. Experience has shown me that in order to keep the action within reasonable bounds - by that I mean within the confines of my 13 x 9 Hexon playing area - the movement speeds need to be quite small. With this in mind I am looking at a maximum speed of 4 grid areas. Depending on when the action being fought is set this speed of 4 could represent anything from 20 to 40 knots or between 5 to 10 knots per grid area. This needs some clarification.


In the ACW the fastest ship speed I could find was around the 20 knots level. If I used a 'scale' of one grid area equals 10 knots then this would give a speed of 2 with everything slower at a 1. This would be fine if ships could only travel at 10 or 20 knots but clearly this is too large to be useful. So by telescoping the speed into our 4 grid area desired maximum we suddenly have one grid area representing 5 knots which means that ships with speeds of 5, 10, 15 or 20 knots can be far better represented, relatively speaking.


Moving on to WW1 with speeds being much higher the same basic idea can be applied. Lets take 32 knots as being an average maximum speed (I know some ships could go faster but bear with me!) for the 14 - 18 period. This means most destroyers and modern light cruisers will have a speed of 4 or 3 for the older types; most dreadnoughts will be around 3 and pre dreadnoughts around 2. This is far more usable although only goes part way to solving the issue. Barry Carter in his book on WW1 and WW2 naval war games came up with a novel system for covering incremental speeds (speeds that do not divide exactly into the number of grid areas being used) involving the use of 'short' and 'long' moves. In a nutshell certain ships could move at one speed on a short move and slightly faster on a long one. This works very well and so I am going to incorporate a stripped down version of this in the current set. It adds little in terms of complexity but does add to the game overall (and satisfies the knot counters amongst us!). The way this will work will be to assign a knot value to a grid area - in the example above this is 8 knots. A ship that travels at, say 21 knots (a typical dreadnought of the period) will move 2 grid areas on a short move and 3 on a long move. This is calculated by taking out the complete multiples of 8 knot (2 x 8 = 16) and taking the remaining speed - in this case 5 knots - and if this is over half of the incremental speed of 8 knots (which it is) then it is rounded up to an extra move on the long turn.


This is probably easier to apply than to describe so I apologies of it appears overly complex! The rules will feature a speed table in order to avoid any complex calculations. The key thing with this approach is setting the speed benchmark at the correct level in order to ensure that relative speed differences are maintained between types whilst ensuring that sufficient ship movement exists to make the game playable. Essentially an ACW river battle was a much slower affair than Jutland so you cannot apply the same speed approach to each type of action if using a grid. I should point out as well that the use of this incremental speed approach will be an optional rule and not compulsory. It is primarily designed for scenario construction purposes or refights etc.


Turning is simply handled. Everything from an armoured cruiser upwards can turn one corner a turn and anything smaller can turn two.


The second part of this series of posts will cover the thorny subject of gunnery - and I have once again gone for the simple is better approach. There are lots of d6 involved but only half as many as previously!

6 comments:

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Of course, its really all about relative speed - relative to the enemy and any terrain features. And of course ships tended not to use their maximum speed but instead steam in formations below that so they had some reserve to station keep and avoid hazards (like the ship ahead being damaged and suddenly being a collision hazard).

With that in mind then, you can strip away a few knots and the problem becomes a little more simple, with a speed differential perhaps culminating in a gunnery modifier as well.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Then again - do you want to be a Captain or a Fleet Commander? What you are talking about is ship CO stuff. Gaming the battle is Admiral territory - you should be just ordering a formation of ships to do something and they stay in the ordered formation unless damaged. This would speed up play and simplify larger actions too.

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

Most naval gamers I know will happily barrel along at flank speed without such considerations as avoiding collisions etc - usually because they can! You are right of course and so I have tended to make the speeds on the conservative side - especially if the ship is between refits and maintenance etc.

Having the incremental approach allows for some historical flavour - take the QEs for example,they were designed to support the battle cruisers and so were faster than the main bulk of the fleet (by 3 or 4 knots). They should have the ability to out distance their contemporaries but not massively so the long/short move suits their abilities quite well.

It is a simple piece of chrome that is easy to implement.

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

That is a very valid point when conducting a naval war game because invariably you are in command of a number of ships and so micro managing an individual vessel is a distortion of what you are trying to represent. I would say that I am leaning towards the higher command level but need to consider the lower level - if only in how it would impact of the overall big picture so to speak. Many naval war game rules try and run battles from the single ship upwards rather than the squadron/fleet downwards.

My approach is by making the individual ship mechanics simple to implement the gamer can concentrate more on the command side.

Game time will tell if this has worked or not!

All the best,

DC

Peter Douglas said...

David

Looks like your well on track again. You know the more I pay with naval games the more my focus shifts from gunnery to manouver as being the most important to get right.

PD

David Crook said...

Hi PD,

I agree with you up to a point. For anything pre 'powered' then manouevre becomes essential - my first ever sailing experience this year taught me that - but when you add engines to the equation then it is not so much of an issue within a gaming context IMHO.

All the best,

DC