Following on from the first 'live' test of the MoBaS rules at the club last Wednesday evening I decided to fight a similar action using the same forces but with the rules having incorporated a couple of minor revisions. One of the problems arising from Wednesday was the simple fact that combat was fairly inconclusive and I cannot recall ever taking part in a naval game that finished up with only a single ship having been sunk from the sixteen on the table! Oddly enough, whilst the results felt historically accurate it did make for a relatively 'muted' game.
A couple of changes later and finally tweaked rules were ready to go - and with some dramatic results!
Somewhere in the Aegean Sea....
The Greek navy, despite being smaller than the Turkish, has thus far managed to not only hold its own in the fight against the Ottomans but has in fact largely achieved a measure of superiority in the area of operations. The Turks have been active in the Black Sea but have all but surrendered the initiative to the Greeks in the Aegean Sea and have kept safely out of harms way and protected by the minefields and shore batteries at the entrance to the Dardanelles. However, stung into action by public outcry (and desperately attempting to relieve the pressure on the hard-pressed army) the Turkish Navy is at last sallying forth with the intention of bringing the Greeks to battle.
The Greek navy had managed to achieve local superiority over the Turks by bold ship handling and resolution and whilst defeating the Ottoman navy in a straight fight would be the crowning glory of their war at sea it was not a set of circumstances that would be easy to engineer.
A routine sweep near the entrance of the Dardanelles may tempt the reluctant Turks out to battle but this was fraught with danger as the ships of the Greek navy were considerably outgunned by the enemy.
The Greek navy consisted of the armoured cruiser Georgios Averoff, three coastal defence battleships - Hydra, Psara and Spetsai and four destroyers - Niki, Doza, Aspis and Velos whilst the Turks that sallied forth to engage them consisted of the battleships Hayreddin Barbarossa, Torgud Reis and Mesudiye, the protected cruiser Hamidiye and four destroyers - Basra, Yarhisar, Samsun and Tasoz.
The two sides had adopted virtually identical sailing formations with the respective cruisers in the van and the four destroyers operating in line ahead on the starboard beam of their battle line for the Greeks and the port for the Turks.
Upon sighting the enemy formation (at around 20,000 yards) the two sides adopted broadly similar dispositions with each cruiser speeding ahead in order secure a tactical advantage. As the two cruisers swung into position to engage one another so the following battle lines followed suit. Initially the Greek navy was in a better position to open fire and so the Averoff and the Hydra, Spetsai and Psara all concentrated upon the only target in range - the cruiser Hamidiye - with telling effect. (The resulting fire inflicted some two points of damage - the hull was hit and the torpedo rack destroyed.) The Averoff was not so fortunate as whilst only two of the Turkish ships were in range they were the 11" gun armed Hayreddin Barbarossa and her sister ship, the Torgud Reis - and the luckless cruiser duly received three hits. Meanwhile, the two destroyer screens had sped ahead of their respective charges and were about to become involved in their own private battle.
The destroyer melee resulted in a number of hits being scored on both sides but the most significant feature was that whilst the Greek destroyers fell in with the Averoff - in order to protect the ship from the marauding Turks; was that in doing so, the four ships were separated from the slower and more vulnerable battleships.
The manoeuvres by the Greek destroyers were carried out briskly and efficiently and meant that the flagship was completely protected from the Turks who suddenly found themselves in a position where they could no longer easily reach the Averoff but, were then virtually crossing the head of the Greek battle line. The results proved to be catastrophic.
The Turkish destroyers, although slightly knocked about by their opposite numbers, immediately disengaged from the attack on the Averoff and concentrated on the lead Greek Battleship with two of their number. At point blank range torpedoes sped from their tubes and the result was sadly inevitable. (Of the 9 dice rolled for the attack only 4 hit home but two of these were 6s and so eight points of damage were scored. The luckless Greek battleship, the Hydra, had a flotation value of 6 and a speed of 2 and was sunk outright.) With one large explosion and a mass of smaller secondary blasts the Hydra slipped beneath the waves.
Too late the Greek admiral attempted to rectify the parlous position his battleships now found themselves in. Unfortunately, whilst the destroyer melee and the subsequent attack on the Greek line had been undertaken the Turkish battleships, with the damaged Hamidiye bringing up the rear, had moved up in order to engage the Greek ships and were in the process of completing the manoeuvre when the Greek destroyers attacked. It was too little, and too late.
The Greek attack fell on the Mesudiye and the Hamidiye as they were the nearest. Despite the fearsome amount of fire the Mesudiye was able to put down only a few hits were scored and the Hamidiye did not manage even a single hit. the Greek torpedoes left their tubes and the results were heavy damage on the Hamidiye and some on the Turkish battleship but both vessels were able to maintain their place in the line, albeit with their speeds reduced. Luck had favoured the Turks in this instant and was about to take a much more impressive hand in things as the remaining Turkish destroyers (those that still carried torpedoes) engaged the other two Greek battleships.
Again at point blank range (and thanks to a combination of winning the initiative for the turn and some deft manoeuvring) the Turks engaged the Greeks with the same results. The rear Greek battleship - the Spetsai - and the vessel - the Psara - were both torpedoed and sunk. (the Psara sustained no less than 14 points of damage due to a succession of 6s being rolled!).
At this point the Greeks cruiser the Averoff recalled her destroyers and the battered survivors disengaged. Mindful of the damage to both the Hamidiye and the Mesudiye the Turkish admiral remained on the scene and picked up the survivors from the Greek battleships. It had been a stunning victory.
The rules were far more decisive than the previous version and although the torpedo attacks were spectacular the effect was about right. I think that it is a little too easy to score a hit with them though - especially when under fire so I may give this some further thought - perhaps reducing the hit chance if under fire but leaving the damage effect as is.
Once again, it was great fun and a pleasant way to spend an evening.