It is funny how your thoughts can be led in a particular direction by the simple expedient of being inspired. My recent dabbling back in the world of Avalon Hill's Jutland has given me much pause for thought in respect of exactly what I want from my naval wargames.
Jutland is of course about big ships and fleet actions and the emphasis is very much geared towards placing the player in the position of an admiral. Of course with this approach compromises have to be made and so light ships - light cruisers and destroyers in the game - are handled in an abstract fashion, with a counter representing a division of cruisers or a flotilla (or half flotilla) of destroyers. At this stage many traditional naval gamers would be reaching for a copy of Jane's for succour at this blatant heresy - multiple model bases? Whatever next? Joking aside, using counters/bases to represent multiple ships may be a little stylised and of course will mean that individual classes will get submerged in the mass but surely for a fleet level action this is no bad thing from a convenience point of view? From the viewpoint of the commanding admiral then using cruiser divisions or destroyer flotillas would be an obvious command level and to be honest, an admiral driving battle squadrons around will not have time to worry overmuch about individual destroyers - more likely what the formations of these are up to! Similarly, the light cruiser screens are usually performing a vital function in respect of scouting and similar so can be safely left to their own devices for the most part as they battle their opposite numbers.
Big battles usually mean big ships and so Jutland is firmly camped in the big ship sphere in respect of mechanics for firing and damage. There are a selection of critical hits available for both gunfire and torpedo damage which adds the all important 'feel' to the individual ships. The additional rules I have from the various magazines add an additional layer of 'chrome' (not complexity as such as the rules are very simple in execution in any event) and so the end result is a system that ticks pretty much all the boxes for me and my planned adventures in this period.
What of Paul Hague's Sea Battles in Miniature I hear you ask? What indeed. I want to use these rules for games at a lower level with perhaps a dozen or so models a side. Again, they have the appropriate level of detail (although designed for large battles) for the actions I intend fighting and in the scale I would like to use.
The end result of all these mental gymnastics is that I have made a decision about what I want to do and how I want to do it. Jutland is ingrained in my gaming DNA and such a weighty legacy cannot be lightly set aside. What I want to do then is to tidy up the Jutland rules and to incorporate the appropriate variant rules from the various magazines over the years so that they are a coherent whole. This will also mean preparing playsheets etc which should then ensure that if used in a club night setting everything will be in one place and easy to interpret. I will also need to rework the damage sheets - not because the versions with the game are bad - to reflect the squadron organisation at Jutland which will make things easier with multiple players commanding units.
So there you have it, yet another project (well not really, just bringing an old one back up to speed) but with a realistic chance of completion - basically because all the ground work has been completed already and all I shall need to do is bring order into the chaos.
Then of course, there is the thorny subject of models but that will be the subject for another headache....;-)