Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Action off Zonguldak, November 1912....Game Number 35

Zonguldak, on the shores of the Fezian Sea, is the centre of the Fezian coal mining industry and is therefore of major importance to both the economy and the navy. Since the outbreak of hostilities with the so-called 'Balkrunian League' of Forbodia, Epiria and Remania the Fezian navy has been very active along the northern coast of Fezia - guarding against any disruption of the vital coastal coal carrying trade by enemy raiders. The announcement by Rusland that her Fezian Sea fleet was at the disposal of Forbodia caused the Sultan much consternation but at least Rusland had not declared war as yet. Luckily for Fezia the new additions to her fleet of the powerful armoured cruisers Abdul Aziz, Abdul Hamid and Abdul Mejid would serve as potent deterrant to any Rusland aggression. Indeed this would have been the case but for the activity of the Epirian navy in the Eastern Middle Sea. Raids and bombardments, as well as the virtual destruction of the islands merchant shipping (based around scores of the traditional Gulet employed in a variety of roles) had led to demands that the navy act in their defence. The Sultan had bowed to external pressure and so the Abdul Hamid and the Abdul Mejid were dispatched to find the Epirian raider. This left the Abdul Aziz and the Midilli with the task of guarding the vital coastal routes.

The Rusland navy was aghast at the news of the latest Fezian cruiser being deployed in the Fezian Sea - they simply did not have anything even remotely equal to this powerful warship. Their main strength lay in the division of Garibaldi type armoured cruisers that had been taken in hand for some uniquely Rusland modifications. The Rusland naval command under Admiral Saltykov had decreed that in order to contain this Fezian threat the four Rusland cruisers would always operate together and so would have the advantage of numbers. It was expected that in a straight fight any one of these ships would simply be battered into submission in fairly short order by the larger Fezian vessel. The cruisers were slower than the Fezian Abdul Aziz and were also less well armed and armoured. Their only hope of prevailing against the Fezian vessel would be to use their superior numbers - and so the news that Fezia had sent two of her cruisers into the Eastern Middle Sea was received with some relief.

The armoured cruiser Admiral Kornilov - the flagship of Admiral Saltykov

Admiral Saltykov decided to try a sweep of the coast around the area of Zonguldak in order to try and draw out the enemy cruiser. With this in mind he ordered the four cruisers under his command to sea. Unfortunately, the Muravev Amurski was unable to take part as she was still having difficulties with her new turrets. Adapting the larger calibre weapons (9.4" as opposed to the 8" weapons of her near sisters) to the existing loading hoists was taking longer than the engineers had expected.

Undeterred, Saltykov hoisted his flag aboard the Admiral Kornilov and steamed off to find the Abdul Aziz. Three days of steaming due west later, just as the morning sun rose on a fresh and breezy Saturday morning, he found her. With the sun at their backs Saltykov was confident that his force could get inro range where they could use their numbers effectively before the great cruiser could reply. He ordered full speed and had the crews go to battle stations.

The armoured cruiser Abdul Aziz under the command of Albay Kerim Tay

The Abdul Aziz, under the command of Albay (Captain) Kerim Tey and in company with the light cruiser Midilli, was steaming due east when first one, then two and finally a third ship appeared on the horizon. With the morning sun in their faces the Fezians were hard put to positively identify the approaching vessels and altered coarse to the south east to get a clearer view. The turn had just been executed when a distant puff of smoke was observed from the leading vessel in the line. 

Kerim Tay ordered battle stations and full speed ahead as well as signalling the cruiser Midilli to take up station to the rear of the flagship - battle had been joined.

The Game

The action was fought using my modified version of Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame rules. For the purposes of this action the following ship specifications were used:


Abdul Aziz - Armoured cruiser, Medium Armor, Speed 4, Flotation Points 16 (Critical 6), 6 x Medium Gun Dice (4 on a broadside), 4 x Light Gun Dice (2 on a Broadside) and 8 x Light-1 Gun Dice (4 on a broadside).

Midilli - Light cruiser, Light Armour, Speed 4, Flotation Points 6 (Critical 2), 6 x Light-1 Gun Dice (4 on a Broadside).


Admiral Kornilov, Admiral Nevelskoi and Admiral Butakov - Armoured cruiser, Medium Armour, Speed 3, Flotation Points 8 (Critical 3), 2 x Medium Gun Dice, 7 x Light Gun Dice (4 on a Broadside), 5 x Light-1 Gun Dice (3 on a Broadside).

The -1 after the Light Gun Dice is used to differentiate weapons of 4.1" and smaller. The -1 is applied to any damage rolls which, when used in conjunction with the usual gun/armour modifier means that it is impossible for such weapons to, for example, damage a heavily armoured battleship.

I must apologise in advance for the poor quality of the pictures - I took plenty but most were all too fuzzy for use.

Somewhere off Zonguldak in the Fezian Sea....

The Abdul Aziz makes her turn toward the Rusland line with the Midilli following in the rear and at a safe distance

With the Admiral Kornilov in the van, the Rusland warships head towards the Fezian cruisers.

Using her superior speed, the Abdul Aziz turns across the bows of the Rusland formation and manages to engage the Kornilov from a position of tactical advantage

Both sides open fire with everything they have - which puts the outgunned Rusland cruiser at an even bigger disadvantage as only her forward weapons will bear

After the initial salvoes have landed (with no effect on either side) the Abdul Aziz attempts to turn away from the approaching line of Rusland cruisers - she almost gets away with it but is now in range of not one but three enemy warships.

At this point I shall interrupt the narrative in order to describe the firing round that took place at this point. In a nutshell all the Rusland cruisers were able to open fire with full broadsides from their main guns - in other words two firing dice per ship or six in total. The hit rolls were nothing special - a 5 and two 6s but the damage effects were something else altogether. The three dice were rolled for effect and up came a 5 and two 6s. The 5 was one worth damage point and the two 6s were worth two points each and a reroll. These were rolled again and up came a double 6 meaning a further two lots of two damage points. A further reroll followed and a 1 and yet another 6 came up meaning a further two damage points. The final reroll came in at a 3 and so the total number of damage points was a whopping 11! Under my version of the rules two point damage hits can be used to remove gun dice or even speed if required (this is at the target ship's discretion) and so the Abdul Aziz opted to lose a Medium, a Light and a Light-1 gun dice and used the remaining 5 points as normal damage to be taken off her total flotation value. Whatever way you choose to look at it that was a truly devastating salvo! I like to think of it as being a magazine fire - something like the Seydlitz at Dogger Bank. The return fire from the Abdul Aziz on the Admiral Kornilov was ineffective.

The Rusland cruisers maintaining formation

The Abdul Aziz taking an unexpected and fearful pounding

At full speed the Abdul Aziz opens the range to gain a temporary respite from the deluge of Rusland fire

Once again the air is full of 8" shells as the opposing cruisers resume firing - this time to little effect. The Abdul Aziz sustains a further three points of damage whilst the Admiral Kornilov suffers a minor hit

The Abdul Aziz continues to circle the compact Rusland formation but is unable to pick off an individual target and now can ill afford to suffer any further damage. She has been very roughly handled and whilst she is still a powerful ship her commander decides that discretion is the better part of valour and so takes full advantage of her superior speed and breaks off the action.

I have to say that I was really pleased with the way this action went - even with the single extreme damage result. The rules worked very well and the optional damage rules seemed to fit in just right. The biggest thing for me though is that the ships felt like individuals rather than generic types - which is an important consideration for a naval wargame in my opinion.

The game was loosely based on the fight between the Goeben and the pre dreadnoughts of the Russian Black Sea fleet during the Great War and the outcome was pretty much the same. The Abdul Aziz is a valuable asset but Fezia could not afford to lose her, especially with her other two armoured cruisers deployed in the East Middle Sea hunting the Epirian raiders.

Albay Kerim Tay was feted as a hero for bringing his ship home in the face of superior numbers whilst a similar outcome was enjoyed by Admiral Saltykov, for engaging a much more powerful enemy and seeing them off.

Viewpoints of history can be a funny thing!



Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


What a very enjoyable battle report ... and one that illustrates the fact that an interesting - and realistic - battle can be fought using relatively simple rules.

The models look very impressive as well, and the new painting technique has produced some excellent results.

All the best,


Ray Rousell said...

Nice looking game Dave!

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Many thanks on both points! I was really happy with the way the rules worked and think I have just about hit the sweet spot with my version. The only thing I am changing is to revert to your system of having turns costing a movement point - at present I allow the first turn to be free and I now believe it makes ships too manoueverable. Historically the Blucher (aka Abdul Aziz) could lose as much as 55% of her speed in a tight turn.

It was great fun and both Fezia and Rusland are busily readying their battleships....

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Ray,

Thanks old chap! The battleships are coming and so watch this space for more developments in due course!

All the best,


Sean said...

Looks like it is all in place. Nice models, fun rules and a good game. Looks like we're set up for a big battle soon.

Corporal_Trim said...

Very nice battle report, David and a good looking game. I too look forward to seeing the battleships in action.


George Martin said...

Hi DC,

Cool game with some of your new ships, as promised :)

I love all the background detail that you put in to your games, it's much better than just sailing around the board trying to sink things..

Thanks to your efforts on this blog I have got back in to naval wargaming again after upwards of 15 years. So please keep it up :)

Many thanks,


David Crook said...

Hi Sean,

Many thanks old chap! The shipyards of both Fezia and Rusland are veritable hives of activity with ships being completed as fast as possible. The day of reckoning will not be long delayed methinks....;-)

I have a couple of very minor tweaks to add in the rules and they are then about as ready as they will ever be.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Steve,

I am hoping to get the 16 battleships completed over the weekend if possible so a game using them should feature next week at some point.

For the record I am really enjoying the painting as well which is a rare experience for me!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi George,

Many thanks for your kind words - they are much appreciated. I always enjoy adding some back story to a game as I find it helps to put the action into some kind of context.

I am pleased you are back into naval gaming - any particular period?

All the best,


George Martin said...

Hi DC,

I'm mainly interested in the RJW and WW1 periods but have done some WW2 coastal as well.

At the moment I'm giving my WW1 fleets a Mr Muscle paint stripping bath to remove the old paint that must be 20+ years old now and repainting them using the method you describe in an earlier post. Very easy to do and effective as well.

Many thanks,


David Crook said...

Hi George,

That is a good selection of periods you have to dabble in! The painting technique is very simple and very quick and once again, I must thank Tim Gow for the tip.

Good luck with the great ship 'pickle'!

All the best,