Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Sultan's Hubris....Game Number 36

With the battered Abdul Aziz currently under repair the entire northern coast of Fezia was open to attack by Rusland naval forces. The coastal coal trade had virtually ceased as the threat of enemy action served to deter many of the privately owned steamers from putting to sea. Something had to be done in order to restore the vital shipping lanes to their peak capacity - the Fezian war effort relied heavily on the flow of coal and other supplies from along the coastal areas.

The Sultan discussed the situation with his naval advisors and so it was decided, under extreme secrecy (and also very reluctantly), to recall from the Eastern Middle Sea the two armoured cruisers Abdul Hamid and Abdul Mejid; together with the two protected cruisers, Assar-i-Shevket and Nijim-i-Shevket in order to cover the coastal area previously assigned to the Abdul Aziz.


The Sultan's reinforcements - fresh from the Eastern Middle Sea

This was a bold stroke, especially as the Epirian raiders had yet to be apprehended, but the Sultan was counting on the element of surprise. Rusland would not be expecting to encounter these ships and whilst the Abdul Hamid and Mejid were not as powerful as the Abdul Aziz they were still far better than any of the cruisers that the enemy possessed.


The large armoured cruisers Abdul Hamid and Abdul Mejid.

The four ships of the Fezian squadron entered the area of the Zonguldak Bight during the hours of darkness so as to be on station when the Rusland cruisers arrived. The plan was a simple one. The two protected cruisers were to be the bait and as the Rusland ships moved in to tackle their hapless opponents the Abdul Hamid and Abdul Mejid would appear from their stern. It was a gamble and although the Sultan's naval advisors were not entirely convinced it was a good idea, bowed to the inevitable pressure from above (the Sultan could be very persuasive when he had to be - especially when supported by the Teutonian naval attache whose opinion he valued highly) and so the orders were given.


The Rusland raiding squadron again under the command of Admiral Saltykov

Meanwhile, Admiral Saltykov aboard his flagship, the Admiral Kornilov, was completely unaware of this latest Fezian development. The three ships under his command (the turrets on the fourth ship of the squadron, the Muravev Amurski, were still giving trouble and so she remained in port - much to the barely concealed annoyance of her captain) had been at sea for three days this time out and thus far had not encountered so much as a fishing boat. He had decided that he would push on for one more day and would then head for home. This would be as far as he dare go as this would take him a lot closer to the main Fezian submarine base at Bartin.


Baiting the trap - the two Fezian protected cruisers: Assar-i-Shevket and her sistership, Nijim-i-Shevket

The two small Fezian cruisers, Assar-i-Shevket and Nijim-i-Shevket spent an uneasy night preparing for the day ahead. Their role as bait was not an enviable one and none of the officers or men were under any illusions about their fate should the two supporting armoured cruisers fail to make their rendezvous. Their ships were both lightly armed and armoured and they could match the Rusland cruisers in but one respect - their speed was the same. Their combined total of twenty 4.1" guns would be of little use against the armoured Rusland cruisers and so any thoughts of a holding firefight would be doomed to failure. The only hope they had for delaying the inevitable was to attempt to disperse the Rusland formation, causing them to split their fire between the two targets. Trading broadsides would not be an option and so both captains resolved to manouvere aggressively and try and buy time for the heavy support to arrive.

On a day of gambles this would be the biggest gamble of all.

The Game

The only change to the rules from the previous action is that I have reverted to Bob Cordery's original Portable Naval Wargame system whereby turning a hexside costs a movement point. The arrival of the two Fezian armoured cuisers was determined by a dice roll. Starting on game turn 2 the Fezian commander needed to roll under the number of the current turn in order for the two ships to appear so that on turn 2 a 1 was needed, turn 3 a 1 or 2 etc.

Fezia

Abdul Hamid and Abdul Mejid - Armoued cruiser, Medium Armour, Speed 3, Flotation Points 13 (Critical 4), 4 x Medium Gun Dice (3 on a Broadside), 3 x Light Gun Dice (2 on a Broadside), 9 x Light-1 Gun Dice (5 on a Broadside).

Assar-i-Shevket and Nijim-i-Shevket - Protected cruiser, Light Armour, Speed 3, Flotation Points 6 (Critical 2), 5 x Light-1 Gun Dice (3 on a Broadside).

Rusland

Admiral Kornilov, Admiral Nevelskoi and Admiral Butakov - Armoured cruiser, Medium Armour, Speed 3, Flotation Points 10 (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).

Somewhere in the Fezian Sea, off the coast nearing Bartin....



Upon sighting the two Fezian protected cruisers, Admiral Saltykov orders full speed ahead as the Admiral Kornilov breaks formation to engage


With the Rusland warships in sight the two Fezian ships split up with the Nijim-i-Shevket heading to the north and the Assar-i-Shevket to the south - straight into the path of two oncoming enemy cruisers!


The Admiral Nevelskoi and the Admiral Butakov (centre foreground) head towards the Assar-i-Shevket whilst the Admiral Kornilov chases down the Nijim-i-Shevket (at the top of the picture).


The Sultan's retribution was not long in arriving - but would it be too late for the gallant Assar-i-Shevket?


The run to the south. The Assar-i-Shevket about to be engaged by two of the Rusland cruisers. Her fight was one-sided and despite gallant resistance the end was inevitable.



Riven by assorted calibre shells, the battered and sinking Assar-i-Shevket attempts to limp away from her assailants.


The Rusland cruisers though, continue to batter her mercilessly.....


....until the brave cruiser slips beneath the waves! The survivors clinging to the wreckage of their ship know that they have done all that the can and so now it up to the armoured cruisers to avenge them.


Meanwhile, the two heavy Fezian cruisers make their prescence felt as the Rusland ships attempt to reform to face this new threat.


The Admiral Kornilov comes under heavy fire and takes some minor damage.


The Fezians do not escape scot-free though, as the leading ship receives return fire from the Admiral Kornilov.


It is now the Fezian turn to break formation as the Abdul Mejid attempts to head off the Admiral Kornilov.


A ferocious gunnery duel ensues with the Admiral Kornilov fghting back hard against the two Fezian ships as the Abdul Mejid closes on the Admiral Nevelskoi


The ships draw apart with the Admiral Konilov finally in touch with the Admiral Nevelskoi. Ominously for the Ruslanders the Admiral Butakov is some way away from the rest of the squadron and with the two Fezian cruisers barring her route to safety! Meanwhile the battered Nijim-i-Shevket appears back on the scene after her recent brush with the Admiral Kornilov.


The Admiral Butakov comes under heavy fire from the two Fezian cruisers but with little effect. Her captain decides to run the gauntlet between the two enemy ships at full speed in order to rejoin the squadron.


Reacting quickly to this Rusland move, the two Fezian cruisers place themselves alongside the enemy cruiser (shades of Nelson perhaps?) and batter it remorselessly! The Nijim-i-Shevket enters the fray and attempts a torpedo attack which just misses the beleagured cruiser.


A veritable blizzard of shellfire erupts around the Admiral Butakov but she fights back hard against her three attackers. Hit after hit shakes the hull relentlessly.



Meanwhile, the other two Rusland cruisers can only watch the unfolding drama as they are too far distant to easily assist their hapless squadron mate.


At full speed, and despite her recent mauling, the Admiral Butakov attempts to escape from the unwanted Fezian attention....


....but to no avail as a further succession of assorted calibre shell hits leave her a battered and smoking ruin!


Crippled, with water pouring into her hull and fires raging from stem to stern, the Admiral Butakov staggers under the continual rain of shellfire....

.

....until finally, she loses her unequal fight and slips beneath the waves!

At this point Admiral Saltykov decided to break off the action as there would be little to be gained by engaging the two more powerful Fezian cruisers on an equal basis. With a heavy heart he ordered the remains of his command to turn around and to head at best speed for home.

The Nijim-i-Shevket headed over to where her sister ship, the Assar-i-Shevket, went down to pick up survivors whilst the Abdul Hamid did the same for the crew of the sunken Admiral Butakov. As a gesture to the crew of the Rusland ship in honour of their bravery, an honour guard was formed up and was ordered to present arms to the survivors as they were helped aboard. Across the havoc of war, a shred of humanity and respect was the least the bloodied but proud survivors of the Rusland cruiser should expect.

Aftermath

The game went really well and I am now absolutely delighted with the rules! There was a lot of shooting (meaning lots of dice rolling - always good fun in a rule set in my opinion!) but the level of damage felt about right. The change to the movement rules made quite a difference and really made you think about whether to turn or not. One final change I want to employ is to allow the plus one bonus to firing dice for engaging the same target on successive turns to only a single calibre rather than across the whole battery of a ship. Historically mixed caibre batteries had problems differentiating fall of shot so it seems better to apply this to a single calibre only.

The action demonstrated the hazards associated with breaking up a formation in the face of an ordered enemy. The Rusland formation was broken up early on in order to satisfy the need to engage an enemy that was in turn operating independently. Unluckily for them the two supporting Fezian cruisers arrived (on turn 4)  before they could reform and so were able to engage the Rusland cruisers in two sections - with the Fezians operating from the central position. This in turn enabled one of the Rusland cruisers - Admiral Butakov - to become isolated with ultimately tragic results. Although the two Fezian cruisers were operating in a dispersed fashion for much of the action they were still close enough for mutual support and this proved to be decisive.

At the time of writing I have the next batch of models under way for both Fezia and Rusland and these are of course, the pre-dreadnoughts. Once I have the last couple of bits and pieces from the dreadnought ranges that I need I will then also be able to tackle both the Royal Navy and the High Seas Fleet.

It was also great fun to fight!









12 comments:

Chasseur said...

It's good that you can take Bob's rules and play solo. That is both a credit to you and him. Well done David! It would be nice to see a little land terrain on the sides of the hex seas where appropriate. The latter would aid in photography of your gaming table. Other than that 'first rate' my friend!
Jeff

David Crook said...

Hi Jeff,

The origina concept for the rules came from Bob and all I did was to add a little to the mix! They work very nicely indeed and the games have a good 'feel' about them.

I take your point about the terrain aspect - I am considering using the 6ft by 4ft next time as it gives more 'sea' and so yu are less likely to see the rest of my den!

All the best,

DC

Stokie Steve said...

I must say David, those ships look really nice!

David Crook said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you very much old chap! I have really enjoyed painting these as well which is rare for me!

I have a whole lot more on the go so expect to see a deluge of naval actions in due course!

All the best,

DC

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Very nice indeed!
Oh for a brace of torpedo destroyers...

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

I have two flotillas of 16 for each side and they will be coming out in support of the battleships very soon! It is all going pretty well so far!

All the best,

DC

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

A nice little scrap :)

It does look a good game board set up and interesting balanced fleet selection

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

The selection was based primarily around what I had available but it turned into a very interesting little scrap.

I shall be using the 6 x 4 ft for further actions though - more 'sea room'!

All the best,

DC

Peter Douglas said...

David

Great looking ships and board set up!

You've done a great job with these models - they've painted up wonderfully well.

Cheers
Pd

David Crook said...

Hi Peter,

Thank you very much old chap! The technique is a simple one but very, very effective and it has really encouraged me to paint more - which is in itself a small miracle!

I shall be using the 6 ft by 4ft going forward though - it gives a lot more space.

All the best,

DC

George Martin said...

Hi DC,

Another great job with this battle report, I really enjoyed reading this one with a cuppa after work :-)

Keep them coming DC.

Many thanks,

George

David Crook said...

Hi George,

Cheers old chap! Who am I to stand in the way of an after work cuppa? Seriously though, I will continue to game and write this up as long as people keep on reading them so rest assured - there will be quite a few over the coming months!

All the best,

DC