Thursday, 4 April 2013

Thoughts on the Portable Naval Wargame

The recent action involving Fezia and Rusland was fought using my adaptation of Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame. The biggest change I had applied to these rules was around gunnery and damage. I kept the base score of 5 or 6 for a hit for those ranges between the adjacent hex and the final hex of the firing guns range. I increased the possibility of a hit at an adjacent target to 4, 5 or 6 and for targets in the last hex of the weapons range this then became a 6. I should point out that I am treating guns as either heavy, medium or light (which is also how I am rating armour or protection levels of individual ships) - which is a change from previous as I also had extra heavy and very light weapons as well. The three gun types have ranges of 4, 6 or 8 hexes for light, medium and heavy respectively. There are a couple of tactical modifiers as well - engaging the same target in adjacent game turns gives a plus 1 and also firing medium or heavy guns at destroyers gets a -1 per gun dice. Mention of gun dice leads me nicely into the modelling of specific ships. Essentially, a ship has one gun dice per two weapons of the same type so for example, a dreadnought with 10 x 13.5" weapons would have 5 x Heavy gun dice.

For each hit scored against a target ship a damage dice is rolled with 4 or 5 being one point of damage and a natural 6 being two points, plus a reroll. Additionally, a six hit can be used to remove a gun dice or even reduce a ships speed by one hex instead of being used to reduce the flotation value of the ship. Gun dice removed in this way have to be alternated between calibres starting with the heaviest weapons carried. I have factored in armour and gun weight in that the difference between guns and armour is applied as a plus or minus modifier so, for example, a heavy gun that hits a ship with medium armour would get a plus one to its damage roll. A further refinement to this is the use of guns having a minus or plus one damage modifier. A good example of this is the 15" guns carried by the Queen Elizabeth class dreadnoughts. These weapons would be rated as Heavy +1 which means that they receive an additional +1 to any damage rolls. Similarly, a 3.4" gun would be classed as Light-1 meaning that the damage inflicted by this type of weapon is less than the average and unlikely to cause any heavy damage. It also means that it would be impossible to use this type of weapon against a heavily armed target as the damage dice would have a minus 3 applied to it. Light guns to Heavy armour would be a -2 to the damage dice (meaning that a 6 would be needed in any event) but with the additional -1 for being light makes it -3. At the moment the application of 6 hits is at the discretion of the target player but I may devise a table to inject a degree of randomness into the process.

The only change to movement I experimented with was to allow the first turn a ship makes to cost nothing and that any subsequent turns cost a movement point. I am changing this back to Bob's method whereby all turns cost a movement point as it feels more realistic.

I intend running a few more tests with the rules and once this is done will happily make them available should anybody be interested in trying them out. I have a couple of extras to add in but nothing hugely challenging. They are great fun to use, being both fast in execution and with the right degree of feel. Naval wargames are all about the ships we are using and so having their traits readily recognisable on the tabletop is essential in my opinion. Overall I think that they have remained true to the concept of the Portable Wargame and it is a testimony to the soundness of the original core ideas that this amount of tinkering can be grafted on without it disrupting the whole thing.

Bring on the battleships methinks!


Jim Duncan said...

Am watching your developments with interest. It would not be difficult for me the utilise my 'cotton wool ball' battleships for a ruleset such as this and I have two Aeronef fleets which use a suitably modified set.

David Crook said...

Hi Jim,

I am really excited at the potential of these rules and hope to fight many actions using them. The fleets are progressing well and so the pre-dreadnoughts will feature soon.

Aeronef is a great game and I have been involved in one of the mini campaign supplements (Aeronef over the Aegean)and also with Land Ironclads.

I must revisit VSF at some point!

All the best,


George Martin said...

Hi DC,

Thanks for giving us a good overview of the tweaks you've made to the rules. I'm looking forward to seeing the "big boys" in action.

Many thanks,


David Crook said...

Hi George,

Hopefully the "big boys" will not be delayed for too long! In the meantime though I have fought another action which was a belter (if I say so myself!). I hope to have this up on the blog later today.

I like to air my ideas on the blog in terms of any rule changes as the feedback and comments are always helpful in the process.

All the best,