Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Reinventing a set of Naval Wargames Rules....Part 2

The biggest problem I had with the fusion of two existing sets of rules was in respect of the gunnery and damage - and how to reflect a ship' unique characteristics. In other words, pretty much the most important part of any set of naval wargame rules! If you recall from my previous post the areas I had to tackle were as follows:

  • Map moves - J
  • Ships speeds and Movement - J
  • Ship protection - J (but with my own spin on this!)
  • Gun rates - J
  • Gun rates carried - J
  • Gunnery - J/SBiM
  • Damage - J/SBiM
  • Torpedoes - J/SBiM

The first two categories - map moves and Ship speeds and Movement - I have left as per the rules from Jutland. All I have done is to convert the tactical distances into inches rather than using the measuring device included in the game. Formations, turning and so on are all as per the original rules.

Ship protection caused a few headaches but the solution I have in place seems to fairly consistent with the original Jutland system. For the most part I have taken the maximum armour belt thickness as equalling the ship's protection factor. It is simple but due to other factors seems to work well and I will outline why when I describe damage later on.

Gun rates are based not on calibres but on the usual class of ship the gun would be associated with so, for example, a 12" weapon would usually be found on either a battleship (BB or PB) or a battle cruiser (BC) whilst a 6" weapon would usually be found on a light cruiser or as the secondary weapon on a larger vessel. Using this system removed the need for a lot of gun/armour penetration type tables as both guns and ships are classed as being typical examples of their type.

Gun rates carried is a major departure from both the Jutland and Sea Battles in Miniature approach for one simple reason. I wanted a ship to have the full range of weapons available so that a battleship would feature both the main guns and the secondary weapons (even tertiary weapons if applicable). Ships will have one damage box per barrel of the appropriate type and the ship damage chart will have a stylised layout of the ship with the guns depicted in pretty much the right places for the ship being represented.

Gunnery and Damage are the two main areas of revision. I have worked on the basis that as a rule it is difficult to sink a warship by gunfire alone. This was the principle that James Dunnigan worked to in his original design for Jutland and supported by the modest amount of research I have conducted into the subject - I am certainly not professing to be an expert on the subject though! In a nutshell a ship could receive a battering above the waterline but still be sound in the hull. This means that gun damage should normally be inflicted topside, with the odd chance of going below the waterline. Sea Battles in Miniature uses a combination of critical damage to knock out key systems but the 'death by a thousand cuts' progressive damage system for the hull, secondary weapons and speed reduction. Each system has some merit but I have gone for a compromise and have used elements from both.

Jutland used gunnery factors instead of the number of barrels for gunfire; Sea Battles in Miniature, the number of barrels with the ability to fire in salvoes. The former, especially with ships that were undamaged, had virtually no provision for ships missing the target so two ships could very quickly render each other hors de combat in very short order - ideal for the game in a strategic context (battles are usually brutally quick) but much less satisfying at the tactical level.

The system I have employed for gunnery uses a number of d6 based on the number of barrels firing. This number is varied for range - typically being halved at long range and doubled, in some cases tripled at very close in. Each dice scores a hit on a 4 or 5 or 2 hits on a 6. Each natural 6 rolled gives an extra dice roll. I have a provision in place for a critical hits - these result from rolling two sixes when firing and the firing player  then has the option of inflicting the normal damage called for by the score or rolling once on the critical hit table. The table itself is based on that used by Paul Hague in his book. The dice rolls to damage vary depending on the gun/armour combination and I have allowed ships armed with 15" or larger weapons an additional positive modifier for damage simply because the damage they inflicted when hitting a target was of a different magnitude to that of a 12" weapon.

Damage is simply crossing hit boxes off - entirely at the owning players discretion - and when the ship has all if its protection boxes ticked off the ship is sunk. The effect of this is that ships will usually lose weapons and topside systems (assuming the odd critical hit pops up occasionally) first when engaged with gunnery. The cunning player will no doubt be thinking that they will take all their gunnery hits on secondary guns first but their is a mechanism in place to prevent this. Basically, if the lowest weapon type (by that I mean the lightest calibre carried) has been completely crossed off on the side of the ship receiving fire then any extra hits immediately come off the protection value of the ship. This should ensure that damage will be spread around the ship rather than concentrated in one area.

Torpedoes are handled in virtually the same way as in Jutland - I have always liked the 'launch in one turn, resolve in the second' approach - but the only difference I have employed is that factors have been dispensed with and applicable ships (destroyers for the most part) roll but a single dice to hit. The idea behind this is to ensure that formations attack, thereby increasing the risk of a torpedo hit against an enemy.

It all makes sense in the draft!


CelticCurmudgeon said...

Your rules revisions sound brilliant. For a game involving dreadnaught, and possibly a few pre-dreadnaught types, you've come up with what seems to be a really workable and exciting system. The major question is whether or not you'll make these available for poor sods like those of us who are frequent visitors....
Very good going, sir, and I look forward to your first AARs in the future.
A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

David Crook said...

Hi Jerry,

Many thanks sir! Once the final typing and correcting has been done and dusted and I have a couple of test games under my belt I will be making these available to anybody that wants a set.

I may even run a test game using the Fezian and Rusland fleets!

All the best,