Wednesday 29 October 2014

Thoughts on the Jutland Project

With work on the capital ship element of the Jutland project resuming once again (or more accurately speeding up from dead slow) I have again been thinking about the thorny subject of light cruisers and destroyers in the game. There is no doubt that the capital ships will be the stars but the supporting cast must also have their fifteen minutes so to speak.

I have previously mentioned that I will be scaling the numbers down for these elements - in the case of the destroyers this decision has been taken out of necessity as some of the types are simply unavailable in 1/2400th - and have more of less settled on cutting the light cruiser numbers in half. I am undecided about destroyers though.

For a variety of reasons many of the naval games I have fought over the years have usually featured a massed destroyer based torpedo attack. Destroyers then assume an importance in a fleet action out of all proportion to their actual abilities. Of course they are an essential element of a battle fleet but I am unconvinced that many rule sets 'dumb them down' sufficiently when used in large actions. I recall reading that at Jutland a little over a hundred torpedoes were launched in the battle and that the hit ratio was something around the five percent level. This is hardly the great torpedo fest that a wargame would routinely feature!

My feeling is that the threat of a torpedo attack was far greater than the actual effect and so I will aim to factor this in to the rules I ultimately decide upon. The Avalon Hill game Jutland allows for commanders to turn away from a torpedo attack this nullifying it and this works well enough.

Taking all this into consideration I shall be using representative bases for the destroyers based on their actual composition which will cut the number of models down and also ensure that that destroyers are handled with a little finesse than is usual. Torpedoes are effective when they hit - I just do not want that to be too easy to do so.

More to follow and much to ponder methinks....


Paul O'G said...

You could represent the Destroyers as two kinds of squadron bases - line and abreast formations, with a few representative hulls on them. That goes you the flex without the nausea of moving stack of bases.

WRT Torpedo-phobia: perhaps obliging a ship to engage destroyers that are closing it, or manoeuvring the formation to maintain range, or both, would be an appropriate nod to those pesky Destroyer Captains looking for glory!

Archduke Piccolo said...

It seems that the light cruiser squadrons of Commodores Sinclair and Goodenough played a significant role attempting to draw the German fleet onto the battle cruisers, and informing the flag of developments.

Early on in the action a destroyer/torpedo boat melee developed when the Germans attempted a torpedo attack on Beatty's and Evan-Thomas's Squadrons. At least twice more the German destroyers intervened to relieve the battleline from British gunfire.

I understand that it was one of those attacks that induced Jellicoe to draw away from the Main German battlefleet, giving the latter time to draw away and retreat under cover of the gathering night.

Given the fairly important, however secondary, roles of the light cruisers and destroyers, one feels that they ought to have some presence in their respective forces.

That a mere 5% of torpedos ever found a mark might well be a benchmark for opposed torpedo attacks, though for unopposed attacks, one could go for a higher success rate.

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

Funny you should suggest different base types....This is something I have been pondering but suspect I will using formation movement trays rather than multiple model bases as I shall still to use them for low level actions on a one model = one ship basis.

I suspect much experimentation will be needed.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Archduke,

Absolutely right! Your points are both well made and considered.The light cruisers and destroyers will have an important part to play in the game and so will certainly be represented. My concern though is that destroyers can often assume a far more important tactical effect during a game than historically which would serve to derail the whole thing. The threat of a torpedo attack is far greater than the effect and so I want to ensure this is the case - and is also something that AH Jutland captures simply but effectively with its 'turn away' option.

My concern at this stage is the numbers involved have a disproportionate impact with massed torpedo attacks being launched all over the show.

It will need a lot more work and thought but I have plenty of time to do both!

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

The Jutland Project has got to happen by 2016 David

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

It will be happening during 2016 - the plan is to carry out a refight to coincide with the centenary.

All the capital ships will be ready for the end of this year and my post for 31/12 will be around a review of both fleets.

Capital ship porn even!

All the best,