Tuesday 5 December 2017

Jutland Part 9: Stepping Forward

An oldie but goody - and is available via the History of Wargaming Project run by John Curry 

I thought long and hard about my recent play test and the changes I would need to incorporate in the next version of the rules. To be honest they are not many but they will make a difference. I mentioned that some of the processes were a little clumsy and so I hope that my changes have simplified things for the better.

I am satisfied with movement and all that need to happen with this is a little clarification around speed changes and turning so nothing too heavy. This kind of stuff is largely self-evident so I will not stress the point too much.

Firing is OK in terms of how you do it but damage allocation is the biggest problem as currently it involves some 'messy' calculations. These are OK when running a solo action but could get confusing in a multiplayer environment. I have taken a whole step out of the process in this case - it added little value - so damage inflicted will still remain at two steps (roll to hit and then for damage)  but the second will be a lot more straightforward. At this stage I will look to incorporate critical hits in due course.

One of the issues arising from my review of the play test concerns how ship protection/flotation values are calculated. Initially my thoughts were concerned with armoured cruisers As the playtest featured four of them) but they soon expanded to include smaller ship types. If you recall the base game of Jutland only reflected ships on an individual basis rated as CA (armoured cruiser) or larger. Light cruisers and destroyers were deployed on a combined basis so that 2 - 4 light cruisers were represented by a single counter and for destroyers it was complete flotillas. This worked well enough for Jutland but became a little too abstract when dealing with smaller ships. One of my aims was to allow for these ships on an individual basis so that lower level games had a little more depth to them. In both cases the ship record consisted of a number of boxes with each box representing a single ship in the formation.

I suppose what it comes down to is how do I want my ships to be represented? If an average dreadnought has, for example, 10 to 12 flotation points then other ships should be scaled back from this. Barry Carter, in his book Naval Wargames, adopted a fairly loose approach to damage points as he applied a notional figure to a type and then adjusted for other types accordingly. He liked his battleships(WW1) to have around 1,000 points or so (damage was based on the calibre of shell hitting the target) and then scaled back to light cruisers and destroyers with the later having around 100 or so points. The point is that he was fairly relaxed about how these scores were arrived out so long as they felt right and in relation to other ship types.

I must confess that being able to calculate a defence value for a ship based on a whole host of variables - tonnage, internal structural integrity, armour protection etc. - is a very difficult, if not impossible process. It is with this in mind that I am now not even going to try. Instead I will assign a notional value to a ship type and adjust classes either up or down from this benchmark depending on such factors as age, technological advances, actual historical performance etc. Selecting the baseline for these values will for the most part be a 'best guess' but I can make use of the values in Jutland (and the various additional articles etc.) and work with these as a guide.

With this in mind I envisage the following protection/flotation point ranges as being representative of the ships I shall be using.

BB - 10 to 14
BC (and yes, this is a new category!) - 6 to 12
PB - 7 to 10
CA - 5 to 8
CL - 4 to 6
DD - 2 to 4

I shall also refer to these henceforward as the flotation value rather than the protection/flotation value as this is more indicative of what the figure actually represents.

The figures above allow for a good spread of ship capabilities within the same notional type with classes dropped in as appropriate. I have allowed for some wider spreads for the older type of ships - the armoured cruisers and pre-dreadnoughts - simply because there was a bewildering variety of these in service during the Great War with many older vessels being pressed into use. This is also the case with the BC category as the early British types were effectively large armoured cruisers unlike their German counterparts. Of course there is also the late war RN oddities including HMS Repair and Refit....

In fact one could almost apply a similar approach to gunnery factors but that is a bridge I will fall off as and when (or even if) I get to it!

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