Thursday, 9 June 2022

For the Honour of Turkiye.…The Sea of Marmara, March 1878….Game Number 73….Part 2

Given that the Royal Navy had originally sailed into the Sea of Marmara without Turkish permission and at readiness for action it should have been no surprise that steps would be taken once diplomatic protestations had been ignored. In truth though the Turks would have been unable to match the full weight of the Mediterranean squadron but an isolated ship was fair game and it would certainly prove that the ‘sick man of Europe’ still had some fight left in him. Captain Bellend of H.M.S. Superb was determined that not only was his ship going to rejoin the squadron in good order but also that he would teach these upstart Turks a lesson in seamanship they would not forget in a hurry!

Notes on the rules

After recent testing and further careful consideration I have reverted to my original system for firing whereby ships roll to hit with the number of d6 determined by their gun factor and then roll d6s for damage based on the hits scored. Penetration and Armour factors are applied to the damage roll as modifiers. I have opted to do this as the ‘pace’ of the action feels better. There is still the chance of scoring an significant amount of damage in a single salvo but this is further along the ‘cruel vicissitude of fate’ scale or that of Dame Fortune being a fickle mistress….(and there is nothing worse than a fickle mistress, apparently….).

The opening positions. As the Turks had the initiative for the first turn they opted to allow the British to move first. The three Turkish vessels are now about to enter the playing area. 

Turn 1. There was no firing during the first turn - the single round from one of the 20 pdr BLRs was as much a warning shot as anything - so after H.M.S. Superb entered the playing area so she was beset on all sides by Turkish ironclads. Her guns were ready but whom should she engage first?

End of Turn 1. At the top of the picture the Turkish flagship prepares to cross the bows of the British ship as does the Feth-i-Bulend. Meanwhile, the Mukadeeme-i-Hayir follows but somewhat tardily and so prepares to face the full broadside of the British warship!

Turn 2. H.M.S. Superb wastes little time in engaging the nearest Turkish ship - the Mukadeeme-i-Hayir with a full broadside. The British guns are rated at 4/4 so 4d6 are rolled to hit and requiring a 4, 5 or 6 to do so at a range of one square. There are no other modifiers. The rolls are a 2, a pair of 4s and a 5 meaning that there are three damage rolls to be made. The British guns gain an overall plus 1 to the three damage rolls as their penetration factor of 4 is partially offset by the Turkish armour rated at 3. The dice rolls are truly miserable 1 and a pair of 2s! Captain Bellend was heard to mutter something along the lines of “There is something wrong with our bloody guns today!”

Both the Turkish flagship and the Feth-i-Bulend fired, each with identical chances to hit as they both have guns rated at 3/4. The flagship fires first and scores a 3, a 4 and a 5 meaning three damage rolls. These were made at a net minus 1 as the Turkish penetration factor of 4 is offset by the British armour of 5. The dice come up with a 5, a 4 and a 2 adjusted down to 4, 3 and 1 meaning that a single point of damage has been scored against the British ship for the adjusted roll of 4. First blood to Ali Shuar! The Feth-i-Bulend rolls a pair of 1s and a 3 and so fails to register a hit

For initiative the Turks rolled a 4 whilst the British rolled a 6. Captain Bellend allowed the Turks to move first.

End of Turn 2. Whatever his shortcomings as an individual Captain Bellend was no fool and even he could see that the Turks were looking to engage in succession. He immediately ordered the helm hard over to starboard and so the great ship heeled alarmingly as it moved away from the Turkish ships. The respite was temporary as the Feth-i-Bulend, followed by her sister, headed straight for the British ship. Ali Shuar’s flagship was suddenly found herself badly placed following the unexpected manouevere of the British ship with her stern facing the enemy warship. Luckily for Ali Shuar the Muin-i-Zafer was heading away from H.M.S. Superb who was in turn about to be engaged by the rest of the squadron.

Turn 3.  H.M.S. Superb immediately opened fire against the fast approaching Feth-i-Bulend. Due to the angle of approach of the Turkish ship the British warship was able to engage using her aft battery and half a broadside making four d6 rolls to hit at a range of 1 meaning 4, 5 or 6 was needed. A 2, a 4 and a pair of 6s! The two 6s generated a further pair of rolls coming up with a 5 and a 1. In total there were four damage rolls to make at a net modifier of plus 1. A 1, 2 5s and a 6 were rolled making adjusted scores of 3, a pair of 6s and a 7. The 1 was discounted and the natural 6 meant a further roll which came up as a 5 adjusted to 6. This meant that the three scores of 6 and the 7 equated to 4 points of damage - 1 more than her Hull Factor and so a Critical Hit roll was made scoring a 6 - She was on fire! Sadly for the Turks no ship had the British ironclad within a usable firing arc.

For initiative the Turks rolled a 3 and the British a 2. The Turks allowed the British to move.

End of Turn 3. After seeing the effect of the storm of fire unleashed upon the hapless Feth-i-Bulend Captain Bellend immediately looked to engage the next Turkish ship - the Mukademme-i-Hayir. Unfortunately, in his current frenzy of bellicosity, Bellend neglected to to take into account the damaged but still operational Feth-i-Bulend crossing the stern of the British ship. Meanwhile the Turkish flagship continued its turn as hard as she was able to.

Turn 4. The blazing Feth-i-Bulend failed in her attempt to douse the flames but so far the fire remained under control. H.M.S. Superb opened fire with every gun that could bear on her port side - the full broadside supported by the forward and aft batteries - 6 d6 in total. A pair of 1s, a 5 and 3 glorious 6s! The additional rolls came up with 1, a 2 and a 6 which in turn rolled a 3. Five potential damaging hits, all at a net of plus 1. The dice were truly abysmal - 3 1s, a 2 and a 5 meaning a single point of damage was scored against the Mukademme-i-Hayir. She returned fire. A pair of 6s and 1. The additional rolls came up with a 4 and 5 meaning that there were four potential damage rolls all at minus 1. A 1, a 4, a 5 and 6 meaning that only the 5 and 6 counted and were adjusted down to 4 and 5. The extra roll was a further 6 and then yet another 6! It could not last and so a 1 promptly appeared but even so, 4points of damage were scored against the British ship. The Turks were not finished yet as the Feth-i-Bulend opened fire. Despite her recent battering she was still game albeit at reduced effect due to the fire. She was able to score a single point of damage against the British ship.

For initiative the Turks rolled a 5 and the British a 6. The British allowed the Turks to move first.

End of Turn 4. The burning (note the red counter with a white Mastermind peg being pressed into service as a fire marker) Feth-i-Bulend attempts to breakaway from the British ship but Captain Bellend has other ideas on the matter and immediately (and some might say recklessly) puts the helm hard over to attempt to pursue the burning Turkish ship. His turn took him bow on to the second Turkish ship and so the crew braced themselves for the battering they would surely receive. Ali Shuar, his turn complete, was now well placed to engage his opposite number - the reckoning was due!

Turn 5. At last the fire on the Feth-i-Bulend was extinguished and she made ready to reenter the fray. H.M.S. Superb immediately raked her stern but to little effect with only two potential hits being scored from six d6 - 2 1s, a 2, a 3, a 4 and a 5 scored. Her damage rolls at overall plus 1 were a 2 and 5 meaning the adjusted 3 and 6 yielded but a single point of damage. The Mukademme-i-Hayir rolled her three d6 and scored a 1 and a pair of 6s. The two 6s threw up a 6 and a 5 and then a 2 so there were four potential hits to roll for, all at a net minus 1. Two 6s, a 3 and a 2 meaning two extra rolls - a pair of 6s! - this run of good fortune then ended with a 3 and 2 but nevertheless, four points of damage were inflicted on the British ship.

For initiative the Turks rolled a 4 and the British a 2. The Turks allowed the British to move first.

End of Turn 5. Captain Bellend knew his ship had been sorely tested. The shattering and accurate salvoes of fire from the second Turkish ship had caused widespread damage but fortunately his engines were still functioning. Gambling that the Turks would not pursue - an easy assumption to make given that two of the three enemy ships were facing in the opposite direction - he reluctantly ordered the ship to break off the action at best speed. The collective sighs of relief from his crew went unheard as Captain Bellend went below to compose his after action report. He had been surprised by three Turkish ironclads but had seen them off in a short but vicious action in which he was able to severely damage one enemy ship and damage a further.  It would certainly look good in the morning newspapers and not upset any civilians at their breakfast. Hmmm, he pondered - perhaps there may even be a knighthood in the offing for his part in this gallant little affair.

Ali Shuar watched the hastily departing British ship recede into the distance with a degree of disappointment. His mind was teeming with ‘what ifs?’ He knew he had come very close to scoring a major victory over the British ship with his three much smaller vessels. It was a close run thing and it was only the seemingly foolhardy nature of the British Captain that had unhinged his plan - the violent manoeuvring of the enemy warship, largely towards his own ships rather than the more obvious route away and to safety - and that was something he had not considered. He would have even more disappointed had he known that the British Captain was handling his ship without any plan other than to engage the nearest enemy, whatever the cost! Of his three ships the Feth-i-Bulend had been roughly handled but had still done her part whilst her sister, the Mukademme-i-Hayir had been but lightly damaged. Her crew were now convinced that she was a lucky ship. His own flagship was unscathed. For now though, thoughts of repairs loomed large in Ali Shuars’s mind - that and the reaction of the Sultan when he heard of the affair.

No prizes for guessing what this brisk little action was based upon! Captain Bellend’s unshakeable faith in British naval supremacy, regardless of the quantity or quality of the opposition, certainly seemed to be borne out as H.M.S. Superb engaged whatever was nearest and at every opportunity. Brave? Certainly. Lucky? Damnably so, especially as his ship was in very real danger of being sunk from under him when he broke off the action. Arguably the correct course of action would have been for H.M.S. Superb to have ‘got the hell out of Dodge’ as soon as she had recovered from the initial surprise - she was certainly in the position to do as her first turn away (turn 2) had surprised her attackers. However, Captain Bellends thirst for glory had far outweighed any tactical considerations as he threw his ship, some would argue needlessly, into the fray.

Ali Shuar’s plan worked up to a point - the initial approach and suprise of the British ship was masterfully executed - although only managing to engage the British ship with two of his three ships was less than ideal. In truth he had not considered the the option of the British ship turning in to engage his force - if placed in a similar situation he would have certainly disengaged as there was little point in pushing an apparently hopeless tactical situation merely for the sake of glory. As his small squadron retired Ali Shuar concluded that he was both fortunate and unfortunate at the outcome but overall his ships had acquitted themselves well under the circumstances. He made a mental note though, to expect the unexpected when engaging an enemy!

Thoughts on the Rules

Everything held up well with only one very minor amendment required. I am thinking that I have pretty much gone as far as I can go in terms of the overall system and so all that now remains is for me to look at diagonal firing arcs and to formalise some 3 x 3 mechanics around reserve areas - or manoeuvring zones as I prefer to call them. I want to run a full sized game using a larger playing area and so will look to get the 6ft by 4ft table out at some point but for now some further editing of the final draft is  needed and then it is back to the testing team - hopefully for the final time.

Oh and I STILL need to build the remaining ACW ships….

All good fun though!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Having read your battle report with great interest, I was struck by how much happened in such a small area. It seems to me that you have pretty well ‘cracked’ the problem of writing a workable set of FP3x3PW naval wargame rules for the ironclad period.

All you need to do now is to finish of building your ACW ironclads.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Thank you old chap! The action was a little ‘forced’ in a sense but once I have addressed the reserve area/manoeuvring zone issue it will feel rather more rounded. The 3 x 3 format works well for close up naval actions with a modest number of ships so age of sail and ironclads fits in nicely. I would also use the format for later actions where the headcount is low - perhaps coastal forces, destroyer sweeps, possibly the odd cruiser duel. I also reckon that submarine actions - hunter and hunted - and air attacks against ships would fit as well - even pure aerial actions, perhaps a bomber fending off attacking fighters.

Plenty of mileage methinks! You are right, I really need to get back into the ship building business!

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

A very enjoyable AAR David…
A narrow escape for Bellend indeed… I look forward to seeing more of his adventures/miss adventures…

All the best. Aly

David Crook said...

Hi there Aly,

Thank upo old chap! I so e how think we have not seen the last of Bellend - he is very well connected in society and so is expected to go far.

How far though is any bodies guess!

All the best,