Thursday 5 November 2009

The Trials and Tribulations of a Naval Wargamer.......

..........Are indeed many and varied! This Wednesday at the club saw yet another play test of my DBSA - The Great War at Sea Gridded naval rules. If you recall I may have mentioned that this week would see the Black Sea Russians taking on the Austro-Hungarians owned by Mr Fox. Sadly, he is suffering from a dose of the screaming awfuls and was too ill to attend (wishing you a speedy recovery old boy!) and so once again the Greeks and the Turks took to the sea to try the fortunes of their respective flags. The action was loosely based on the Battle of Lemnos and the result was a Turkish winning draw in that whilst both sides lost a base of destroyers and a battleship (a Greek Hydra class and the Hayreddin Barbarossa) the Turks were rather more successful with their gunnery and had inflicted damage across much of the Greek navy. I shall refrain from describing the action in detail simply because all it did was to highlight some basic problems with the rules.

Movement needs to be revised - although the existing system of 90 degree turns and square displacement means that you are able to cover every square on the table it looks a little odd in practise. I wanted to avoid using diagonal movement because of the problems it causes (greatly exaggerated in my own mind I hasten to add!) but am now going to including it - mainly because a naval game needs manoeuvre and every tabletop admiral I have ever gamed with are usually inordinately fond of it! The 'distortion' caused by moving in the diagonal plane opposed to the orthogonal was something I wanted to avoid but given that the speeds are so low (an average of 3 or 4 squares being 28 knots maximum) there is no need to add the complication of staggered movement. Basically, a square, is a square, is a square. The only thing I have added to this as a sop to the distortion is to have a maximum speed of 4 squares when moving in the diagonal - this as a result will only really impact on certain destroyers.

Combat works reasonably well although I will be making it a little more decisive. To be fair, many of the ships in use had, to put it politely, seen better days and so were pretty dire in terms of capabilities. Having said that, the results thus far have been quite historical i.e. lots of shooting with the occasional hit being scored and that is fine but not hugely exciting as a game. As a result, I have tweaked some of the factors, simplified the ranges and changed some of the modifiers. That sounds pretty drastic but it is not as bad as it appears.

With these changes/amendments/revisions it means that I will be redrafting the rules once again. Still, as somebody once said, "If you wanna make an omelette, first you gotta break some eggs.........!"

On the plus side I feel now as though I am quite close to getting these rules to where I want them to be and I must again thank all the stalwarts at my club and the readers of the blog for indulging me with the numerous play test sessions - I am sure it will be worth it in the end!


Paul O'G said...

The best rules are those which have been through several iteration and been played and tested (not always the same thing). Rememebr how many version of LI we had?

Keep up the good work old bean!

David Crook said...

That is very true re LI! I think I should have gone with my gut instinct re the movement and diagonals but as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing! At the risk of repeating myself though, I think I may (at last) be on the right track. Combat works pretty well - probably too well - as it feels right for the period. I need to make it a little more decisive (not to Axis and Allies: War at Sea levels)to add to the 'gameiness' of the system. That is in hand. many thanks for the thoughts and continued support - it is, as ever, much appreciated!