Thursday, 3 June 2010

First Thoughts on the Battle of Cape Odamonte and the Germ of a Dilemma

The battle was fought and happily everyone enjoyed the action although I must confess that as the scenario designer I had a number of reservations. The forces used were a good match up but I think I had the initial deployment of the respective cruiser formations was too close to one another. I will post a fuller report as soon as the BT engineer has fixed my home broadband connection but suffice it to say, the carnage was widespread, neither side achieved a major victory although the RN had caused rather more damage than the Italians. Airpower was largely ineffective although how the Ark Royal survived the tender mercies of two squadrons of swarming SM79 torpedo bombers with nary a scratch was one of the highlights of a vastly entertaining game – along with the potentially devastating opening salvo from HMS Valiant that was one pip of the dice away from sinking the Guilio Cesare outright. Mention should also be made of the glorious demise of the light cruiser HMS Gloucester as she faced the full weight of two Italian heavy cruisers and destroyers – her end was both short and spectacular.

The action served to raise a number of issues for me which I need to address in respect of how I enjoy my naval wargaming. Axis and Allies: War at Sea is a great game and is one that I always enjoy within the context of it being a game rather than, dare I say, a simulation and because it is ideal for a club night as it is both simple to play and fast in its resolution. The problem is for me is that more and more games using this system feel like the after effects of a Chinese takeaway. You feel completely sated after a frenzy of activity but after a short while (in my case the time it takes to drive home) cannot but help thinking that something is missing. As long as you are happy with the game system as it is and not what you think it should be then that is fine and so WaS succeeds admirably as such; although much less so as a pure ‘wargame’. I suppose in a sense I have changed my thinking as to how best enjoy WW2 naval wargames as previously using fast play and zero record keeping systems seemed ideal but now I am not so sure. It is a no brainer that actions with few ships ideally need rules that are more complex than those designed for fleet actions. With my interest being confined to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic – a world away from the vastness of the Pacific and the larger fleets in use – and the actions being relatively small affairs I need a set of rules for tactical games that have a little more ‘meat’ in their contents. I am by no means looking at going down the road of using systems like Seekreig or any of the Command at Sea series as these rules, whilst being super detailed in terms of technical approach and accuracy are far beyond what I would like to tackle in terms of complexity. I have a couple of sets to explore and so my search for what seems to be the naval wargaming Holy Grail continues!

As ever, much to ponder methinks!

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