Wednesday 22 June 2011

Further Thoughts on the Portable Naval Wargame

After giving the next batch of models their preliminary lick of paint last night I sat down with my trusty netbook and spent some time working on the draft for the Portable Naval Wargame. To be honest, there was little to do on this - I had manged to more or less complete them during my lunch hour - and so most of the time was spent working on the ship specifications for the Mediterranean fleets of 1890 to 1918. I had already prepared these for my previous set of rules and it was merely a case of changing some of the 'short move/long move' movements speeds to single numbers. The net effect of this is that every ship that was rated as such has had its speed rounded up. The combat factors have had a column heading change but the core data i.e. the numbers used for main, secondary and torpedoes, is all fine as is and so all I needed to do was to change the column headings. This has now been done and so I have ship specifications for the Mediterranean fleets completed and ready to use. The fleets covered are as follows:
  • Austria
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Russia (for the Black Sea)
  • Turkey.
As for the rules themselves it struck me how by changing the combat system to something much simpler to use so much of the previous game system (I am referring to my earlier sets in this respect) was now redundant. The combat rules in the Portable Naval Wargame barely cover a few paragraphs whereas previously pages would have been used!

The system is very simple to use works by simply deducting the current defensive combat power from the offensive combat power being used against the target. This will yield a figure that is applied to the roll of a d6. The resultant final score is then compared against the hit chart and the appropriate number of hit markers are placed alongside the ship (ore recorded on some paper if need be). That is it.

The offensive combat power includes an allowance for secondary weapons and torpedoes if applicable. I say allowance because this is not a separate factor - it is a part of the offensive combat power. For example, a ship has an offensive combat power of 8, with a secondary allowance of 3 and torpedoes of 1. This means that the ship could use all 8 points (subject to firing restrictions due to the target type) against a target or, it could use up to 3 points as a secondary factor leaving 5 to use elsewhere.

I have adopted this technique for a simple reason. I believe that if a ship is close enough to a target to need to use its secondary weapons then the quality of its main weapons fire will be degraded as the nearer target (presumably carrying torpedoes!) will have a much greater level of attention being paid to it. It means that the historically valid tactic of using a destroyer attack to disrupt an enemy battleline will have the same effect on the playing area. This will encourage players to ensure that the battleline is adequately protected so it can continue function in the role for which it was intended.

The number of offensive combat power points assigned to combat also determines the maximum range a ship can engage at which means that battleships need to be kept at a distance in order to gain the maximum benefit of their weapons.

The defensive combat power is basically the number of hits a ship can sustain before being sunk and the combat mechanics mean that as a ship takes damage then the easier it is to damage her further as the firing modifier will increase in real terms. The rationale behind this is that the ship will gradually sustain more damage than can be coped with and so additional damage would then be proportionally more effective.

All will be clear when I run the first playtest (all being well over the weekend) which, as usual, I will report on the blog.

I am quite excited about the potential of this set - not least of which because I have finally managed to draft a set of naval rules that fit onto two sides of A4 paper and not in 'bible print' either!


SteelonSand said...

These have been a really interesting series of posts - I had started off thinking you were going for a sort of DamnBattleshipsAgain-lite, but it is definitely developing into something more unique.
I think your idea about the close-in combats affecting the main batteries is an excellent development - too often in naval wargame rules you get a sort of Super-Battlestar tendency developing, where anachronistically omnipotent targeting of ships left right and centre occurs, as if Pre-Dreds had modern Aegis tracking systems!
Should be a nice way to more effectively denote the threat of TBs at the time too.

David Crook said...

Hi SoS,

In my experience TBs and DDs have a very short life expectancy in most naval games and invariably get thrown in as a kamikaze style attack at some point - usually for want of something sensible to do. In my opinion the threat of TBs should force the player to modify his plans and to be honest, in many cases they are cheerfully ignored as the 'laser sighted secondary' weapons proceed to shoot the bejesus out of them. This way a battleline can choose to ignore them and carry on blasting over the horizon at their opposite numbers but in doing so run the risk of a nasty 17.7, 18, 21 or 24" surprise.....Ooooer Matron, Fnar, Fnar......

I will see how it works out during the playtest.

All the best,