Thursday 16 June 2011

The Portable Naval Wargame

U2 can write a set of naval wargames rules

Readers of this blog will no doubt recall all the trials, tribulations and agonising I have gone through over the last couple of years trying to design a set of grid-based naval wargames rules. After much work, numerous blind alleys, the odd flash of inspiration and a series of spectacular headaches I managed to produce a DBA based variant, a Morschauser inspired set (that is being very generous as just about the only thing the rules had in common with anything Morschauser related was in the use of a square grid!) and most of a Memoir 44/Battle Cry based set - of which Bob Corderoy's version(s) were far more complete than my own efforts.

The work that went into this sets was both interesting and thought provoking and I learned an enormous amount from the process, ably assisted along the way by the inexhaustible patience of numerous members of SEEMS and the comments and observations from the blog universe.

And yet.....

The sets I have described above all work reasonably well - in fact the 'Morschauser' set I am very proud of - but in the light of what Bob Corderoy has achieved with his Portable Wargame:

I cant help feeling that my efforts thus far have swung a little too far from what I had set out to achieve in the first place - devising a non-record keeping set of grid based naval wargame rules of a level of detail and complexity that could sit alongside of, and to share a common game mechanic background with Jo Morschauser's systems for land warfare.

I suppose my question then is very simple - if Jo Morschauser ever designed a naval wargame how would he have done it?

For me, the concepts behind the Portable Wargame are absolutely 100% in line with my own gaming aspirations - they are simple yet challenging to use and are equally at home being used for solo play or for a club night knockabout. Above all though, they 'feel' right for the period under consideration and are robust enough in design to be able to cope with any amount of 'tinkering' for sub-period or scenario specific reasons.

This is exactly what I would want from a naval version as I really like the idea of gaming across land and sea (and air?) using rules that are of a common background. Impossible? I don't think so but it would certainly require something of a leap of faith to achieve as, for the most part, naval game rules tend to work on a different basis to land rules and rightly so.

What does all this mean then? I am thinking that if I want to achieve this level of  rules homogeneity then I will need to undertake drafting a set firmly camped in the Morschauser universe as these are my preferred choice for land games. This is further complicated by the fact that I would need three such sets - Ironclads (for the ACW), pre dreadnoughts and 1905 plus. I am convinced however, that a core set of rules could easily be used up and down the timescale with the tweaks applicable as and where needed for period specific features.

Much to ponder methinks - and many lunchtimes grafted to my netbook!

PS I am not a fan of U2 as such but whilst drafting this post I was reminded of one of their biggest hit songs:

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for...."


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I have a similar quest at the back of my mind; a set of 'integrated' land/sea/air wargames rules.

I am sure that together we can get there.

All the best,


kingsleypark said...

Presumably the biggest challenge for any set of naval Wargames rules is how to deal with the range of the weapons involved and how to translate that onto the tabletop that won't require a gaming area the size of a small hall.

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

As Baldrick would say (usually just before a slap on the head) - "I have a cunning plan...."

Watch this space.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Kingsleypark,

I have long since given up on attempting to get anything like a realistic looking naval game in terms of distances etc - it is simply not doable on a normal tabletop.

If it is going to look abstract it may as well be abstract and so that is why I am using a hex grid for my rules. The 'new' set will be no exception to this as it makes everything so much easier - especially for hidden movement, tying in strategic stuff not to mention measuring ranges and moves etc.

My models are not scale specific (at least the scratchbuilds are not - I do own some 1/3000th fleets) although I do try to ensure that relative size differences are maintained so for me the size of the models is not an issue. The playing area the rules are designed for is 12 x 8 hexes (a Hexon tile is 4" across the flat sides) so you can see, the space required for a game is not huge - again, this suits me fine. The 1/3000th models look fine on this size of area.

More to follow in due course.

All the best,