Tuesday 25 September 2012

Ideas from Sea Battles in Miniature....Part 2

2nd Battle Squadron at Jutland

I can safely say that whatever Paul Hague was on when he wrote Sea Battles in Miniature back in the late 1970's I only wish it was bottled and available to buy!

The ideas contained within the dreadnought section have completely changed my outlook on how I should be approaching my naval games for the the period of the all big gun battleship. By using a combination of progressive and critical hit damage the gunnery system works a treat and more importantly, using the ship cards as designed enables the all important modelling of different ship types so beloved of naval wargamers (myself included!) to be undertaken in a speedy and efficient fashion - and also very easily to boot.

The rules are designed with big fleets in mind but the option exists for using the detailed damage system with smaller types so this means that cruiser level fights will not be merely just dice rolling exercises. I especially like the idea of rolling a dice per two guns for hits as in my experience, most gamers enjoy rolling great fistfuls  of dice, it all adds to the fun!

One of the great things about the PC age we find ourselves in is the fact that producing ship charts is now a whole lot easier than it was in 1980. I use Excel for spreadsheets etc and so setting up the required ship cards up will be a walk in the part by comparison with the old days of calculators, scrap paper and late night long multiplication (especially for Fletcher Pratt ship cards!).

I know I have posted on numerous occasions that I have been trying for ages to design a set of rules for naval combat that did away with ship charts and used markers as the sole means of recording damage. I have finally decided that I cannot fight a naval wargame without using a ship charts of some kind and so, in bowing to the inevitable, I may as well use a set of rules that have been of almost universal acclaim in wargaming circles as any others!


Colin T said...

It was his approach to "ground" scale that really impressed me - taking the length of a ship in the line as a starting point, and also having the genius idea of making one model represent two capital ships. I'm afraid every other set of rules gets tested against this initial standard and if it doesn't convince me then I'm probably not interested.

Having said that, I do think Paul H allowed slightly too much space - 750 yards per ship when 500 might be nearer the mark, if I remember right ...

David Crook said...

Hi Colin,

It has never ceased to amaze me that many of the books written on most wargaming subjects back in the early days have stood the test of time so well. It just goes to show how sound the original ideas were!

All the best,


Tail End Charlie said...

"...and used markers as the sole means of recording damage...."
What about Axies and Allies (War at Sea) It uses markers for damage

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking, yesterday, about how older sets still seem to work better. The newer ones have all the flashy pictures and layout design. But the older ones seem to have been built on clearer, solider principles. The ACW rules I use (Rally 'Round the Flag) are about 35 years old.

Now, I have to go dig out my copy of Sea Battles and reread it.

David Crook said...

Hi Tail End Charlie,

Absolutely right and I have played an enormous number of games of Axis and Allies: War at Sea. My point is that the damage using such a method seems to be somehow 'sterile' - I am not criticising the game though as it is a lot of fun to play. I suppose using a damage record chart a la Hague just gives a better mental visualisation of how a ship is coping under fire.

It is purely representational but is purely representational in a more 'feeling' or 'flavoured' way.

All the best,


David Crook said...


I would have to agree with you 100 per cent on the "older ones seem to have been built on clearer, solider principles."

Dare I say, they are a triumph of substance over style....;-)

All the best,