Saturday 13 April 2013

Thoughts on Ships and stuff

Flat Top - the Avalon Hill version of the Battleline game designed by S. Craig Taylor (sadly deceased). Without a doubt this is one of my all time favourite board wargames

After the frenzy of gaming and painting warships of recent weeks, culminating in the action yesterday with the only two WW2 models I currently own, I have been giving some thought to what comes next. The most important decision I have taken is that 1/2400th will be the scale for anything 1895 and after - I really like the models - and that I will be making use of Stonewall models primarily, with a smattering of Panzerschiffe for the odd models I need to fill in the gaps. Aside from the Fezian and Rusland set up, together with the WW1 RN and High Seas Fleet, I will be tackling WW2 - I have two ships already so it would be rude not to add to them - and I have surprised myself by actually considering a Pacific set up.

The reason for this is tied in with my long time fondness for the old Avalon Hill boardgame Flat Top. The game covers carrier battles in the Pacific during 1942 although not the Midway operation. Contained in the box are loads of counters covering ships and air assets, task force organisation charts, the rules, a huge mounted map board of the area covered and, best of all, a pad of pre printed plot maps. The plan is simple and essentially means acquiring the models for the ship counters. The map is used for strategic moves and the models come out to resolve the tactical battles.

There is a school of thought that has the view that carrier actions or air strikes against a surface task force do not make for good naval games. I disagree with this because with the right mechanics a carrier strike can be great fun to fight for both players. It also give you the chance to paint up some aircraft models should you wish (which can be easily arranged). Back in the day when I was regularly playing Flat Top amassing great aerial armadas to knock out carrier task forces was hugely enjoyable although not for the faint hearted as the volume of anti aircraft fire a full sized US carrier group could put in the air was truly formidable!

I am also currently amassing a selection of aircraft for the Pacific theatre using Axis and Allies: Angels 20/Bandits High, so having the ships for the naval side extends my coverage of the theatre somewhat.

The great thing about this year of the Pacific War is that the US Navy was not quite the juggernaut it was to become later on and so requires care in how it is handled. For Japan of course it is a war of diminishing returns and so both sides have differing overall objectives which makes for a fertile background for wargames. As an aside, the Flat Top plot maps would also be very useful for any manner of small scale naval  mini campaigns - WW1 'hunt the raider' style games spring to mind.

For the time being though, my focus is on the Fezian and Rusland fleets with the WW1 British and German set up. When I get to WW2 the RN and KM will follow first of all but I will also need to consider the fleets for the Turkish involvement in the Middle Eastern project.

Mention of WW2 of course means the use of airpower and so that will also be something to consider for the rules I am using - the action yesterday was fought a set designed to 'end' in 1920. One to ponder for later in the year methinks.

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