Tuesday 26 April 2022

Evolving a Naval Wargame

A typical pre-dreadnought battleship circa. 1900

The same ship repainted overall grey

I believe that I have now gone about as far as I can go with the ACW naval rules and so I am typing up the draft for play testing purposes using live players as opposed to just little old me!

If I have learned anything over the past two years of this project it is being convinced that the core system will work for other periods with some specific tweaks. This was a real eye opener for me and it has really opened a Pandora’s Box of potential goodies. I reckon that the age of sail - in this case I am looking back to the 16th century as well as the more usual Napoleonic period - would work but obviously provision would be needed for sails as the motive power (and oars as required). This will require some work, not to mention the small matter of adding sails to the models! Potentially this could take a while to organise and the models will need careful planning. I am still keen to maintain the momentum though and so have settled on what will be the next phase of this ongoing project

I am of course thinking about the period 1885 to 1905 - the pre-dreadnought era.

I reckon that it should be easy enough to reset the gun and armour types (you would need to see the rules to appreciate what I am talking about or alternatively if you take a look at David Manley’s excellent Dahlgren and Colombiad rules you will see what I mean) to reflect the later period and things like ship speeds etc will largely take care of themselves. Even ‘proper’ torpedoes would not be too much of a challenge to incorporate. I fully intend the rules to be usable for ‘normal’ games as well as the 3 x 3 format. The ‘currently being typed’ ironclad rules are becoming more and more the same set as the differences between the two have largely been eliminated - in effect they will be a simple larger set or a more complex 3 x 3 set! Either way they are a lot of fun.

Unsurprisingly there is an ulterior motive to all this. Years ago I raised a substantial French fleet for the period using 1:3000th Navwar models using a set of rules called The Devil at the Helm. I remember having some epic games using these rules although they did become quite clunky as the number of guns carried by ships went up.

I am not looking at gaming fleet sized actions and indeed the scale I am looking at is not that far removed from what I am currently gaming for the ACW. I am thinking more of Colonial style naval operations - repurposed ironclads being used as flagships on foreign stations supported by more ‘modern’ cruiser types with gunboats aplenty and requisitioned civilian vessels armed with whatever happened to be available at the time. Very much second string stuff but glorious all the same! I will be building the models and as yet I have no specific nationality in mind. I rather like the idea that Bob Cordery has been writing about with his ‘Belle Epoque’ forces. Failing that the old standby of the world of 1891 or even, dare I say it, Madasahatta.

The ship models will be built using my MDF laminate technique with the sizes once again being similar to the ACW types so the largest models will be around 6” long. Having learned from building the ACW models I will need to give some careful consideration to the various bits and pieces I will need from Warbases. Some more modern looking turrets will be needed as well as shielded deck guns - primarily singles - and certain pieces of superstructure, bridge ‘wings’ etc. As ever the models will not be scale specific and will be purely representational looking in terms of detail.

First of all though, there still remains completion of the ACW project - ships, rules and a new board as well as for the Russo Turkish War so there is plenty to be going on with, probably sufficient for the rest of the year!

Meanwhile though, back to the ACW - must stay focused!


Archduke Piccolo said...

David -
"How doth the busy bee improve each shining hour"

"How doth the industrious war gamer
Improve his shiny toys-
The diligence of full grown men
Even nascent in little boys.
How skilfilly he crafts his builds
How neatly builds his craft
And labours hard to store them
Well, from battleship to raft."

Your naval projects seem to grow with the progress already made!

David Crook said...

Hello there Archduke,

I have never had a poem dedicated to me before - I am blushing in an Oscar acceptance speech kind of way!

To be honest I see this idea as being very much a natural progression of the ACW set in many ways and for sure it will open up a lot of doors for what I want to do going forwards.

The siren call of Madasahatta….

All the best


Simon said...

I will be interested to see if your rules might be tweaked to play Mimi and Toutou WW1 Africa games.


David Crook said...

Hi Simon,

I reckon a set of pre-dreadnought rules could be spun out to capture non dreadnought based actions (or perhaps with once or two as a maximum) set during the Great War - certainly Lake Tanganyika is definitely on the horizon. Both David Manley’s Steamer Wars and Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames cover the campaign so there is plenty of inspiration for me! It would also be just the right size for me as well in terms of the number of models.

We shall see!

All the best,


Ray Rousell said...

All sounds good Dave, I see you're selling your Pirate books, is that period vanquished now?

David Crook said...

Hello there Raymondo,

Thank you old chap. I am but only because there are several more pressing things in the way first of all. From a practical perspective I really need to trim the book collection by around a half or so although how on earth I will manage that lord alone knows!

All the best,


The Jolly Broom Man said...

Good work going on here mate. I’ll hold back on purchasing any pre-dreadnoughts from TD et al until you’ve decided if you are going to commit to making some. If you do, my French PayPal account is at your mercy!

David Crook said...

Hello there JBM,

Cheers old chap - much appreciated! I was always going to tackle pre-dreadnoughts and will absolutely be making them myself. In fact I have already been penning some designs for some bits and pieces from Warbases.

Your French Paypal account eh? Best I get cracking then!

All the best,


Mark Cordone said...

As a result of your work I've been thinking about 3x3 fleet actions for age of sail and war galleys. I'm leaning towards a more abstract tack, but I'm looking forward to your ideas. I'm also looking at doing something with 3x3 and cloths pin star ships, I've accumulated some materials and I plan on making A few.

David Crook said...

Hello there Mark,

I reckon fleet actions could work if you were using bases of small ship models. It would need some thought so I will be interested to see what your abstract tack would be.

Clothes Pin spaceships are really a great idea and some of the models I have seen are truly remarkable looking. For my part I have plenty of other materials to use - laser cut MDF shapes, wooden blocks and various other bits and pieces. I will certainly knock a few models together at some point.

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

I’m really looking forward to seeing how your Pre Dreadnought ships develop David…

Your particular style will really suit them…

I remember seeing some vintage tin plate to battleships at a toy and collectors fair and thinking how good their caricatured nature of them looked… if they hadn’t been so insanely expensive I would have been very tempted get a couple.

All the best. Aly

David Crook said...

Hello there Aly,

I have a few ideas in mind for the pre dreads when I can get to them - I the ACW to finish alone with the Russo Turks although the latter will not take too long to do.

I recall some years ago that Bob Cordery built a ship based on the Monopoly battleship - and very evocative it looked as well.

First order of business though, I need to acquire a copy of the 1898 Janes….

All the best,