Monday, 17 November 2014

Tempest in a Teapot ----- Naval Thunder 1915

Since I'm blogging on a naval wargame, I thought I'd preface the thing with a photo of the only battleship I've ever been on - the USS Texas, which is in permanent dry dock (sunk in concrete actually) on the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, TX. My wife, Beth, knows infinitely more about navy stuff than I and we visited the ship when we lived in Houston. It's well worth seeing. Note how dark the ship is painted.

In any event, last Saturday at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group, we played Naval Thunder using World War I ships. Kevin fell into a treasure trove of ships with a model shop liquidating their stock of 1/8000th ships. Andy was quite busy painting the ships for both the British Royal Navy and the Imperial German High Seas Fleet. So Andy, Martin, Stu, and I each took a squadron of battleships and duked it out. (To be fair and honest, Andy had a battle cruiser as well.) I took some of the photos and Andy took the rest.

The Kaiserlich Kreigsflotte
Battleships, battle cruisers, cruisers, light cruisers, and some destroyers

His Britannic Majesty's Royal Navy
Again, everything from battleships to destroyers, with magnetic bases no less!

I don't remember the names of all the ships, but my squadron consisted of HMS Iron Duke, HMS Erin, HMS Canada, and HMS Agincourt, all battleships of different classes. Andy had 4 battleships and a battle cruiser. Martin and Stu had 4 battleships each, if I recall correctly. We approached each other in two parallel lines. Since long range for our guns was 42 inches, we moved a while before we fired at each other.

HMS Agincourt with a dime for size comparison.

HMS Canada
I think Andy did a fine job painting these tiny, tiny ships.

Another view of HMS Agincourt... without her dime.

Andy's squadron steaming at full speed.
(Hence the bad focus. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

One of the German squadrons head on.
As we approached each other, Andy exchanged fire with both Stu and Martin's squadrons. I was further back and coming into line of battle with Andy's squadron, so I held my fire. Naval Thunder uses a fairly simple d10 system for firing, differentiated by range, gun weight, and ship armour. You roll a d10 for each tube firing, usually needing a 7+ for medium range and a 9+ for long range. If your target is receiving fire from a second ship, you need one better on your role. If you achieve a hit, you roll again against the target's armour. Roll lower than the armour factor, half damage. Higher, full damage and a critical hit roll. Rolling 2 d10 and checking a table, this could result in flooding, a damaged rudder (maybe no turning) or boiler (reduced speed), a hit on a primary or secondary battery or torpedo tubes. A hit on the bridge can really hurt, but a full blown total of 20 on 2d10 means a hit on the magazine and an instant and catastrophic explosion resulting in an instant sinking. The accumulated damage from hits is rated against your hull factor and once that reaches zero, you're sunk as well.

After exchanging some fire, the German fleet turned 180° and began to run parallel to the British fleet. At this point, one of Andy's salvos hit the magazine of one of Stu's battleships, giving us a wonderful example of fireworks on the high seas.

The Markgraf takes HMS Centurion's hit with excellent grace and slides beneath the waves...
... the flaming, oily, churning, cold waves of the North Sea.
The little clear things are markers meaning the ship is being fired upon. We called them "splash markers." What they actually are are rubbery ear-ring backs. You can get them in large numbers at places like Walmart. I think Andy intends to mount them on thumbtacks to make them more stable.

My squadron has turned slightly to starboard to fall in behind Andy's which you can see just beyond.

More salvos target the Kriegsflotte.

The Royal Navy takes fire. My squadron has almost caught up with Andy's.

Andy's battle cruiser has taken a rudder hit and has fallen out of line. My HMS Canada suffered a boiler hit and has fallen out of line in order to let the less heavily damaged ships stay together. As it was, she caught up before the game ended.
Andy's lead battleship (HMS I-can't-remember-the-name) has taken a magazine hit and is sinking fast. Another of his ships has taken a rudder hit (if I remember correctly) and has slipped out of line and is screened by the third ship in line.

The Kriegsflotte is receiving a lot of fire.

... but so is the Royal Navy!

With the sinking of one of Andy's battlewagons, we decided both fleets had had enough and would head for home and refitting. One of Martin's ship was down to 3 points of hull left! Another salvo would have sunk her. My ships were in relatively good shape - some hull damage, one lost primary turret, a few secondary turrets (used mostly to take out destroyers and torpedo boats making torpedo runs. If you get close enough to use your secondaries on capital ships, you're probably too close!)

The final dispositions of the fleets when the Germans decided to break off and head for Wilhelmhaven.
Andy had one ship sunk outright and two too damaged to continue. I had one battleship slowed by a boiler hit.
Martin had one ship too badly damage to move much and a few on the edge. Stu suffered one sinking and one unable to manoeuvre.
I enjoyed the game even though I am not a big fan of naval wargames. Naval Thunder is quite playable and you can get a satisfactory game in in less than an afternoon. With 1/8000th scale ships the gun ranges seem realistic, although I know they could be as much as three times more than they are. This would require an empty hall to play on the floor... and I've come to enjoy chairs! I don't think I'll be investing my money in naval squadrons; it's just not my style. I will play the game when it comes up. As for my resident naval expert... well, Beth prefers Age of Sail. 

A Royal Navy ship photographed straight on. In reality, even lookouts would see less than this.

An element of the German fleet photographed as they steam toward the camera.
These small ships give a pretty good feel for the distance and the visability involved in naval combat of that age.
Enough for today. We'll be on land next week. Soon we'll have our Christmas party with Wings of War with Santa, Snoopy, and the Red Baron and other friends. I requested that we try Black Powder for an ACW game in 15mm. I also asked to try a real blast from the past - 40K Epic using WebEpic rules, which are a throw-back... and playable. I want to try my helicoptor-borne Imperial Guard units. There will also be a swap-meet late in January. Something to look forward to as the after-holiday blues set in.


  1. Cool looking game, the ships look excellent too!

    1. Thanks, Ray. It was a small game and alot of fun. I agree that the ships looked very fine.

  2. I like those waterline pictures - looking west into the setting sun...

    1. Andy wanted to take some waterline shots. The "setting sun" was a closet door I think. The room's walls are painted an institutional yellow.

  3. Good stuff John. This bat rep makes me want to go down stores, empty the rec room, and use the floor to play my vintage Avalon Hill Jutland game, though playing it with models rather than the cardboard bits would be more fun. Your photographic skill makes up for your lack of detail as a naval historian. :)

    1. Why thank you, Mike. I never pretended to be either a photographer OR a Naval historian.

  4. Nice looking game with most impressive ships, great pics!