Sunday, 1 March 2015

Into the Narrow Seas

 This past Saturday at the Hamilton Road Games Group, Andy set up a scenario that was very small and quite tricky. Only four ships of WWI vintage and a few shore forts, but it made for a great little scenario which ended up being played three times. We used Naval Thunder rules and the ship models were 1/6000th scale.

I'd be willing to bet that some of you already know what the scenario was, but I (not being wise in naval things) only realized what it was after a little coaxing and some broad hints.

the table, suitably decorated with a narrow mouth and some of the north shore

One of th shore forts. The "A" and "B" show the fields of fire for the guns mounted in the forts.

There were "dead spots" between the forts fields of fire, but the ranges of the batteries was 40".

Each fort mounted 13.2" guns for primary armement and 12" guns for secondaries.
The setting was the Bosphorus and the scenario was the flight of the battlecruiser Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau. Only this time the Royal Navy figured out where they were going rather than holding to the belief that the two ship were going to interdict the French troop ships bringing colonial forces from North Africa to Metropolitan France. This was an incident I knew little about and I learned. The two ships were turned over to the Turkish navy and this caused a lot of good feeling toward the German Empire, since the British had kept/"commandeered"/stolen two battleships being built in British shipyards for Turkey just before the war started.
In our scenario, the two German ships are about to enter the narrows at Istanbul. They are being persued by the battlecruisers, HMS Indomitable and HMS Indefatigable. The three shore forts shown in the photos above cannot fire on anybody until one turn after the British open fire. The British ships set up 30" behind the German ships. To win, the British had to stop and/or sink the Goeben and lose no more than one ship.
In the first game, Derrik and I took the British ships (Indefatigable was mine) while Kevin and Martin took the German ships and Bear took charge of the shore forts. Andy refereed since he made up the scenario. Derrik and I set up widely seperated and did a stern chase for about three turns, then I opened fire. Breslau began to lay down smoke, steering left and right while Goeben ran for the end of the table. Since I had opend fire so early, I took a lot of damage from the shore forts as well as the Goeben itself. My rudder was damaged and I could only turn to starboard.

My command - HMS Indefatigable

the Goeben and the Breslau

The Breslau lays down smoke while the Indefatigable takes fire.

And more fire...

And more fire, until the rudder is disabled.
Eventually I took enough hits to sink and as the Indefatigable slipped beneath the waves and the Goeben made for a berth in Istanbul, we realized that we had plenty of time to play at least one more scenario. We realised that the shore forts were tremendously powerful so we reduced the efficiency of the Turkish crews and delayed the order to fire by allowing the forts to open fire d4+2 turns after the British open fire. This time, Derrik took the Breslau and Bear took Goeben. I handled the shore forts. Kevin and Martin took the British and began as far back as we did but kept their ships close together.

Like this.
They also held their fire until they were past the first two shore forts and were out of those fort's fields of fire. That left the third, which did some damage.

The British battlecruisers pushed forward at full speed in a tight formation.

Breslau laid down smoke again.

Smoke everywhere.
Although the light cruiser was able to hide the Goeben with smoke for a while,
the Breslau was sunk by the two British ships.
The two batteries in the third fort and the aft guns of the Goeben eventually pounded the Indefatigable to scrap. The rules allow for two sorts of hits: if your shells hit but you don't make the penetration roll, you do half damage (which wears down the ship). If your shells hit and you make the penetration roll, you do full damage and you roll on the critical hit table. That could start a fire, disable your rudder, start a flood, or on the roll of a 20 on 2d10, suffer an disasterous magazine hit which destroys the ship instantly. Kevin had numerous fires, flooding, and engine room damage. He did inflict some fire control damage on the Goeben, but that didn't keep the Goeben from reaching the end of the table and safety.
For the third game, Lyle and Dale took the British for a turn or two (they had to leave early.) This time all the ships started further outside the harbor in order to give the British more of a chance to catch the Germans before the Turkish fort guns could be brought to bear. Beth and I left not too long after that so I'm unsure of the out-come. It is a tough game for the British and I heard some talk of adding a third ship to the British flotilla. Still it made for a good game - a real barn-burner and a nail-biter that took all your attention for a rather brief time.

The Indefatigable under my command taking fire and showing a damaged rudder that would only turn to starboard.
I couldn't go straight or to port.

The Indefatigable slips into a watery grave, as it were.

One of the Turkish shore forts.
In the second and third scenarios, their fields of fire were adjusted, the gunners' efficiency
was reduced and the lag time regarding the orders to open fire was lengthened.

Kevin was captaining the Indefatigable when all these fires broke out.

You never know what you'll see in the waters around Istanbul.
A giant walrus makes an appearance... scouting for Godzilla, no doubt.
Skirmish gaming next week. I'll be busy elsewhere and won't be able to make the gaming.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Ray. Credit goes to Andy who brought the ships and the terrain. It's a decent set of rules. I don't know how comprehensive they are for air power and the like, but they work for what we do.

  2. Lovely looking game. Sounds like a smart thing would be to avoid a posting to Indefatigable.
    That final picture really seals the deal.

    1. I'd avoid that posting as well. As for the walrus, coo-coo-ka-chew!