Sunday, 25 January 2015

Naval Thunder in Indochina

The Hamilton Road Games Group is attempting to develop a schedule for our 'historical' games. This past week, we exercised the schedule for "Fleet Actions" and played Naval Thunder using 1930's fleets for Imperial Japan and for France. The action was supposed to be taking place in the Gulf outside of Hanoi. The Japanese fleet was more modern than the French Pacific-Indochina fleet, which appears to be made up of out-dated battleships and cruisers with a batch of destroyers. The Japanese also floated larger guns and made the most of the "Long Lance" torpedoes.

Martin, Kevin, and Bear were the commanders of the French while Andy, Derek, and I captained the Japanese. My squadron consisted of the heavy cruiser Furutaka, and the destroyers Kagoro, Isukaze, Urakaze, and Akitsuki. (I'm glad I remembered to write those names down because I can't tell names or classes from ship silhouettes. Naval gaming is not my primary thing.) Oh, yes, photos are courtesy of Martin and of my wife's camera (manned by me.)

Both sides spend a few turns advancing toward each other since most of our guns were vastly out of range. The Japanese found the French in range first, but the dice failed us... consistantly... all through the game.

The Imperial Japanese commanders face some of the French fleet.

The same folks in the middle of the game with a smoke screen being generated by the French destroyers.
My cruiser, Furutaka, leading the destroyer squadron.

The three Japanese battleships under Derek's command.
Andy's squadron is in the background.

I believe this is Andy's lead cruiser.

To make the board less "boring", the Isles of Langerhans were added.
(Apologies to the Firesign Theatre.)
My intent was to do an end run on the left side and mess up the French fleet's day with torpedoes. The Japanese "Long Lance" torpedoes have a range of 150% of the French torps. They rate as a 24" torpedo with means if/when they hit, they do hull damage equal to their rate in inches, in this case 24 damage points to the hull. Some of the destroyers have a hull rating of 7 or 8; a torpedo hit could ruin your day. Andy intended to do something similar on the right flank with Derek holding the centre with his battleships - a force to be reckoned with! Kevin came at me with three cruisers, while Bear took the centre with three elderly battleships. Martin faced Andy with a destroyer-heavy force in an attempt to deny Andy's end run.

As I approached, my faster destroyers pealed off, leaving the heavy cruiser and the older destroyer, Akitsuki, to come straight in. I was still hoping to launch torpedoes. Alas, this was not to be.

Kevin measures the advance sailing of the French battleships. (He was closer to the models than Bear.)

Martin's flotilla - destroyers and a cruiser

The lead French battleship - the Bretagne, I believe.
An older hull and smaller than the Japanese battle wagons as you'll see later.

Led by the Kongo, the Japanese battleships execute a turn to bring broadsides to bear.
I find the "pagoda" conning towers on the Japanese ships to be quite a fetching feature.

Martin's destroyers lay down a smoke screen. I believe that's what "tin cans" are made for.

Furutaka is being passed by the slightly faster Kagoro in a vain attempt to begin a torpedo run.

The destroyer Isukaze was sunk, leaving only bubbles.
The markers are counter to symbolize that a ship is being fired at. Andy made them from 3/4 inch squares with two clear rubber/silicon pierced-earings backs glued on. The look like splashs in the water of missed shots. To show where a ship sank for photos, we'd throw a bunch out in a row.

This could've been messy. Martin's destroyers were laying down smoke. In the meantime, his cruiser took a hit to the rudder which jammed it in a continuous starboard turn, barely missing the destroyers engaged in laying smoke. The French cruiser happily pirouetted for the rest of the game.

More of Martin's DD's laid more smoke near the islands to mess up Andy's plans. The tipped-over ship is destroyed but has torpedoes in the water so was left there to mark the place of the launch.
Kevin and Bear slowly (well, not so slowly) picked off my ships - Isukaze (DD) in turn 6, Furutaka (CA) in turn 7 Kagoro, Urakaze, and Akitsuke (all DDs) in turn 8. I kibitzed for the rest of the game which was maybe a turn or two. Kevin turned his three cruisers back in order to come around and face Andy's ships. Bear's battleship squadron made a right turn and was steaming behind the smoke screen to attack Derek's battleships. Martin was holding is own, but only because Andy could not get his dice to cooperate! He kept rolling "ones" which is an auto-fail in the game. He was getting royally ticked off over this and considered throwing his dice through the drywall. If it hadn't been library space loaned to us, I'd have expected to have seen some d10-sized holes in the wall. I really can't blame him; such things are VERY frustrating!

Die, traitorous randomizers!
The Japanese had to withdraw, but it was not a full-fledged victory for the French. Their destroyer force had been hurt and the one cruiser continued to pirouette. The French battleships were really no match for the same number of Japanese BBs. The French cruisers were more numerous but had less guns. I think the French stuff was slower as well.

Not that it mattered.

Another artificial reef.

The Furutaka's bubbles with Kagoro steaming on it's futile errand.

Akitsuki, loyal and true to the last, attempts to finish his run on the French battle line.
"Loyal and true" translates into English as "futile and stupid."

The Japanese battleships with the Kongo in the lead.
Andy had just finished repainting the Japanese ships, so this as their first outing in their new paint.

The French destroyers begin their run.
The counter with the squiggle represents evasive action by the ship, which lessens the chance of a hit.

Kevin's  French cruisers turn their backs on my ineffective force and begin to sail around the back of the French battle line to engage Andy's force over by the islands.

The French line of battle is being ranged by the Japanese long range guns.

Another view of the Kongo.
I'm not a naval gamer but I was impressed with Andy's paint jobs.

The Japanese battleline from a different angle, giving a good view of the "pagoda" superstructure.

The French battleship were older and smaller.

French destroyers in their evasive action.

My cruiser and four destroyers with the Japanese battleships on my order pad - just to give an idea of size.

The French battleship Bretagne in front of the Japanese battleship Kongo -  the differences are obvious.
Another fun game despite the frustrations of the dice. A day of gaming is still superior to many things we could end up doing.

I'm not sure what church this stained glass window is from. I'm not sure I want to know.
I would like to know if the roll of the dice is based on grace or law or simple perverse randomness.

Sailing off into the sunset.

Next week we're going to try a space battle using the Sunder the Stars rules (available on line, I understand.) 


  1. An enjoyable and entertaining posting. The French Navy I think would tout the Battle of Tonkin Gulf as a great and glorious victory. I daresay the Imperial Japanese Naval High Command would not so pleased at their fleet's showing.

    Like you, I have a bit of a 'thing' for the pagoda style bridge superstructure of the Japanese battleships, though it must have been vulberable to damaging hits.

  2. No doubt the French Pacific Fleet will celebrate this victory for years... meaning Martin will never let us forget it.
    I just think the Japanese battleships look cool, despite any possible damage. At least it's not the "cage" style of the early "Pennsylvania" class US Battleships/

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