Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Battle Report: Battle of the North Sea Part I

Welcome to the first proper battle report for our Battlefleet 1900 games.  Using the WTJ rules and ships, we are fighting out real and counterfactual naval engagements from the Russo-Japanese War.  This scenario imagines an ambush between the Russian Pacific Squadron, en route from St Petersburg to the Pacific, by a force of Japanese ships.  This was a scenario widely feared by the Russians at the time, making them so jumpy they blew a British fishing smack to smithereens in the oft-forgotten Dogger Bank Incident, nearly starting a major Anglo-Russian war in the process.

Ships

Russians (Ed)

1st Heavy Squadron
  • Battleship Sevastopol
  • Battleship Suvorov (flagship)
  • Battleship Poltava
2nd Heavy Squadron
  • Battleship Retvizan
  • Armoured Cruiser Aurora
  • Armoured Cruiser Izumrud
1st Destroyer Squadron
  • Destroyer Bodvy
  • Destroyer Buiny
  • Destroyer Byedovy
2nd Destroyer Squadron
  • Destroyer Bravy
  • Destroyer Buistry
Japanese (Ollie)

1st Squadron
  • Armoured Cruiser Yakumo
  • Armoured Cruiser Idzumo
  • Armoured Cruiser Azuma
2nd Squadron
  • Battleship Fiji (flagship)
  • Battleship Hatsuse
3rd Squadron
  • Destroyer Fubuki
  • Destroyer Akatsuke
  • Destroyer Harusame
4th Squadron
  • Destroyer Ariake
  • Destroyer Orobo


Deployment


Seaway:  Choppy (Destroyers are at reduced speed, reduced range and reduced rate of fire because of the poor seas.  Cruisers have slightly lower speed and rates of fire.)

Time of Day:  Daylight

All photos taken from the Russian side, so the ships at the top are always the Japanese (not bias - sprained my ankle on a run, so I couldn't hobble round to take balanced photos!)


Both the Russians (right) and Japanese (left) opted to put their capital ships and cruisers in central squadrons, with destroyers on the flank.  The Russians have one extra cruiser, but the Japanese have experienced crew.


First Turn.  From the Russian side, the Japanese in the distance.  The Japanese steam full ahead, the Russians begin to turn slightly to port.  My own gunnery was hugely overestimated, and landed off the table.  Ollie scored some incredibly-guessed hits (marked by the green dice) and a near miss (the white splash marker on the centre-left squadron)  Fortunately the Yakumo's 8" guns barely scratched the heavy Retvizan and the clash continued.


Second Turn.  Closing in ... this time the gunnery was short on both sides and no hits were scored by either side, although both of us came within 2cm of hitting!


Third Turn.  Again, despite now being well within range both sides fell short with every shot.


Fourth Turn.  This is where it really happened.  All of a sudden both fleets found themselves at basically point-blank range.  Ollie focussed his gunfire on the flanking destroyers.  The Bodvy took some serious 6" hits from the Japanese battleship squadron and began to flood rapidly.  The crew that weren't killed at their posts (I had neglected to order them below!) rushed to stem the devastating flooding.

One turn's shooting orders - things were getting busy.
My own shooting from the two centre squadrons of heavy ships focussed on the Fuji - first ship in the centre-right squadron (marked with two dice).  It lost a funnel, several of its 6" guns, and plenty of smaller 'boat guns'.  A hit on the magazine could have spelled disaster but no explosion followed.  Two hits on the bridge would also slow its response to orders - ideal as it was the first in the squadron!

Overall I think I came off better from that duel, but I still had those experienced Jap gunners aiming down their sights at me ...


Fifth Turn.  A point-blank duel, with the centre ships blasting both broadsides and destroyers letting loose a flurry of torpedoes.  This turn, it took about 15 mins to write our gunnery orders.  On the Russian side, the Fuji continued to take a heavy pounding - almost all its guns were temporarily out of action and the rudder wasn't functioning properly, but the 12" guns were still all firing.

The Russians' Sevastopol took a battering, with many of the deck crew falling to shrapnel and a lot of superficial damage that would reduce my firepower for at least the duration of this duel.

Two unlucky destroyers also had a hard turn.  The Bodvy on my side fell foul of a full 6" broadside from the Hatsuse, every shot telling.  A series of internal explosions followed as the magazines and torpedoes began to explode, tearing a huge hole in the starboard side.  In under two minutes, it had capsized - the first casualty of the game!

The Akatsuke on the Japanese side was also unlucky to get the attention of a capital ship.  With some shots missing, and the flooding more balanced than on the Bodvy, it merely ground to a burning halt as fires took hold.  It sat so low by the bow that the propellers were out the water, leaving it dead in the water as fires began to rage dangerously near the magazine.  Oh dear!

Locked in the middle of a point blank duel - who will come out on top?  The Russians have managed to keep their capital ships basically intact and extend their numerical superiority by crippling the Fuji.  But the Japanese have sunk one destroyer already and their expert crews are finding the range now... tune in next week to find out who wins!

Thanks for reading,

Ed

13 comments:

  1. An absolute belter of a write up sir, the photos just look so bloody lovely with the ships in formation. It seems like point blank duels are inevitable, and if not inevitable then just too damn cool to avoid

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ta muchly - yes, they're very cool but a bit destructive. Perhaps I should stay a little further away in future, my destroyer captains might survive to collect a pension.

      Delete
  2. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!

    This looks absolutely brilliant! Where might I fiind out more, please?

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of writing orders in advance of play - last year I came up with an awesome idea for a large-scale 40K game with generals giving players orders whilst removed from the game - a command and control/communication exercise, really! Sadly, I couldn't get it to happen.

    Hmm...I wonder if it's something we could do via the blogs? Hmmm...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blogs, emails or forums would make that type of game very workable. Would just need to have a place where all the game board and armies could be set up for a long length of time.

      Delete
    2. Drax - if people are keen on this, I will have a chat with KB and see if we can rustle some kind of chess-by-post game... If you want any more info the WTJ link has all the rules, or just drop me an email if you have any questions. And Dai, that sounds very sensible - perhaps we could do some kind of hex or grid version, so we could store it electronically?

      Delete
    3. I read Drax's and Dai's comment at work where I can;t reply - stupid Google - and my first thought was "bloody hell yes! this please". That would be outstanding, and with these rules, I think a "digital" board would be rustle-up-able.

      Delete
    4. Living in relative isolation as I do, I went through a long phase of playing quite a few games of 40K on Vassal, but in real-time a game could easily take upwards of six hours - even at just 1500pts.

      And that was back in 5th Ed when the game was still a lot more straightforward.

      And before having two kids.

      I shall think more about this though. As Gravis would attest I have a tendency to over-complicate things, but I have been known to come up with workable plans. What I absolutely lack is technical know-how and physical real-life space.

      Any other thoughts, Gents?

      Delete
    5. The gunnery is guess range, but there are optional rules for die-based gunnery hits. I use Excel a lot at work, so I could crank out a calculator for everyone to use - punch in the number of guns firing, the respective size of the ships, etc, and we could eliminate any need for ranges, just do it all on a digital map. That would lose some of the atmosphere of course - but we could minimise disruption in terms of time and space then.

      Delete
  3. Kind of frightening to think those poor souls had nothing to hide behind - islands, krakens, etc.

    Blood bath and beyond really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading up on some of the Russian accounts of Tsushima, it's hard to get a sense of how terrifying it must be to be on an outgunned ship in a big battle like that.

      Delete
  4. Not my cup of tea, but pretty cool nonetheless. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete