Saturday, November 21, 2020

Naval Chromium

This is a bit of an inter-acte waiting for the next series of battles.  Following publication of the recent  Blacklands War naval action off the Gallipoli Peninsula, the thought arose concerning adding a little 'chrome' to the naval rule set I was using (Gridded Naval Wargames, "Pre-dreadnoughts ... in Action").  Bob had added in his book an example of how damage might be recorded on each ship during the course of a battle.  

What follows is a bunch of ideas along these lines.  They have yet to be play tested, and some of them I'm not sure will make the cut into a final rule set.

My modification (simplification) of the Bob Cordery 
damage allocation chart.

It seemed to me that, given the variations in design of the ships I've built so far, that I'd have to draw up diagrams for all of them.  I even considered varying the number of hull and waterline 'cells' according to the flotation 'endurance' of each vessel.   To my mind that appeared to represent a lot of work, each time I wanted to play a game.   

A rethink from 'first principles' (whatever is meant by that) led to my coming up with a 'standard' elevation and plan schematic good for any and all vessels, from torpedo boat destroyers to modern pre-dreadnought battleships, but with departures from the standard resolved by other means - possibly dice. The above picture is a good representation of ships the type of Georgios Averof and Lemnos. Whenever a '6' is rolled to register a hit on a vessel, a card is drawn, with its value and colour - sometimes its suit - determining where on the vessel the shot hit.  A '5' also counts as a hit, starting fires and generally reducing the target's endurance, but without any specific damage. 

The bottom row of the hull in the diagram (i.e. cards 2-5) represents a waterline hit, costing 2 flotation points (all other hits represent 1 FP, plus local damage).  By the way, I discovered a small hitch in Bob's diagram: he forgot that a 'one' card in a standard deck is in fact the Ace.  

Now, a vessel like Turgut Reis has three main turrets.  Suppose a hit was scored, and we drew a Queen, representing a turret knocked out. Instead of determining which by the card colour, roll a die, with the effects:
  • 1,2 - forward ('A') main turret KO
  • 3,4 - midships ('Q') main turret KO
  • 5,6 - after ('X') main turret KO.
In several battle accounts one reads of a single main gun still in action aboard a badly battered warship.  It is simple enough to extend the list, for twin-gun turrets, if you want:

A: Georgios Averof:
  • Q-heart: Forward turret, starboard gun
  • Q-club: Forward turret, port gun
  • Q-diamond: Rear turret, starboard gun
  • Q-spade: Rear turret, port gun.

B: Hayreddin Barbarossa:
  • 1 = 1 gun 'A' turret KO
  • 2 = both guns 'A' turret KO
  • 3 = 1 gun 'Q' turret KO
  • 4 = both guns 'Q' turret KO
  • 5 = 1 gun 'X' turret KO
  • 6 = both guns 'X' turret KO.

I reckon that a card, once drawn and the damage assessed, must be shuffled back into the deck.   This might lead to the same card being drawn a second time.  That should be fine.  Its effect upon flotation is the same, and it compounds partial damage - e.g.  a partly damaged turret is altogether knocked out.  A second waterline hit in the same spot as an earlier hit incurs the same flotation loss.  

The strange gun arrangement of the Hydra class ironclad battleships can easily be sorted.  A Queen represents a hit on the main armament; a Jack, a hit upon the secondary.  Dice rolls determine as follows:

Primary Armament:
  • 1,2, = hit on starboard forward gun
  • 3,4  = hit on port forward gun
  • 5,6 = hit on after gun turret.
Secondary Armament:
  • 1 = hit on forward starboard gun
  • 2 = hit on after starboard gun
  • 3 = hit on forward centre-line gun
  • 4 = hit on forward port gun
  • 5 = hit on after port gun
  • 6 = reroll.
These need not be written in stone - merely illustrate ad hoc methods of tweaking the main set of rules to accommodate design differences.   One need not in my view even maintain a 'ship's card for each vessel, but keep a log of damage and status.  

Torpedoes away!

Torpedoes, then.  If they hit, they can be only waterline hits, or damaging to the screws or the rudder.  I'd suggest that of a 'pattern' of three dice, as called for by the parent rule set, only a '6' counts as a hit, 2-5 representing hits along the waterline, a '1' striking the rudder (affecting steering) and a '6' striking the screws (affecting speed).  I'd also suggest that any torpedo hit does 1D6 flotation points of damage.  Very chancy things, torpedoes!

List of gunnery effects:

These are ideas based somewhat upon the Gridded Naval Wargames chapter, 'Mimi and Toutou Go Forth'. They have yet to be play tested. 

When determining gunnery effects, only '5' and '6' count for hits.  Hits on a '5' count for 1 FP reduction only.  When a '6' is rolled, the target's FP is also reduced by 1, but card is also drawn randomly from a standard deck, which will include one Joker. 

Red Ace = rudder hit.  -1FP. Ship maintains present course, or turn, for 1-3 activations (die roll).
Black Ace = screws hit.  - 1FP. Reduce speed by 1 hex.  Cumulative.
2 = waterline hit, bow; -2FP
3 = waterline hit; -2FP
4 = waterline hit; -2FP
5 = waterline hit, stern; -2FP
6 = hull hit; -1FP
   6 Spade = forward magazine hit; magazine flooded to prevent exploding, turret may fire once more only
7 = hull hit; -1FP
8 = hull hit; -1FP
9 = hull hit; -1FP
   9 Spade = rear magazine hit; magazine flooded to prevent exploding, turret may fire once more only
10 = funnel hit
   Red 10 = -1FP. Forward funnel hit
   Black 10 = -1FP. Rear funnel hit 
   (if more funnels than 2, determine by dice roll)
   When all funnels hit, speed reduced by 1 grid area.
J = -1FP. Secondary armament hit.  See diagram and descriptions above.  If secondary armament arranged differently, the hit may be determined by dice roll.  Effects reduced by percentage basis. 
Q = -1FP. Primary armament hit.  See diagram and descriptions above.  One may choose to take the effect by gun rather than by turret as a whole, as earlier suggested.
Red King = -1FP. Mast hit, communications with other ships knocked out.  Vessels in formation, stay in formation
Black King = -1FP. Bridge hit.  Steering compromised, ship maintains course for 1-6 activations.  If it turned during the turn, it must continue turning in the same direction for remaining activations.  If shooting during the turn, must continue shooting at the same target, if available, otherwise, cease shooting.
Joker = Magazine hit, not flooded in time, causing a catastrophic explosion.  Ship sunk.

Now, I really would value some comment on what I've suggested here.  Is it altogether too much?  Perhaps I've overlooked something.  I hope to do a little bit of a play test soon, to see where this goes.

To be continued...


  1. Archduke Piccolo,

    I think that what you are suggesting is ideal for single ship vs. ship actions (or actions where there are up to three ships per side), but that for fleet actions, it might become a bit tedious and too time-consuming. However, as most naval actions are not fleet ones, but usually confined to two or three ships per side, I think that you are onto a winner. The battle might take slightly longer to fight, but the results will be much more specific and interesting.

    Go for it!

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -
      I was thinking these might 'do' for the navies I've put together for the Blacklands War. They aren't too large. The destroyers scarcely count, owing to their fragility! I certainly wouldn't use them for large scale fleet actions.

      But they still need testing, and of course, one of the 'success' criteria will be whether the process adds something to the action for the price of extra time consumed.
      Archduke Piccolo.