Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wars of Independence.

One of my favourite 'go-to' blog spot writers is planning a 'three-game' (mini)-campaign by way of celebrating over 1 million 'hits'. The choice of campaign period is given over to readers. If you are not already acquainted with it, check out 'Battle Game of the Month'. 

It was casting my vote for something post 1940 that I bethought myself to a small project I have had in mind for quite a long time, but haven't got round to it. I have been meaning for quite a while to 'do' one of Bob Cordery's Developing the Portable Wargame campaigns, to wit: 'Long Live the Revolution', set probably in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Harad Empire of  c.1980, with the Tchagai on its southeastern
frontier, ruled by the Nabob, Yeswih Khan.  The 'Revolution' discussed here is set
some 40 years earlier, in the young days of his forebear,
Maibiwih Khan.

The narrative begins with the dissolution of the 'Jewel in the Crown' of Ruberia, the Empire of Rajistan. Rajistan seeks independence from Ruberia; Karachistan seeks independence from Rajistan; Tchagai seeks independence from Karachistan, and there are some independently minded hill tribes in the northern mountains of Tchagai. Somehow, all 'sides' have acquired some of the equipment captured or stolen from, or abandoned by, the departing Ruberians.

Work in Progress: Tchagai infantry battalion of 4 companies.

This is a kind of 'programmed' campaign with the following plot:
  1. The Regional Capital.  To begin the campaign, the rebels must capture one.  To end the campaign the Government troops must recapture it.
  2. The Provincial Capital.  Building the power base.
  3. The Railway Station.  A vital transport and logistical nexus.
  4. The Sea Port.  Not part of Bob Cordery's programme, but it seemed to me access to foreign imports of supplies and equipment would be very welcome! (I am mindful of the importance of Port Harcourt to the Biafran rebels during the Nigerian Civil War).
  5. The Capital City.  The ultimate goal of the Revolution.  Capturing or seizing the vital instruments of government - will induce the capitulation of the incumbent government (ruler).
The 5 steps form a 'track' upon which ebb and flow the fortunes of the Loyalist resistance to Rebellion. 

Work in Progress: Tchagai reconnaissance company and
ARV troop.

Now, the forces involved are randomised in size, and not large. I am assuming they are designed for a table of 64 (square) or 72 (hexagonal) grid areas. As my hex-table table is two and a half to three times the grid areas, it seems to me fitting that the forces ought to be at least twice the Strength Points as originally envisaged. Unless - thinking out loud, here - I use one of my square-grid surfaces - the 10x10 green one, or my buff blanket give me more room.  

Decisions, decisions.

I think I'll compromise on bumping the SPs by 50% only.

                       Image result for Developing Portable wargame - Regional capital
Mini-Campaign Scenario Map: The Regional Capital
Taken from Developing The Portable Wargame.
  • Revolutionaries, Attacking, SP = 18 + 6D6 (Average = 39SP), enter from right side of the map 
  • Government, Defending, SP= 18 + 3D6 (Average = 28.5SP), positioned anywhere in left-hand half of the map.
As the map is pretty spare as it stands, roads and perhaps some assorted additional minor features will be dotted about the countryside.

This posting was still 'in draught' pending some pictures to give it a bit of colour, when what should turn up on my doorstep but this...
A very welcome addition to my ever-expanding
War Games library.

Really made my day; I'd almost forgotten I had ordered it!  Great little number: full of ideas for organising my own 'moderns', built as part of the Harad project of 'Evil Uncle Brian' (He of 'A Fist Full of Plastic' see Map earlier in this posting). Brian had donated, gifted, unloaded upon me several items of kit - quite a lot, actually - but I've never quite worked out how to organise it all into something that makes sense. Tim Gow's handling of the transport side of things (one vehicle per company rather than one per platoon that Command Decision uses) turns out to suit my inventory very well!

So far, the Army of Tchagai looks to comprise some 8 infantry battalions, from the 6th Special National Operations (Mechanised) Battalion (SNOB), a recon infantry and three or four motor rifle battalions, and several PBI foot-sloggers.  

To be continued... 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Naval afterthoughts... Post Battle.

The Navies of Jono's World - including merchant marine,
landing craft and a few aircraft.
Well, that last action went pretty much as I suspected ahead of time it would. The three monster Raesharn ships, all modelled upon the Japanese Yamato class, were more than a match for the four Bismarck class types opposing them. Here are the 'stats':

Weight: 65,000 tons; Protection: 65,000/4000 = 16 Protection Points (PP)
Guns: 9x18.1-inch; Strike: 9 + 30% of 9 = 12 Strike Points (SP)

Weight: 42,000 tons; Protection: 42,000/4000 = 11 PP
Guns: 8 x 15-inch; Strike = 8 SP

Multiply the three Yamato types by three: 48PP and 36SP.
Multiply the four Bismarck types by four: 44PP and 32SP.

So the odds lay with Ra'esharn.
Major units of the Imperial Ra'esharn Navy: battleships and carriers.

The action went bally quickly - I doubt I spent half an hour on a game that lasted but 8 turns. It seemed to me that maybe a few more features might be added to make the action last a little longer and add a little interest, but without going into too much detail. I have to bear in mind, I might want to use or adapt these rules for fleet action.

Another view, with better lighting.

1.  Bob Cordery's 'critical point' feature.

Having taken damage affecting Flotation (PPs in my system), once the PPs reach a quarter (rounded) of a vessel's original, it must attempt to break off the action. It may still fire, but can not initiate an aggressive action. 

I admit that this might be tricky to carry out convincingly, but I do like the idea. Such a system, might have led to the survival of the Raesharn ship that was lost, and maybe one or two of the Kiivar vessels as well. Mind you, look what happened to Admiral Graf Spee's squadron off the Falkland Islands in 1914.

Ra'esharn's fleet of cruisers.

2.  Loss of firepower.

The damage most likely to affect a battleship's firepower is, of course, damage to guns, turrets and/or magazines. Probably the damage might accumulate turret by turret ending with, just before the vessel becomes a raft, just one gun in action.
1st turret lost - dice for which
2nd turret lost - dice for which
3rd turret lost - dice for which, if not last turret
4th turret lost.
Ra'esharn's destroyer fleet
The simplest approach might be to associate loss of turrets with lost of protection. As each quarter (not rounded) of the original PP is lost, the vessel loses a turret, with all its guns. A tentative sequence:

16-13PP - all turrets in action
12-9PP - two turrets in action
8-5PP - one turret in action
4-1PP - guns silenced.

11-9PP - all turrets in action
8-5PP - three turrets in action
5-3PP - two turrets in action
1-2PP - one turret in action

Instead of this prescriptive method, as each quarter of the original flotation (PP) is lost, there is a 50-50 chance a turret goes with it.

To this has the Kiivar Navy been reduced, after early war
disasters (such as the Battle of Omez Strait)...

3.Loss of speed.

As damage accumulates, and vessels take in water whilst fires break out affecting motive power and damage control, one can easily imagine a vessel's ability to move would gradually diminish. On the other hand, no doubt the ship designers will have built in added protection for those vital functions. I suggest that speed doesn't start to fall off until at least half the vessel's PPs have been stricken off. 

Under my hex system, there are but three possible speeds: full (2 hexes), half (1 hex), zero. Not a swag of wriggle-room there. Probably ought to add one, but then the limited size of my table becomes problematic. I suggest that once the damage has reached 'critical point' the vessel has a chance of losing speed. Roll 1d6:
6 = Vessel slows to a stop (if moving, will slow to 1 hex next turn and dead stop a move later).
5 = Vessel slows to one hex
1-4 = No effect. 

... however, the Kiivar carrier is a big one, with 25% more
aircraft than any other carrier .

All these will require keeping a log of speed, firepower and flotation. But as hits have to be logged anyhow, that seems easily enough accommodated.
The Navy of the Saabian Archipelago. I believe a destroyer has
gone missing: I was sure there were ten...
The canny, gimlet-eyed reader might have observed that the pictures in this posting have little to do with the subject matter of the text - or at least only a tangential one. These are vessels I made up for Jono's World, the world of Ra'esharn and Kiivar, and Kiivar's ally, Saabia.

It was whilst thinking about this article that I bethought myself to these navies, and how a rule set might be developed for them.
There was supposed to be 6 Saabian Battleships, but I made only 4.
They may get a couple of battlecruisers instead.

I think I'll go back to KEV's original system, but expanded to accommodate other types of vessel. In this version of 'Jono's World' all vessels of a particular type have the same characteristics:
  • Battleships (BB): 9 guns in 3 turrets
  • Cruisers (CA/CL): 6 guns in 3 turrets - no differentiation between light and heavy cruisers.
  • Destroyers (DD): 2 guns in 2 turrets (Ra'esharn has the odd two-gun 'A' turreted vessel); armed with torpedoes (3-4 'patterns', yet to be decided)
  • Aircraft carriers (CV): no anti-ship guns(?) - they are not there to fight ships directly.
  • (Possible inclusion) Battle Cruisers (CC): 9 guns in 3 turrets as in BB, but smaller calibres in smaller vessels - Saabia only.
Of course, each, including the carriers, will have AA capability.

Saabian major units, on exercises in the Great Southern Ocean. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Fleet Action: Battle of Omez Strait (2)

Facing due north. Respective squadrons on converging courses,
Kiivar sailing due south, the Ra'esharn, sou'sou'east.
I may have something to say in a future article about how the Kiivar
line  has been placed.
The following action was fought using Kev Robertson's very simple rule set, slightly amended to 'fit' my gridded table.  In effect, 2 grid areas on my table represented 1 foot (30cm) in Kev's system.  I think I would prefer 3 hex grids (which would have the virtue of equality!) but it is not a huge table! There is one other amendment I made. Rather than 'all battleships are equal', I gave each vessel a strike value of 1 point per gun, modified by plus or minus 10% per inch greater or less than 15-inch. Vessels' protection or endurance (the latter word, having just occurred to me, might be the better choice), a value equal to the weight of the vessel as a multiple of 4000 tons, rounded.
IRS Akem Manah in the forground; the Kiivar squadron
on the horizon.
The action opens at 11:00 hours, with the respective squadrons upon converging courses. In the following, I rather arbitrarily determined that each turn represented 10 minutes. Another point I should make right now, is that even with a maximum speed of 2 hexes the turn, one could very quickly run out of table. The beauty of the grid system, is that one may 'scroll' the table in any direction as ships approach the edges. I had to do this a couple of times in the course of the action, but it takes a minute or so, tops, so not so very inconvenient.
Admiral Wu Bai's flagship's first salvo.  The other ships
didn't yet have the range.
As the courses converged, the Kiivar flagshop, Argus Panoples exchanged salvos with the leading Ra'easharn vessel, the Kiivar flagship Akem Manah. The Ra'easharn vessel found the range the more quickly, registering at long range three hits to the Kiivar's one. This was far from a good augury for the action as a whole, and henceforth the impression remained that Ra'esharn gunnery perhaps had an edge on their opponents.  
Akem Manah's response: 3 hits - very good shooting at long range!
At this point Admiral Mojo made a radical tactical decision, ordering a turn to port onto a 90 degree bearing (i.e. due east), all ships turning independently to form a line abeam.  His justification was that he wanted quickly to shorten the range, and figured upon his forward batteries alone (six  18-inch guns) would be a match for the enemy's full 8 15-inch gun broadside (6 + 30% = 6 + 1.8 = 8 rounded - equal to the enemy). Unfortunately the execution of the manoeuvre left something to be desired, as the line was echelonned back to larboard in such a way that at the next exchange of salvos, IRS Agra Mainya was still out of range.  
Admiral Mojo's unorthodox tactics - and feeble shooting by
Kiivar.  But that was to change!

In response, Admiral ordered a 30-degree course change to starboard. In effect the Kiivar found themselves 'crossing the T', all four ships bringing their full broadsides to bear against the forward batteries of only two of the Ra'esharn ships.   

The Kiivar quite failed to make the most of their opportunity (ain't that always the way?!). Concentrating their broadsides against Akem ManahPolyphemus and Argus Panoples registered just four hits between them.  Akem Manah was able to put three more into Argus Panoples, already taking in water and hurting badly.  The gunnery of the Hyperion and Tethys was even more woeful, the former failing to register a single hit (long range, looking for 6s with 8 dice), and the latter one only. At long range, Aeshma was able to give as good as received, as Hyperion took a hit.  (As an aside, with 16 guns firing at medium range and another 16 at long, I might have expected 8 hits, rather than the mere 5 actually registered.  Having said that, the 4 hits by the Ra'esharn ships was about what one might have expected.  So we were looking at woeful Kiivar gunnery here, not outstanding Ra'esharn.  But wait...!)

The next few pictures simply show how the dice rolls get transformed into shell splashed and explosions for a more picturesque image.

Seeing the unsatisfactory results of his manoeuvre, Admiral Mojo ordered a 60-degree turn to starboard, to bring his ships once more in line astern. This brought the head his line rather astern of the Kiivar, such that Polyphemus could bring only its stern battery to bear.  On the other hand, his squadron was definitely 'crossing the T' now, and took this time rather better advantage of it. Excellent shooting from Polyphemus, Argus Panoples and Hyperion put ten shells aboard Akem Manah, reduced now to a point not far from sinking.

Further course changes; Ra'esharn back to line astern;
Kiivar 30-degree turn to starboard.
For its part, Akem Manah had to split its fire between Argus Panoples and Hyperion (As the ship could not bring its full broadside to bear upon Argus Panoples, I might have concentrated its fire upon Hyperion, but the decision to split the two seemed reasonable.) Both Kiivar ships took further damage.  By now, Admiral Wu Bai's flagship was in no better shape than the lead Ra'esharn vessel. At the rear of the Kiivar line, the hitherto untouched Tethys came in for a battering, taking five hits in less than ten minutes.
'Crossing the T'.  Akem Manah comes in for a battering
but stays afloat.

Tethys receives the undivided attention of Aeshma and
Agra Mainya.
To bring the forward battery of Polyphemus into action, Admiral Wu Bai signalled a further starboard course change, still in line astern. Once again Akem Manah had to split its fire,  but its gunnery was equal to the challenge as the range shortened still further. Taking nine hits, Akem Manah registered eight of its own, six aboard Polyphemus, and two more upon Argus Panoples. It was all too much for the Ra'esharn vessel, however.  Twenty four hits were far more than the ship could endure. Capsizing and turning turtle she disappeared beneath the waves.
Superb gunnery by both sides!  Akem Manah does not survive it...
This success flattered to deceive.  True, the Ra'esharn ship was the first to succumb, but the fact was that all Kiivar ships had taken fearful damage, and were themselves not far from sinking.  
Though giving out terrible punishment itself,
Akem Manah succumbs to a welter of
incoming 15-inch projectiles...
Sure enough, as the Ra'esharn line drew into a course parallel with the Kiivar, the range extended slightly.  Both sides' gunnery was proving lethally accurate.  Whilst still engaged in their successive turn to westward, Argus Panoples and Tethys were sunk in quick succession.  
The battle rages on, but the writing is on the wall for the
Kiivar ships.  The damage has been too great. Argus Panoples and Tethys
go down just after this pic was taken...
Polyphemus and Hyperion didn't last much longer. Though badly battered itself, Aeshma brought the range down and slammed in 9 hits upon Polyphemus. The lead  Kiivar ship blew up and sank at once.  Hyperion lasted no longer, overcome in an unequal gunnery duel with Agra Mainya.  

The end of Polyphemus and Hyperion.  

There ended the action, with the total destruction of the Kiivar battle squadron, for the loss of one Ra'esharn capital ship.  This was a devastating loss to the Republican Kiivar Navy - four of eight capital ships gone in a trice.  For all that the Ra'esharn propaganda machine crowed over the victory, the price had been a high one: the loss of one of its own monster ships, and the two others would require months - over a year for one of them - in the repair docks.

The above is the log of hits received by all vessels.  Both Akem Manah and Polyphemus took 8 more hits than would be required to sink them, but that is the nature of the salvo system.  Actually, at the end of the action, I did consider before she sank of splitting the fire of Argus Panoples, as it was clear that the forward battery fire should probably be enough to sink the lead Ra'esharn ship.  That might have made a difference, too.  But at the time it seemed to me a bit cheesy to do that.  Something to think about.
A sketch map made after the battle by the First Executive
Officer aboard Aeshma, and entered into the ship's log.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fleet action: Battle of Omez Strait.

Four Leviathan Class battleships of the Kiivar Polar
Exercise squadron.
Log of RKS Argus Panoples:
Date: 14/10/66940 AA.  Time 09:17 hours.
Estimated position: 31.30 degrees N, 103.82 degrees E, some 30 kilometers off Ra'esharn west coast, almost due east of Cape and City of Lezrin, the southern-most point of Omez, some 150km distant;
Course: 180 degrees (due south).
Overcast cloud, and rain showers; strong breeze from the north to north by west, easing, and veering westward.
Barometer rising, weather clearing from the southwest, wind moderating.
Message from RKS
Polyphemus received 09:17 hours ...

'Smoke seen to the southwest, sir,' the First Officer of the watch reported to Captain Hai Tee. All eyes but two turned toward the slowly widening sliver of blue, far off the starboard bow. The two apparently incurious eyes belonged to the inscrutable Vice-Admiral Wu Bai, then sipping his rice tea, patiently awaiting developments. A quiet disquiet descended upon the bridge.

'Anything from our own lookouts?' Captain Tee murmured. 'Kindly take a look all directions, at that. We don't need to fixate on our unknown distant arrivals and find ourselves under surprise attack from that murk to larboard or astern.'

It was just the squadron's bad luck to encounter a likely enemy with the Great Southern Ocean almost open before them, and the weather clearing. Why could it not have stayed foul a few hours longer?

Admiral Mojo's powerful three battleships of the
Cacodaemon class...
The Kiivar Squadron comprised four - and therefore half - of their latest battleships. Exercising in sub-Polar waters off the remote northern coasts of Kiivar, they had received too late the unexpected news of Ra'esharn's declaration of War. The Vice-Admiral had imagined a good six months might elapse for tensions to escalate so far as to put the disputants on a war footing. Now, isolated as they were, he figured upon a dash for home as the best chance to reunite these ships with the rest of the Republic of Kiivar Navy. The worrying part would be the Strait of Omez, the 1000km long stretch no wider than 200km - and where no doubt Ra'esharn hunter groups, surface and submersible, would be lurking in wait. To pass around the Island Empire of Ra'esharn, through the Saabian archipelago, would have added at least 1000 km - probably nearer 2000, to the journey. That way, the margins in terms of food fuel and ammunition were far tighter, and the risk of battle no less.

The Kiivar Squadron comprised
Commander: Wu Bai, Vice-Admiral of the White
RKS Polyphemus (12)
RKS Argus Panoples (15) Flag
RKS Hyperion (17)
RKS Tethys (18)

All four vessel were battleships of the Leviathan Class: 42,000 tons (Protection 11) and carrying 8 x 15-inch guns (Strike 8)

As luck would have it, a three day storm had accompanied the squadron for almost the entire passage of the Omez Strait. It had been rough going - and only this morning hot food and drink had been served out to the hands and officers, the first for two days and three nights. The Vice-Admiral reminded himself that the unknown and unwelcome smoke might have no hostile import at all, and even if it did, might not have seen his own smoke against the dark eastern horizon. But if it did, he would fight it.
The rival squadrons on converging courses, Kiivar's due south
Ra'esharn's roughly SSE.  
What was happening aboard that distant ship - or ships? This transpired to be a powerful battle squadron under Admiral Hideki Mojo, himself. He had indeed ordered several hunter groups to patrol the strait in search of the vanished enemy, but the coming of bad weather rather reduced their chances ever of finding even four large ships of war. Taking personal command of a powerful squadron of four Cacodaemon Class battleships, he planned to patrol the southern exit of the Omez Strait, the last line of battle. It was bad luck engine failure had forced IRS Azi Dahaka back into port. His remaining three monster warships would be none too many to take on four enemy capital ships.

It was well along the eastward leg of his back and forth patrol that the lead warship, IRS Akem Manah reported a long line of smoke, just barely visible, fine on the port bow.  Whatever was making that smoke was headed due south, making for the vastnesses of the Great Southern Ocean. Aboard his flagship, IRS Aeshma, Admiral Mojo signed to the ship captain to signal a change of course to converge upon that of the unknown smoke. 'Lay us on a 150-degree course,' he said. He knew in his bones he had guessed right.  Judging by the reaction on the bridge, his officers were of like mind.  It would soon be time to sound the 'beat to quarters'...
The Kiivar line of battle.  Vice-Admiral Wu Bai's
has hoisted his flag in the second vessel, Argus Panoples.
The Ra'esharn Squadron comprised:
Hideki Mojo, Admiral of the Blue.
IRS Akem Manah (102)
IRS Aeshma (103) Flag
IRS Agra Mainyu (101)
All three vessels are from the Cacodaemon Class:  65,000 tons (Protection 16); and carrying 9 x 18-inch guns (Strike 12).

As the weather cleared, the wind gradually veered around to the southwest. By this time, both sides had identified the other. Their converging courses led inexorably to battle, for, knowing it would sooner or later come to a fight and mindful of the fuel situation,  Vice-Admiral Hai Tee disdained to edge away from his heavier opponents. He resolved to fight.

The Ra'esharn battle squadron, reduced to three vessels
with the storm-damaged Azi Dahaka having to
return to port.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Bring 'n' Buy, 2019

Assorted purchases from Saturday's 'Bring and Buy'.
I don't do a lot of 'bringing' to this event, and I'm not a huge 'buyer' either. But last Saturday (31 August) this year picked up an interesting assortment of stuff, mostly 'on spec'. Above is my little haul for this year. A paper building, some WW2(?) trailers, a unit of Napoleonic Nassauers, another bunch of figures of which more anon, and 3 boxes of 1930s-40s US carrier aircraft.
Asiatic figures that might well be recruited into the
Army of Turcowaz.
That 'other bunch of figures' were these 5 x 7-figure units - metal figures, 20mm by the look, many with a decided 'Asian' look about them.  My immediate thought was that at last the Turcowaz army would get some figures of their own.  I admit, though, that it will be a bit of a wrench to break up such nicely presented units.  That each has 7 figures is a little bit awkward as well.  Something to think about anyhow.  In themselves, they were a good buy I thought (though I rarely buy anything just because 'it is a good buy').
Nassauers - my most expensive purchase.   But they would
have cost a heap more new!
Brief conversation with vendor:
I had just offered to buy this cheaply priced edifice.  As I handed over the assortment of coins by way of payment, he says:
'You recognised it didn't you?'
'No...' I began, but then, 'Well, yes, actually.  It's a building.'
Quickness of wit is not my long suit.
'Seminary building at Gettysburg.' he says.
'Why, so it is...!'
I actually bought it as a useful generic CBD building.  It will remain a useful generic CBD building.

The green and yellow guys were being sold as Nassauers, and so they shall remain, though most of them are Minifigs French line infantry figures. Minifigs do specifically Nassauer figures, but as they are very similar to the French, it makes (to my mind) little difference. They'll go to my 'Portable Waterloo' project...
A variety of clear plastic WW2 and pre-WW2 carrier
aircraft.  Very nearly overlooked these.  As they were going for
just $2 the box, I bought 3.  I did wonder why the clear plastic,
but realised that painted up with the cockpit perspex left clear
would look pretty OK.

16 carrier aircraft from a Tamiya USS Enterprise kit...
and a Curtiss SBC Helldiver biplane in progress...
Having bought the Gettysburg Seminary, I was about to move off, when I noticed these things. After considerable thought I reckoned they might go with my 'Mighty Armadas' project - overscale against the ships, of course, but maybe not impossibly so. I do have already some 16 aircraft from the Tamiya 1:700 scale USS Enterprise kit - 4 different types, of which I recognise only the Corsair. The SBC biplane was obsolete by 1941, and, as far as I can make out, never saw combat service with the US Navy, though did soldier on as a trainer. In my navies, they'll get to bomb stuff...

Finally: this assorted bunch of trailers and jeeps. One can never have too many jeeps, though it will be the Russians or British who will get them. The trailers are always useful as logistic elements. One can never have too many trailers.

Overall I spent rather more than I usually do, but I had budgeted for twice as much as I actually spent. Actually, adding it up just now, I discover I spent about $20 less than for some reason I thought I had. I could have bought more, but tend to take a very restrained approach to these sorts of things...

Oh, yes: it being due on Saturday, I renewed my club membership!