Monday, January 30, 2023

Kavkaz Campaign - The Sea is No One's Friend

Ship's Log, I-ZNS Tsarina Elizaveta light cruiser.
Tuesday, 22 June 1875, about 40 kilometres off Poti coast. Course due south, cruising speed 10 knots, in company with TB flotilla, 3 vessels. Weather clear, light winds from NW, barometer high, but falling.

7 Bells of the Morning Watch, sighted smoke due west of our position.  Altered course eight points to starboard to investigate. Sighting proved to be TNS Hamidiye, protected cruiser.  Kapitan-Leytenant Aleksandr Markovitch Ramius ordered the attack, increasing speed to 18 knots. Czarina Elizaveta at the larboard end of the line, the TBs to starboard, echeloned forward.

1 Bell of Forenoon Watch:
Hamidiye alters course to due south, then after a short interval, resumes its easterly course to close the range on Czarina Elizaveta.

2 Bells of the Forenoon Watch: Range closing. Enemy vessel fires his first salvo... 

First sighting...

As this action was fought the same day as 'Third Zugdidi', but was over fairly shortly, I thought after all that I would post this account first.  Fact is, I played it out after the big battle. This particular action I played using Bob Cordery's 'original' pre-dreadnought naval rules. These offer a very quick action, the only 'paperwork' required being to count 'hits' on the respective vessels. I also used the vessel 'stats' as tabled in the Balkan League book, rather than my own list of stats.  I 'll make some comment about that at the end of this narrative. 

The Ships:

Protected cruiser Hamidiye.

Hamidiye, protected cruiser: 10FP,  Range/Dice - 4/5D6; Move 3.

Izumrud-Zeleniya flotilla, led by 
Tsarina Elizaveta.


Czarina Elizaveta, light cruiser: 8 Flotation Points (FP); Range/Dice - 3/4D6; Move - 3 squares.
TB1, Smeul, torpedo boat: 4FP; Range/Dice - 2/3D6; Move 4; 2 Torpedoes fixed bow.
TB2, Naluca, torpedo boat: 4FP; Range/Dice - 2/3D6; Move 4; 2 Torpedoes fixed bow.
TB3, Sborul, torpedo boat: 4FP; Range/Dice - 2/3D6; Move 4; 2 Torpedoes fixed bow.

Izumrud-Zeleniya form a concave 'cordon'.
With the respective sides on directly opposite courses, Czarina Elizaveta came within range of Hamidiye's main guns.  Fortunately, it required some time before Hamidiye got the range.
Adversaries on opposite courses...

Sharply altering course to larboard, Kapitan Ramius planned on crossing the enemy 'T' with his flagship, whilst the TBs came in upon the Hamidiye's beam. The plan was to use the torpedoes to best effect. Events didn't quite run as anticipated. Czarina Elizaveta crossed the enemy 'T' all right, but its pop-gun broadside failed to stop the latter's onset. Hamidiye slammed into Czarina Elizaveta's side.

'Ramming speed!'
The damage to Czarina Elizaveta, though severe, was as nothing compared with the following salvo from Hamidiye's forward primary and secondary guns. Badly damaged and in flames, Czarina Elizaveta turned to port, reversed its course, and staggered out of the battle.
After ramming, Hamidiye fires into 
Tsarina Elizaveta
So far, Hamidiye had taken little enough hurt, though the ramming had caused some hull damage. By now, though, the TBs, still considerably abaft Hamidiye's larboard beam, were now racing in. The cruiser could not hope to outrun the speedy small craft, but resolved to fight them off instead. Ship-Captain Hazik Nasan ordered the course reversed to due west. That might not have been the wisest decision.  

Perhaps this was occasioned by the incoming fire from the nearest torpedo boat,  TB3 - Sborul, which, the course having been altered to the south, had been placed in the lead of the line echeloned back from the larboard end. Her first salvo, at maximum range, not only found its target, but managed to put its shells where they could do maximum damage. At once Hamidiye was in real trouble.

Up until this point, Hamidiye had taken a hit from Czarina Elizaveta and lost a further flotation point (FP), self inflicted, from the ramming.  Reduced to 2 FPs, Czarina Elizaveta was forced to stagger out of the battle. But now Sborul, firing with 2 dice at extreme range (2 squares) rolled two sixes!  Four FPs at one blow! Hamidiye's return fire did some damage, but not enough.

As Hamidiye ploughed onward, TB3-Sborul came in under her stern whilst TB2-Naluca came in from abeam. TB1-Smeul was not yet quite where she could release its torpedo. Pressing in close, under a welter of incoming gunfire, the TBs soon launched a torpedo each. The torpedoes away, it was time, perhaps, to depart... if they could.

Czarina Elizaveta limps off, covered by TB attacks

Too late.  At short range, Hamidiye's gunfire was deadly and lethal.  TB2 and TB3, already both somewhat damaged, were last seen entering a maelstrom of exploding shells and water spouts. Neither emerged.

What of the torpedoes, then?  They were on their way, the range was short, nothing could stop them. That from TB3-Sborul struck under Hamidiye's stern, where it caused enough damage to have persuaded the cruiser to abandon the fight (3D6s yielded 1 point of damage).  The fatal blow came from TB2-Naluca.  The torpedo struck amidships, tore out a huge hole and tore into Hamidiye's vitals.  Three D6s yielded a 5 (-1 FP) and a 6! (-2FP). That was it.  Although it took long enough for the few survivors to be got off, Hamidiye at last slid beneath the waves to join the vessels she had killed and was killed by.
TNS Hamidiye's last moments...

You could call it a victory - and Izumrud-Zeleniya's Press Services certainly did - but it was a costly one.  Two torpedo boats sunk, and Czarina Elizaveta out of commission for months to come. But TNS Hamidiye had been the pride and joy of the Turcowaz navy - not for her size, but for the quality of its crew.

Some post-action comment.

There were a number of ways I could have played this. For one thing, this is the first action I played out on a square grid table instead of my hex grid. The other is that, contrary to my usual practice, I used Bob's technical stats instead of my own. To be sure, the Izumrud-Zeleniyan flotilla had a considerable measure of luck in this action - especially the 4FPs of damage right off TB3's first salvo of gunfire. That at once compromised Hamidiye's chances of survival.

Now, I haven't done any technical stats for the Izunrud-Zeleniya's vessels (actually 'Romanian'). But I rather think they would have been considerably less powerful than they were in this action. Looking up the 'historical' versions of these vessels, I find that Hamidiye was rather faster at top speed than any of it's opponents. The Turcowaz ship might well have been able to stand off out of their range, and shoot them to pieces. Methinks it would have gone hard for Izumrud-Zeleniya, had I chosen to use 'my' alternate stats and Hamidiye had found the convoy - especially had the troops still been aboard...


The loss of Hamidiye put paid to Turcowaz naval operations in support of the Kavkaz campaign.  But their enemy hoped that something might yet be achieved with what remained of their flotilla. There was no question about Czarina Elizaveta's having to return to Sebastopol; the damage enough to compromise her seaworthiness. There remained, then, one merchant cruiser, Yevgeni Onegin,  and one torpedo boat.  

Not a lot to work with...

To be continued: Third Zugdidi.


  1. A nice little game there and I've yet to try Bob's naval rules out. Just another thing on the list I've failed to move forward! Good post game comments too.

    1. Cheers, Steve.
      I've discovered I needed to make two or three small amendments to the narrative, but it reads OK. I recommend the naval rules as fairly simple, and the action is pretty brisk, to say the least! This fleet action from another war might interest you. Rather more elaborate in the play, still using Bob's original ideas.

  2. Great game report, Archduke. I know nowt about naval warfare, but I’d suggest that as it’s fictional countries the finer details of ship stats shouldn’t be too much of a concern…it ‘worked’, and gave a good game 👍🏼. Thanks for the post! A very engaging campaign ✔️

    1. Hi Martin -
      Although I 'do' Imagi-Nations, I like things to get as close to history as I can, at least from a technical point of view. As it happens, since writing up this narrative, I've looked up the gunnery stats for the vessels in Izumrud-Zeleniyan service (yes, they are based on real ones, actually Romanian). Seems that they aren't quite as disparate as I imagined from Bob's standard spec by type.
      Cheers, Ion

  3. Archduke Piccolo,

    A great battle report! This campaign is really developing into another of your classics, and I hope that when it ends you’ll write a blog post that includes links to all the various blog posts so that readers can sit down and read them in order.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -
      Yes, I will do a 'Table of Contents' post for this campaign, something I have done for the 'Hundred Days' series of battles, and for the 'Woodscrew Armies' campaign. I would have liked to have created a side panel for these, but am allowed (it seems) only the one. What I'll probably do some time is to bring the Blacklands War T of C as a starndard posting, and use the side panel to list the T of C postings.

      Considering that this was supposed to be a very simple campaign, it has taken on a life of its own!

  4. For TBs I was surprised by their firepower against a protected cruiser but know next no nothing of the specifics of the Balkans ships, It does, I think, show a need for even cruisers to be escorted when operating in enemy waters.Great account, thanks for posting. I might mention that it's a tad uncomfortable on the edge of this seat waiting for Third Zugdidi (;-)

    1. Brian -
      I was sure surprised when double-sixes turned up with TB3's first salvo... The most likely result would have been to knock off 1 or maybe 2 FPs, and a fairly good chance of getting nothing. But I'm still thinking or re-examining the gunnery stats of some of these small vessels.

      But of course it was the torpedo strikes that did for the Hamidiye, and the 4FPs that finally put Hamidiye under required no especial extreme of probability. The statistical expectation from the 6 D6s I have calculated to have been 4 hits.

      Third Zugdidi is in draft, the pics uploaded and I've taken notes on them and the army lists. Next couple of days are going to be fairly busy, but hope to have the thing published by the end of the weekend. Glad you're enjoying the story so far!


  5. Hello there Archduke,

    Loved it! I can only agree with Bob’s suggestion about the post campaign blog post. The models are lovely!

    All the best and very well done that man!


    1. Hi David -
      I will be posting a Campaign Table of Contents as the last blog entry for this Campaign. That way, if anyone wants to look up 'Kavkaz Campaign', the T of C will be the first thing they will see.

  6. Great battle report Ion. Your ships really are lovely. 👏👏
    I suppose, given the small number of ships involved, the outcome could have easily gone differently with just a few higher/lower dice rolls. Still, I suppose that is what happens in real life - the outcomes can vary quite radically, even with a single “decision”.

    1. Geoff -
      I've always found small actions (on the war games table, of course) to be very chancy. Thinking about it, though, suggests that maybe the odds were slightly in Izumrud-Zeleniya's favour on this occasion.