Saturday, September 9, 2017

Arctic Convoy Game

I ran my WWII Arctic Convoy scenario at the club last month.  The game went very well.  I ended up too busy to take many photos, but if requested I can take some additional photos of ships or planes.

The scenario was a summer 1942 based convoy from Scotland to Archangel.  It was a 14 day trip similar to historic convoys PQ16 or PQ17.  I was thinking this could have been convoy PQ16.5 (non-existing convoy).  The game was designed to fit in a 4 hour time block.  I think we finished the game in about 3.5 hours.

Here is the breakdown of the rules I used:
  • The scenario was fully built from Journey of the End of the Earth by Mal Wright.  I pre-rolled all the ships and events for the convoy.  Events range from U-boat encounters, German air attacks, and poor weather resulting in merchant ships colliding.  Thanks Mal for researching and writing these rules.  I also used these rules to resolve what happens to the merchants that lag behind the convoy.  I did not use the combat rules.
  • General Quarters I and II were used for air attacks, collision resolution, and torpedo damage.  I chose these rules because they can be resolved quickly.
  • Seekrieg V was used for U-boat detection resolution.
  • The Hunters solitaire game rules were used for U-boat attacks and depth charge resolution.

The convoy does not move on the table.  Each ship in the convoy is in a single hex, with a one hex separation between ships.  Mal's rules layout the convoy composition (merchants and escorts).  I decided upon 1:3000 scale and pretty much found everything I needed.  Aircraft are based one, two or three planes to a stand and each stand can occupy a single hex.  Bombers have to be adjacent to target ship but Torpedo planes can be up to four hexes away from their target to launch their torpedoes.

Each turn in the game is an 8 hour time block, which basically ends up morning, afternoon and night/twilight.  So this scenario ended up with 41 turns.  I made a PowerPoint presentation that contained a number of initial slides with background information on the scenario (OOBs and map) and then a slide for each turn.  The turn slides have the turn day number, time of day, events, photo of the main event and a map with a red symbol showing where the convoy current is.  I had a remote for the laptop to advance the slide while I sat at the other end of the table.

Two Wellingtons supporting the convoy for two turns.
The convoy made it to Archangel and took comparable losses to PQ16, 8 merchants, which was fairly light.  Winston Churchill had said that he would have been happy of half the merchants made it to Russia.

Having playtested this scenario a couple times and running the game at the club, I thought the summer 1942 Arctic convoy scenario was a good one for a convoy game.  I hope to someday run Operation Pedestal (WWII Malta convoy) using similar rules to this game.

I did discover there were some errors in Mal's rules (i.e. events).  This was not a big deal and I simply reworked them.

What would I change if I run another convoy game like this one:
  • I probably won't use The Hunters rules again.  There are too many depth charge dice roles.
  • Less movement of ships around in the convoy between turns.
  • Figure out how radar factors into early warning of air attack.
  • Work harder on the roles of each player in the game.  It is easy as a two player game, but I want to get four players fully involved.
John figuring out the AA on incoming German aircraft.
Three spectators in the background talking about something wargaming related.
Post any questions/comments and I can also expand this blog post to include more information if requested.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Locomotive 844

Why would a steam locomotive show up on my wargaming related blog?  Well...I guess I will just say it could have been used to pull U.S. troop trains during 1945.  Locomotive 844 was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific.  It was taken out of service in 1959, but was fortunately saved and still runs today.  It was originally designed to run on coal, but in early 1945 was converted to oil.

I happened to catch it when it was stopping in Greeley, Colorado on July 23.  Amazing locomotive and definitely recommend seeing it.  I do need to work on my video skills.

Pictures and video below.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Arctic Convoy Setting Sail

All the ships and planes have been painted...well sort of.  I found I need to paint up two ships needed later.  Now for some additional testing.   Photos show the convoy laid out departing Scotland for Arkhangelsk.

A refresher...the ships are a mix of various 1:3000 scale manufacturers.  Rules are pulled from Journey to the End of the Earth, General Quarters 1 and 2, The Hunters, and Seekrieg 5.  The plan is for the convoy to reach the destination in a four hour game slot.

Future blog posts will show more from testing.