Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Arctic Convoy Game Research

I have been considering what my next naval wargame scenario will be.  I thought about the Battle of Midway, but this campaign/scenario idea has been shelved for the moment.  Right now I am focused on the idea of a WWII Arctic Convoy.

But this is not a normal Convoy miniatures wargame scenario.  For my four hour game, the convoy miniatures will stay on the table but the game will cover the whole convoy journey from Scotland to Archangel in Russia.  I know...crazy eh?  The scenario takes place in the summer of 1942 before the PQ17 convoy disaster.  The summer convoy route takes a total of 14 days to reach the destination.  Will the convoy be attacked by German U-boats, bombers or naval surface forces?  Yes...the game would be a bit boring if it was not attacked.

View of my testing.  Actual game will have less paperwork on table and miniatures, not pieces of paper.
The trick for this to work is keeping the engagements simple enough to keep the game moving.  I have the convoy events already assigned thanks to Mal Wright's "A Journey to the End of the Earth" convoy rules.  I am currently reviewing various naval wargame rules to use for either air or naval engagements.  It looks like it will be a combination of "The Hunters" solo boardgame and General Quarters I.  I have discovered that no one rule set can cover what I am attempting to do.

Ship miniatures wise, I have not decided on a scale.  My options are 1:6000, 1:3000 or 1:2400.  There are such a wide variety of ships in the convoy I am trying to pick a scale that has the most to choose from.  I am looking at each ship in the convoy and all the manufacturers.  I would like to do it in 1:2400, but we'll see what my research discovers.

I will be using CAP Aero 1:1250 planes.

Another challenge is figuring out what the players will be doing.  I would like to have a four player game with two on each side.  The German players would be air and naval forces.  I'm not sure what each convoy player would be tasked with.  Maybe the convoy players would be each responsible for half of the convoy or just share responsibility for the whole convoy.  Maybe each has different escorts.  Sure the game would work best with only one player on a side, but I want to include more players.

We'll see how this goes.  Maybe players will enjoy this type of game or maybe it will be a flop.  If I decide to go with 1:2400 have a few miniatures, but would need to buy and paint up a bunch.  So I have not fully committed to this scenario.

I will certainly be updating my blog on the progression of this wargame idea.  I welcome any comments you may have.

Here are the list of wargame rules I have been consulting:
  • A Journey to the End of the Earth
  • The Rising Storm
  • General Quarters I
  • General Quarters III
  • Seekrieg IV
  • Seekrieg V
  • Sea Wars Fleet Actions
  • Second World War at Sea: Actic
  • Command at Sea I
  • Second World War At Sea: Arctic Convoy (boardgame)
  • Second World War at Sea: Bomb Alley (boardgame)
  • The Hunters (boardgame)
  • North Cape (boardgame)
  • Naval Thunder
  • Naval War
  • NWS: Naval Warfare World War 2
  • Victory at Sea
  • Naval Wargaming: From Ancient Galleys to Modern U-boats
Other references:
  • Naval Wargaming Review Vol 4, #6, The Artic Convoys: A Campaign Game
  • U-boat Tactics in World War II (Osprey)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Napoleonic First-Person Videos and Miniatures

In another random YouTube discovery, I came upon a great two part video set of a French Napoleonic reenactor from the first-person perspective (Go Pro camera).  Below are the two part videos:

I have played in a number of Napoleonic games over the years, and watching these videos really shows a great perspective of what being a soldier in the line infantry was like.

Unlike some Napoleonic gamers, I have not gone in very heavy.  I only have about 200 15mm War of 1812 figures.  I have since decided to focus on 28mm War of 1812 figures for skirmish wargames.  In the photo below, the miniatures on the left are 6mm Napoleonic figures.  I have never painted 6mm figures before.  I am curious if I will like painting the scale.  I don't plan on getting into 6mm Napoleonic figures.  I will be certainly be expanding my 28mm War of 1812 collection.  I may use 6mm for a different period.

Left to Right: 6mm, 15mm, 28mm Napoleonic figures

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Battle of Riachuelo

At the last club meeting I ran my Battle of Riachuelo scenario.  It went very well.  I started the scenario after the historic initial pass of the Paraguayan fleet by the Brazilian fleet.  In this historic scenario the Brazilians were setup moving down stream towards the anchored Paraguayans.

  • Iron and Fire by David Manley
  • 1:1200 ships by Pithead Miniatures/Spithead Miniatures
  • 2mm guns by Irregular Miniatures
  • Beige Vynl fabric for river
  • Green fleece
  • Woodland Scenics Bushes Clump-Foliage, Medium Green, 32oz
I thought I would run the game with four players, but it ended up running with six players with no issues.  I kept the terrain simple because I have no room to store a custom Riachuelo board and I just don't rerun the same scenario more than a couple times.  I used an orange kids washable marker to outline on the river the areas of shallows.  Below are photos from the game.

Photo 1: Initial deployment.  Paraguayans anchored at bottom.  Brazilian ships in line moving towards Paraguayans.  Two more Brazilians ships to enter.
Photo 2: Brazilian ships in line.  Note line showing extent of shallows on starboard of ships.
Photo 3: Paraguayan field battery provides support from shore.
Photo 4: Paraguayans decide to raise anchor and move towards Brazilians.
Photo 5: Ships from both sides are now getting in close.
Photo 6:  River is filled with smoke from the battle.  The Paraguayan flagship has rammed a Brazilian ship and captured the ship as their own ship sinks.
Photo 7: Last photo showing the second last turn in the game.  Not much changed in the last turn.
I called the game after four hours of game play.  Unfortunately the Paraguayans could not change the historical outcome.  The results were identical to history.  All Chatas (towed boats) and four ships on the Paraguayan side were sunk.  One Brazilian ship was sunk, but the Paraguayan Admiral was captured.  I did not tell either side what the victory conditions were.  The Paraguayans would have won if they did better than historically (lose less ships and/or sink more ships).
I recommend this scenario.  It is a good unknown or barely known battle.  The models are great and the rules went very smoothly, although I did forget about the possible effect of rolling a one on gunfire.  If I run the game again, I will start the battle further up river where the two sides first met.  Maybe we could see how the Paraguayans would do by not heading downstream and anchoring.
Rules wise, the rule about being easier to hit if stationary, maybe this rule could be dropped because the Paraguayans are at a disadvantage anchored.
A future post, I will share resources for you to use for building this scenario or just for reading.
Other posts on Battle of Riachuelo: