Monday, October 8, 2012

Wargaming Against the Weather: Outdoor Naval Wargaming

'Sorry Curt, I can't really hear you from the howling wind and my pulled-down touque. Did you say something about someone looking like a dork?'
Sylvain again here. (With unwarranted photos and editorial comments from Curt.)

Not long ago, I presented some newly painted 1:1200 ships on this blog, along with some crazy plans to play outside. I came up with an hypothetical scenario: 

7 December 1941 - Because their crews were involved in a bar fight the week before, the Admiral decided to send at sea the USS Colorado and the USS Arizona, for a gunnery practice involving lots of healthy drilling. However, after a day at sea, the two battleships stumbled upon two Japanese battleships, part of the Japanese Fleet sent to attack Pearl Harbour.

AMERICANS: USS Colorado, USS Arizona
With their slower units, the Americans know they are in trouble. The American player's objective is to inflict damage to both Japanese ships in order to slow them down and then try to escape in order to participate in the defense of Pearl Harbour.


JAPANESE: IJN Ise, IJN Kongo
Banzai! The goal of operation Tora Tora Tora is to eliminate as many American capital ships as possible. The Japanese player wins by sinking at least one American ship and then escaping.






All the models are from Superior Models.

After a week of being harassed, Curt and Peter kindly agreed to give the game a try. The weather was as to be expected for the season, but a little challenging for wargaming: cloudy, about +8C, very (VERY) windy.

Peter: 'Right, and who's idea was this again?'
Admiral Peter, of the US Navy, in command of the USS Colorado and the USS Arizona, about to spot the Japanese intruders.You can read his report of the game here.

Curt: 'F*ck, its cold! This is not the South Pacific, its the bloody Murmansk Run!'
Kaigun Taisho "Kaato" (Japanese pronunciation of Curt), maneuvering the IJN Kongo toward Pearl Harbour. He is holding a turning gage, formerly known as a paper plate.



This picture gives a sense of the firing distances. Ships were firing at 20', and they were about 40' apart. Hits happened at about 30', which is about 12,000 yards. "Real" naval engagement, according to what I have read, would take place at about 18,000 yards (45' at this scale).

Sylvain cutting quite the dash in his wargaming toolbelt - Ooh, TRES sexy!

Peter rangefinding with his... iPhone... obviously the Americans have a leg-up in gunnery technology.
Shells from the Colorado are getting dangerously close to the Kongo. Captain Peter proved to be very effective at guessing range. On the following turn, the Colorado scored a hit on the Kongo while the Ise hit the Colorado in return. Both ships lost a main turret.


Kongo's fire ranging in on one of the American battlewagons.
A hit! A palpable hit!

Peter running madly after a turn gauge being blown away in the wind. I'm sure there's a song somewhere in there...
Sylvain is having waaay too much fun with his monster tape measure.
Curt's Kongo getting 'bracketed' by American fire. Ouch!
Bullseye! Guessing the exact range, directly onto a a ship's base translates in 2 hits. The Kongo, at this point, had lost a main turret, half the secondary armament, AA guns and was crawling at a speed of 14 knots. The Japanese commander decided at this point that bombarding Pearl Harbour with battleships might not be worth that much trouble after all and decided to rendez-vous with the main fleet. Admiral Yamamoto, a little busy right now, might not find the time to read the battle report before a few days. The American ships, hearing bomb explosions in the distance, decided to head back home to see what was happening.


Because of the heavy wind, there was no way to keep the "splashes" upright. The wind even knocked down my tool box full of playing equipment!

Playing in this crazy weather felt like a combination of cross country skiing, paragliding and wargaming. Afterward, Curt and Sarah treated us with delicious hot tea and pie.

How to describe this kind of gaming experience? "Different" comes to mind. It really gives a feeling of how distant modern dreadnoughts were when exchanging shells. Using "distance evaluation" replaces the luck of the dice with the evaluating skill of the players. There might not be another game before next spring, so I will have plenty of time to make some adjustments.

31 comments:

  1. Time to find a school gymnasium and a blue tarp.

    Mkae for much more interesting pictures!

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  2. That was different! The sea certainly looked a little choppy!

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  3. Very cool. Seems like you guys had fun regardless of the weather there! Though why wait until spring, I am sure an engagement during winter happened historically! I think as real gamers it is your duty to re-enact those ones too ;)

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  4. Looks like great fun, despite the weather. Those pictures give a very good sense of scale for naval battles.

    regards,
    Matt

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  5. Your all mad, but I salute your fortitude none-the-less! Good looking game.

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  6. Well that was quite different, looks like fun, but I would have to say that my old mum would call you all "barking mad" and I believe she may be right.

    John

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  7. You know if you'd painted the grass blue then dry brushed it turquoise I reckon it could have looked quite cool!

    Kudos to man-ing up and show the world, and you locality you are a bunch of wargamers! ;-)

    Did you get much onlooker attention and questions?

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    1. We had a couple of teens observe us from the distance. However, anybody with any sanity stayed home and slept off the Thanksgiving Turkey.

      PD

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    2. Yes, I think they were too nervous to approach the 'odd men in the park'...

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    3. Yeah my mother warned about those sorts of guys too...

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  8. Sylvain
    Great battle report and great work on the set up and gear. Curt great photos and editorial commentary - who added the fire arcs to the photos?


    We'll do it again - in Spring. And maybe not in a park that's been used as an off lease dog area!
    Cheers
    PD

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    1. The fire arcs are Sylvain's embellishments. Quite effective. It was especially good of him highlighting the REAL target of the Japanese attack: your thermos of tea.

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    2. In which case your fire was even more ineffective than I thought!

      Cheers
      PD

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    3. Unfortunately you kept moving the tea so I consoled myself at shooting at your ships...

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  9. Absolute genius, well done to all! :D

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  10. Fantastic stuff! The paint roller shell splashes are very effective.

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  11. Really, it is a very different game, and very interesting to see. The distances are GREAT with that ruleset and scale, but the game is interesting.

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  12. Very different gaming! Well done!

    A calm winter day on clear frozen ice might actually be the best format as it would give a sea effect. Just don't forget to wear spikes!

    Christopher

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  13. Different is a good word, more like amazing....brilliant!

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  14. Now this was fun to read. You guys sure know how to entertain yourselves. Surprised you didn't attract any spectators...

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  15. Thanks guys! All the credit goes to Sylvain for putting this on - it was a real hoot to play.

    Next time we play this I'd like to go back to dice for the gunnery as the system as it currently stands artificially favours those who have good vision/depth perception, are better at math and have good putting skills (for torpedo attacks). To me dice and combat tables are great at levelling the playing field and modelling the differences in doctrine, training and technology.

    And we'll play on the soccer pitch deeper in the park which will give us nicer turf and will better compliment Sylvain's beautiful ships.

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    1. Awww wheres the fun in dice all the time putting and depth perception are what its all about and choppy seas to try and hit the enemy / unless of course you have spotter planes. Such courage to attempt this in the great white northe, Hey next time do it in Snow!!!!
      Loved the paper plate as a playing aid.
      Just goes to show show you real wargamers will game no matter where or what the weather.
      Thansk for sharing this experience as I observe it from my warm bedroom on my laptop!

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  16. Excellent stuff. mad , but excellent. Where do i get my own wargaming toolbelt?

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    1. Yes me too - is that a Home Depot special?

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    2. The toolbelt was given to me by my dad, a long time ago. I'm sure there are suitable models in any good hardware store. Could this be the beginning of a new fashion trend in wargaming? :-)

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  17. For headgear you all need to be wearing period grey navy metal helmets and the funny looking navy vests of the famous in harms way movie set material / now not sure what the japanese navy wore when in combat like this.

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    1. Don't even encourage Sylvain with this...

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  18. Just bonkers. I loved reading this!

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    1. Thanks Greg - it was a bit bonkers standing out in the park with 60K gusts but it was good fun.

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