Jan 8, 2015

Naval War: Cruiser action, a battle report

Well, I finally got to some more Naval War playtesting. So for the occasion I made my first Naval War Battlereport!

The game setting is 'pickup' game, so no historical scenario. This also gives me the opportunity to see if my point values make sense and provide a somewhat even matchup.

Order of Battle:


Officer: Konteradmiral
- CA Admiral Graf Spee
- CA Admiral Scheer
- CA Prinz Eugen

Officer Kommodore
- DD Z-24
- DD Z-26
- DD Z-27

United Kingdom
Officer: Commodore
- CA Exeter
- CL Leander
- CL Achilles
- CL Neptune

Officer: Commander
- DD Jervis
- DD Jackal
- DD Kipling
- DD Kelvin

The mix of forces left the Germans with fewer ships but better range and firepower while the british had more ships but they really need to close the range to win this battle.


Turn 1:

Both sides maneuvered to get their squadrons into formation (the deployment zone was a bit cramped due to the size of the table, 140x120cm)

Turn 2:
The German destroyer squadron headed south in a flanking maneuver while the Graf Spee and Admiral Sheer opened up at extreme range at Exeter, straddeling the ship for minor damage. It was a bleak foreboding though, because the british ships were still out of range and the destroyers were in no position yet to cover the cruisers.

The German squadrons approaching from the northwest and opening fire

The British fleet racing to close the distance from the southeast

Turn 3:
Now steadily closing the range, all three German heavy cruisers upen up with their big guns on Exeter, wracking the ship from head to stern and leaving it a burning wreck. The British destroyers, now finally in position lost their lead ship to enemy destroyer fire and secondairies from the big cruisers. Still they now make smoke to cover the british squadrons.

Better late than never... the smoke screen is finally up
Turn 4
The British cruisers finally get their bearings on the german destroyer squadron and pummel the lead ship leaving it dead in the water.

The little british DD's show their teath and start shooting their 5" peashooters at the leading German cruiser, and in a stroke of luck, they set off one of her deck torpedo launchers, starting fires all over her stern.

The Germans are still focussed at the cruiser squadron though and they do not see the immediate danger they are in.... Still, they manage to fatally hit the second British cruiser with a deadly volume of fire from 11" and 8" guns.

With the Heavy Cruisers occupied, the British Destroyer squadron seizes the initiative by maneuvering between the two german squadrons. To late the Heavy cruisers notice the danger they are in with the nimble tin cans sailing into torpedo range. Still, not all is lost because the two remaining German DD's try to avert the danger. Throwing all they have at the lead destroyer, guns, torpedo's, all at short range, they blow up the lead British DD in a great ball of fire.

A very exiting turn indeed....

Graf Spee with fires of the exploded torpedo launcher at the stern, and burning wreckage of sunk ships

The DD's speeding through the gap between the German CA's and DD's

Turn 5
The british player gets the initiative this turn (thanks to the guys at bletchley park doing their jobs), and the remaining two destroyers empty both their torpedo banks at the tight German cruiser column. The Admiral Sheer takes no less than 5 torpedo's to her side and capsizes while Prinz Eugen takes only one out of ten torpedo's (!) fired at her and only suffers some minor fires. 

Still, this could be the turning point for the British as the German heavy cruisers frantically try to get rid of the two destroyers within their formation, overwhelming them in a sea of 11", 8" and 6" shells and torpedo's from the destroyers. Still, the brave sacrifice of the DD crews opened up a small window of victory for the Britisch as their cruisers now heavily damage Graf Spee forcing her to break off the action and seek refuge in a rain squall, limping away from the battle with a damaged engine and fires still burning on her rear deck.

The DD's are getting pummeled, but Admiral Scheer is a smoking hulk and Prinz Eugen is on fire. Graf Spee limps away in the rainsquall... 

Turn 6
The remaining British cruisers maneuver to cross the T of the destroyer Squadron, trying to take out a DD and the damaged Prinz Eugen to win the battle. But in the chaos of battle the lead cruiser targets the DD instead of the CA! A full broadside and a torpedo spread sends the lead destroyer to the bottom of the sea, leaving the Prinz Eugen intact and the second british Cruiser losing precious time reaquiring a different target. A costly mistake, giving the Prinz Eugen and the remaining DD a perfect chance of finishing up the damaged british cruiser.

Turn 7
Risking all or nothing, the british cruiser heads for the rainsquall and empties his torpedo tubes to finish off the Prinz Eugen. But alas, all the fishes miss in the rough seas of the squall and now caught between a rock and a hard place, the last british cruiser is sent to the bottom by torpedo's and gunfire....

A tightly fought German victory. Although at a high cost, with Graf Spee out of the battle, Prinz Eugen heavily damaged and only one destroyer remaining.

Post Battle analysis:

I was playing the British and my plan was to use my DD squadron to cover my Cruisers with smoke to close the distance. It didnt work because I sent the DD's in a wide turn to get between my cruisers and the enemy, which took to much time, leaving the cruisers vulnerable to the long range fire of the german 11" guns. I really got a break when I could maneuver my DDs into torpedo range of the cruisers, but it wasnt enough to take them all out of the battle.

The coup the grace was achieved by the very clever use of the command station by my opponent, making me shoot the wrong target (a DD instead of a damaged Prinz Eugen) at a critical moment. Which resulted in much hilarity.


1. I need to revise the critical hit chart a bit, especially moving the torpedo bank hit to a 'less probable to happen' tier.
2. I really loved the way my opponent outsmarted me by clever use of his actions, and I also loved the way the activation sequence allowed me to sneak up on the german cruisers while they were occupied with the British cruisers.
3. I'm going to remove the 'short' range bonus on torpedo's. Since short range is 20cm and torpedo range is 25cm it practically always kicks in and it makes the fishes too deadly in my opinion. Really bad dicerolling saved Prinz Eugen this time, but with just an average roll it would have sunk, which is a bit too effective for my taste.
4. I definately need to get rid of the table clutter, since it was a playtest I was still looking for the right markers and we kept the command stations and statcards on the board because we were still learning our stats (by the end of the battle we knew most stats by heart, so its just laziness to have so much clutter on the table, and I had room on the sides to keep the command stations).
5. I need to add a 'filler' action on the command station. Many actions are fun but situational, and in many instances it leaves the player with to few choices to place his order dice. An action that a player can use to put his 'excess' dice is needed. I'm thinking in the way of a reroll action, for instance to allow the rerolling of one die of the players choosing in the shooting phase, or armor save, etc.
6. The battle was very close fought, showing that I might be on the right track with my points formula. Next step is to make forces of a different makup but the same points value and see how they work out (BB vs DD's, etc)

Thanks for reading if you got this far! ;)


Anonymous said...

Beautiful report Eccles,

it reflects the intensity of the naval battle and i can feel your toes curling whn you hit the DD :)

Lane said...

These look really fun and slick. Be very interested if I could play test them?

Ecclesiastes said...

Hello Lane,

I've posted contact details in one of my other naval war posts:

You can take it from the comments section there. Send me an e-mail, then we'll arrange the stuff for your playtesting. When I have a bit more time next week I'll make a post about playtesting the ruleset when I have thought it over some more.