Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All at Sea: River Plate 1939

Admiral Graf Spee under fire
While Giggers is sorting out the overland bit of Park's expedition, thought it was time for a quick break.

Have had Agema's All at Sea WWII naval rules for a while now, yet never actually had a chance to play a game. Well that's been taken care of now.

The rules are very easy to use and not for the micro manager. The fire of each battery is resolved by the roll of 1d6, there are only three or four possible damage results, and there is no need to cross off tick boxes on a ship form. I like it.

The complex calculations required are hidden in the data as with A&A Game Engineering's "Sea Wars", and the result is an even more streamlined game that puts you firmly in the role of commander rather than the jack of all trades most other naval simulations require you to be.

Tonight's game was the River Plate fought in 1939 between a German so called "pocket battleship" and three RN ships, the 6" gun light cruisers Ajax, and Achilles, along with the 8" heavy cruiser Exeter ( the same poor ship that was to be lost off Java in the opening stages of the Pacific War).

This battle is pretty straight forward and one of the "go to" scenarios I like to use when trying out a new set of rules.

So here is how it went...

The two forces approached one another from a starting range of 27,000 yards.

The RN needed to close the range so that the 6" guns of the light cruisers would be able to overcome Spee's armour. Conversely it suited Langsdorf to keep the range open where his slower firing 11" battery would have the advantage.

The Germans were quite lucky early on and hits on the RN flagship, Ajax  brought her to half speed for turn. Ajax fell out of line to effect repairs while Achilles and Exeter screened her.

Here Langsdorf was favored again as Spee's fire soon made a shambles of Achilles communications systems.
Achilles takes damage while leading Exeter.

The end result was that while Ajax was soon back up to full speed, Achilles misinterpreted an order and led Exeter clear in the opposite of the intended direction!

Ajax in pursuit.
Achilles and Exeter may be seen pursuing a different course of action entirely (background).

Despite losing two thirds of his squadron to mis-communication,  Harwood had Ajax gamely pursue Spee.
Even though the range was too great for Ajax's 6" guns to have any great effect versus Spee's armour, Ajax's gunners kept up such a barrage that the German gunners were well hindered in their ability to return fire.

Admiral Graf Spee straddled by Ajax's fire.
The scenario was slated to only last six turns. The final two turns of the game saw Admiral Graf Spee sailing off, pursued by Ajax, while Achilles and Exeter were coming about and trying to make up lost ground.

Neither side had been able to achieve their objectives of so damaging the enemy that pursuit (German) or escape (British) could be prevented and so the game was a draw.

I could have handled Admiral Graf Spee more aggressively its true, but closing range with the superior British force would have been a recipe for disaster, as in reality, this scenario is a difficult one for the Germans whose armament though superior is limited (only a total of 6x 28cm guns.and less effective 15cm secondaries), suffer from only middling armour (only slightly better than most heavy cruisers) and slower speed than their pursuers.

The game itself proved very easy to play and ought to handle large numbers of ships quite well, while still providing an interesting game for smaller actions.

 I fear that my meager photographic skills were found lacking when taking pictures of the beautiful Hallmark 1/6000 ships so apologies for that!

As always thanks for stopping by!