Friday, January 3, 2014

Battle of Yalu River, 1894

Joel measures the range as Allen and Keith open fire on each other in late 19th century naval action
Last Sunday, Joel ran a naval battle from a fairly obscure period -- the Sino-Japanese War at the end of the 19th century. Joel does this from time to time, he'll root around Keith's basement, find miniatures that fit for "something completely different," and then research and set up a game. We may never play the period or scenario, again. Or it may be part of an occasional and recurring gaming period -- like his Vietnam War using Crossfire rules (though those are his own miniatures). Joel discovered and decided upon the Battle of Yalu River, 1894, completely under the group's radar -- other than Keith, of course. That's part of Joel's charm -- he definitely marches to the beat of his own drum, game-wise and life-wise. And seeing how we all just spent New Year's Eve at his place, it is also timely to reflect that I've known him now for about 36 years!

Anyway, either he or Keith had found a free set of rules online covering the period called "Quickfire Rules." We began with Joel explaining how we they work, in particular the firing section. Once we'd wrapped our head around the concepts, Quickfire was easy to pick up. We were all calculating what we needed to roll and easily adjudicating our ships' firing by the second turn of shooting. In that respect, the rules were a success. Simple and easy-to-learn!
The Chinese squadron sails onto the board in line abreast formation (or was it line a-quarter?)
The scenario had Keith and Mike S sailing two squadrons of Japanese ships onto the board in column, while across the table, Allen and I sailed our Chinese fleet in line abreast to meet them. I am not certain what scale Keith's miniatures were, but the ships are fairly tiny. Joel added a blob of putty with toothpick and flag to label each ship properly for this scenario. I'm assuming Keith's labels he'd created when he based them up must not have fit 100% for the Battle of Yalu River.

The scenario consisted of lobbing long-range gunnery shots at each other. In general, we concentrated our fire on the closest enemy ship. Only one ship was sunk -- Allen's battleship -- but a number of others were damaged. If my ships are any indication, each ship takes a half dozen or more primary and secondary gunnery, and also hull hits. With each hit marked off, either the offensive capability or speed is reduced. My part of the fleet suffered only a total of two boxes marked off the entire game. Allen was closer to the Japanese and was absorbing the brunt of the punishment.
My own squadron in the Battle of Yalu River. Joel added toothpicks holding the ship names and attached it with a blob of putty to Keith's bases.
Afterwards, the consensus was the rules reflected the period of warfare fairly well (for those who knew anything about it -- me not included). However, we felt to produce a more satisfying game with a more decisive result, the ships would either have to begin closer together or move faster (so they can close to that more-decisive range). Joel wasn't too sure, but most of us felt the game -- although fun -- would be improved even more by amping up the death and destruction. I mean, what gamer doesn't like more death and destruction? Seriously, this was one of the times where I was reminded of a maxim I've learned through decades of gaming. The most historically accurate game does not always produce the most enjoyable one. Sometimes things need to be changed or abstracted to provide a fun game. The best example I can think of is this is the reason you don't see too many World War I miniatures games out there. Normal battles of the period were not all that decisive or even tactically interesting. Joel's Sino-Japanese wargame shows potential to produce in both the tactically interesting and decisive categories, it just needs some minor adjustments. At least that was my take on it...!
A close up of one of my ships taking fire (note the Litko splash marker...Keith LOVES Litko markers!)
I am late in getting this report written and posted, this week, as well. I did this intentionally, though, to not steal the limelight at the top of my blog from the "Indiana Jones" Rope Bridge. This coming weekend we will be doing board games at Allen's house. So, hopefully, I will be more timely in posting an account of that!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike - those ships are 1/2400 scale from Panzershciffe.