Off To Sink The Bismark? But With Which Rules?

Off to sink the Bismark - HMS Hood & HMS Prince of Wales...

Off to sink the Bismark – HMS Hood & HMS Prince of Wales…

While I had the camera out the other day I thought I’d snap a few quick shots of my 1/2400th World War II naval models. I picked these up several months ago off a wargamer in the USA as I had sold off my existing fleets of 1/4800th models (mostly C-in-C) and was planning on replacing them with 1/2400th GHQ models, but took this opportunity to acquire a reasonable German fleet with a couple of British Battleships (Hood & Prince of Wales) and an unpainted Japanese fleet (which is exactly what I was looking for to complement my Crossfire WW2 Pacific land forces). The vessels are all GHQ except for a few of the Japanese which are some very nice resin models (manufacturer unknown). The pictures here are the classic 1941 North Sea vessels (Battle of the Denmark Strait) – but the issue now is what set of rules to use with them…

Prinz Eugen & Bismark attempt to head-off Hood & Prince of Wales

Prinz Eugen & Bismark attempt to head-off Hood & Prince of Wales

In the past I’ve mostly played General Quarters (GQ1 for World War I & GQ2 for World War II – both written by Lonnie Gill) – these are the original edition ones from back in the 1980’s & early-90’s which were always hugely popular with naval gamers wanting fleet actions. I have the new edition rules (for World War II, confusingly called GQ3, that came out in 2006) and the World War I supplement for GQ3 (Fleet Action Imminent – or FAI) which are much improved to speed play and such but retain the accuracy and feel of the original GQ. There is also The Solomons Campaign book which is (apparently) highly rated and exactly what I’ve been looking for for designing my Pacific Fleets – it’s generic so can be used with any ruleset and I’ve been meaning to pick this up for sometime. There is also lots of GQ information at the ever prolific David Manley’s Website.

The mighty Bismark

The mighty Bismark

However a couple of the guys at the AWC have been giving Victory at Sea (VAS), by Matthew Sprange, a bash (albeit infrequently) over the last couple of years or so and I have been keen to give it a go (it’s essentially the “A Call To Arms: Babylon 5” space combat rules from Mongoose Publishing applied to World War II naval; and incidentally talking Sci-Fi ACTA is now out in two new versions – Star Fleet for the Star Trek universe & Noble Armada for the Fading Suns RPG). It has a Fleet List Supplement with additional rules – which the above mentioned David Manley was also involved with – and a WWI Supplement (Age of Dreadnoughts), and once again lots of additional material on David Manley’s Website. I acquired the books with the above fleet purchase so will give this a go sometime in the hopefully not to distant future.

VAS is marketed as fast play and looks to achieve that – however some feedback I have seen is its a bit too simplistic and also can look a bit odd (with ships & battle-lines sailing far too close together and such) but David Manley has suggested some fixes that address those issues and add more real-life-like play. David describes VAS as “…serves well as as an introductory set of rules, and has developed quite a following amongst players who otherwise wouldn’t be attracted to naval wargaming. As such it serves as an excellent gateway to more mainstream historical naval rules“. Hopefully it isn’t ‘so’ introductory as to match my disappoinment with Trafalgar for my age of sail gaming?

The redoubtable HMS Hood

The redoubtable HMS Hood

The other idea I’ve been considering is some variant of GZG’s Full Thrust (FT) 2nd edition space rules by Jon Tuffley (sans hexes of course), to provide a really simple fast-play almost beer n’ pretzels game, which might suit these larger 1/2400th models better, and bypass any issues VAS may have… It would of course lack some of the flavour of GQ or even VAS and as I’m actually considering a FT variant as an option for my Coastal Forces games it might then make the fleet actions and coastal stuff too generic and too much the same with just different looking ships?

I’d certainly welcome any comments and thoughts if anyone reads this who has been down this road – while I am a big fan of GQ, naval gaming is very much a secondary period for me so it is hard to keep the more detailed rules (like GQ) fresh in your mind when only playing sporadically – and anything that’s fast and simple is always a benefit in any situation…

Posted in General Quarters, In The K-Rations, Victory At Sea, WW2 Naval Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Scruff

    Heya

    Naval Thunder has become a bit of a hit down here, esp for WW1 and we are looking at trying it for WW2 soon as well. Give a nice entertaining game 🙂

    http://www.navalthunder.com/

    cheers

    • Hey Thanks Dave – that looks really interesting – I’ve never heard of those rules before! Have you guys played VaS and/or GQ previously by way of comparison?

  • Scruff

    Just GQ 1/2 and a home grown set of ww2 rules.

    only thing with NT is the air rules, as you fight your carriers for a couple rounds before anything is setup (after all they are a hundred miles or more apart) then you have option when setting up the battle, to either have your carriers on table, which gives another airstrike at some stage of the game, or withdrawing the carriers and any escorts you provide to them and they then take a sub attack phase but you lose the in game air strike.

    So for WW2 that involves carriers we are looking at maybe GQ3, but for WW1 and WW2 gunnery battles, it looks like its going to be Naval Thunder.

    The problem down here now is, there’s a damm arms race going on and the fleets are growing at a monumental rate….  only winner there is GHQ  lol

    cheers

    • Hahaha! Yep been there! Thanks! I’ve actually taken the plunge and purchased the whole library of the rules last night – had a brief read of Battleship Row and looks okay – I was tossing up between GQ3 or VaS but will give these a go first… Should be ideal for Pacific stuff around Guadalcanal and such, and North Atlantic/Mediterranean Royal Navy vs. Kriegsmarine or Regia Marina. I want to revisit doing some WW1 too, incl. the Eastern Med (i.e. Austria-Hungary & Turkey against Greek, Italian, French, & British) as well as classic North Sea or Falklands stuff. I’m also curious if the pre-dreadnought stuff might work for 1/600th scale ACW Ironclads & Monitors as I have a few I haven’t yet found a good set of rules for? A few guys up here do pre-dreadnoughts, but with different rules and I think 1/3000th or so scale rather than 1/2400th or larger – so not sure whether I’ll get too excited by the pre-1906 stuff. 🙂

    • P.S. I quite like some of the way the Carrier thing works in NT – and I’m sure you could adjust the on-table stuff to permit more than one strike per carrier – although the time frame of the game anything more than 2 might not be realistic… And I presume air strikes have the potential to be fairly deadly – so you’d only want a couple per game anyway in that case…?

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