Thursday, March 15, 2012

Russo-Japanese Naval Battle

     Last Saturday we dusted off my twenty-year-old  Russo-Japanese War ships and rules and played a game. The scenario was that the Japanese were blockading a port when a Russian force showed up intent on escorting a steamer carrying what would be termed today a "High Value Target"; to wit Prince Vladimir, the second son of the Tsar (totally fictional, of course, but it gave flavor to the game).

     The Japanese had two armored Cruisers and two light cruisers, the Russians had a battleship, a monitor, a protected cruiser and two light cruisers; a formidable force indeed. The Japanese. leaving their blockade positions, were closing in from both flanks and the Russian were trying to shoot the gap. In table-top terms this meant that the Russians had to travel from one corner to the opposite while the Japanese arrived in the two remaining corners trying to block their path of travel.

     My rules reward the greater skill and seamanship of the Japanese while penalizing the unhandy ship design and general land-lubberliness of the Russians. I thought it would be a close-run thing, except that had I left out one thing; dice. Lady Luck rebuffed the Japanese and was clearly infatuated with the Russian that night.

right from the beginning the Russians scored hit at maximum range,
the Idzumo takes significant damage in the midships batteries

while the Japanese reply ineffectually, slightly damaging the Preseviet

the Asama and the Suma approach on the opposite tack,
missing as well

the Japanese are closing the gap,
 but still not hitting the Russians in any meaningful way

the Russians, on the other hand, paid no attention to the long odds against rolling repeated 
 "10 and up on two d6",  and hammered the Japanese turn after turn

with both armored cruisers now heavily damaged by the Russian fire the Japanese had to duck a torpedo attack by the Novik, the poor Novik absorbed most of the firepower of the Japanese (the small portion that managed to hit) and got off it's fish before crossing paths with the Tatsuta

the Novik's helm was jammed and she was moving at maximum speed for the torpedo run,
the Tatusta had written orders expecting that the  Japanese firepower would sink the Novik,
thus were sown the seeds of disaster,
 the resulting collision shattered both vessels and sent them to the bottom

the undoubted victor of the fight, the battleship Perseviet,
few of her salvoes misssed

     I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this period with its odd ships and wildly different crew qualities. I will have to polish up the rules and publish them here.


  1. An excellent game and very nice looking ships. In most of the 1:2400 scale RJW battales we have fought, the Japanese seem to repeat their real-life actions by clobbering the Russians.


  2. Good looking game. Thanks for the report.

    Are those 1/1200 scale scratch-built ships? I was thinking of doing Russo-Japanese War naval in 1/3000...

    1. They are (very roughly) 1/1000. the early ones were very crude but my background as a model-builder lead to more detailed models later on. I just cant stay away from detailing things, even when I know that gaming will result in breakage.....