Monday, January 23, 2017

Battle of the Big Fleets, 28mm Pre-Dreadnoughts at Spartacon

        I took my fleets to Spartacon and ran a game on the vast floorspace they were kind enough to provide. We ended up with twelve players involved using thirteen vessels over about a thousand square feet of playing surface. Now all I need is a week for my knees to recover!

        The scenario is that the French Fleet is escorting a group of troopships to add to the forces attacking a Prussian colony. They expect to encounter only the local Colonial Squadron, to their surprise the Asiatic Squadron has shown up as well. The Prussians have no intention of allowing the French reinforcements to get through and have launched an all-out attack with their more numerous, but slightly inferior, forces.

the dashing French Admirals commanding (L to R)
the Charles Martel, the Dupuy de Lome, the Bec de Corbin and the Nemesis

the phlegmatic Prussian Colonial Squadron commodores,
 commanding (front to back) the Thor, the Panther and the Beowulf

the Asiatic Squadron admirals commanding (L to R)
 the Blitz, the Donner, the Seydlitz and the Gniesenau

the opening shots, misses all, the French ships shielding the transports
but the beginning of the French fixation with the Thor

the view from the other direction, 
both Prussian squadrons trying to "cross the T" of the French 

the Asiatic Squadron drove ahead at maximum speed

so did the Colonial Squadron (as best it could), 
the French fire began to find its mark on the Thor

the return fire fell mostly on the Dupuy de Lome, she shook off the hits and sailed on
as the Nemesis pulled ahead to begin a torpedo run at the Asiatic Squadron

the Martel's fire on the Gniesenau had no apparent effect
the Prussians scored two important hits on the Bec de Corbin, 
crippling her boiler and wrecking her aft magazine (fortunately fire control prevented an explosion)

the next turn saw the Seydlitz beging to get into a proper "T" on the French ships 
as the Gniesenau began her run in for a ramming attack and the Blitz and Donner began an end around ploy to get to the transports, French fire continued to punish the Seydlitz and ravage the Thor

the Prussian fire again concentrated on the Dupuy de Lome, 
tearing holes in the hull and silencing the secondary batteries but leaving the main batteries unscathed, fire against the Martel hit repeatedly but went seemingly unnoticed

the Nemesis poured fire into the Thor and then launched two torpedoes that struck home, 
throughout the game the Nemesis was a "ghost ship" she was the target of fire from multiple sources every turn of the game but was very rarely struck at all

after narrowly missing a collision with the Seydlitz the Blitz poured it on 
and swept in a wide arc with the Donner toward the lagging transports
catching on to the developing threat posed by the Gniesenau and the fast cruisers
 the French began to concentrate fire on the fast-approaching ships

more shells struck home on the Gniesenau but she sailed on undeterred, the light ships were untouched, the Seydlitz was once again ravaged by fire

the initial damage, combined with the torrent of fire from the Nemesis and the Bec de Corbin were topped off by the torpedo hits and the venerable warrior Thor sank into the sea

no sooner had the Thor disappeared beneath the waves than the French began to hammer the tiny Panther, apparently being the "point man" is a hazardous job!

the Beowulf attempted to ram the Nemesis to avenge the Thor, but once again the French ship seemed untouchable and they simply bumped into one another, trading barnacles

meanwhile the French fire was beginning to make obvious headway against both  the Seydlitz and Gniesenau as shells struck home wrecking guns and machinery

the fast cruisers sailed on untouched

the chaotic scene after the ramming attempt, 
shots fired in haste at point blank range found home on all of the ships

the Seydlitz and Gniesenau gave as good as they got 
and the Dupuy de Lome began  to show the effect of the pounding she was taking

having realized that the Gniesenau was actually going to ram the Dupuy de Lome, the French poured all of their fire into her, sending her to the bottom in one massive thundering shower of shells

in the far distance you see the Nemesis passing through the Asiatic Squadron and beginning to turn around for another torpedo attack, slightly neared you see the Beowulf trading shots with the Bec de Corbin, in the middle distance the Seydlitz continues her uneven fight with the Dupuy de Lome and the Martel as the fast Cruisers are finally in range and open fire on the Dupuy de Lome.

a slightly wider view of affairs at the end of that turn

finally in range of the transports the Prussians stayed focused on the mission 
and began to send shells that way as well

a view of the Nemesis from the after gun of the Beowulf, at this point the Prussians had nearly given up shooting at her as the shells seemed to have no effect at all

the reverse view as the Nemesis pulled away to reload her tubes, the the distance you can see the death-throes of the Gniesenau and the thunderous pounding the Dupuy de Lome was taking at this time, nearer you can see the brave little Panther trying to stay in the battle while being hammered by every free gun in the French Navy

at this point the Seydlitz and the Dupuy de Lome were locked in a battle to the death, 
pouring fire into one another heedless of the actions of other ships......

......until , at the last minute the Dupuy de Lome turned away to engage the fast cruisers
 and turned the fight with the Seydlitz over to the Martel, at this point the Blitz saw her opportunity and launched three torpedoes which tore the badly battered Dupuy de Lome to shreds 
sending her to a watery grave

the Bec de Corbin, realizing that the Beowulf was ignoring the French battle-fleet and firing on the transports took the opportunity to attempt to ram the Beowulf, once again the effort failed and the ships simply bumped against each other without any significant harm

the Panther, her front gun wrecked, her hull riddled with holes and rapidly losing speed made one last, heroic, attempt to close with the Charles Martel in an effort to unleash the torpedo she carried in her bow, she paid the price being lashed with fire from the Martel's secondary battery

 the Nemesis, now reloaded, rushed back into the fray attempting to pass between the Seydlitz and the Beowulf in an effort to use both banks of torpedoes in one pass

by this time the fast cruisers had gotten a clear run at the transports and were pounding them with fire, the Martel poured fire into the Blitz with her secondary batteries, causing damage but not enough to stop the mission-driven Prussians

the Martel traded shots with the Seyditz, coming out far ahead in the damage trade-off, her shells tore great holes in the Prussian armored cruiser while the return fire was like harmless pin-pricks

the transports were taking a beating, 
their unarmored hulls providing no protection against the rain of shells they were subject to

the Bec de Corbin hammered away at the Beowulf at point-blank range 
but the Beowulf stayed fixed to mission and fired unrelentingly at the transports

 the Nemesis gained speed in her return run, trying to stay ahead of the Seydlitz

the situation at the end of the turn, the French were rapidly killing the Prussian fleet but were also losing the strategic battle as the transports were being badly damaged

the fast cruiser squadron, the Blitz was hammering the transports 
and the Donner was contemplating a torpedo run at the Martel

in the near view we see the Beowulf ready to form boarding parties as she closed with the Tulip de Flanders, just beyond that the Alsatian is torn asunder with shells from the Blitz and Donner

the Seydlitz was barely surviving the pounding from the Martel when the Nemesis fired two torpedoes into her side, blowing away the rest of her hull

the next turn the Beowulf accepts the surrender of the Tulip de Flanders while firing into the still recalcitrant Alsatian, the Blitz and Donner add to the demise of the Alsatian, the Bec de Corbin was firing at the Beowulf as the Nemesis launched two torpedoes at the Beowulf one of which struck home without causing crippling damage

at the end of the game the French held an uncontested naval superiority, the Bed de Corbin and the Beowulf cancelling each other; the seemingly unstoppable Nemesis countering the Donner and Blitz while there was nothing on the Prussian side of the balance sheet that could challenge the Charles Martel....against this they had failed in their primary mission of safely escorting the transports to the far corner of the playing area

        I hope everyone enjoyed the game and the spectacle of these giant models bailing it out. I enjoyed running the game (even though it was a bit exhausting) thanks to my able and industrious assistant Kris who did at least half the legwork and bookkeeping. Thanks to all the players who played with truly Victorian sportsmanship and good humor throughout the game. And, finally thanks to the good people at Spartacon who provided a simply HUGE playing area for us to enjoy. I plan to return next time with even larger fleets.


  1. How awesome this looks. Great stuff. cheers

  2. you never mentioned the Blitz finally sinking the Dupuy de Lome!

    1. thanks for reminding me.....I have fixed that and given credit where it was due!

  3. Wow, awesome ships! It looked like big fun. What rules do you use?


    1. Thanks, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

      The rules are home-grown. I am (slowly) putting them in order so that I can publish them on the blog.