Thursday, 22 October 2009

Age of Pre-Dreadnoughts

A few weeks ago my SSWG comrades and I tried out David Manley's new 'Age of Dreadnoughts' expansion for Mongoose Publishing's Victory at Sea.

We were just testing the rules out, so plonked down some ships without much ceremony and set to for a quick bash. Usually the best way to learn a new rule set. The lack of real conflict in this period should not cause a true gamer any concern and so we opted for another 'what if' conflict, this time between the circa 1905 British and Italian navies.

The British had four of their new (in 1905) Formidable class Battleships and three cruisers, this comprising only about half of the British Mediterranean fleet's capital ships. The Italians had a similar force, but this represented virtually all their major ships.

Benedetto Brin
Regina Margherita
Ammiraglio Di St. Bon
Emanuele Filiberto
Guieseppe Garibaldi
Francesco Ferrucio


The ship sheets we used are here

The Action
Each navy's cruisers were deployed in a screen ahead of the main battleship squadron, with the Royal Navy in conventional line abreast and line astern style, while the avante garde Italians tried out a fancy echelon formation.

Seamanship was far from impressive to start with. The British Battleships missed their turn and the Italian Battleships turned badly masking each others guns. The Monmouth took some nasty early hits and ended up breaking out of the line to starboard, while the rest of her squadron headed port. The Italian cruisers followed the two more seaworthy British cruisers and began a duel that initially went well for the Italians. The British cruisers are huge though and can take a lot of punishment. The British battleships then proceeded to steam up the middle of the action, lending some long range support to their beleaguered slimline comrades. The main event was by now underway however, as the battleships pummeled each other with their big guns and the Monouth limped along trying desperately not to be noticed. It soon became obvious that the Formidables were aptly named as they tore apart the pride of the Regia Marina. The Brin was quickly sunk for little damage in return and the Italians found themselves outnumbered four to three, two of those being elderly ladies of dubious virtue. To make things worse the Italian cruisers were now in no state to assist, the Italians struck their colours and rued the day they had foolishly challenged the might of Britannia.

The rules were rather good fun and everyone enjoyed the game. There was a reasonable amount of dice rolling and record keeping but the pay off was enough colour to make things interesting. Much cheering ensued as the critical hits landed and one particularly nasty set of multiple explosions drew a wince as the Brin's crew suffered. Overall the game flowed quickly and we had got the hang of the basics after the first few turns. We'll definitely be trying them again before long.

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