RogerBW's Blog

Naval Wargames Show 2015 13 July 2015

The Naval Wargames Show was on last weekend in Gosport. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

Although they've had traders before, there weren't any this time; this was basically a gaming and socialising show. Naval wargaming is a minor subset of a hobby which isn't huge anyway (and my preferred post-WWII/Cold War is a minor subset of that), though I gather the Naval Wargames Society still acts to put gamers in touch with each other.

I think there were seven games altogether, in the conference room of the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower (which I didn't have time to look at, but which seems distinctly interesting).

Battle of Dogger Bank (1915)): British battlecruisers squadrons pursue a German raiding force. Homebrew rules, I think; lots of random event cards.

Second World War fleet actions in the Mediterranean, between the Royal Navy and Regia Marina. Modified General Quarters rules, to cut down the lethality.

Russo-Japanese War: (first) Battle of Port Arthur (1904). The only historical game with terrain on the map. General Quarters again.

Action off Cape Matapan (1941), a subset of the full battle.

A custom Napoleonic game, entirely computer-moderated: players enter detailed orders for each ship (which sails to set at which levels, where the crew should concentrate their efforts, and so on), and the software does the work. It's DOS only, closed source, and is designed entirely for hot-seat play – alas, because it looks as if it could be quite fun if played over the net. (The people with this setup had apparently re-fought Trafalgar in two days at a show earlier this year.) But the miniatures are entirely for show.

Stingray! Not the South London Warlords' setup from Salute, but a quick and simple game using phased simultaneous movement and a basic table for damage. The emphasis was on speed and fun; there was a certain amount of off-table state that needed to stay in people's heads (e.g. the number of turns torpedoes could run, and which ships had already moved) but this was definitely the most colourful and fast-moving game of the day.

The Battle of Yap, based on The Great Pacific War by Hector C. Bywater (a 1925 novel in which Bywater posited a future naval war between Japan and the US). This was using a custom, and fairly complex, system written by George Street, one of the players. In order to keep scales vaguely plausible, formations of ships were represented by small markers, with the "big" formation template put on the main board only when it was attacking or under attack.

The show was all good fun; I didn't play, but had a good time chatting with people. Clearly I should look into the General Quarters rules at some point (nobody I spoke with had heard of Fire on the Waters).

And now I really want to try putting together an actual tabletop Harpoon game, using three separate tables and a referee...

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