Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Manila AAR, Play Aids for Avalanche Press "1898"

Still getting acquainted with Avalanche Press' "Great War at Sea" series. Haven't yet decided how it will play out as a table game, but want to give myself time to think over and experience it RAW.

Ergo, did some more work to play the Basic Combat Rules. Made a play aid to help myself keep track of where the fleets are and their range bands. As the map isn't used, the BCR allow the entire fleet to be at only one range. Each side can attempt to close or retreat a range band, i.e. if you are at Long, you can switch to Short Range. This is decided by the player with the faster fleet. But if both are the same speed, you dice off and the winner decided the range band [they have outmaneuvered the opposition]. It's abstract, but not a bad sysemt, especially if you use Leaders to provide a modifier to the dice roll.

Below, image of the two fleets, starting off at long range, arranged in little groups I find easy to track due to the log sheet. The Close Range band I intend to use later [it represents being in the same hex in the advanced combat rules]. I also plan to allow groups of ships to be at different ranges, so for example torpedo boats might close in while bigger guns stay farther away. This makes a lot of sense if you out-gun and out-range the opposition.

As can be seen on the counters, the U.S. outguns the Spanish in Secondary Batteries by 7-2, and in Tertiary Batteries 9-6. Tertiaries can't fire at Long Range, so it is to the U.S. advantage to exploit the 7-2 edge and stay at Long Range, which they succeed in doing for the first three turns of the game, trashing one Spanish Cruiser, the Castilla.

Below, it is easy to track both the range bands and targeting by aligning the ships during the firing sequence. So the Olympia is firing upon the Reina Cristina at left, next to which the Baltimore and Raleigh are preparing to pound the Castilla. To Right the Raleigh and Concord fire upon Isla De Cuba, and the Petrel and McCullogh upon Isla de Luzon. When the firing sequence changes, I align the Spanish Ships the same way v. the U.S. ships.

I made my own sheet - I could photocopy the ones in the booklet, but it's a lot easier to keep track of the battle when all the ships are together in an order that makes sense to me.

To left bottom, I've the Advanced Turn Sequence and a summary of Torpedo Combat and its modifiers and special rules. Still working on the formatting, but this was pretty helpful.

Even with the play aids and the rules laid out, the entire thing sits on my bureau.

I recommend using different colored dice - helps to roll faster as you divide say all secondaries up as red dice, all tertiaries as yellow dice, etc.

In this play, I did all the rules correct. Battle report is as follows:
Both fleets have a "1 Slow" speed rated ship, and must roll off to change range.

Turns 1-3: U.S. wins the range test every turn, and keeps fleets at Long Range, taking advantage of the 7-2 ratings in Secondary Batteries. They pretty much trash the Castilla and damage the Reina Cristina. The Spanish manage to shoot really well, getting about 2-3 hits for their 6 dice [2 dice over 3 turns], and knocking out a Gun and a Hull on Boston.

Turn 4: As the Spanish have a lesser 9-6 disadvantage in Tertiary batteries, and an 8-2 edge in Torpedoes, they want to close the range. On the fourth try, they do so! Their gunnery isn't effective, as they bounce a Tertiary Hit off of Boston's lightly armored guns. However, they do well with Torpedoes, hitting with 3 and despite one fail at Damage they do inflict three Hull hits on Boston and sink her! U.S. Torpedoes miss.

Turn 5: Spanish again win and keep the range close. Victory celebrations don't last long, as the U.S. gunnery leaves both Castilla and Reina Cristina without guns and dead in the water. The Velasco and Don Juan lose their Guns. The Spanish Fleet now has only 4 of 8 batteries left, all Tertiary.

Turn 6. Spanish keep the range close, but to no avail. All four guns miss completely, and the U.S. fleet sinks the Gen Lez. and Don Antonio, and loses gun on the Isla de Cuba. The Spanish fleet has no guns firing, two ships DIW and two ships sinking. Resistance is futile, they strike their flags but are proud to have sunk one Yanqui ship!

Final Analysis. The rules are pretty straightforward except for Damage, which is a bit convoluted in its conversion of redundant damage to dead systems. Also, the Damage charts have some "you get nothing" results, which is emotionally unsatisfying - Hey, I hit where's my damage man!? There should be something, even if it isn't much.

Changes I'd make at this point, would be in the Damage chart and allow Groups of ships to change range bands on their own, and be at different ones. This would allow small ships to close in and fire torpedoes, while others stand at distance and fire guns. 

Next Project will be to modify the Log Sheets and add some heavier Spanish ships to the mix, then have some even battles. Massacring the Spanish every time isn't enough of test of the Basic Combat rules, altho it was very satisfying to sink just one U.S. ship!

I'll also share some of the math and conversion issues of putting these rules on the table - it's not quite as easy as I thought it would be! I am also leaning toward IGO-UGO for the firing rules, rather than simultaneous [aagh! Naval Rules Sacrilege!]

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