Saturday, 3 October 2009

Wargame Night (Cont): The Battle of Narvik (3)

Decision time for the RN.

Captain (D) knew secrecy was blown as the Germans defenders were obviously wide awake to the 2nd. Flotilla's presence in the fjord. Signal flares were going off the length and breadth of the fjord and even the cackle of light arms echoed from the shore. However visibility remained diabolically short so this was all window dressing to the real events. Captain (D) reasoned that given the cataclysmic destruction of HMS Hotspur and the coldness of the water there seemed little reason to stop and look for survivors. This thought was completely abandoned when three darkened shadows were seen lumbering out of the swirling snow squalls ahead (see bottom left in the photograph below). German destroyers, big ones at that!

For Captain (D) on HMS Hardy this was quite enough and while the initiative lay with him, and the range still permitted it to be carried out unopposed, he ordered the Second Destroyer Flotilla to "Break off Action". HMS Hardy and HMS Hostile executed simultaneous emergency turns and departed whence they came up the fjord (see bottom right in the picture below), using their superior speed and smoke to break off the action. The Von Roeder thanked its lucky stars, although wrecked as a fighting unit, it was still afloat and under its own power (just).

Over on  the other side of the fjord HMS Havoc had remained on guard station covering the heavily damaged HMS Hunter's tactical withdrawal. It too sighted an equally sinister silhouette of yet another German large destroyer approaching. Discretion being the better part of valour, HMS Havoc used her superior speed to break contact, then made a tortuous extradition covering HMS Hunter struggle out of the fjord under half power. However as the Kriegsmarine were content to put on a defensive show of strength, assisting the damaged Von Roeder back into Narvik and searching the wreckage of HMS Hotspur for survivors. None being found.


A tactical German success (win). RN: losses being 1 destroyer SUNK and 1 HEAVILY DAMAGED, while the KM: had 1 destroyer CRIPPLED, barely afloat but incapable of making the return journey to Germany as planned. It would have to remain as a Narvik harbour defense ship and await developments. The bulk of her crew would probably be used as infantry as Narvik had no repair facilities to speak of.

Strategically it is still "To Be Decided" as the RN would be back to fight another battle bringing heavier assets to bear. The prize of a clutch of German destroyers would be too tempting and tantalising for Winston as the First Sea Lord to miss and his badgering the Admiralty for another go would continue. It's a question of whether the German player Von (J) wishes the KM to fuel up and attempt break out or wait to sit it out in defensive mode. I eagerly await his decision.   

Was it a Good Game? It certainly was a quick filler that did the job on the night, though you had to be of a certain nautical mind set to let the game flow. You either like the abstraction in GQ2 or hate it and I find that as a player that can (nay, usually) depend on the dice you throw.

After the Battle Considerations:

Alert Status of Kriegsmarine: This was far greater than historical so to give both sides an even matched scenario. Firstly in the ability of the German destroyers to move once alerted to the British presence, this allowed a stronger response to be organised far quicker than the historical event. Having said that I halved the total number of German destroyers available from ten to five to compensate somewhat for this and represent the refueling activities taking place. I was still happy with the overall scenario balance given that this was a reconnaissance in force, effectively a "meeting engagement".

Magnetic North: German torpedoes experienced repeated failures due to the magnetic pistons malfunctioning due to the unusual geology (rich in ferrous iron-are) affecting their behaviour and poor quality control factors in construction and design principles. Heads literally rolled in scientific departments after this fiasco was investigated. This I effectively ignored, so the crew of HMS Hotspur should bear me a hard grudge. Having said that, eight torpedoes, two hits, both registered as SUNK. I'll say that's enough of a convincing statistical outcome to say it could have happened.  

Scale: I would be tempted to run The Second Battle of Narvik (if it ever happens) using cm instead of inches, particularly as HMS Warspite and/or a cruiser may be involved (that should upset or influence Von (J)'s decision if he is reading this). If truth be told I am slightly annoyed I didn't use the cm scale for the first battle.

Hidden movement and Solo Game Potential: Once the models were in the table the "Fog of War" was hard to maintain without sending players out of the room, something I am not (or no longer) keen to do. Replay value methinks would be with a more complicated solo game or a RN 'team' exploring the fjord and its side channels and reacting to random events.

Any constructive thoughts or comments appreciated ;)

1 comment:

Paul said...

Great Post. Something a little different always makes for interesting reading.