Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Straits as we took it to the show (Battleground 2017 - Part 1)

I have to confess that I got a huge buzz from Battleground 2017 (Stockton, UK) today as for the first time I was involved in a demonstration game (The Battle of the Denmark Straits 1941). Normally when I go to a Wargames Convention I spend most of my time circulating around the traders and "Bring and Buy" looking for essential purchases and bargains, trying desperately to stick to a "budget". My conversations with other wargamers are very restricted to comments to other shoppers and the 'talkative' stall owners. I scan the demonstration games (huge battlefields crammed with excellently painted figures ranging from 28mm to 6mm), consume the vista and move on. I have never as yet really participated in any of the participation games being more keen to move onto the essential shopping and get back to the family before it is too late. This year was different as I had babysitters (although my kids are now not babies) arranged and a full afternoon pass (the wife was also away enjoying herself on a University reunion).

So I spent a whole afternoon "virtually" in the Denmark Straits or talking about the battle and other other naval stories. I was amazed by the level of detail other people had on the subject and also some fascinating anecdotes and personal connections (in particular with HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales). After we set the game up I was called upon to start the General Quarters II (GQII) demonstration. To help me I had two young admirals rolling the dice. We'll call them "P" for the RN and "A" for the KM. The forces were placed on the table (see below, the Germans on the 1/3000 plot approaching at bearing 300 degrees to North):

We also had a 1/1200 representation of the local tactical arrangement, whereby most of the markers would be placed to keep the 1/3000 plot clear of unnecessary 'clutter' (see below, KM Prince Eugen leading the KM Bismarck):

Admiral "P" leads the RN in on their historical 220 degrees to North bearing (see below, both sides have pink "Post-It" notes close to the respective ships with their GQII characteristics on so damage can be easily marked off. Also note the small flag denoting nationality):

Standing back and the table area revealed the 1/3000 'battle area' (middle), the top section of the table with a laptop running various videos and also 1941 facsimile documents [something I discovered in a "remnants shop" one day while I was mooching] and the "messy bottom" area with the GQII rules and also the two 1/1200 tactical areas (see below, you can just see the 1/1200 model of HMS Hood bottom right):

History was immediately rewritten as RN Admiral "P" hit the Prince Eugen with a salvo from HMS Hood (10% chance, don't leave 'dice' in the hands of small children as they can do the impossible) causing a massive two hull box damage and immediate reduction in speed to 6cm. As the KM Prince Eugen slowed and veered away the KM Bismarck passed her and masked her from additional RN shots. It was now a stand up fight between two RN battleships (one old 'The Mighty Hood' and one [too] new the 'PoW') and a KM one at the peak of its efficiency (see below):

The KM held a brief advantage in penetration capability at this long range but the RN battle line was closing fast. The "battle royale" was about to begin!

Next: Let the "big guns" speak!


Matt Crump said...

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to come over and see your game...I was running the Operation Sealion game ....had a good day though ūüėÄ

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Hello Matt,

It's a pity we didn't meet up
But likewise I didn't have time to take in much of the show other than what was on my table and the adjacent Pegasus Bridge Bolt Action and an ACW just behind our tale. I didn't realise how much time you stay at the table, but it was immense fun. I would have really liked to see your Sea Lion game as I am an early war 1940's buff.

Best Wishes