Sunday, January 2, 2011

WWII - Naval Thunder

This afternoon four of us gathered to try out my new copy of "Naval Thunder - Battleship Row."  I had bought these for myself with birthday money along with the supplement "Bitter Rivals," the WWI edition "Clash of Dreadnaughts" and the Russo-Japanese War supplement "Rise of the Battleship."  I had played these a couple of times at conventions (see earlier RockCon post) and believe they reach a good balance between quick playability and detail.  I would put them ahead of General Quarters III for detail and enjoyability but well below the complexity of Command at Sea or (shudder) Seekrieg V.  For the record I love detail and complexity but there are practical limits.

Anyway, we started with the Battle of the River Platte with the "pocket battleship" Graf Spee against the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the twin light cruisers HMS Ajax and Achilles.  We followed the historic deployment but took our own approach from there.  The Exeter closed early while the lights were still out of effective range and paid for it.  Still, first honors went to the Exeter when she put one of the Graf Spee's two 11" gun turrets out of action. 

The Achilles (left) and Ajax (right) have split to divide the fire of the Graf Spee.  The Exeter (distant center) is in a world of hurt and the Graf Spee (in front of the Dew) needs to get past them.  As the Exeter took a major flooding hit she turned away making smoke to try and get it under control, but alas she succumbed to the flooding and sank.

Here we have the Graf Spee fully cut off and soon she lost her big bite completely as the other 11" gun turret was knocked out.  Her 5.9" guns still packed a punch against light cruisers and the Ajax went down about the same time as the Graf Spee.  By the scenario that made the game a draw.  All action plus a run through the play aid sheet meant this game lasted an hour and a half.

Next we went to the "hunt the Bismark" game and had the battlecruiser Hood and mostly completed battleship Prince of Wales against the Bismark and heavy cruiser escort Prinz Eugen.  The game featured a lot of maneuvering as the Prinz Eugen sacrificed herself by making smoke to screen the Bismark from one of the British capital ships each turn.  Here she takes a hit 'midships from the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales was incomplete and so any time she fired her main battery there was a 1 in10 chance that the turret would break down temporarily.  This tended to reduce her firepower every turn since she got to roll 10 attack dice for the main battery.

Critical hits were in an abundance and the Hood garnered most of the German attention (as always) but she never accommodated the Germans by blowing up.  While many rule systems make it likely to happen, in Naval Thunder this is just the regular chance of a magazine explosion on the critical hit table.  In reality the Hood was simply very unlucky in the historic action.

With both the Hood and Bismark having main gun turrets out of action and the Prince of Wales breaking down on a regular basis, the action got up close and ugly and each tried to get lucky first.  In the end the Bismark went down after two torpedo hits from the Hood(!) and the Prince of Wales just survived.  A much different outcome from the actual, but not at all unreasonable.  We finished this action in two hours for another speedy result.  I expect my substantial holdings of 1/2400 naval miniatures will be getting more action in the future.

As always Bob, Todd and new guy Craig exhibited gracious behavior at the table that makes the gaming so much fun.  Till next week!


  1. Welcome to the fold, Jim. I've posted a link to this report on the Naval Thunder Forum:

    Why don't you post your battle accounts there as well?

    -- Jeff

  2. Love to see you share your writeups on our AAR board over at the Steel Dreadnought Games forums!

    Great pics and sounds like a fun game!

    I agree that Hood was just unlucky, but have found that more often than not she does blow up in that scenario just from penetrations by Bismarck.

  3. Great action reports, thanks for sharing!

  4. Liked your AAR. I just picked these up along with the supplement at Christmas. I want to try them out with my 1/2400 and 1/700 scale ships. You should post about your experiences with the rules at the Steel Dreadnought Games forum too.



  5. Mr. Mathews,

    I inadvertently misidentified you as someone with a similar blog. Please accept my apology. I did very much enjoy your post, sir.

    If you are unfamiliar with the Naval Thunder forum, please do visit.

    -- Jeff

  6. No worries. I just signed up yesterday at the Naval Thunder site. Haven't explored much yet.

  7. Nice AARs! Nice to see that Hood's rather unfortunate end was not repeated on your table. Please share any future engagements. Welcome to Naval Thunder!

  8. Glad to have you jion us on the forum.