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Subject: Red Sun Rising AAR/review--don't prod a sleeping bear rss

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Paul Hederer
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Gaming friend Peter and I decided to give SPI's Red Sun Rising a go. I originally bought game when it was first published and played it a few times solo and against a school friend many years ago. I lost the game when our shed flooded in Arizona (I still have the wrinkled rules book) and I bought the game again last year.

There are about 16 pages of rules, plus extensive historical background and players notes. The rules are easy to follow and clearly written--we used some errata and also Q & A session from S & T.

The components are typical SPI late 70's--functional and reasonably attractive. There are double-sized ship counters with silhouettes, while the ground units use typical nato units designators. The map is hexagoned terrain, simple and functional.

The game starts off with a Japanese torpedo attack on the Russian fleet in port Arthur--the primary Russian bastion in this part of their empire. In our case the results were nil.

On the fist game turn the Russian Army remained inactive due to failure to activate any leaders, and the Japanese player departed a bit from history and landed his main force near Port Arthur and managed to cut the rail line. This had some unforeseen circumstances as the rather inept Russian admiral in command of the Port Arthur fleet was due to be replaced by the dynamic and able Makarov on game turn two, but (according to the errata) Makarov was unable to travel to Port Arthur with the rail line cut--this was a big blow to any Russian chance to sortie with their fleet and stand any chance of success. After some discussion we decided that Makarov returned to St. Petersburg and took over the Baltic fleet and will arrive with them in about a year (!)

On the flip side the Japanese were very unlucky and lost two battleships from their fleet blockading Port Arthur, so there were lamentations to be had by all.

First impressions of playing after 30 years is I still like this game and the situation it presents both players. It's a bit of a chess game in that both players have to map out their strategy far in advance, and failure to follow through or making a bad decision will usually cost them the game--more so for the Japanese than the Russians though. It's a game that has to be taken with patience--for example my entire army failing to activate the first turn--it's just the way it is (and was historically.) I think the designer did a good job of showing the inertia that characterized the Russian reaction.

It'll be interesting to see how the game develops with the main Japanese landing taking place and cutting the rail line to Port Artur so quickly. Also not having Makarov take over fleet at Port Arthur throws an interesting wrench in the works.

Paul

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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
hedererp wrote:

Gaming friend Peter and I decided to give SPI's Red Sun Rising a go. I originally bought game when it was first published and played it a few times solo and against a school friend many years ago. I lost the game when our shed flooded in Arizona (I still have the wrinkled rules book) and I bought the game again last year.

There are about 16 pages of rules, plus extensive historical background and players notes. The rules are easy to follow and clearly written--we used some errata and also Q & A session from S & T.

The components are typical SPI late 70's--functional and reasonably attractive. There are double-sized ship counters with silhouettes, while the ground units use typical nato units designators. The map is hexagoned terrain, simple and functional.

The game starts off with a Japanese torpedo attack on the Russian fleet in port Arthur--the primary Russian bastion in this part of their empire. In our case the results were nil.

On the fist game turn the Russian Army remained inactive due to failure to activate any leaders, and the Japanese player departed a bit from history and landed his main force near Port Arthur and managed to cut the rail line. This had some unforeseen circumstances as the rather inept Russian admiral in command of the Port Arthur fleet was due to be replaced by the dynamic and able Makarov on game turn two, but (according to the errata) Makarov was unable to travel to Port Arthur with the rail line cut--this was a big blow to any Russian chance to sortie with their fleet and stand any chance of success. After some discussion we decided that Makarov returned to St. Petersburg and took over the Baltic fleet and will arrive with them in about a year (!)

On the flip side the Japanese were very unlucky and lost two battleships from their fleet blockading Port Arthur, so there were lamentations to be had by all.

First impressions of playing after 30 years is I still like this game and the situation it presents both players. It's a bit of a chess game in that both players have to map out their strategy far in advance, and failure to follow through or making a bad decision will usually cost them the game--more so for the Japanese than the Russians though. It's a game that has to be taken with patience--for example my entire army failing to activate the first turn--it's just the way it is (and was historically.) I think the designer did a good job of showing the inertia that characterized the Russian reaction.

It'll be interesting to see how the game develops with the main Japanese landing taking place and cutting the rail line to Port Artur so quickly. Also not having Makarov take over fleet at Port Arthur throws an interesting wrench in the works.

Paul



I look forward to seeing how this develops. JP tactic of cutting Russian supply is an important tactic.

Mark
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. We are looking forward to the continuation of the game. I agree that cutting the rail line so early was a very good move (and an essential one.) It's cut off Port Arthur, and unless I can free it back up the fortress will be in dire straights. I think it may give me some potential to block him into the peninsula if I can build up a strong position to the north.

A question--something I want to make sure we have correct about raiding.

So--if a Japanese fleet is on blockade it must have a supporting merchant fleet. The merchant fleet cannot move in the first impulse (as per the rule.) If the Russian activates a fleet in either Vladivostok or Port Arthur doesn't any Japanese fleet blockading automatically lose its merchant fleet due to the timing of the raiding sequence? Is this intentional?

[7.2] RAIDING IMPULSE
If a Russian at-Sea fleet occupies a hex on the Strategic Naval Map containing at least one Japanese merchant fleet, one Japanese merchant fleet is eliminated from the hex. The presence of a Japanese fleet in the hex has no effect on this situation.


Paul
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
hedererp wrote:
Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. We are looking forward to the continuation of the game. I agree that cutting the rail line so early was a very good move (and an essential one.) It's cut off Port Arthur, and unless I can free it back up the fortress will be in dire straights. I think it may give me some potential to block him into the peninsula if I can build up a strong position to the north.

A question--something I want to make sure we have correct about raiding.

So--if a Japanese fleet is on blockade it must have a supporting merchant fleet. The merchant fleet cannot move in the first impulse (as per the rule.) If the Russian activates a fleet in either Vladivostok or Port Arthur doesn't any Japanese fleet blockading automatically lose its merchant fleet due to the timing of the raiding sequence? Is this intentional?

[7.2] RAIDING IMPULSE
If a Russian at-Sea fleet occupies a hex on the Strategic Naval Map containing at least one Japanese merchant fleet, one Japanese merchant fleet is eliminated from the hex. The presence of a Japanese fleet in the hex has no effect on this situation.


Paul


I did this game in a universe far far away and a long time ago. But that looks right. Basically, this encourages the Russian fleet to sortie to break the blockade, actually disrupts the blockade, but does cause a naval battle. There should be one or two of these per game if memory serves.

Mark
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
MarkHerman wrote:
hedererp wrote:
Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. We are looking forward to the continuation of the game. I agree that cutting the rail line so early was a very good move (and an essential one.) It's cut off Port Arthur, and unless I can free it back up the fortress will be in dire straights. I think it may give me some potential to block him into the peninsula if I can build up a strong position to the north.

A question--something I want to make sure we have correct about raiding.

So--if a Japanese fleet is on blockade it must have a supporting merchant fleet. The merchant fleet cannot move in the first impulse (as per the rule.) If the Russian activates a fleet in either Vladivostok or Port Arthur doesn't any Japanese fleet blockading automatically lose its merchant fleet due to the timing of the raiding sequence? Is this intentional?

[7.2] RAIDING IMPULSE
If a Russian at-Sea fleet occupies a hex on the Strategic Naval Map containing at least one Japanese merchant fleet, one Japanese merchant fleet is eliminated from the hex. The presence of a Japanese fleet in the hex has no effect on this situation.


Paul


I did this game in a universe far far away and a long time ago. But that looks right. Basically, this encourages the Russian fleet to sortie to break the blockade, actually disrupts the blockade, but does cause a naval battle. There should be one or two of these per game if memory serves.

Mark


Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to answer. Unfortunately, without Makarov (and with the inept Stark in command) I'm wondering about the utility of a Russian sortie--other than as you stated, to eliminate a merchant fleet. Perhaps strip the ships, build naval brigades for Port Arthur and then attempt a sortie with a bad admiral and weakened ships.

Paul
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
Well,

in the second turn the Japanese had to disable three more big ship steps because of the blockade of Port Arthur. Nothing happens on the LandFront.

Third Turn: No activation for the Russians, which are building up a fortified position at Liauyoang. The Japanese landed troops at Chemulpo and near Antung, but couldn't activate these. In Front of Port Arthur the Japanese performed their first storm-attack, loosing 4 steps against only one of the russians.

On Turn Four Admiral von Essen comes out of Vladivostok. He tried to raid the Japanese Merchant Fleet transporting troops. 2nd Japanese Fleet becomes not aware of this move, but the 1st Fleet sails away from Port Arthur and catches the Russian Cruiser Squadron at the Street of Tsushima. Three Cruisers are sunk, one disabled, as was the Destroyer Flottila. With Von Essen dead the surviving, but disabled Russian Cruiser has been able to run away - crazy rule: a disabled ship can run away from a fully fledged battle fleet. Land combat waits for the next session.

Peter
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear


In retrospect the sortie by von Essen was a mistake. With the rail line cut to Port Arthur I should have waited until I could sortie with both fleets and moved the main fleet to Vladivostok. I lost three cruisers for nothing. Not getting Makarov to command the main fleet is a game changer.

Paul
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
hedererp wrote:
Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. We are looking forward to the continuation of the game. I agree that cutting the rail line so early was a very good move (and an essential one.) It's cut off Port Arthur, and unless I can free it back up the fortress will be in dire straights. I think it may give me some potential to block him into the peninsula if I can build up a strong position to the north.

A question--something I want to make sure we have correct about raiding.

So--if a Japanese fleet is on blockade it must have a supporting merchant fleet. The merchant fleet cannot move in the first impulse (as per the rule.) If the Russian activates a fleet in either Vladivostok or Port Arthur doesn't any Japanese fleet blockading automatically lose its merchant fleet due to the timing of the raiding sequence? Is this intentional?

[7.2] RAIDING IMPULSE
If a Russian at-Sea fleet occupies a hex on the Strategic Naval Map containing at least one Japanese merchant fleet, one Japanese merchant fleet is eliminated from the hex. The presence of a Japanese fleet in the hex has no effect on this situation.


Paul


Hi Mark,

We actually found there is no loophole here--according to the rules, if two fleets occupy the same strategic hex and are located in a port hex then there is the option for a search phase before the raiding phase---in other words a Russian fleet coming out of port Arthur can be intercepted by the blockading Japanese fleet (if it activates) before it can raid the supporting Japanese merchant fleet.

Paul
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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear
Turn 6 Juli 1904. The japanese generals had firmly refused to become active again the last three turns, so nothing happens on the land for three months. The russians had been able to eliminate a lone japanese division, which had tried to block the road between Mukden and Port Arthur.

Now there is a great seabattle at Port Arthur, as the russian Fleet had been intercepted by the japanese Fleet. Losses so far are 2 japanese battleships and 1 russian battleship and 2 armoured cruisers. The russian Battleship has been the flagship and the admiral died. Now its time to think about Torpedoattacks, as the weather had been improved from Storm to Clear. No chance to make a hit in stormy weather. Next Session at next week propably.

Things for me to learn. The japanese must have some merchant fleets left to transport units, what means do not move too much units (less siege artillery) to Korea etc as that needs merchant fleets to supply them. The range in naval fight must be carefully choosen due to the implementation of modifiers to the die roll.

The very first combat round after sighting each other is done at maximum sighting range. Modifications to that are only possible at the second round. That means, a fleet without an admiral can be followed by the other, and even it is able to open range by 6 fields, that can only happen during the 2nd combat round - if the fleets sight each other. That is a leitle bit unclear within the rules.

A good game, that shows some of the difficulties the armies - and fleets - at that time has had to manage.

Peter




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Re: Red Sun Rising AAR/review Part 1--don't prod a sleeping bear

And the war continues...

The sortie of Admiral Stark and the Port Arthur fleet has ended in the death of the admiral and the sinking of the Russian flagship. Following the death of their leader the Russian fleet scurries back to harbor pursued by the Japanese. Things are not all one sided though, and the Russian manage to sink the old battleship Fuso and one other Japanese capital ship that remains unidentified.

On land the Japanese Army is paralyzed by inactivity and is letting the summer campaign season slip away. The guns outside of Port Arthur remain silent. To the north Russian reinforcements continue to arrive at the heavily entrenched positions around Liaoyang. The Russians have reinforced a blocking corps to the south, near Kaiping.

In game terms the Japanese must take another city in the next two months or the sudden-death conditions will be triggered, ending the game.

Peter and I had a long discussion about the situation. "Red Sun Rising" is definitely a chess game. Moves and strategies need to be thought out long in advance and then pursued with determination and some degree of caution. For the Japanese this is especially true--the Russian can afford to be passive, at least initially.

The naval game though simple is entertaining and causes some tension. The land game has mostly been a "non-game" so far. The Japanese leaders not activating has been critical. Without activated leaders the subordinate units are frozen.

As we've both written, we've enjoyed this game and we both feel we've learned about the situation facing both countries. There has been enough action to keep the game entertaining, with two sorties by the Russian fleets in Port Arthur and Vladivostok.

Paul
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Our first game ended with a Japanese defeat at the end of the summer 1904 campaign season. This was triggered by the sudden-death rules on capturing cities. The inactivity of the Japanese leaders (failed activation die rolls) led to their failure to capture the critical Port Arthur.

Overall we enjoyed the game very much, and we both learned a lot. Actually, we liked it so much we're going to start another game in a few weeks.

I think this is a game that has really withstood the test of time.
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hedererp wrote:
Our first game ended with a Japanese defeat at the end of the summer 1904 campaign season. This was triggered by the sudden-death rules on capturing cities. The inactivity of the Japanese leaders (failed activation die rolls) led to their failure to capture the critical Port Arthur.

Overall we enjoyed the game very much, and we both learned a lot. Actually, we liked it so much we're going to start another game in a few weeks.

I think this is a game that has really withstood the test of time.


I appreciate you pulling this 'old school' design out and reintroducing it to the tribe.

All the best,

Mark
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Quote:
I appreciate you pulling this 'old school' design out and reintroducing it to the tribe.

All the best,

Mark


Mark,

It was a pleasure. Looking forward to the rematch in a few weeks!

Paul
 
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Yesterday we start again. This time the russians had taken the opportunity to went into Dalny before the japanes are able to get into it.

The winter and spring has lead to another disastrous game for the japanese. Their General has answered just one time out of 5 the call to move, the blockade fleet doing its duty before Port Arthur has lost 2 Battleships with two more disabled.

The russians have fortified their positions in front of Port Arthur and at Kaiping and Liaoyang. In July 1904 the russian Fleet sorties out of Port Arthur and in the ensuing Battle sank another two japanese Battleships and disabled almost all of the Rest. The Japanese just survived by sinking the russian Flagship and by that killling Makarov, forcing the russians to retreat to Port Arthur. The russians lost 2 battleships and 1 cruiser, but most of their other ships are unharmed.

A japanese attack against fortified units in Front of Liaoyang just causes losses on both sides, but no terrain was gained.

In August 1904 the Vladivostok-Squadron comes out and was followed by the japanese 2nd Fleet, but this doesn't manage to catch them. That was done by the 1st Fleet, and by sinking the Flagship - and another cruiser - using artillery and Torpedoes, the russian admiral here was killed too. The Vladivostok-Squadron is now on its way to Port Arthur - the nearest Port - followed by the japanese Fleet.

The japanese prospects are not that bright, as their Fleet is in desperate need of a massive overhaul. The Landforce should now be more active, but the weakened japanese Fleet is stressed to shelter the supplying merchant fleets.

That the course of the war depends almost on one or two dice rolls - the activation of the japanese generality - is a little bit frustrating. In the past and in this Game i have had a lot of Turns where nothing happens because the japanese wouldn't activate. So in the end it comes out to a desperate attack against anything in reach to fulfill the conditions to take cities.
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As Peter wrote we've started another game--action packed naval combat this time.

I don't see things quite so black for the Japanese, as the Russian I am much more neutral on the situation in summer 1904.

It's true the Port Arthur Fleet did maul the Japanese in the first rounds of combat, but the untimely death of Makarov left the still dangerous Russian fleet leaderless and sitting listlessly in Port Arthur. The attempt of the Vladivostok fleet to break out and join them almost succeeded, but ended in the death of the only other competent Russian admiral, von Essen.

I think the Japanese still have a chance to capture Liaoyang. The Russian commander in chief, Kuropatkin, managed to throw out a strong corps just in time to block the Japanese advance, but it was severely mauled in the latest fighting.

I've enjoyed this game immensely. Peter is playing a fine game.

A few observations:

The admiral casualty rules need some modifying. The Russian admiral has been killed every time we've had a sea battle. I think the location of the admiral should be concealed to keep the enemy from simply making it a matter concentrating heavy fire on the known flagship.

The land activation die-roll rule I think should be modified too as has been suggested by others--if a leader fails to activate units can move 1/2 their allowance. Peter stormed up to the Yalu, then sat for three months of good weather simply due to unlucky rolls--I don't think this simulates well the occasional or temporary paralysis that hit both sides.

Paul

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hedererp wrote:
The admiral casualty rules need some modifying. The Russian admiral has been killed every time we've had a sea battle. I think the location of the admiral should be concealed to keep the enemy from simply making it a matter concentrating heavy fire on the known flagship.

They're called flagships for a reason: they fly the admiral's flag. Anybody who can see the fleet can tell which ship is flying the flag. Even if those flags were not used, you could still tell which ship is telling the others what to do via flags or lights, as long as you are close enough to see.
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tms2 wrote:
hedererp wrote:
The admiral casualty rules need some modifying. The Russian admiral has been killed every time we've had a sea battle. I think the location of the admiral should be concealed to keep the enemy from simply making it a matter concentrating heavy fire on the known flagship.

They're called flagships for a reason: they fly the admiral's flag. Anybody who can see the fleet can tell which ship is flying the flag. Even if those flags were not used, you could still tell which ship is telling the others what to do via flags or lights, as long as you are close enough to see.



Yep, I'll concede that point Mike.

I guess I need to rephrase my criticism more carefully. Let's say the flagship is identifiable, and fire is concentrated on it and the admiral is killed. I would like to see a provision that another officer can try to take control of the fleet. This situation almost occurred during the August 1904 action when Admiral Vitgeft was killed. Vice-Admiral Ukhtomsky tried to take over command, but failed when most ships did not see his signals.

What Peter and I both observed and wondered about was the still powerful (and arguably holding its own) Russian Fleet hightailing it back to port every time its Admiral is killed. What of the vice-admirals or the division commanders? Maybe a "hand-off" die roll where the fleet that looses its admiral can attempt to continue the fight with a designated replacement?

In game terms I think this could be argued as well. One of the best Russian Admirals, von Essen, usually spends the game with the small Vladivostok squadron. He actually was on the battleship Sevastopol (Port Arthur) serving under Vitgeft's overall command when Vitgeft was killed.

Just some thoughts.
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hedererp wrote:
tms2 wrote:
hedererp wrote:
The admiral casualty rules need some modifying. The Russian admiral has been killed every time we've had a sea battle. I think the location of the admiral should be concealed to keep the enemy from simply making it a matter concentrating heavy fire on the known flagship.

They're called flagships for a reason: they fly the admiral's flag. Anybody who can see the fleet can tell which ship is flying the flag. Even if those flags were not used, you could still tell which ship is telling the others what to do via flags or lights, as long as you are close enough to see.



Yep, I'll concede that point Mike.

I guess I need to rephrase my criticism more carefully. Let's say the flagship is identifiable, and fire is concentrated on it and the admiral is killed. I would like to see a provision that another officer can try to take control of the fleet. This situation almost occurred during the August 1904 action when Admiral Vitgeft was killed. Vice-Admiral Ukhtomsky tried to take over command, but failed when most ships did not see his signals.

What Peter and I both observed and wondered about was the still powerful (and arguably holding its own) Russian Fleet hightailing it back to port every time its Admiral is killed. What of the vice-admirals or the division commanders? Maybe a "hand-off" die roll where the fleet that looses its admiral can attempt to continue the fight with a designated replacement?

In game terms I think this could be argued as well. One of the best Russian Admirals, von Essen, usually spends the game with the small Vladivostok squadron. He actually was on the battleship Sevastopol (Port Arthur) serving under Vitgeft's overall command when Vitgeft was killed.

Just some thoughts.


This is based on what happened historically when the flagship hit a mine and sank. I would just ignore this rule and see what happens.

Mark
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hedererp wrote:
I guess I need to rephrase my criticism more carefully. Let's say the flagship is identifiable, and fire is concentrated on it and the admiral is killed. I would like to see a provision that another officer can try to take control of the fleet. This situation almost occurred during the August 1904 action when Admiral Vitgeft was killed. Vice-Admiral Ukhtomsky tried to take over command, but failed when most ships did not see his signals.

I think there are two root causes of the problem: First, admirals are not always killed when their flagships sink. This is easy to fix, and a fix to this might solve the whole problem. Second, I don't think everybody-shoot-at-the-flag tactic is historically reasonable. In real life, the payoff from sinking the flagship is not as drastic as it is in the game. I'm also not sure how reasonable it is to concentrate a lot of fire at a single ship. Making the admiral's death uncertain would take care of the first issue, and having a penalty for multiple ships shooting at the same target might take care of the other (I don't remember whether the game has such a rule already).

Quote:
What Peter and I both observed and wondered about was the still powerful (and arguably holding its own) Russian Fleet hightailing it back to port every time its Admiral is killed. What of the vice-admirals or the division commanders? Maybe a "hand-off" die roll where the fleet that looses its admiral can attempt to continue the fight with a designated replacement?

Admirals have transferred their flags to another ship both before and after 1905, and likewise deputies have taken over when the leader was lost, so the rule you propose makes sense. I would be concerned, though, about making the Russians better than they were in reality. Perhaps some limits should be placed on what the replacement admiral can do.

Perhaps a look at GDW's Tsushima, or any other RJW games there might be, might give some ideas.
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Making the admiral's death uncertain would take care of the first issue, and having a penalty for multiple ships shooting at the same target might take care of the other (I don't remember whether the game has such a rule already).


Mike,

I took a look at GDW's The Russo-Japanese War and the Tsushima component. There is a combat penalty for concentrating fire. There is also a review soundly criticizing this rule specifically as "infantile"

The review also makes a point that concentrating fire and on the flagship is (in the reviewers opinion) realistic:

"Togo waited until within 6,000 yards and then his ships *concentrated their fire* (my emphasis) on the flagships of the two leading divisions, the Souvaroff and the Osslyablia."

I have read on the other hand that multiple ship firing on one target tended to obscure the target making it more difficult. During the naval engagement I mentioned in my post above there was definitively concentrations of fire on certain ships and the account specifically mentions some ships firing away unmolested by enemy fire too.

In the GDW game the player gets to decide on "flight." A division may not flee if its flagship is damaged, and must do so independently. There are no naval leaders of admirals in the game.

Unfortunately, naval combat is not a forte of mine. I'm very interested in the RJW, but beyond that I know next to nothing about it. The the various games on the subject seem contradictory.
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Paul Hederer
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This is based on what happened historically when the flagship hit a mine and sank. I would just ignore this rule and see what happens.

Mark


Mark,

We'll take a look at it.

It's been a heck of a game so far naval-wise. The Japanese fleet suffered some very bad luck during their blockade, and this prompted a sortie by the Russian PA fleet that left Makarov dead, but the Japanese fleet severely mauled. The Vladivostok fleet was crushed during its breakout attempt, and its remnants are currently trying to flee to PA (good luck with that). I suspect we'll see another sortie by the PA fleet under an anonymous "incompetent." Hmm-actually, I think Stark re-enters the game in this case.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting. This is the most naval action I've seen in this game.
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Paul Hederer
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A couple of quick snaps I made with my phone when we were playing--quality is average, sorry for that:

The two battle lines after the Russian fire combat. Hits are marked with trench markers--good shooting by the Russians:





A shot after the Japanese fire, and quite smartly they did it too---a slightly different picture. More than a few holes in the Russian battle line, including the Russian flagship, which prompts the fleet to flee to Port Arthur. Note the number of damaged Japanese ships.



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Michael Sommers
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Making the admiral's death uncertain would take care of the first issue, and having a penalty for multiple ships shooting at the same target might take care of the other (I don't remember whether the game has such a rule already).

Mike,

I took a look at GDW's The Russo-Japanese War and the Tsushima component. There is a combat penalty for concentrating fire. There is also a review soundly criticizing this rule specifically as "infantile"

I am wary of that review. He makes some valid points, but he also says some things that are just plain wrong.

Quote:
The review also makes a point that concentrating fire and on the flagship is (in the reviewers opinion) realistic:

"Togo waited until within 6,000 yards and then his ships *concentrated their fire* (my emphasis) on the flagships of the two leading divisions, the Souvaroff and the Osslyablia."

On the flagships, or the leading ships? In this battle they were one and the same, but that was not necessarily the case.

Quote:
I have read on the other hand that multiple ship firing on one target tended to obscure the target making it more difficult. During the naval engagement I mentioned in my post above there was definitively concentrations of fire on certain ships and the account specifically mentions some ships firing away unmolested by enemy fire too.

That's my understanding, too, but unfortunately, I don't know enough detail about gunnery and tactics in that era to really know if this applied then. And not being shot at would probably improve the shooting of any ship, so maybe you should get a bonus if you are not getting shot at.

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Unfortunately, naval combat is not a forte of mine. I'm very interested in the RJW, but beyond that I know next to nothing about it. The the various games on the subject seem contradictory.

Ditto.
 
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A short search shows that in the battles between 1866 (Lissa) and 1915 (Doggerbank) the leading ships has been the Flagship everytime. Thats seems to be logical, as at that times due to the signalements using Flags are not that sure as nowadays with cellphones. The heavy smoke of the steamships, possible destructions of the flaglines due to enemy action and other things could make the signals invisible to all or some other ships, so in that case the standard order has been "follow the leader". So the logical point of the Admirals ship is the leading ship of the line. To concentrate fire on that ship isn't to kill the Admiral, rather to bring disorder into the enemy battleline, i would think.

If the Admiral got killed or his ship went into troubles, difficulties arose almost at once. Subordinated Admirals of that times are very hesistant to use its own mind for doing something, rather stays directly on the lines of the orders they have received before the battle to avoid any problems after the battle. So there has been some problems with the russian Admiral Njebogatev to take over the command after the russian flagship Suvorov has been badly damaged and there has been no orders from it for a long time. He was not really sure that Rozdjestvenski, the commanding russian admiral, was unable to lead, and as he has got no direct order to take over, he just follows his leader ship.

So if the commanding admiral isn't able to lead, than almost unevitable the battleline will come into disorder, at least for a while.

Shooting: if two ships or more concentrate their fire on one target, there is always a problem to recognize which shooting belongs to which ship. Otherwise, if one ship is not shoot at, it's targeting is more easily to be done. It depends on the orders of the admiral before the battle - of course also during it - which fire-deployment is choosen. The game-rule that its only allowed to fire at units one slot up to one slot down is a good way to restrict the deployment, as i think.

In this game the sea-battles in its tactical way has to been abstracted. Otherwise you can resolve sea-battles using the Tsushima-, AH's Jutland- or Task Force's Salvo-Game. So you have a game withing the Game.

There are always possibilities for house-rules. Example: if the flagship is sunk, there is for some time no possibility to change anything within the battleline. A die roll is necessary to check if the admiral survives and which time will pass until he boards another ship. But to check out if this houserules work you have to play the game more often than you usually do. There are too much games to play to stay on something for a time very long.

This Game depends on too less dice rolls, i think. During the blockade of Port Arthur in both games played until now i have lost 2 battleships, and one time even disabled 2 more. That means, as soon as the russian fleet comes out of Port Arthur the japanese will almost surely been beaten, being weaker in battleships than the russians - which can just have one ships damaged going through the minefields - and its commanding admiral has a higher rating than the japanese one because of the japanese losses. So just 4 dicerolls decide the course of the naval war.

If the Naval War is succesfull for the japanese you get the other problem of activating the japanese lone (until Turn 6) HQ on the Peninsula. That is just one roll every month. As it happens, to fail this constantly the game is over on Turn 8, as on that Turn the japanese have to take the seond city besides Seoul.

Peter
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Mark Herman
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Excellent points
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