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Subject: Beatty's Demise in The Run to the South rss

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Jeff S
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On Sunday I had the chance to play Line of Battle for the first time. Dan and I had set up The Run to the South scenario depicting the intial meeting of battlecruisers at the battle of Jutland.

I as the Germans, I had Admiral Hipper's 5 battlecruisers Lutzow, Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke, and Von der Tann plus escorting light cruisers and destroyers. Hippers BCs were heading southeast at start.

Dan as the Brits had Admiral Beatty's battlecruisers Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary Tiger, Indefatigable, and New Zealand. In addition, at a distance he had the 4 battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron: Barham, Valiant, Warspite, and Malaya. The British also had escorting light cruisers and destroyers. The Battlecruisers start in mid turn to the north, while the 5th BS is heading northeast.

The battlecruisers started in sighting range of each other. After the first move, Lion is leading the Brits heading northeast directly for the German line. The Germans turn due south. Meanwhile, a destroyer lays a smoke screen to block any potential fire from the British battleships that are trying to close the range. The range between the battlecruisers is long for the Germans and medium for the Brits. The Germans concentrate on the two lead ships (Lion & Princess Royal). Lutzow and Derfflinger fire on Lion and the others on PR. In the first salvo Lion goes up in a pall of smoke with a lucky shot from Lutzow! The other battlecruisers fail to find the range on Princess Royal. The Lion's brief return fire fails to find the range. Princess Royal finds the range on Derfflinger, but fails to inflict damage.

Meanwhile the 5th Battle Squadron in frustration targets fleeing German destroyers and mauls one unit.

In the next turn, Hipper continues south while Beatty's command turns south as well in hopes of opening the range later on. In the exchange of fire that follows, Princess Royal meets the same fate as Lion! Queen Mary takes a gunnery hit, and New Zealand also takes a fire control hit. The German battlecruisers continue unscathed as the British are still within their medium range and thus in the German immune zone. The British battlships turn to the south east to run to the aid of the battlecruisers but still remain outside sigihting range due to haze. Their wrath is taken out on more hapless German destroyers trying to run away to the east.

The battle of the two BC lines continues with more dire consequences as both Indefatigable and New Zealand becomes victims of the accurate fire from Hipper's line. Queen Mary and Tiger start to receive gunnery hits.
The Germans destroyers try to impose a screen between Hipper and the battleships rushing forward.

As the battle continues, the Germans now turn to close the range by making a turn to line abreast in a southwesterly direction. This move catches the British off guard as now the battleships advancing from the northwest are now in range of the German battlecruiser. The German rear open up on Barham, Valiant and Warspite at long range and inflict 2 gunnery on Barham and Valiant. The Queen Elizabeth class ships find themselves now in medium range and stuck trying to inflict damage against the maximum German armor. The manuevers also close the range on Queen Mary and Tiger, so that now the Germans are at medium range and are unable to finish off the remaining two battlecruisers.

The next couple of turns see both sides stuck in medium range as the 5th Battle Sqd continues to rush southeast to close the range and the Germans withdrawing to keep the range open. The Queen Mary and Tiger are reduced to slow moving wrecks.

Finally, the Germans turn to close the range. They are not completely successful. The lead German ships (Lutzow & Derfflinger) are at medium range while the rear gains close range. Boths sides inflict hits. The British determination to run down Hipper's ships has been hasty though and now two German destroyer groups have been able to gain torpedo range. Torpedoes lash out at the British line and sink the Malaya and Warpsite. Barham is also crippled with 3 flotation hits.

At this point the game is called. A Stunning German victory!

As this was a first game, we rapidly learned a couple of lessons peculiar to this game.

1) Manuevering is extremely important. Each side must strive to gain either long range or short range for its own ships while placing its opponents in medium range. The British ships seemed almost at a disadvantage with their longer range and visibility limted due to haze.

2) Destroyers are EXTREMELY dangerous at torpedo range but otherwise harmless. If properly regarded, an opponent should easily get a mauled result which forces light ships to withdraw. The danger of torpedoes is probably designed for effect to relfect historical fear of torpedo attacks. So noted!

A good game overall and this action took about 3 hours for 8 or so turns at a leisurely pace.
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Edward Kenworthy
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Sounds like a broken system, where BCs outclass BBs.
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Nick Hawkins
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CountBrass wrote:
Sounds like a broken system, where BCs outclass BBs.

I'd tend to agree.
It's important to understand that the immune zone is a ship design concept dating from the interwar period and is not particularly relevant to WW1 era ships. It relates to the prevention of catastrophic damage to propulsion or ammunition storage, it does not mean that the ship is immune to (potentially serious) damage at a particular range.
 
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Elliot Wilen
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Disclaimer: I own the 1st edition and read the rules a while back, but I haven't played the game.

The idea of using immune zones seems like a reasonable abstraction although the way it's implemented does seem to make things a little too deterministic. The benefit of the abstraction is that it represents the interplay of armor vs. horizontal fire and plunging fire, without going into the complexity of games like The Royal Navy or the advanced rules in Bismarck 2e. Incidentally, I've read one account of the Battle of the Denmark Straight (from the time period covered by the sister game, Battleship), which claimed that the immune zone of the Hood against 15" shellfire motivated the tactics used by Admiral Holland.

It seems odd that QE-class ships should fare so poorly--could be there's a problem with the details of the values assigned, or the British player just wasn't playing to his units' advantage.

Going from memory, I think I felt there was also a problem in the immune zones, or rather the gunnery range bands, as defined per-ship. IIRC, depending on the range band, a ship's gunfire is assumed either to be hitting side armor (short range), side or horizontal armor at an oblique angle (medium range), or horizontal armor (long range). But many ships of this period didn't have sufficient gun elevation to fire to a theoretical maximum range and so shouldn't have very large "plunging fire" range bands, if any. When some ships had their gun elevations increased, such as the Renown, the Hood, and three of the QEs, the effect should only have been to widen their long-range bands in game terms, but--again going from memory--all three bands were changed going from Line of Battle to Battleship. To my eyes, this called into question the method used to assign the cutoff points in the first place.

I raised this with Bill Gibbs and Stephen Newberg while the second edition was being developed, but it's not clear to me what they did with my critique.
 
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