Recommend
61 
 Thumb up
 Hide
26 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

:
IJN» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Three Views of Savo Island: A non-critical look at CA, Ironbottom Sound, and IJN rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mark Herman
United States
New York
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars - SpartaMicrobadge: Great Battles of History fanMicrobadge: Churchill fan - I play ChurchillMicrobadge: Fire in the Lake fanMicrobadge: Empire of the Sun fan
I have recently been reading Neptune’s Inferno, which is the latest in a very long line of histories I have studied on the naval actions in Ironbottom Sound during the Guadalcanal campaign. As I often do I like to play one of my favorite games on a topic when I am reading as I find it makes for a more nuanced read when accompanied by a wargame. For this purpose I reached for my old standby, CA (SPI), but sitting right nearby were my copies of IJN (SimCan) and Iron Bottom Sound (MiH, hereafter IBS). It occurred to me that it would be fun to set up all three with the same scenario just to examine three perspectives on the same naval engagement.

I chose for this little experience the Battle of Savo Island, because it makes for a natural solitaire scenario and each of these games had this scenario in common. My goal is to examine each of these games against a set of different views. This is not a critical review of the games, but a description of how they handle the topic. There are several other games with a similar theme, such as VGs Tokyo Express, but my table only holds so many games simultaneously as you can see from the photos. It should be noted that all three of these games is long out of print, so if you do not have a copy already the only way to acquire one is from the after market or in trade.

The Money Shot
From gallery of MarkHerman

Caption: Perhaps the first time all three games shown in the same photo with the Savo Island Scenario.

General Description: scale, time frame, level of detail

Each of these games covers famous surface engagements from World War II, mostly focused on Pacific Scenarios in the Solomon Islands. The counters represent individual ships rated for their speed, gunnery, torpedo, and armor. Beyond this each game has nuanced ways for handling gunnery and torpedo adjudication and their subsequent damage effects. The physical and temporal scale is decidedly tactical where the player is in control of a small taskforce of naval combatants. The goal in almost all scenarios is to sink the enemy forces sometimes accompanied by some additional mission objective such as preventing (or the corollary evading) the enemy force from exiting the battle area.

In scale order (most to least granular):
IJN (SimCan): 100 yards/hex; Time, 90 seconds per turn
IBS (MiH): Scale: 600 yards/ hex; Time, 3 minutes/ turn
CA (SPI): Scale, 926.88 meters/ hex; Time, 6 minutes and 40 seconds/ turn (9 turns per hour)

Despite the order of magnitude change in scale across the three designs gameplay is very similar. Players are confronted with the same decisions on how to maneuver to advantage ones naval force to deliver ordnance on target. What I like about naval games is the player finds themselves operating their forces in a more or less doctrinally historical fashion without any rules intervention as the natural advantages of line ahead column movement are naturally the most efficient way to get the most ships firing at the most targets as quickly as possible. One finds oneself quickly forgetting about the rules and maneuvering forces to smite your opponent. The only difference between these games and fighting sail tactical games is you do not have the added complexity of maneuvering with the wind as a factor.

An important consideration for me is solitaire friendliness. Conceptually if a game uses hidden maneuver plotting it is naturally less solo friendly than a game that uses a more traditional sequence of play. By this criteria CA is the most solo friendly as it uses a IGO-UGO sequence of play where the first player, as determined by the scenario, conducts combat then moves followed by the second player conducting the same sequence. This is not to imply that this is the best method for implementing a tactical naval game. In fact one of the major criticisms of this design has been its sequence of play because it allows for a shoot and scoot set of tactics that does not always conform to what you would read in a history book.

IJN and IBS both use pre-plotted moves, which are usually easy to implement when your forces enter the fray in column, undamaged, and full of fight. As things progress and damage is taken things get a bit more involved as individual ships take damage and drop out of line due to engine room damage and maneuver alone. IBS has an excellent optional rule that allows for a good compromise whereby the player without the initiative maneuvers 3 hexes, followed by the initiative player performing the same, followed by the same sequence with remaining movement expended. I use this method as a variant with the others as I find plotting orders when playing solo time consuming and without value. On the other hand when playing face-to-face, order plotting is great fun and can lead to more existential tactical situations.

The name of the game in all tactical naval designs is he who gets in the most telling blow first gains major advantage. This usually means firing first, but only if you score those initial salvos. Most naval battles start with the forces approaching each other with one side turning to expose their column’s broadside for maximum effect with the opponent usually following in kind punctuated by an exchange of long range gunnery that becomes more effective as the ranges shorten. At some point damage begins to become a factor in the struggle and the more wounded opponent begins to withdraw to minimize their losses. This general state of affairs is altered by the historical order of battle, initial set up, and exogenous factors that make each scenario unique. One of the reasons to examine these games through the lens of the Battle of Savo Island (Night of 8-9 August 1942) is the Japanese by virtue of achieving total surprise get in the first shot allowing for a common and reproducible point of departure for this overview.

For those who are not familiar with this battle in short, the US Marines have just landed on Guadalcanal and are consolidating their position around the soon to be famous Henderson Field. The Japanese naval HQ at Rabaul decides to immediately oppose the landing and pulls together a scratch force of Cruisers under Admiral Mikawa. The raison d’etre of the Japanese surface forces was the night surface battle, a scenario that they had trained against for over a decade. Toward this end they had developed superb night fighting technology punctuated by the deadly Long Lance torpedo. The situation on the night of 8-9 August is the Allied invasion force is in the process of unloading the invasion’s supplies, while two Allied Cruiser columns guard the north and south entrances to the anchorage on either side of Savo Island in what will soon become Iron Bottom Sound due to the large number of sunken ships that will soon litter its bottom.

The battle unfolds with the Japanese Column of Cruisers entering the anchorage through the southern entrance. The screening US Destroyer is at the extreme end of its picket line allowing the Japanese forces to slip through unobserved. Just ahead of the Japanese are the Australian Cruiser Canberra and the US Cruiser Chicago escorted by two US Destroyers. The Allied forces are not at battle stations and the engagement begins as a Japanese floatplane drops some flares backlighting the naval targets for the Japanese gunners.

Sighting the Enemy

Before you can shoot at the enemy you have to sight them. In daylight at the ranges depicted in these games successful search is more or less automatic unless exogenous factors such as fog are in effect. That said the situation is very different at night when he who sees first, fires first, and usually gains a major advantage in the fight. Each of these games handles this procedure in a different manner, but when looked through the lens of scenario design some issues arise.

In CA the search (titled ‘spotting’ in the rules) is handled in a very simple and expeditious manner. If an enemy ship fires or moves within 8 hexes of one of your units it is ‘spotted’ and can be engaged in combat. This works quite well, but one of the peculiar features of CA is going second is often better than going first. In fact the CA scenario for Savo Island has a bit of a flaw by virtue of the fact that that the Japanese go first and based on the initial set up the CA Chokai (lead Japanese ship) is eight hexes from away from an American Destroyer, so as soon as the Japanese move they are sighted first giving the Allies the first shot. I have always used a scenario rule for the presence of the Japanese float plane that was dropping flares, so my simple fix as an adjunct to the spotting rules has been to have the Allied Southern force begin the scenario targeted due to the backlighting afforded by the floatplane flares.

IJN is a more granular simulation and treats this battle as a series of connected ‘actions’. Savo Island is broken into three actions. The first action is the Japanese column versus the Allied Southern force. The second action has the Japanese force engage the Northern taskforce, and the third and concluding action is several Japanese ships engaging the lone US Destroyer on picket duty north of Savo Island. Any damage to the Japanese force carries over to the subsequent actions and neuters the need to have any special rules to prevent Allied coordination. Initially the Japanese force is at speed 13 versus a patrolling Allied force at speed 6. In IJN night scenarios (unlike the other two, several significant day scenarios are included) the naval units are NOT placed on the map, but their locations are noted on the Unit Status Sheets (you need to copy these from the rules). When a unit is sighted it is placed on the map. In the IJN version of Savo both sides have not yet sighted each other and the conditions are Dark Night, as opposed to Moonlit night. During the search phase of each turn each side would roll 2d6 against sighting superiority. The targets aspect value is subtracted from the visual search value or the combined search values of the acquiring unit. In this situation the CA Chokai has a visual search value of 8 (Canberra’s is a 7) versus an aspect value of 4 (same for both Cruisers) for a sighting superiority value of 4 (8 minus 4) giving an 81% probability of a successful sighting. The reciprocal Canberra attempt would be a value of 3 (7 minus Chokai aspect of 4) for a 70% probability of success. This gives the Japanese their historical night optics advantage, but who sees who first can alter how the scenario opens. In this case the outcome is not deterministic as it is in the CA or IBS games (see next paragraph).

Lastly in IBS all of the scenarios are at night and each scenario gives a visibility range for the respective forces. In the Savo Island scenario the Japanese have a search range of 16 hexes versus the Allies with 8. At the beginning of the battle the Japanese are at 5 hex range and there is a surprise rule that ensures that the Allied Southern taskforce is a sitting duck for the opening salvo. Like CA this is a deterministic search rule so a unit in the zone of a flare, on fire, opening fire ,or within visible range can be engaged in combat.

Of the three methods IJN’s is the most interesting as each scenario can have a slightly different beginning. The IJN game was actually the first part of a trilogy (Kriegsmarine and Torpedo), so was intended to be expandable to cover all World War II naval scenarios. Toward that end whereas CA and IBS are focused on surface naval engagements, IJN covers the full gamut of naval warfare to include aircraft used in a Coral Sea and Midway scenario covered as a series of connected carrier strike exchanges. This makes for a great deal of variety that I will cover later in this review.

Sequence of Play

It is probably important to briefly discuss the sequences of play first. Each game has the same functions of Search, Movement, Change Speed, Gunnery and Torpedo attack, but does these in different order.

CA: Gunfire, Torpedo, Movement, Speed (spotting is deterministic based on Gunnery and Movement)
IJN: Search, Gunfire, Ship Movement, Aircraft Movement and Bombing, Torpedo launching and movement. All combat is conducted simultaneously.
IBS: Movement, Gunfire, Torpedo attack.

Each sequence seems to work well within the total construct of the design, although as I noted earlier there can be some unusual tactics associated with the CA design.

Gunfire

What I am going to do is use the same opening salvo where the CA Chokai (lead Japanese Cruiser) will fire on the Australian CA Canberra (South Force) to show how each of the games handles naval gunfire. As stated previously in order to engage a target it must first be successfully spotted and targeted. Assuming that condition is met you get to engage the enemy.

CA
The CA Chokai has a gunnery strength of 9 with a range of 14 hexes versus the CA Canberra’s defense strength of 6. The opening salvo is at 10 hexes for a 1-1 odds ratio (9 divided by 6 round down). On a 1d6 (one-six sided die roll) there is a one sixth chance of a P (Power) hit. The effects of a P hit are the reduction of one half the targets maximum movement, which in this case would be Canberra’s 12 movement allowance reduced to 6. The other type of hit is a W (Weapon) effect. This is not possible in this particular vignette, but if later in the scenario the Canberra takes a W hit its gunnery strength of 12 would be reduced to 6 for the duration of the engagement.

From gallery of MarkHerman

Caption: Note the Yellow Japanese counters and the Dark Green Allied counters. The lead Japanese ship under the arrow labeled six (speed of column) is the Chokai and the nearest Allied counters are the Southern force (north is the top of the photo) with the Northern force further from the Japanese force. Note the Land marker on the map. This is the live location of Savo for this scenario, other possible locations for other scenarios are treated as water.


IJN
Assuming a successful sighting (81% chance), the Chokai opens fire at 28 hex range (half strength due to range) for a gunfire strength of 23 (47 divided by 2 round down) minus Canberra’s defense of 9 for gunfire superiority of 14. This gives a 36% probability of a hit. If a hit is achieved you then roll 2d6 (two dice summed) with a wide range of results from reduction in gunfire strength, loss of different search capabilities, or speed reductions.

From gallery of MarkHerman

Caption: The gold counters on the left are the Japanese column and the red counter is the CA Canberra and the accompanying blue counters are the US cruiser Chicago and two US Destroyers. At this scale (100 yards), Savo Island is off the northern end of the map (top of photo).

IBS
Whereas each ship in CA and IJN has all of a ships information and statistics on the counter this is definitely not the case with IBS. For each scenario there is a set of scenario sheets that you will need to copy that show a stylized schematic of the ships topside armament, sensors, float planes, hull, and engine capabilities as a series of boxes that get checked off as damage is taken. If you have ever played the Avalon Hill games of Jutland or Bismarck (also by the same designer as IBS), you will immediately recognize this style of record keeping. In IBS the initiative player fires one of his ships, followed by this alternating sequence until all ships have fired.

From gallery of MarkHerman

Caption: The red counters are the Japanese column about to cross the T on the Allied Southern force. The Allied Northern force can be seen off to the top of the photo. Savo Island is the land mass to the left of the Japanese column (top of the photo is north).

The Chokai has 5 primary gun turrets for a total of 37-8” broadside salvo and a secondary 5-5” broadside salvo. However the Chokai in the opening salvo is bow onto the target so it can only fire with its two forward turrets totaling 11-8” gunfire factors. Due to the range, target aspect, and slow speed of the Canberra the die roll (0-100) is modified by a negative 45 die roll modifier. You then cross reference the Gunfire factor 11 that gives a line of die rolls arrayed across hits achieved columns. The lower the die roll the greater the number of hits. Given that we are subtracting 45 from the die roll this means that the Chokai has a 68% chance of achieving at least one hit and a 46% chance of achieving 4 hits on the Canberra. For each hit you consult the Gunnery Hit Results Table that has a 20% chance of special damage and then an array of results that check off boxes on different portions of the ship schematic that reduce future capability. Some results require an armor penetration determination based on the targets armor and the caliber of the shell being fired. IBS will require approximately 6 to 12 die rolls per ship to calculate one ships gunfire results. IBS generates more detail and granularity than CA or IJN in this area, but at the usual cost in wristage and time. What is nice about this system is it creates a game narrative akin to the historical narratives on this battle.

Torpedo Combat

Torpedo combat is a particularly important feature of the surface engagements in the Slot and is where the legendary effectiveness of the Japanese Long Lance was demonstrated. CA treats torpedo combat using the same procedure as gunfire combat where the ship torpedo value, which in the case of the Chokai is a 20, is divided by the Canberra’s 6 defense strength yielding a 3 to 1 odds ratio. At 3-1 odds the Chokai has a 50% chance of achieving a Power or Weapons hit. Three hits of the same type sink a ship.

IBS has the player designate a megahex (seven hexagon groupings) target for the torpedoes. There is no announcement that torpedoes have been fired, just the player notating the megahex and whether the torpedo is using its fast or slow range. At the appropriate time the location of the torpedo is revealed if it arrives in the same mega hex as a target. In this situation a 2d6 is rolled for each torpedo to determine if a hit is achieved. For each hit a 2d6 is rolled against the flotation type of the target generating a number of hull and movement (engine) boxes of damage. Of course there are modifiers, but other than range advantages the Japanese Long Lance torpedoes do not appear to be as superior to the US equivalents as articulated in the historical accounts.

One of my favorite design features of IJN is the how it handles torpedoes. Like IBS you do not announce the launching of torpedoes, but create a new log on your status sheet for the torpedo as if it were a ship with a heading. Each nation has distinct torpedo counters.

From gallery of MarkHerman

Caption: From lefy to right UK/Australian, US, Netherlands, Japanese. The Torpedoes are arrayed from weakest (UK value of 3, US 5, NE 6, JP 11).

The torpedoes are tracked secretly on the log until they get within one hex of a target when you determine whether the torpedo is sighted using the same search procedure as for a ship. In the case of the Canberra its visual search of 7 is trying to detect a Japanese MK-93 Long Lance with an aspect of 5 for a search superiority of 2 giving a 64% probability of success. If the torpedo is successfully sighted you roll on the Torpedo Evasion Table which for the Canberra gives a one third chance of success. If the Canberra fails to evade the torpedo or sight it in time the torpedo hits. A single Mk-93 has an attack superiority of 2 (11 torpedo minus 9 defense) that will yield from 0 to 5 flotation hits with 12 sinking the vessel. However, the Chokai can salvo 8 torpedoes at a time that are calculated in groupings of up to 4, so our initial attack would be 44 factors minus 9 for an attack superiority of 35, which would achieve a minimum of 5 flotation hits and a maximum of 10 hits. IJN really puts the spotlight on the effect and national differences in torpedo performance to include a rule that air driven torpedoes (all Allied versions) are sighted if they miss a target.

Savo
As I stated earlier IJN treats Savo Island as three connected actions that are played in sequence, whereas due to their larger scale CA and IBS treat the entire battle as a single gaming scenario. The most appealing game visually is IBS with its larger counters, larger playing surface, and dramatic Savo Island (see earlier photo). Having played this scenario with all three designs the best bang for the buck is probably CA as it is all action and moves along smartly. By comparison the Savo scenario in IBS is rated for team play and easily takes the longest to play due to the detailed combat system. IJN does a good job viewing Savo as a series of three connected engagements, which the other two have special rules to prevent coordinated Allied response that is unnecessary in the IJN format. Also, IJN due to its 1/10th scale gives a better feeling of ranged combat in comparison to CA where it feels more like a knife fight. The designer’s notes for IJN talk about its lineage as a set of miniatures rules that were adapted for a counter and map boardgame. Down the road I am going to experiment using IJN as a set of miniature rules with some ship models that I own. I think it will work out quite well.

If one were to want to play a scenario besides Savo you will find that each of these games have many choices to liven up any gaming afternoon. Here is the list of scenarios in each title.

CA: South China Sea (Hypothetical Force Z versus Japanese covering force off Malaya), Savo Island, Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal 1 (Heavy Japanese Bombardment Group intercepted by US Cruiser force), Guadalcanal 2 (US and Japanese BBs square off in the Slot), Tassafaronga, Kolombangara, Empress Augusta Bay, Samar (Hypothetical BB slugfest), Okinawa (if the Yamato Suicide Run had reached its objective.

IBS: Battle of Cape Esperance, Battle of Kula Gulf, Battle of Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal 2, Battle of Kolombangara, Duisburg convoy (Italian Convoy to Reinforce Rommel is intercepted by British Destroyers), Guadalcanal 1, Channel Action (German versus British Destroyers in the English Channel), Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, Battle of Savo Island.

IJN: Battle of Balikpapan, Battle of the Java Sea, Battle of Sunda Strait, Destruction of the Exeter, Coral Sea (5 actions), Battle of Midway (8 actions), Savo Island, Battle of Lunga Point, Battle of Samar (Hypothetical in 4 actions), Battle of Cape Esperance, Battle of Kula Gulf, Battle of Suriago Strait (3 actions). As I noted earlier in this article IJN mates with two later SimCan releases Kriegsmarine and Torpedo. Both of these titles are also out of print. IJN supplies numerous counters that are not used in any of the above scenarios and are intended to allow the player to create new scenarios. An obvious choice would be the Battle of the Philippine Sea in multiple actions.

Conclusion: I think I will end it here. The game that I find myself playing the most solo is CA, but if I were playing against a single opponent I would play IJN. If my gaming group were all present IBS is the way to go. As you can see so many choices and so little time.


63 
 Thumb up
4.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken Feldman
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: BattleLore fanMicrobadge: Green Bay Packers fanMicrobadge: University of WisconsinMicrobadge: Seattle Seahawks fanMicrobadge: War of the Ring fan
Great review! Thanks for writing this up.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Australia
Sebastopol (Ballarat)
Victoria
flag msg tools
That's Karl on the left. Eternity on the right.
badge
I love Melissa, but don't tell her. It's a secret if she can find this. Shhhhh....
Avatar
Microbadge: I beat my original list of 10 games for 2019 VGG challengeMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: Panzer Corps Wehrmacht fanMicrobadge: One does not simply recognize great geeks. Not with 10,000 stars could you do this...Microbadge: Monthly Video Game Geek Review Contest winner
wow
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
Nice. I think a slight error with CA - from memory two hits on a category doesn't sink, just leaves the ships DIW or gunless. It needs a third hit to sink.

Also, I realise your comparison is not meant to be critical but I can't help but mention that while IJN sounds like the real deal, in reality it doesn't rate as a simulation. The chosen scale is the most obvious problem - at Salvo, in IJN terms, the Japanese first launched torpedoes at 125 hexes. Chokai opened fire on Canberra from 45 hexes; Aoba from 55 hexes and Furutaka from 90 hexes! Somehow this translates in the scenario to 28 hexes but Canberra was already out of it by the time Furutaka got anywhere near that close. The set-up shown also illustrates the problem - five heavy cruisers in a 500 yard space is called a collision.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Herman
United States
New York
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars - SpartaMicrobadge: Great Battles of History fanMicrobadge: Churchill fan - I play ChurchillMicrobadge: Fire in the Lake fanMicrobadge: Empire of the Sun fan
ross_menzies wrote:
Nice. I think a slight error with CA - from memory two hits on a category doesn't sink, just leaves the ships DIW or gunless. It needs a third hit to sink.

Also, I realise your comparison is not meant to be critical but I can't help but mention that while IJN sounds like the real deal, in reality it doesn't rate as a simulation. The chosen scale is the most obvious problem - at Salvo, in IJN terms, the Japanese first launched torpedoes at 125 hexes. Chokai opened fire on Canberra from 45 hexes; Aoba from 55 hexes and Furutaka from 90 hexes! Somehow this translates in the scenario to 28 hexes but Canberra was already out of it by the time Furutaka got anywhere near that close. The set-up shown also illustrates the problem - five heavy cruisers in a 500 yard space is called a collision.
Thanks for the CA hit catch, I corrected it to three.

As I wrote, this is a non-critical review, I particularly wanted to avoid trying to weigh in on the simulation value as that is a much longer conversation.

As far as the ranges go in IJN or for any of these games, it seems that all of them compress the ranges to a greater or lesser degree. Trying to fit all of these actions onto a mapsheet forces compromises. To be fair to IJN, it has rules for a floating map, whereby you cut up the map sections and separate things to the desired ranges. It is too much work for me, but my point was that IJN gave the 'feel' of range not that any of these titles did a perfect job in this regard.

Mark
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
No worries at all Mark. Re: IJN, I wasn't necessarily saying that it was the worst simulation - CA would be hard to beat there IMO, but my point was IJN sounds good whereas there is a fairly commonly held perception regarding CA's accuracy (whether correct or not). I shall weigh in no more however.

Your comments on the 'floating map' in IJN are interesting if I am interpreting what you say correctly, i.e. that they address the scale problem in the game. I can't recall anything about that but then it has been some centuries since I last pulled this one out.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Truesdell
United States
Uniontown
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Level 13 BGG posterMicrobadge: Level 09 RPGG posterMicrobadge: Plays by emailMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: Realist
Speaking of torpedoes..
The IJN had some sort of "AI" in their torpedo director that would try to anticipate where the enemy ship would most likely be when the torpedo got there based on ship headings and speed (target and launcher I guess). Anyone ever come across the formula they used? Did any survive the war?

The toughest part to simulate in these battles is the US player is fully aware of the Long Lances which wasn't the case this early in the war. Doesn't stop me though.

Should mention that using VASSAL, you could create a huge map to be used for IJN and run an umpired game that would be a lot of fun. There is no specific module for it but it would be easy enough to create a generic map and counters to manage the game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
Everybody had something like that - that's what a torpedo director does. I'm not sure that the Japanese equipment was markedly superior, although I could check, laziness is however my curse - you could try the Long Lancers or NavWeaps sites. In fact the Long Lances weren't very accurate at all, so I doubt that their directors were anything special (other than, obviously, how far they could track). Japanese torpedo superiority was in range, propulsion and doctrine with the latter being the opposite of directed fire - i.e. their aim was to point a hell of a lot of torpedoes in the general direction of the enemy and fire them all as soon as possible. It was the Americans who were hung up on firing solutions - hence they spent the first year or so of the war trying to overcome both the Japanese and their own doctrine.

I won't comment on the utility of a vassal version of IJN - no indeedy I won't . There is a cyberboard version of the IBS Savo scenario ported to Royal Navy and available on BGG. I created it so that's shameless self-promotion, sorry.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Truesdell
United States
Uniontown
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Level 13 BGG posterMicrobadge: Level 09 RPGG posterMicrobadge: Plays by emailMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: Realist
Thanks! I will check those sources out. For some strange reason, I like how they created mechanical solutions to math problems. I think they would be great teaching tools for some students.

Royal Navy VASSAL?!?! On my way!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
ctcharger wrote:
Thanks! I will check those sources out. For some strange reason, I like how they created mechanical solutions to math problems. I think they would be great teaching tools for some students.

Royal Navy VASSAL?!?! On my way!
There's a very nice animated demonstration of the workings of the first(ish) generation of torpedo directors on, I think, the Dreadnought Project site showing how they pumped in the estimates of the speed and heading of the target & the director told them when to fire.

CYBERBOARD, not VASSAL - I've done some very preliminary fiddling with getting it on to Vassal but the latter isn't nearly as creator friendly & my experience with creating in it isn't huge. Also, I got permission from Jack Greene for the Cyberboard version, since Vassal can be played in real time I would feel I needed to get separate permission for that. A fair ways off at any rate - am releasing the 1.1 version of the cyberboard version soon and that has taken almost 4 years - did I mention my laziness?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Truesdell
United States
Uniontown
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Level 13 BGG posterMicrobadge: Level 09 RPGG posterMicrobadge: Plays by emailMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: Realist
I thought I read they did more than just speed and heading. They also tried to anticipate where/if the target was most likely to turn based the tactical positioning of each ship.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
ctcharger wrote:
I thought I read they did more than just speed and heading. They also tried to anticipate where/if the target was most likely to turn based the tactical positioning of each ship.
Hmm, interesting, I haven't heard that one but that doesn't mean it isn't true. I'll have a look in Campbell's Naval Weapons of WW2 when I'm not so lazy (actually I'm meant to be working at this particular moment ) & see if it says anything there.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
Nothing in Campbell, it does sound fairly unlikely without a fair amount of user input at the very least but if you find something please let me know.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Truesdell
United States
Uniontown
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Level 13 BGG posterMicrobadge: Level 09 RPGG posterMicrobadge: Plays by emailMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: Realist
It was in the HUGE book
Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
LaCroix, Wells, Wells II

Great book... I need to see if they have another book out.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
OK, had a look at that & think I know what you are referring to - Type 93 Sokutekiban & related computer. Detailed in Chapter 6 & Appendix H. My quick skim through showed nothing about predicting enemy course changes but what it did do which surprised me was suggest firing ship course changes to get the target into the cross hairs. Not sure if that was unique to the Japanese (not my area of speciality, which is, of course - drinking beer). The appendix referenced talked about a Type 1 with blindfire capability that entered service in the 30's but never saw action (which I would take to mean that it didn't actually work) and a Type 3 with indirect fire capability that was fitted to the torpedo-cruiser conversions. Exactly what blind/indirect fire means in this context isn't gone into as far I could see. Other than this the Japanese setup seems to be much like everyone else's apart from (as I mentioned before) the ranges involved. I'd suggest posting the question on the NavWeaps forum since there be people there who know of such things.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
flag msg tools
The victory conditions for the Savo scenario in CA are interesting in that they require the Japanese to exit their force off the south edge of the map, or their ships are considered sunk for victory point calculations. So, according to CA, the historical outcome was an American victory.

What do the other two games have to say on this issue?

Edit: Disregard this. After setting up the scenario and looking at it for a while, I realized that the map had been rotated about 45 degrees counter-clockwise, so that North on the compass rose was really northwest. So the Japanese exiting the south map edge does not take them towards the transports, as I had at first thought, but takes them more or less back the way they came.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
flag msg tools
ctcharger wrote:
Speaking of torpedoes..
The IJN had some sort of "AI" in their torpedo director that would try to anticipate where the enemy ship would most likely be when the torpedo got there based on ship headings and speed (target and launcher I guess). Anyone ever come across the formula they used? Did any survive the war?
From Evans and Peattie, Kaigun, p. 222:

"The Japanese navy attempted to deal with these difficulties in two
ways: The first of these was technological and involved an on-board
system of torpedo fire control that combined the capabilities of a
standard gyroscope (to determine the course of a torpedo after it was
fired) and a method of computing both the probabilities of various
course changes by a moving target and the probabilities of hitting the
target at any given heading taken by the target."

Then, in an endnote on p. 572:

"This system was first developed in 1926 by Lt. Comdr. Omori Sentaro,
an instructor at the Torpedo School. The gyroscope made it possible
to set any heading for the torpedo, not just that of the torpedo tube
from which it was fired. With this in mind, Omori recognized tht an
essential problem in directing torpedo fire of any particular ship was
to select the best possible angle of fire for a torpedo for any given
course and speed of the target, taking into account the likelihood
that the enemy target would change course after the torpedo was
fired. To solve this problem, Omori divided the possible headings of
the target (from 0 to 180 degrees) into quadrants and calculated the
probabilities of the enemy's change of course within each quadrant.
He then worked out a series of diagrams that provided the standard
(correct) firing angle for any given enemy heading, based on
calculations of the zone of maximum probability of hits at that target
heading. The Japanese navy soon drew up torpedo fire control tables
based on Omori's work, showing for each angle of bearing to the
target's bow the standard firing angle that gave the best chance of a
hit. By 1930, this system had been adapted to an actual mechanism, a
torpedo fire control director into which could be fed all relevant
data on courses, speeds, and statistical probabilities. By linking
torpedoes in their tubes directly to the torpedo fire control
director, optimum angles of fire could be continuously set on the
basis of ever-changing information up to the moment the torpedo was
released. To this extent, the Japanese system was much like the
contemporary Torpedo Data Computer in the U.S. Navy. The Japanese
system had the additonal capability of calculating statistical
probability that would include evasive action by the target."

The note cites Kaigun Suiraishi Kankokai, eds., Kaigun suiraishi [A history of mines and torpedoes of the navy]. Shinkosha, 1971, pp. 489-90.
9 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
flag msg tools
MarkHerman wrote:
CA (SPI): Scale, 926.88 meters/ hex; Time, 6 minutes and 40 seconds/ turn (9 turns per hour)
That works out to half a nautical mile to a hex exactly (why couldn't they just say that?), and about 2.86 knots per unit of speed, which makes the top speed allowed in the game about 19.7 knots.

Quote:
In fact the CA scenario for Savo Island has a bit of a flaw by virtue of the fact that that the Japanese go first and based on the initial set up the CA Chokai (lead Japanese ship) is eight hexes from away from an American Destroyer, so as soon as the Japanese move they are sighted first giving the Allies the first shot. I have always used a scenario rule for the presence of the Japanese float plane that was dropping flares, so my simple fix as an adjunct to the spotting rules has been to have the Allied Southern force begin the scenario targeted due to the backlighting afforded by the floatplane flares.
Or you could just have a rule that says the Allied ships can't fire on the first turn, due to their surprise and confusion. I also think the ships of the northern force should be required to maintain course and speed for the first couple of turns, at least.

Quote:
The effects of a P hit are the reduction of one half the targets maximum movement, which in this case would be Canberra’s 12 movement allowance reduced to 6.
In CA the maximum speed of battleships and battlecruisers is 6, and the maximum of other ships is 7. This is not printed on the counters.

Quote:
CA treats torpedo combat using the same procedure as gunfire combat where the ship torpedo value, which in the case of the Chokai is a 20, is divided by the Canberra’s 6 defense strength yielding a 3 to 1 odds ratio. At 3-1 odds the Chokai has a 50% chance of achieving a Power or Weapons hit.
In torpedo combat, all weapons hits on the CRT are converted to power hits.

Quote:
Three hits of the same type sink a ship.
Three hits of any type sink a ship.

I think the biggest failing of CA (I haven't played the other two) is the lack of command control rules. Even the Japanese at Savo couldn't manage to all keep in column. And being able to shoot torpedoes through friendly-occupied hexes seems a recipe for disaster. Sure, the hexes are mostly empty, but there are some who think that torpedoes from USS Bagley helped sink HMAS Canberra at Savo.

Nevertheless, I think that CA, though fairly abstract, does give reasonably accurate results.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ross Menzies
Australia
Katoomba
NSW
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Joseph M. Balkoski fanMicrobadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Wargamer of 30+ yearsMicrobadge: SPI fanMicrobadge: Cricket fan
Michael, cheers for identifying the predictive torpedo device - had never heard of that one! Would be interesting to know how much it was actually used however.

An actual Command Control rule is a very problematic monkey when it comes to two-player games (in refereed games of course this is much easier), even if a system is derived whereby individual ships out of CC act in reasonably competent manners, an orgy of die rolling can be the result. For plotted games I strictly 'embrace the glitch' meaning that a mistake in plotting is command chaos at work.

Re-'Three hits of any type sink a ship'. Without having the game in front of me - wouldn't 2 power & 1 gun hit for instance, not sink the ship?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
flag msg tools
ross_menzies wrote:
Michael, cheers for identifying the predictive torpedo device - had never heard of that one! Would be interesting to know how much it was actually used however.
I assume it was always used. And by 'predictive' I think they meant something probabalistic. That is, I don't think it tried to guess what a particular captain would do in a particular situation. Rather, I think it worked with a probability distribution of headings based on the current heading. Something like: if the current heading is H, after time delta t there is a 50% chance that the new heading with be in the range H +- 5 degrees, a 75% chance it is in the range H +- 10 degrees, and so on (these numbers are made up). I don't see any other way it could have worked, at least with 1930s technology.

Quote:
An actual Command Control rule is a very problematic monkey when it comes to two-player games (in refereed games of course this is much easier), even if a system is derived whereby individual ships out of CC act in reasonably competent manners, an orgy of die rolling can be the result. For plotted games I strictly 'embrace the glitch' meaning that a mistake in plotting is command chaos at work.
True, command control rules can be a pain, but they do add a lot of reality. And in CA the number of units is usually small enough that the pain is limited.

Quote:
Re-'Three hits of any type sink a ship'. Without having the game in front of me - wouldn't 2 power & 1 gun hit for instance, not sink the ship?
Yes, they would sink the ship. Three hits sink a ship, regardless of the type of hit.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russell King
United Kingdom
Hebden Bridge
West Yorkshire
flag msg tools
Thanks for this article.

I've played a bit of Fletcher Pratt recently, had a great time with a FtF session of Dreadnought recently and have a strange itch to get CA which has been made worse by this article.

My running theme is that a lot of old SPI games have more value in them than is currently recognised.

Thank you again!
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lance McMillan
United States
Lakebay
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Microbadge: Victory Point Games fanMicrobadge: Napoleonic 20 fan - FrenchMicrobadge: Star Borders: Humanity fanMicrobadge: Frank Chadwick fanMicrobadge: US Naval officer
Back in the day there was joke about 'CA' -- "the first person to roll three 6s won the game." Although overall the CRT did produce reasonably decent outcomes over the long term, in practical game-play terms it was heavily luck driven. The cleanest solution (which I believe was proposed in 'Moves' magazine at the time) was to change to a 2D6 CRT, which made for a more equitable distribution of outcomes.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Lancer4321 wrote:
Back in the day there was joke about 'CA' -- "the first person to roll three 6s won the game." Although overall the CRT did produce reasonably decent outcomes over the long term, in practical game-play terms it was heavily luck driven. The cleanest solution (which I believe was proposed in 'Moves' magazine at the time) was to change to a 2D6 CRT, which made for a more equitable distribution of outcomes.
How does that help?

If CA is "luck driven", it is because of two factors: the relatively small number of units in a typical engagement, and the fairly devastating effect of even a single hit. The former can't be helped, and the latter seems consistent with reality.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles CORDIER
France
MONTIGNY SUR ARMANCON
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Naval WargamerMicrobadge: Down in Flames fanMicrobadge: Wing Leader: Victories 1940–1942Microbadge: Wargamer - WW2: Pacific TheaterMicrobadge: Linux user
Quote:
wrote:
An actual Command Control rule is a very problematic monkey when it comes to two-player games (in refereed games of course this is much easier), even if a system is derived whereby individual ships out of CC act in reasonably competent manners, an orgy of die rolling can be the result. For plotted games I strictly 'embrace the glitch' meaning that a mistake in plotting is command chaos at work.
True, command control rules can be a pain, but they do add a lot of reality. And in CA the number of units is usually small enough that the pain is limited.
This one is a nice try, designed for General Quarters but easy to adapt an quite pleasant to play:

http://www.geocities.ws/pieter_roos/c3_sea.htm
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stefan Patejak
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
The scale presents another problem that the designer does not even seem to be aware of. At 100 yards a hex, a cruiser occupies 2 hexes, and a battleship up to 3. With a cable's length (2 hexes) between them a line of battle occupies an enormous space. That is not even dealing with the problems of turning these ships. I like the concept of close in combat, especially naval-air combat. However, it has not really been thought through
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   |