PAUL OCONNOR
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Encinitas
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Jutland: Duel of the Dreadnoughts examines the climatic naval clash of May, 1916 at a fleet level. Turns represent twelve minutes, hexes are one nautical mile, and units represent divisions, squadrons, and flotillas of ships. It is by having single counters represent formations of multiple ships that the game can be completed in the 2-6 hours of advertised time, but this approach also removes from the game some of the flavor and granularity naval gamers may expect. If you want to be Admiral Jellicoe ordering Battleship Division One to engage the enemy, then this is the game for you. If you want a game that will tell you when Lion has been hit on Q turret, and provide you an option to flood the turret to avoid an explosion, then you’d best look at one of the many more tactical games available on this subject (and expect to take much, much longer to fight Jutland to the end).

Jutland is a modest production. Originally appearing in Command magazine, it has only four pages of rules, a hundred counters, a center spread of charts and tables, and nine small hexmaps that can be leapfrogged over one another to represent an expanse of ocean. The counters are functional, but the red-on-blue scheme for the British can be hard on the eyes. Hits on ship counters are tracked on a printed ship roster, which must be photocopied before play.

The sequence of play is simple. Players volunteer to move first, or roll for the privilege. Then they alternate launching torpedoes, moving their ships, and targeting and resolving gunfire. Because the initiative can shift each turn, you might get two moves in a row, which can prove decisive at shorter ranges where torpedoes are in play – torpedo damage is resolved sequentially, while gunfire (which comes later in the turn) is simultaneous, meaning that if you’re hit by a torpedo, you may be sunk before you can get off torpedoes of your own in reply.

Gunfire isn’t terribly effective in this game. You’ll be shooting a lot before you scratch any ships off your opponent’s roster, and actually sinking and removing an enemy unit will be rarer still. Your basic hit chance at all but the closest ranges is one in six, and only the largest full strength units will roll the maximum four dice to hit (and even then they must be broadside to their target to be able to apply all their dice). If you do hit, there is a penetration roll based on gun caliber and target armor to determine if the hit does damage. The result is a game where you’re shooting frequently, but seeing results only occasionally, and it’s going to take some lucky dice, or repeated and concentrated fire over several turns to wear down these multi-ship counters.

There is only one scenario, but it takes awhile for both fleets to arrive, so you effectively begin the game with the clash of battlecruisers, and move into the larger fleet engagement several turns later. The basic game concentrates only on the heavy ships, while the advanced game adds destroyers and light cruisers and the aforementioned torpedo attacks. Victory is judged by how many more ships you destroy than are sunk out from under you, with an adjustment in the advanced rules based on whether or not the British have been able to place themselves between the Germans and their route to their home ports.

There is some joy in maneuvering your fleet, but there’s a lot of wristage in the combat system (two dice rolls for a successful combat, with cross-checking between two roster sheets and the chart set), and I didn’t get the satisfaction from blowing things up that I’ve experienced from other, more tactical WWI naval games.

While the game is successful in showing an overview of this entire, massive clash in a reasonable length of time, I found myself really missing the chrome of more tactical naval games. Scratching a number off of a ship roster sheet simply isn’t as climatic or interesting as knowing that Indefatigable just blew up. Tracking individual ships is very much the opposite intention of this design, so this is a flaw with the gamer than the game, but I’d rather tackle a smaller portion of this clash with Avalon Hill’s Jutland or Minden’s Dreadnoughts and Battlecruisers and experience a more granular and flavorful action.

Jutland: Duel of the Dreadnoughts is entertaining, but I’m not sure I’d want to play it more than once. My game began with an inconclusive clash of battlecruisers, and then a lot of running away while the Germans tried to link up with their main fleet. Once the German fleet was together, there was only a turn or two when force ratios were encouraging enough to engage the British before the Grand Fleet’s superior numbers were brought to bear, after which the only reasonable course of action was for the German fleet to run for port. An apocalyptic clash of fleets is possible if both admirals press home, but if you’re as conservative as your historical counterparts, expect a lot of maneuver and an inconclusive engagement. Given my feelings about the combat system, I’m not sure I would have wanted to spend the additional two hours required to resolve combat between the main battlelines, in any case.

Recommended if you have an intense interest in this battle, or you really want to examine a WWI surface engagement from a fleet level. If you want to sail cool individual battleships and blow stuff up, then look elsewhere.
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Andrew C
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Nice review.

Funny running across these old reviews while I'm scouting games I find on ebay.
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PAUL OCONNOR
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Cleitus the Black wrote:
Nice review.

Funny running across these old reviews while I'm scouting games I find on ebay.


I'd happily give you my copy but I haven't seen it in some time. I suspect it is long gone.
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Giuseppe Gessa
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Cleitus the Black wrote:
Nice review.

Funny running across these old reviews while I'm scouting games I find on ebay.


Ahahaha, me Too
I remember this game, one of my game's friend ( now dead) had it and we two have fantasized sometime to play it.
On the review, so this is a good simulation, and the game tend to reach the historical outcome
I would give it a try if i find an opponent.
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Christopher Donovan
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Louisville
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goldenboat wrote:
Cleitus the Black wrote:
Nice review.

Funny running across these old reviews while I'm scouting games I find on ebay.


I'd happily give you my copy but I haven't seen it in some time. I suspect it is long gone.


I used to have this game - but I bought the issue of Command it came in more for the Tomorrow the World chemical warfare/strategic bombing variant. Now there's a game with some colour. It also has a "D-Day '90" variant for NATO, Nukes & Nazis. Ah, the placid days of SLO/XTR.
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PAUL OCONNOR
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I'm more than half-convinced that the copy which used to be my copy is the same as the copy that used to be your copy.

Zerosum wrote:
goldenboat wrote:
Cleitus the Black wrote:
Nice review.

Funny running across these old reviews while I'm scouting games I find on ebay.


I'd happily give you my copy but I haven't seen it in some time. I suspect it is long gone.


I used to have this game - but I bought the issue of Command it came in more for the Tomorrow the World chemical warfare/strategic bombing variant. Now there's a game with some colour. It also has a "D-Day '90" variant for NATO, Nukes & Nazis. Ah, the placid days of SLO/XTR.
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