Saturday, February 18, 2012

Session report for Revised War at Sea WAS-1 scenario

The peak of the action. Map and most of the markers are from Gale Force Nine, while the two red crosses are Litko markers showing that the ship's once-per-game special ability has been used.

Following up on this post, here's a resent session played at Arkham Asylum in Norwich CT. We had four players, so each player took one of the four task forces.

The pre-game die rolls were tough on bost side' destroyer forces. Iachino rolled a '5' and therefore had just two DD's while Campioni rolled a '6' and had just a single DD! The British hardly rolled better, rolling a five and therefore they were down three destroyers!

On the other hand, both sides were pretty fortunate with their reinforcement rolls. The British heavy ships showed up on Turn 3 while the Italian reinforcements arrived on turns 3 and 4. The Swordfish also made frequent appearances, missing just one or two possible turns. The Ark Royal must have been stationed just off the map edge.

The revised scenario seems a little tough for the British to me (as did the original version) but two solitiare playings did result in one British victpory on points, so it hardly seemed hopeless. There are a lot of random variables in the scenario, between destroyer rolls and reinforcement rolls, not to mention the air support rolls. It's also a very large scenario, with four capital ships, 11 cruisers and up to 20 destroyers.

One element that worked against the British was initiative, Despite having only a +1 edge on initiative rolls, the Italians won the initiative all but one time during the game.

Admiral Holland's cruiser force shaded to the north as it advanced, which Iachino's cruisers initially matched. Initial exchanges of fire were fairly even with the Italinas losing a destroyer and the Berwick being crippled and forced to fall back.

Somerville's capital ship/destroyer force soon arrived and started to close, although the Ramillies couldn't seem to make a speed roll (it failed every single one!) an was soon left behind.
Meanwhile Campini's force also arrived on the scene. Taking advantage of their initiative and spped special abilities the Italian cruisers swept south suddenly while the battle line headed straight at the British force. An awful turn of firing saw every single British cruiser miss its shots while the Italians sent two light cruisers t the bottom. This proved to be a major turning point, as it put the Itaians seriously ahead on points. Despite some clever maneuvering and efffective smoke screening by the British destroyers the Italians were able to capitalize on their firepower superiority to continue pounding the British while taking less damage in return.

With the "Limited Opportunity" die roll ending the game on Turn 7 the Italians pulled back to preserve their win. The Renown charged in to boarding range under a hail of Italian fire that left it crippled, but afloat, on the last turn. At point-blank range the Renown clobbered the Guilio Cesare and, with the assist of a DD-fired torpedo, sunk her!

This made the final score somewhat closer than it would have been, with the Italians scoring 112 points and the British 86. The sole survivors on the British side were the cripples Renown, Berwick and a destroyer -- and an unscathed Ramillies. One of the two swordfish also survived.

The Italians were in much better shape. The Vittorio Veneto and two heavy cruisers were undamaged, two cruisers had 1 point of damage and one cruiser was crippled.

While I think the scenario is more challenging for the British, it does appear they have a chance. Bad British luck during the first turn where both cruiser forces were blazing away at each other put them behind the power curve. The British commanders also didn't take advantage of the slight edge they had in reinforcement arrivals to draw the Italian cruisers out of supporting range of the battleships. With the aid of the smoke screening destroyers they could have arranged at least a one-turn firepower advantage. While called light cruisers, the British warships in Holland's task force are comparable in points, firepower and protection to Iachino's cruisers. Holland's task force is worth 63 points, rolls 31 dice at range 3 and all have armor 4 while Iachino's cruisers are worth 85 points, roll a total of 36 dice at range 3 and have armor values of 4 and 5. But add in Renown and the British have another 33 points of ship, with 11 more dice and an armor of 7. It's a fleeting potential edge, however, and in the event the British didn't achieve it.

Overall the revised scenario worked well. It's been suggested that the three Luca Tarigo's in the revised scenario should be replaced with more Ascari's to better reflect the historical OB but in this case so many DDs were removed by the pre-game die rolls that none of the Luca Tarigo's appeared anyway, so it made no difference.

Game ending positions

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