The Mediterranean Fleet (Malta) puts to sea. There is a high level air attack from the Regia Aeronautica incoming … we drive it off and suffer no damage …
And so it begins …
This was a critical phase in the Mediterranean as Italy prepared the way for a possible assault on Malta. We have been here before (Malta) megagaming the whole campaign in celebration of the pioneering contribution of the late Paddy Griffith. This game we played part of the war at sea, and were using the system devised by an earlier pioneer, Fletcher Pratt …
I am sure most readers will be familiar with Fletcher Pratt’s rules, even more so its celebrated core mechanisms … but as a reminder, the game assumes you play with ship models on something like a ballroom floor and the key gunnery is by guesstimating the angle (using a pointer marker) and the range (in actual inches) – if you get hits, the value is multiplied up from the weight and number of the guns and that much ‘tonnage’ is crossed off the target ship reducing speed and potency proportionally until the ship limps away or sinks.
This game is a scaled down version using 1:1200 ships and a very large floor.
This was also the first outing for a splendid blue groundsheet – it really enhanced the game but increased the disturbance risk of the light markers compared with playing on a bare laminate floor.
As players we would manoeuvre our ships then place those arrow shaped post-it notes (indicating the azimuth) with the range (in inches) marked on … once all the moves and markers are done, the players retire to the fringes and the umpires measure and adjudicate the hits. If successful they call out the damage equation, if not then a blue marker is placed so the player can see the ‘water spouts’ and get an idea of how far off the shot was. More guns spread the shots and increase the chances of hitting. Bigger guns do more damage.
(Good shooting!: long range British gunnery scores 3 direct hits on the Vittorio Veneto)
Torpedoes are shown by placing pipe-cleaners which then speed along for a few turns before sinking … and do huge damage to anything unable to get out of the way. For Destroyers, torpedoes are the main offensive weapon.
It is as simple as that … the down side is you need a lot of space … the upside is almost anyone can play and very few rules need to be grasped.
The methodology is, of course, entirely abstract … the game system does not mimic the science of target acquisition in an age of precision instruments and mechanical calculators – however, for many players, the combination of a ‘fun’ bit of skill with about the right level outcomes makes the system preferable to rolling dice and complex charts.
I am working on some solutions of my own to aspects of the 20th Century Fleet engagement (kaboom! near the bottom of this COW report) but it was highly entertaining to have another go at the FP game so well put together. My thanks to all involved.
we had a few destroyers (Italian) blown out of the water, and a number of capital ships quite badly knocked about (including the Warspite) as a result of which both fleets needed to recover.
Operationally, that was something of a result for the Regia Marina and they were confident that had achieved enough to green light the invasion fleet ..
Well … that’s another story. I am told this encounter was, of all things, an ‘equal points’ encounter – and it certainly felt a close affair.
We finished the day with some airstrikes … here one of my torpedo bombers gets through and drops its fish within a turn’s run of the target (the ship would not be able to move before the hit slams in!
A good point to wrap up my report.
You can get the Fletcher Pratt naval wargame in John Curry’s reprint …