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"Naval lines vs. game movement." Topic

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sillypoint28 Nov 2012 11:53 p.m. PST

Pre dreadnought naval and others of that ilke, have ships in line formation, in a game how important and why would you keep such a formation. How do games you play "enforce" that sort of movement?

David Manley29 Nov 2012 2:37 a.m. PST

if the rules reflect reality then players will find that maintaining a linear formation and manoeuvring appropriately should maximise their offensive capability against the enemy. I've noticed many times in games of this period and earlier periods that the fleet whose players understand the coherency of the fleet do rather better than less organised opponents.

Martin Rapier29 Nov 2012 2:40 a.m. PST

Do you mean line abreast or line astern?

In any case, we use DBA style PIPs for command and control, and ships manouvre in groups (lines). If you scatter them all over the table, then you very rapidly run out of PIPs with somewhat dire consequences if you suddenly find you need to repair some damage or change course…

System used in De Bellis Navalis by Colin Standish, Iron Ships & Wooden Heads by Tim Gow and Damn Battleships Again by Phil Barker. All ruleset cousins, even if Mr Barker denies it…

iirc GQ3 enforces squadron movement in line astern too?

Texas Jack29 Nov 2012 4:21 a.m. PST

I agree with Mr Manley. While I donīt think there should be any rules enforcing a certain formation,after all, disorder was very a very easy thing to occur in the chaos of battle, there should be inherent penalties for not using the formation best suited for your ships.

Regarding line abreast versus line astern, though line astern became the norm in order to utilize broadside firepower, many ships from the early 1880s were designed for end-on fire, so a fleet composed of such ships would be better served in line abreast.

That said, I have fought Yalu (1894) many times, and the Chinese always seem to do better in line astern, even though their two most powerful ships were designed for end on fire. Go figure.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian29 Nov 2012 4:45 a.m. PST

Any rules that do not have Los/masking and in some eras smoke rules make line astern irrelevant and encourages free-for-all or pell mell. Pell mell also makes it easier to isolate, gang up on, and eliminate individual ships.

whitejamest29 Nov 2012 9:26 a.m. PST

One advantage of the line astern formation comes from the fact that in these types of games movement does not happen simultaneously, and (I believe) most rule sets do not allow a player to interrupt the other side's movement to fire on them. A long line of ships with overlapping broadsides prevents the enemy from zipping through your narrow field of fire in one turn, or darting in to a raking position with impunity before you can return fire. They can still cut the line, but are in more danger of being surrounded.

Maybe we would say this has less to do with historical simulation and comes down more to the mechanics of table top games. Are there systems that allow you to interrupt your enemy's moves?

Kiss Me Hardy is the only set of rules I am very familiar with, and it does not offer any system of bonuses/penalties for formations, only simple mechanics for how to maintain the formation. But even so I think the formation is an advantage.

- James

warren bruhn Inactive Member29 Nov 2012 12:37 p.m. PST

Don't forget "line of bearing."

Most of the rules I've played involved both sides pre-plotting movement each turn via written orders. The orders can usually be written only for the flagship of a division or squadron, with other ships in the division or squadron following in line astern.

Usually more firepower is available firing to broadside arc, and that usually keeps ships steaming a parallel or nearly parallel course with the enemy.

MajorB29 Nov 2012 2:26 p.m. PST

Usually more firepower is available firing to broadside arc, and that usually keeps ships steaming a parallel or nearly parallel course with the enemy.

But crossing the enemy's T is devastating.

sillypoint29 Nov 2012 2:45 p.m. PST

Pell mell! As a wargamer I love pell mell. Gives me a reason to push the miniatures about. Pull back the ship with longer range, a six is after all a six, and damage is on the critical chart. Send in the little guys, after all the big guy is the enemies objective.

However, something in the back of my mind disturbs me. Kind of like those tanks in the "Battle of the Bulge" movie.

Texas Jack29 Nov 2012 4:10 p.m. PST

If you want to be pell melled, then Lissa would be the battle for you.

Lions Den Inactive Member02 Dec 2012 4:16 p.m. PST

I learned that in those days a ship would engage it's opposite in a battle line to see the fall of their shot. If all ships fire at any target ship they want then you cannot tell the fall of your ship's shot and you couldn't make adjustments. So if the game rules hamper shooting in pell mell than that would give reason to go line astern. The rules should make engaging a single ship opposite yours in line astern better odds of hitting.


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