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"Balancing Tsushima?" Topic

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Brother Richard10 Dec 2012 4:27 a.m. PST

Just wondering if anyone had any thoughts for trying to balance the Battle of Tsushima so that it doesn't descend into a turkey shoot?

We are planning to play it at our club for the Christmas game.

Whenever I have played this naval war the Russians always end up loosing quite decisively – but maybe that is because I am usually Russian and an incompetent Captain! ;-)

Ta Richard

Texas Jack10 Dec 2012 5:12 a.m. PST

In my experience the fleets on paper are more balanced than in reality. The Japanese line even included armored cruisers, which donīt stand up well against battleships (in theory, anyway!)
If you are using any rules that address things like crew morale and quality, or any other factors associated with the Russianīs long trek to battle, then get rid of them and have both sides start as equal.
Otherwise you could simply say that Port Arthur hadnīt fallen yet, and that there were some ships from there that could join the Russian fleet.
But no matter how you slice it, those Japanese quick firers will get you every time!

vaughan Inactive Member10 Dec 2012 5:38 a.m. PST

It wont be Tsushima if you tinker with it. In one sided historical re-fights what you need to do is apply different victory conditions to each side. For instance, Japan doesn't win by sinking more ships but by sinking a certain number of ships. Russia gets points for damaging Japanese ships and preserving their own. It needs a little thought but it gives both sides different, but achievable, objectives.

Rudi the german Inactive Member10 Dec 2012 5:40 a.m. PST


I played it 20 years ago with 1/3000 and the "feuer frei" rules. If you only play Tsushima the Russians have really a problem.

You should play all see battles of the war as linked battles. First the battle to destroy the pacific fleet and than the baltic fleet. The japanese carries his loses from one battle to the next.

You could even give the russian a chance that he can combine his leftovers from the pacific fleet with he baltic fleet before the final battle?

That is how I would do it today.

Greetings and have fun

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 7:37 a.m. PST

Whenever I have played this naval war the Russians always end up loosing quite decisively – but maybe that is because I am usually Russian and an incompetent Captain! ;-)

Perhaps because the Russians SHOULD lose decisively? grin
Unless the Japanese blow up their own ships, I don't see how they can lose.

Ashurman Inactive Member10 Dec 2012 7:47 a.m. PST

I agree with Rudi, that the most effective balancing is to play the campaign after the mining of the Japanese battleships, but using the strategic "plans" of the Russians…do the Yellow Sea/Round Island breakout and, IF the Russians succeed in getting to Vladivostock and fixing their damages (that one is not a sure thing, as the port facilities were not as good as those at Port Arthur), sortie them in support. Also, you could ignore the beating that the Vladivostock Squadron took (Bogatyr, Rossia, Gromoboi heavily damaged, Rurik sunk) and have them sortie. However, if time prevents this…

An option is to let the Russians have the ex-Chilean second class battleships that ended up as the English Swiftsure and Triumph. Adding 8-10" and 28-7.5" QF in 19 knot ships (minus for the long voyage) could (and usually does) help – they are good when operating against the armored cruisers. Their 10"/45, although not as rqapid firing or effective as the Rurik II's 10"/50, are still FAR better than the 10" of the Pobieda class in ROF, shell weight, etc., etc.

Another option, IF your rules take the poor quality of the crews and Russian ammunition into account, remove those…it is by no means certain that the shells the Baltic Fleet carried were as bad as those fired at Round Island, where several very good hits were made but large caliber shells failed to explode. Russian gunnery was also not so bad until they were overwhelmed by hits…making visibility better might also help, as the Russians were better at "long" range (say, 10-12,000 yards) than the Japanese. IIRC, much of the time visibility was 8,000 yards and less.

Last but not least, positing some added aggression and less tactical blunders (keeping on when your T is crossed at range being pretty stupid…) can radically alter the results. While Round Island is a far more even fight, Tsushima should have been at least closer, given the relative merits of the fleets.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 7:48 a.m. PST

Agree with John. This is a battle whose outcome is preordained. Too great a disparity in so many ways.

I also agree with Vaughan regarding using victory conditions to balance the game.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 9:50 a.m. PST

If I was running this game for our group I wouldn't even give play balance a thought. Any of the guys would cheerfully take on the task of outperforming the original Russian commanders, knowing that it was probably futile but keeping in mind that neither the fate of their nation nor their personal honor was at stake.

They generally don't mind taking the disadvantaged side in a game . . . if they get beaten, everyone expected it and no one will remember next week; however, if they prevail, it is all that much more glorious and it will be the talk of the club for years.

The game would likely end with a lengthy and congenial discussion (probably over cigars and single malt) of what went wrong and how (or if) it could have been avoided. Chances are that the subject of "winning" or "losing" would not come up, but there would be some exploration of formations and tactics, and of various ships and their relative worth.

To some gamers, playing a wargame without Victory Conditions is like sailing without a rudder, so this style of gaming may not work well with your club. Still you might consider dispensing with play balance entirely, and just tell the guys to do the best they can with what they've got.

afilter Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 1:06 p.m. PST

I have played Yellow Sea, Ulsan and Tsushima using NT-RoTB and in all cases the results were fairly historical which kind of astounded me especially when some of the same ships were sunk.

The campaign approach is the best way IMO. Don't forget to add ships that were lost to other actions to the OoB if you go that route.

The couple of times we did play the full scale Tsushima or Yellow Sea it was still a blast. Seeing all those ships layed out is great fun.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 1:30 p.m. PST

I'm with War Artisan on this one. Why should any game be balanced? Historically there are very few historically balanced battles, why should there be in our games?

For me gaming should be a shared exercise in historical story telling. You play to win, because otherwise you are letting the side down – that is unless there is a good reason, as outlined in the scenario for preforming below par, in which case expect to be screwed over.

Tsushima is an example where the paper strength and historical preformance is very much at odd.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2012 3:01 p.m. PST

I am not a fan of the "5 victory points for surviving one hour longer than the losers" approach, either. Dead is dead. Sunk is sunk.
But I would still play it, AND as the Russians, if someone went to all the trouble to paint them up and ran the game. See my thread today on "inferior armies".

Not every battle can be a "near run thing", with a 50:50 chance of winning. Why should they? I don't mind gettin' blowed up real good. Wargaming is a social occasion, and I am hardly ever in the mood to seriously think I am learning anything from it.

Having said Paragraph One, there is stil a lot to be said for mercilesly taunting the Japanese for not sinking you, and allowing you to escape.

coopman Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2012 6:54 a.m. PST

What make and scale are those ship models? I think that at least some of them are by Panzerschiffes.

warren bruhn Inactive Member12 Dec 2012 6:15 p.m. PST

Seems to me that some alternate history on the strategic and operational scale could result in a better chance for the Russians. What if Russia's ally France had declared war on Japan in response to the Japanese DoW on Russia? The French could attempt to get control of Formosa/Taiwan in such a war.

But since that might bring in the British on the side of Japan, perhaps France could simply give the Tsar a 99 year lease on Cam Ran Bay, or some other suitable naval base where the Russians could repair and rest their fleet. That might force the Japanese to go into the South China Sea after the Russians, since their presence at a base in Indochina would threaten Japanese controlled Formosa. That might allow the Russians to set up an ambush.

afilter Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2012 8:19 p.m. PST

Coopman, 1/2400 and yes the majority are Panzerschiffe with some Viking forge mixed in…all have custom masts.

michaelk177615 Jan 2013 1:15 p.m. PST

These are some of the pictures of Tsushima from ProOrCon in Detroit in October 2012.
They are many Houston's ships, heavily modified. Almost all funnels and masts were replaced with tubing and rods. About 6 ships were scratch-built by me.


Texas Jack16 Jan 2013 12:10 p.m. PST

Beautiful ships!

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