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"Cruel Seas vs Flames of War" Topic

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07 Jan 2019 6:02 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Winston Smith04 Jan 2019 2:35 p.m. PST

Some seem to think that Flames of War suffers from "hub to hub" syndrome. I don't consider that a problem, since I can easily grasp the concept that a 15mm tank on a table is going to present scale problems.
Besides, I was heavily into WRG Ancients in my miss spent youth. Nobody whines about flank to flank elephants or chariots back then, so I find it curious that it's brought up with tanks.

Anyway… Just from a cursory glance at Cruel Seas, it seems to me that there's an even bigger scale problem here. Those ship models are awfully big, especially if you have a lot of them, for a normal table.
I've never seen that brought up here on TMP. Yet in comparison to FoW, the scale "problem" is even more glaring.
On top of that, it's a successful commercial product, which should, and usually does trigger even more whines and complaining.

Having said that, I've dismissed the "problem" for elephants and chariots, I dismiss it with FoW, and if you showed up in my basement with a full set of Cruel Seas, I would happily whip off my ground cloth, exposing the blue vinyl and play.
Can I have the Japanese destroyer that ran down JFK's PT boat?

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 2:39 p.m. PST

Sure you can – Dismissed (the scale issue – not you!).

Vigilant04 Jan 2019 2:46 p.m. PST

Putting too many ships on the table will soon end in numerous collisions. So after a few games I expect numbers to decrease dramatically, or tables to get bigger!

Timmo uk04 Jan 2019 2:52 p.m. PST

It's even worse with air combat games but as you write pretty much almost all wargaming is a suspension of disbelief.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 2:54 p.m. PST

There's a whole load of issues generated by the size of the models. Machine guns can't fire from one end if a destroyer to another, measuring from the weapon mount means a gun may be in range to a target yet the same gun elsewhere on the same ship can be out if range, collisions are more likely, etc. But it's fun and popular and it's getting people playing naval so give it a break :)

Wackmole904 Jan 2019 3:01 p.m. PST

+1 to David Manley

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 3:26 p.m. PST

With the threat of rudder-hit induced collisions in Cruel Seas, I found myself automatically spreading my boats out and giving them maneuvering space (well beyond the game's combat scaling).

Hasn't model scale almost always been out of whack in most miniatures games?

Look at the space a 28mm BP-era 2 or 3 rank line has to occupy because of the footprint the miniatures impose nobody (but a few) complain about these issues anymore.

Playing with miniatures imposes compromises if you play miniature wargames, you've given up your [realism] purity a long time ago…….but some have never come to terms with this.

(you'll find this crew hovering around most of those 50+ comment threads here on TMP too)

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 3:53 p.m. PST

+2 David Manley

Scale distortion in naval gaming causes actual mechanical problems that go far beyond visual aesthetics. Gun ranges, maneuver room, speed:time:distance ratios, everything gets messed up. The more scale distortion, the more messed up everything gets. Eras and genres with long-range gunnery are less affected, eras and genres with short ranges (or direct contact, like ancients-through-Renaissance) are more affected.

The Cruel Seas miniatures are gorgeous, but way too big to game with, especially in a genre that features 40 knot boats shooting short-range weapons at each other. I'm perfectly happy with Action Stations, and I already find 1/600 or 1/700 to be a bit of a stretch.

- Ix

Tony S04 Jan 2019 5:04 p.m. PST

Look at the space a 28mm BP-era 2 or 3 rank line has to occupy because of the footprint the miniatures impose nobody (but a few) complain about these issues anymore.

I tend to agree with FlyXwire. Land games tend to ignore scales, especially the depth. And yet, I find WW2 skirmish games to be "better" (entirely my perception) in 15mm as opposed to 28mm, as the ground scale is 15mm as well. (I'm talking about Chain of Command primarily).

Naval gamers seem to be more focused on keeping the figure scale close to, or the same as, the ground scale. (err…ship scale vs water scale might be more apropos).

That said, 1/300 might be more realistic, if collisions can happen. When I was reading up on this topic, after finishing one book (Schnellboote link quite an exhaustive operational history) I was struck by the fact that collisions seemed to cause as much or more damage to the S-Boats as enemy action did! But when you've weaving and dodging at high speeds, in the dead of night, it seems rather likely.

And even though I'm painting up my CS starter box boats, I'm still waffling over buying and switching over to models from PT Dockyard in 1/600.

Lion in the Stars04 Jan 2019 5:10 p.m. PST

Naval gamers seem to be more focused on keeping the figure scale close to, or the same as, the ground scale. (err…ship scale vs water scale might be more apropos).

We didn't in Bremerton (except when we were playing 1:1). We ran 1/2400 ships with 1"=1000yd groundscale, because that was the standard tactical plot groundscale.

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 5:52 p.m. PST

And too Cruel Seas is detailing coastal night actions or as a gamer, I can elect to present my CS games as being exclusively night actions w/o any historical discrepancy.

Combat engagement at night was limited and distorted by the lack of visibility, fog, moon reflection, artificial illumination variance, and all sorts of conditions that if firing on land we would assume would naturally limit engagement range.

As Tony S points out (and I've read also in one of Osprey's books on the S-Boots), some German flotillas were relegated ineffective at times because of the collisions that occurred (during their night ops, and not involving enemy encounters but just among themselves).

Not sure if I'm imagining too much in my mind's eye, but after reading the book Narrow Seas, I do imagine boats coming into contact out of the gloom (or having been detected by their engine sounds), blazing away, maybe launching torpedoes, and passing back into the gloom, reorienting for another pass if the damage wasn't too severe, or attempting to limp home if not overtaken by a pursuing enemy.

The combat ranges were what the conditions rendered.

We debated over such statistical realities when doing our air combat gaming, and trying to enable realistic climb/dive rates but while reflecting manageable altitude levels. So how many altitude calibrations were we going to be able to factor, and reflect by some 3D indicator/method and still be usable with some chosen scale of miniature aircraft? What, 250 ft. per level, so maybe enabling a few altitude levels difference to allow effective MG firing between these levels? So now that entails 120 indicators to be able to deal with altitudes up to 30,000 ft.?! Maybe 500 ft. per instead, now that's 60 altitude levels to track?!

What evolved, was an understanding, or an acknowledgement [as a design need] for an "engagement zone", an airspace where the combat aircraft met, fought within, and at times left (traversing out of, or having been damage/destroyed from within).

That's how I'll conceive organizing my Cruel Seas scenarios too.

Mr Jones04 Jan 2019 5:58 p.m. PST

-3 David Manley (just for the fun of it)

I don't play either game, so care not!

Old Contemptibles04 Jan 2019 7:19 p.m. PST

Years ago I wanted to do a Vicksburg project in 15mm regimental. I had seen it done by many players.

I elicited some advice from Richard Houston who told me that you will have to make many compromises to pull it off. The ground scale vs. figure scale vs. ship scale are impossible to reconcile.

I bought one 15mm boat and knew right away this wasn't going to work. When you calculate the correct ground scale the cliffs along the river were huge.

I did use that boat for a Belmont scenario where it was the only warship on the river and it worked fine.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2019 7:29 p.m. PST

I was excited about the release until I saw the promo pics.i can't suspend my belief enough to play a WWII naval game where the table looks like the display area of a used boat store. I'd probably be all in at a smaller scale.

TheNorthernFront04 Jan 2019 7:46 p.m. PST

Both games are extremely ridiculous. 15mm WWII can be done at a believable level. Having an entire tank platoon on the table is outlandish though.

Darrell B D Day05 Jan 2019 4:12 a.m. PST

I've never seen that brought up here on TMP.

That's weird – I got the impression it was the main issue that people discussed when it was released.


Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2019 7:28 a.m. PST

Rallynow, I remember a Shiloh campaign fought in our area, where the Confederates had driven back the Union remnants in a series of well-fought battles to Pittsburgh Landing (we had 'em bagged!). Miraculously, here shows up a single steamboat (a nice model if I remember correctly) to evacuate the Yankees. One boat to carry off, I dunno, hundred+ of mix stands of infantry and artillery "oh, we got these boys!". Nope, our brigades sat idle as the Union loaded on all their panoply of a defeated army onto one model boat…..

It took a lot to convince us that this was possible because of some claim for scaling [one] vessel to some matching miniatures ratio….actually "we was robbed!" (man, I still remember that feeling today that was 30+ years ago)

ernieR05 Jan 2019 8:20 a.m. PST

Nobody whines about flank to flank elephants or chariots back then, so I find it curious that it's brought up with tanks.

nobody is alive who saw elephants or chariots in combat so we don't have a visual reference . we have seen tanks in action , or seen newsreels and movies of tanks in action so we know what they're supposed to look like .
also with exploding ordinance it seems like a really bad idea to have your vehicles too close together .

however , it's a game and compromises are made in most (all?) rules .

Col Piron05 Jan 2019 10:18 a.m. PST

Having an entire tank platoon on the table is outlandish though.

In V4 its easy to field a full Regiment of British Honeys in MW ! huh?

D A THB05 Jan 2019 2:58 p.m. PST

Cruel Seas comes with a 3x4 Sea mat, although I have not spread mine out to measure it yet. Try playing the scenarios on a 6x4 table if the scale bothers you that much.

I am having a few problems trying to scale down Zulu Regiments against British units and find thats its just not possible unless you use different ratios for each side. But thats not going to stop me from playing Rorkes Drift or Isandlwana.

Lion in the Stars05 Jan 2019 9:43 p.m. PST

Both games are extremely ridiculous. 15mm WWII can be done at a believable level. Having an entire tank platoon on the table is outlandish though.

A tank platoon in support of a battalion? Sounds about right.

And if we're rolling the Red Tide, well, I have 20 T34s I need to build for my Engineer-Sapper Battalion (though I really should add a second battalion of Sappers).

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2019 3:12 a.m. PST

Not really part of these two systems, but as "scale problems" are mentioned…

My favourite "face palmer" is the ability of the 8.8 gun in Bolt Action to fire indirect if the target is 24" away.

Lion in the Stars06 Jan 2019 12:40 p.m. PST

Yes, you can definitely run into an appearance problem if your model scale is too far from your ground scale.

Flames runs into that with 4"= ~25m (SMG range).

ScottS08 Jan 2019 1:15 p.m. PST

Having an entire tank platoon on the table is outlandish though.

Five tanks in a 15mm game doesn't sound excessive.

It's when they start getting dozens of tanks that I walk away.

Col Piron08 Jan 2019 4:58 p.m. PST

You mean tank parks , the new BF game .

The Last Conformist14 Sep 2019 11:12 a.m. PST

Tangentially and necromantically, the Arthashastra (a sort of Indian handbook for princes) says that chariotry should be deployed with gaps of about 1.5 m between vehicles, which isn't hub-to-hub but closer than what my (admittedly Near Eastern and Celtic rather than Indian) chariots on WRG bases are when the bases are in lateral contact (taking "15mm" models to be 1:100 scale).

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