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"Recommendations for a 1900-1920 naval battle rules set." Topic

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10 Jun 2019 10:40 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Comments or corrections?

Zookie10 Jun 2019 9:05 a.m. PST

I've been wargaming for about 10 years, but my experience has been land based and I want to try setting sail. But I am not sure what rule set to start.

I am looking for a rule set that handles the dreadnought era (so roughly 1900-1920). Here are the specifics that I am looking for.

1.Can played at 1/2400 scale.
2.Plays causally enough for pickup games but has enough "meat on the bone" to hold the attention of experienced wargamers.
3.Can be played in 2 hours or less once the players are comfortable with the rules.
4.Is well researched and provides historically plausible outcomes.
5. Can be played on a 6x4 table (if this is overly prohibitive please let me know if 1/6000 scale would be better)
6.Will appeal to those steeped in naval military history and those who are not.

Lastly it does not have to be to accommodate many ship, 5+ on each side would be just fine. If you think a rule set with a much larger ship count fits the bill would you recommend moving to 1/6000 scale?

Lastly if the rule set can be played in other eras that would be a plus but not necessary.

Thanks in advance!

Texas Jack10 Jun 2019 11:55 a.m. PST

I think General Quarters II would come close to fitting your criteria. Keep in mind these are the original WWI GQ rules, not the Fleet Action Imminent set.
As for table size, at that scale you will definitely start within range, so it would certainly lend itself to fast play as you would be shooting from the start!
I play with 1/3000 on an 8x5 table and with dreadnoughts it seems a bit small, but I loathe the idea of going to 1/6000 as at my age I simply can´t see the damn things. :)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jun 2019 11:56 a.m. PST

I think your points 2 and 6 are going to be a bit tough. But I would recommend the old Ben King rules "Sides of steel." Simple but meaty as you say. And he has versions of the same rules for WW1, etc.

Here is a detailed summary of the WW1 version I wrote a few years ago:


Big Red Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2019 1:01 p.m. PST

Extra Crispy, are Ben King's rules still available?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jun 2019 1:36 p.m. PST

They were published by Cotton Jim's Flags. I haven't checked if they are still in print.

The Beast Rampant10 Jun 2019 2:23 p.m. PST

Noble Knight has some copies in stock:


It's a dollar a page! grin

Zookie10 Jun 2019 2:41 p.m. PST

If it is too hard to find a balance between a hardcore rule set and a beer and pretzels rule set it would be better to err on the beer and pretzels side. But the game would need enough complexity to stay interesting to people accustom to wargames but new to naval wargames.

hindsTMP10 Jun 2019 2:54 p.m. PST

How about this?

1) Pick your rules. I suggest General Quarters 2, which ATM is only available from Navwar in UK: ( link )

2) Pick a simple battle, like Coronel 1914, or hypothetical Goeben versus British CAs or BCs in Med 1914 ( link ). Make cardboard counters in 1/2400 and 1/6000 for your ships, and try a test game with each model scale on your 4x6 table. IMHO, 1/2400 is too large, but YMMV. Remember, you DON'T have to use the table scale in your rules, but can change it to fit your table. I used to mark up a tape measure with a permanent marker, or you could mark up a fabric sewing measuring tape.

Here's 1/6000 on a 7x4 table:


Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2019 3:52 p.m. PST

Naval Thunder is my go to to hit your points. Casual enough to pick up quickly, meaty enough to engage history buffs.

I recommend it especially for this period, though there are flavors of this set for Pre-Dreads, Dreads and WWII.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2019 8:17 a.m. PST

Noble Knight has some copies of the per-dreadnaught rules and some scenario books but the WWI and WWII sets are sold out.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2019 12:36 p.m. PST

I think GQ III- Fleet Action Imminent would serve for the period you cite. We have successfully used them for several years.

colkitto11 Jun 2019 1:03 p.m. PST

GQ2, the original one from Navwar for a very reasonable price, is the target to beat. I haven't actually tried these, but Naval Warfare: Battleships to Dreadnoughts, or Dreadnoughts at Dawn, are both available from Wargame Vault and might suit your requirements?

ajbartman25 Jul 2019 3:50 p.m. PST

While not 1/2400, check out Heart of Leviathan.

Bozkashi Jones27 Jul 2019 3:26 a.m. PST

I would also recommend General Quarters 2 – the mechanics are very simple and give a good game while being thoroughly researched. I've played with my son with up to eight ships a side without any difficulty with games playing to a conclusion in under two hours.

As an example, here's an After Action Report from 2016. The RN had 5 units (8 ships – the four destroyers count as 1 when using the fleet rules to simplify the record keeping) and Hipper's force had 7 (12 ships – again, the destroyers count as 1, as does each pair of Light Cruisers).

I used 1/6000 miniatures, but 1/2400 work just fine.

TMP link

If you're getting into this period I would recommend "The Great War at Sea – A Naval Atlas 1914 – 1919", published by Faulkner, as a really good source for some of the smaller actions, especially those away from the North Sea.

I would also recommend buying a dozen or so ships in 1/3000 first – these are cheap as chips and can be painted in an afternoon. It would mean you could try out a few games before deciding if you'd like to go the whole hog and splash out on the beautiful but expensive 1/2400.

Good luck, and it's a wonderful period! Mark's suggestion of starting with something like the Coronel 1914 is a really good one – you can pick up all the ships for both the Coronel and the Falklands, including Canopus and Emden for 'what-ifs' for £21.45 GBP (about $26 USD).


Bozkashi Jones29 Jul 2019 6:38 p.m. PST

Zookie, to go back to your specific questions:

1.Can played at 1/2400 scale. Yes
2.Plays causally enough for pickup games but has enough "meat on the bone" to hold the attention of experienced wargamers. – Yes: as long as someone involved knows the game it's pretty simple for others. I started playing it with my son when he was about 8 or 9
3.Can be played in 2 hours or less once the players are comfortable with the rules. – Yes
4.Is well researched and provides historically plausible outcomes. – Yes: all the detail is in the tables, so it's a bit like DBA in that the Combat Resolution Tables hide a great deal of subtlety
5. Can be played on a 6x4 table (if this is overly prohibitive please let me know if 1/6000 scale would be better) – Yes, but it depends: In the North Sea the visibility is frequently around 10,000 yards, which is 40" in GQ. If playing with battleships or battlecruisers, I use 1/6,000 ships and just use cms instead of inches which gives a 6'x4' playing area of about 45,000 yards by 30,000 yards which gives a lot more room for manoeuvre. If doing cruiser/destroyer actions 1/2400 is fine
6.Will appeal to those steeped in naval military history and those who are not. – Yes: it's a well respected system for naval buffs but simple enough to just enjoy the slugfest. The 'fleet' options allow 4 destroyers or 2 light cruisers to be tracked as one entity which does mean that actions such as Dogger Bank are entirely feasible (5 BC, 3 CL and 8 DD 'units')

Hope this helps


AdmiralHawke08 Aug 2019 1:58 p.m. PST

Thank you all for the useful posts here. ;-)

OldReliable186217 Jan 2020 6:27 p.m. PST

Does anyone have experience with the 'Fear God & Dread Nought' and 'Challenge & Reply II' rulesets?

Father Grigori17 Jan 2020 6:44 p.m. PST

Another vote for GQ2. The distances are all in inches, but if you're pushed for space they suggest using centimetres instead.

Blutarski21 Jan 2020 6:01 p.m. PST

FG&DN = a fairly complicated rule set. A lot of detail.


138SquadronRAF23 Jan 2020 7:34 a.m. PST

Question, which portion of the era are you mist interested in?

The Pre-Dreadnought era 1900-1910 or the Dreadnought era 1911-1920? If you're doing say Russo-Japanese War I would recommend a different rules to WWI

alan L24 Jan 2020 2:06 a.m. PST

Big difference between the rwo periods. I would recommend Dave Manley's rules specifically for each period. They are available on Wargames Vault as Long Face Games.

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