North Cape

Brief Description

The game deals with German attempts with surface vessels to interfere with Murmansk-bound convoys. Comes with eight scenarios (5 historical, 3 what ifs). The campaign game consists of running a hypothetical convoy to Murmansk in a 48-hour period (each campaign game turn represented 1 hour, so the whole thing lasted 48 turns). Campaign maps were used to plot convoy and task force courses (ala Avalon Hill's Jutland boardgame) with some simple air and submarine search capacity.

An alternate movement system is used, with torpedo attacks being written down before either side moved, and then being revealed after all movement was over. This provided a very quick torpedo resolution system. Rather than tracking the torpedos' course and determining if a ship was struck, the torpedoes were targeted at a given hex (had to be within so many hexes of the firing vessel, and within a firing arc depending on how the torpedoes were mounted) with a entire bank being fired. If a ship ended movement in or adjacent to the target hex, a chart was consulted and 1d6 rolled to determine if the ship was hit and by how many torpedoes. Each torpedo hit was then rolled out.

The rest of the game system is the same as General Quarters, with conversion from inches to hexes.

Period WWII - Murmansk Convoys
Scale The rulebook doesn't state the game scale, but comparison to the gunnery tables and ship data in General Quarters allows one to calculate the scale as 1 hex being about 833 yards, a speed factor being 5 knots, and a turn being about 5 minutes. Intended for use with 1/4800 scale models.
Basing unknown
Contents Boxed set containing:
  • rulebook
  • ship identification chart (with photographs of each model - really helped figure out what was what without resorting to a Janes and a magnifying glass)
  • two sets of playing tables
  • pad of campaign sheets (depicting the Arctic Sea in and around Norway's North Cape)
  • fourteen 1/4800 scale miniature ships (6 German, 8 British) (Scharnhorst was just about 2" in length; destroyers were from 0.75-1.0")
  • 9 hexboards made of thick cardboard (each having a blue surface with lighter blue hex sides in a 10x10 hex grid, edges contained half hexes so boards could be joined, edge board was 9"x10" so all nine together gave you a 27"x30" playing surface, hexes were all 1")
Designer Lonnie L. Gill
Publisher Published 1978 by C-in-C

What You Think

Tom Barkalow (twb-vpl@worldnet.att.net)

I loved this game system. Not all of the scenarios were balanced (very often the case with historic naval engagements). This game resulted in my buying both General Quarter sets and converting them to a hex system for use with cardboard counters. This gave me many, many hours of pleasure for both WWII and WWI engagements.

I even developed a plotted movement variant to use in a double-blind system with a moderator (each player in a separate room writing orders down and providing to me as moderator; I had all forces on my board and performed all movements and combat, then fed info to each side; smoke screens took on a whole new meaning with this system).

I eventually bought some RAFM iron-on hexes and a large sheet of dark blue felt so I could use 1/2400 miniatures. I discovered the best games consisted of small ship actions, especially night time where visibility was limited. I was disappointed that this system was not taken further, especially as I felt it would be perfect for the Guadalcanal actions on Ironbottom Sound. This system also ignited an interest in WWI naval actions.

It is by no means the "perfect" naval game system; I don't believe in making such claims because wargaming preferences are very much an individual matter.

A few quirks worth mentioning:

  • It is possible for a ship to fire torpedoes and then be hit by them (if the player didn't pay attention and moved into the target hex)
  • merchant ships are hard to sink with gunnery from a destroyer, due to their defense factor being related to their tonnage, and the gunnery system being based on a ratio between gunnery attack factors versus defense factor
  • I discovered the gunnery attack factors were directly related to shell weight, and from the research I have performed, damage from an armor penetrating bursting shell is not directly proportional to shell weight or bursting charge weight.

All these quirks were due to game abstractions and could be lived with (though try telling that to the guy who just sunk his ship with his own torpedoes!). Needless to say, I view this game with a great deal of fondness.

The publisher subsequently issued additional German and British ships in 1/4800 scale for use with the old AH Bismarck boardgame. These additions allowed one to build up nearly the entire German surface navy (given the large number of destroyers sunk in the invasion of Norway) and a good portion of the British Home Fleet. There were even merchant ships (tankers, freighters, Liberty ships, and armed merchantmen) to use for a convoy. The only disappointment was no aircraft carriers were included (too bad for Ark Royal enthusiasts). No other ships were subsequently produced in this scale.

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Online Resources

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Last Updates
11 February 1999major update (thanks to Tom Barkalow)
12 November 1998page first published
Comments or corrections?