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A weekend of Wargaming Part 4: 1:1200 Pre-Dreadnaught Naval, A Quick Look

I don’t know what the rule set we have used is called but it’s based around Tsushima, so im going to refer to it as that (Pete may comment with more info). In both games I’ve played the Russian Baltic Fleet, Pete the IJN combined fleet.

Tsushima is a game of two very distinct halves. In the first you move around paper markers trying to out bluff and out manoeuvre each other to cross your opponents T and get your destroyers in close. This is by far the most nail biting time I have had with miniatures.

Paper counters - three real, one decoy remain

Once your two bluff counters have been seen through and your others revealed you swap them out for metal ships (1:1200) and your fleet is on the table. The first half is the initial jockeying for position and the first pass. The second half is the following confusion and then perhaps a second or more passes. The first pass is very much a calculated icy affair of trying to secure the best fire angle for your fleet. After this the game sort of takes a life of its own as your formations break up, ships blow up and strategy starts to go out the window.

I have already described the mechanics in brief in a previous post;

Firing is a very random affair, one shot could hit a hull, score a critical hit and down your opponents lead battleship. Or you could blast away for three turns and barely make a scratch. The strategy in this game is about maximising your odds of getting either a critical hit, or scoring hits with your biggest calibre guns.  You achieve this by crossing your opponents T, getting your fore, aft and flank guns on to their lead ship and limiting them to their fore deck gunnery or by getting into first port and then starboard (or vice versa) torpedo range to off load your tubes.

In this weekend’s game Pete out scouted me early and forced me into a compromise. One on hand by deploying my battleships second I was able to cross his T, but I had to sacrifice my destroyers to do it. I didn’t win two very tense initiative rolls and he duly sunk my destroyers. My battleships and cruisers did enjoy a superior volume of fire over the first two turns but it did not yield any critical hits or significant damage. Once our lines were parallel the exchange was more or less a draw, he sunk my old battleship and two cruisers out right, and I put his cruisers out of action. I did score a critical hitting his flag ship bridge but the Pete S ‘Togo’ lucked out and sailed away with only scars.   
Terrible picture, but my phones battery died. One destroyer sunk (red cone) the other two will soon follow, but my battleships are well positioned.

Having destroyers, Battleships and Cruisers each with their own roles gives this game perhaps a little more strategic depth than Fivecore. You can deploy on one line, or several echelons, you can hold your destroyers back and wait to your opponents secondary gunnery has been reduced in combat, or you can try and gain the advantage early with a torpedo rush. These are the clear cut but difficult decision points that I look for in strategy games. 


  1. Yup the rules are just called 'Tsushima'. BTW- I've found corrected play aids that tell you what advantage evasive maneuvering gives you.



  2. addendum to this article, the scale of these ships was 1:2500 not 1:1200, shows how much I know about minis.


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