Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Burning Troubridges - Naval Thunder AAR

The usual crew gathered a Ted's place this past weekend for a change of scenery. Instead of the usual scenery, we found ourselves on the high seas; in the Mediterranean, to be specific, and about 40 years in the past. 

The scenario was a refight of what, historically, ended up as the debacle of a pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau, the two ships that Germany gave to the Ottomans to coax them into World War 1. In reality, the British let the German ships slip by, refusing to engage. We would play the engagement out and see if the outdated armored cruisers of the British could defeat the heavier armed and armored Goeben

For this scenario, I was controlling the Goeben and Breslau. I could either gain a tactical victory by escaping off the far board edge, or a major victory by sinking three of the four British ships. John, Ted, Chip, and Steve commanded the Defence, Warrior, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Black Prince, respectively. 

Unfortunately, I missed the first couple turns of movement as we were working out the rules. The British ships stayed in a single line of battle, moving at an angle to intercept the Goeben and Breslau

I decided to stay on that course for a couple turns, then had the Goeben break to port as the Breslau continued onwards, hoping that the British ships would have to take a turn or two to regain their bearing. 

Unfortunately, I didn't account for how freely ships can move in Naval Thunder (although this does mean less hassle when actually playing, so I see why it's done). 

The British ships split into two separate divisions, with the Duke and Black Prince splitting off to intercept the Goeben, and the Defence and Warrior moving to intercept the Breslau. The light cruiser didn't last long against the two British ships, and was quickly sunk before it was able to fire a shot. 

Now it was a 4-on-1 fight, that that might have been what kept the Goeben alive for so long. Each British ship that fired on the Goeben added a splash marker to the combat, representing the ships calibrating their ranges by the splashes of missed shells into the ocean. With four ships firing at the Goeben, it became exceeding difficult for them to actually hit. 

The Goeben, on the other hand, didn't have this problem, and her massive 11" guns could really do some damage if they managed to hit (if being the operative word. John's Defence lasted for most of the game thanks to some well-done maneuvering and my poor dice rolls). 

I was going to have to go through the gauntlet to get the Goeben off the table, so I ended up splitting the difference between the Duke and Black Prince.

While the Goeben could deal out some nasty damage with its 11" main guns, I quickly learned that the secondary batteries on the British ships were something to be feared. They ignored the splash markers that the main batteries had to deal with and their rate of fire at closer ranges made it far easier to hit their target, i.e., me. It seemed like the Goeben was going to face a death of a thousand cuts if I couldn't make it off the table. 

And then, disaster! For the Germans, at least. A lucky critical on the Goeben meant that she had a stuck rudder, which was likely to spell disaster if it didn't get stuck in the forward position. It also didn't help that another critical hit started a fire, which increased the damage that was slowly being chipped away bit by bit.

The Goeben's rudder ending up forcing me to turn to port for at least a turn, which left me facing the oncoming British ships. At that point, I decided to skip the tactical victory and go the major victory, or sink trying. Steve's Black Prince took a broadside dead-on, and ended up being the first British ship to sink. 

And as luck would have it, the British scored another rudder hit on the Goeben

Forced to turn again, the Goeben found herself surrounded by British ships. John's Defence, the main target of most of the Goeben's firing throughout the game, took another broadside and was sunk. But she wasn't going alone, and the combined weight of fire from the Duke of Edinburgh and Warrior was enough to finally sink the Goeben. Admiral Troubridge himself was likely dead with the sinking of the Defence, but instead of a court-martialed disgrace, he was going to get a hero's funeral. 

Most of my naval gaming experience has been with General Quarter's 3, but I found Naval Thunder to be a fun set of quick-play rules. I could easily see each player operating with a division of 3-5 ships in a relatively fast game, all things considered. Expect to see more posts about it in the upcoming weeks. 


  1. Great write up. I was thinking of getting Naval Thunder and this convinced me. I need a simpler rules to use with non-gamers. The others I have are Grand Fleets and Rear God & Dreadnought. BTW I use the same ship counters and love them.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, Naval Thunder was way less complicated to play than GQ3, which has been my main experience with naval gaming. The longest part of the turn was working out the firing of the various batteries and we got that fairly quickly. The counters were fantastic. I'm thinking of picking up the Tsushima set in 1/1800.