Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Destroyer Action - Naval Thunder AAR

After a week's break, Ted hosted a game of Naval Thunder this past weekend. 

This week's scenario was the Battle of the Yellow Sea, where a Russian fleet attempted to break past their Japanese opponents and form up with other Russian forces. Historically, the Russians were defeated after their flagship took a hit to the bridge; whereupon the rest of the Russian fleet followed the uncontrolled flagship for a period before realizing it was no longer actually leading them. 

This version of Naval Thunder is based on pre-Dreadnought fleets, with ships engaging in what could be considered "knife fighting" range. So any firing past 20" was incredibly inaccurate and almost not worth doing. 

Chip and I commanded the Russians (I had the battleship division and Chip controlled the various protected cruisers and destroyer flotillas), and Ted, John, and Steve commanded the Japanese (with a mix of battleships, armored cruisers, protected cruisers, and destroyer flotillas). 

For the Russians, the game plan was simple: the battleships would chug along in a relative straight line towards the far table edge, where they hoped to escape from, as they protected the lighter cruisers and destroyers. 

That game plan was almost immediately foiled when Steve rolled up with a destroyer flotilla, launched nine torpedoes, and immediately sunk the Russian flagship Tsesarevich, but not before firing their secondary batteries and getting a critical hit on the ship's bridge.

Now, technically, we did things wrong here. Ted later discovered that destroyer flotillas can only launch three torpedoes per side, per turn. Which likely would have saved the Tsesarevich. But it sure seemed like Fate was having a hearty belly-laugh at my luck. 

Since we didn't realize the rule error at the time, Steve was quite happy to use his destroyer flotillas' much faster speed to spin around to the other side, launch another volley of torpedoes, and sink the Retvizan. 

So. Only a few turns in, and the Russians had lost their two strongest ships. Ted's cruiser division was making its way on to the table, and Chip had moved into the battleships' shadows to engage Steve's cruisers. 

Slowly, inexorably, the Russian and Japanese battleships drew closer to their assumed climatic confrontation. 

Meanwhile, Chip and Steve had gotten to grips with each other, their cruisers duking it out at short range. 

Realizing that John's battleship division was positioned to cross my division's T, I had my battleships veer off to port. This would at least give me a chance to fire back, and perhaps the additional splash markers from John's firing would save my ships. 

Unfortunately, that didn't work. John got enough critical hits to knock out half of my ship's main batteries, and my return fire was dismal. Two ships ended up with engine room hits as well, slowing them down. 

With my battleships in such dismal shape (and with us running out of time), I decided to run up the white flag and surrender. Had we played another couple turns, John would have used his split division to surround and destroy my remaining battleships. 

It looks like we'll be playing this scenario again, especially after discovering that destroyer flotillas aren't quite the unstoppable juggernauts that they seemed to be. If Chip and I control the Russians again, our best bet will be to slow the battleships to let the cruisers get ahead, screening the larger ships from the enemy's destroyer flotillas. The Japanese battleships are still a concern, but a 6:4 (plus two Japanese armored cruisers) fight would favor the Russians. So we'll see how that goes!

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