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Thursday, 25 August 2016
Victory at all Costs
I've played a couple of games of Victory at Sea at the club in the past but never really sat down to work through the rules myself, so thought it would be a good idea to use the cardboard counters that come with the download version of the rules for a spot of play testing. The counters are really not that bad and, when photocopied onto thin card and glued back to back, they are quite sturdy. This is perhaps more than can be said for Victory at Sea itself?
I set up a rather uneven but not too far fetched encounter game between two Z36 class German destroyers and a York class light cruiser, using the generic At All Costs scenario from the rulebook. The cruiser deployed in one corner of the table and the destroyers in the opposite corner but at the edge of the deployment zone, so that they could go full pelt at the opposition to close the range. The captain of the cruiser decided to stand off to make the most of his longer range capability.
In the end, the destroyers managed to get within torpedo firing distance of HMS York but at the cost of a pummelling from her 8'' guns, which were able to concentrate their broadsides against each of the destroyers in turn. The cruiser also fired two torpedoes, one at Z31 and the other at Z34, which effectively finished them both off. The Z31 almost managed to escape to fight another day but was blasted out of the water as it made its tactical withdrawal.
The rules were at times really easy to grasp but at others a bit vague and confused. The initiative and movement phase, together with the special actions, were pretty straightforward and required no head scratching at all. The Attack Phase was, however, a bit less transparent and I screwed things up a couple of times before I got the stick firmly grasped by the correct end. Maybe I'm a bit thick but there were several points at which I struggled to make sense of the exact meaning of the text.
I was surprised by how difficult it was to hit anything, with HMS York needing a 6+ to hit the destroyers, not allowing for a -1 modifier when they were using Full Speed Ahead, even at close range. The bulk of the damage inflicted by the cruiser was through critical hits. This seemed to lead to a not unreasonable end result but to me seemed a bit unrealistic as I worked through the results of each Attack Phase. The destroyers also barely scratched the cruiser, which was largely due to their secondary armament being pathetic and both failing to bring their torpedo tubes to bear.
Regardless of the niggles, it was a worthwhile experiment in the potential of cardboard naval counters which are a great way to play test the rules and to clear things up without having to assemble anything more robust. The various ship counters that I've already cut out and assembled will be perfect for this so they won't be wasted. I now have counters ready for the RN, the Kriegsmarine, the IJN and the USN, with plenty more on the sheets that I haven't cut out including the French and Italians. They may not be as flash as miniatures but they'll do.