Thursday, 5 January 2017

Convoy Raiding in the Great Pacific War

Back in September we played a trial game with some warships from the 1879-84 Pacific War. That game was a theoretical action where all the ironclads of both sides* turned up and hammered it out, using Ian Drury's rules for the Battle of Lissa.

The game was a relative success but some changes were required. Notably I had to add small arms fire as this was significant in most of the actions, suppressing on deck gun crews and injuring bridge staff. I also fiddled around with some other stuff too, as I can't resist it.

For  the next game I thought I'd do a convoy attack scenario, as that was a large part of the naval campaign as the Peruvians tried to stop the Chileans shifting their forces up north.

The Chileans had one ironclad, the Almirante Cochrane, and a couple of wooden steam schooners protecting 5 troop ships. The sharp eyed amongst you will spot that I'm using an odd mixture of Tumbling Dice ships, including two Cutty Sarks and the Great Western as the merchant ships/troop transports.

The Peruvians have got the Independencia, an ironclad, and two wooden steam schooners.In this scenario the Peruvians are slightly faster, as they often were historically, as they had better dry dock facilities for careening their vessels.

The Peruvians advanced in line astern, the Independencia leading, at full steam.

Chris K with the Chileans had an immediate issue as one of his convoy escorts was to landward, so he needed to turn it towards the open sea. They were also spread out so that they needed to get together to stop the Peruvians picking them off one at a time.

The Peruvians at full speed move twice as fast as the troop ships, which the Chilean naval vessels have to keep pace with. Phil, in Nelsonian fashion, is aiming to cut through the line of troop ships with his ironclad and give them broadsides as he does so.

Chris tries to cut him off with Abtao, but fails. The Independencia lets fly at two of the troop ships, damaging the rudder on one (see red dice) and setting the other on fire. Elsewhere the Chilean vessels the Abtao and the Cochrane are giving the Union a hard time. In this exchange the Cochrane takes a bow hit, and starts to take on water. This is significant for the rest of the game as it quickly slows her top speed. (NB Peruvian broadsides are white, and Chilean black if that helps).

The Independencia having cut the line now circles round to finish off the lead ship. Elsewhere the action has become general with ships firing broadsides when they can.

The lead troop ship has been sunk by a ram from Independencia. The Cochrane is circling round to try to drive off the smaller Peruvian vessels or at least slow them down so that the troop ships can escape.

The Peruvians are having mostly their own way, tearing into the troop ships. The task is too big for the Chilean escorts, and the Peruvians are turning to hunt down the fleeing troop ships.

As the game was called to a close the Cochrane was limping badly astern of the other vessels. It looked like there was nothing that could be done to stop the Peruvians destroying the convoy.

Most of my changes worked okay, although I need to look at the critical hit rules which are insufficiently "Latin American", and also look at the firing mechanisms against ironclads. Compared to the Italian /Austrian ships in Ian's game these are small vessels with limited fire power so fire can take a while to have an effect which means the game may be realistic but is a bit slow at times.

The use of hexes rather than a hex board is still a matter of debate. At times it works really well, at others it doesn't. I tried to introduce a DBA -style conforming rule but that proved difficult to implement, no matter how good it looked on paper. I also may need to number them in sets to track who is going where for the ramming rules.

There's something here worth persisting with, I think, although whether it has enough to go to COW I'm not sure.

*All four of them


  1. I really enjoyed reading that. I love the TD ships and I'm intrigued by the hex movement system you've used..very neat!

    1. Thanks. The hex idea was pinched from Peter Pig/RFCMs "Hammerin' Iron II" ACW Riverine War rules from the late 90s. Martin isn't using the system anymore so I thought he wouldn't mind me stealing it.

    2. That was a n instructive game to play in a period that I know little about. It did get very messy very quickly as Phil and I were both keen to do damage early on in the game.

      Regards, Chris

      p.s Note the "Dominating the Enemy" position of one of the ships - I plead "guilty as charged" :-)

    3. Chris- I think not a lot of people know much about this particular war, and I have a few things still to work out.

      Now, if you could just restrain yourself from ruining my paintwork by stacking up the models, that'd be appreciated.