Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming

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First Battle of Narvik, April 1940 - A Recap

Editors Note: Ed's after-action report continues...

 

SPOILERS AHEAD - STOP NOW IF YOU PLAN TO PLAY THIS SCENARIO

 

Our flotilla, following our leader in column, entered Narvik fjord without delay at modest speed.  We sighted (and were sighted by) the enemy guardship to starboard, which was successfully sunk by Dan, by torpedo.  I fired a torpedo, but since I marked it on my sheet as fired from the port side, it was judged to have missed, and be wasted.  I learned a lesson here!  Dan also rescued survivors, which included both the valuable Captain and the First Officer.  Our flotilla proceeded upfjord, but tarried somewhat to allow Dan to catch back up to us. 

 

Capt Hardy had us do some very cool front-to-flank and flank-to-front maneuvers which brought the head of our column into the harbour in an optimum formation.  This was good, because the harbour had 5 enemy supply ships (including one tanker) in it, and, three German Destroyers!  But we had surprised them - they were literally sitting ducks!  Capt Hardy quickly sank one DD by using torpedoes, and I, in the DD Hutspur, sank another DD the same way (evidently a single torpedo hit would sink any DD or transport in this game).  We fired our gunnery at the other German DD, but missed. 

 

By the next turn, Andy had also entered the harbour.  Dan and Barry were ordered to patrol outside the port until resistance was subdued so that we could all then land our troops.  Capt Hardy sank the German tanker, and Hutspur sank the other German DD.  Success!  The supply ships should all surrender now, right?  No, they didn’t.  Two more German DDs appeared and sank Capt Hardy!  Are there more?  As I rescued Capt. Hardy and his crew, I called for more help. 

 

By the next turn, Dan had also entered the harbour to rescue us from these “popup” Germans.  Andy sank one of the new German DDs (by torpedo), and the other German DD sank Dan (also by torpedo).  Hotspur then sank the DD that sank Dan (by torpedo).  No more German DDs appeared.  So Andy and I mopped up all the remaining German supply ships in the harbor (two each!), by torpedoes.  I rescued Dan and his crew, AND the German officers and crew that he himself had rescued previously!  (Note: all of our guns as well were blazing away this whole time, but they would either miss or do no significant damage, even to the merchant ships).  These helpless German ships should have surrendered!  They continued to refuse.  Why?

 

Barry saved us from the quandary of our original mission by thinking to just ask the one British (!) supply ship captain, who was already located within the port, for a situation status: An entire German regiment was already ashore!  In addition, these German ground troops began to pepper us with gunfire.  So, we decided to rapidly depart the harbor, leaving at least ten German wrecks (and unfortunately two British ones as well).

  

However, on the way back through the fjord, we spotted five more (enemy?) ships.  Cruisers maybe?  The referee was (realistically!) vague about this.  There were three contacts to the portside, but the two contacts to the starboard were closer and were most definitely hostile.  It seems that we three remaining ships must fight to get home.  So, our tiny squadron fired all our gunnery at one, and all our remaining torpedoes at the other (my Hotspur only had one torpedo left!).  A Hit!  Hotspur sinks yet another German Destroyer (her fourth of the day)!  Andy and Barry luckily get multiple gunnery hits on the other DD!  And, I roll Double Zeroes for my Hotspur gunnery on it as well, totally crippling it!   We are saved! 

 

Well, no.  German return fire for this turn from their five ships sink both Barry and Andy (by torpedoes), and, cripple my precious Hotspur (by their gunnery).  So, crippled, without torpedoes, without gunnery fire control, and outnumbered 3-to-1, and with hundreds of survivors from THREE additional ships aboard, I strike my colours and head my ship towards shore to scuttle and save as many lives as possible.  We are wiped out. 

 

Post Game Considerations:

Post-game, the referee said we did well.  The Germans lost 1 submarine and 6 DDs sunk, one DD crippled, and all of their supply ships sunk.  We succeeded in our mission in that German troops ashore would be out of-fuel and ammo, and their remaining three torpedo-depleted ships would not dare challenge the British minelayers.  I believe WE TEXANS had at one point the very best performance going of any playgroup ever (but only right up to the point when we all got sunk!).  Of course we found out afterwards some things that we could have done differently/better, but the fun is in figuring that out for yourself.  Here are some random thoughts:

 

1)  I thought that picking up survivors, quickly, was important.  But is it in this game?  (Interestingly, a Geman crew was rescued THREE TIMES – their own boat was sunk, then Dan’s ship was then sunk, then lastly mine). 

 

2)  British gunnery in this game was usually pretty worthless (unless you get fantastically lucky, which we actually did more than once).  But I very much liked this gunnery dice system though!  Fast, simple, and realistic.  Small ship gunnery at small targets in poor visibility in a short game turn SHOULD be relatively ineffective.  It was just that the gunnery was so overshadowed by the comparative torpedo effectiveness.

  

3)  British Torpedoes in this game are TOO good.  I never failed to sink anything that I fired my torpedoes at.  They should perhaps roll a 1d8 (or even a 1d6) with each shot, with a 1/8th (or 1/6th) chance for a dud.  This wouldn’t affect the game much though.  Our flotilla generally fired multiple torpedoes from multiple ships at every target so that SOMEBODY’S torpedo would almost certainly have hit anyway.  I just happened to sit on the referee’s left; and the referee had us roll from his left-to-right, so I just happened to be the one who rolled first.  If a target was sunk, we just moved on…

 

4)  A great scenario!  Interesting, fast, eventful, and good for teams.  However, it is a ONE TIME ONLY scenario, more like a puzzle.  I would not recommend for anyone to play the British any more than once, because the “secrets” are revealed. 

 

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