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Welcome aboard again, shipmates. This time we navigate World War One waters, a fascinating voyage through the early Twentieth Century era ruled by the big gun battleship. It also saw the emergence of aerial and submarine weapons that would come to dominate naval warfare. It is a period perfect for the wargamer, replete with wonderful â€œwhat-ifsâ€ through controversies over decisions made in most every engagement and intriguing possibilities had this clash taken place or that ship been present. Whether you are a shellback or a new hand, you will find many aspects in this new commission to exercise your tactical knowledge and challenge your command skills. It becomes a captivating cruise through a forgotten bygone period in naval history.
Almost every innovation used in WWII, other than radar, was first employed or tried in WWI including electronic warfare, concrete U boat bunkers, magnetic mines, torpedo bombers, voice radio and guided aerial bombs. But, in many cases, these technologies were still too immature to be effective. Throughout Fleet Action Imminent I have held fast to two key themes. First, World War One was not just WWII without airplanes. Ships superficially resemble their WWII counterparts, but warship technology was undergoing a startling revolution. Within the first two decades of the Twentieth Century, propulsion changed from coal-fired reciprocating engines to oil-fired turbines. Firepower ranged from multiple battery pre-dreadnoughts and armored cruisers to the all big-gun dreadnought and the advent of centralized director fire control, extending the effective gunnery range from less than 10,000 yards to engagements exceeding 20,000 yards. Even the layout of main battery guns changed radically in that short span of years and new types like the â€œlightâ€ cruiser were developed. Battleships changed dramatically from the first generation dreadnoughts, launched in 1905â€“10, to the super dreadnoughts of 1912â€“14 and then to the far more capable third generation designs like SMS Baden and HMS Queen Elizabeth completed in 1915-16. As a result, WWI ships are quite different from their fully evolved counterparts employed in WWII. Admirals had to make use of eclectic fleets of co-existing assets with wide-ranging capacities and design maturity. Now, you too can have the fun of trying out these weird, wacky and wonderful ships and the challenge of making the best of their different capabilities.
Second, this was the age of mass, with battles typically employing far more ships than in WWII. Special changes have been implemented to streamline play when simulating fleet actions, highlighted through â€œFleet Actionâ€ dialog boxes in the rules. Special division and half flotilla Ship Logs are provided for the shoals of Grand Fleet and High Seas Fleet DDâ€™s and TBDâ€™s to enable you to keep track of them in a few log pages. Divisional level gunnery for DDâ€™s and TBDâ€™s and a new, alternate fleet action torpedo system keeps things moving in larger battles. Individual DD Ship Logs are also provided on Royal Navy and German Light Forces pages along with those for other navies to simulate smaller actions. The Ship Logs are printed in color to aid with complex armament arrangements on some ships and have funnel layouts listed to assist you with recognition of the less familiar ships of this period.
Fleet Action Imminent also provides you access to extensive on-line resources. At http//www.odgw.com, you will find evolving data on individual ship AA outfits and aircraft, a WWI overview naval briefing to familiarize you with the period, ideas on painting and fitting out miniatures, and access to design files if you want to amend the rules to meet your own vision. You will also find an active forum to share your ideas with other naval enthusiasts and wargamers.
During the past few years, a deluge of new data on the battles and ships of WWI has become available along with shoals of exquisitely detailed miniatures in a variety of scales to enhance simulating this classic era in naval warfare. So, stow your sea bags and prepare for general quarters. Fleet action is imminent!
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