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#11158 General Quarters 3.3 AAR September 2013

Posted by Adam H. Jones III on 05 November 2013 - 03:07 PM

This is an after action report of a General Quarters 3.3 game played at Recruits convention 2013 in Lee’s Summit, MO on September 14, 2013. The scenario was generated by using the scenario generation system included in the GQ 3.3 rules. The scenario involves a Japanese destroyer transport task force of four converted WW I destroyer transports( PB 2, PB 31, PB 35, PB 36) carrying supplies to a base located in the Solomon Island chain in late August of 1943. Leading the destroyer transports is the light cruiser IJN Abukuma. Escorting the destroyer transports is the heavy cruiser IJN Myoko and a division of four Kagero class destroyers ( IJN Hatsukaze, IJN Yukikaze, IJN Shiranui, IJN Urakaze)with the light cruiser IJN Nagara leading the destroyer division. The night seas are calm with no clouds and a full moon. As the Japanese move through the channels of the Solomon’s toward their objective, they stumble across a US cruiser task force of two heavy cruisers(USS New Orleans, USS Chester), one light cruiser(USS San Diego) and four Sims class destroyers(USS Russell, USS Morris, USS Anderson, USS Hughes). The US task force is sailing to perform a bombardment mission on an island scheduled to be invaded next month. Both forces are surprised to see an enemy task force interfering with their missions:

The US cruiser task force, having organized in line ahead formation, was cruising at twenty one knots; weaving through the island studded channel toward their objective a few hours away. Tasked to arrive in the early morning, the cruisers were scheduled to bombard a Japanese held island to inflict maximum damage on the garrison as preparation for an invasion next month continued. The destroyers USS Russell and Morris led the column followed by USS New Orleans and Chester and USS San Diego. US destroyers USS Anderson and USS Hughes brought up the rear of the column. The admiral of this force was stationed on USS New Orleans. He patiently sat in the command chair on the bridge as the ships quietly glided through the unusually calm waters and clear night sky. The silence of the bridge is broken as the TBS (Talk between Ships) radio crackled to life. An ensign wrote quickly as the TBS spilled forth its report, unintelligible gibberish to the admiral located away from the radio room. The ensign approached the admiral, paper in hand, and reported to the admiral that the lead destroyer, USS Russell, had a radar contact bearing 300 degrees, range 20,000 yards. The contact appeared to be three distinct groups of ships. The admiral nodded as he listened to the report and replied to the ensign to tell USS Russell to continue to track the contact and send updates every five minutes. The admiral turns to the captain of USS New Orleans. He tells the captain to send to all ships….increase to max speed and send the task force to General Quarters!!!
About the time that General Quarters was sounded throughout the US task force, the Japanese admiral on board the heavy cruiser IJN Myoko was still oblivious that a US task force was nearby. The resupply force commanded by the Japanese admiral consisted of two distinct divisions: one was the destroyer transport division of four converted WWII destroyers that had guns and boilers removed to make room for a cargo hold and a landing barge to unload and load supplies to garrisons without harbor facilities. The once speedy destroyers are now slow, eighteen knot cargo vessels that are well suited for work within the confined waters of the Solomon Islands. The destroyer transports had the light cruiser IJN Abukuma escorting them to their scheduled location. The IJN Myoko was not alone. Myoko had a division of four destroyers led by the light cruiser Nagara. The IJN Myoko and the attendant destroyer division were tasked to protect the destroyer transports so they could deliver their precious cargo to the island garrison.
So far, the mission had gone without any interference by the enemy. The Japanese admiral was confident that his experienced sailors would spot trouble in plenty of time. The Japanese heavy cruiser was sailing toward a tight channel between two small unnamed islands to provide a screen as the destroyer transport division transited the gap between the islands. IJN Myoko was intending to hug the shore of one of the islands and swing around the island and hide in the shadow of the island to degrade the ever improving radar on the US vessels. The IJN Nagara and her destroyers were following IJN Myoko to assist in the screening. Just as IJN Myoko approached close to the island to begin her close swing around, lookouts shouted that unidentified ships have been spotted some 20,000 yards off of the starboard bow of the cruiser. At the same time, bright gun flashes broke the darkness from in front of the Japanese heavy cruiser and huge splashes appeared around IJN Myoko. The combination of the gun flashes and lookouts confirmed to the Japanese admiral that a US force was in front of him and had gotten in the first blow.
The US admiral had a clear picture of what he was facing thanks to the magic of radar. A large vessel led a column of ships that approached the channel. If ignored, the enemy column would push in front of his task force. The large vessel was followed by another large vessel and at least four smaller vessels. This was most likely two cruisers leading four destroyers. There was another group of ships with one cruiser target leading four slow moving smaller targets. This force was moving behind the small island. The US task force readied their guns and waited for the fire control director to let them know that they have a visual on the large cruiser target approaching them. The two rear destroyers sped up to maximum speed, swung out from behind USS San Diego and were pushing forward toward the expected battle. Just as the admiral had sorted out all of the data in his head, he heard the fire control director bark that a Japanese cruiser was spotted leading a column of ships visually some 20,000 yards away and requested to open fire…the admiral’s positive response was immediately lost with the boom of the eight inch cruiser guns.
The Japanese admiral did not hesitate due to the intense fire coming from the US cruisers. Calmly, he ordered the cruiser to return fire. IJN Myoko fired back with her forward turrets at her shooters with unknown effect. The US fire as well was not hitting anything. The Japanese admiral knew that the string of good luck would not last. The Japanese admiral’s concentration was interrupted by a report that the light cruiser following him had swung out of the line and taking the four destroyers with him. It appeared that the cruiser captain was attempting to close to torpedo range with his charges. The Japanese admiral watched as the column soon faded into the dark heading toward the rear of the US cruiser force. The USS New Orleans and USS Chester ignored the new move and continued to concentrate on the heavy cruiser. The Japanese admiral’s prediction of their luck came true as the US cruisers began to find their target. IJN Myoko took two eight inch hits that smashed into the hull but doing no significant damage. IJN Myoko’s guns were hitting the area around the US cruisers as well but nothing visual was telling the admiral how effective his return fire was. Both sides traded shots that did not seem to do any more significant damage. The US destroyers USS Russell and USS Morris began to fire at the cruiser as well. The US destroyer’s rapid firing 5’ guns peppered the IJN Myoko with multiple hits and did take out two of the IJN Myoko’s secondary five inch AA guns, but most of the hits were ineffective as they could not penetrate the thick cruiser armor.
There is a decisive moment in the flow of a battle that moves the direction toward victory to one side or another. This battle between the Japanese and the US was no different. Here is the tactical situation at the decisive moment for this battle. The heavy cruiser IJN Myoko is steaming at close to top speed toward a small island with the intention of hugging the shore of the island and swing around to use the island’s shadow to decrease US radar effectiveness. IJN Myoko’s move was detected by the US cruiser task force and now the Japanese heavy cruiser is the sole target of every US ship that is firing. The light cruiser IJN Nagara and the destroyer force that was following IJN Myoko has broken away from the heavy cruiser and is streaking toward the rear of the US cruiser line with the intention of launching their deadly cargo of “Long Lance” torpedoes. The USS San Diego and two destroyers located at the rear of the US line have just spotted the Japanese destroyer line and have begun to engage them. USS New Orleans and USS Chester are continuing to fire at the IJN Myoko as the Japanese cruiser steers toward the small island. US destroyers USS Russell and Morris have added their rapid firing five inch guns to the broadsides by the two US cruisers. The Japanese destroyer transports led by the light cruiser IJN Abukuma have been effectively screened by the Japanese warships and have slipped behind the same small island that IJN Myoko is steering toward. So far the destroyer transports have avoided being engaged. Both sides have avoided major damage from each other gunfire although IJN Myoko has taken two eight inch shell hits into her hull and non-penetrating five inch hits have destroyed two of IJN Myoko’s five inch secondary batteries. IJN Myoko continues to fire her forward eight inch turrets at the US cruisers with no telling hits observed. The US cruisers USS New Orleans and USS Chester along with the destroyers USS Russell and USS Morris return fire.
All of the US ships open fire simultaneously sending a blizzard of eight inch and five inch shells streaking toward the IJN Myoko. The eight inch salvos straddle IJN Myoko with two shells striking her. One twenty four inch torpedo mount disintegrates and bursts into flames. The other shell penetrates into IJN Myoko’s hull and adds to the damage already inflicted by previous hits. The swarm of five inch shells adds their effects to the eight inch shell hits. Four of the swarm hit the thickly armored sections of the ship, adding their explosive effects to the sight of the IJN Myoko being swamped by gunfire but doing no damage. The fifth five inch shell, for reason only known to scientist and God, took a slightly higher trajectory toward the Japanese heavy cruiser. While the other shells hit low on the ship, this shell bore in and struck the unarmored bridge of IJN Myoko.
The Japanese admiral was just beginning to send the order to slightly change course to avoid the island when the US five inch shell slammed into the bridge and exploded. The admiral never got to finish the order as the explosion killed all on the bridge instantly. The IJN Myoko continued on her present course and speed…which meant that six minutes later, IJN Myoko slammed aground on the small island.
The US cruisers did not show IJN Myoko any sympathy for her plight as USS New Orleans and USS Chester continued to shoot at the now grounded Japanese heavy cruiser. The US destroyers decided that maybe this is a good time to launch torpedoes at the hapless IJN Myoko. Torpedoes shot out from USS Russell and USS Morris and they appeared to run hot, straight, and normal. The angle of attack however had the torpedoes transit over the shallow reef before hitting the now grounded Japanese heavy cruiser. The torpedoes slammed into the reef and exploded harmlessly.
The balance of the Japanese force watched in horror as IJN Myoko slammed into the island. The will to fight drained from the two division commanders and all decided that this supply run needed to be aborted. The destroyer transport division used the small island as an effective screen and swung to return to their starting point. The IJN Nagara and her charges had just set up to launch torpedoes when the IJN Myoko grounded. The IJN Nagara’s captain aborted the launch and ordered a general retreat.
The US admiral was elated when he saw the result of their last broadsides. Staring at the burning Japanese heavy cruiser cocked at angle as it lay stranded on the reef sent a wave of satisfaction through him. The US admiral did not savor his victory too long as he still had a job to do. The US admiral sent an order for all ships to cease fire and to reform the battle line. The admiral also sent a message back to naval headquarters notifying them of the battle and sent a position report of a Japanese heavy cruiser grounded. The US admiral knew that in the morning, the planes from Henderson field would seek out the cripple and destroy her. The US admiral sat back into his chair and resumed his mission to sail to the island that he was scheduled to bombard in the morning.
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#15881 MP tutorial

Posted by Peter M. Skaar on 26 September 2022 - 10:50 AM

Here we go... again.  Mein Panzer Tutorial.  We are now on Turn 6.  The action has been pretty intense so far.  The Russians have been taking a toll of the Germans but have suffered some significant casualties, especially in the 1st Company on the Russian left.

Both sides pass their morale checks this time.  Both sides will continue to fight.  For those interested, I published my own morale rules for Mein Panzer here a couple of posts ago.

The action on the Russian left was relatively quiet on Turn 6 as both sides, despite passing their morale checks, are pretty well spent.  The Russian 1st Company is now down to 2 fully functional tanks while the German 1st Platoon opposite them is down to the XO tank.  Some shots are traded but neither side has much gas left in the tank.

1st Company down to 3 tanks with 1 of those immobilized.  It can still shoot but not move.


Another view from the Russian left showing the 7 knocked out tanks from 1st Company.


A view showing what is left of the German 1st Platoon.  2 tanks are knocked out, 1 is brewed up, 1 is immobilized but otherwise functional, and only the XO's tank is fully operational.

On the Russian right, the action is a lot more intense as 2nd Company, despite a few losses, still has a lot of strength left. 

The Russian 2nd Company makes its big push on the right.  The action here is very intense and both sides take more casualties.

Another view from the Russian right.  The 2 immobilized tanks are now out of Command as the rest of 2nd Company moves forward.

The command distance for the Russians in this game is 2 inches between tanks of the same platoon and 12 inches to the Company CO.  In the case of these immobilized tanks, it is not a big deal as they can still perform their standard action during the turn.  Out of Command means they cannot use their bonus move but only perform the standard action.  Since they are immobilized and cannot move anyway this has no further adverse effect.


The German 2nd and 3rd Platoons have suffered very heavy casualties in the short range gun fight.

Here is a picture of the whole situation at the end of Turn 6.  The Germans have suffered very heavy casualties as well as the Russians.  Both sides are near their break point.

A view from the German right.

Another view.

Next, we will wrap up the game with Turn 7,8, and 9.

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#15756 HISTORICON 2022 The Wobbly Eight, using Fleet Action Imminent

Posted by William Cira on 29 July 2022 - 12:14 PM

It is a gloomy morning in January 1915 and once again a German force consisting of the battlecruisers Seydlitz, Moltke, Derfflinger, and Blucher have succeeded in bombarding a port city on the British East coast.  With several groups of British ships looking to intercept their escape run back across the North Sea, heavy weather has resulted in reduced visibility of only 12,000 yards. It looks like the Germans are going to escape but then their luck runs out when they are suddenly confronted by a formation of British ships emerging from the gloom, and already at close renege!   They have managed to bump into a squadron of eight obsolete British pre-dreadnought battleships of the King Edward VII class. These ships are affectionately known in the Royal Navy as the "Wobbly Eight."  


The Wobbly Eight don't have much of a chance but their 12 inch guns are enough to inflict serious damage on the German battlecruisers. The Germans are in a battle column while the British are in a long line abreast to facilitate their search for the Germans.  The German ships turn North in an effort to maneuver around the British ships.  This almost succeeds, but it does take them a bit closer to a strong force of British battlecruisers who are nearby and closing rapidly from the North.   Both sides open fire at around 10,000 yards.  The Germans guns score hits on the Wobbly Eight, who also manage to get a couple of good hits on the Germans.  


The German turn to the North takes them very close to the British Division consisting of King Edward VII, Hibernia Hindustan, and Zealandia.  Three of these British ships eventually succumbed to the German fire, but the British ships, who had been concentrating their fire on the Blucher, managed to cause enough damage to slow her to only 11 knots.  


The German attempt to get around the Wobbly Eight by side stepping to the North is blocked by the squadron of four British armored cruisers consisting of the Hampshire, Argyll, Devonshire, and Roxburgh.  This event, plus the sudden arrival of the British battlecruiser force from the Northwest, forces the Germans to turn Southeast, putting them in close range of the second squadron of British pre-dreadnoughts consisting of the Africa, Britannia, Commonwealth, and Dominion.   In this exchange, the Dominion was lost but Seydlitz took enough damage to slow her to only 18 knots.   


The game was wrapped up at this point.  The Germans would of course claim victory when they returned to port, pointing out that they had sunk four British "battleships" even though the loss of those ships would have no real impact on the further conduct of the war.  On the other hand the German battlecruisers Seydlitz and Blucher, had been roughly handled and they slowed to the point where it was unlikely that they would make it home.  This would of course discourage any further German attempts to send the battlecruiser squadron to bombard the English coast.  So, in the end, the Wobbly Eight succeeded in accomplishing what they needed to do.  



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#15701 MP tutorial

Posted by Peter M. Skaar on 14 July 2022 - 06:15 PM

Finally!  I am getting ready to run a solo game of Mein Panzer.  This will be an ongoing tutorial of sorts whereby I point out the rules as I use them and provide plenty of pictures showing the game in progress. I have set-up the terrain and have selected the forces I will use for this game.

This scenario, which is not strictly historical, takes place on the Russian Front in August 1943 when the Soviets are going on the general offensive after Kursk.  A breakthrough has occurred and the Russians are racing to seize 2 bridges over a minor river.  The Germans have put together a company of tanks to stop them.  This will be a meeting engagement and feature use of the advanced rules for tanks and command but no infantry, artillery, or anti-tank guns will be used for this scenario.

Here are a few pictures of my layout using GHQ Terrain Maker.  The game is being played in 1/285th scale aka 6mm.










The pictures show the table covered with flannel to keep the terrain tiles from sliding around during play, a view from the German side, a view from the Russian side, and the two bridges.  The total layout is 4' x 2'8".

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#15861 MP tutorial

Posted by Peter M. Skaar on 16 September 2022 - 09:31 PM

Now for Turn 5 of my solo game of Mein Panzer.  This time the Russians get the initiative.

Low roll wins the initiative.

Overview from the Russian side at the end of Turn 5.

Overview from the German side at the end of Turn 5.


The Russians need to check the morale of 1st Company as the Morale Threshold had been hit with the loss of 5 tanks during Turn 4.  The die is rolled!

1st Company passes its Morale Check.  With 5 tanks lost, any number at 10 or lower is sufficient to continue on.  1st Company will continue on .... for now.

The 2nd Company, on the Russian Left, continues to close with the Germans on the reverse slope of the hill.  They take a fire but continue to press on.  The tank that is immobilized is now out of command.  Since it is unable to move at all it can still do other actions in its standard activation.

There is an exchange of fire between the surviving elements of 1st Company and the Panzer IVs of 3rd Platoon.  The ultimate result of this exchange was the loss of 2 more T-34s from 1st Company.

The Russian 1st Company has now lost 7 T-34s or just over 2/3rds of its starting force.

Meanwhile, all the German 1st Platoon tanks are either knocked out, brewed up, or immobilized.  Only the Company XO remains.

The Germans lose 2 of their 4 Panzer IVs in the short range gunnery duels.

Another view of 2nd Company's assault on the German position held by 2nd and 3rd Platoons.

There was not much finesse this turn.  It was mostly just short range gunfights, especially on the Russian right as 2nd Company starts to cause some major casualties to the German left.  The Germans have now hit their Casualty Threshold and will need to roll morale at the start of Turn 6.  The Russian 1st Company will also need to roll for Morale again next turn due to the loss of 2 more tanks this turn.

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#15771 Historicon 2022 - The Commie's are comin'... using Mein Panzer

Posted by Kenny Noe on 02 August 2022 - 10:35 AM

The M48 were receiving side shots from T-62s while Leopards and M60A1 were making quick work of the IT-1s.  NATO requested a smoke fire mission from the M109 artillery to abate the communist fire.  As the second platoon of M48A3 made there was carefully through the woods.  The M60A1 commander decided to drive one of his platoons through the vineyard unaware this would cause a bog check (MP rule for rough/hazardous terrain).  One M60A1 threw a track and was immobilized (The GM ruled that it might be repaired with a successful TQ check next turn).  The WarPact T-62 were able to attain hull down next to the RR Tracks however, the Leopards were quickly able to defeat them (with some incredible dice rolls!!) as they popped outta the wood line. 









The IT-1s were able to whittle down the M60A1 platoons.  There were three mobile M-60A1 (plus another immobilized) on the eastern flank.  The remaining 2 IT-1 were out of missiles (unknown to NATO player).  The T-62 company died gloriously and destroyed three of the five Leopard 1s and a M60A1.  The T-55 company was at full strength and ready to leap across the RR tracks however, the platoon of five M-48A3s were laying in wait on the other side of the woods.  On the western flank of the battlefield the PT-76Bs finally swarmed the remaining M-48A3.  Their HEAT rounds able to punch NATO armor with ease.


Finally, in what can only be describes as the “Charge of the Light Brigade” the surviving BRDM-2 made a crazed dash toward NATO rear lines!!  This caused the commander to break up his battery of M109 to dispatch a platoon (three) SP howitzers to deal with the “threat”.  A valiant effort by the “Heroes of the Soviet Union!!” (Awarded posthumously…)



The game was called a WarPact win with over whelming forces remaining and a pretty much mauled NATO force that had little chance other than to retreat. 




Final Observation and Thanks

The weekend tripart of games were well played and everyone agreed they had fun.  The modification of the terrain layout and ammo restrictions helped balance both sides and enabled a good bit of movement.


I’d like to thank all the players and folks who stopped by to watch the games.   See you next time!!






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#15769 Historicon 2022 - The Commie's are comin'... using Mein Panzer

Posted by Kenny Noe on 02 August 2022 - 10:32 AM

After Action Report for




“The Commie’s are comin’…”.


This scenario was played three times over three days at Historicon 2022 held in Lancaster PA July 21-24 2022.


Game writeup as seen in the program


Thursday, 4:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 6, Location: Freedom A: FR-14

Friday, 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, Players: 6, Location: Freedom A: FR-14

Saturday, 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, Players: 6, Location: Freedom A: FR-14

GM: Kenny Noe & ODGW

Sponsor: ODGW, Prize: None

Period: Modern, Scale: 12mm, Rules: Mein Panzer Core Rules

Masks Required? No


Description: Stepping back from nuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S.S.R. has launched a conventional war in its place. Category A/B forces are flooding across the border.  While NATO awaits resupply of men and material.  A desperate US Army fights to stem the Red onslaught unfolding in central Germany. Can you stop the Communist Army?  Or will you command brave motherland forces driving hard to the west? Your choice.  Come play Mein Panzer and test 1960's tech in the heat of battle.


No experience necessary. Quick play/learn rules. Under 12 if accompanied by an adult player.



Game Map (Original Layout)






The battlefield as shown above and in pictures is a 10 foot by six-foot rectangle.  North is the six-foot table edge with the large village at its end.  The other compass points are the remaining three battlefield edges.  Toward the southern end of the battlefield there is a farm with several building and fields.  The fields provided light cover and was considered rough terrain for vehicle movement.  There are dual railroad tracks running west and east with a crossing in the middle of the map.  Hard top roads are crossing the map diagonally in an "X" pattern with one road crossing the railroad track in the middle of the map.  There are two clumps of trees (one on the eastern side and the other on the western side) that are considered dense forest.  Additionally, there is a line of trees following the railroad that is passible but does block all lines of sight from north to south.  A two-level hill forming a small ridge line dominates the northwestern portion of the map while a mix of four or five one-level hills are scattered throughout the battlefield.  A small water obstacle and a scattering of trees and small bush like feature complete the terrain layout of the map.



Scenario Objectives


This game is designed to be a meeting engagement running north and south of the map with both sides ordered to cross the railroad tracks located in the center of the battlefield and push on as far as possible.  (see map above)


Note - This scenario was designed to be flexible and able to play with 2, 4, or 6 players.  Depending on how many players show up at the prescribed time I will adjust the units to fit the players.  Additionally, the WarPact players do not have dedicated Forward Observers for their one artillery battery.  WarPact Center command has told the battlefield commanders there are four pre-plotted fire points (of their choosing) where artillery can target.  Additionally, the company commander of each tank company can make a NON-FO call if the need for artillery is clear.



Forces – Game Units







Game One – Thursday

The game was designed for six players (three on each side).  However only four out of the 6 showed up for this time slot.  Three of the gamers had never played MP and one had but many years ago.  This is not a big issue as convention games go you usually have people looking to try a new game.


So, I adjusted the "players" as needed.  Units from Player 1 and Player 3 (see Forces above) were deployed for both NATO and WarPact sides.




The players were eager to maneuver their units and the game turned into a “Who can get to the RR tree line first”.  Once there both sides were in knife fighting distance.  The Leopard1 pushed through the tree line first only to be dealt a loss of two tanks to waiting IT-1s on the ridge line.  NATO then lost the next turn initiative and the T-62s open up on the now exposed Leopards.  Even the advantage of soft cover from the forest did little to blunt the blow as two more Leopards fell.




The final turn the last Leopard perished from a cavalry like charge from the PT-76s as they made a mad dash to cross the RR tracks.


On the other side of the road the WarPact player decided to await the NATO thrust in positions of over watch hoping to catch the same luck that his comrade obtained.  In doing this the WarPact commander lost sight of his objective and failed to advance past the RR tracks.

End of Game - By the time the game was called neither side had achieved their objectives. NATO was close with M60A1 threating the eastern flank while WarPact forces were in control of the western flank and PT-76s ready to stream across the tracks.  It would have been dicey to see the western flank once the M60A1 punch through the forest.  The use of Artillery was not very effective in this game as accuracy seemed to plague both sides




After action comments

All players agreed they had a fun time with the rules.  However, the scenario could use a little work.


The time frame of 1963 Europe with armored vehicles that have no "special" armor to defeat HEAT rounds meant that whoever fired HEAT and hit was pretty much had an automatic kill.  Both sides found this to be true almost immediately.  MP usually does not count ammo especially on ground vehicles.  I as GM don't care for this as it's just one more thing to track.  However, both sides agreed that limiting HEAT would be good for the overall scenario.


The meeting engagement scenario was thought not the best for this time period.  One recommendation would be NATO on the defensive with prepared positions to fall back upon with swarms of WarPact vehicles driving in.  Most players recommended I change the scenario to this objective vice the meeting engagement.  As GM, I agreed that was a valid and typical scenario for this time period, however that was not why I built the scenario the way I did.  My experience with convention and running games has shown me that players (esp. new players) want a fast fun game where they attack and kill everything.  I feel like a defensive game where one side waits on the other to come to them and the other side driving into a meat grinder is not fun for all.  (my 0.02¢)


Lastly, the terrain setup really stymied both sides.  The forest line running along the rail road was ruled to completely block line of sight.  The idea was to force both sides to move forward and engage the enemy.  However, this turned into whoever was brave enough to pass through the wood line was smacked hard and the player was truly demoralized.


After reflecting on the players comments and discussing with other ODGW staff I made a couple adjustments for the next two games.

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#15765 MP tutorial

Posted by Peter M. Skaar on 01 August 2022 - 06:11 PM

Let the Game begin!  We are starting turn 1 of this game with the Germans vs the Russians in August 1943.

The first thing is to roll initiative. Each side rolls 1 20 sided die.  Low roll wins. I am using a black or dark blue die for the Germans and a red die for the Russians.


The German rolls a 10 and the Russian rolls an 18.  The German player has the initiative for this turn.  He chooses to take the first impulse for the turn rather than letting the Russian go first.  Typically, you will want to go first but there may be certain situations in which you want the enemy to go first so you can react.

For this game there are 3 activation phases for each side per turn with the Germans able to move 1 unit per activation and the Russians 2.  This is because the Russians have 6 platoons while the Germans have 3 platoons.  Here is a copy of my somewhat crude but functional activation sheet for this game.



I have divided the Russian command as if 2 Russian players were playing.  Each Russian player will activate only 1 unit per impulse.

The German chooses to activate his 2nd platoon of Panzer IIIs and head over to the hill on his left.  The German chooses to use both his activation and bonus move to move twice this turn.  The maximum cross country move for the Panzer III and Panzer IV is 4 inches also known as pips. 

Looking at the terrain effects chart, you will notice that the effect of climbing a hill deducts 1 pip from the forward movement.  This pip is subtracted for each activation whether standard activation or bonus move.





Apparently, the lead tank is dragging a piece of white cotton filament behind it.  I fixed that after the picture was taken. 

The Company CO attaches himself to 2nd platoon for the first activation.  The CO can move with any of his elements as can the XO in the case of the Germans with 2 HQ tanks.  Like the platoons, they can only activate once per turn as well.

The German is now finished with his first activation.  As the Russians were not on the map yet there is no combat.

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#15751 MP tutorial

Posted by Peter M. Skaar on 27 July 2022 - 09:28 PM

Here is a preview of the tanks for this scenario.  This is summer 1943 so the Germans are operating primarily with Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs.  These are the later models with the Panzer III in this game being the L/M/N versions and the Panzer IV being primarily either the late G or the H model for this time frame.

Many of the German tanks have been modified to carry extra armored skirts or "schurzen" around their thinner sides and turret.  There have been several discussions on what the actual effects these thin armored plates really were.  It seems like there are several opinions out there but most seem to agree that they were most effective against smaller caliber rounds such as AT rifles with a benefit against HEAT rounds as well.  It appears they did not do a whole lot against the larger caliber round such as the 76mm fired by the T-34.

In this game, I have decided to change the schurzen stats a bit.  If you notice on the side armor statistics for the Panzer III L/M/N and Panzer IV G/H there are two sets of numbers.  The first number is the armor value without the schurzen while the second value is the total value with the schurzen.  I have decided to give the tanks with schurzen the following values instead.

57mm+ AP value gives only +1 additional armor effect.  An armor value of 3 for the side is now a 4.
Less than 57mm AP value gives +2 additional armor effect.  The side value would be 5.
AT rifles and HEAT rounds give the full additional armor effect.  In this game that would give the side armor a value of 7 which is indicated in the chart.

I'm doing a little guesswork here.  Schurzen were developed primarily to combat those pesky Russian AT rifles that when fired at the thin side armor of the Panzer III and IV would often penetrate at close range.  It was also found, at least according to some sources, that HEAT rounds would often prematurely detonate when hitting the skirts causing much less damage against the main armor as the spacing kept the round from contacting the main armor.

I went ahead and decided to give a slight benefit for AP rounds.  This armor was thin, to be sure, but I think would provide just a little bit of extra protection.  With the sideskirts on, that is the target that the gunner will see and will have a less precise aiming point.  If the round hits the outer layer at an angle there might also be a bit of wobbling that takes place as well.

I am not the expert here but I decided that this might be a reasonable way to handle this.

Feel free to discuss this further if you so choose.  I won't be offended but would like to know what the values would be in your opinion based on what you think they should be.

The Panzer III was on its way out while the Panzer IV production was being increased and the Panther was starting to arrive in but not enough to make a difference in the big picture. 

In this game, the Panzer III is a pretty mediocre tank.  It has average cross country and road speeds at 4/6 while the long 50mm gun, while better than the short 50mm gun, still has problems penetrating the frontal armor on a T-34 except at pretty close range.  I decided not to give the Panzer III L/M any APCR ammo for this game.  As the war went on, Tungsten cored APCR rounds became more rare as it was decided that this rare metal was better used to make certain components rather than ammo.  The Panzer III APCR round is rated at 13 which makes it pretty effective against a T-34 if it hits.  The Germans will have to get by without it.

The Panzer IIIN has a 75mm gun but it has a negative OM1 modifier since it lobbed shells at a higher trajectory to hit its target due to its low velocity.  The AP round for this gun is only a 5 value so even if it hits it has less chance to penetrate the frontal armor on a T-34 than the long 50mm gun on the L and M models.

For this reason, I have decided for the game that the 2 Panzer III Ns will have HEAT available which has a value of 8. 

The Panzer IVG/H is the best tank the Germans have for this game.  It has average speed of 4/6, a frontal armor of 8 vs 7 for the Panzer III, and the 75mm L48 gun is the best out there for either side.  With an OM1 of +1 and an AP value of 12, it is well suited to take on the T-34 on pretty equal terms.  It does suffer a slight disadvantage of have a DM of +1 due to the poorly sloped frontal armor/size.

The Russian T-34 is a very good all round tank in Mein Panzer as it was in the real world.  It has an excellent speed at 6 cross country and 8 on the road.  Because it has a cross country speed of 5 or higher it has the capability to do evasive movement which makes the tank much harder to hit.  The frontal armor of 9 is pretty respectable and can withstand the 50mm L60 of the Panzer IIIL/M in most cases.  In most engagements, with all the factors added in, this will mean the Germans will be rolling on the -3 part of the Kill Table which gives less than 1/6th chance of knocking the T-34 out.  The 76mm gun is adequate to handle any of the main German tanks it will be facing with an AP value of 9 vs frontal armor on the Panzer III of 7 and on the Panzer IV of 8.  This gives a reasonable but not overwhelming chance of knocking these tanks out if they are hit.

Feel free to check out the stats for yourself in the Data Book.  I actually think the two sides are reasonably well balanced with the Russians generally having the better tanks overall while the Germans with their veteran status will have the advantage of additional chances to hit with the bonus shot and have a bit more tactical flexibility in having greater command distance.  Luck can play a big role in this game as in any other so there is that factor as well.


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#15489 Game Aids Question

Posted by schoon on 07 March 2022 - 12:37 PM

...and here's my wind indicator, printed and primed. I'll be going for an aged-metal finish...



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#15424 FAI redux

Posted by healey36 on 08 February 2022 - 05:48 PM

Nothing to fret about, Ken; thanks to ODGW for providing the platform. It's all fun. Hoping to be able to catch up with you guys at Historicon or one of the other meets later this year.
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#15284 In the Light of Day

Posted by W. Clark on 20 May 2021 - 02:59 AM

Java Sea AAR

VAdm Helfrich (RNN) was on the bridge of his Mackensen class battle cruiser HrMs De Seven Provincien heading due north at 20 knots. The other two ships of the class, HrMs Amsterdam and HrMs Rotterdam were in line astern of his flagship. RAdm Staveren’s (RNN) cruiser squadron was in column following the battle squadron with the cruisers; HrMs De Ruyter (flag), HrMs Java, HrMs Sumatra and HrMs Tromp. RAdm Doorman in HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (DesFlot Leader) was following the cruisers with his third DesDiv. of four Callenburgh class destroyers; HrMs Isaac Sweers (leader), HrMs Gerard Callenburgh, HrMs Tjerk Hiddes and HrMs Phillips van Almonde. The first and second DesDivs. of the DesFlot in columns to his starboard and port respectively.


The Dutch had seen during WWI how the Japanese snatched up all the German colonies they could. The Government decided to pay more heed to its Admirals’ warnings about Japanese intentions towards the Dutch East Indies colonies. The Dutch realized they could never match the Japanese ship for ship and looked for some way to slow the Japanese down until the Royal Navy and the Americans could intervene. They decided they needed capital ships that were stronger than the Kongo class and faster than the Japanese battleships. They approached Germany in late 1919 about the three Mackensen class battle cruisers that had been launched but not completed. Germany was only too happy to sell the Mackensen’s rather than scrap them at their own expense. But the Dutch had to get past the French. They consulted with the Americans and the British and got them to agree to the deal provided the Germans did not arm the ships. The ships were towed to Britain and completed there with British 13.5” guns. They were reboilered and converted to oil firing. But the Dutch did more. They ponied up the money to refit the Java class pending replacement and those ships were in much better condition than they were historically. The Dutch also accelerated their ship building with both the Tromp class Flotilla Leaders and Callenburgh class destroyers being completed before May 1940 (barely). The Endratch class cruisers (the Java class’s replacements) were also much farther along. They had been launched and were towed to Britain in May 1940, but they were still not complete.


The attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse meant that the Dutch had the only capital ships in the newly formed ABDA. VAdm Helfrich was thus able to resist integrating the Dutch Fleet into ABDA commands not under Dutch officers. He had been holding his fleet south of Java during the day to avoid Japanese LBA while he bided his time waiting for a chance to strike at the Japanese.


But his moment had never come. The Japanese moved too fast and now it was late February and a Japanese invasion convoy aimed at Surabaya was steaming south through the Makassar Strait. VAdm Helfrich took his fleet through the Sunda Strait to intercept. The Dutch had maneuvered towards Surabaya and then turned north. They had beaten off attacks by LBA several times, so Helfrich knew his approach was no surprise.

The visibility was about 20,000 yards with no squalls or sea haze. The wind was Force 2 from the north. But the afternoon was passing swiftly. At 1600 hours the lookout spotted ships ahead and Helfrich ordered the spotter a/c launched. A column of capital ships was dead ahead heading south with destroyers to either flank and other ships behind. Helfrich ordered a 90 degree turn to starboard to bring his BCs broadsides to bear and 30 knots.


A moment later came flashes on the horizon; HrMs De Seven Provincien and HrMs Amsterdam answered (HrMs Rotterdam had not yet turned). Two four shell salvos landed near Provincien and Amsterdam respectively and one shell struck Provincien on her belt causing minor damage that did not affect her speed.


VAdm Helfrich could see that the two leading Japanese battleships (He believed they were Kongo class) had turned sharply to port (his POV) and had unmasked their broadsides. He also saw that they had at least one DesDiv to either flank and the destroyers had moved closer to the Dutch then their battleships were. The Japanese destroyers were making funnel smoke and it appeared that they would cover the Japanese battleships within minutes.


It appeared to VAdm Helfrich that the Japanese would try and close the range behind cover of smoke. VAdm Helrich did not want a close fight. He wanted to fight the fight with his BCs at ranges over 15,000 yards. He needed to shelter his cruisers as they were no match for the Japanese heavy cruisers, he was sure were present. It was obvious the Japanese had no intention of offering him the fight he wanted. But two could play the smoke game.


VAdm Helfrich ordered his BCs to turn away to stay outside 15,000 yards. He would have RAdm Doorman’s DesFlot lay smoke perpendicular to the Japanese line of advance. He would have the entire DesFlot within 4,500 yards of the smoke and RAdm Staveren’s cruiser squadron within 9,000 yards of the smoke screen. VAdm Helfrich’s battle squadron would try to get over 15,000 yards from the smoke screen.


The concept was that any Japanese ship poking its nose through the smoke screen would be smothered in shell fire and torpedoes. Meanwhile the Dutch BCs would be in position to intervene if the Japanese battleships or their heavy cruisers came through or around the smoke screen.


VAdm Helfrich realized that both he and the Japanese Admiral had the same problem. What they wanted to strike was on the far side of each force. Neither had the speed advantage needed to get around the other. The first side to penetrate the other’s smoke screen would probably be severely punished for their aggression. But VAdm Helfrich had an additional problem; time was not on his side and night fall was less than four hours away.


The Japanese made no attempt to breach his smoke screen but had turned due west. Every time the Dutch tried to get in range with their BCs the Japanese covered themselves in smoke. Then the Japanese reversed course to due east using the same tactics. It was clear they intended to wait on nightfall. If the Japanese veered towards the Dutch behind their smoke the Dutch recreated their smoke screen and the Japanese backed off. As night fell, the Dutch turned back 135 degrees to the NNW to try and silhouette the Japanese against the setting sun. But the Japanese just turned south behind their smoke. That forced the Dutch to turn south also.


By this point both sides spotter a/c had a good look at what their parent ships were up against. The Dutch pilots had reported four Kongo class battleships, four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and at least sixteen destroyers. That the Japanese out numbered them was no surprise to Helfrich.


It was now full dark. The moon state was full. VAdm Helfrich estimated that his ships could see about 16,000 yards. That would have to do. He ordered the Fleet to turn 45 degrees to port to close the Japanese at an angle.



To be continued


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#15237 Badung Strait

Posted by W. Clark on 11 May 2021 - 04:35 AM

Badung Strait-19 February 1942


We had our first face to face game in over a year. There were only three of us so, we wanted a small scenario. We are also involved in playing the “Defending the Malay Barrier” campaign so we wanted a scenario related to the campaign. We turned to the Dutch Supplement and selected Badung Strait.


Time: 2200 hours       Moon: Full      Wind: Force 2 from the East.             Squalls: None

Max Visibility: 20,000 yards 


It was a moon lit night and Rear Admiral Randy Miles (aka Doorman) was on the bridge of his flagship HrMs De Ruyter. HrMs Java trailed him astern and a mixed Dutch and American destroyer division comprised of HrMs Piet Hein, USS John D. Ford and USS Pope followed Java.

A second Allied group consisting of HrMs Tromp and the American destroyers, USS John D. Edwards, USS Stewart, USS Pillsbury and USS Parrott was about 2 to 3 hours behind.


The Japanese had landed a battalion of their 48th Infantry Division on Bali and Allied LBA had bombed the landing force and caused some damage. Doorman’s mission was to finish what the Airedales had started and sink any Japanese shipping in the Strait.


The ABDA Force was heading NE and steaming at 25 knots with the cruiser division in line ahead with their destroyer division behind them in a column. They had been heading NE for about 30 minutes in the Strait when lookouts on De Ruyter (could see 6, 000 yards) and Piet Hein (could see 8,000 yards) both acquired what turned out to be two destroyers on their port quarter. Doorman called for full speed and a change of course to port to close when 2 torpedoes struck USS Pope and 3 more struck USS John D. Ford sinking both destroyers within 3 minutes.


De Ruyter struck back and hit the lead destroyer (Oshio) setting her afire. Return fire from Oshio bounced ineffectively off DeRuyter. Java could not see anything but Piet Hein opened on the second Japanese destroyer (Arashio). Java now able to see the burning Oshio joined De Ruyter in pummeling her with 5.9”. Oshio’s return fire was smothered under the deluge 5.9” and her speed dropped while she continued to burn. Oshio was also illuminated by many smaller fires from the cruiser fire.


Piet Hein traded shots with Arashio and suffered for it. First was a hit in her engineering (which she repaired immediately) and then a bulkhead which took 6 minutes to repair. Arashio was also suffering when Java joined in. Arashio now on fire with her guns being ruthlessly silenced slowly lost speed. Java also suffered a bulkhead hit.


Piet Hein finally saw what the Allies were there for; the Sagami Maru chugging along at 10 knots. Piet Hein having lost her forward torpedo mount continued to close the range smothering the Sagami Maru’s lone 3” and damaging a bulkhead. Sagami Maru had gone dead in the water and the two Japanese destroyers were not far from it but refused to give up the fight.


Captain Robert Bishopsan had fought gallantly, making moral twice but Asashio and Michishio (while approaching) were too far away to intervene in time to save the valiant captain or his crews.


We called it an Allied victory and ended it there.


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#15200 FAI redux

Posted by healey36 on 10 April 2021 - 08:53 AM

January 16, 1916


Clan Line Association Steamers was organized in Glasgow in the late 1800s by a consortium of Scottish investors, intended for service on the routes between Britain, South Africa, and India. Their timing was fortuitous, as Britain saw a boom in trade during the final decades of the nineteenth century, which led to the Clan Line’s rapid expansion. The company developed not only a reputation for expedient service, but also taking extraordinarily good care of cargoes, especially those which required special handling. One such cargo was tea, which had to be carefully segregated from other hold contents to avoid contamination. The Clan Line would dominate the highly-profitable tea trade for decades, its near monopolistic grip not broken until the years immediately following the Second World War.


During the first decade of the new century, trade fell into a bit of decline, while the competition for cargo grew. Shippers called upon the Clan Line to add Australia and New Zealand to its routes. At first the cargoes carried were largely dry goods such as wool, flax, and other nonperishables, but eventually a market for mutton, beef, and dairy began to develop, requiring the use of refrigerated ships. Charles Cayzer, a founder and the managing partner of the line, was reluctant to branch out into refrigeration, but he was eventually convinced by younger managers in the company. It proved a good decision, as refrigerated cargo handling would become a key component of the line’s business, especially during the economically difficult interwar years.


The line operated more than 80 ships over the course of the First World War, 28 of which were lost (fully a third of the line’s fleet). That’s a pretty horrendous rate of loss, but generally indicative of not only what was happening on the sea lanes for the first three years of the war, but also the company’s continued dedication to its lucrative, increasingly risky routes. The company lost not only many ships, but hundreds of employees as well during the fight on the high seas (not to mention those that went into the army and became casualties on the Western Front).


A number of the Clan Line’s ships were taken by the German surface raiders, the first being Calcutta-bound Clan Matheson, a general cargo freighter sunk in the Bay of Bengal by the Emden on September 14, 1914. A month later, the company lost another Calcutta-bound freighter, Clan Grant, also sunk by Emden a bit further west. The next would come some 15 months later.


Clan MacTavish, a relatively recent addition to the line, was a 5816 GRT refrigerated cargo ship launched in 1912 from the Armstrong-Whitworth yards at Newcastle. Hers was a record of highly-profitable voyages between Britain and the ports of South Asia and the southwestern Pacific. On December 9, 1915, she found herself casting off at Wellington, New Zealand, bound for London with a cargo comprised of wool, mutton, leather, tinned meats and grain. She was captained by a tough Scotsman, William N. Oliver. Her voyage across the Indian Ocean was uneventful and, after a brief stop at Durban, South Africa, she set off for Dakar where she would coal and have a six-pounder quick-firing naval gun, likely a Hotchkiss, mounted on her stern. Many historians deride the Hotchkiss as a largely ineffective weapon, but it was intended as defense against light torpedo boats and submarines, not a heavily armed warship. With two Royal Navy gunners aboard to crew the six-pounder, she set off from Dakar on January 13, 1916.


Clan MacTavish
SS Clan MacTavish.


By mid-day on the 16th, Dohna-Schlodien had spent the better part of 24 hours retrieving various bits of cargo off the Appam (including some £30,000 of gold bullion), while transferring more than two hundred prisoners held on Möwe to the cargo liner. He planned to keep the steamer handy for a few days, then send it off to be interned in the U. S. or South America. In the meantime, Leutnant Hans Berg and the prize crew had taken a firm grip on Appam’s operations, assuring the ship’s complement and passengers that she would be scuttled if their cooperation was not forthcoming and maintained.


Game Prep


I did a bit of rework on the reaction/decision tables, as the play from the 15th felt entirely too scripted for my liking. I realize now that I’d skewed the tables toward outcomes I’d thought likely, rather than outcomes that were merely possible. After expanding the decision tree and the list of “events” that call for reactions, I think I have a better list of outcomes to balance against.


That said, a bit of tailoring was still required. The notional restraints on Harrison (Appam) are quite different from those on Oliver (Clan MacTavish), at least from the standpoint of Oliver not having to concern himself with the welfare of 140+ civilian passengers. He could be a bit more reckless in his decision-making, and I needed to reflect that here.


Assembling a ship’s log for Clan MacTavish was relatively straightforward. There are a number of sources providing GRT, speed, and other basic engineering attributes, all providing the same basic data. What was less definitive was her armament, or more precisely, where the six-pounder was mounted. Most sources simply refer to a “stern-mount” for the gun, but Bernard Edwards specified that the gun “was so mounted on the Clan MacTavish’s port quarter that it gave no cover to the starboard side.” No other source mentioned this, and Edwards provided no cite, so it’s difficult to corroborate. While I have no reason to doubt Edwards’ account, it seems illogical to me, so I went with a wide-ranging stern mount.



Ships Log Clan MacTavish
Proposed ship's log for SS Clan MacTavish.


Oliver’s ship is tracking north and, quite late in the afternoon, two ships (unbeknownst to him, Möwe and Appam) appear on his port bow, some eight or nine miles off, crossing ahead. We’ll make the presumption that Clan MacTavish, Möwe, and Appam are all proceeding at 10 knots. Weather is clear, seas are gentle. Oliver holds his course, presuming these ships pose no threat to Clan MacTavish while knowing his is the “stand on ship” by the rules of navigation. The two ships, approaching from the west, continue their seeming reckless approach.


After Action Report


Having sighted an approaching freighter on his starboard bow and wishing to investigate, Dohna-Schlodien orders Appam away to the northeast to stand off at some 20-30 miles. Noting the fading sunlight, a glance at his watch reveals it is 1724. The sun will set around 1830, which doesn’t leave much time to reach the freighter in daylight. Estimating the ship’s speed to be roughly the same as Möwe, he calculates they will pass quite close in fifty minutes, but only if both maintain their current speed and headings.


William Oliver suffers no fools, especially himself. He’s an eternal skeptic in the behavior of others, and the two ships he’s been observing off his port bow appear to be intent on crossing ahead at a distance too close for comfort. They don’t appear to be of any real threat to his ship, other than their obtuse navigation. Presuming these are two steamers bound for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, he takes some comfort when the lead ship changes course to a northeastern heading, but notes that the second ship, lagging the first by nearly a mile, continues due east. At 1736, convinced there’s no accounting for such idiocy, he orders Clan MacTavish to turn thirty degrees to port onto a north-northwest heading that will allow her to pass well astern of the miscreant (a d12 roll of 5 on the reaction table)


As the distance between the ships rapidly decreases, Dohna-Schlodien gets a good look at the freighter. He can see that she’s quite a bit bigger than Möwe, perhaps some twenty percent in GRT, and British-flagged. Continuing on his current heading, he crosses some five-and-one-half miles ahead of her at 1754. Hoping not to alarm his quarry, he has Möwe slow to eight knots and start a gradual turn to the north-northeast.


Due south and just three-and-one-half miles dead astern of the tramp steamer, the ever-cautious master of Clan MacTavish eyes the ship with suspicion. Maintaining his course, he messages by lamp “What ship is that?”, then a minute later, “Do you require assistance?”. With neither query answered, Oliver makes the presumption that the ship is up to something and, at 1818, orders his gun manned, a turn to the northwest, all ahead flank (a d12 roll of 1 on the reaction table for “get the hell out of here”, a d12 roll of 10 for directional course change, and a d12 roll of 11 for speed change).


Clan MacTavish Pz
A generic large freighter plays SS Clan MacTavish (1/2400 Panzerschiffe).


Dohna-Schlodien watches the freighter heel slightly as she makes a turn further west and accelerates. With the range widened to slightly more than four miles, and once again having gotten himself dead ahead of the British ship, he realizes there’s no point in continuing the charade. He orders a “Stop at once” message sent, has the Red Duster run down, replaced by the German naval ensign. He tells the helmsman to start a turn to the northwest and orders all ahead full as the gun crews drop the canvas partitions.


Oliver ignores the German’s stop order, instead directing his radioman to send repeated distress messages. He tells the engineering officer to have his Lascar firemen shovel like their very lives depend upon it (which they likely do), and gives his RN gun crew permission to fire when ready. The two ships are now running near parallel courses northwest, slightly less than four miles apart. Both captains know that there’s maybe 20 minutes of rapidly failing light, then covering darkness.


At 1842, Möwe gives a warning shot across the bow with its stern-mounted 4.1-inch. Standing on the starboard side of the bridge, Oliver ignores the warning shot, grinning slightly when hears the 6-pounder bark in response. A small splash appears well short of the German.


With no indication the freighter intends to stop, Dohna-Schlodien opens with his 5.9-inch at 1848, missing just short of the freighter midship. He orders Möwe a further turn west-northwest, attempting to close the range, while Oliver maintains his course and every stitch of speed he could wring from MacTavish’s plant. The range grows to a bit less than 7600 yards.


Möwe’s 5.9-inch and stern guns continue firing, scoring no hits on the great lumbering freighter. At 1900, Oliver orders cease-fire so that the 6-pounder’s muzzle flash won’t betray their position in the deepening darkness. With all lights extinguished and course maintained, he orders a speed reduction to 10 knots, staunching the position-revealing plume of embers pouring out of her funnel at flank speed.


As the British freighter disappears into the darkness, Dohna-Schlodien also orders his guns to cease firing. With precious little moonlight, the last reported range was down to a bit less than 6200 yards. He reduces speed to 11 knots, similarly mitigating Möwe’s funnel glow and wake on the mirror-like surface.


At 1918, Oliver orders MacTavish slowed to just five knots, hopeful that his antagonist will continue at breakneck speed, overshoot his location and pass into the night. Within minutes, however, his luck briefly turns. A lookout on Möwe spots the dark mass of the freighter just 4800 yards off their port beam, and Dohna-Schlodien orders fire resumed.


Seeing the muzzle-flashes on his starboard bow, Oliver orders MacTavish’s speed back to flank and turns into the German raider. Head on, his silhouette is narrowed significantly, but that’s a secondary consideration. Worst case, he’ll ram the German, full speed, ending this now. Looking up at the ship’s clock, it’s 1942.


The range is drawing down to point-blank. The German 5.9-inch maintain their fire, but score no hits. They can clearly see the oncoming freighter now, scarcely a mile-and-a-half away, a great frothy bow wave boiling up in front of her. At 1948, Dohna-Schlodien flips on his searchlights, now realizing the Brit’s grim intent. He orders flank speed in an effort to escape. At 1950, Oliver abruptly orders MacTavish to turn inside Möwe’s stern, passing within just 1200 yards.


Once clear of the German, Oliver again orders speed reduced to 10 knots, the two ships now rapidly moving away from each other. As the range grows, Möwe’s 4.1-inch swings around and fires a final time, missing badly. Clan MacTavish, not a nick on her, slips back into the darkness.


(end of pt.3)

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#15192 FAI redux

Posted by healey36 on 03 April 2021 - 08:58 AM

January 15, 1916


Early on the morning of January 15, Möwe stopped SS Ariadne off Madeira, a freighter bound for Nantes with a load of corn. After her crew was taken off, explosive charges were placed which, when detonated, failed to sink her. Defiantly remaining afloat, Dohna-Schlodien then ordered Ariadne sunk by gunfire, expending nearly a dozen 5.9-inch rounds. When this too failed, the freighter was sent to the bottom with the use of a torpedo.


SS Ariadne S
SS Ariadne torpedoed by Möwe on the morning of January 15, 1916 (from Dohna-Schlodien's 1916 book recounting Möwe's first voyage). 


Around mid-day a new smudge of smoke appeared on the horizon, eventually identified as the northbound British passenger steamer SS Appam. Owned and operated by the British & African Steam Navigation Company, she was travelling from the Senegalese port of Dakar to Plymouth, England, carrying various cargo along with 168 passengers. Among them were a number of British dignitaries, along with thirteen enemy civilian prisoners and seven German POWs. She was commanded by Captain Henry G. Harrison. None of this, of course, was immediately known to the wary Dohna-Schlodien.


Assembling ship’s logs for Möwe and Appam was a bit of a challenge, as information is fairly sparse and what’s out there is often contradictory between sources. One of the biggest problems is finding reliable data for gross registered tonnage (GRT) and the ships’ engineering configuration and capabilities. I have a number of hard-copy sources here frequently referred to, and those, together with on-line sources/accounts, lead to a seemingly reasonable consensus view.


Möwe, as best I can tell, had a GRT of roughly 5000 tons and a top speed of 13-14 knots. She packed four hidden 5.9-inch and a single disguised 4.1-inch, along with a host of smaller weapons. Sources vary as to whether she carried two or four single-mount torpedo tubes; I opted to go with four. Originally built as a refrigerated freighter, she maintained some of that capability which, Dohna-Schlodien wrote in his 1916 account of the voyage, was useful for provision storage on the long voyage. Her coal bunkers had been enlarged in her conversion, which significantly expanded her potential operating range.


Appam is described by most sources as a passenger steamer of approximately 7800 GRT. I had trouble finding much in the way of a description of her engineering configuration or operating speed; however, Emmon’s book on the Atlantic liners gave single-screw vessels of similar size and configuration a speed of 13-16 knots, which I was able to loosely corroborate using Dunn’s Merchant Ships of the World, 1910-1929. At the time Appam encountered Möwe, she was slightly more than 1000 nautical miles out of Dakar, travelled over four days, which would put her cruising speed at roughly 11-12 knots. As far as whether she was armed or not, that too is open for debate, but a number of sources say she had a stern-mounted 4-inch gun and gunners trained to use it. I opted to include it.


SS Appam Log
Proposed ship's log for SS Appam.



Piecing together the exact chronology of Möwe’s encounter with Appam is a matter of slogging through various accounts to come up with a consensus view. Most hold few details, but we know Appam was churning north, likely at that 11-12 knot speed. According to Dohna-Schlodien’s book, he was growing increasingly leery of ships in the area, and ordered the “Red Duster” flying Möwe to cautiously close to within eight or nine nautical miles, then turn onto a parallel course where they were able to establish that it was not an enemy warship, but a medium-size passenger steamer. This did not, however, rule out the possibility of an AMC, at least one of which was known to be operating in the area (HMS Marmora, assigned to the Cape Verde Station). With no sign of a hostile reaction to their approach, Dohna-Schlodien ordered his helmsman to cross the ship’s bow a mile or so ahead, whereby they were able to identify her as SS Appam.



An illustration of the attack on SS Appam from The Illustrated London News of February 26, 1916, based on the recollections of a passenger aboard the cargo-liner. The drawing of Möwe's armament configuration is interesting, albeit flawed as compared to contemporary accounts.


Running up the German naval ensign in place of the British, Möwe flashed Appam two signals, the first to halt and the other to cease all radio transmissions. Henry Harrison complied with neither, ordering his ship to continue while the radioman frantically sent distress calls. Dohna-Schlodien ordered the partitions on his 5.9-inch dropped while slowly bringing Möwe around to fire a shot across the liner’s bow, all the while doing their best to jam Appam’s wireless transmissions (a capability I was unaware of). Harrison, having had a good look at his tormenter and reportedly concerned for the welfare of his passengers, ordered a full stop, whereupon she was boarded.


While the steamer didn’t dovetail well with Dohna-Schlodien’s profile for targets, the capture of Appam played fortuitously into his immediate needs. After offloading some valuable cargo, freeing the German prisoners, and detaining a number of the British on Möwe, he transferred the 200+ captured crew members of his recent victims to Appam. He then installed an armed prize crew led by Leutnant Hans Berg, supplemented by the seven German POWs already aboard. For the next two days, Möwe and Appam would operate together.


Game Prep


As I read accounts of this “action” 105 years after-the-fact, I find myself pondering the outcome and the behavior of the “players”. This is necessary, as part of the point of this exercise was to begin the development of some sort of “AI” to use for solitaire games of FAI. It’s fundamentally a determination of what’s technically possible and what the motivations are for certain decisions. To best do that, you have to look at what happened historically.


Back in the day, I did something similar for a few operational and tactical scale board wargames. For operational games, it boils down to identifying and establishing “decision points”. For example, if you’re playing an east-front game where the Germans are pushing east early in the war, you have to look at what the historical objectives were, and what the “flash-points” for decision-making might have been. If the Germans manage to establish a bridgehead on the eastern side of a major river, for instance, that is likely a point where the Soviets have to decide what they are going to do (given the time and resources available). They may decide to counterattack vigorously, they may decide to try to simply contain the Germans, they might decide to fall back to another defense line, or they may choose to do absolutely nothing. You weight each of those decision possibilities in light of things such as the tendencies of the historical commander(s), the units involved, supply considerations, maybe the weather, etc., build a table and roll dice when events occur. You can make it as complex as you want, as long as you keep within the bounds of what is reasonable and rational. In this way you can provide a bit of randomness in the behavior of your solitaire opponent. In many of today’s operational scale games, the introduction of random activation serves a similar purpose, although, IMHO, it seems to sharply increase the gaminess feel and occasionally leads to some fairly unrealistic results.


Tactical games such as FAI are a bit hairier. First off, the action is simultaneous, so there’s no I-go-you-go sequence of play to mess with. Decisions can be equally proactive and reactive, and they need to be framed by the circumstances. A careful review of the historical action will often provide the framework within which possible decision points can be identified. I have found that using a decision tree, while quite tedious, is very useful in mapping potential actions and weighting the decision possibilities that might present themselves. A variation of this was used during my working life when building complex one, three, and five year business plans, although there it was less about decision-making and more about just predicting financial outcomes.


In this case, it makes sense to play Möwe and let Appam be guided by the dice. Harrison’s objective is pretty straightforward – get his ship safely to Plymouth on time. His reaction to the possible threat posed by Dohna-Schlodien and Möwe, once identified, is the crux of the matter.  


I freely admit to knowing very little about things such as the rules of navigation, i.e. who yields to who when ships encounter one another on the open sea. Certainly distraction, if allowed, can play into it, or worse yet, willful disregard. I know this from experience, having on more than one occasion nearly run a large sailboat aground while distracted by various goings-on, both aboard and nearby. Unlike me, Henry Harrison, as best I can tell, was a thoroughly experienced master, so I give him the benefit of the doubt.


In four days, a half-dozen British ships (including Ariadne that morning) had gone to vapor, yet shipping officials and the Royal Navy were apparently none the wiser. At first this might seem counterintuitive, but rolling the clock back a century, it becomes less so. Information flow between vessels and shore or other vessels, especially passenger ships, was routine, but minimal. Ocean-going ships were generally equipped with wireless equipment, but as seen on many occasions, the gear remained technically primitive, subject to problems in signal direction, strength, protocol, and/or inexperience by the operator (both sending and receiving). Failure to reach a ship by radio was indicative of a problem, but efforts to determine its fate, especially freighters, was often begun only after its failure to arrive at its destination by its scheduled call date. Reports of confirmed enemy sightings or attacks were routinely sent, but Appam had received none. In light of all of this, it’s not unreasonable that Harrison was unaware of the immediacy of the danger his ship was in.


SS Appam E
SS Appam as seen from Möwe after she had stopped (from Dohna-Schlodien's 1916 book recounting Möwe's first voyage).


Harrison, then, clearly had reason to be wary of the general, but not the immediate situation, on January 15. His voyage since leaving Dakar four days earlier had been uneventful. They’d received no reports of commerce raiders operating in the area. If anything, his concerns likely centered on the threat posed by submarines which were known to occasionally operate along the West African sea lanes. He was cruising at a speed that would get him into Plymouth on time and in the most fuel-efficient manner. Appam was not, however, zig-zagging or making any precautionary course or speed changes.


Historically, Harrison did almost nothing to save his ship, despite observing an admittedly rather generic British-flagged vessel operating in an erratic, if not threatening manner. It’s important to try to understand the rationale for his action (or inaction). He had options. Perhaps the welfare of his passengers, as he told Dohna-Schlodien, was his primary concern. Had there been published results from a contemporary board of inquiry (if one was held), those would have been quite useful.  


As best I can tell, Möwe comes over the horizon on a southwesterly heading. At a distance of 9-10 nautical miles she makes an approximate 100+ degree turn onto a course that roughly parallels that of Appam. Travelling at a speed likely 2-3 knots faster than the passenger steamer, Möwe, flying the British red ensign, turns onto a northwesterly heading that will take her within a mile of Appam, eventually across her bow.  


Through all of this, one is left to wonder what Harrison is thinking; perhaps even more importantly, one is left to wonder what Harrison could have done. By the time Möwe turns onto a course paralleling Appam, Dohna-Schlodien’s 5.9-inch battery is nearly within range. It seems to me, the critical and most rational decision point comes when Möwe turns to begin her run-in on Appam’s starboard bow. Harrison’s best chance for escape, perhaps only chance, is to abruptly turn away from the British-flagged tramp, go to flank speed, and man the 4-inch on her stern.


Models, charts, and dice in hand, we go to the table.


After Action Report


Based on the accounts provided by a few of Appam’s passengers, the weather on September 15 was near perfect. Sea conditions were “moderate” with a light chop. Visibility is clear all the way to the horizon in all directions. The air temperature is a balmy sixty degrees, water temp some ten to fifteen degrees cooler.


By mid-morning, Dohna-Schlodien has brought Ariadne’s crew aboard and dispatched the freighter by use of one of his precious torpedoes. His lower decks now crammed with prisoners, he orders Möwe off to resume a course to the southwest.


Around 1200, a lookout on Möwe reports smoke off the starboard bow, an unknown vessel on a due north heading. If they continue on their present course, Dohna-Schlodien determines that they will pass well astern of the ship. Wary of a rapid approach but hoping for a closer look, he maintains his heading for nearly thirty minutes, then orders the helmsman to bring Möwe around to a due north heading, roughly paralleling the other vessel. With the distance between them just ten miles, Dohna-Schlodien determines the ship to be a cargo-liner of some 8000 tons, but of unknown nationality. Keeping Möwe on her present course, he orders her speed increased to 13 knots, allowing them to slowly begin pulling ahead. Continuing for nearly an hour, he waits for some perceptible reaction by the other captain.


Aboard Appam, Captain Harrison is in the officers’ mess enjoying a lunch of salted kippers and brown bread, going over the morning fuel report with his engineering officer. At 1250, he is called to the bridge where he is told of the presence of an unidentified ship running on a parallel course, approximately ten miles off their starboard beam. When he asks how long the ship has been coming up from behind them, he is told that the ship actually approached from the northeast, then turned onto a course abreast their own. When he hears this, he berates the watch officer for not having called him to the bridge earlier. Through his binoculars, he sees a rather nondescript tramp pushing along at a speed slightly ahead of his own. Wondering why it made a rather sharp course change to mimic his own, he convinces himself that, while peculiar, it is not immediately concerning. He decides they will continue on their current heading and maintain their current speed (a d12 roll of 2 on our reaction table), while keeping an eye on the nearby ship.


At 1336, Dohna-Schlodien orders a course change to the northwest, which, if both ships continue their current headings and speed, will take Möwe across the liner’s bow at a distance of slightly more than a mile. Approaching a range of 14000 yards, he orders his gun crews to their hidden stations.


While the unidentified ship was still close to ten miles off and gradually pulling ahead of him, Harrison began to think that it might not pose a threat. Other than possibly a correction for a navigational error, he still had no explanation for its sudden course change, but as both ships continued on a parallel heading and the amount of water between them continued to grow, he was content to proceed while keeping an eye open. This temporary sense of disregard abruptly dissipated when the tramp started into a turn to port, taking a line that would cross Appam’s bow uncomfortably close. He ordered a signal sent, calling for the freighter to stand off, but there was no response. As the distance between the ships closes and thinking a collision possible, Harrison pondered momentarily whether to try to turn inside the tramp and pass him astern, or simply turn away and throw the stokers into high gear. Now beginning to suspect ill-intentions, he elected the latter and ordered a gradual 30-degree turn to port while telegraphing for flank speed (a pair of d12 rolls of 1 and 4 on our reaction table).


As the steamer started her great arcing turn to port, Dohna-Schlodien ordered Möwe to flank speed. The combination of his opponent’s hesitation, the ship’s turn, and Möwe’s increased speed has dropped the distance between them by another 3000 yards, now down to just 8600 yards. His radioman, monitoring transmissions from the liner, reports silence.


But now Dohna-Schlodien has a problem. The combination of turns and speed changes by both ships have left Möwe nearly dead astern of the liner, which is almost imperceptibly starting to pull away. Without a forward deck gun, he has no chance to take a shot at a target dead ahead; a shot will require a turn in either direction, bringing his 5.9-inch to bear. Such a turn will slow him considerably, allowing the liner to open the distance between them even faster.


Deciding he has little alternative, he orders a turn to starboard, the British ensign taken down and the German run up. A signal is sent announcing he is a German auxiliary cruiser and demanding the liner stop, which, in combination with a warning shot, Dohna-Schlodien hopes the Brit heeds. The partitions masking the 5.9-inch are lowered.


Harrison, studying his pursuer from astern, can’t observe much of what’s going on aboard the ship. He can, however, see that the “Red Duster” has been replaced with a different ensign, one he is unable to recognize from 4-1/2 miles away. Regardless, he knows this is further evidence of trouble, shortly confirmed by the message that his pursuer is a German warship together with a demand  that he stop his ship. He disregards the message, directing instead that distress calls be sent. Maintaining his heading and speed, he orders all of the passengers to their cabins and his stern-mounted 4-inch manned and ready (a d12 roll of 12 on our reaction table). With the safety of his passengers and crew in mind, he directs the RN gun-crew that they are only to fire if fired upon.


While the radioman does his best to obliterate Appam’s distress calls, the 5.9-inch wait for Möwe’s turn to bring the liner into their arc. At 1440, Dohna-Schlodien gets his shot, but the turn has cost him over 1000 yards of range. At 9600 yards, they straddle the steamer, throwing up two towers of water on either side.


SS Appam G
SS Appam under fire by SMS Möwe.


Minutes feel like hours as he tries to outrun his pursuer. Harrison sees the flash of the German’s guns just a moment before the splashes erupt next to Appam, one shell landing just forty feet off his stern, sending a cascade of water and a few splinters clattering along the sides of his ship. The next salvo, or possibly the one after, will likely auger into Appam with catastrophic effect. While he knows the range will lengthen if both ships continue on their present courses (which the German must if he is to continue firing), perhaps running his ship beyond effective range in a matter of 15-20 minutes, the risk of even a single hit is too great. While the Englishman yearns to continue the fight, he has to consider the welfare of his passengers. He orders the gun team to stand down and a message sent to his pursuer, “Stopping” (a d12 roll of 10 on the “continue or stop” reaction table).


(end of pt.2)

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#15180 FAI redux

Posted by healey36 on 29 March 2021 - 12:13 PM

Three Days of the Seagull

January 15-17, 1916


Desiring a distraction from the North Sea, I’ve been spending a lot of time of late reading up on the war on the open Atlantic (and Pacific). The surface actions there are much smaller in scale tactically (i.e. number of ships on the table) as compared to the great sparring matches conducted in the waters immediately separating Britain and Germany. The Mediterranean remains largely a mystery, one yet to be explored.


The idea of gaming commerce raiding by surface ships seems counterintuitive at the tactical level. A high percentage of the actions would encompass an auxiliary cruiser stopping and scuttling a merchant ship. That’s not exactly pulse-racing stuff. There were, however, actions that entailed armed merchant cruisers (AMC), armed merchantmen, auxiliary cruisers, Q-ships, and traditional naval ships, overlaid by the uncertainties of limited intelligence, training, the wireless, weather, and a healthy dose of luck, good and bad.


I had originally planned a quick two-ship solitaire game of the events of January 16, 1916, a simple exploration of commerce raiding as executed by SMS Möwe and her master Graf Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien during their first voyage, but I soon decided to expand it to include the day before and the day after. A sort of mini-campaign of commerce-raiding, these three days seemed a representative snap-shot of Dohna-Schlodien’s methods, highlighting the opportunities presented, seized, and/or dismissed by the Royal Navy. Before throwing ships on the table, however, I wanted to better understand how things had gotten to this point. Here’s my rather long-winded take on the general situation and Möwe’s initial exploits.



SMS Möwe, location and year unknown. Likely a war-time photo, she appears to have her false masts raised. A Gazelle-class light cruiser is moored behind her.


The Kaiserliche Marine (KM) was founded as the linchpin in proving Germany a great imperial power, one that had global reach and strength. It was a departure from Bismarck’s Central European notions and disinterest in territories overseas. This shift came in the last years of the 19th century, with the Kaiser and Chancellor Bülow calling for territorial expansion, while others such as Admiral Tirpitz, argued for the product of German industrialization be dedicated to this end. This, of course, would bring Germany into direct confrontation with the greatest of imperial powers, Great Britain.


Tirpitz reportedly believed the inevitable clash with Britain was unlikely until 1918-1920, giving him scarcely two decades to provide the build-up of the German fleet. It was a tall order, but one he nearly pulled off, moving the KM from the sixth largest fleet in the world to one being second only to Britain’s Royal Navy. It’s important to note that, while Tirpitz’ creation may have been second in terms of numbers, many naval historians consider the KM’s assets to have been, pound-for-pound, superior to those of the RN. The real problem for Tirpitz was one of geography.


It’s interesting that Tirpitz called for the build-up of the fleet with an eye toward supporting Germany’s territorial expansion, yet failed so badly in providing for it. The bulk of his efforts went toward challenging Britain in the North Sea and breaking its presumptive blockade, while doing little toward the likely possibility of having to enforce one themselves. This failure was not only one of assets, but also the development of a logistical network capable of supporting a war beyond German coastal waters and the North Sea.  


The failure, despite a lot of hard work, to develop adequate coaling and resupply arrangements with neutral or otherwise non-belligerent countries would prove disastrous. While some of this can be laid at the feet of a largely inept German diplomatic corps and the inattention of Tirpitz and his staff (Imperial Naval Administration), it was Britain’s aggressive strategy of “bunker control” which provided the British the ability to restrict/ration access to fuel for international commercial shipping and naval vessels. In August 1914, Britain had a network of 181 coaling stations around the world, nearly all well-developed and in favorable locations. The Germans had nothing so robust, and within months of the war’s start, the slim network of coaling stations they had assembled had begun to unravel. This forced the KM to rely upon a support structure consisting nearly exclusively of auxiliary colliers and depot ships, the operation of which would prove tenuous.


The prewar plan for commerce interdiction centered on the construction and use of a fleet of cruisers, operating across the globe, supported by a network of land-based coaling stations and, where required, colliers and supply ships. To this end, the decade or so prior to the war saw the construction of a substantial number of light cruisers, many of which were intended for commerce interdiction. However, with the war breaking out years before Tirpitz’ plan anticipated, the strategy ran afoul of competing priorities within the Navy and the general build-up of the fleet. Far fewer light cruisers were built than planned, and of those constructed, many were assigned to the High Seas Fleet’s scouting squadrons. Those which did operate as commerce raiders did so with some success before being hunted down and destroyed (see Emden, Karlsruhe, Königsberg, and to a lesser extent Dresden). Liners converted to armed merchant cruisers (AMC) also figured in German plans, but they, together with the light cruisers, proved expensive to build, operate, and ultimately lose.


The experiences during the first year of the war led to a thorough reassessment of the plans for commerce interdiction. The U-boats were quite few in number and, despite a handful of successes, there remained considerable skepticism regarding their ultimate capabilities. The submarine was still seen as a recent technical development by most naval theorists, and the very traditional-minded KM leadership remained strongly wedded to the surface fleet. While an expanded submarine construction program had been commenced within months of the war’s outbreak, the number of boats at sea were few. Until those numbers could be substantially increased, the navy’s strategy of interdiction, what little there was, would continue as a function of the surface arm.


The poor logistical situation, together with the inefficiencies of operating coal-hungry AMCs and light cruisers, drove the KM to quickly move the surface raider program toward the use of relatively modern cargo ships converted to auxiliary cruisers (Hilfskreuzer). These were relatively plentiful, generally small in size, economically efficient, and able to operate in an “anonymous” manner. While fast enough to overtake most merchantmen, they were unlikely to outrun a warship. They were, however, armed sufficiently to engage small unarmored warships if encountered, an eventuality thought to be unlikely. Because they were plentiful, inexpensive to build/convert, and quite efficient to operate, they were seen by some at the Naval Office as expendable. SMS Möwe and her sisters were the product of this operational course-change.




My initial glimpse of SMS Möwe (alternatively SMS Moewe) came a few years ago while plowing through newspaper clippings, researching an unrelated topic. In the August 23, 1956, issue of the New York Times, I saw a short article announcing the passing of 77 year-old former Korvetten-Kapitan Burggraf Graf (Count) Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien, the commander of a WWI German commerce-raider, which, according to the New York Times, “sank 200,000 tons of shipping in 1915-1917”. Presuming that the typical tramp steamer of the day was quite a bit less than 5000 tons, it seemed a rather remarkable score for both a ship and master I’d never heard of. The clipping went into a folder for later reference.


It turned out my initial impression was warranted. A bit more reading revealed that Möwe did indeed produce an impressive record, one that exceeded 40 enemy ships sunk during just three sorties (some sources credit Möwe with up to seven voyages, but this seems unlikely), including the old pre-dreadnought battleship HMS King Edward VII (by a mine laid by Möwe). Her record of success is deemed best of any commerce raider in either war. She ran the blockade three times, out and back, which itself is quite a feat when considering the strength and numbers of the Royal Navy’s blockade. While Dohna-Schlodien was clearly a skilled commander, Möwe seemed imbued with considerable good fortune.


She was built as the refrigerated freighter Pungo, launched in 1914, one of the famed “banana boats” operated by the Laeisz shipping company between Germany and its colony of Kamerun (today’s Republic of Cameroon). A year later she was requisitioned by the German Navy and renamed Möwe (Seagull), first for use as a tender, then converted into an auxiliary cruiser at Wilhelmshaven, commissioned as such in November, 1915.


A list of her armament seems to vary somewhat by source, but the consensus seems to be four deck-mounted 5.9-inch naval guns, a single stern-mounted 4.1-inch naval gun, and either two or four deck-mounted single 19.7-inch torpedo tubes. She could also carry up to 500 mines. For the purposes of disguise, the 5.9-inch were hidden behind collapsible partitions, and the 4.1-inch was disguised as deck-gear on her stern. The crew had the ability to alter the height of her masts, and she carried paint and materials such that they could significantly alter her structural appearance (even to the point of adding a false funnel).


SMS Mowe D
Proposed "best-guess" ship's log for Möwe.


In the eyes of her KM handlers, she had one huge operating advantage. As a former freighter, her relatively low speed together with enlarged bunkers filled to capacity gave her a vast operating range. She would be sent on her way, requiring little and promised same, a throw-back to the days of nationally-sanctioned piracy on the high seas.


Her commander, Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien, was born April 5, 1879 at Mallmitz, an industrial town in Lower Silesia. The fifth of five children, he joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1896 shortly after his seventeenth birthday. Within six years he had been promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant (Oberleutnant zur See). He would serve aboard the battleships SMS Wittelsbach and SMS Braunschweig before receiving his first command in 1910, the river gunboat Tsingtau of the East Asian station. In 1913, he was made navigation officer of battleship SMS Posen, with the rank of Korvetten-Kapitan. In 1915, Dohna-Schlodien was transferred to the Hilfskreuzer program (overseen by Admiral Hugo von Pohl, who was terminally ill with liver cancer at the time), where he either chose or was assigned the converted Möwe as his command.


Möwe departed on her first cruise in the last days of December, 1915. Her point of departure is variously attributed to Wilhelmshaven (site of her conversion and commissioning) or Kiel, which are technically both correct, as it is likely she departed the yard at Wilhelmshaven, then passed through the recently-widened Kiel Canal to reach the naval base at Kiel. By so doing, Möwe avoided the extensive minefields off Cuxhaven and the onerous, dangerous task of sailing up and around the western Denmark coast. From Kiel, she would instead pass through the Skagerrak into the North Sea, where she could proceed surreptitiously along the southern Norwegian coast before heading west. It would be the first, and not the last, demonstration of Dohna-Schlodien’s considerable navigation skills during his commerce raiding career.


SMS Mowe
1/2400 Möwe by Panzerschiffe.


At a time when the North Sea should have been teeming with trawlers, drifters, submarines, and the odd patrolling warship, Möwe made her way across to the Pentland Firth and the channel leading to Scapa Flow unobserved, continuing west as far as Cape Wrath, quietly sowing a 250-300 mine field. The fact that Dohna-Schlodien and his crew accomplished this unchallenged over, by some accounts, multiple days, seems beyond belief. Perhaps the Royal Navy felt the tidal and seasonal weather conditions too difficult to contemplate such a possibility, yet it would cost them an eleven year-old battleship (HMS King Edward VII) and a few freighters, not to mention closing much of the strait to traffic for many months.


HMS King Edward VII
HMS King Edward VII, lost January 6, 1916, to a mine laid by Möwe west of Scapa Flow.


From these northern Scottish waters, Möwe proceeded out into the Atlantic, down the west coast of Ireland (although it wouldn’t have surprised me if Dohna-Schlodien had the stones to venture down through the Irish Sea) turning southeast toward the French coast. There she sowed her remaining mines, probably to the relief of her crew (mine laying, not to mention transport, is dangerous work). With the decks cleared, Dohna-Schlodien set a course south toward the shipping lanes along the West African coast.


On January 11, 1916, they encountered two merchantmen off the northwestern coast of Spain, a pair of British freighters. The first, SS Corbridge, was bound for Argentina with a load of coal. After a brief chase, she was taken intact as a prize and sent across the Atlantic to a point off the Brazilian coast and a future rendezvous for recoaling Möwe (Dohna-Schlodien was already planning a transatlantic crossing to the South American coast). SS Farringford, a freighter carrying a load of copper ore, was sunk by gunfire after her crew was taken off.


Two days later, January 13, another three British-flagged freighters were dispatched, one (SS Dromonby) being a westbound collier intended for recoaling British warships operating off South America. In three days they’d captured one ship and sunk four others, each without an alarm successfully raised by use of the victim’s wireless. Möwe, however, was getting a bit crowded accommodating the crews of four merchantmen, less the prize crew sent west aboard Corbridge.


(end of pt.1)

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#14435 Using Black Seas Ships?

Posted by Cpt M on 29 November 2019 - 06:38 PM

Well, now we have a 1/720 set of gauges in the Download section for Post Captain (Under the Bonus Files, Play Aids).  I just up scaled the 1/1200 versions.  The Turning Gauge comes out to 5+" in diameter (a bit of a beast, that).  And the Movement Gauge had to be done in 2 parts since its too long (you can tack the halves together to get the full gauge).  The gauges are available at:




Enjoy!  (I just finished up 2 of the Black Seas brigs and converted another into a large topsail schooner.  Will be getting these on the table this weekend.)

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#13456 One Year Anniversary of My Blog

Posted by Brian Weathersby on 09 March 2018 - 01:27 AM

So March 8 was the one-year anniversary of my blog ( https://mymodelsaili...ps.blogspot.com ).  In honor of that minor milestone, I've added a post about the anniversary with some looks at what posts have been popular over the last year.  I also take a look at where my visitors have been from, and discuss some ideas for the second year.
One of those ideas, a page of books useful for the Age of Sail gamer was posted today also.  To make that first post easy, I reviewed Sam Willis' Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century.  Please come by, check things out, and feel free to leave some comments.

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#11800 The Horror at Wolfenberg Historicon 2015

Posted by Guy on 20 July 2015 - 08:49 PM

Our Scenario for the Wolfenberg Game:


The Horror at Wolfenberg  Scale: 15mm; Rules: ODGW Mein Zombie;  No. of Players: 9. Germany, March 1945. The horror is spreading East and West and has brought the war to a virtual halt.  Agent Blaskowitz reports that “it” is spreading from the German Paranormal Div. facility at Wolfenberg & the trapped scientists hold the key to stopping it.  The race is on .  Take command of Panzer Grenadiers or British Air landing troops, & join us for the debut of the Mein Zombie Squad Rules.


LG ran this three times during the Con with Mike Moran and I assisting.  The first time we played, the players were experienced Mein Zombie or other Zombie game players.  They were a little scared about the amount of noise the Military weapons made.  We also started them too far away from the objectives.  After shooting a lot on game turn one, both sides went silent after that.  They moved slow and got bogged down with heaps of zombies, neither side got close to the objective, but killed lots of zombies.  I don’t believe there was any human/ human combat.

On the 2nd run, we adjusted some things and started both sides closer to the camp.  Human on human combat started immediately.  This group also realized that they had so much firepower, the noise was irrelevant.  They were killing zombies and each other with glee.  The British Air Landing platoon breeched the wire and started clearing buildings.  The Germans made their way to the front gate in force, eventually parking their halftrack in front of the camp “Cooler” where the scientists were.  A good shot from a KOSB PIAT destroyed the Halftrack and the Infantry squad riding in it.  There was hard fighting with the living and undead until the game ended, but the scientists were not released.


For the 3rd run, we started even closer.  We had a good crew of experienced players.  Both sides were using their weapons to good advantage on the “Walkers” and the enemy.  The British mortar landed their first shot in an abandoned German Halftrack that was the German resupply point, and it went up with a 20 Noise counter bang.  The British attempted to flank the Germans with their Recce jeeps.  The Hun tried to counter with a half track, only to have their MG-42 Jam on their first shot.  The British jeep returned fire, causing damage.  The next card pulled was the German squad with the one German Panzerfaust.  They scored a direct hit and killed the jeep and crew.

The lead German squad breached the front gate, but took heavy British fire from the snipers in the Guard tower and were also mobbed by Zombies.  They eventually lost 4 of their 6 troopers.  The British were steadily clearing buildings and found the 3 scientists and their 3 guards.  As they tried to exfil with them, the Germans raced their halftrack right up to them.  The scientists tried to scramble into the track, which caused a firefight that cost half the scientists and guards.  The Germans were able to get the rest out of the camp before the British could bring up a PIAT and stop them.  German Victory.

WE learned a lot about how to adjust the rules and the scenario to make things play faster and easier.  Everyone who played all 3 games told us how much they liked the scenario and that with a few tweaks it would be even more fun.  The 3rd run was probably close to perfect.  We look forward to doing this again!!  Thanks to ODGW, Mike Moran and Kenny Noe for all the help and encouragement!!!!

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2015-07-17 19.45.43.jpg

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#11222 Stats for other weapons

Posted by William Cira on 23 December 2013 - 01:03 PM

I think it would be interesting to develop stats for some additional weapons such as the katana, the chainsaw, and the RPG launcher. 


The katana has a very high coolness factor due to the Walking Dead series and the new set of female survivors from Wargames Factory has a hilarious woman with an RPG launcher.  That one would of course be very noisy. 


I don't think the chainsaw would be an ideal weapon to use becuase of the noise, but it seems like every survivor set has them. 


Just a thought.  No big deal. 



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