WWII Coastal Forces, Attack with Torpedoes, 1/600 scale
Orkney-based wargamer Chris Werb expressed an interest in a Second World War Coastal Forces game, so out came the sea mat and the little boats. I can’t even call them ships. Anyway, the plan was to play two games – a straightforward night-time clash between small German and British squadrons, set in the English Channel, and then an attack on a small German convoy, set in the Mediterranean. Chris hadn’t played Attack with Torpedoes before, so I took the part of the Germans as well as the umpire, while Chris ran the British squadron. Both sides approached each other at right angles, and effectively the British aimed to “cross the T” of the Germans, while the E-Boats attempted to close the range, so their greater firepower would really pay dividends. That’s the situation in the picture above, with both sides firing at long range.
You can’t help noticing the range sticks in this game. Each one is 40cm long, and marks “effective range”. As the sticks are also laid when you declare your firing, they also prevent players from switching targets when a boat gets sunk while you’ve still got some firing to carry out. The result though, when the boats get closer and start dogfighting is akin to an accident in a kebab skewer factory! The Germans had three E-Boats (one being a later war armoured one), and a slower but more powerful R-boat. The British had two Vosper MTBs, with little in the way of armament, a small British Power Boat MGB, which was well-armed but tiny, and finally a large Fairmile D – a “dog boat”. Things went fairly well for the British until the Germans changed course so all their guns could bear. The way the firing works, you get a number of dice for each gun. For instance, a single LMG gives you one dice, a single HMG 2 dice, a 20mm gun 4 dice, and so on. Twin mounts give you 50% more dice. That means that when the German E-Boats opened up with their single and twin 20mm guns abaft the bridge, then they got an extra 10 dice to roll. You hit a small target like a MGB or MGB on a 5-6, modified by range, and with a minus if you’ve fired the gun in a previous turn, to represent loss of night vision. If you need a “7” to hit you re-roll “6s”, and if you get a second 4-6 then you’ve scored a hit. As you can imagine, with more than a couple of well-armed ships a side you need a big handful of dice!Playing the part of the Nazi bully I picked on the vulnerable smaller Vospers first, and the BPB MGB. These three boats didn’t have many hull points, so 12 hits meant they’d sink. The British player lost a Vosper boat each turn, and then the BPB gunboat went down, leaving the dog boat to fight it out alone. By way of retaliation two e-boats were badly damaged, but none were close to sinking. Eventually, after six turns of gaming, we decided to let Chris’ remaining MGB slink off into the darkness.For our second game we were joined by Shane, a teenager for whom this was his first historic wargame. He seemed to enjoy himself, particularly as I gave him two American PT boats, bristling with weaponry. Chris had a Denny steam gunboat and another BPB MGB, while I had to cross the table with a small tanker, guarded by a flak lighter, a small trawler and two E-Boats. We never got to finish the game as we ran out of time (we only get three hours on a gaming night, and we started late). Still, after three turns my tactic of picking on the small fry had paid off as the BPB gunboat had sunk, and one of the two PT boats was badly battered. In return I’d one sinking E-Boat, and another that was felling a little bruised. The flak lighter was something of a floating death star, and Chris had just got past it to launch his torpedoes when it was time to pack everything away. Attack with Torpedoes works really well. I have reservations about their torpedo rules, and might tinker with them, but the basic moving and firing system works very well indeed. I’m also a sucker for those tracer-lined range rods!