Saturday, August 9, 2014

Steamer Wars

There are no pictures.  We didn't have miniatures for this, so Jaye made counters and we used those.  Not much to take pictures of.

The rules are by David Manley.  They are available on the Wargame Vault website as a download.

They are $8.40.

The booklet is 38 pages long.  The rules are covered in about 10 pages.  There is a complete campaign game for the Lake Tanganyika campaign in WWI.  They are advertised as being for the period 1910 to 1920, but there are paddlewheel steamers, gunboats, and steamboats.  I intend to use these for battles between paddlewheel steamers in colonial games.

The game also comes with a page of 5 turn gauges that you print and cut out.  I printed it on light cardstock, which seemed to work well.  There is no QRS, but the shooting rules are on two pages and are all you really need to refer to.

We tried this with our Thursday night crew at Jaye's house.  As usual, we went too big.  Each person had a large, medium and small gunboat.  Six players, 18 ships.  I doubt he intended for fleet battles, but it worked well.  I was "running" the game.  I needn't have bothered.  Everyone had figured out how it worked in about 2 turns, and it played easily.

You start out by rolling initiative, which can be modified if you have a personality in charge of your side, depending on their ability.  If you win, you get to either move first or have your opponent move first.  Larger boats move before small ones.  This brought up a question.  Large boats move on one side then the other, then repeat with smaller boats?  Or does the side moving move their large boats, then their small boats, and the other side does all theirs in the same order?

There are three range bands.  They are close, effective and long.  We were using all light and medium guns.  You are rolling to beat a number.  There are 11 possible modifiers, having to do with target size, crew quality, speed, etc.  

If you hit, you roll to see if you damage.  You can get no effect, suppression, light and heavy damage.  Suppression affects your gunnery next turn and also a morale roll at the end of the current turn.  For light damage you roll once again on the Damage Table.  You can take hull hits, gun crew hits, gun hits, and then if you manage to roll a 10 it is a critical hit with various bad things happening.  

We found that for the most part, the boats didn't sink.  We were using light and medium guns, and the medium guns are listed as being 57mm.  So, you aren't making huge holes in the hull.   Instead you damaging the guns, engines, wheelhouse, etc.   A lot of the ships lost their guns, which made the owner generally lose their morale and they turned around and left.  Remember, we had a lot of guns firing because we were using 18 ships.  

If you are suppressed or damaged in a turn you take a morale roll.  You are looking for a 3 or better on a 10 sided die, but there are some modifiers depending on damage you have taken, etc.  If you have a 1 or 2, you retire but can roll again on the next turn.  If you get to 0 or below, you flee and can't roll again.

There is a 10 page article in the rules about the Lake Tanganyika campaign.  

So, how was it?  It fit us pretty well.  Its fun, easy to play, and goes quickly.  There is some chrome, but not so much that the game bogs down. With 6 players and 18 ships we finished in about 2 hours.  

Thumbs up from me.

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