Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thoughts on Naval Scenarios - Relative Advantages

I've been thinking about scenario design for naval war games and came up with the following relative advantages that exists.

  1. Advantage of Strength (out-gunning) exists when one side has a clear advantage in firepower. Therefore in a toe-to toe slugfest the fleet with this advantage should win a gun battle.
  2. Advantage of Manoeuvre (out-running) exists when one side can show the other a clean set of heels and thus avoid the toe-to-toe slugfest. or alternately prevent their opponents from running away.
  3. Advantage of Position exists when one fleet holds a blocking position, essentially lies between the enemy fleet and their objective.
  4. Advantage of Situation exists when the status-quo favours one side and forces their opponent to press for a conclusive result.
Obviously the key to scenario design is to balance these for advantages to produce a competitive and fun 
game  (I'm still working on this one).  Obviously a combat between one side with an advantage of sped and another with an advantage of firepower will be short with - one side running and the other gunning until the weaker side gets away or is hit badly enough to slow down and be overwhelmed.

To illustrate these let's look at a couple of historical actions. 

  • River Plate 1939
    • The Graf Spee holds a clear advantage of firepower.  In a gun battle she can expect to overwhelm the british cruisers (and did so historically)
    • Commodore Harwood holds a clear advantage of manoeuvre and can decide to fight or flee.
    • There is no real advantage of position as the battle was fought on the open sea and neither side effectively blocked the other.
    • The british hold an advantage of situation as the Germans must fore a clear victory which in this case means to drive off his pursuers and escape in good shape.  A stalemate will allow the RN to call in further reinforcements and hold an advantage of strength.  A bloody victory will leave the Graf Spee useless as a raider and at the mercy of any new RN ships she meets.
  • SMS Goeben vs. Admiral Troubridge (1914)
    • Here the Goeben holds a clear advantage of both firepower and speed over the British armoured cruisers.  
    • But now Troubridge can hold an advantage of position by blocking the Germans access to Constantinople.
    • Historically the advantage of situation lay with the Germans, if Troubridge did nothing (as he did) then SMS Goeben  becomes the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the entire shape of the war changes.  However, if Troubridge was blocking the way then the Germans have to fight his way past while retaining full power of manoeuvre or he'd be caught by stronger RN forces.
There are similarities between the two scenarios, and they both make fun and challenging games.  However, the differences n speed and position make for different challenges.

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