Pre Dreadnoughts

A few weeks ago I downloaded Rory Crabbs “Rise of the Battleships” rules which he had put on Wargames Vault as a free download –it is now available at the extortionate price of £2.

We gave it a quick playtest.

Thought it was fun.

Made a few tweaks.(More on this later)

Thought of a campaign system.

Bought a sea!!! (blue ground sheet- £3.50 on Ebay—I’m not cheap)

I dug out my 20 year old Navwar 1/3000 Russian /Japanese fleets and prepared a scenario which would recreate a scenario which could occur in a campaign.

The Russian Fleet is bombarding the Korean shoreline. Three of their ships must remain stationary with their torpedo nets down and only half of their main armament available for defensive fire to qualify for a victory. The rest of the Russian fleet is steaming at speed one.

The Japanese enter from the “seaward” end of the table with the instruction to halt the Russian Bombardment or hurt them—remember this is a campaign game.


Initial Japanese fire fell a little short. The “splashes” are painted screws.

One of the entertaining aspects of this set of rules is you have to estimate the range to your target. Rather difficult when your target is only 50mm x 30mm, 42” away and moving.


Japanese Admirals Colin-san and Neil-sama developed an interesting tactic of overshooting the armoured cruisers in the front and accidentally hitting the battleships in the rear rank. At that range the shells generally bounced off the tougher ships.


A good start for the Russians—Admiral Shaunovitch’s Suvarov scores a critical hit on the Fuji.


The Russians scatter as tiny fast moving Japanese torpedo boats approach.Both sides totally ignored using defensive smoke!!!!!


After about three hours play the Japanese turned away. The Russians had either dodged their torpedoes or they had failed to get through the torpedo nets—the Ouchakov had been targeted by 3 torps one caught in the net and the other two failed to cause any damage.

Victory to the Russians! Two Japanese ships sunk and bombarding ships still active. The Tsaravitch however had suffered two bridge hits,damaged pumps,boiler damage,a destroyed turret and only 12 hit points left.

The main “tweak” I made to these rules was in the gun penetration table. A firing ship will look up its gun calibre and range to target compared to the targets armour. This gives a penetration number to be rolled equal to or over on a D6. What I did was to alter the penetration numbers so a D10 could be used—basically it made smaller calibre guns less likely to penetrate heavy armour—1 in 10 rather than 1 in 6 being the minimum chance of penetration and allowed a greater range of possibilities.

A fun playable game—campaign to follow.



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