Copyright © 2011-2024, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2011-2024, Paul Scrivens-Smith

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Friday 12 October 2012

Somewhere in the North Sea - 1915

At Mansfield Wargames club we have has a few games of Naval Thunder: Battleship Row / Bitter Rivals and these have given some great games for a club night that as well as being easy to pick up give a fun game with a result that usually feels about right.

Steve has a massive collection of WWI ships for both the Grand Fleet and the High Seas fleet so he recently purchased a copy of Naval Thunder: Clash of Dreadnoughts

Yesterday evening at Maesltrom Games we played our first game of WWI naval using Naval Thunder to a scenario of Steve's devising.

A squadron of Royal Navy Battle-cruisers encountered a similar number of German Battle-cruisers. The initial forces were:

  • HMS Lion (flagship)
  • HMS Princess Royal
  • HMS Queen Mary
  • HMS Tiger

Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger

  • SMS Lutzow (flagship)
  • SMS Derfflinger
  • SMS Seydlitz
  • SMS Moltke

Lutzow, Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke
The squadrons were approaching on a roughly parallel course at extreme range. As the Royal Navy Battle-cruisers were renowned for being poor shots they would have a +1 crew capability for shooting only.
Peter and myself would take the Royal Navy, Karsten would take the Germans and Steve would ensure it all ran smoothly.

In the opening turn we turned slightly away from the Germans to open the range - we out-ranged them quite considerably so tried to make that pay. Indeed in the first couple of turns we were able to fire unopposed at the Germans, although our poor gunnery accounted for naught. In more good news, a squadron of Royal Navy fast Battleships steamed into the fray:

  • HMS Barham (flagship)
  • HMS Valiant
  • HMS Warspite
  • HMS Malaya

Despite our poor shooting things were looking up for the British.

Of course this was not to last, in the next turn we also sighted German Battleships entering the area in the form of the following:

  • SMS Koenig
  • SMS Grosser Kurfurst
  • SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm
  • SMS Markgraf

The German Battle-cruisers had also found the range of ours! Derfflinger had a rather spectacular salvo at HMS Lion, three shots hit the hapless Battle-cruiser, all three penetrated and all three caused critical hits in the engine-room, our flagship had been reduced from 7" per turn to 1" per turn in a single salvo. We attempted to move the flag to the next ship in line - the Princess Royal - who misunderstood the signal and broke off the contact with the enemy steaming away. The flag was eventually moved to the Queen Mary. What a turn, one Battle-cruiser was crippled, one Battle-cruiser had sailed off and German battleships were in the vicinity.

Lion belches steam from the catastrophic engine-room damage, Queen Mary breaks off and the rest of the squadron is in confusion

The Germans do not have it all their own way though, before breaking contact the Princess Royal scores a hit below the waterline on the Derfflinger and she starts to list badly which the damage control parties struggle to contain.
Unable to keep up with the battle-line, HMS Lion is still fighting gamely, a salvo of 13.5" shells crashes into Derfflinger worsening the list, Derfflinger quickly capsizes.

The British Fast battleships are now engaging closely with their German counterparts, but they are find to their cost that their shells are not as good as they thought. There is a rule in Naval Thunder to simulate the poor quality of the British shells, if your penetration dice is an odd number, the result is downgraded so that a penetrating hit becomes a non-penetrating hit and a non-penetrating hit has no effect at all. Well, we rolled very poorly and although we were shrugging off hits from the German 12" guns, our own 15" monsters were having hardly any effect at all. 

To paraphrase 'There is something wrong with our bloody guns'
After nine turns of play we though the  game had played out very well and the effect seemed about right. The British certainly had the material superiority, but with poor shells and poor gunners on the Battle-cruisers had only sunk a single German Battle-cruiser. Meanwhile, the Germans had managed to cripple the Lion but had not been able to put the killer blow on any of the Royal Navy ships.

Here are a few more images from the game, all the ships belong to Steve and are mainly Navwar models

The new flagship - HMS Queen Mary

The Princess Royal, before leaving the fight.

Derfflinger prior to being sunk

HMS Lion is hit thrice in the engine room


  1. Great report and lovely looking models. I'm just about to delve into WWI naval using Victory at Sea; Age of Dreadnoughts. What have you used for the models' bases?

    1. They are Steves ships but I am pretty sure he uses the 1.5mm plywood from a model shop for his bases and paints it with Vallejo Prussian Blue