Monday, April 28, 2008

Battle of Santiago in 1/1000 scale part 2

In my last post, I related about the actual battle of Santiago and our recreation on the tabletop, using 1/1000 scale Houstons Ships and the Age of Iron rules, Age of the Dreadnought, Armored Ships come of Age. There were three players and myself as the GM. None of us had played these rules before, but we are all experienced gamers. By turn 3 or 4, everyone knew what they had to do, what modifires they needed on dice rolls and where to look in the rule book. I had laminated the QRF chart that comes with it, and promptly left it buried under a bunch of papers, where it was no use to anyone.

Les Mansir (Adm. Cervera) was quickly learning that his primary guns were really no use against the American Battleships and had to wait for the range to close up. Meanwhile, the hits were starting to mount up as the American gunners found the range.
The Spanish Squadron steams out of Santiago Harbor and into to waiting arms of the Americans.

As happened in the real battle, the American commanders did not know which direction the Spanish would go when they came out. I tasked Les with generally following the route taken in 1898 by the Spanish. All movement and range was measured in centimeters, due to the large size of the ships and the large (but not large enough) table. We played on an 8' x 6' table.

In the pictures below, we first have the Vixen leading the Gloucester in to the battle.

Here is an original photo of the Armed Yacht Gloucester. She engaged both the Pluton and Furor in a furious gun duel, all the while getting caught by tall columns of shell splashes from the American Battleships.The American noose tightens, as the Spanish ships make a turn to starboard upon exiting the harbor entrance. As the range closed, the negative modifiers started changing to positive modifires and that meant trouble for the Spanish ships. By turn 6, the Cristobal Colon had some major damage and Critical Damage, which effected it's speed and turning ability. The Viscaya had also been hit.

The small ships mill about and we had a real melee. Here the Vixen and Gloucester pierce the line and intercept the Pluton and Furor, while the Brooklyn and Almirante Oquendo trade broadsides.

By turn 8, the Furor was sunk by the combined gunfire of the Armored Cruiser USS New York and the Armed Yacht Vixen. Here's an 1898 illustration of the TBD Furor being pursued.

The Booklyn pierces the Spanish line.

While the Infanta Maria Teresa puts some water between her and the Americans.

The grey pile of debris you see in the above photo is to simulate a reef, that is another obstacle to the Spanish and forces them to turn to port a bit for open water. Meanwhile I instructed Admiral Sampson (Dick Caldwell) that the Indiana had developed engine trouble and her max speed would be 10 knots instead of 15.

In the photos below, you can see how close the action was for the rest of the Spanish ships.

The BB Texas even sunk the TBD Pluton by Torpedo attack and some excellent dice rolls by Indy.

In this photo the New York nearly runs over the tiny Vixen, while the Pluton is last seen trying to get a Torpedo shot on the Texas.

"Torpedo markers are in the Water" A burning Cristobal Colon tries to keep station while the Viscaya gets a short ranged torpedo attack by the Brooklyn and the trailing Oquendo gets the "Measuring Fingers of Doom" by Commodore Schley (Indy) as he estimates the range from the Texas to the Almirante Oquendo.

The Oquendo would be sunk by gunfire from the Texas and New York on Turn 10. By the last few turns of the game 8-10, Les was so busy marking damage to his ships stat sheets that he could barely think of firing his own guns. In the rules, as a ship takes hull damage, it starts loosing speed, weaponry and turning ability.

The end came as the Infanta Maria Teresa steamed off the table and into "Game" history.

I had one more test up my sleeve for the Americans as they congratulated themselves on a wonderful victory. As happened in the real battle, an alarm went out that a Spanish Battleship was seen approaching. The USS Brooklyn hurried over to investigate and make ready for further combat. The ship was a warship and the flag had the unmistakable red bars on the flag.

I quickly quizzed Admiral Sampson and Commodore Schley as to what this ship could be. I had no miniature to put out, so I described the scene for the Americans. Adm Sampson (Dick Caldwell) quicky deduced that the flag was the red and white flag of Austria and not the red and yellow flag of Spain. Then I described the signal flags flying from my mystery ship stating "This is an Austrian Ship, Please do not fire". The Austrian ship was looking for a place to spend the night and thought Santiago looked like a good port on the charts. In real life, the Americans asked them to anchor 20 miles out to sea, but the Austrians went out 40 miles, to be sure there was no more confusion. Amazingly enough the Austrian ship was named the Maria Theresa too.

Here's a photo of that very ship. "SMS Kaisein und Konigin Maria Theresa"

In wrapping this up, I want to first say how much fun this project was to do. Doing the research of this battle and naval combat of the time, coming up with ideas for the ship status sheets, getting photos of the actual ships, all are part of the fun for me.

We play 15mm WWII every Monday night at The Arena and every Wednesday night at Renaissance Games, after a while it becomes a blur, but preparing a game like this, for a different era and type of combat, and being the GM (Game Master) was a whole new thing for me. I enjoyed this game as much as the three players did. Speaking of the 3 players; having three good friends who enjoy this as much as I do, really made for a great game.

And now, after hosting this game, both Les and Dick want to have their own fleets of 1/1000 scale ships, which means that all of these ships will be on the table top again in the near future.
Right where they belong.
Good Gaming;
Mr. Joe

1 comment:

Bluebear Jeff said...


I've just been reading about your 1/1000 Pre-Dreadnaughts . . . and I've ordered some of the Houston's from Great Endeavors . . . only I've ordered some Russian and Japanese ships.

Have you played any more with your ships? Did the others get some?

Here's a link to a fellow in Scotland that might inspire you to fight another battle:

I'm in western Canada and you can contact me at . . .

-- Jeff