Over the weekend, a small but intrepid group of gamers gathered again at Stoke Rochford Hall for our latest Aeronef weekender. Joining the usual crowd all the way from Houston, TX was Andy Bouffard, who had managed to combine a business trip with a weekend’s gaming.
This time the theme was Jutland – or a refight of it using Aeronef instead of wet navy ships. The order-of-battle for Jutland is immense, with a total of 250 ships, and much e-mail discussion had ensued about how to portray this, how many of the escorting ships to use etc. In the end we decided to only portray the heaviest vessels – the battleships, battlecruisers and the eight British armoured cruisers. It was felt that the many other smaller vessels would simply clog up the table without adding much to the fight.
So the British took to the skies with 28 dreadnought battleships, nine battlecruisers and eight armoured cruisers. The Germans on the other hand had 16 dreadnoughts, six older pre-dreadnoughts and five battlecruisers. The stats for the game were derived from the real ships, by using the figures for displacement, armour, weight of broadside and speed to create Aeronef game stats. We only generated figures for hull points, gun dice, speed and turn rate – we ignored the small number of torpedo tubes carried by the capital ships since they were rarely used in battle, and bomb dice were unnecessary since there were no surface targets. I’ve made PDFs available for the Germans and British stats so you can see what we used. The German dreadnoughts were more powerful than all but the largest British vessels, but they were heavily outnumbered – the British ships totalled over 4100 points, while the Germans came to just 2500.
Things started badly for the Germans as the battlecruiser scout force got too far ahead of the main fleet and, isolated, was quickly torn to pieces. In a mirror of the historical engagement, the battlecruisers Invincible and Indomitable succumbed to magazine explosions in the same turn (we were using the “There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships !” special rule). The slugging match between the two main fleets then panned out as expected, with British firepower proving too much for the Germans, although some nifty German manoeuvring initially saw a large part of the British force left too far away to have much influence on the battle until they were able to close the range. We fought almost to the bitter end, and called a halt with just six German battleships still aloft. The Grand Fleet had been hit hard however, losing seven battlecruisers, several armoured cruisers and half-a-dozen dreadnoughts – so they could really only claim a minor victory in tactical terms, although strategically the loss of almost the whole of the Hochluftflotte would have a major bearing on the outcome of the war.
On Sunday morning we tried out Land Ironclads using Silvio la Verde’s excellently painted Italian and Austrian forces – although this was only a brief skirmish, we all saw enough to want to play more, so next year’s SRH weekend may have more of a land combat theme…