Sunday, February 17, 2013

Coronel AAR 1 - Steam and Iron

I've been bitten by the naval wargaming bug the past few days.  This happens every so often; this time it seems to have manifested as an interest in the dreadnought battles of WWI.  As I result I've dusted off (meaning updated) my copy of NWS' Steam and Iron and I purchased the flawed-but-still-interesting Jutland from Stormeagle Studios.  It's interesting to play the same scenario in both games.  SAI is a 2D, graphically plain but highly detailed game, while Jutland  is a 3D ship simulation.
Today I'm playing Coronel, an engagement between the Imperial German East Asia Squadron under Vice Admiral Graf von Spee and a British Squadron under Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock.  The battle happens off the coast of Chile near the port of Coronel.  The East Asia Squadron is composed of the Armored Cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the Light Cruisers Dresden, Leipzig, and Nurnberg.  Craddock's Squadron is made up of the Armored Cruisers Monmouth and Good Hope, the Light Cruiser Glasgow, the Merchant Cruiser Otranto, and the aging pre-Dreadnought battleship Canopus.  Craddock has left HMS Canopus behind in his efforts to locate the East Asia Squadron, due to her slow speed and poorly-trained crew.  He's significantly out-gunned by the Imperial German squadron.
Given my lack of familiarity with the systems and tactics of the time, I'm going for the easy win here and playing the Germans.  The German objective is to sink the two British Armored Cruisers.  The British win if they can avoid that and manage to sink any single large German ship (meaning either of the two CAs).

The fight opens with SMS Leipzig identifying HMS Glasgow and HMS Otranto as the main force of the Far East Squadron proceeds SSW.  Leipzip and Glasgow exchange some long-range gunfire.

The German ships turn west to bring more guns to bear on HMS Glasgow.  After a few minutes, they run across the British main body, steaming south. The German battle line turns SW, closing the distance between the two groups and engaging in a running gun battle.

German gunnery soon takes it's toll, and a turret flash fire causes CA Monmouth to explode.

Leipzip has taken a hit that slows her to under 20 knots, making it difficult for her to continuing scouting/screening in front of the German CAs.  Scharnhorst has also taken some light damage, but the German main body of the two CAs and the CL Dresden continue to close on the remaining British CA, HMS Good Hope.

Soon HMS Good Hope begins taking hits from the combined fire of the German CAs.

Soon enough, like her consort, HMS Good Hope takes a magazine hit and explodes!

Objectives achieved but with time left in the scenario, there was nothing left to do but some mopping up.  The British light ships had fled to the west, but damage in the early phases of the engagement slowed their top speed.  The Germans were able to catch HMS Glasgow and pounded her with gunfire until she too sank, as night fell.
Historically, HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope were sunk, but both HMS Glasgow and HMS Otranto escaped.  HMS Glasgow was part of the British squadron the destroyed and sunk nearly the entire East Asia Squadron a month later off the Falklands.

The toll for Craddock's squadron was heavy.  Note the presence of the undamaged battleship on the British side (the "B" designation}.  That's HMS Canopus which played no part at all in the battle, and which I never even sighted.

A nice feature of Steam and Iron is the ability to plot the track of the fleets during the battle for later examination.  I love how this plot looks so similar to naval battle maps you might find in a military history book!
Now it's time to fire up Fraps and Jutland, and grab some screen caps of the same battle in 3D.