Thursday, 11 August 2011

Attack on Pola No.2

I described the scenario and reproduced the briefings for this fictional engagement in an earlier post and so here is the battle report for the Attack on Pola.

Russian forces comprised five ironclads plus two blockships, which they would try to sink at the entrance to Pola Harbour (just the blockships, that is).  The Austrians also had five ships, plus three shore batteries at their disposal.  The map below (done in MappingBoard) shows the playing area, which is supposed to be located on the Croatian coast in the Adriatic.  Not a lot of detail really, but then it is mostly sea.
The Russians entered at the southwestern corner of the board keeping well away from the coastline in order to avoid alerting the shore batteries.  Despite this, the Russians' first act was to fire on the shore batteries, thus alerting them.  This also had the effect of setting the clock running for when the Austrian ships would appear, which they duly did.
Getting closer to the harbour mouth the Russians started to turn towards the objective and the Austrians also turned to starboard in order to try to cross the Russians' T and bring all turrets to bear.  The Austrian ships and shore batteries were starting to get the range and quickly put Captainski's (i.e. HMS Captain's) after turret out of action (if you have Paul Hague's Sea Battles in Miniature you'll know that the Russians seem to get hold of British Admiralty blue-prints rather readily....), whilst the Russians kept firing, and missing.
A few turns further on and the Russians managed to destroy a shore battery but Captainski was still suffering damage and sank by a deck, thus losing headway.  The Austrian ship Edelweiss (the one with all its washing still up) crossed the Russians' T and poured more fire into Captainski, whilst the rest of the Austrians sailed southwards and parallel to the Russians with the intention of getting full broadsides in (not entirely successfully).  Meanwhile, the other Austrian squadron, which had been sitting with steam up in Pola Harbour, appeared on the table behind the headland.
Nevertheless, despite the Captainski falling out of line to starboard, shadowed by the now damaged Edelweiss, the Russian van continued its inexorable progress toward its objective (destroying another shore battery in the process) whilst the Austrians continued to sail past them the wrong way!  Turn round dammit!
A move later and the badly damaged Edelweiss finally sank the Captainski!  At last, a result for the Austrians (me), although with the rest of the fleet either heading the wrong way or not yet clear of the headland things were perhaps not going that well.
Meanwhile at the mouth of the harbour the situation was getting awkward with the Russians trying to get in and the Austrians trying to stop them.  With enough speed now gained, the Austrian battleship Liszt rammed and sank the blockship Spirit of Dunoon.  However, the other blockship (Frieda) and the Russian box-battery Carolinski managed to slip into the bay between the headland and the otherwise occupied Liszt.
As if this wasn't bad enough, the Russian box-battery Polanski got a direct hit on the Edelweiss and finally, after a very long run of dud die throws, the Russians managed to ignite her magazine and she blew up
Always slow burners, the Russians were now getting into their stride and, despite taking some last minute damage, opened the sea cocks on the Frieda and sank her right across the entrance to Pola, exactly where the scenario required.  To add insult to injury the Austrian breastwork monitor Silesia was sunk close to the headland as she raced back towards the harbour mouth, too late to do anything about it anyway.
Totting up the scenario victory points the Russians had got one blockship in position, sunk two battleships and destroyed two shore batteries, earning 60 points overall.  In contrast, despite getting first blood, the Austrians only managed 15 points by sinking a battleship and a blockship before it could get into position.

Overall, it was a successful game - from the point of view that we had a scenario that was interesting (I think, anyway), had a clear objective and was worth fighting for - and also from Geoff's point of view specifically because he won the battle so emphatically.  Furthermore, the simplified version of  Paul Hague's ironclad rules allowed us to finish the game in one evening even though there was a bit of re-familarisation to be done.
Finally, the ships fought well, including the old cardboard ships (some now 30 years old, such as Caroline, above) as well as the newer vessels made especially for the occasion. So, look out for further clashes in this era, although perhaps it's time to get back onto dry land after all this naval stuff and get some toy soldiers out again for our next outing.

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