I bought Great War at Sea: Mediterranean at the Game Plus auction about a year ago. It was kind of an impulse purchase. I was vaguely familiar with the series, but have to admit my hearing wasn’t fully tuned in that night as I was pretty sure I was buying a WWII version of the game! Turns out it is set in WWI. Not to fear, the game has this really interesting mix of tactical battles and strategic planning that I’ve found very appealing.
Great War at Sea: Mediterranean comes with 70(!) scenarios in both tactical and strategic flavors (I’ve always found Avalanche Press games comes with a ton of scenarios). Twelve of those 70 focus on the tactical battle rules directly between ships. I plan on playing all twelve of them (or as many as I can stand!) and reporting back has I learn the tactical system.
The tactical battles are fairly simplistic in detail which seems to bother some series players. I try to take them as I think they were intended; a quick way to resolve naval combat in the context of larger strategic moves. I also don’t mind the speed play!
Thanks to the Boardgame Geek community for some really handy play aids. Anyway, on to the Battle Scenarios!
Battle Scenario 1: The Battle of Otranto 15 May 1971
This battle pits three Central Powers Light Cruisers against a British CL and a few Italian destroyers. As the initial Battle Scenario one would expect it to be pretty short and to the point (and they would be right in this case).
The scenario starts with the Allies with the initiative and one of the Austrian CLs noticeably damaged. To begin, the Allies close to two hexes but the Dartmouth couldn’t score with its secondary guns. With its initiative they ultimately close to single hex combat about midway through the round. Poor rolling dooms the Allies though as the Austrians follow up with a six torpedo salvo on the Dartmouth hitting with all six! Unquestionably the Dartmouth is headed to the bottom of the sea. As that was a victory condition for the Central Power, the Austrians walk away with a victory.
This probably took all of 10-15 minutes to play out solo.
Note: I miscalculated the speed of the damaged Novara. For some reason I had it in my head that it took 75% hull damage to lose a speed factor. I think it is actually 50% and the Novara starts 67% damaged. I don’t think it impacted the outcome, but it was a good learning point which I guess is the point of all this, right?
Battle Scenario 2: The Trial of Troubridge 7 August 1914
This scenario pits four British armored cruisers against a German Battlecruiser, the Goeben, and a light cruiser, the Breslau. It would appear that British have the advantage with their numbers, but their ships are somewhat underpowered against the Goeben in particular. (This is somewhat an understatement because of some rules errors I made).
To start off the Germans closed to three hexes with the Goeben firing all six primary guns on the Defence. Plunging fire and a two hull hit contributes to sinking the Defence right away.
The British armored cruisers are slow to close but start to pick away at the weaker Breslau which foolishly moved in. In return, Goeben turns it attention to the Black Prince picking away at its gunnery. The three remaining British ACs damage the Breslau which is now dead in the water. Goeben holds ground to protect her but can’t seem to finish off any of the other British ships despite her powerful gunnery. The British cruisers gang up on the Breslau sinking her and securing an automatic victory. In retrospect, the Breslau should have stayed away.
Note: rats, another rules error this time. I didn’t realize until too late that those British ACs fell into the Obsolete Warships (7.62) rule which would have limited their primary guns to two hexes. Knowing that, the Breslau may have lasted longer and the Goeben may have satisfied its automatic victory condition of sinking two Allied ships. Oh well, live and learn. On to . . .
Battle Scenario 3: Battle of Cape Sarych 18 November 1914
The Russian Navy makes its first appearance here, pitting four aging battleships and a few protected cruisers against the same Goeben and Breslau seen in Scenario 2.
The Breslau did close to one hex range at one point to fire its torpedo, the only weapon option it had. Upon missing, it sped away from the main battle.
Goeben positioned itself away from the faster battleships focusing on the slower Rostislav and Panteleimon at first. However, it was unable to inflict any real damage before the main fore came in. As most of the Russian fleet were obsolete (7.62), Goeben could outgun its opponents in range and in power. Using this tactic, it was able to render the Evstafi weaponless in turn 2 knocking out all of it primary guns, secondary guns, and torpedoes.
The Germans kept initiative in turn 3, and at range, Goeben sunk the Evstafi with plunging fire (8.8) scoring the first kill of the scenario.
At that point, I called the scenario for the Germans. In retrospect the Russians probably should have broken off the engagement earlier instead of pursuing. Many of their capable weapons were knocked out and their slow speed kept them largely targetless throughout the scenario. The Germans winning initiative throughout was key.
Note: Sheesh, three scenarios and three missed rules. Just noticed that the Germans were supposed to benefit from the presence of a Leader (16.0). Good thing they won initiative each round anyway!
Even with the rules miscues and simplicity of the tactical system, I really enjoyed my time with these introductory scenarios. I’m not sure I can wait and wade through all twelve before I move on to the strategic part of the game, but I am looking forward to playing at least a few more for fun and for working out the kinks.