Thursday, February 25, 2010

Play Test of Sides of Steel Rules

On Monday, February 15, several Jackson gamers were introduced to the pre-dreadnought naval rules, Sides of Steel.  They were developed by Ben King and are marketed by Cotton Jim's Flags (LINK).  I bought them at Historicon a number of years ago.

This game pitted a small squadron of four Japanese battleships against a slightly larger squadron of four Russian battleships and  three cruisers.  The cruisers were not a real factor as they tried a complicated end run to get behind the Japanese but were never able to catch up to them.  The action was confined to the four battleships on each side.

The Russian cruiser flotilla

One of the two Japanese battleship divisions

The Russian battleline, led by the four battleships and trailed by the three cruisers

The Russian cruisers start their turn to try and get behind the Japanese.  Their commander, Senior Captain Yakov Alexandrovitch Pavlov (AKA Jim Pitts) thought that this would give the Russians an advantage.  Unfortunately his cruisers just weren't fast enough to make up the distance and could never catch the Japanese battleships.

Clay James, one of the Japanese battleship division commanders, calculates the range to the Russian battleships.

One of Phil Young's Russian battleships is heavily damaged and limps out of line.  Ed Sansing's rear division has to maneuver around the crippled ship.  Sean Pitts' lead division of Japanese battleships is closing the range to Phil's leading battleship.

But it doesn't do Sean any good as his lead battleship is pounded by the Russians and, mortally wounded, begins to sink.  With this loss and other damage inflicted on them, the Japanese squadron turned into the rising darkness and escapes from its Russian tormenters.

The rules are fairly easy to understand as long as the gamers don't have to worry about too many ships under their command.  We decided that for beginners with these rules (which is what we are), two ships is enough.  So when I run a game sometime later in the year using these rules, all the players will control a division of two ships.

The models are from Panzerschiffe (LINK) and represent ships actually present at the famous Battle of Tsushima (May 27-28, 1905).

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