Monday, May 21, 2012

A long history ramble and a few spaceships at the end...

Yes apparently...

I highly recommend these!
So, I'm not sure where the inclination quite came from, but recently I've become rather quite interested in naval deign & history from prior to WWII, yet after the American Civil war. Honestly I think it came out of Wikipedia searches on ship's names for my space ships in EVE online of all things. So after digging around online, I bought these two books which are way out of print, yet still available via Amazon (cause everything is on there). Brand new (if even available) they're priced to the point of ridiculousness whereas used, I was able to find them at fairly reasonable prices.

Now, if you're not interested in this sort of thing, they're probably as dry as a high school textbook (as this post may also be, if so just skip down to the space ships). However I am, so they are in fact quite entertaining to me. The state of naval warfare in those days was almost comical (unless you were in the engine room or just about anywhere inside a ship where it was literally hellishly hot). The US congress ignoring actual naval opnions and instead demanding the biggest guns, heaviest armor, and putting it all on the smallest (i.e. cheapest) displacement and short range (so as not to offend foreign powers) resulting in many of the same errors being repeated in designs, and as a result a fleet of  absolute mediocrity.

The earliest of US battleships were more or less copies of one fielded by Brazil, which at the time had the biggest guns in the western hemisphere! That thought scared the hell out of the US governemnt when they realized it could bombard coastal US cities and there wouldn't be a thing we could do about it!  The best we had were antiquated river monitors (which were only meant for rivers yet we periodically  would send across the pacific to guard far flung US interests, how they didn't sink enroute is a mystery to me) and obsolete Civil War designs.

 Instead of listening to what the Navy wanted the goverment kept building ships with features like terribly low free board,  torpedo tubes that never worked right, casemate guns that were all but unusable in anything but flat & glassy seas, ram bows that sent waves over the tops of the bows & straight into the turrets & casemates that they could never seem to waterproof (powder doesn't fire when wet!). Super imposed turrets (which mounted an 8" gun turret on top of a 12" gun turret...think about it) were just plain stupid yet even when they started to realize that the concept was a mistake, they added them to a second class of battleships because they didn't want European nations to think that we didn't know what we were doing! They were already well aware is it turns out...

BB-1 USS Indiana
 While built before the debacle of superimposed turrets, I'll use the Indiana for example. It was the US's first real Battleship in the modern sense, and boy did it show!  Built without any kind of keels & unbalanced turrets,  when the turrets were turned for a broadside,  the ship would list heavily to the side. Thus, rather than arcing their shots at maximum elevation for better range, the guns would instead just be firing on a flat trajectory! Worse yet in a storm once, the turrets broke their locks and were swinging uncontrollably from one side to another (like a said eariler, comical) till the crew was somehow able to tie them down with ropes. Later they had to repeat the process in the wee hours of the morning when the ropes snapped, how they didn't drown anyone in that process I don't know. After that incident the Indiana would make a hard turn towards the nearest port when any storm seemed to be on approach.

The only real victory we had in those days was the battle of Santiago de Cuba which ended the Spanish American war. While they were effective in that these ships, despite their flaws won the war. That victory also had a lot to do with the Spanish ships being even worse than ours.

 When ordered to Cuba's water, the Spanish admiral said it the state of his fleet made it suicide, the Spanish government said to go anyways. Built along the same sad lines as ours (more or less) the Spanish flagship's main guns weren't even fitted but rather had wooden mockups, and budget cuts meant several of the Spanish ships were firing 'training' rounds filled with sawdust (guess how well that worked). Its no wonder that between the first ironclad engagements in the Civil War and the arrival of the HMS Dreadnought, this period of naval history is kind of ignored. The Battle of Tsushima is about all that is ever really mentioned, and even then rarely.

Anyways, what the hell does all of this have to do with space ships I hear you ask (assuming you haven't already closed the page)? Well, not being a historical gaming player, the closest thing to this kind of setting that I have in my collections, is Battlefleet Gothic (which could easily be played using actual naval ships rather than space ships when you think about it). So when purchasing my Rangers a few weeks back, to get to the $50 needed for free shipping I bought a box of Imperial cruisers (and then the rangers were out of stock, so all I got from GW was the cruisers & the free shipping, go figure).

I ran out of black primer for the other 2 bases.

So I painted those two ships up as well as an old Spacefleet cruiser that I intend to use as an Endeavor class light cruiser (which is impossible to find these days). I also have a blister of frigates, so toss in an admiral & a reroll or two & it ought to make for a 750 point fleet or so. True, in the time period discussed above, there were no carriers, I had to make at least one carrier as you can't play BFG with out them. I've mentioned playing games without carriers & always get the same response:

 'Why would you want to do that?'

I dunno, I always thought it was supposed to be a game about spaceships, rather than the stupid little fighter & bomber card stock tokens. However given that we rarely ever play BFG, it doesn't matter much really. At least they look good on the shelf!


Hive Angel said...

Looking good on the shelf indeed! I tend to gawk at whatever is on your shelf and notice what is new on your shelf.

The information on the warships in interesting. I feel it is good for just about anyone to find some interest in something historic.

I'm glad it is not pirates, ninjas, samurai, or something else boring and drawn out.

The Ascended Host said...

You can easily play without carrier support. An Imperial fleet is actually the best to do it with. Just make sure to take shots at all the ordinance with both your broadsides, and split your firepower to get the most out of your shots. You can also pick your battles with bombers and torps by "driving" over them when you move, and pick them off bit by bit.

Swords and firestorms are fairly resilient against incoming ordinance as well, with 2 turrets.

I ran a fleet with no carriers for years, and still play it.

Da Masta Cheef said...

Hmmm, I may have to try that then. Of course in a way I sorta have already. My Ork fleet's LD is generally abysmal and has a notorious habit of rolling boxcars on reload ordinance rerolls, so in many games I really only ever had one flight of fighta-bommas all game.

Overwhelming one side with as many bomber squadrons as possible has always been one of my main gripes with BFG. That tactic renders the ships themselves more or less irrelevant (except as targets).

That and removing the 'guess range' from the Nova cannon, turning it into a one shot, one kill (or at least crippling) weapon.