"Think In Oceans, Shoot On Sight"

A General Quarters variant for the pre-dreadnought period

By Doug Thompson

 

The pre-dreadnought period has long been my particular interest. I had used General Quarters to game some actions, but found the results unrealistically bloody. Gunnery and torpedoes were too effective, and ships were sunk too quickly. The following is an attempt to customise the rules to suit the period.

They seem to give the right feel. Leadership and crew quality are as important as technology. Ships tend to be shot to pieces slowly instead of being destroyed in two or three turns. 'Battleship killer' main batteries with one or two oversize guns are generally ineffective, but can land a devastating critical hit. Secondary batteries play an influential role. Torpedoes pose a threat, but hits are rare.

Note: in the following rules DRM means Die Roll Modifier

 

The General Quarters Part 2 rules are used with the following changes -

 

Defence Factors

Ship defence factors are increased by half compared with standard GQ values.

This is roughly equivalent to 1 point for every 2000 tons of load displacement for larger vessels. This value should be reduced for poorly designed or maintained vessels.

 

SDS

The WW1 type SDS are used - i.e. the one with 5 speed boxes.

 

Armour

There are 4 possible armour classes -

BB - Battleship AC - Armoured Cruiser PC - Protected Cruiser DD - Destroyer

 

Gunnery Factors

Guns are classified A to F based on calibre and design date (see straddle table)

Ships can have main, secondary and tertiary batteries.

Tertiary batteries are treated like secondary batteries for ammunition supply, firing arcs, damage, etc.

Tertiary batteries are recorded on the SDS as follows -

 

example with 2 point main battery, 3 point secondary battery, 2 point tertiary battery.

 

3/2 2/2 1/1 1/1
2 2 1 1
3/2 2/2 1/1 1/1

 

 

Movement

Movement is not simultaneous. Roll for 1d6 for each formation at the start of the movement phase and apply the following modifiers -

Superior flag officer +1

Inferior flag officer -1

Average flag officer +0

Formation is in tactically advantageous position +1

 

Formations are moved in order of modified die roll. Lowest score moves first. Re-roll to break ties.

Firing takes place after all movement has been completed.

 

Gunnery

Use the new straddle table and modifiers.

Ranges and armour penetration have been reduced, and the die roll modifiers changed.

The to hit roll tables are no longer linear. Accuracy increases slowly from maximum down to 2/3rds range, then more quickly at shorter ranges.

If an unmodified die roll of less than 0 is needed, then a hit is impossible. The salvo would still count for ranging.

The standard gunnery damage table is used. Odds of less than 1:3 are resolved using the 1:3 column

 

Torpedoes

Torpedoes are slower, less reliable and carry smaller warheads.

Use the new torpedo hit table. Use the '-1' column if the adjusted number of torpedoes is less than -1.

The standard GQ WW1 mine and torpedo damage table is used.

 

Critical Hits

a) Damage Control

Roll 1d6 each turn to extinguish fire. Out on a 1 to 4

Modifiers +1 if poorly trained crew

+1 if vessel is high fire risk (e.g. Spanish at Manila Bay)

 

b) Magazine Hit

All ships use the 'British, no flash protection' table

 

PRE-DREADNOUGHT STRADDLE TABLE
Modern 10"+ 9.4" - 8.2" 8"-6.7" 6.6"-5.9" 5.5"-4.1" up to 4" after 1895
Old 10.8"+ 10.6"-9" 8.3"-6.7" 6.4"-5.9" up to 5.5" up to 1895
Class A B C D E F
Die Roll 0 AC 45 PC 40 PC 35 30 25 20 0 Die Roll
1 AC 38 PC 34 PC 29 25 21 17 1
2 BB 30 AC 27 PC 23 PC 20 17 13 2
3 BB 22 AC 20 PC 18 PC 15 PC 13 10 3
4 BB 19 AC 17 AC 15 PC 13 PC 11 8 4
5 BB 16 AC 14 AC 12 PC 11 PC 9 7 5
6 BB 13 AC 11 AC 10 PC 8 PC 7 PC 6 6
7 BB 9 BB 8 AC 7 AC 6 PC 5 PC 4 7
8 BB 6 BB 6 AC 5 AC 4 PC 4 PC 3 8
9 BB 3 BB 3 BB 2 AC 2 AC 2 PC 1 9

 

STRADDLE TABLE DIE ROLL MODIFIERS
Target Evading

+1
6"+ guns engaging DD or smaller +1
8"+ guns engaging DD or smaller +2
8"+ guns engaging small cruiser +1
Poor Gunnery

+1
Appalling Gunnery

+2
Ranging (first salvo)

+2
Smoke Interference

+1
Target already under fire

+1
Target Stationary

-2
Target Illuminated (night action) -1

 

TORPEDO ADJUSTMENTS
Calibre Any 13.7"-15" 17.7"-18" 17.7"-18" Calibre
Date pre 1890 post 1890 post 1890 post 1900 Date
Class W X Y Z Class
DRM +1 0.5" -1" 0.5 -1" 1 - 3" Range to Target
0 0 - 1" 1"- 2" 1 - 3" 3 - 5"
-1 1" - 2" 2" - 3" 3 - 5" 5 - 10"
-2 3" - 4" 5 - 6" 10 - 13"
-3 2" - 3" 4"- 5" 6 - 8" 13 - 15"
Damage 2 Cols Right 2 Cols Right 1 Col Right 1 Col Right Damage

 

Target Speed DRM
0 +1
1-3" 0
4-6" -1
7-9" -2
10-11" -3
12"+ -4
Moving target with rudder hit +1


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