Monday, December 9, 2013

To All the Ships at Sea

It appears that in our gaming circles we are seeing more interest in naval games. From the pre-dreadnought era to the near future several gamers are painting up their fleets and getting them ready for battle.

It has me thinking of the balance within designed naval campaigns. Since the pre-dreadnought there have been a limited to the number of naval super powers. And the limited number is just two.

To be a naval super power the nation needs three things.
  • A battle fleet with the ability to project power outside of their home waters.
  • Logistics to support the battle fleets.
  • National Policy willing to project this power.
Often a nation meets two of the points but not the third.

Prior to The Great War the Royal Navy was the only fleet able to meet these criteria. This ended with the alliance with Japan and the recall of the fleet to home waters. No other navy will meet these criteria until the post war period when the two English speaking almost came to blows.

Germany in the First World War was only a regional power and not a real super power. Their surface raiders operated worldwide but were little more than a nuisance.  The submarines attempted to blockade the British Isles with little strategic success to show for the losses.

Not until after the war was there a period of two naval super powers when the Royal Navy and the US Navy fleets projected power throughout the world. This period ended with the parity offered by the Washington Naval Treaty to Britain, the United States and Japan.

Not until the middle of World War II did the United States become the world sea power that we have lived with to the present time. The Chinese today can project power only into the western Pacific, and possibly the Indian Ocean. The Soviet Navy of the Cold War was only able to project power through the Black, Baltic Seas and the Arctic Ocean even with their limited carriers and allied ports in the Third World.

So what does this mean for gamers? Not a whole lot. Just remember that any Cold War engagement with the US Navy will normally have a carrier nearby to intercede.  And woe to the gamer without air assets to protect his ships. It also makes regional fights more interesting.

As for me I will continue to take my submarines out to sea and engage the enemy closely. As a gamer you are not really heavily invested if you do not come back to port.

Pleasant sailing.


  1. Hi Jon,

    I'm recently involved with the Rock The Casbah TFL game so I would like to ask you if you have already make the Charlie Don’t Surf weapons chart for the Arab Israeli Wars. I read it in an older post and it will be very interesting for my project if you are going to post it.

    Thank you,

    1. These were in the TOOFATLardies Summer 2013 Special.