The Jeune Ecole was a school of Naval strategy that was pioneered by the French in 19th Century, perhaps as early as 1820s. The idea came in vogue as more powerful guns, torpedoes, and similar weaponry became available. The theory was that smaller, faster, ships armed with higher power weapons could be used to off-set the power of slower, heavily armored battleships. In addition, the Jeune Ecole advocated for commerce raiding as an effective use of sea power. France was a leading advocate of this strategy to off-set the British advantage in battleships.
When the Air Screw was developed and the British launched the HMS Warrior; the first flying warship; the game changed. Conventional Sea Power was replaced by Air Power by these new developments. All countries scrambled to acquire the technology for themselves. However, the British started with an advantage and soon capitalized on it with an early lead in the Air Naval Arms race.
The British strategy did not change. They were following the Mahan Doctrine of a large fleet in being with the biggest, most heavily armed ships to act as a defense of the homeland. They would find, fix, and sink any enemy combatants through superior cannon fire. The French and L'Aire Nationale were content to continue their strategy of the Jeune Ecole and apply it to their Air Navy. After all, the British all ready had the lead in flying warship development.
The French put more time and resources into Air Torpedoes as a weapon system than any other nation. In addition, their design ethos was less about big battleships and more aligned with cruisers, destroyers, and other Air Torpedo armed escorts to counter the British cannon heavy fleets.
As tensions rose in 1914, the French and British agreed to an informal thawing of relations. Part of this effort included a more unified effort in the military sphere to potentially counter growing German and Austro-Hungarian efforts on the continent. The Air Navy commands of both nations were less than thrilled with the decisions of their respective leaders. However, they did organize a series of "Joint Wargames" to take place off the coast of Spain in the Atlantic. These were to test each fleets readiness to engage in their preferred combat doctrine and measure their efforts.
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Despite this being a "Joint Training" mission, their is no love lost between these two nation's forces. The event is being refereed by the United States and Japan in order to enforce the results. New, complex computational systems called Babbages are being utilized to help monitor and calculate the results of mock shooting to simulate actual damage and combat conditions, which will then be relayed to the participants using Marconi wireless devices to inform officers aboard ship of any potential results or judge rulings.
The two nation's agreed to a series of engagements and scenarios. Today's mission will be a standard fleet action between the British and the French to test the Jeune Ecole approach vs. the Mahan theory in the heat of combat.
The game will last 8 turns and take place on a 72MU by 48MU board. The fleet with the highest remaining armor points is the winner.
The Royal Navy
Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship
Admiral Jellicoe- Command 3
Iron Duke Class Battleship
Captain Sturdee - Command 3
Invincible Class Battle Cruiser
Captain Rickards - Command 4
Minotaur Class Armored Cruiser
Captain Smythe - Command 3
Bull Finch Class Destroyer - Torpedoes
Commander Bond - Command 4
Gloire Class Cruiser
Commodore Aubrey - Command 4
D'Iberville Class Cruiser
Captain Robierre - Command 2
D'Iberville Class Cruiser
Captain Montauge - Command 3
Foudre Class Cruiser
Captain Bedout - Command 2
Chasseur Class Destroyer- Air Mines
Captain Emeric - Command 1
Voltigeur Class Destroyer - Torpedoes
Captain Allemand - Command 4
Voltigeur Class Destroyer- Torpedoes
Captain Hubert - Command 1
This battle is taking place off the coast of Spain in neutral territory over the Atlantic. We used the terrain generator for each of the 6 grid spaces of the board using the rules in the book.
- No impacting terrain
- No impacting terrain
- 1 Alt Hill
- 1 Alt Hill
- 1 Alt Hill
- No impacting terrain
It looks like their are a few rocky, uninhabited islands in the combat zone. They stretch up into altitude 1.
The British take the side of grid 1-3, and the French the opposite side. The British form up in line-a-stern steaming onto the board at an angle in section 1, at Speed 4 and altitude 4.
The French, form up into smaller battle groups, and start on the opposite corner. The Conde, Algierre, and Bouclier are at the center of the formation at S4, A5 through 7. They are followed at a distance by the Foudre and Desaix at Altitude 3, and Speed 4. The Epee and Flouret are far in advance at speed 6 and altitude 7. They are scattered across section 4 and 5.
The French score 5 commands to the British 4. The French opt to go second.
The British stay in formation and steam ahead steadily, confident in their firepower. The Dart tries to stay on station with the valiant for additional Point Defense.
The French begin to split up, with the Foudre and her battlegroup speeding up. They split off towards the larger islands, while the Conde and her group turn and go parallel to the British path. The pair of Destroyers speed up and maneuver around an island.
The French and British both score 2 commands, and the French win Initiative for having more command dice.
AS the British battle line plows ahead, they slowly increase speed. They stay in formation. Meanwhile, the French Foudre moves ahead, cutting across the head of the British formation at a distance. The Conde group speeds up as well, and turns towards the British line. The Destoryer pair also dashed to intercept.
The Foudre launches a pair of aeroplanes towards the British, a Fighter and a Bomber.
End: The Aeroplanes move towards the targets.
The French score 4 commands to the British 3. French decide to move second.
The British stay on course, speed, and altitude.
The French try to give All Ahead Full commands to the Conde and her escorts, but only the Algierre succeeds and speeds up to max speed. However, they shy away from the big Battleships guns. Meanwhile, the Destroyer pair turn in and charge towards the flanks of the British formation. The Foudre and her escort drop to minimum altitude of 2, and turn to engage. The aeroplanes have the British in sight and prepare to attack.
The aeroplanes dive in to the target, the fighters desperately trying to suppress the enemy point defense, but the Dart is close enough to lend covering fire. The aeroplanes are easily scattered and swatted away for 2 Friction markers.
The Friction is easily removed later in the phase.
The British win with 4 to 3 commands. They opt to go first.
The Valiant signals for the turn, and begins to turn on her move. The Algiere slows down 1 speed, and turns to cross above the island. The Benbow follows in the wake of the Valiant, while the two French Destroyers speed up to full speed and move to cut the British line. The Dart races up to stay in position with the Valiant. The Bouclier speeds up to max speed, and tucks in with the Algierre. The Shannon stays in formation, while the Conde ends up tailing her escorts. The Foudre and her escort the Desaix turn in to fire a torpedo barrage at the turning British next turn.
The battle is joined as the Benbow fires its Light Batteries at the oncoming French Destroyers. However, a malfunction causes the guns to fall silent after missing and failing their ammo roll. The French opt not to fire back with their destroyers, focusing on their attack run. However, the Foudre does prep another set of aeroplanes for launch.
The Valiant targets the Conde with a long range blast of her heavy batteries, and manages to land three friction as shells ping off the French Heavy Cruiser's armor. Her light batteries open fire on the Epee, and manage to cause a damaging hit!
The Shannon and Invincible also fire on the Destroyers. The Battle Cruiser's light battery manages to cause 1 Friction to the Epee. Meanwhile, the Shannon's Medium batteries manage two damaging hits at close range.
The Epee's rudder is jammed from the shelling, and she loses 1 armor. Meanwhile, the Flouret's mine launchers are damaged, and her screw fouled in addition to the armor losses!
The engineers onboard manage to fix the Epee's rudder, but the Flouret is still critically damaged. The Benbow's crew manages to get her Light Battery repaired.
All friction in these opening salvoes is removed.
French win with both sides scoring 4 Commands. They choose to go first.
The damaged Destroyers move to harass the British battle line. For the British, they continue their formation turn, while the French battlegroups all turn into attack the Valiant with air torpedoes.
The Epee launches her payload of Sky Mines at the Invincible, who's point defense guns fail to find their marks. However, the mines also do not attack or detonate on the Battle Cruiser yet! The British ship's light battery does manage to find and cause Friction on the Flouret though.
The Flouret manages to target the HMS Dart with her light battery and cause 3 Friction and 1 hit! The HMS Shannon's Medium batteries find the Flouret and cause her 2 hits and friction!
The Bouclier fires on the Valiant with her air torpdoes. However, the Battleship and the Dart's point defense make short work of the incoming attack for 3 Friction. The Valiant weathers the storm of 4 ships and their air torpedo attacks over the course of the turn, leaving her with 16 friction markers, but undamaged!
The Valiant's bow heavy batteries fired on the Algierre but failed to find the mark. Plus, they failed an ammo check and jammed! However, the HMS Benbow's heavy battery manages to land two friction on the Algiere, while the light battery manages to damage the Flouret once again.
In addition to armor loss bringing her down to 1 left, the Flouret has also lost her light battery. The HMS Dart has her rudder jammed.
The Foudre's bombers get through the point defense and deliver another pair of friction markers for a total of 18 on the Valiant!
Somehow, the Flouret passed her Strike Your Colors test.
No repair rolls can be made due to Friction.
The board has 28 Friction markers. After clearing the friction, the Valiant still has 9 Friction on her. That will cause her to stall as her speed will be reduced below 0.
French win with 5 to 2. They choose to move first.
The Flouret turns and tries to bug out at full, damaged screw speed. The Valiant activates next, but due to friction stalls and drops 1 altitude and speed. The Epee reloads her ordinance, and moves in front of the Valiant to drop sky mines on her.
The Benbow has to go up one and turn to make sure she stays clear of the stalled Valiant. This sends her face first into the French. They move to bypass the British ship at higher altitudes. The Algiere reloads her torps, but the Buclier fails to do so.
The Invincible tries to blast its way free of the mines, but triggers two that cause friction and slow her down. The Desaix moves to try and blast the Valiant in the starboard side, and reloads ordinance. The Foudre breaks away and also reloads her tubes and aeroplane decks.
The HMS Shannon has to change course to avoid the Sky Mines and heads towards the French ships.
The Epee begins by dropping Sky Mines on the Valiant and Dart. Point Defense takes out most, but one sets detonates and damages the Valiant. The HMS Dart returns fire on the Epee and causes 1 more hit and three friction with guns and torpedoes.
The British Benbow locks onto the Conde with her guns, and opens fire. The Conde braces. One shell sinks home. The return fire is less impressive, causing 1 friction.
The Invincible finds the Algierre in her broadside but up high. Still, her Heavy Battery finds a way and causes 3 damaging hits and 3 Friction!
The Desaix has a beam shot on the Dart and fires with 6 air torpedoes. Two are intercepted and 1 hits the Dart, while three others attack the Valiant with 1 intercepted, and 2 hitting the battleship. The British destroyer is damaged, while the battleship takes them in the armored belt.
Aeroplanes from the Foudre also swarm the HMS Dart but fail to hit her.
A barrage of torps from the Algiere is largely ineffective against the Invincible, only causing some friction. However, medium battery shots from the HMS Shannon pound back on the French cruiser.
The Epee loses 1 more armor plate.
The HMS Dart catches on fire!
The Valiant loses 1 armor.
The Conde loses her Point Defenses and armor
The Algiere has her screw fouled, has her rudder jammed, and loses 4 armor,
During the Repair phase, the following happens:
The Valiant unjams her heavy battery
The Dart puts out her fire
The Algiere fixes her rudder
There is 34 friction on the table. The French get the Friction off all their ships, and the British manage to clear the Valiant and Benbow. However, the Dart has 3 and the Invincible has 4.
The French win 4 vs 2. They choose to go first.
The Algiere tries to go higher to avoid enemy fire. Meanwhile, the Valiant restarts her engines and tries to gain some altitude! The Flouret also tries to flee from the fighting.
The HMS Shannon aims for the Conde and tries to gain some height. The Epee cuts across the British front. Meanwhile, the Conde tries to battle through the British ships. The Bucleir tries to get around an snipe the Dart.
The Foudre stays on the edge of the battle. The Desaix tries to go after the Invincible for revenge for the Algiere.
The Desaix fails to reload her ordinance! The Invincible decides to fire fore effect and fires her bow heavy guns at the French torpedo cruiser, and sinks 2 shell into her. Her Stern batteries fire on the Conde causing 3 hits on her as well!
The Conde fires on the HMS Invincible with everything she has and causing 1 hit and 6 friction. The HMS Shannon also fires on the Conde with her broadsides. This causes 7 friction and 1 hit.
The Epee launches a barrage of Sky Mines into the Valiant. The point defenses take out 1, 2 miss, and the last one detonates and damages the battleship.
Bombers from the Foudre cause 1 friction on the Invincible.
Finally, the Benbow fires her stern guns on the Conde, and her light batteries at the Flouret. The Heavy batteries miss. The light battery reduces the Flouret to 0 armor.
The Desaix's magazine was hit and explodes with a 1 MU radius. No other ships are close enough.
The Invincible Rudder is jammed.
The Valiant loses some armor
The Conde loses 4 armor and starts on fire!
The Flouret strikes her colors, but the Conde does not.
The Conde puts out her fire, and the Invincible fixes her rudder.
There is 25 friction, the two admirals get just enough to clear it all out.
Turn 8- Final Turn
French still have the initiative and decide to go first.
For the most part, both sides move to disengage cleanly. The French sped up and tried to gain altitude away. The Valiant blasts away the sky mines around it.
The Invincible fires her stern batteries at the Conde, and hits once for a point of damage. The Conde's guns jam in return.
The Parting shot manages to cripple the Conde!
The French lost 19 Armor points, 2 ships lost, and 1 crippled versus the British 5 armor lost and no ships lost. Decisive win for the British and Mahan's theories.
The American and Japanese judges watched the read-outs from the computing machines and nodded sagely. The British had won the engagement decisively. The French officers put on the best Gallic airs they could, but the results were in black and white in front of them. The British looked on smugly, feeling vindicated and gave stiff upper-lipped congratulations to their combat officers. The Royal Navy had proved their dominance in the air yet again.
So, what happened here! Why did the French take such a pounding. On the surface, it may look like the British Battleships were just too hard. I mean, the HMS Valiant tanked something like 12+ air torpedo hits and didn't even dent the armor! However, that was not why the outcome was so lop-sided.
The British had a clear plan of attack. They were going to flying in line astern, and make a timed fleet turn in the center of the board. In response, the French had to determine a way to either break their formation or convince them to try and breakup their own formation. Since their were no objectives to draw the British out of formation, the French opted to draw them out with Sky Mines and Air Torpedoes. The French strategy eventually worked as the HMS Valiant stalled and the formation started to break up, but it was too little too late. By then the British had managed to bring the French under their guns. The key to the British success was in their formation and not necessarily their ships.
The British formation allowed the heaviest ships to take the brunt of the early fighting. Then, the timed fleet turn allowed them to bring their guns to bear in layers. This also brought the French Conde element into close range, and negated their long-range stand-off advantage. The HMS Dart's point defense envelope helped neutralize the French's best weapons for breaking up the British formation, too. It was a great lesson in combined fleet tactics, and my opponent pulled off the Naval Turn I have tried and failed to do in the past. Kudos to them!
In effect, the French and I failed because we did not enter the game with a clear strategy. I intended to use my Destroyers to break up the enemy formation, but that was a great risk sending them ahead. They paid a heavy price. The Desaix and Foudre managed to stay away barrage the British at range, until a Heavy hit took out the Desaix. My problem was choice of target more than anything else. I attacked the head of the column, to try and disrupt it, but I would have been better served to attack the rear and force a straggler that I could have isolated and overwhelmed.
Oh well. Better luck next time! It was a fun game with lot's of moving parts and thinking. I think it is time for a small campaign so I can get plenty of games played before the book launches in July. You can pre-order the book from Amazon here
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