Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Huzzah Day 2- Fletcher Pratt Naval Warfare Game

USS Baltimore!
This year I had another chance to play the amazing Fletcher Pratt Naval game, run again by Wes Decampos. This game takes place in an entire ballroom and is played on the floor with large scale ship models. It's a complete spectacle. What makes this yearly event so enjoyable, however, is that Wes runs a tight game. He supplies a pile of handy charts, he explains the rules quickly and clearly, and he's done this enough times to avoid rules lawyering, complaints, quibbles, and whines.

In this scenario a convoy of Japanese ships are attempting to land troops on Guadalcanal. The Americans must intercept them. As a twist the encounter takes place at night so spotting is difficult and some of the engagements may take place at unusually close range.

The modified Fletcher Pratt rules are simple. Ships move, maneuver, and then fire. Each player picks a target and then guesses the range, often up to twenty feet. Then Wes checks the actual ranges and if you guess correctly you inflict damage on the target. Larger ships can only be damaged by larger guns but every ship is vulnerable to torpedoes.

My goals for the game were twofold. Based on prior years I vowed not to collide with a friendly ship and not to collide with torpedoes. I would earn bonus points if I could avoid being sunk outright.

The game unfolded and moved along at a nice pace. I commanded a heavy cruiser, the Baltimore. A cluster of American destroyers were deluged with torpedoes and went down pretty quickly. I engaged a nearby Japanese light cruiser and scored some lucky hits while avoiding his torpedo fire. Just to mix it up I fired at and scored one hit on the Japanese battleship which scratched some paint. That was enough to teach me to stick to light and heavy cruisers for the rest of the game. It felt a little cheesy to take on smaller ships but that's probably what would have happened historically. The light cruiser's captain was a good sport at least!

At the end of the game the Americans held the field. Or waves. I had avoided collisions of all sorts and was still afloat. It had been great fun to move big toy ships around a huge ballroom and I'll do my best to play again next year.

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