Friday 9 June 2023

Broadside: Empires of Steel - Battle Off Imbros

Last evening at the Wollongong Wargamers we once again returned to our favourite WW1 Naval rules Broadside: Empires of Steel, but this time we took a break from the icy wastes of the North Sea and instead visited the sunny Aegean!

Whilst our scenario is set in 1914, it is actually based on the Battle Off Imbros in 1918, which in many regards is stranger than fiction - yes the British Admiral really did take his Battleship away from the theatre of war to visit a 'conference' (wedding!) 

The Allies have established a base on the island from which to bottle up and plot their revenge on the Turco-Teutonic fleet, but with the principle Royal Navy Battleship away at a 'conference' the Ottomans seize the opportunity to get their retaliation in first - the Yavuz/Goeben and escorts must shell the base into smoking ruins before the Agamemnon returns...

The base is defended by two monitors and sundry aviation and other light forces. We were fortunate to have Ben Wynn, one of the co-authors of the Broadside rules, around to preside over the scenario he had written for us. (Please don't ask about the pumpkin, its still too soon...)

It was great to talk to Ben in person about the exciting future plans for this ruleset and miniatures range, and if you are at MOAB this year I suggest you say Hi to him or his sidekick Andrew Tanner!

The two Abercrombie class monitors start the game alongside 'the wall' in the island's dockyard. We didn't expect the rules to cover the procedures for casting off and going astern, but yes, its all there!

The other on table Allied force was the 'aviation squadron': HMS Engadine, a seaplane carrier, and her two destroyer escorts. I had to roll for them to come on from turn one, whilst Darren could only roll for our BB, HMS Agamemnon, from turn 7. We did get to place a minefield however...

Drew astutely placed his destroyers in a wide screen as 'mine-bumpers' to protect his 'Geoben/Yavuz' high-value unit...!

The Engadine came on fairly early, sans escorts. Drew was torn between his mission objective and the chance to nip nascent naval aviation in the bud! Fearing the worst, our fearless knights of the air pressed on with a bombing mission and scored a hit on the enemy battlecruiser, causing a point of hull damage. Back onboard for tea and medals!

In Broadside the aviation rules are light on - its a game about warships after all - so having delivered one bombing run the allied aviation was confined to a scouting role, which gave us a +2 to our initiative rolls.

With impeccable seamanship and ship handling skills the Abercrombie and Havelock were clear of the harbour and heading out to sea to duel with the Turco-Teuton foe...

However by this time the Turco-Teutons were within big gun range of the dockyard and Drew duly commenced the bombardment. 

Having run into the minefield at high speed, not once but twice Drew rolled impossible odds to escape the consequences of his rash folly...

By now we were getting spooked by Drew's 'dice whispering' routine - not only did he consistently roll high, but he also predicted all the Allied low rolls - it was pretty spooky!

Nevertheless, despite the anger of the Dice Gods, the two monitors continued attempting to land hits on the major enemy units.

To little avail. As the Ottomans closed to Imbros, continually demolishing the dockyard facilities, we consistently failed our reinforcement rolls to bring on the Agamemnon...

It seemed the only Allied forces able to inflict any damage had been the Royal Naval Air Service...

Once Drew had achieved his mission by utterly destroying the naval base, he began turning his attention to the impudent monitors...No need to rub it in mate!

Despite the totality of Allied defeat, this was a great game that flowed well out of a thoughtful and richly tactical scenario. Stacks of craic and trash talking, but all in jest (well most of it anyway - Grrr!)


  1. That's a fascinating subject and a great looking game

  2. Did you rebase your ships onto the acrylic, or do they belong to another gamer? Any thoughts about the pros/cons of classic basing vs acrylic?

    1. The ship models belong to Ben from Broadside: Age of Empires - they are being rolled out as a new basing system right now. The backing paper on the acrylic has a clever slotting system so you can easily paint the centre diagonals prior to ripping it off. I now much prefer this system as it brings the model into closer continuity with your terrain cloth/mat...