Friday 23 February 2024

Broadside: Empires of Steel - Battle for the Pacific


The languid tropical waters (sometimes!) of the Pacific Ocean may seem an unlikely setting for a mighty clash of Dreadnought fleets...But in an alternate timeline, things are going well for the Kaiser and his HochSeeFlotte. 

Russia is out of the war, busy with revolution, and after French actress and infamous demi-mondaine Mata Harry, rejected on Broadway, assassinated President Wilson, it seems unlikely that the US will come into the war on the Allied side anytime soon...The British Royal Navy is also out of the picture, kicking its heels whilst its First Sea Lord, Sir Winston Churchill, is casting about for somewhere suitably irrelevant, heavily defended and difficult to navigate to send it to. The shallow, mine infested waters of the Baltic, or perhaps the twisting narrows of the Dardanelles, lined with with forts and gun emplacements? 

With the Royal Navy, US Navy and Russian Pacific fleet out of the picture, the Kaiser deems the time ripe to reconstitute the OstAsienGeschwader of glorious memory and retake his Pacific possessions. A small but powerful fleet is despatched. It will be up to the nascent Imperial Japanese Navy, led by Lord High Admiral of the Inner Sea His Excellency Baron Darren Sake...

and the French Marine National, led by Contre-Amiral Le Caesar de La Touche Froide, to foil his knavish plans....

The attackers would be the German High Seas Fleet 1st Expeditionary Battle Squadron, centred around the flagship SMS Konig, Gross Admiral Drew von Maschinen-Kreiger commanding, which would start the game on table.

Opposed on table by the defending IJN Home Fleet centered on HIMS Kongo. Staggered reinforcements for the Allies would consist of the Marine National for the Allies, and the 2nd Expeditionary Battle Squadron for the Germans. Whilst the three eminent naval gentlemen already named opted for sensible, balanced fleets with a good mix of heavy, medium and light units, this squadron was anything but. 

Under the command of  Lots of Vice Admiral 'German Engineering' Ralf von Hardhead, this consisted entirely of dreadnoughts, trusting to sustained high speed and tough construction to whether all manner of torpedoes and other hazards: SMS Bayern (Flag), Derfflinger and Lutzow. All forces were around 600 points.

As the fog lifts to reveal clear skies and calm waters, the initial battlefleets sight each other.  Admiral Drew has his German fleet, nearest the camera, arrayed in line abreast, with Torpedo Boats well to the fore to cover any unpleasant surprises.

Whereas Baron Darren has the Japanese fleet well in hand as befits a navy steeped in Royal Navy practice and tradition - line astern centred on the Guide! 

With the initiative held by the Allies, the good Baron also peels away his light forces to attempt to link up with his French allies - who, after a couple of heavy nights 'resting' in Saigon, have sailed late and are formed in Formation 'Straggle On'...

With Teutonic precision the German reinforcement arrive on schedule...

and soon find the range on the Kongo!

With barely a flicker of emotion under the deluge of 12 and 15 inch shells, the iron faced Baron orders a smoke screen and takes evasive action!

But the 1st German squadron has meantime drawn closer and despatched its torpedo boats forward to attempt to get torpedo firing solutions... 

By turn 2 action is now general and even the French are thinking hard about entering the fray!

But what is this! - the Japanese destroyers come about hard and make for the Lutzow...

Looks like a torpedo run too! Lutzow's secondary batteries smother the impudent rascals with - well, water...

Ten torpedoes launched - three run straight and true! But with her superb construction and intrepid Damage Control teams Lutzow barely misses a stride and continues raining down 12 inch messengers of doom onto the Kongo!

The Kongo, battered by a crossfire of 15 and 12 inch shells from three directions, made possible by the invaluable 'Co-ordinated Firing' ship upgrade card (a steal at a mere 5 points) meets her watery grave.

The Allies put on a brave face!

And to be fair, the damage on Lutzow is comprehensive. She has lost 4 of her 10 hull integrity points, several of her boilers have flooded, two main battery turrets and several casemates have been destroyed, and the bridge has taken hits...

But with the delayed arrival of the French, the Japanese fleet is increasingly steaming into a vice of large calibre pain...

And finally the German Torpedo boats get within range and do their stuff!

Anxious to uphold the honour of the Marine Nationale, the gallant French Destroyer FS Hussard charges into the maelstrom alone, unleashing torpedoes to port and starboard. Overwhelmed and sinking under the weight of gunfire, we can only hope her Captain and crew survived to see one of their fish strike and sink a German cruiser - 
Hurrah for the Hussard!

Stunned and perhaps out of respect for the little destroyer's sacrifice, both fleets disengaged from what was a minor German victory, dealing out 286 points of damage and receiving 206 points in return. It looks as if a German Pacific will require many more such battles...


  1. Brilliant dispatch, a joy to read! Thanks for cooking up the ingenious alternative history to get our disparate navies on the table together. It was a lot of fun!

    1. Thanks Caesar glad you enjoyed it! The game was fun, largely thanks to us benefiting from your Broadside experience to keep the game flowing, so thanks!

  2. Quite the game, fun setting, the rules are called Empires of Steel? They look like a look up is in order.

    1. Thanks mate! Yes Broadside Empires of Steel:

  3. Don't normally go for alt history but that was tops. More soon please!

    1. Thanks mate! Yes we may revisit the Pacific...