Monday 27 May 2024

IPMS Show 2024: Broadside - Dogger Bank


The second of two naval wargames the Wollongong Wargamers presented on Saturday at the Illawarra Plastic Modeller's show was the Battle of Dogger Bank 1915, using Broadside: Empires of Steel rules.

But before we dive into the history and table-top action, the main aim of the the weekend was to showcase our hobby to the public:

And this the team did very well, we even had some youngsters help push the dreadnoughts around! Talking to the public can be very rewarding. One gentleman recounted how his grandfather was a Royal Marine Gunner on board HMS Colossus at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and was duly awarded prize money at the end of the war.

Colossus class Battleship HMS Hercules

I thought I was pretty knowledgeable on naval history but was completely unaware that the prize system was still in force in the 20th Century!

In a nutshell, the Battle of Dogger Bank came about as German Battlecruisers were despatched to the Dogger Bank fishing grounds as they suspected the fishing fleets there were spying on their activities. Their Achilles Heel was the armoured cruiser Blucher, serving as a stop-gap replacement for the battlecruiser Von Der Tann which was in dry dock.  

British SIGINT was fully aware of the operation and the Royal Navy Battlecruiser fleet was duly despatched to intercept with overwhelming force. Once the German High Seas Fleet realised it was sailing into an ambush, the chase was on!

After a few practice games, Caesar and Peter had tweaked and perfected a Dogger Bank scenario, whereby the German fleet had to make it to the Defender's Escape Zone - before being sunk!

SMS Moltke

Broadly speaking, the three 'real' German battlecruisers were under gunned compared to their British opponents, but were better armoured and more toughly constructed, and regularly practiced damage control to a high standard.

The Splendid Cats

The British battlecruisers, led by the 'Splendid Cats' HMS Lion, HMS Tiger, HMS Princess Royal, had larger calibre guns. However, their gunnery, signals and damage control were not of the same standard as that of the British Grand Fleet as a whole.

The scenario set up. The German fleet are in the top left corner and need to make it to the blue 'escape box', representing a clean getaway, by turn 6. The British fleet will arrive on the far right hand half table edge. Dogger bank itself, foreground, is purely there for aesthetic purposes and has no effect on navigation.

The British battle cruisers arrived fairly early, ensuring this would be a destructive battle!

German Torpedo Boat Destroyer G101

The rival destroyer fleets drew first blood:

Then the big naval rifles started finding the range - 3 shell splash markers means a hit.

The lighter German destroyers were soon all sunk or listing heavily! But the British have lost HMS New Zealand!

As the gunnery grows more accurate and intense, Moltke also goes down to Davy Jone's locker...

At turn 6, the German survivors limp into the escape box and the British fleet RTB.

The British also lost the Indefatigable. 

Whilst the Germans also lost their latest and most powerful unit, Derfflinger

It could have been far worse though - Stuart had lined up a perfect torpedo solution on Seydlitz with two destroyers at close range - but failed both Torpedo Run order checks!

Seydlitz at Dogger Bank

Historically, the British, due to signalling errors, concentrated on the Blucher. A severe case of overkill.

However, in our game she survived - just! She had a single point of hull integrity remaining!

A hard fought game which went right down to the wire, ending with honours about even!


  1. A great game their and loads of lovely ship models to admire:).