New toy of the week is the recently released Steam and Iron: Russo Japanese War, which I got on Christmas Day as a digital download for $34.99. Is a stand alone game (no previous version of the Steam and Iron line of products is required) with solid gameplay and a good interface. This short blog entry is about the Chemulpo scenario and contains some spoilers.
The Chemulpo scenario is not 100% historically accurate in the release version of the game. Some scenario design decisions to improve the gameplay are evident. For example, when the computer controls the Russians as during my scenario run, the two Russian ships are not confined into the waters east of the roadstead but are in a position on open sea (north of Richy Island). This gives the Russians a chance to escape and provides an interesting twist to what essentially was shooting fish in a barrel in real life. Other discrepancies are the absence of Japanese torpedo boats and other Japanesse war ships. But overall, the spirit of the engagement is preserved and the scenario can be challenging as it requires the sinking of the two Russian ships for a complete victory.
I took command of the Japanese force (armored cruiser Asama plus the light cruisers Chiyoda and Takachiho). As in the real life engagement, I outgun the enemy by a good margin (note the guns of the Asama in the following screenshot). I have a slight upper hand on speed too, because the Russian ships are overdue for routine maintenance.
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In this type of "avoid the escape of an enemy force" engagements, I usually prefer to block the enemy, confine him and then finish him up by attrition. Although in theory I could just pursue the enemy and destroy him (remember my slight advantage in speed), the scenario lasts for only ninety minutes. In that spirit, I start with my forces moving at full speed in a northwest course (red track start in the above screenshot) with the purpose of keeping the Russian ships at my starboard.
The first Russian warship we make contact with is the cruiser Varyag which was keeping a southwest course and, somehow not entirely convinced of our intentions, slowly put herself in a full west course. Not entirely sure if my geometry and timing were correct I did maneuver my division agressively and changed course due northwest (first sharp kink in the red track). This maneuver did little in itself (theVaryag did not react at the beginning) but the ranges closed and the first salvos from our formation interrupted the otherwise quiet noon. That convinced the Varyag to sharply turn southwest (first kink in the blue track).
From this point, it was a fait accompli. With the Varyag trapped between our broadsides and mudflats/tiny islands, I closed my division as much as my speed of advance and relative position to my target could afford me. By the end of the scenario, the Varyag was sunk.
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