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Friday, 21 December 2012

FSA Scenario - The Battle for Halfway Station

Next up in my Christmas bonanza is a scenario-project I've spent a fair bit of time on recently, a conversion of the Battle of Midway for FSA. There were several barriers to this - it's not a straightforward "just chuck these ships in a battle" kind of thing, because Midway really demonstrated the shift in naval power away from the capital class battleship and cruiser, and over to carrier-bourne air superiority - this is really the opposite philosophy to FSA as a game!.

As such, range is the big thing - in FSA your primary weapon ranges cover up to 32", so there's little of the board that's safe from a gunned-up capital ship. in contrast, the Japanese at Midway had a couple of battleships in the first carrier force that never really got a chance to use their big guns - all the action was between fighters, bombers and what they attacked. The decisive section of the battle took minutes out of an engagement spread over a few days, and luck was a huge factor.

So, the two main things were range and wings. Range was taken care of by reducing range bands to 2" instead of 8", and reducing all ships movement to 2" (there wasn't much difference between a carrier and a destroyer in terms of speed) - this figure arrived at by comparison of wing and ship movement, keeping the wing movement as a standard.

Ship stats I created by looking at all the ships involved in the main action (those of the First Carrier Force for the Japanese and Task Force 16 & 17 for the Americans) and comparing mass, armour, weapons (number, type & effectiveness) etc - that took the most of the time involved in the project, as it meant a lot of research and source data mining

Next up were wings - movement was already sorted, but one of the main strategic parts of the real battle was in terms of being able to keep effective wing combat cover, balanced with offensive capability. Many ships on both sides had to ditch through lack of fuel without a ready landing platform in range. In FSA, wings have no "range". In addition, the American fighters of the time were outclassed by the Zero (an imbalance that didn't take long to rectify, but nevertheless was very apparent early in the conflict). So I needed a way to represent the endurance of the wings, and create the possibility of a log-jam of wings needing to be recovered/rearmed/relaunched.

Doing this with different stats for the FSA equivalents of the US & Japanese fighters meant that some of this could be represented in the game, and as accurately as possible reflect differences in the two sides capabilities.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with what I came up with as a first draft, but it obviously needs playtesting to determine if & what needs tweaking, so feel free as always to try & comment! Here it is;

FSA Battle of Halfway Station