Post by vonfriedman on Jun 30, 2014 12:42:29 GMT -5
I am putting forward some ideas to create an Adriatic campaign, if someone wishes to do so for the centenary of WWI. The repeated bombing of coastal targets in southern Italy led the Italian Navy to establish a garrison in the small island of Pelagosa that would act as an advanced sighting and observation point. The Austrian retaliation, conducted twice with a dozen ships, did not lead to any naval battle, as perhaps it might have happened if the Italian radio station on the island had not been destroyed at the beginning of one of these retaliatory operations. The second idea concerns the implementation of a plan that was developed by the staff officers of some Italian destroyers ("Piano I", as described in Admiral Da Zara book "Pelle d'ammiraglio"). It was based on a number of prearranged cruises that should be carried out by a large percentage of Italian and Allied light forces with the aim of intercepting the Austrians on the way home after a bombing mission. From 6 up to 8 cruises each month should be made on dates chosen at random. These cruises were to take place in the neighborhood of a point with coordinates 42 15 N 16 36 E. As the Austrians appeared off the Italian coasts at dawn, the sailing of the Allied ships from Brindisi was to take place at the beginning of the night. If the enemy had not been met, the intercepting force would quickly return to port in separate groups, not to alarm the Austrians.
There are some another elements that should be simulated in a hypothetical Adriatic campaing. One is the supply at first and then the rescue of the Serbian army in 1915. Almost 200000 soldiers, with part of their equipment and several civilian refugees were embarked and transported from Albanian ports to Corfu or Brindisi by Allied shipping, mostly Italian. It was a major operation, with a lot of merchant ships and naval vessels involved. It had a relatively long duration (from December 1915 up to February 1916) and met some opposition by the Austrians. To simulate this in the proposed campaign the Allied/Italian player should manage a scheduled series of convoys and the Austrian player should operate some interception missions, while in the meantime carrying out both mine and submarine warfare. Moreover, in the latter part of the Great War the Italian Navy began to attack Austrian naval bases in the northern Adriatic, using both motor torpedo boat (MAS) both various types of innovative assault craft. For example, the ablest of the MAS aces, Luigi Rizzo (who later sank the dreadnought St. Istvan) entered the port of Trieste on December 9, 1917 with two MAS and sank there the predreadnought battleship SMS Wien. On February 10, 1918 with three MAS Rizzo sailed to Buccari harbour and sank there four austrian merchants. Are also noteworthy the repeated attempts in May 1918 to attack the main Austrain naval base in Pola (Rijeka) by using tracked electric torpedo boats ("barchini saltatori") which should crawl over the outer net defenses of the harbour. Primitive human torpedoes ("mignatte") at last succeded to sank there the Viribus Unitis dreadnought on October 1918. These and many other similar operations were screened by Italian naval vessels and this gave origin to some surface actions. There was also a plan to penetrate the outer net defenses of Pola by means of the predreadnought Re Umberto sailing at maximum speed. Following the breakthrough a large number of MAS would have been able to attack the Austrains ships at anchor. All in all, it seems to me that there are elements to make the simulation of an Adriatic campaign no less interesting than the Baltic campaign.
You make some good arguments but here are my personal counter-points specific to an SAI Adriatic Campaign.
During the development of the SAI Campaign, FW expended a considerable amount of time and effort in building a campaign for the Adriatic theatre but it was never released. Based on my recollections and without disclosing privileged information, my take on this follows.
Some real-world situations do not lend themselves to creating an interesting gaming experience and in my view the Adriatic campaign was one of those. The characteristics of the theatre and the SAI design philosophy with emphasis on the historical and limitations of the AI in the unique circumstances within the theatre led to a situation where the campaign game play proved to be unsatisfactory overall. Some of the issues as I recall were:
1. Massive Allied superiority in capital ships (and indeed all ship types). The four Austrian dreadnoughts were opposed by up to six Italian BB, seven French BB and older ships of the British Royal Navy that joined late in the war as the 12" gunned BB's became supernumerary to the Grand Fleet. Even without the British ships the disparity of forces made any pretence of game balance with any semblance of historical validity impractical.
2. Small theatre with a high force density coupled with a deployment scheme where the forces were at diametrical ends of the Adriatic. This tended to produce situations where the Austrian sorties could never be effectively engaged by the vastly superior Allied forces stationed in the Otranto Straits area. As history, this worked quite well and the Adriatic was for all intents and purposes a no man's land dominated by light forces (again with massive Allied superiority) and mines. However, there is no merchant traffic as in the Baltic campaign and no alternate strategic objectives like the Channel or Northern Patrol in the North Sea campaign for the Player to defend or attack depending upon which side is being played. For the Austrian's there is only a handful of bombardment targets on the Italian coast and the Otranto Barrage where your maximum force is likely as not to be outnumbered three to one. For the Allied Player there are not even these objectives. Game play can very quickly become tiresome even if it does reflect, to some extent at least, the operational constraints imposed upon the belligerents by geography, forces, time and space.
3. The island groups on the eastern side of the Adriatic sometimes proved troublesome for navigation by the AI, creating some unsatisfactory situations.
4. The idea for the campaign was dropped before a satisfactory model of the Italian MAS forces could be properly developed. Unlike the other theatres, the motor torpedo boat was a factor in the Adriatic and simulating them in action was important. One problem is getting the AI to use the MTB capability in their historical role and here the SAI engine itself is a limiting factor. Making them tiny DD's probably results in the AI tending to use them in destroyer roles for which they are entirely unsuited.
5. The northern Adriatic quickly tends to fill up with Allied submarines and mines. The effective Austrian naval air search zones and their Italian counterparts make gaining surprise on any sortie unlikely. This was also pretty historical as the Austrians were often able to sail undetected but were invariably located once at sea.
A central issue is not so much what the Player does or can do but rather what the AI tends to do in order to make an interesting and challenging campaign.
There were other issues as well that I cannot recall but to reiterate, essentially the root problem was that the real naval war in the Adriatic does not really lend itself to creating a satisfactory gaming experience employing the SAI engine. The historical situation helps explain why, the Austrian Navy really had no decisive role to play outside of coast defence and the occasional harassment by bombardment. Forcing the Otranto Barrage could never bring any more than a transient operational benefit for the U-Boat arm and trying to do so eventually cost them 25% of their first-line battle fleet. There are good reasons why the naval war in the Adriatic was dominated by light forces, submarines and aircraft and why for those same reasons it makes a poor SAI campaign subject. For the Allies, keeping the door to the Adriatic shut constitutes a win but since the Austrian surface forces had nowhere to go in the Med anyway...
For what it's worth I spent some time working on a Russo-Turkish Black Sea campaign that I had hoped to release but determined that the situation there also made poor campaign gaming material for the SAI engine. Here the issue was not excess unit density but rather a fragile Turkish navy with no depth. There are very good reasons why the Black Sea essentially became a Russian lake after the summer of 1915 and these factors also ensured that a Black Sea campaign would also probably make a unsatisfactory game.
Thanks for your input.
Last Edit: Jul 7, 2014 11:04:53 GMT -5 by randomizer
I am very pleased that the editor needed to create the Adriatic campaign has been put on the network and sincerely thank NWS for that. I'm not sure to be able to implement all the factors and situations needed to create a realistic Adriatic campaign, and I hope that there is someone more capable than me. I agree with randomizer about the lack of interest of the Adriatic theater of war from the point of view of actions between large warships. I am aware of the difficulties of the SAI engine to manage the sailing of numerous ships in litoral waters with many small islands etc. It is a problem that maybe NWS wants to face and solve, if, for example, the battles around Guadalcanal in WWII are to be properly simulated. Regarding the MAS I wonder if the model used for the small steam torpedo boats of the beginning of 1900 can be adapted to simulate the mode of operation of the motor torpedo boats. I also agree with fredsanford about the interest of any simulation based on the classic question: "what if"? In this regard, in a hypothetical campaign the performances of the opposing warships could also be varied secretly in advance by the Scenario or campaing editor, so that the players do not know in advance that, for example, a German BC is always superior to a corresponding British BC.
I think MAS boats might actually best be simulated by a special type of submarine with some weather limitations. After all, from the viewpoint of a naval commander they are much the same. They show up, they torpedo something, and they disappear.
I recall doing some tests where I built a special MAS torpedo boat design and tested it in various situations. The problem was the AI tried to treat them as DD's but without guns. TB's armed only with torpedoes are reluctant to close with any vessel with guns when under AI control in addition to causing an annoying error message about zero ammunition on X-ships. This is one of the reasons why the 2" gun was introduced in SAI-RJW for torpedo boats, representing the nearly useless 37-57 mm armament.
While FW's solution of a special submarine type is simple and elegant, I have reverted to the MAS design concept because the old experiment was conducted fefore Fredrik introduced the Patrol Role. I have not done any testing but I would bet that placing a MAS flotilla on AI-controlled patrol in the path of an opposing force might produce something approaching the desired result. You can try it yourself, stock SAI has the test MAS design included although the tonnage is more than double the real boats. That said, we're looking for a particular effect rather than merely rivet-counting displacements.
I agree with randomizer about the lack of interest of the Adriatic theater of war from the point of view of actions between large warships.
Just to be clear, I think that SAI produces some excellent and exciting small-ship actions and I personally quite enjoy them. My thoughts are that the lack of big-ship battles in a theatre like the Adriatic is really more a function of the game as history; not a weakness in the simulation but a strength. Most naval gamers prefer actions between capital ships and any situation where these sorts of battles are generally ill-advised and mostly non-existent is unlikely to play well with a significant section of the community.
I'm not sure to be able to implement all the factors and situations needed to create a realistic Adriatic campaign, and I hope that there is someone more capable than me.
I suspect that you're more able than you think if for no other reasons than that you are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and have a vision of what you want your campaign to look like when complete. Start small.
One possible concepts is dividing the war in the Adriatic into two distinct campaigns;
- A one-year campaign that covers the active first 12-months when the Austrian forces were active with bombardments and the Allies needed to support the Serbs.
- A one-year campaign covering the period where the Otranto Barrage becomes the focus as it interferes with the unrestricted U-Boat offensives.
Breaking the war into discrete segments is one possible way to test the concept and allows the Player to concentrate on very specific strategic goals regardless of what side they're playing.
Good Luck, FW has uploaded an excellent starting point in his unfinished Adriatic2 campaign.
Last Edit: Jul 8, 2014 10:51:03 GMT -5 by randomizer
Post by fredsanford on Aug 3, 2014 20:34:25 GMT -5
I have a scenario editor question- what, if any, are the physical limits for the number of forces/divisions/ships/bases/time length/etc?
I was considering a "master template" faux campaign that would catalog all world's navies, their bases, and rough organizations for a given period, say 1910-1920. Once this existed, a campaign designer could erase the navies he doesn't want (or imports them into a fresh campaign). This would be a neat resource for a future
Feature request: "Import location" similar to "import division".