Saturday, 5 November 2016

So dawned the final day of our sojourn at Lake Tarawera. We all arose around seven to seven thirty and soon our resident chef was again preparing a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs. We all got our kit packed away and loaded into the vehicles and then it was time for the final game, by tradition of long standing, this was to be a naval game.

The scene was set by the game master - an encounter between the Austrian and Italian navies in the Med, circa 1866. Naval wargaming is not really my thing but I have to say that the models are pretty stunning to look at.

The game was a pretty straight forward affair, with the two fleets converging on each other from opposite ends of the table. The Italians had the better fleet, more ironclads and many more rifled guns, but as it turned out, this did not make that much of a difference, as the best tactic was simply to ram the enemy ships - not a lot of finesse in that!

There followed a series of manoeuverings and rammings that resulted in the quick dispatch of several ships on each side. I was first to succumb, when I misjudged how quickly and sharply one of the small Austrian ships would be able to pirouette in front of me - one minute, it was on my starboard bow, the next it had spun around and was ramming me amidships form the port!

The Austrians had more ships left at the end of the encounter but apparently historically, they could afford to lose any ships less than the Italians, so if it had been real life, it would have been a very pyrrhic victory!

The Italian Fleet in line astern

One of the Italian ships

The Italians manoeuvre prior to engaging

The Austrian fleet with two large, but vulnerable, wooden warships to the rear

The two large old fashioned wooden warships of the Austrian fleet

The Italians begin to split into two separate squadrons

The squadron containing the four smaller vessels

My ship, the Re de Italia, rammed in the port amidships

A different view of the same event - her sister ship, Re De Portugal, is in the foreground, heading for another Austrian ship

The flotsam and jetsam that marked the watery grave of Re de Italia

The Re de Portugal rams an Austrian opponent in the port beam, whilst one of her colleagues avenges the loss of her sister ship

Next game turn and both the Austrian ships are reduced to floundering wrecks

Re de Portugal and another Italian vessel pass two Austrian ships - engaging in broadsides at close range as they pass

The Garibaldi and Kaiser tangle at VERY close range

Another Italian ship goes to the bottom. After three hours, only the Re de Portugal remained of the Italian fleet and she beat a hasty retreat, leaving the "victorious" Austrians remaining three ships amid the carnage of 12 sunken vessels!

And so ended our Tarawera "weekend" for 2016 . All that remained was to have our final group lunch together and decide what periods we will game next time and which group members would arrange the scenarios. Next year, I am not organizing anything, but I will be painting up troops for a proposed WW1 in East Africa game. Also on the cards (I think) are an ACW game, an ECW game and a Spanish Civil War game  - I did not think people would necessarily recognise SCW as an abbreviation!



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