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"Distant Guns" - The Russo-Japanese Naval War 1904-1905

Started by Martin S-C, May 16, 2021, 06:55:32 pm

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Martin S-C

Ladies and Gentlemen

Start screen:


I should have thought of this way back in lockdown but I have only just reinstalled this game after not playing it for many years. The software is Norm Koger's "Distant Guns: The Russo-Japanese War at Sea, 1904-1905" which was released in 2006. The game concept I'm proposing to club members is a campaign played by e-mail or Zoom discussion, by two teams of players, taking the roles of Russian and Japanese naval commanders and the players will issue all the strategic and basic tactical orders for both campaign decisions and tactical moves.

The software covers the whole naval conflict from the surprise attack by Japanese torpedo boats on the Russian Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur on the night of the 9th/10th February 1904 right to the conclusion after the Battle of Tsushima on 27th/28th May 1905. The campaign deployments start with the historical positions but from there the two sides may choose any strategy they wish.

Theatre of war:


There is a land campaign in progress which is the Japanese army's advance from northern Korea into Manchuria which has the aim of capturing Port Arthur and therefore denying Russia her only fleet base in the Far East. The land campaign is dynamic but only represented to the players by reports of advances and combats. The Japanese advance is dependent on supplies and reinforcements that are sent by sea from the Japanese home islands to the port of Chemulpo on the Korean west coast. The Japanese navy must protect these supply vessels and the Russian fleet must sink them. In addition to this the Japanese fleet was intent on bringing about a major fleet action to destroy or disable a significant portion of the Russian Pacific Squadron, which the Russians wished to avoid (mostly through reluctant or incompetent leadership).

After hostilities broke out, one of the most famous (or infamous) military operations of all time was attempted which was the sending of a second fleet assembled of units from Russia's Baltic and Black Sea fleets, and designated the Second Pacific Squadron. This sailed around Africa and arrived off the east Chinese coast in May 1905 to be destroyed at the Battle of Tsushima later that month, effectively ending the war.

The arrival of the Second Pacific Squadron is scripted to appear with variable timing in the campaign. Notices of its imminent arrival are given to both sides as its progress was extremely public. If by the time of it's arrival the Russian (First) Pacific Squadron has not been neutralised, then the Japanese navy will be considerably outmatched.

So the aims of the two sides are each two-fold:

Japan:

1) Ensure the safety of military supply ships on route between Japan and Chemulpo.
2) Destroy or severely weaken the Russian naval forces at both Port Arthur and Vladivostok.
and then 3) Destroy the Second Pacific Squadron when it arrives in-theatre.

Russia:

1) Sink as many Japanese army supply ships as possible - the fewer that reach Chemulpo the slower the Japanese land assault will be. If too many get their cargoes ashore the Japanese army will be able to lay siege to and capture Port Arthur.
2) Preserve the Port Arthur fleet so that it can sail to combine with the Second Pacific Squadron when it arrives in late spring 1905, or use this force offensively to bring the Japanese fleet to decisive battle allowing their supply transports to be mopped up at will.

The game software is single player but it gives the option to play either side as computer (AI) controlled or human controlled and by selecting human player control for BOTH sides I can play the entire campaign issuing orders for both sides.

I will then feed back to the two teams updates on progress as well as upload videos to YouTube that show the action in the battles. I won't be able to upload the campaign map gameplay footage as that will show the location of both sides, removing much of the fog of war. I can though supply screenshots of the whole map, sections of map and the tactical formations of the various squadrons as still images to the two teams.

If anyone is interested in participating in this campaign, please announce it here, specifying which side you wish to play if you have a preference.

Japanese cruisers off Chemulpo:


Russian cruiser Varyag and armoured gunboat Koryets:
Cheers
Martin

Ne Plus Ultra - My 18thC Imagi-Nations Campaign, 1/72nd Plastics, Old School Rules

Interests: ECW, WSS, WAS, SYW, 18th C imagi-nations, Victorian Wars, Post-WWI what ifs, WWII (Command Decision)... most other periods involving gunpowder!