This non-historic encounter occurred in the open waters of the North Sea, and was run as a test of algorithms making decisions in place of human players. In order to not have an advantage, the code only gives orders at the end of each 5 minute turn, and only using information which would be available to a human player.
The sea conditions and orders of battle are listed on Page 1 of the Narrative file:
The single lines from the right (British) and left (German) sides show the movement of the two forces prior to enemy contact. To speed the code, only the force flagship is actually moved. Based on the force size, screening elements and visibility, at some point in this movement the individual ships of the two sides are set out into their cruising formations. In this case the British battleship divisions were in line ahead disposed abreast, with the battle cruiser squadrons ahead and a line abreast screen of one light cruiser squadron. The German battleship divisions were in a single line ahead, with the battle cruiser squadrons ahead and a circular cruiser screen for both the battle cruisers and the battleships.
Depending on the contact bearings, the formations may make course adjustments. In this case, both forces altered course, and the cruiser screens can be seen shifting positions to regain their stations.
Sighting reports of British battle cruisers at 12:44 prompted the deployment at 12:45 of I Aufklarunggruppe (I.A.G.). I.A.G. turned to starboard in line ahead in order to bring after turrets to bear and to allow the wind to carry smoke away from the direction of the enemy. Sighting reports of German battle cruisers at 12:52 prompted the deployment at 12:55 of 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron (BCS) and 2nd BCS. They turned to port for similar reasons. The sighting report was from Lion since the cruiser screen was not far enough ahead to give any earlier warning.
Since the full plot may be difficult to read, the simplified plot showing only the lead ships of the battleship and battle cruiser units will be discussed. At 13:00 the I.A.G. reversed course to take station ahead of the German battleships due to being under fire of more than their number of capital ships. The leading battleships of each side were sighted by opposing light cruisers at 13:04 and 13:05. At 13:05 the 1st and 2nd BCS took station ahead of the British battleships due to being under fire of the leading German battleships. At 13:15 both side’s battleships deployed. The British formed a single line to port with the port wing (3rd Division) leading. The Germans, already in single line, turned to starboard. While moving to their stations ahead of the lead battleships, both side’s battle cruisers interfered with the fire of the battlelines.
As the battlelines gradually closed the range, the destruction was heavy on the battle cruisers and leading battleship divisions. Torpedoes were launched from the underwater tubes from both sides, and several British ships were hit. When the game was (arbitrarily) ended, many of the surviving ships were low on ammunition.
Although many torpedoes were launched by cruisers and capital ships, none were launched by the destroyer or torpedo boat flotillas. This plot shows the tracks of the flotillas in relation to the lead ships of battleship divisions. The ordered torpedo attacks generally failed because the flotillas could not reach a launch position clear of friendly ships without being driven off by the fire or proximity of enemy ships. The current algorithm for stationing flotillas relative to the battlelines may need to be revised to address this problem.
“Der Tag, 1916” by Minden Games is a solitaire WW1 strategy game depicting the naval conflict in the North Sea between British and German fleets.
Game 1. No optional rules were used. 1:6000 scale ship models and a 2010 North Sea map were used instead of the game components.
The initial British base assignments were fixed since first turn reassignments is an optional rule.
Scapa Flow: 9 second generation dreadnoughts, 9 dreadnoughts, 3 battlecruisers, 5 armoured cruisers. Cromarty: 8 second generation dreadnoughts, 4 armoured cruisers. Rosyth: 5 second generation dreadnoughts, 6 battlecruisers. Dover: 1 dreadnought, 7 pre-dreadnoughts and 3 armoured cruisers.
The Action Card “RAID” was drawn. North Sea weather was average in the north, poor in the center and south. German ships available were 3 battlecruisers, 1 second generation dreadnought and 5 dreadnoughts. The action location was Dover (in the south, thus poor weather). British forces intercepted from Dover. No British ships were unavailable due to repair. The Dover force arrived at the battle location on battle round 2, so the combat phase started with that round.
Battle round 2: The British achieved 3 hits and 2 saves. The Germans achieved 1 vulnerability hit and 5 saves. This gave 1 damaged British pre-dreadnought which sank.
Battle continuation failed so there was no battle round 3.
The Germans received 2 victory points for the raid and 2 for sinking a pre-dreadnought.
The British base assignments were modified as follows: Scapa Flow: 6 pre-dreadnoughts and 4 armoured cruisers. Cromarty: 2 second generation dreadnoughts, 10 dreadnoughts, 9 battlecruisers. Rosyth: 20 second generation dreadnoughts. Dover: 8 armoured cruisers.
The Action Card “TIP & RUN” was drawn. North Sea weather was excellent in the north and center and poor in the south. German ships available were 5 battlecruisers, 3 second generation dreadnoughts and 2 dreadnoughts. The action location was Hull (in the center, thus excellent weather). British forces intercepted from Rosyth and Dover. 2 second generation dreadnoughts from Rosyth and 2 armoured cruisers from Dover were unavailable due to repair. The Rosyth force arrived at the battle location on battle round 2, so the combat phase started with that round. The Dover force would arrive at the battle location on battle round 3.
Battle round 2: The British achieved 6 hits, 1 vulnerability hit and 2 saves. The Germans achieved 1 hit, 1 vulnerability hit and 2 saves. The British had 1 second generation dreadnought damaged. The Germans had 2 second generation dreadnoughts damaged, 1 second generation dreadnought sunk, 1 dreadnought damaged and 1 battlecruiser sunk.
Battle round 3: The British achieved 8 hits, 2 vulnerability hits and 2 saves. The Germans achieved 2 vulnerability hits and 1 save. The British had 1 second generation dreadnought damaged and 1 armoured cruiser damaged. The Germans had all remaining ships damaged and 1 battlecruiser sunk. The rules do not state how to apply 9 damage results to a force of 5 ships so the extra results were ignored.
The Germans received 1 victory point for the tip & run. The British received 13 victory points for sinking 1 second generation dreadnought and 2 battlecruisers.
The British base assignments were not modified. The Action Card “NO ACTION” was drawn. The British received 3 victory points.
The British base assignments were not modified. The Action Card “BOMBARD” was drawn. North Sea weather was average in the north, poor in the center and average in the south. German ships available were 1 battlecruiser, 1 second generation dreadnought and 1 dreadnought. The action location was Scarborough (in the center, thus poor weather). No British forces intercepted. The Germans received 5 victory points for the bombardment.
Total victory points were British 13, German 10, a British victory.
The player made one decision in the game which had any effect on play, the assignment of ships to bases for turn 2. The assignment decisions for turns 3 and 4 were immaterial since there were no combats. Everything else that occurred was the result of random die rolls. Use of some of the optional rules would potentially give the player more decisions.
Game 2. Optional rules used: Play as the German side, Withdrawal.
The Action Cards “RAID” and “DER TAG” were drawn. “DER TAG” was selected.
North Sea weather was average in the north, poor in the center and south. All German ships were available: 5 battlecruisers, 9 second generation dreadnoughts and 8 dreadnoughts. The pre-dreadnoughts and armoured cruisers were inadvertently left out. The action location was Center (poor weather). British forces intercepted from Scapa, Cromarty and Rosyth. 3 British ships from Rosyth were unavailable due to repair, 1 battlecruiser and 2 second generation dreadnoughts. The Rosyth force arrived at the battle location on battle round 2, so the combat phase started with that round.
Battle round 2: The British achieved 3 hits and 2 saves. The Germans achieved 7 hits and 7 saves. This damaged 3 British second generation dreadnoughts and 2 British battlecruisers. 1 British second generation dreadnought and 1 British battecruiser sank.
Since the Scapa and Cromarty forces would arrive for combat round 3, the German force withdrew (using the optional rule).
The Germans received 9 victory points for sinking ships.
The Action Card “NO ACTION” was drawn. The British received 3 victory points.
The Action Cards “TIP & RUN” and “BOMBARD” were drawn. “BOMBARD” was selected.
North Sea weather was average in the north, poor in the center and average in the south. All German battlecruisers were available: 5 battlecruisers. The action location was Scarborough (poor weather). British forces intercepted from Cromarty. 2 British ships were unavailable due to repair, 1 armoured cruiser and 1 second generation dreadnought. The Cromarty force arrived at the battle location on battle round 3, so the combat phase started with that round.
Battle round 3: The British achieved 2 hits and 2 saves. The Germans achieved 2 vulnerability hits and 3 saves. This damaged 2 British armoured cruisers. 1 British armoured cruiser sank.
The Germans received 5 victory points for the bombardment and 1 for sinking an armoured cruiser.
The Action Cards “AMBUSH” and “RAID” were drawn. “AMBUSH” was selected.
North Sea weather was average in the north, poor in the center and average in the south. All German battlecruisers, second generation dreadnoughts and dreadnoughts were available: 5 battlecruisers, 9 second generation dreadnoughts and 8 dreadnoughts. The action location was Rosyth (poor weather). British forces intercepted from Scapa and Rosyth. 2 British ships from Scapa and 1 from Rosyth were unavailable due to repair, 2 second generation dreadnoughts and 1 dreadnought. The Rosyth force arrived at the battle location on battle round 2, so the combat phase started with that round. The Scapa force would arrive on battle round 3.
Battle round 2: The British achieved 4 hits and 1 save. The Germans achieved 5 vulnerability hits, 8 hits and 5 saves. This damaged 5 British second generation dreadnoughts and 7 British battlecruisers. Unlike the first game, damage in excess of the number of ships was allocated as equally as possible, thus several ships made 2 rolls on the damage table. 2 British second generation dreadnoughts and 5 British battlecruisers. sank.
Battle round 3: The British achieved 1 vulnerability hit, 6 hits and 7 saves. The Germans achieved 5 vulnerability hits, 2 hits and 5 saves. This damaged 1 British second generation dreadnought , 3 British dreadnoughts, 1 British battlecruiser, 1 German second generation dreadnought and 1 German dreadnought. 1 British dreadnought, 1 British battlecruiser and 1 German dreadnought sank.
The British received 5 victory points for sinking a dreadnought. The Germans received 39 victory points sinking 2 second generation dreadnoughts, 1 dreadnought and 6 battlecruisers.
Total victory points were British 8, German 55, a German victory.
A group in British Columbia recently ran an interesting naval game using the Steel Fleets rules (facebook link). Although it was a few years beyond what my code is designed for, most of the ships involved were from WW1. I have attempted to recreate the game’s initial conditions and early movements. Since the French had some ex-German ships and the Italians had some ex-Austro-Hungarian ships, the nationalities for those ships were overridden so that French or Italian shells and propellants were used.
Winds East at 10 knots. Sea state 2. Visibility increasing from 16,400 to 20,800 yards over the first 10 minutes.
Having recently made significant modifications to the game code, I used the ‘Run to the South’ phase of Jutland as a test case. Course changes, speeds and formations were followed as closely as practical, given that inputs are only changed every five minutes. The primary source was the signals information in Brooks, although plots from Marder, Campbell, Tarrant and the Naval Staff Appreciation were also used. See the list of references below.
In some cases the game code was unable to reproduce formation changes as they seem to have occurred historically. Two examples follow.
When the IAG (First Scouting Group) turned from their initial northwesterly course at 2:27pm GMT, Brooks Table 5.4 gives these signals:
2.27 Turn together to port to WSW
2.30 Follow in wake of SO’s ship
2.43 Turn together to starboard to WSW
and states in the text that after 2.27 Hipper “seems to have headed SW for a time in line ahead.” This is consistent with Map 2 of the Harper Report and with Figure 11 in Tarrant.
It is not clear to me how the steaming order of the unit was maintained through the approximately 200 degree turn. Perhaps the trailing ships slowed, with the last ship slowing the most. The game code made a complete hash of the maneuver, but since the IAG was not in combat the disorder did not matter.
When the 1BCS and 2BCS (battle cruiser squadrons) turn east in response to the sighting of the IAG, the 2BCS is stationed 3 miles ENE of the 1BCS. Brooks Table 5.9 gives these signals:
3.30 Alter course leading ships together the rest in succession to E, 25 knots
3.34 (to 2BCS) Prolong the line by taking station astern
Brooks criticizes Beattly since “… the two weakly armoured battlecruisers were thrust forward three miles closer to the enemy and with no prospect of getting into line with Lion and the 1BCS without some violent maneuvering.” The game code had no serious problem putting the 2BCS in line behind the 1BCS, although with the increase in ordered speed to 25 knots, the 26 knot Indefatigable class ships lagged a few hundred yards behind after their speed loss in the turns. The game code reduces acceleration significantly as a ship nears its maximum speed.
The rest of the exercise played out as expected, up to the point where the High Seas Fleet would have been sighted. The Lion lost a gun, the Derfflinger lost a turret, the Tiger blew up, the 5BS started engaging the IAG and the IAG avoided a torpedo attack.
Brooks, John, “The Battle of Jutland,” 2016.
Campbell, John, “Jutland An Analysis of the Fighting,” 1986.
Marder, Arthur J., “From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow,” 1978.
Schleihauf, William, “Jutland The Naval Staff Appreciation,” 2016.
Tarrant, V. E., “Jutland The German Perspective,” 1995.
Winds WSW at 12 knots. Sea state 3. Visibility 23,000 yards.
With the A-H battle cruisers wrecked and the best A-H battleships damaged and in disarray, we called the game. The scenario was unbalanced, due in part to the powerful G3 and N3 classes and the weak (four gun) primary armament of the A-H battle cruiser class. We have yet to come to any conclusions about how to effectively employ divisions with differing speeds.