October 25, 2019

Rule the Waves 2 Game 1 - January 1913


We are at war with Italy for a third time so far this century. Not much has changed in the 18 months since the last one ended, except that we have commissioned a pair of new battleships, while Italy still has only one Irresistible-type. As such, we currently plan to essentially implement the strategy we used last time. We have solved most of the bottlenecks that kept our forces out of Sicily, and after a minor victory in the opening battle of the war, are prepared to fight for control of the Mediterranean.

There aren't a whole lot of decisions pending, beyond what shape our destroyer force should take going forward. We have recently increased the maximum size of our ships of that type by 50%, but with the increased size comes an increase in cost. Four sketches have been prepared, covering a wide range of options.

Our current fleet

Ships under construction/conversion

Our baseline destroyer design

A smaller, cheaper variant that sacrifices considerable gun armament

A torpedo-heavy variant

A fast variant

June 1912

Design work begins on BC Rouen. Italy lays down BB, Japan and US CLs. Germany commissions 2 BB, BC, Japan commissions 2 DD.

July 1912

2 DD finish reconstruction. Japan and US each lay down 1 CL, Japan commissions DD.

August 1912

Design work begins on CL Pascal, a long-range colony cruiser. BB Caiman commissions. CL Chateaurenault and CA Pothuau finish reconstruction, along with one DD. We handle a Japanese spy discretely. Breakthrough: High capacity pumps II. UK, US lay down BBs, Japan lays downa BC. Japan commissions 2 DD.

September 1912

CL Chasseloup Laubat begins refit. Italy appears to be mobilizing its fleet, and we do likewise. 4 CLs finish reconstruction. Breakthroughs: Director firing, DD of up to 1100 t displacement. CL Pascal, BCs Rouen, Lyon laid down. Germany lays down a BC, UK and Japan CLs. UK commissions CL, Japan a DD.

October 1912

BB Bouvet begins refit for director firing. Breakthrough: Base fuzes (enables SAP ammo). UK is building larger docks.

November 1912

CL Chasseloup Laubat completes refit. UK, Japan lay down CLs. US commissions BB.

December 1912

Improvements in productivity boost our industrial production. We commission 2 SSC. Germany lays down a BB, the US a BC. We lay down 2 SSC. We advise against a detente with Italy. War breaks out!

Convoy attack near Malta. Devastation and Martel are escorted by some destroyers and a pair of CLs. The scenario begins with Italian DDs at point-blank range, one of which torpedoes Devastation. We sink a couple destroyers, but don't make contact with either the convoy or heavier forces. As dusk falls, a melee develops between their ships and some ships not under my control. Some of them find the convoy, and sink several ships. We blunder into the battle, doing some damage, but disengage quickly to avoid the risk of a torpedo to Martel. She enters Valetta harbor, but some of our destroyers head back out to sea and find the convoy again, sinking at least one more merchant ship. The final kill count is 4 destroyers and 6 merchant ships, giving us a marginal victory at the Battle of Malta. 2,174 VP for us, 1,847 VP for them.

(OOC: I am seriously irritated over the destroyers starting at point-blank range. I'm definitely save-hacking to kick off the invasion of Sicily in response.)

April 1913


We are victorious in our struggle against Italy! After only three months, the threat to invade Sicily brought them to the negotiating table, and while we were not able to make further territorial gains, we have instead managed to greatly improve our international position, and our budget is largely intact.

But we are faced with a surprising number of choices. Battlecruiser Lille is about to commission, and we will need to figure out what to do with that slot. This was brought up last time, but the end of the war may have changed our priorities. Sketches have been prepared of battleship and battlecruiser that both use our new quadruple turret. We also need to decide what to do with our existing ships, as our pre-Irrestistible battle fleet is going increasingly obsolete. We could upgrade our ships with directors, or consign them to the reserve fleet. Lastly, there is the issue of lighter-than-air aviation. This give some sea surveillance capability, but our experts think it will be eclipsed by heavier-than-air assets when we introduce those.

Our current fleet

Ships under construction

An Editorial from The Times of London:

What a change has taken place in France in the last decade and a half. 15 years ago, we were on the verge of war with them over Fashoda, and they seemed to be helpless before the rising power of Germany. Today, things are different. They have dusted themselves off, put their economy in order, and today command a navy that ranks with the best in the world. Their recent use of sea power to defeat Italy in only three months is a lesson to the world, and particularly to Britain. We may rule the waves, but France has proved a staunch ally, and as we face down Germany, we could have no better ally in our struggle.

A quad-turret battleship

A quad-turret battlecruiser

January 1913

Design work begins on DD Lansquenet, the new 1100-ton ship. BB Bouvet finishes reconstruction. Breakthrough: Quadruple turrets. We mine and sink an Italian DD. Each side's subs sink 2 merchants, while we lose a sub and 3 merchants to surface raiders. UK and Japan lay down BC, US a BB, Italy an AMC and 3 KE. 260 VP for blockade.

Italy declines a fleet battle off Sicily, giving us 1,800 VP. We then send a force in to raid Italian coastal shipping off Genoa. A trio of CAs and supporting units encounter a similar Italian force, and open fire. CL Descartes eats a torpedo, but survives, and a pair of Italian destroyers were sunk. Then CA Montcalm is torpedoed at about the same time one of the Italian CAs is lamed and later torpedoed and sunk. We then make for Sardinia, with all ships surviving. A major victory at the Battle of the Ligurian Sea, 2,341 VP and 1 prestige for us, 1,066 VP for them.

February 1913

2 new DDs laid down. Reconstruction of BB Caiman begins. 1 KE, 2 DD commission. New research area discovered: Amphibious operations. Each side's subs sink one merchant. British operations add 140 VP. Italy lays down 6 KE, 1 AMC. Germany and AH commission BCs, UK a CA, US a BB. 260 VP for blockade.

The Italians again decline the chance for a fleet battle off Sicily, giving us 1200 VP. They also decline to attack a convoy, giving us 7755 VP. Lastly, we launch a coastal raid on their east coast, with CL Lavoisier and some destroyers going in to destroy a bombardment target. They run into a group of Italian CLs and DDs, which they brush aside on their way to destroying the target. The force then withdraws towards the British ports in Dalmatia, destroying a KE on the way. A destroyer that got separated from the force picks off a transport. A covering force (AI controlled) took some damage, but it's still a major victory at the Battle of the Gulf of Manfredonia, netting us 1,519 VP and 1 prestige, 227 VP for them.

March 1913

1 KE, 1 DD commission. The Italians agree to surrender, although we are unable to secure Sicily at the negotiating table. We send a diplomatic note to Germany over some of their recent spying. Germany lays down 2 CLs, AH and US 1 CL each. We actually come out of the war with our budget mostly intact, so BB Devastation and BC Tourville are taken in hand for a director refit.


  1. October 26, 2019Alexander said...

    I'd definitely take a 50% increase in torpedo broadside for a 25% reduction of 5" guns, especially since there's still the same 3" battery. The Italian sneak attack is a pretty good advert for torpedoes too, though we probably shouldn't expect to get a chance like that ourselves.

  2. October 26, 2019Protagoras said...

    Maybe there was fog? I'm not going to be arguing for speed this time; the fast design only gets 2 more knots, and if the ships are still around in 20 years we'll presumably be converting them into anti-submarine escorts or something and the speed won't matter much. So I agree with Alexander that this encounter seems to have made a good case for the design with extra torpedoes.

  3. October 27, 2019ADifferentAnonymous said...

    I also like the torpedo-heavy DD-13-III. Torpedo tech has come a long way since 1900.

  4. October 28, 2019bean said...

    The other thing that may come up is a replacement for Lille on the slipway. She's probably not going to complete until next turn, but if we want another capital ship that isn't a Rouen or close cousin (integrated director and a few other tweaks that stay under 10%) we'll need to start this turn. We could also go for lighter units, which should also be a call we can postpone.

  5. October 28, 2019Alexander said...

    I'd vote for more Pascals and some of the big destroyers. Maybe some airships if we can fit them in too.

  6. October 31, 2019bean said...

    Well that was a short war. Three months in, Italy sued for peace. We didn't get Sicily, but we came out with the budget surprisingly intact.

  7. November 01, 2019bean said...

    April 1913 is up.

  8. November 03, 2019Alexander said...

    I'm still going to call for more Pascals and Lansquenets. The new quad turret designs are nice, but I'm hoping we can wait till the Rouens are done before laying down more capital ships. Perhaps we could increase our dock size before then, to give us more options. The pre-irresistables are getting on, but I'd definitely upgrade the rest of the Duquesnes, even if its not worth giving them the new 14". We can probably send at least the Friedlands, and some of our CAs to the reserve, perhaps even mothball them if we think we can manage a couple of years without a war. As for aircraft, the future is clearly heavier-than-air, but airships might still be a reasonable investment if that future is a way off.

  9. November 03, 2019bean said...

    The biggest problem with that is just that capital ships take an awfully long time to build, so that means a 2.5-year gap after the Rouens complete. That's time we can't get back. A good compromise might be to do destroyers only and do a shipyard expansion. They'll both finish in about a year, which gives us a chance for more new tech in the new ship(s).

    As for the Duquesnes, a refit of the 14" guns will take 8 months at 1,776/month, as opposed to 4 months/653 for the director refit only.

  10. November 04, 2019Alexander said...

    Okay. One Pascal isn't all I was hoping for, but we do have some older cruisers configured for colonial duties. Shame it's not something that can be added in a refit.

    How about building another 3-5 Lansquenets, refitting some more ships, and prepare to lay down a pair of BBs/BCs when Pascal finishes. In addition to upgrading our shipyards, would it be worth tweaking our research priorities for a year to give us the best chance of getting innovations that could be applied to these ships? Cut the priority of research into AP and explosive shells, light forces and torpedoes etc, and put more into machinery, armour and guns. There might also be opportunities to buy or steal technology too.

  11. November 04, 2019bean said...

    Actually, all of the CLs we've laid down except for D'Assas have colonial facilities. We can go for a couple Pascals and some destroyers, but it pushes new BB/BC construction out a very long ways. Given the German and (to a lesser extent) Italian/Austrian build programs, I'm not sure we can afford that. We have an edge now (most of the BCs in particular would be easy meat for a Lille/Rouen) but I'm not sure it will remain if we don't build aggressively.

  12. November 04, 2019Gareth (OG) said...

    How significant of a tactical advantage do we expect some airship cover to provide? I've been thinking of them as nice-to-have but not at all a priority, but am unsure if we might end up facing an enemy fleet with air superiority that really out-shoots us in an engagement thanks to better spotting.

    I like the quad battleship design, and would probably support using some of our high budget to at least start the construction on one of those. Worried about facing diminishing returns in retrofitting our old designs- how capable do we think a modernized Duquesne would actually be against the new German ships?

  13. November 04, 2019bean said...

    The issue with the retrofits is that the Duquesne design is pretty old. The belt is thin for capital-ship slugging matches, speed is only 24 kts, which isn’t that fast any more, and there are only four guns. They’ll do fine against smaller ships, but I’m not sure how much the gun refits buy us there. I may go take a look at the penetration figures later and post them.

    As for airships, I haven't made much use of them in past games. You get 8 per base, they take off and fly search patterns, hopefully in the direction you need. You have no direct control over them. The big advantage is likely to be in finding the enemy, not during the battle.

  14. November 04, 2019bean said...


    I just crunched some numbers. Between the completion of D'Assas and some mothballing, it looks like we can lay down another Pascal without impacting the BC program.

  15. November 04, 2019ADifferentAnonymous said...

    Excerpt from an interview published in the New York Times, 1997:

    "Organized Crime." That's what people call us, like it's all we ever were. "Protection racket"--another good one. Let me tell you a story. This one was a family secret for a long, long time, but it doesn't really matter anymore.

    Remember the Franco-Italian wars? A lot of people in this country barely know they happened. Go to Sicily and they remember like it was yesterday, but let me refresh your memory.

    Rome bit off a little more than they could on Africa, and next thing you know, the French are in our waters like they own the place, with the British baking them up. Pretty soon they're planning to invade Sicily. Only the army that's supposed to do the invasion says they aren't ready. Month after month they aren't ready. That goes on long enough and they give up and make peace.

    A little later, Rome decides they want a second round and starts another war. France is still pissed they didn't get Sicily, and no way they're letting it slip by again. Except the war is barely started when Rome has a change of heart and makes peace.

    All that you can read in a history book. Does it make any sense? Of course not, because it's missing something. France, Britain and Rome weren't the only players. There was someone else, something looking out for Sicily. That was us.

    Even that early we had reach--friends in Paris, friends in Rome. I'm not saying we were running the whole show, but we could make things happen--or not happen--when it counted.

    So if you were Sicilian back then, you were paying some money to us, and paying some money to Rome. Both said they'd protect you in exchange. You tell me who was running a racket.

  16. November 04, 2019bean said...

    Everything makes sense now! Fortunately, the Germans are bad at organized crime (or at least the subversive kind of organized crime) and so we shouldn't have the same issues when going after them.

  17. November 04, 2019Alexander said...

    The Duquesnes were built to fight pre-irresistibles, and being faster and much better armed (especially if we gave them the new 14") they could keep up with and supplement the firepower of our battle line for some years to come. The problem is that their armour would be grossly inadequate for the task, and they only have four main guns. Much a I like them, it's probably not worth spending a lot (e.g. 1776/month for 8 months) on ships that won't be relevant much longer than the old style battleships. Better directors, being much cheaper I'm happy to pay for, perhaps even for our last few pre-irresistibles.

    @bean Glad to hear about the extra Pascal

    @ADifferentAnonymous Fantastic!

  18. November 04, 2019ADifferentAnonymous said...

    As for the building program:

    Based on the foreign designs I've seen, there seems to be an international consensus that 12" guns ought to be enough for anybody. Hopefully that means we can look forward to some fairly luxurious immune zones. Not sure how best to take advantage of that, but to me it makes sense to build more armored ships.

  19. November 04, 2019bean said...

    I checked everybody's designs. The British are the only other power to embrace guns bigger than 12" in a big way. The Italians, too, but those are only 13". The US has a few. Germany is still 12" only. Most people are still using wing turrets, and the BCs mostly have belts thinner than the Duquesnes. But this is about the point that usually stops.

  20. November 05, 2019ADifferentAnonymous said...

    Even if it ends soon, that's a lot of ships on the water that capital ship armor works really, really well against--whereas those 12" guns are still quite threatening to light ships. Consider me a vote in favor of capital ships in general.

    Between that BB and BC I'd favor the BC. It's 7.5% more expensive, 20% less armed, and has .5 inch less armor all around the citadel--big disadvantages, but IMO just not the same magnitude as the speed gain.

  21. November 05, 2019Alexander said...

    I prefer the BC too, though the King George V style turrets on the BB do look cool. The three BCs we're building now are probably a close match for our current BBs in armour and firepower (the higher quality guns compensating somewhat for the loss in calibre) so if we decide to build "BC-14" (the exact design depending on what we pick up over the next year, e.g. all or nothing armour, or oil firing) we'd have a very impressive squadron. Furthermore, the ships we build over the next few years might well still be around when we want carrier escorts. I don't know if 28kts is quite fast enough, but otherwise some old BCs should do the job nicely and free up whatever we build in the 20s to go on the offensive.

  22. November 05, 2019bean said...

    Right. I've been bad at doing this, but the formal plan for next year when play starts tomorrow:

    1. We'll lay down a second Pascal in a month or two, when ship completion gives us enough budget.

    2. Director refits for all BBs and BCs, but only B Solfierno. From the CAs, only the Jeanne d'Arcs will get directors. Destroyer refits will be suspended for the time, as the funds are probably better spent on new ships. After we get better ASW tech, we can convert the destroyers to escorts.

    3. Lille will be followed on the slipway by destroyers (8?), with a slipway expansion starting immediately so the follow-on design can be bigger. They will be followed by a new BC, based on the quad-turret design.

    4. I plan to rotate our cruisers, bringing Isly and Alger back to European waters and replacing them with older cruisers. They'll be refitted and used as fleet/trade protection ships.

  23. November 05, 2019Placid Platypus said...

    What's the in-game dividing line between a B and a BB? My understanding was that dreadnoughts were defined by focusing their armament entirely on big guns but our BB designs still seem to include smaller guns as well.

  24. November 05, 2019bean said...

    In general (there are exceptions) a B has only two main battery turrets, while a BB has more than two. The Germans kept a strong secondary battery even on their dreadnoughts IRL.

  25. November 06, 2019bean said...

    Right. Got through the entire year that time, and it was a rather exciting year, too. We now have the most powerful warship afloat, as well as 10 new destroyers and 3 new light cruisers. And a dock capable of holding 35,500 tons. In 4 months most of the destroyers commission, and we can lay down a new ship or two. We got really lucky with our budget, although the US and Germany are still ahead of us somehow, and Germany is nudging the UK for first place, which really shouldn't be happening.

  26. November 07, 2019Daib said...

    In this timeline Jackie Fisher gets hit by a car, and Lloyd George got the naval cut he was asking for in order to pay for the welfare state.

  27. November 07, 2019bean said...

    That makes a lot of sense. He probably used the alliance with us to justify it, but even between us, we're nowhere near the two-power standard. I'm seriously considering save-hacking because British naval policy here bears no resemblance to real attitudes at this point.

Comments from SlateStarCodex:

Leave a comment

All comments are reviewed before being displayed.

Name (required):

E-mail (required, will not be published):


You can use Markdown in comments!

Enter value: Captcha