Why did you fight this one out, so aggressively, when you were outnumbered? Did you figure your BC was equivalent to their BB? Or were you confident in your ability over the AI? (It worked out, clearly.)
Our full battle line was faster than their full battle line, and the parts of their battle line fast enough to stay with our line was weaker than ours. If the German fleet had hammered us badly on the run north, or stayed in good order after the 8:00 a.m. turn south, I would have put the helm over and run for a port on the English coast.
Ah, makes sense. I guess you knew this from all the intel that had been gathering pre-war?
In this allied engagement, do you control the English ships or are they AI-controlled?
Sorry for the unannounced skip last week—I had a lot to do and a small amount of time to do it.
Also, I left two questions unanswered, so before I dive in…
Yes, between the game’s intelligence spending sliders and just looking through the enemy ship listings in the almanac.
In all the engagements in this war, they’ve been under my command. I’m not sure if it ever happens with AI-controlled allies. In certain kinds of battles, there are AI-controlled friendly forces, so it seems at least possible.
With no serious objections raised against the idea, I come up with the (slightly) budget-minded Rouen-class battlecruiser.
27-knot speed will make her one of the fastest heavy ships afloat, and 9 12" guns mean she won’t lack for punch.
The battle of the month is a coastal raid in the North Sea. Combined French and British forces scour the seas for German merchants, sinking one along with an escorting corvette, but come across no other foes.
In unfortunate news, our Redoubtable-class battleships have trouble hitting their design speed. Happily, that design speed was 23 knots instead of 22, so they’re still as fast as the rest of our battle line.
The battle of the month is an enemy raid on our shipping.
The English Channel is a dangerous place to be if you aren’t English or French—heavy minefields protect the narrows. (The little red dots indicate mined areas. This is what the large blue circles around German ports, if I’ve taken a picture of them, would have looked like to a hypothetical German player.)
It turns into a knife-fight just after dusk, which is a bad situation for us. Our superiority is assured; there’s no reason to waste our big ships on fights where torpedoes can sink them too readily. (The big advantage of the upcoming R-class battleships and battlecruisers is that they ship torpedo protection, armor against the devilishly-powerful underwater weapons.)
Reluctantly, like Jellicoe at Jutland, we turn away. Perhaps we’ll be able to catch up to that damaged armored cruiser in the bottom left of the screenshot later.
Or not! That neatly solves that problem.
Suffren eats a torpedo despite our evasion, but doesn’t seem critically damaged.
The French fleet pursues the fleeing Germans north through the night, but doesn’t find them in the morning, and so turns back to Dunkerque.
Our brothers in arms do a thing!
Picture two French naval engineers at a Paris cafe, a bottle of wine between them, cigarettes propped on the ashtray, smoke twisting lazily toward the darkening sky: “I wonder if zis will ever catch on.”
The battle of the month is a convoy defense in the Bay of Biscay. Three Allied light cruisers face two Germans, sinking one of them.
The Germans win a cruiser action, sinking the old Tage-class light cruiser Surcouf with a torpedo.
The Germans win another light cruiser action, though this time without sinking anything.
Another inconclusive North Sea battle, this one tipped very slightly in the direction of the French.
The vast German cruiser force is slowly shrinking as its ships, far from decent bases, succumb to lack of coal and mechanical issues and find themselves interned in neutral ports.
The Germans attempt to raid the coast near Dunkerque. Today, we have Redoubtable with us, the first of our second-generation battleships.
The German forces amount to a trio of light cruisers, which escape, and six destroyers, three of which sink. Redoubtable’s gunnery was… not great, but at least she’s been blooded now.
A raid into the Heligoland Bight nets a pair of merchants and one of three fleeing German light cruisers, struck by a shell from Redoubtable at almost 18,000 yards, which slowed her enough to bring her under the squadron’s guns.
Germany and Italy both seem to be investing heavily in submarines: Germany has 9 and is building 30, while Italy has 20 and is building another 29.
The Germans agree to a crushing peace deal. Good for us in the long run. Not so great in the short run—our budget is cut very nearly in half.
We get six points to spend on territory and/or reparations. I opt for two worthless (0-point) Pacific colonies, and leave the rest for more reparations.
Frantically scrapping the most obsolete of our pre-dreadnoughts (the 22-knot Tridents will make either good aircraft carrier prototypes or good battle line filler, given that a line faster than 22 knots is still some time into the future, but all of the La Républiques get the axe), mothballing other ships, and halting construction of one of our new dreadnoughts, I manage to get the budget vaguely under control. I’ll still have to toggle the other dreadnought on and off.
Sure thing (especially since the result is ‘more budget’).
French engineers have developed quality-0 14" guns, so it may be in the cards to scrap our second Requin altogether and prepare a new class with 14-inchers as our standard going forward. Our 12" guns are very good, but bigger, in this case, is always better.
The budget is finally balanced enough for my liking, so I start a third ship in the new class of Lavoisier light cruisers and scrap the in-progress Colbert (the second Requin). When Requin herself is done, I’ll likely start on a new battleship—although you’ll have a chance to weigh in before then.
The Naval Minister comes to me with the suggestion to build 15 new submarines. This time, I’m actually on board, and even better, the budget bump is enough to pay for 15 submarines and a quartet of new destroyers.
Our alliance with Great Britain comes to an end. It was good while it lasted.
In other news, while scrolling through the technology list, I discovered that quadruple turrets are on the table now—a classic French design feature.
September 1914-January 1915, Update Wrap-Up
I appear to have lost my notes for these few months, so I’ll take care of everything all at once.
The only really interesting development in technology is improved quadruple turrets, which eliminate the reliability penalty and open the door to all sorts of interesting forward-main-armament ships.
Italy has developed flying boats, the first of the major powers to deploy military heavier-than-air aircraft.
Tensions are low all around. We’re spying on the Austrians, the Italians, and the Americans (the latter only to see what the higher-tier powers are up to in terms of technology and design).
Here’s where things stand. According to the almanac, we’re in the middle: Germany, Britain, and the United States are ‘very advanced’; France is ‘average’, and Japan, Italy, and Austria-Hungary are ‘backward’. Our dock size, at 31,500, is a bit behind. When the submarines finish building in seven months, I think it’s time to invest in a few dock expansions in succession.
We have seven dreadnought-type ships: two of the early Duquesne-class battlecruisers, two Lyons (which ship the fleet’s heaviest guns), Devastation (our first dreadnought battleship), and two Redoubtables (our most recent dreadnought battleships).
We’ve retained two Tridents and three Gueydons, all of which will make fine aircraft carrier conversions when the time comes for that.
In addition to the pictured units, we have 27 destroyers of various types. The large majority are the obsolete Fauconneau class, which I’m tempted to retain as coastal protection ships—immediately putting them all into Trade Protection status when a war breaks out. They’re in mothballs currently.
As far as other destroyers go, we have three Francisques (also in mothballs, also something of a liability in wartime owing to their 28-knot speed), two Pistolets (31 knots), three Hallebards, and four Balistes. Some replacement destroyers are relatively high on the list. Our light cruiser force is also in the ‘large but obsolete’ category. (This was not unknown in the real world. Dreadnought construction sucks the air out of a great many other kinds of shipbuilding.)
Under construction, we have the Requin, a battleship with 12 12" guns and a 14" belt, the Rouen, a battlecruiser with 9 12" guns, 12" armor, and 27-knot speed, a pair of the new Lavoisier type of 27-knot, 6" gun light cruisers, four new 1,000-ton, 33-knot Harpon-class destroyers, and 15 submarines.
Prestige and Finance
We are currently in the very good graces of the French government, with 35 prestige. Our monthly budget is 16,883 funds, of which a mere 4,878 goes to maintenance, while 10,593 goes to new construction. Research (12%, 2,026), naval aircraft maintenance (256 for 16 airships), and spying round out the budget.
The Requin-type battleship on the ways is already a little dated. Since we have quality-0 14" guns now, my intention is to design a new 14" gun ship to take its place.
I’m inclined to try to keep two dreadnought ships under construction at all times, one battleship and one battlecruiser, but that may make it difficult to update our light forces. Should I sacrifice our big-ship construction program to bring the little ships up to date, or should I forge ahead in creating the best battle line millions of francs can buy?
Too, aircraft are appearing on the horizon, an ominous development for any navy which, across its entire roster, deploys zero anti-aircraft guns. Should we invest in carrier warfare as soon as we can, or stick out the dreadnought era as long as possible? Note that the balance of power between battleships and aircraft carriers shifts gradually over time—in the 1920s and early 1930s, it may be that the battleship remains king of the seas.
Anyway, that’s that for this week. Hopefully next week will be at the regularly scheduled time.
Great work. You taught the Germans a fine lesson in the art of naval warfare.
Do submarines play much of a role in full naval engagements or are they mostly only convoy raiders?
My natural thought is that if you’re going to be fighting Italy next (hopefully) you’re going to want something to counter their submarines so screen ships make a lot of sense.
I’d drop the battlecruiser line for a while and keep the battleships rolling off the line.
Invest heavily in research but not much in actual production. Dreadnoughts will rule the waves for now but aircraft will be necessary down the line. Also get some AA guns on the new screen ships.
dumb question - is this turn-based or quasi-RTS?
The strategic layer is one-month turns. The battle layer is kind of in between—it’s simulated in one-minute steps, and you can give orders in between any two steps.
(And sorry again for the immersion breaking discussion of game mechanics; I’m enjoying this thread) How many decisions/busywork do you have to make a turn in the rough spectrum between ‘early stages of a Civ game’ and Richard Berg’s Campaign for North Africa?
Much nearer the former end. Especially outside of wartime, a lot of months don’t have much at all to do—you’re waiting for new ships to finish, or for the right moment to build a new class.
One of the advantages to playing it in let’s-play fashion is that it makes me slow down. It can be tempting to hammer the ‘end turn’ button to get to a moment when something interesting is happening when I’m playing just for me.
I think you have a lot of active fleet ships for the current tension level. You could probably throw some more in reserve to get some more funds for modernization and light ship construction. You should probably either cheaply refit or scrap the obsolete ships in your inventory. Being obsolete imposes a combat penalty and makes it more expensive to maintain. One of your obsolete CLs is costing you more than 50% of a modern BB to maintain.
I’m also skeptical of the value of the legacy CA’s. If you’ve got say 4 years to the next fight, each of those is going to cost almost 3000, and then still be poor quality for a while.
Good point—I have a few of the much cheaper Chateaurenaults I can activate and send to Southeast Asia to fill the tonnage-on-station quota, so I’ll bring the Tages back and (probably) scrap a few of them, now that the Lavoisiers are coming online.
I’m keeping them around almost entirely because they’ll convert well to aircraft carriers, but I could probably stand to ditch one or two more of them, given that the Tridents are largely on hand for the same purpose.
Ah I forgot about that. But yeah you probably don’t need many of those.
On the advice of the readership, I’m doing two things with an eye toward saving money and modernizing our forces:
Bringing home the last of the Tages on overseas service and scrapping them. Being obsolete, they cost more to maintain—a substantial fraction of a new dreadnought’s maintenance. In their place, I’m going to send the remaining Chateaurenaults overseas, since that was their original purpose.
Scrapping two more Gueydons. They were never very combat-effective, and the Tridents will make better aircraft carrier conversions anyway.
I’ll likely aim to build more light cruisers and destroyers in this update, although I also intend to keep one or two dreadnought-type ships on the ways to avoid falling behind in the arms race. A two-Mediterranean-power standard is probably not quite within our grasp, but I want to at least give it a try.
Blueprints for the Austrian Tegetthof-class, under construction, hit our desk. One thing to note is the relatively light armor. I’ve adopted the (real-world) German philosophy that a ship’s first business is to stay afloat, and so far that’s worked out.
Our two French naval engineers at the Parisian cafe have had the bright idea of a ship dedicated entirely to floatplane scouting. That option is open to us now, but I think I might be more inclined to request proposals for a floatplane scout, and then equip the next class of battleships with one.
It has been an exceptionally quiet few months. A few ships enter service, including the first batch of four of the new Harpon destroyers. Another six are on the way, along with three more of the new(ish) Lavoisier light cruisers.
Both designs are a little long in the tooth now, so the next batch of destroyers and light cruisers will be to a newer one.
Rising tensions in the Balkans (Germany again…) yield the budget to develop a newer class of 5900-ton light cruisers. The Troude is not armored as well as the Lavoisier, but has more torpedo tubes, more guns, and one knot more speed, necessary for her to keep ahead of some upcoming battlecruiser types.
Germany asks us to reduce the size of our shipbuilding program. I choose the more polite of the two ‘shove it’ options.
It, uh, backfires a bit. An arms treaty goes into effect, limiting all powers to ships of 15,000 tons or less and main guns of 10" or less.
While this isn’t ideal, it does mean we’re in third place behind Britain and the United States in the dreadnought race, and we’re going to be until 1935. On the downside, our medium gun research is not great. Our 8", 9", and 10" guns are all -1 quality, and I don’t think it would be wise to build a new pocket battlecruiser around those calibers yet.
Scrapping the illegal ships under construction makes us a ton of money, and with it, I embark upon quiet a large modernization program. We have five new light cruisers building, and twelve new destroyers, along with ten new submarines. It also seems like a decent opportunity to build a seaplane carrier or two. After all, we aren’t spending it on very much else.
At last, something to upgrade our battleships with.
A program of airbase construction yields two: one on the south end of Corsica, to cover the west-central Mediterranean and French home waters, and one in Brest to cover the Atlantic coast. At present, each one houses a squadron of 10 fighters and a squadron of 10 flying boats.
Along with the air wings for the two seaplane carriers under construction, that gives us 50 naval aircraft, a world-leading total.
Funds are a bit tight as our battleships go through the rebuild process, but we’re staying ahead of the game.
Now seems like a good time to spring for enhanced gunnery training. We have a large and powerful battleship fleet we can’t replace for another 231 months, and the last thing we want to do is lose it because of poor shooting.
An exceptionally boring two years (with the exception, perhaps, of the naval treaty) comes to a close.
Here’s our list of non-destroyer ships in current service. Of note, the two Redoubtables are missing because they’re being updated to director firing. Also, Lyon and Marseilles, originally constructed as battlecruisers, are now counted as battleships—24 knots is no longer battlecruiser speed.
That means that Tourville and Dunkerque will end up counting as battleships, too, when we rebuild them, unless I take the opportunity to upgrade their machinery for better speed. (If we want to do that, we should probably wait until 1920—we’ll be able to turn them into oil-burners, which will make them faster.) So, should I let them turn into battleships, upgrade their fire control and machinery now, or defer an update until 1920?
Also noteworthy: our original Tage-class light cruisers have all been retired, leaving the still-elderly Chateaurenaults as our primary source of overseas influence. New Lavoisiers and Trondes are on the way. It may eventually make sense to build another overseas-service light cruiser with extended range and colonial service equipment, especially given the lesser demands on the naval budget.
Finally, as for destroyers, we have 16 modern Harpon-class ships in service now. The older Pistolets and Balistes join them in active service, while the remaining Fauconneaus and Francisques are mothballed, ready for activation in case of war to take on trade protection duties. (Destroyers cost so little to maintain that there’s no reason not to hang onto them for this use.)
Under construction, we have the two Redoutables, as mentioned earlier, along with five new light cruisers and two seaplane carriers.
Future construction plans are a little up in the air. The naval treaty means we can’t build any new dreadnoughts. The 15,000-ton limit is pretty restrictive, and suggests that a new heavy cruiser program might be in order. A top-of-the-line, 28-knot, 9x10"-gun cruiser (the latter characteristic being the largest caliber armament allowed, the former being faster than the pre-treaty battlecruisers still prowling the seas) costs about 2,200 funds per month, but our 10" guns are still -1 quality. That makes them quite a bit less attractive. Should we forge ahead with heavy cruisers anyway, wait for research, or ignore the type altogether?
I plan on upgrading our battleships to oil fuel one or two at a time when oil becomes generally available, which will save on machinery weight and allow me to increase their speed (or, alternately, add anti-aircraft guns when we figured that out).
One unexpected outcome of the naval treaty is that we’re comfortably third in dreadnought ships behind England and the US, and will be for some time to come. The timing worked out very well for us.
Tensions have been creeping higher with Germany again, which is both good (our battle line is better than theirs because the treaty halted their building program too) and bad (we don’t have England to help out this time).
Austria-Hungary remains resolutely immune to my many and varied provocations.
Progress has been limited on locating a new ally.
As I mentioned, we’re spending money on gunnery training for the first time, and our naval aircraft budget line item is slowly beginning to grow.
Our prestige remains at an all-time high. I elected to skip dock expansions for the time being, given that we can’t use them.
It’s likely I’m going to miss next week—this weekend is a very busy one, and I don’t know if I’m going to have the time to get in two years of gameplay in the middle of it all.
It is one place we’re well behind the Germans, but the well-trained dreadnoughts should keep them at bay. And I’m worried about the poor 10" guns. Perhaps somewhere to focus research efforts before considering building new ships.
There was mention last time of increasing shipyard capacity. This seems like an ideal moment to do some of that.
I like this plan down the road (presumably once oil is available). Our light cruisers have been very effective in past action.
Maybe you can be provocative enough to get another war with Germany going sooner rather than later and rid yourself of this inconvenient treaty.
Maybe not the most responsible course but it would probably be more fun.
With social distancing in full swing and last week’s break, I had plenty of time for a two-year update, and it’s an eventful one.
Four ships go into the yards for a rebuild: Tourville and Dunkerque, the two remaining Duquesnes, along with Redoubtable and Marengo, our second-generation dreadnought battleships. Per a reader note, we have the time and budget. The Duquesnes, for whatever reason, will be in for a year—perhaps being overhauled because of their age?
Or do we?
I’ll issue the ultimatum to Italy; they’re nearby, and we can totally take them.
Tensions are high, but not to the breaking point yet. I order the rebuilding of our battleships accelerated.
French naval engineers have managed to come up with a quality 9" gun, which means it’s time for a heavy cruiser.
Thoroughly modern-looking! We’ll have to get a few into production.
No change on the tension situation, but with design studies now complete on the Montcalm class, the first one enters production, with the next to start in August.
Just in time for a new ship class to enter service and most of our battleships to finish a rebuild cycle, we develop anti-aircraft guns.
The Italians couldn’t stand our repeated provocations. War begins.
The first battle of the war: a raid on enemy coastal installations. It’s just after midday. One notable new thing is the presence of aviation elements: floatplanes from our airbase on Corsica, zeppelins from the base at Tunis (which could stand to have an airfield, I think).
Our forces are the fast battleships (ex-battlecruisers) Lyon and Marseilles, each armed with 6 15" guns and capable of 24 knots, escorted by five destroyers.
Happening upon two old armored cruisers, the Lyons, unblooded in the last war, prove their worth quickly. Seven hits on one of the Italian cruisers and eight on the other prove sufficient to sink the two old ships.
Either French gunnery or French technology has improved sufficiently to score hits dealing critical damage to the enemy at something like 20,000 yards.
The enemy fleet was out in force, however, and when the fog of war lifts at the end of the battle, we find them not too far behind us.
The Italians decline a fleet battle—probably the right move, in view of our overwhelming superiority.
And again, they decline a cruiser battle.
The French fleet sorties in response to an Italian coastal raid. It’s a beautiful morning, and the enemy is in sight.
The Battle of Nice
On the field today are eight French battleships (four of which were originally battlecruisers, reclassified after their last rebuild), one battlecruiser in the scouting force, a bevy of light cruisers and destroyers, and a number of aircraft. The weather is partly cloudy with a gentle breeze out of the southwest.
The situation is already favorable: the Italian fleet is divided, with the battlecruisers to the east of our fleet and the battleships to the south. As I recall, the Italian battleship line is slower than our own, so that’s where my focus will be at first.
… the aftermath (or is it?)
In the final reckoning, it goes down as a boring battle. The Italians are faster than we are all around. Their battle line escapes. We sink an old pre-dreadnought, exchange a lot of shells to no great effect, and turn away as the Italian fleet does the same, both battered, none reduced.
Except that’s not what happens. Overnight, on the 12-knot journey back home, we come across one of the Italian Francisco Ferruccios, which blows up in a flash fire.
Then, shooting between our scouting force and our main force comes the entire Italian battlecruiser squadron.
At 4,000 yards. At night. Into our swarm of 20-some destroyers.
The carnage is incredible. At the end of the day, all four Italian battlecruisers lie on the bottom of the Mediterranean, against zero French warships lost. Merest happenstance made it happen—the Italians, pushed to the southwest, made a high-speed run toward the coast to attempt to evade us in the night, and chanced to run right into us, at the range where our superior number of destroyers gave them no chance to escape.
Italy makes a historical blunder.
The month’s battle is a coastal raid; the lone French battlecruiser Rouen takes a little jaunt in toward Italy, supported by a division of three battleships, blows up a bombardment target, and returns to Nice. Another thousand victory points, nice and easy-like.
Italy being close to France, we’re actually within invasion range. We’ll target Sardinia, which would be a wonderful feather in our cap and a second unsinkable aircraft carrier in close proximity to the Italian coast.
Evidently, the invasion planning process is faster than I had hitherto realized. It’s the early afternoon of March 29th, and we’re approaching the western coast of Sardinia with an invasion force in tow.
The Invasion of Sardinia (1:37 p.m., March 29)
I’m going to have to mark this one up a bit.
Update: I forgot to mark it up before uploading it. I’ll just have to be better at describing things.
Selected: the scouting force. The battlecruiser Rouen is joined by a pair of modern light cruisers and five destroyers.
West-southwest of the scouting force: the main fleet. Our three most modern battleships (Requin, sole member of her class, plus Marseilles and Marengo), along with supporting light cruisers and destroyers.
South of the scouting force: the support force. Three older ships (Devastation, Tourville, and Dunkerque) serve as distant escort to six transports.
Southwest of the scouting force: the invasion force. Six transports, of which four have to reach the Sardinian coast for this mission to count as a success.
On the Sardinian coast: our objective marker, along with submarines assigned in support of the fleet.
New things to worry about: aerial scouting! Ordinarily, the defaults are good enough, but in this case, with the enemy’s likely approach routes well-defined, I’ll tweak things a bit to see that we catch them.
The two forces under my direct command (the main force and the scouting force) split off to the north and east of the northeastward line of advance the transports will have. They’ll form a sort of search line, keeping the sea between them in visual range while positioning themselves to make a quick dash to the flanks if need be.
Aerial reconnaissance being, in 1918, rather a slow affair, our ships spot the enemy first.
A second light cruiser appears. A search line, perhaps?
At this stage, the goal is to find and engage the enemy before dusk, after which he’ll have a much easier time of getting in among my transports. Rouen leaps forward, turbines whirring up to speed as she accelerates to her maximum 27 knots.
What passes for the Italian battle line comes into view.
Rouen opens fire, aiming to pass to the east of the enemy battleships, where she can keep tabs on them into the evening.
The main force closes toward gun range.
Requin scores with her first volley.
These Italian dreadnoughts are of the Andrea Doria class, rough contemporaries with our Duquesnes. They’re armed with ten 13" guns, and can fire a maximum of eight of them broadside. Our Requin, though it only has 12" guns, mounts twelve, and can fire all twelve at a broadside target.
Armor, however, is where we really look smart. Requin has a 14" belt. The Andrea Dorias have 9.5". Even Rouen, our notional battlecruiser, is more heavily armored.
The fleet is nearly perfectly placed for this battle, running on either side of the Italian ships at long range. Although Marengo can only make 22 knots, the rest of our fleet can keep up with or surpass the Italian dreadnoughts in speed.
The Italian light cruisers, off to the northwest, try an attack on the battle line. We’ll see if they manage to get through the screen.
The Andrea Dorias are both down to around 10 knots now.
One of the Andrea Dorias goes up in a flash fire. At 5:53, the other follows in the same manner.
19:22 p.m. (and overnight)
Night sees the remains of the Italian fleet scatter. We manage to find the transports, taking up station on either side to cover them through the night.
The invasion is in progress. Soon, hopefully, Sardinia will fall.
The invasion doesn’t take long to bear fruit. Sardinia is ours.
Stubbornly refusing to surrender, the Italians lose a pair of light cruisers to Rouen, who proceeds otherwise unopposed on a coastal raid.
Well now, what’s all this about?
And, in news concerning the unluckiest name in the French Navy…
This is the third Lavoisier lost in combat. Who wants to skipper the next one?
Now that CVLs are on the table, our last Gueydon class (Amiral Charner) gets a rebuild as a light aircraft carrier. Replacement machinery increases her speed to 26 knots, and she has room for an air wing of 22. She’ll be ready in a year.
Tensions are on the rise with Germany, but the sympathy of the world is with us.
A quiet month; the Italians don’t even bother stopping a raid on their coast by a pair of light cruisers.
The Italians move to raid the French coast, at which time the French fleet comes out to play.
In particular, Rouen comes out to play; the battlecruiser is as fast as the Italian light forces, and easily sends them to the bottom with accurate fire from her 12" guns.
Rouen and escorts attack an Italian convoy, which is defended by a single destroyer. Thirteen merchants sink.
Two light cruisers raid the boot of Italy, coming within about twenty miles of Taranto, sinking two corvettes and returning to Greece (also a French possession, if you’d forgotten).
There are rumors of falling morale in the Italian fleet.
We begin construction of air bases in Benghazi, Libya and Patra, Greece, which will provide coverage of the west coast of Italy.
I put in a request to France’s aircraft manufacturers for a torpedo bomber, something to give the air fleet some teeth. After that, we’ll update the fighters. See the end of this post for some questions on aircraft design priorities.
The month’s battle is a raid on the Italian coast. Rouen takes a torpedo, but since she’s a modern warship with good torpedo protection, she’s fine. We sink the destroyer that launched it, too.
Spies deliver blueprints of one of the Italian heavy cruisers under construction: slightly superior to our own in armament, but one knot slower.
In this last month of the update, I start planning an invasion of Eritrea, which is, I believe, the last Italian territory small enough to invade. The battle is a convoy attack, in which we sink almost the whole convoy again.
Two-Year Report: Status
Money is a bit tight, with the invasion of Eritrea costing about as much as a low-end heavy cruiser would, but I’m not especially concerned. The fleet is in tip-top shape. Under construction is Rouen’s sister ship, a trio of Montcalm-class heavy cruisers, one more Troude-class light cruiser, Amiral Charner’s reconstruction, and the last of a class of corvettes designed to supplement the remaining Francisques.
Our prestige is at an all-time high.
Two-Year Report: Diplomacy
Tensions with Germany are high, but when the war with Italy ends (provided Germany doesn’t jump in), they’ll reset.
Plans and Intentions
There are a few things on my list:
Continue to try to find an ally. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do on that front beyond just being nice to people.
Build out our aircraft carrier capabilities.
Build a new, 14" dreadnought battleship, possibly retiring the old Duquesnes or converting them to aircraft carriers, as time and budget allows.
Build a new class of destroyer, mounting the recently-invented depth charge.
Begin refitting older ships with anti-aircraft guns.
How should those tasks be prioritized? Should any of them be dropped? Should others be added?
I mentioned something about aircraft priorities earlier. When soliciting aircraft designs, we can pick among a number of priorities: speed, maneuverability, range, toughness, firepower, and reliability. We can further pick two to focus on. Which two should we focus on?
Thank you so much for these updates. This is the type of game I would never have the patience to learn how to play, but I love reading about them. Vive la France! I look forward to La Guerre avec L’Etats-Unis…around 1950?
Well that treaty didn’t last long! I favour a 14 inch BB since I just like the big guns. How is the range on your ships? Who is the “end boss” here? The UK or the USA?
Quarantine continues, as does the war.
Our modern light cruiser Linois, patrolling the Mediterranean for Italian raiders, happens upon one of Italy’s ancient (1900-era) Nino Bixio light cruisers, and quickly sends it to the bottom.
Not only does this choice give us prestige, it might keep Italy in the war long enough for our current shipyard efforts to come to fruition.
Research has now advanced to give us the full benefit of something I’ve been doing all along (leaving off the belt end and deck end armor for weight reasons).
Loire has a clear winner as far as torpedo bombers go: 90-knot speed, range of 77 nautical miles with a torpedo and 141 when serving as a scout. As soon as it enters service, I’ll start setting up our airbases with slightly fewer flying boats and fighters, so we can start covering the Mediterranean better.
It’s time for a new fighter prototype, too; speed and range seemed like the most broadly popular priorities.
Italian submarines sink a pair of French destroyers; we’ll have to build a few more (now with depth charges and AA guns!) when our near-term projects (a light cruiser, the Amiral Charner CVL conversion) finish.
In a strong gale in the central Red Sea, Tourville and a trio of old light cruisers, supporting the invasion of Eritrea, attack an Italian convoy with supplies for the defending troops. The only ships the Italians have here are armed merchant cruisers; though Tourville is no longer quite the ship she once was, she’s still more than capable of sending 13 merchants to the bottom in the space of about 20 minutes.
Our torpedo bomber enters service. I start pushing it out to our various airbases. It appears that we’ve developed dive bombers as well; once the current fighter procurement process winds down, I’ll start on one of those.
Regrettably, the war ends before the shipyards can quite clear their backlogs.
To save a bit on new destroyers, I embark rebuilding my ancient ones. The Francisques and Fauconneaus were valuable parts of my trade protection strategy; if I’m going to keep them around, I might as well spruce them up a bit.
On the matter of new ship classes, I’m going to hold off until January 1920, when oil trade becomes widespread enough for me to build oil-fired ships despite not having any oil locally.
Loire wins again on fighters. Time to get a dive bomber design under production.
Correction: nobody’s actually figured out dive bombers yet—the aircraft types dialog lets you filter by types you can’t build, presumably so you can see other countries’ attempts at same—so that’ll have to wait.
The very brief period of French dreadnought superiority is quickly coming to an end, since the war ended the naval treaty and the British and Germans (and Americans, for that matter) are free to kick their battleship programs back into high gear.
For example, this German ship is tremendously scary.
Light on AA, though.
Two major inventions this month: director-controlled firing for secondary batteries and light cruisers, and dual-purpose mounts for 3" and 4" guns. The next battleship is going to be brilliant.
Named after one of our predreadnoughts, the Ocean class has 8 14" guns in two quad turrets forward (a French specialty!), better armor than her German opponents, and 26-knot speed. Her secondary guns are director-fired, dual-purpose mounts, and she mounts a number of light AA guns around her superstructure as well.
Why eight guns instead of twelve? It saves about 500 funds per month, and given that we’re very limited in our battleship construction for budgetary reasons, it makes sense to reserve a bit extra for light forces.
The Flamberge-class, a new destroyer type, will be entering service soon, with three 4" guns, six torpedo tubes, 35-knot speed, and extra depth charge stowage.
I decide it’s about time to scrap the old Trident-class predreadnoughts; now that there are new battleships in the offing, our next few targets for conversion will be Tourville and Dunkerque.
The first Ocean enters production, and will arrive in 32 months. Given peacetime budget constraints, we’re likely to be on a one-ship-per-class diet for some time to come.
All quiet this year. We host an international regatta, reducing tensions, and join an international squadron sent to contain violence from a revolution in Africa, bumping our budget up somewhat.
There are seven of our new Flamberge-class destroyers in the shipyards now, along with Ocean, and we just worked out how to do purpose-built aircraft carriers. I’m going to see what I can do for a CVL design.
Our CVLs can carry at most 34 planes, which we can do, plus anti-air guns but sans armor, for 1,800 funds a month over 20 months. That’s more aircraft at a lower cost than our Gueydon conversion.
All’s well. Our budget, at 20,158 per month, is about a battleship per year below its wartime peak, and we’re 218 funds per month in the black (with seven destroyers and one battleship under construction).
Our prestige is 48, a new peak for us. Tensions are low across the board.
The fleet is in good shape. We have eight ships classified as battleships and two as battlecruisers, although I would hedge that by saying that only five of those are first-line ships now (the two Redoubtables, Requin, and the two Rouen-class battlecruisers), and the Redoubtables will be obsolescent soon. Our dreadnought ships are, however, either new or recently rebuilt, so we should have them on hand for a good little while.
We have a pair of heavy cruisers of reasonable efficiency for the first time in a while, the 27-knot, 8"-armor, 9"-gun Montcalm class.
In light cruisers, we have nine obsolete ships, largely on foreign stations, but they’re small and still relatively cheap to maintain. We have ten new-model light cruisers, with more centerline turrets and 27- or 28-knot speed. They do, however, predate anti-air armament, so we’ll have to fix that eventually.
We have one aircraft carrier at present, the converted Amiral Charner, and two seaplane carriers, Seine-et-Marne and Savigny-et-Temple. In terms of air power generally, we’re on top of the world leaderboard, with 272 fixed-wing aircaft and 24 zeppelins. We have a good network of air bases across the Mediterranean, including on Corsica and Sardinia to threaten Italy, and in Greece and Libya to contain Austria-Hungary.
Finally, we have 41 destroyers in service and 7 more coming soon. Somewhat more than half of them are modern, with speeds in excess of 33 knots, lots of torpedo tubes, and three or more guns. The remainder are recently-rebuilt old ships, which will play the corvette role in future wars.
Plans and Intentions
There are a few things we might want to consider doing as we roll into the 1920s.
Expand air bases in northern France, to support the fleet in the event of a war against Britain or Germany. This plan is not likely to pay off immediately.
Build a new class of gunboat-style light cruisers (or even large corvettes) to replace our obsolete foreign service cruisers. We can really pack the armament in on the centerline now, and give them dual-purpose guns so they aren’t totally helpless. Our war strategy to date has involved decisive battles in home waters, so whatever we send overseas is largely for the purpose of keeping merchants happy that we have something overseas.
Rebuild our older battleships to use oil fuel, which will let us eke out a few more knots, throw in some anti-air firepower, and perhaps upgrade to better guns in some cases. Each rebuild will cost a little less than a new battleship month over month, and finish in about one-third the time. The downside is that we’ll end up with a fleet with smaller guns. The upside is that it’ll be more advanced in other ways.
Continue to build new battleships. At present, our budget allows us to build one at a time, alongside some other smaller ships. It would be surprising if we get to the point where we could build two at a time without getting very close to another war.
Build a CVL or two. They take about 20 months to build, cost about 1,800 funds per month (half of what a battleship does), and carry 34 planes, as mentioned above. On the downside, they’re vulnerable to air attack themselves, and the Mediterranean is full of unsinkable aircraft carriers (i.e., islands).
So, what should we make our priority for the next few years? Something from the list above? Something else entirely?