Monday, November 21, 2011

IHW: Pigboats playtest 6

We continued on from the last game for the first half of the night. The Skipper recieved orders to head for the harbor at Manado, on the tip of the scorpion tail of Celebes, to reconnoiter the situation there. Cruising on the surface one night, the ship was attacked by two big patrol planes - Emily flying boats - while the Weapons Officer was Officer of the Deck. He elected to try to shoot down the lumbering planes rather than dive, but failed. The Thresher was rocked with repeated bomb explosions, throwing the startled skipper out of his bunk.

He ran to the Conning tower and ordered the OOD to take the sub down IMMEDIATELY and to never, ever, try this trick again! The men piled town the hatch, and again, as on the first day, the hatch jammed as they dove. The OOD pointed out, rightly, that one of the Thresher's Traits was "Slow-diver", so he was able to get it opened and reshut before too much water poured in. On the other hand, one of the last brace of bombs from the Emilies really hit hard, as teh slow diving boat was nto far underwater. The Captain elected to lose the brand new dual Light AA gun mounted on the cigarette deck rather than take that many dings, and took what I offered.

The harbor at Manado is open to the west, but that had a big submarine net stretched accross it. To the north are two steep islands with deep passages between, being covered by a corvette. The skipper timed the passage and slipped submerged by the corvette and into the big harbor. Inside was a huge convoy - fifteen ships and five more escorts - with the merchantmen at anchor. They looked like they might be fitting out for an expedition.

The skipper did a panorama of photos through the scope, but set up on several merchantmen while he had the chance - two torpedoes for a mammoth troop ship of almost 20,000 tons, and one fish each at four others. He also prepped the aft torpedo room for a couple of salvos as well, and warned the crew to be prepared to surface!

As the last section of harbor was being shot - with the big number one scope - SONAR reported five sets of fast screws speeding up. It was obvious they had been sighted. The skipper ordered the boat to surface, and the six bow torpedoes fired at the preset targets. When the torps were all away, he ordered a hard left to swing back to the north, and the bow tubes reloaded. This took a short while - and a successful Operation check by the Weapons officer. One torpedo hit the huge troopship and exploded, one hit a big cargo ship, and one hit a tanker. Two more hit their targets but were duds, and the rest carromed off in random directions across the harbor.

Heading north, he had the stern towards the harbor, and ordered all four stern tubes fired - two at the troopship, and two at the cargo ship already hit. By this time the escorts were firing at the Thresher, with shot spouts leaping up all around the boat. There were an armed yacht and a frigate in the lead - being much faster - and two corvettes and an armed trawler behind. The captain had planned it this way, knowing the Thresher could outrun the corvettes and the trawler. He called down to the forward torpedo room. There were three fish loaded, with one more left. About then the troopship and the cargo ship were again hit, this time both sank.

The skipper turned right and sent the three forward fish off at 90 degree deflection shots, two at the frigate and one at the yacht. Meanwhile, the Signals Officer ran out with a crew to man the rear 3 inch deck gun. Once the fish were away, the skipper swung back north, heading for the rightmost of the two channels, between the innermost island and the shore. One fish hit each of the lead escorts, sinking both. The 3 inch gun hammered away at the pursuit, scoring two hits.

The last fish was loaded, and it was a neck and neck race for the channel with the corvette they had eluded to get into the harbor. Again they were bracketed by shell spouts, with one shell actually hitting the Thresher, but one of the guys used a LUCK point to make it fail. The last torpedo ran hot straight and normal, and the corvette blew up, the Thresher flashing by and into the open ocean. They were out of torpedoes, and headed for home. For this daring attack, the skipper got the Navy Cross, and lesser decorations were awarded the other officers.

The second half of the session was involved in setting up for our next session, but it went so fast we actually got a bit of play in afterward. The gang elected to play a couple sessions later in the war, with the new radar and better torpedoes, before going on to test Wolf Pack play. They created a new sub, a Balao class boat called the Coelocanth. and drew the Nanpo Shoto - the chain of islands (including Iwo Jima) stretching up from the Marianas to Japan - as their patrol area. The Skipper was advanced to Commander, the Lieutenants were bumped to Lt. Commander, and the jgs to full Lieutenant. The Exec decided his character had taken over the Thresher, and would be back for the Wolfpack game. The rest stayed with the boat, which was totally unreal, but in the interests of saving time it was fine. This is a playtest, after all!

As the boat was calibrating radar on Lot's Wife - a spire of rock of known position and height that everyone used for this purpose - we had a fun encouter with two flyboy characters from their old pilot game mistaking us for a Jap sub - they really, REALLY wanted to sink the Coelocanth! - but since the PCs were in control, there was no real danger of that. Oddly enough, the Skipper is the older brother of one of their squadron - not one of the two that found the Coelocanth. As the planes flew away to the south, the SJ radar picked up a blob to the north, coming from Japan. End session!


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