Two great games of Bismarck (AH) against Dan K. yesterday. One British win, one German. It is always a treat to play this game since it was released in 1979. To me, no other game has done it better and all others fall far short of the quality and cleverness of this Jack Greene design (same designer who did The Royal Navy series that we often play). Over the years I have recorded 19 matches (7 German wins, 12 British) and each was a blast to play.
In our first match Bismarck and Prinz Eugen tried a bold, quick breakout between the Shetland and Faeroe Islands just north of Great Britain. A British air search picked them up but could not track. Bismarck probed for a weak spot in the British search line, deciding to make a second dash to pass through but was spotted and intercepted by Hood and Prince of Wales just south of Iceland. It can't get any cooler than this historical match up on the battle board. In the ensuing fight Bismarck, though being damaged herself, roughly handled Hood (all gun factors knocked out but three) and Prince of Wales (rear guns knocked out and but only three hull boxes remaining). Three joining Royal Navy cruisers dashed in to fires torpedoes (three hit of 14 fired) finally sinking the weakened Bismarck but losing Suffolk in exchange. A British win 44 points to 13. In this game the Bismarck breakout was greatly hindered by clear weather, allowing the British spot and close Bismarck at the key moment with a decisive two capital ship task force.
In the second match Bismarck and Eugen were spotted right away making for the north of Iceland and a historical breakout through the Denmark strait. To make matters worse the weather cleared to maximum visibility range. Being spotted, the German ships split, the speedy Eugen continued to make a dash north of Iceland, and through a lucky all day long fog bank, broke out in the North Atlantic. She then took down two convoys over two days, one after defeating a cruiser escort in a hard fought tactical battle. Bismarck meanwhile loitered near Norway, made a successful dash south past patrolling Royal Navy cruisers and aircraft along the coast of Ireland greatly aided by bad weather. End game saw Bismarck and Prinz Eugen recombine in the middle North Atlantic and eventually head back north towards the Denmark strait between Greenland and Iceland. Both ships narrowly avoided several close call encounters with searching aircraft that would have meant certain destruction. Another great game with a 19 to 0 victory point win for the Germans.
This was a learning set of games for Dan and he played well. I was dismayed with his ability to read my mind on my moves as his searches were always uncomfortably close on and very well thought out. I need to be more creative in my moves in future games with him. In addition, his battle board tactics were superior to mine. He constantly places his ships in a position to fire broadsides while I could only reply with my bow or stern guns at half firepower. Very frustrating to me and very clever on his part. I will need to do better next time we meet in the North Atlantic.