Sink the Bismarck!

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

A History-as-Game Example of Play for the Naval System in Frank Chadwick's ETO

It is difficult for a wargame to get the "moving history" on the game map perfect, but Frank Chadwick's ETO really strives to get it close. Within the scale of these games, we have composed an extended example of play showing the daring raid of the German Battleship, Bismarck, and its companion Raiding Cruiser, Prinz Eugen. You will see that using the game's systems and mechanics, the story comes out pretty darn close.

NOTE: The illustrations in this article are playtest graphics. This is not the final game art. The map shown is the Trans-Oceanic map for transit between Europe, the USA, and around Africa to the Mid-East.

May II ’41: Meeting in Bergen, Norway

The German BB Bismarck and CR Prinz Eugen sailed from the Baltic Sea Zone to Bergen, Norway, and must Refit.

May II ’41: Home Fleet Deployments

The UK Home Fleet, primarily in Scapa Flow, deployed in response to this existential threat as follows:

  • Denmark Strait: CA [Cruiser Squadron 1: Norfolk and Suffolk]

  • Iceland Passage: BB Hood, BB Prince of Wales, and CL [Cruiser Squadron 12: Arethusa, Manchester, Birmingham] join the MS unit keeping the USA Pipeline open

  • Scapa Flow: Home Fleet HQ marker [Repair Mode] and Making Harbor there this turn: BB King George V (Depleted), and CL (Depleted) [Cruiser Squadron 2: Galatea, Aurora, Kenya, Hermione]

  • Irish Sea: CV Victorious and BC Repulse

  • Western Approaches: BB Rodney holds in place and continues its Patrol Mission along with an MS unit

  • Gibraltar: Atlantic Fleet HQ marker [Intercept Mode], CV Ark Royal (Depleted), and BC Renown

  • North Atlantic: Two MS units keeping the USA Pipeline open

  • North Central Atlantic: BB Ramillies holds in place and continues its Patrol Mission

With the German threatening in Norway, the British scramble their defenses.

May III ’41: The German Raiders Set Sail

Both Depleted German Naval units in Bergen Refit. The Bismarck Refits for free using the Major Port’s ability to Refit any one Naval unit per turn. The Prinz Eugen, however, requires a Rush Refit in order to sail out this turn; that costs the Axis 1 Free Stuff and ½ FP to make it ready to sail right away.

Now Ready, they are equipped as Raiders for ½ FP each (paid for out of the Axis Arctic FP pool), the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen sail from Bergen. They take the long way around the UK, sailing out through the Norwegian Sea and continuing to the Denmark Strait Sea Zone.

The German U-boat units move from the Western Approaches to the North Atlantic questing for Allies Merchant Shipping (MS unit) tonnage. They would fail to find them.

The Hood and Prince of Wales Intercept into the Denmark Strait (instead of waiting to move in during their turn) and join their CA [1] (already there). The search is on!