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Irvania.com Gaming Photo Gallery: Naval Games
The first playtest of Shipbase IV
The battle of Lissa, 1866

In the second half of 1993 we did some playtesting with a little project we called Shipbase IV (aka SB4), a computer-assist naval miniature wargame ruleset that was supposed to cover everything from antiquity up to the late 1800's, where Shipbase III, which we'd just published that summer, picks up.

For various reasons, we never got very far with SB4. All we ever did with the system was to cover the battle of Lissa in 1866 between the Italians and the Austro-Hungarians. The playtest sessions went okay and the games were fun to play, but the results didn't feel at all realistic. We played the Lissa battle several times and it never turned out like the historical battle, so we moved on to other projects. The prototype SB4 program is available for download in the Naval Wargame section of Irvania.com.

The first six photos below were taken during one of those first playtests in 1993. If I had known back then that 15 years later I'd want to post photos from that game session on the web, which hadn't been invented yet, I'd have tried to take better photographs.




The Austrian lineup. I doubt this was the actual formation they used in the real battle.


Overhead shot of the Austrians. The models are all made by Houston's Ships in 1/1200 scale.


The lines meet to exchange broadsides. I don't think much damage was done the first pass around.


Another view of the opposing lines.


Here is where it started to get messy. There were a lot of rams and a lot of sinkings. Much fun, but probably not very realistic.


Oh, the humanity of it all.


Extreme closeup of the Italian turret ship Affondatore. This photo and the next three were taken years later, with a better camera than was used for the photos above.


Closeup of the Austrian Radetzky.


A drawerful of Austrian ships.


A drawerful of Italian ships. Note the sad pile of broken masts in the lower left corner, indicating that these ships hadn't been repaired since their last game. That's the main reason I sold these ships and bought the 1/2400 scale Lissa ships from Hallmark/Figurehead.
Nowadays I mount my 1/1200 scale ships on thick wooden bases so players don't handle the models by the hulls (or worse yet, by the masts) and rebuild most of the masts out of steel or brass rod. This cuts way down on the damage done to the models during game time.


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Last updated: June 11, 2016