Bay of Bengal:
Designer's Notes

By Jim Stear
November 2015

So from whence came this madness?

Great War at Sea: Bay of Bengal was born as Dutch East Indies was wrapping up. Having spent hours squinting at books on the history of Emden, Graf von Spee, the Dutch and Anglo-British tensions in Southeast Asia, I could not help but appreciate how much of this Great War-era story would spill over into the neighboring Indian Ocean. After all, that is where SMS Emden, gloried “Swan of the East,” would write her saga, along with the lesser-known but equally daring merchant raider Wolf and her small seaplane companion, Wölfchen. Not to mention the questions forming in my mind regarding earlier rivals to Britain and her colonial prize, and what sort of conflicts might have sprung up from those tensions. And of course, the fears of British politicians like Grey and Jellicoe, over perceived Japanese opportunism and potential threats to the Empire on which the sun never sets.

Bay of Bengal scenarios (28, all told), are broken into four themes: (1) those historical ones involving SMS Emden and potentially her cohorts from the German East Asiatic Squadron, along with other 1914-1915 situations which might have come to pass, (2) those historical involving long-sailing SMS Wolf, and a hypothetical of the romantic windjammer-raider Seeadler (the skipper of which intended to cross the Indian Ocean on his way home), (3) colonial battles as the British attempt to keep out or free the subcontinent of all Dutch, French, Russian (yes, Russian) and US (Plan Red) influence over the period 1904-1922, and finally, (4) a set of scenarios based around presumed Japanese perfidy during the Great War, should the Empire of Japan switch sides and go to war with her erstwhile Anglo allies over 1917-1918.

So, let us begin with a brief review of the scenarios in the first theme, “Voyage of the Emden.” This set consists of three battle and five operational scenarios. The battles consist of two historical and one hypothetical engagement:

Battle Scenario One: Battle of Cocos
Poor Emden, and her collier Buresk, encounter HMAS Sydney off Direction Island in the Cocos on the morning of November 9, 1914. Müller must either destroy his attacker or escape, while Captain Glossop must remove both the German warship and her consort from circulation.

Battle Scenario Two: Visit to Madras
A night engagement on September 22, 1914, as Emden must slip into the harbor at Madras, score hits on the tanks of the Burma Oil Company along with any shipping in the harbor (and avoid any British warships lurking therein), and then escape without being crippled.

Battle Scenario Three: ANZAC
This is a hypothetical one from November 1914, where we assume Spee has loitered in the Pacific and Dutch East Indies, and then struck out at the ANZAC convoy sailing from Australia to East Africa. The convoy escort, a mix of British and Japanese warships, will have its hands full, while the question of whether Australia will be there may put the heat on the Germans.

Operational Scenario One: Voyage of the Emden, Part I
Covering the period September 10-29 1914, Emden arrives in the Bay of Bengal, and goes to work on British commerce and the occasional terror raid on colonial harbors. The Central Powers player but has one warship on a raid mission, supported by a collier or two, while the Allies frantically try to pin down the enemy. Emden must rack up a score of merchants and port appearances in order to carry the day.

Operational Scenario Two: Voyage of the Emden, Part II
After a refit in the Chagos Islands, Müller once again moved into the British sea lanes, raiding commerce and pulling off the spectacular Penang raid over the period October 11-30. Once again, a lone German raider faces the Royal Navy and her allies; Emden must complete aggressive tasks against enemy commerce and bases while avoiding detection and destruction.

Operational Scenario Three: Spee Sails West
This scenario is hypothetical, and presumes Admiral Count Maximilian Graf von Spee took the German East Asiatic Squadron west as opposed to east towards South America, and over Fall 1914 is rampaging through the Indian Ocean. The Count must make as much commerce and shore base mayhem as possible, and when opportunity presents itself, take on and defeat those inferior elements of the Royal Navy that may cross his path (although the British Admiralty will work hard to ensure this never happens). The potential sailing of a large troop convoy from Australia is quite the incentive for German boldness.

Operational Scenario Four: The Hindu-German Conspiracy
Spring 1915, and the Royal Navy is the last line of defense in preventing arms from reaching Indian independence movement rebels on the subcontinent. Framed with an eye on gun-running operations organized in part by the German Foreign Office and the Ghadar independence party, the Allied player must intercept and inspect transports travelling to Indian ports, while the Central Powers player attempts to slip contraband through. The potential for the appearance of a German armed merchant cruiser, to be set loose amongst the sea lanes, weights on the mind of the Allied commander.

Operational Scenario Five: Mediterranean Fallout
Hypothetical; assuming Italy throws in with the Central Powers, the Allies are turned out of the Mediterranean, and a joint Italo-Austrian force sails for the subcontinent, what else could go wrong? Calling upon Japanese support, the Allied player must turn back any potential Central Powers invasion force, and prevent enemy blockades of Indian ports. The Central Powers player has the option of merely poking at the British prize, or going for big points and attempting to invade one of the ports on the subcontinent.

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Bay of Bengal right here.