By William Sariego
Long ago I submitted a historical piece
on the unique French
submarine Surcouf for Daily Content.
Primarily an overview of this remarkable boat,
the article also contained rules allowing
Surcouf to be used in Second World Wat ar Sea: Bismarck.
I was quite honored when the president of
Avalanche Press called it one the best Daily
Content articles for some time. Considering
the level of Dr. Bennighof’s scholarship,
that was high praise indeed. Like so many
other things in my life, however, I promptly
forgot about it and moved to other projects,
assuming Surcouf was now a ‘closed’
Then a pal of mine told me someone on the internet
had wondered about using the Surcouf
in U.S. Navy
Plan Gold. My first reaction was dismissive,
as Surcouf did not become operational
until well beyond the framework of that otherwise
fine game. The more I thought about it the
less skeptical I became. After all, since
U.S. Navy Plan Gold is basically a
alternate-reality wargame, why not postulate
Surcouf being commissioned earlier,
possibly due to concerns raised by the British
X-1 design? This would also permit me to toss
in two optional rules that I left out of my
original article because I did not want to
get too complicated over one counter, however
interesting it might be!
Reality can only be bent so far, however,
even in a fantasy wargame. The French economy
was devastated by the Great War. It would
stretch credulity too far to imagine her in
any other than the 1925 and 1926 scenarios.
Using Surcouf in
U.S. Navy Plan Gold
Add Surcouf to the following operational
Le Crise Orange: Deploy Surcouf
as part of the main French fleet on the eastern
Counter Attack: Deploy Surcouf
as part of the fleet at either Port-au-Prince
or Santo Domingo.
Zenker’s Cruiser Killer: Start
Surcouf at Colon.
Bywater’s Fantasy: Begin with
Surcouf at Port-Louis. She uses the
French Raider special rule in the same manner
as the Indomptable.
Bywater, Part Deux: Deploy Surcouf
at Fort-de-France, Port-au-Prince, or Bluefields,
with leader Girard. Surcouf must start
separately from the battle-cruisers and must
operate independently for the scenario. She
uses the French Raider special rule, like
the two surface ships.
Small Target: Even a large submarine
like Surcouf presents a small and maneuverable
target on the surface. When you factor in
her design strategy to alternately dive and
surface to fire her guns and deck mounted
torpedoes, Surcouf gets a “saving
throw” against gunnery hits from surface
ships and bomb attacks from aircraft. No “save”
is possible against torpedoes. Disregard a
Primary hit on a roll of 4-6, a Secondary
hit on a 5-6. Against rapid-firing Tertiary
guns and bombs from the air, the “save”
chance is only 6.
Torpedo Reloads: Surcouf has
reloads for her torpedo tubes. This forces
players to indicate which weapon system is
firing. She carries two reloads of 21.7”
and one reload of 15.7” torpedoes. The
bow 21.7” can be reloaded automatically
and fired in the next Torpedo Combat impulse.
The deck mounts cannot be reloaded until after
the Tactical Phase is concluded. She can also,
of course, reload per rule 12.7. The bow torpedo
does not suffer a penalty to hit like other
Note that the original Surcouf piece
was designed with The Second World War
at Sea series rules. Follow The Great
War at Sea series rules here. Thus, the
21.7” fish have a range of one hex,
and the 15.7” only in the same hex.
A Torpedo Mount hit destroys both deck mounted
weapons (this clarification applies to Bismarck as well).
Increase the Victory Point value of Surcouf
by one point for each optional rule chosen.
The French player must inform his opponent
before the game if either are being used.
In playing Bismarck, due to the sub’s
age, you can only use the Small Target optional
rule in Scenario Four, where the skill of
her Third Republic crew could still get the
most out of her capabilities.
here to download Surcouf for Plan
here to order Plan Gold now!