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Thread: Flag Signal Communication

  1. #1
    Midshipman
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    Default Flag Signal Communication

    Hi all

    Just wondering if any hard core members have considered the problem of communicating between ships. Saying to your team mate with the other ship what you want him or her to do is not all that realistic. Being a flag signalling enthusiast, I have been giving a lot of thought to this and am wondering what others might think. I would be most interested to hear the thoughts from any such players.

    Take care and keep well

    Brad

  2. #2

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    Hi Brad
    There was an extensive thread on this a while back, I'll try and find it and post a link for you.

  3. #3

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    OK I think these are relevant
    http://sailsofglory.org/showthread.p...gnal-the-fleet!

    http://sailsofglory.org/showthread.p...Flag-Generator
    (this is a link to site that can turn messages into flag signals)

  4. #4

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    I'm holding out for somebody to print out a wad of teeny-tiny flags, require every player to attach the flags to their masts in order to send signals, and issue vintage spyglasses to every player to try to make out the flags on their teammates' ships

  5. #5
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    You have forgotten the fog machine. This has to be turned on after the first salvo.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbes View Post
    You have forgotten the fog machine. This has to be turned on after the first salvo.
    It's not so much that I forgot about the fog machine, as that I was worried about overcomplicating things and slowing down the game. Let's call that the "Advanced Rule"

  7. #7
    Ordinary Seaman
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    Anyone know anything about French signals from the time? I hardly think they used the RN system, or...?

    Thanks for any reply!

  8. #8
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    According to this information,

    Seaflags

    the numerical system was not only similar between all navies but invented by the french.

    Key to this is having the code book to know the meaning of flag combinations.
    Last edited by Hobbes; 03-27-2014 at 13:44. Reason: not familiar with html

  9. #9
    Vice Admiral of the Red.
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    Each potential flotilla/fleet commander will have to develop their own flag signal code book for use in their games.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahan View Post
    Anyone know anything about French signals from the time?
    Wasn't it a series of white flags?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    Wasn't it a series of white flags?
    Everyone's a comedian.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berthier View Post
    Everyone's a comedian.
    Touche.

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys!

    I will follow the links.

    Cheers

    Brad

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the links Berthier.

    I have downloaded the Popham Signal Code to add to my other code books, Imperial German, Kriegsmarine, RN 1916, all photocopies and a 1935 International Code of Signals, a German 1966 International Code, and the current International code. I refuse to asnwer how much it cost me for the photocopies!!! I did have to colour in the flags and coloured light signals in them though.

    I can see why they went from a numerical code of 4 flags to a letter code of mainly 3.

    My main thought about signalling was for the "Admiral" to direct his or her ships, not for individual ships to chat. That would only need a mast positioned where the "Admiral's" ship mat would be located. All the other ships would need would be an "Answering Pennant." Use the current one for that. As for signals, the only ones needed would be for indicating direction, and engaging or disengaging combat.

    Cheers

    Brad

  15. #15
    Vice Admiral of the Red.
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    The other ships needed a full set of flags so that they could relay signals to ships further away. Also to signal ships they might meet whilst on a voyage somewhere. There are also stories of ships fooling the enemy by pretending to signal allied ships out of the enemy's sight.

  16. #16
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    Good points Naharaht, thanks for the feedback.

    I was trying to make it as simple as possible with the assumption that other ships would relay any signals from the Admiral. As for meeting other ships, it would be the flagship that would likely initiate comms but, hey, I love flag signalling so the more masts the merrier, though it could slow down the game a tad even only using one mast with 2 hoists on each yardarm. Don't forget, you would need to make sure your signals could not be read by the enemy, hence a variation on the code book, ie., change the indication of each flag, or making your own code book.

    Some time ago I was working on a system for WW I and planned a board with a mast in the middle, a yardarm apropriately placed, a gaff stricking out of the board flying the ensign, and the flags, solid pieces of card, would sit on small ledges on the board where the hoists would be and displayed outward from them. The masthead would be flying the Admiral's flag. The board would be tilted back so that things stayed in place. IIRC, it was about 12" wide and 18" high so that the flags could be of a size that could easily be seen.

    Then, of course, there could be night games with lights, and..... No, better not go there, at least not yet!!!

    An easy start could be to use modern signal flags and the current International Code of Signals at- http://bibliotheque-des-usages.cde-m...of_signals.pdf

    Using the flags and codes of the time will take a bit of research, but would give playes enormous satisfaction.

    Cheers

    Brad

  17. #17
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    Another thought, using the modern code would require a lot of changes, but as the basic code is available, free, plyers may consider using it.

    If members are interested, I can post the WW I signals for manoeuvring ships from either the Royal Navy or the Kaiserliche Marine. Whilst they are for battleships etc., the still operated in line like their sailing predecessors. Let me know, but give me some time to do it.

    Cheers

    Brad

  18. #18
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    Maybe written communication, limited tosome number of characters would do - say, 25-30 characters? So, you have a chance to be mis-understood. It happened once, while we played combined Napoleonic system that my message arrived, but guy I send message to couldn't read it. So, we missed to activate infantry brigade when needed. Something similar could work with ships. Abreviations and such things would act as fog of war.

  19. #19
    Vice Admiral of the Red.
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    When I wrote about signalling other ships they met on a voyage I was thinking about frigates on detached duty or patrolling the fringes of a fleet.

  20. #20
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    I am beginning to believe it will take real discipline on the part of players, some belief/understanding in the importance of signaling, and some ability to imagine what the directed maneuvers will accomplish, for any signaling to work in a game. It seems, in many games I have played, that after the first turn, any pre-discussed plans are pretty much dispensed with, and when playing WGF, hand signals when close by do not translate to intended maneuvers on the table. Often, it is hard to keep players focused on strategic goals. It's pretty funny to witness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Outlaw View Post
    If members are interested, I can post the WW I signals for manoeuvring ships from either the Royal Navy or the Kaiserliche Marine.
    Interested. Thanks, Brad.

  21. #21
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    Of course, there is the situation when reinforcements arrive for both sides, and knowing who is who when ensigns are not visible! But are the ensigns genuine?

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    I am beginning to believe it will take real discipline on the part of players, some belief/understanding in the importance of signaling, and some ability to imagine what the directed maneuvers will accomplish, for any signaling to work in a game. It seems, in many games I have played, that after the first turn, any pre-discussed plans are pretty much dispensed with, and when playing WGF, hand signals when close by do not translate to intended maneuvers on the table. Often, it is hard to keep players focused on strategic goals. It's pretty funny to witness.
    How true. In some other games using other rules that I play where we've used signalling we have enforced a strict "no talking" rule at the table (about the game at least, wargamers can't exist unless they can swing the lamp over old war stories). All communication between ships has to be by flag (unless ships have their quarterdecks in close proximity). So the pre-game "team talk" becomes vital. And so what we've seen is that the teams who plan well - where the plan is relatively simple and a minimal amount of post-engagement "chat" is needed - do very well, those that don't descend into chaos very quickly.

    Bit like real life

  23. #23
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    Great idea with the right people. I will knock up one of my signalling masts and get it posted here. Don't hold your breath though.

    Regarding the signal codes, I have the General Signal Book in digital format so I think it would be easier to email the relevant sections rather that retyping it on this blog. I would, however, need peoples' email addresses.

    Cheers

    Brad

  24. #24
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    Hi all!

    Just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten the signalling, just been a tad busy of late. I will get there.

    Cheers

    Brad

  25. #25
    Former Admiral of the Fleet
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    Good to see you back, Brad. I hope all is well.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

  26. #26

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    I've never actually played Memoir 44, but this signaling discussion makes me think of the limited "order cards" that you can have and use during play in that board game?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmoss View Post
    I've never actually played Memoir 44, but this signaling discussion makes me think of the limited "order cards" that you can have and use during play in that board game?
    One major problem: That isn't how command-control works. Esp. in the AoS period, the big problem was "commanders ignoring orders they didn't like", whether from interpersonal conflicts or just sheer cussedness. A better system would assign to each commander a "command value"; at the start of each turn, the player rolls a die, and any commander whose value beats the die roll can have his skills and units used.

  28. #28
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    Greetings all

    The bad news is that I don't have the WW I manoeuvre codes in a digital form, so I cannot post them. You may remember I posted some links to a US site that dealt with flag signalling during the 18th or 19th Centuries. That may be the best bet. However, I am working on compiling a set of signals from the photocopies of the various signal codes that I have that I will create in Word, then pdf.

    Still have a few gliches to fix on a system of signalling but should have ironed them out soon. I will post the device as soon as I know it works. Main thing is keeping it simple!

    Cheers

    Brad

  29. #29
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    Wasn't that the Spanish?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    Wasn't it a series of white flags?

  30. #30
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    Man, I love this kind of nerdy detail in a game. It would be so much fun!

  31. #31
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    I don't think brad got any further with this Josh.
    I had a look at it in another thread last year, but other things came up and it was never pursued by me. I was intending to have a set of large signals with six main orders with a repeating Frigate Captain in the game I would raise my signal and when he spotted it he would relay it for two moves to any Captain who happened to notice it.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  32. #32
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    I talked to a buddy of mine who's starting up playing too. He thought it was hilarious. We hope we can get a team game going at a local game friendly bar. Just might have picked up a couple cheap brass spyglasses. Figure the patrons and hustle and bussle of the pub will make a great "fog of war" mechanism.

  33. #33
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    If you get a game going with signal flags please let usd know how you went on Josh.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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