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Bismarck Rules

• 2nd Edition
BISMARCK is a thorough update of the popular Avalon Hill release of the same name issued in the early sixties. The game now includes, however, a more historical presentation of the campaign while retaining much of its predecessor's simplicity and ease' of play. BISMARCK is composed of three games of increasing complexity. The Basic Game pits the German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen against the might of the British navy and can be played in less than 2Vi hours. The Intermediate Game expands upon the historical scenario by providing various alternative orders of battle which could have occurred. The Advanced Game uses a miniatures-oriented combat system similar to that employed in another Avalon Hill game, JUTLAND, to present the ultimate in tactical naval combat. Players should play each game in the order presented as this is the easiest method to assimilate the system of play.

1.1   Historical Background
At dusk on May 21, 1941, the German Battleship Bismarck, accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, quietly slipped from her base in Bergen, Norway to begin one of the most dramatic chapters of naval history. Her orders: clear the Atlantic of Allied shipping. Success would mean the isolation and eventual defeat of Great Britain. Defeat would mean the loss of Germany's only operational battleship and an indefinite delay to the Kriegsmar-ine's strategic timetable.
Success in the operation hinged upon the ability of the Bismarck to sneak past the British air and naval search screen which extended from Britain to Greenland. Once out in the vast expanse of the Atlantic, it would be difficult for the British to maintain offensive search patrols of sufficient strength to defeat her.
Taking advantage of the bad weather in the Arctic regions, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen sailed north of Iceland and through the Denmark Straits between Iceland and Greenland. While in passage, the Bismarck was discovered by the British cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk, who quickly radioed the Bismarck's position. Early the next morning the British battleships Hood and Prince of Wales, homing in on the radio signals, intercepted them. In one of the most famous naval battles in history, the Bismarck blew up the Hood and damaged the Prince of Wales, which then quickly retreated out of action. Great though the victory was, the Bismarck was still in danger as long as the two British cruisers maintained contact with her. British capital ships were closing in from all directions and it would be but a matter of hours before they would recommence battle.
Admiral Lutjens, the German commander, decided that the operation was too risky to continue and ordered a change of course for the Bismarck back to the French port of Brest while the Prinz Eugen was to maintain the original course and mission. This move caught the British shadowing force completely off guard. The Bismarck was able to shake off her
pursuers and was racing undetected to France when an unfortunate radio message was issued by Lutjens to Germany, detailing the victory of the previous morning. The British were able to locate the source of the signal and the chase was on again. The jump that the Bismarck had gained meant that the aircraft carrier Ark Royal was all that stood between her and safety. Two desperate air strikes were launched from this carrier in hopes of stopping the Bismarck. One lucky hit damaged the Bismarck's rudder which forced her to reduce speed. This was exactly what the British needed. Early the next day, the battleships King George V and Rodney caught up with the Bismarck as her crew was vainly trying to repair the damage. At these odds, and in the condition she was in, the Bismarck was doomed to defeat. Firing for almost two hours, the British battleships were unable to sink her, although they knocked out all of her guns. It finally took a combination of torpedo damage and scuttling charges to send the mighty Bismarck to the bottom.

BISMARCK recreates this operation in detail. Each player or side controls either the British or German order-of-battle as it actually existed. The German player attempts to break the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen out into the Atlantic and gain victory points by sinking enemy ships and convoys. The British player must utilize his superior numbers to locate, corner and sink the Bismarck.

1.2 Brief Synopsis of Play
The Basic Game is played in turns, each representing four hours of real time. In each turn, both players secretly move any or all ships and air units under their command on the search board. Each player may then call out zones in which he has searching ships and/or air units in an attempt to locate the opponent's ships. If an air unit locates an enemy ship in its zone, it may corfduct an air strike. If opposing ships are discovered in the same zone, they may proceed to combat on the Battle Board. Ships fire simultaneously and damage is recorded on the HIT RECORD PAD. Play continues until the Bismarck returns to port, is sunk, or time runs out. The player who has acquired the most victory points wins the game.



2.1  Parts Inventory
1. Game Box and Lid
2. Two Identical Search Boards
3. One Battle Board
4. One Sheet of Die-cut Counters
5. One Set of 6 Player-Aid Cards
6. Two Range Finders and Battle Maneuver Gauges
7. Hit Record Pad
8. Two Dice (one colored and one white)
9. Rules Manual

2.2 Search Board
There are two identical search boards (one for each player) provided in the game. Each player uses a search board to maneuver his ships and air units in an attempt to locate opposing ships and convoys. All movement and location of units on the search board must be hidden from the view of the opponent. Players can either place a box-half upright between the two boards (placing one board over the box lid to hold it in place) or place each board in a different location in order to accomplish this.

Printed on each search board is a map of the North Atlantic over which the Bismarck operation occurred. The map has been divided into square 'zones'. Each zone is approximately 90 statute miles in length. Ships may only enter or move through zones which contain a grid-coordinate (EXCEPTION: see TERRAIN EFFECTS CHART). Air units may enter any zone either with or without a grid-coordinate. No unit can enter a portion of the map which does not contain a zone. Partial zones containing a grid-coordinate (and the Bordeaux air base) along the edge of the board and along some of the land borders are considered and used as normal zones. Partial zones without a grid-coordinate other than Bordeaux cannot be entered by any unit.

Each grid-coordinate is composed of one letter and one or two digits. It is used to identify that particular zone and to establish the zones which ships can enter. All significant features of the search board map are identified on the terrain effects chart found on the cover of this manual.

2.3 Battle Board
During search procedure, whenever opposing ships are discovered to be in the same zone on the search board, play may revert to the battle board, where ship to ship combat is resolved. At the start of any battle, the defending ships are placed in the center hexagon (hereafter referred to as hex). Any and all of the attacking ships are placed in any of the outermost hexes along any one edge randomly determined by a die roll. 

2.4 Unit Counters and Markers
Included in the game is a sheet of die-cut counters which represent all of the major fighting ships and air units that participated in the campaign, plus some optional ships which could have been involved. Also included are different types of markers to be used as playing aids. Enough counters and markers have been provided to play the basic and advanced games. Several of the optional rules in the intermediate game require players to provide their own markers. Only those ship and air unit counters listed in each player's BASIC GAME ORDER OF APPEARANCE CHART and the markers described below are used in the basic game. All others should be placed aside. Their use will be explained in the appropriate game in which they are to be included. 

2.41 Counter Identification 

2.411 Search Board Ship and Air Counters

Ship Counters
DD flotilla
Long Range Recon 
Torpedo Bomber
Dive Bomber
Level Bomber