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  • Writer's pictureMike at SBS


Exactly 105 years ago, on 8 December 1914, Graf von Spee's German East Asian Squadron of two armored cruisers, three light cruisers, and a couple of supply ships, all steams towards Stanley, the capital of the Falkand Islands. Unknown to them, Admiral Doveton Sturdee's British South Atlantic Squadron had arrived the day before with the mission to hunt down and destroy von Spee.

Just a month before, von Spee's squadron had met and destroyed another British cruiser squadron commanded by Admiral Craddock off the coast of Chile at the Battle of Coronel. The British were eager to reclaim their lost prestige and sent two powerful battle cruisers, HMS Inflexible and Invincible, south to hunt down the German squadron. Reinforced by smaller cruisers and an old outdated battleship HMS Canopus, Sturdee's force met von Spee at the Battle of the Falklands.

Battlecruisers were specifically designed to hunt down and destroy armored cruisers using their high speed and massive guns, so when they met the SMS Scharnhorst and Gneissenau, the German armored cruisers that formed the backbone of the German force, the outcome was pretty much certain. Within a few short hours both German armored cruisers were sunk and their light cruisers were also sent to the bottom by British armored and light cruisers. All told 1800 German and 10 British sailors were killed, and another 200 German survivors were picked up out of the ocean.

Fast forward 105 years, nearly to the day, on 4 December 2019, marine archeologists have discovered the wreckage of von Spee's flagship, SMS Scharnhorst. They located her about 100 miles off the coast from Stanley. The wreck looks largely intact and the video and photos of the unmanned submersibles are stunning.

When I was initially designing Dreadnought, I had a laser focus on Jutland, but when I started reading more about von Spee, I found a whole new world of naval history, filled with interesting and amazing stories. Von Spee's story was so immersive, that it actually pivoted my direction when designing the game. No longer was I interested in making a massive game of hundreds of dreadnoughts on the table (though that's still appealing!), but instead I decided to focus on squadron level combat, so 4 or so ships. This lets me design in the stories of heroic commanders and brave crews, where the fortunes of war swung further and more harshly.

So when news came that the Scharnhorst wreck was discovered, it like a final chapter to the story I've been immersed in for years, has finally come to a close.

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