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Battleship Bismarck: Operation Rhine - May 1941 is a turn-based, keyboard-controlled naval strategy game which simulates the battle between ships of the British Royal Navy under the command of admiral Sir John Tovey and the K. M. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen of the German Grand Fleet under the command of admiral Gunther Lutjens.

This is a turn-based game which can be played by either two players or by one player against the computer. In either game the players can control the German or British forces. The game was originally released in 1987 and re-released in 1989 with a new feature that allows the player to issue commands to the computer controlled ships. This is explained in detail in one of the screenshots but the idea was so that the player could play against a pre-defined strategy.

Operation Rhine was an operation of the German navy issued in 1941 in which the K. M. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were to be deployed as raiders in the North Atlantic to disrupt merchant shipping and the convoys keeping Britain supplied. There are two modes of play:
  • The Tactical game which simulates the actual battle and which is the shorter game option. Victory is decided on a points system, based on ships hit amidships and/or ships sunk.

    After reading the mission briefing the player(s) select which side they are to play as and which ships they wish to use, the German player can use both ships or just one ship if they wish while the British player can select up to nine from the fifteen ships that are available, tactical battles can be 20, 60 or 80 turns in length.

    Playing as the Royal navy against the computer the game starts when the K. M. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen are sighted, the player is given their range and bearing and the game switches from the earlier setup/information screens to the battle screen. The battle screen is black with a white rectangle representing an area of sea around which are information and game controls. In the sea the ships are represented by letters showing their relative positions - the top of the screen is always north - bearing 000. Initially only a small number of Royal Navy ships have contact with the German vessels, if the player has any others in their fleet they must be given orders to change course and speed to approach the battle area.

    The players take turns issuing orders to their ships, the British player cycles through all the vessels in their fleet giving each ship one instruction per turn, so for example a ship can either change course and speed or fire its guns but not both. Once the British side has issued its orders the German side does the same. Some tasks will be impossible to complete, for example a ship cannot fire unless it is in range and even when in range it will not fire if it had not previously been ordered to train its guns on a specific vessel.

    The Strategic battle which takes place over a five to fifteen day period and which can last two hours. Victory for either side is determined by points scored in the game, since the German warships are loose in the Atlantic and can score by hitting and/or sinking merchant ships as well as warships the odds seem very much in their favour because the allies can only score by sinking the German ships or by sneaking a merchant ship past them.

  • The Strategic Game. This is set in the North Atlantic and can be spread over five, ten or fifteen days. Victory is also based on a points system which seems to favour the German forces as they can score points for both hitting /sinking warships and merchant ships and getting safely home while the Royal Navy can only score by sinking the two German ships or by getting a merchant ship to a home port.

    This version of the game is much larger and makes use of ports - each of which has an airfield, tankers for refuelling, submarines, weather conditions, aircraft carriers, air strikes and intelligence. The game is played over five, ten or fifteen days and before the Royal Navy can engage the Bismarck they must first find her.

    The British forces are scattered across the North Atlantic. As fleet commander the player can issue course & speed changes to any/all ships, call for an air search from any airfield (daylight hours only), and change the course and speed of any ship or convoy, additionally warships can be directed to patrol between two points.


Battleship Bismarck: Operation Rhine - May 1941 DOS The game has copy protection, this Greek symbol corresponds to a word in the game's manual
Battleship Bismarck: Operation Rhine - May 1941 DOS Setting up a short tactical game
Battleship Bismarck: Operation Rhine - May 1941 DOS The basic guide to the symbols used - all ships are referred to by letters
Battleship Bismarck: Operation Rhine - May 1941 DOS Tactical Game: Commanding and directing ships that are off-screen does have its problems

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Contributed to by piltdown_man (205381)