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Fatal Choices : Wargames, Decisions and Destiny in the 1914 Battles of Coronel and Falklands

by Seth Owen

Foreword by Larry Bond

We are delighted to welcome Seth Owen, Author of Fatal Choices to FaTDoG.  Seth and I go way back as gamers to our college days at Northeastern University.  He is a fantastic writer and journalist and we are happy to have him come to sign his book and do a demo miniatures game of one of the battles.

This autumn marks the centennial of The Great War. Among the most dramatic sagas in a dramatic season was that of the German East Asia Squadron under Rear Adm. Maximillian Graf von Spee. Stranded by the sudden outbreak of war on the other side of the world, Spee’s squadron evaded enemy forces for months, dispatched the raider Emden to harass British trade in the Indian Ocean and then handed the Royal Navy its first defeat in battle in 99 years off the shore of Chile near Cape Coronel. That devastating defeat sent two British armored cruisers to the depths with their entire crews at trifling cost to Spee’s squadron.

The stunning defeat provoked the British into sending two of their new battlecruisers thousands of miles from the European theater to search for and destroy Spee’s squadron. Spee and the British squadron met at The Falklands just five weeks after Coronel. This time it was Spee’s squadron which was annihilated.

For a hundred years historians and naval officers have debated Spee’s choices and those of his opponents and speculated about what might have been. Fatal Choices looks at the course of the actual campaign and considers how it might have played out differently. But more than that, Fatal Choices applies the discipline of authentic naval wargames to evaluate those what-ifs under realistic constraints. And it provides the reader with the tools to see for himself how the battles may have played out.

By special arrangement with noted author and wargame designer Larry Bond, Fatal Choices contains an extract of Bond’s superbly authentic and comprehensive Fear God & Dreadnought naval wargaming rules providing the reader with all the rules, ship forms and tables needed to refight the historical battles and several credible what-ifs. See For Yourself scenarios examine historical battles such as Coronel and the Cocos Islands, as well as possible alternative fights such as Spee running into the Australian battlecruiser HMAS Australia or the old battleship HMS Canopus. Other scenarios examine what might have happened if the modern armored cruiser HMS Defense had joined the British squadron in time for Coronel or if Spee had a ventured to attack the British ships while they were coaling in Stanley Harbor instead of attempting to flee.

Fatal Choices also includes another entire set of rules, an extract of Minden Game’s NavTac fast-play naval wargaming rules for those readers who are new to naval wargaming or pressed for time.


Seth Owen is a long-time wargamer, journalist and veteran. This is his first book.

Signed editions of the book will be available for $25, $35 with the exclusive Fatal Choices laser-cut counter set that includes all the ships needed to refight all the battles included inside.