Monday, April 30, 2012

Napoleonic Naval Action in the Atlantic

 I hosted an impromptu Napoleonic Naval game yesterday afternoon using my 1/1200 Langton models and the Trafalgar ruleset.  The game was a fictional scenario pitting a combined British/US fleet against a French Spanish one.  In other words, a scenario concocted to get all the models on the table at once.  Dick and Les came over to play and were great opponents and guests.  The British fleet consisted of the one first rate, the HMS Victory, six third rates and two fifth rate frigates.  The US fleet was 2 third rates and 1 fourth rate (the Constitution).  The French consisted of one second rate, six third rates and 2 fifth rated frigates.  The Spanish had one "super-sized" first rate (the Santisima Trinidad) and three third rates).  From a points perspective the French/Spanish fleet was 2,610 points vs 2,300 for the Brit/US fleet.  No special rules were in play.

There were three islands on the 8'x4' board which really impacted game play (more than I expected).  The game evolved into 2 actions pitting unequal forces where three French third rates took on the bulk of the British fleet with the exception on one Britsh small third rate and it's 2 frigates taking on the Spanish fleet.  The bulk of the French fleet and the US fleet both tried to go around islands and missed the battle line entirely.

 The second photo shows the main British fleet, with Victory in the lead attempting to pass through the smaller force of three French third rates (Heros, Formidable, and Scipion).  In typical fashion, the French aimed high and managed to take out two of Victories three masts and the British aimed low causing some damage but nothing major.

 The action a few turns later shows the Scipion being surrounded by the bulk of the British fleet.  She gave as good as she got in the engagement and managed to dismast the Victory and bring her to within one hull box of sinking.  The 2 British third rates in raking position on the Scipion's bow and stern made her pay for that by sending her to the bottom of the Atlantic.

A close up of the glorious end of the Scipion.  Her former line mates sailed on but received a good bit a damage from the British and both sustained steerage damage which would lead them to sail of the table.  In return they savaged the three British ships that tangled with the Spanish, sinking the two frigates and almost de-crewing the accompanying third rate (Agamemnon).

Fire control proved to be a lost art for the Spanish as the fires of the Santisima Trinidad (front ship, top left) continued to burn out of control causing extensive damage below her water line.

At this point I called the game as the main fleet sections had passed each other and there would be at least 4 turns of maneuvering before we could bring them into contact again.  I would give the win the Dick and Les as their Brit US fleet was in much better shape, despite the near loss of the Victory but it was a very close game.

A few things I did learn from yesterday's game.
(1) The terrain used impacted play a great deal and probably too much.  Future games should either be on the "open sea" or restrict terrain to a scenario objective (harbor raid / fort attack).
(2) The Trafalgar rules are relatively simple but give a good feel for the period.  They also seemed very manageable for a large fleet action.

Overall it was a fun game and, as usual, Dick and Les proved to be great guests.


The Angry Lurker said...

Sounded like a bloody good game, I have played this period a few times with different rules but never had a bad game!

Sparker said...

Bravo Zulu! I hope you Spliced the Mainbrace on completion!

Ian said...

Looks like it was good fun. Always enjoy a bit of Naps Sea Battles, been a long time since the last game