Friday, 26 April 2013

To Glory We Steer!

We've been talking about trying out 'Trafalgar' as a club-game for a few weeks, but circumstances have conspired to prevent us actually giving it a go, mainly because whilst I have most of the ships we need, Ralph has the rules and we never seem to end up attending on the same week.

Anyway, since the idea of an age of sail game had come up, we settled for an alternative last night, and I dragged out my personal favourite set of rules, David Manley's 'Form Line of Battle' (4th edition, for those that keep track of these things). This is an odd set, with a random, card-based, turn-sequence and random movement distances - your attitude to the wind gives you a number of dice which you roll, the total being how far you have to move (with an option to move the score of only one dice if you desire). This makes for a seemingly unpredictable game, but experience has shown that a player who keeps their force together in a good tight line will tend to have the advantage, which is how it should be.

We had three player including me, so I adjudicated, whilst new players Geoff and Caesar, took to the high seas.

I set up a basic battle, with two squadrons of 3rd rates, one British and one French.

The forces were:

French (Caesar) - Six 74-gun ships, all Experienced - Batave, Tourville, Agricola, Timoleon, Montauban, Regulus

British (Geoff) - Four 74-gun and one 64-gun ships, all Veteran - Berwick, Fortitude, Canada, Alfred, Intrepid (64)

Here's the British sailing into action. The 74s are in the foreground, whilst the Intrepid goes it alone in the distance.

Opening shots - The Berwick opens fire on the Timoleon at the head of the French line, causing minor damage and a fire.

The British cut through the head of the French line, pounding the Timoleon and the Agricola.

The Timoleon is stern-raked, although Geoff's luck resulted in poor damage rolls.

A general melee ensued, but Caesar was unable to bring his undamaged ships to bear on the British, who continued to punish the French vessels at the head of the line. (Yes, I know the Alfred is missing a mast. It fell off as we were setting the ships up and I didn't have any superglue with me. It's going into dry-dock for repairs tonight.)

Meanwhile ...

The Intrepid had detached from the main British force and found itself engaged by two French vessels. It gave as good as it got, and evaded them, damaged but mildly triumphant.

By the time we had to call it a day no ships had struck, but the French had three vessels that would have to take strike tests any time they took damage. We called the engagement a British victory

The final tally was:

Batave - Minor damage.
Tourville - Minor damage.
*Agricola - Heavily damaged, two masts lost and had caught fire.
*Timoleon - Heavily damaged.
Montauban - Minor damage, one mast lost.
*Regulus - Heavily damaged, one mast lost.

*Required strike tests if they took further damage.

Berwick - The lead British ship took heavy damage.
Fortitude - Moderate damage
Canada - Minor damage
Alfred - Minor damage, and lost one mast from a collision with the Regulus.
Intrepid - Heavy damage after engaging two French 74s for a couple of turns.

The British were lucky not only on the turn sequence (which always seemed to give them a phase when they needed one), but on the sheer number of critical hits that they scored - the French suffered lost masts, damaged rudders, holes, a captain killed and a fire, whilst failing to inflict a single critical in return.

Anyway, it was a fun game. I know it's not a favourite of all of the players, but I still enjoy it as a set of rules - a good game with minimal fiddly detail and bookkeeping.


  1. You should probably try the Langtons Signal Close Action Quick Play set. have played a few games with John G. and they work well..

    1. I tried one quick game, as documented on this blog sometime last year. It was interesting, but I can't say I was thrilled. However I may give them a proper look one day.

  2. Thanks Alan, fun game despite Geoff giving me a right flogging! I guess that's my penance for commanding the French.

  3. Very nice looking game, what ships were you using?



    1. They're old school Navwar. Many of them were bought and painted some 25 years ago :)


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