Tuesday, 4 November 2014

La Nereide vs Rainbow and Avon

I played a quick game of 'Form Line of Battle' this evening. Having come across this site last week - Three Decks - I wanted to try a small historical action with asymmetric sides. I chose this one:

Action of 9th February 1810 

Summary - a French heavy Frigate, La Nereide (44) is pursued by two smaller British ships - the Rainbow (22) and the Avon (16). The French ship turns on its pursuers.

The 'Form Line of Battle' ratings were:

La Nereide (44) - Superior 5th Rate, Experienced crew, Hull/Guns 8, Gun Class A
Rainbow (22) - Inferior 6th Rate, Veteran crew, Hull/Guns 7, Gun Class A
Avon (16) - Unrated, Carronade-armed, Veteran Crew, Hull/Guns 5, Gun Class E*

*The rules give Unrated vessels a Gun Class of E, which gives them a +3 at Point-Blank range. I would reserve this factor only for those vessels equipped with carronades and drop the bonus to +2 for gun-armed unrated ship.

The French ship's Superior rating makes it dangerous when firing, whilst the British ships have less firepower but have some of this disadvantage offset by better crews.

Here's La Nereide

The British pursuers - Rainbow in the lead and Avon behind

The ships approach each other, with the wind coming from the bottom of the picture. Rainbow is upwind of La Nereide, whilst Avon is working downwind.

The French frigate moves to engage Rainbow, but receives a raking broadside at long range. The battle has begun.

La Nereide ranges up alongside Rainbow, and they exchange broadsides. The French shooting isn't as good as it could be.

Rainbow gets in a broadside which rips into the French vessel, causing real damage and serious casualties.

La Nereide manages to rake Rainbow, but again her crew's gunnery is poor and damage is minimal.

As the ships settle into another broadside to broadside fight Avon finally gets into the fight and adds the weight of her carronades to the duel.

La Nereide is really starting to suffer now, although Rainbow is not escaping undamaged.

The French ship attempts one last desperate move, attempting to cut across Rainbow's bow.

But the British beat La Nereide to it, and a final rake forces the French ship to strike.

Whilst the French inflicted damage with most of their shots, none of it was heavy enough to seriously hamper the Rainbow and force it to strike. Meanwhile the Rainbow gave as good as she got; more than she got when an early broadside damaged La Nereide's hull. Once the Avon entered the fight the French frigate was suffering more hits than it could avoid, and defeat was only a matter of time.

If I refought this I'd probably give the French ship a Veteran crew. This is not as absurd as it seems; French frigates on an extended cruise do seem to have had crews better than their national average, and capable of holding their own in a fight.


  1. What size ships are you using?

    1. They're Navwar 1/1200th models that I bought nearly 30 years ago.

  2. Excellent write-up and good to see the old ships getting use. We are starting to try the Sails of Glory models with different rules and Form Line of Battle is on the list to do.

    There were some amazing frigate actions, often involving an extended chase which can be hard to do on the table top.

  3. Hi, nice write up, of course the Avon is a brig, not a ship as you used, but I've been known to do the same thing on occasion.
    p.s. glad my site came in useful.


    1. You're quite right - I read 'brig-sloop' and somehow got 'three masts' into my head. I should have used one of my brigs, which would have freed up the ship I *did* use as Avon to be the Rainbow (as it's a better fit). In game terms it didn't make a difference as no masts were lost in either run.


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