Monday, 9 January 2017

Galleys & Galleons: Episode IV - A New Hope

The 17th century. A period of civil war. Rebel ships, striking from a hidden harbour, have won their first victory against the Ottoman Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the STAR OF DEATH, a mighty cannon with enough power to destroy an entire city. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Layla races home aboard her pinnace, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the Mediterranean ….

Another game of Galleys and Galleons, this time using the Blockade Runner scenario. In one corner is Princess Layla's pinnace, fast manoeuvrable and with a shallow draft suitable for negotiating the route to safety on the other side of the table.

But the pinnace must run an Ottoman blockade - two galleys and a xebec.

I used the pinnace from the rules, but to balance the points dropped it from Q2 to Q3. I thought that this would also make for a less predictable game. The galleys and the xebec were straight from the rules.

With reference to the above picture, Princess Layla had to run from the bottom left to the top right. The wind was blowing from the bottom right. The Ottoman xebec was deployed there, so it was down-wind of the escaping Princess. The galleys didn't have to worry about the wind, and were deployed to cover the gaps between the islands.

Princess Layla was going to have to make a decision as to which way to go around the sandbank, but a slight shift in the wind direction made heading north the best option.

The Ottomans were slow to react, blowing a couple of early activations. However the galley in the centre began to turn in order to bring its battery of guns to bear.

The pinnace ran close to the island in order to foil any attempt to grapple and board. The galley fired, to no effect.

Crowding on sail, Princess Layla pushed the pinnace to the fastest possible speed, but had her gunners fire a rolling broadside as they swept past the first galley. The gunners were enthusiastic, but inaccurate, and the galley escaped any significant damage.

In the distance the second galley was closing in.

The pinnace sailed as fast as the wind would allow, barely outrunning the galleys.

Through the gap, and heading for safety.

Or not. The wind backed some more, and was now blowing roughly from the direction of escape. Not only would the pinnace have to sail close-hauled to reach safety, but it would have to tack in order to escape. This would cause it to lose ground to the galleys, who were unconcerned by the elements.

The galleys closed the range. The pinnace could sail fast enough to avoid them catching up and boarding, but would have to run a gauntlet of gunfire. And if any of the shots damaged the rigging it would all be over. There'd be no escape for the Princess this time ...

A shot from a galley stuck home, causing slight damage.

Meanwhile the xebec was working its way towards the exit point, hoping to cut off the pinnace. But the wind wasn't working to its advantage either.

(The damage marker was a mistake; it was from running aground, but with a shallow draft the xebec should have ignored that problem As it happened it had no effect on the game).

The galleys kept up a close pursuit, but couldn't spare the actions to line up a good shot.

The pinnace was almost home free.

More shots from the galleys failed to score any damage.

The xebec was now closing in. The pinnace would have to execute a perfect tack, and crowd on full sail to escape.

Three actions! This allowed the Princess to turn the pinnace across the wind, and use its razee ability to give it the final boost  it needed to reach the ope sea and safety.

Although little damage was scored on either side, this was a tense, close game. Having all vessels operate at Q3 gave just the right amount of unpredictability. The pinnace was relying on spending an action each turn to use its razee ability, and gain a speed boost; without it the galleys could use their activations to close the range and bring their guns to bear more effectively, whilst at the end the xebec was only a turn away from being able to bring its more powerful guns to bear. With the wind against her, the Princess had a lucky escape.

6x6 - Game 6-2


  1. A narrow escape indeed! Well done Sailing Master Antilles :)

  2. Excellent post. Now can you rewrite Rogue One so that it's good ;)

    1. When you say 'Rogue One', did you mean 'Episode VII'? Only one was bollocks and the other wasn't :)


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