Saturday 22 June 2024

Assurance vs Constant Reformation

Continuing my occasional ECW games for Galleys & Galleons, here's a quick ship duel. This is lifted from another of Barry Hilton's scenario books.

This is, once more, a hypothetical engagement. In 1649 Prince Rupert's Royalist squadron was assembling in Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland. His flag, Constant Reformation was separated from the other ships and working its way towards the port when it encountered the flag of the Commonwealth's Irish Sea squadron, Assurance. Historically both ships left each other alone; Assurance was a smaller ship then Constant Reformation, so was reluctant to engage, whilst Constant Reformation was essentially a privateer, so engaging an enemy warship wasn't worthwhile. In this scenario they fight.

I did a few test runs with various designs for the ships and they were less than satisfactory, but eventually I hit on designs and a setup that seemed to work, and played it through one lunchtime.

I assumed that it was Assurance that went in for the fight, with Constant Reformation making a run for Kinsale. So the action was a simple run of the Pursuit scenario from the rules. Constant Reformation had to get from one corner to the other and Assurance had to stop it.

What of the ships? Assurance was smaller than its opponent, but with soldiers on board. Constant Reformation was a decent ship but was undermanned and in poor repair. The guns seemed to have been well-served through, even by the depleted crew. In previous versions of the scenario I gave Constant Reformation an edge in size but a lower quality than Assurance, representing the weaker state of the ship. However Constant Reformation was always able to bring it's greater combat value to bear and hold off Assurance. So instead I opted to actually run both ships with the same combat value, and still run Constant Reformation with a lower quality. The lower quality covers it being both undermanned and the poor state of the hull. Assurance was a better sailor, so gets a superior quality. 

On to the game stats:

Assurance - Q3 C3 - Square Rigged, Drilled Soldiers - 36pts

Constant Reformation - Q4 C3 - Square Rig, Trained Gun Crews, Charismatic - 36pts

The 'Charismatic' trait on Constant Reformation represents the leadership and morale effect of Prince Rupert.

Here's the two ships approaching each other. The wind is from the bottom of the picture and Constant Reformation (left) is trying to get to the top right corner.

The wind shifted a lot in the game, ending up on Constant Reformation's stern, slowing it down. Assurance fired a shot at extreme range, but it caused no damage.

Constant Reformation turned to get a better speed, and also tried a long-range shot. Even with its better gunnery it also missed.

Assurance sped forward looking to get a rake, but couldn't get the actions. Still, its short-range broadside ...

... was enough to damage and hole the Royalist ship. 

(In G&G a hole makes the ship harder to turn and - in my version of the game - more likely to sink if defeated)

Constant Reformation tried to cut across Assurance's stern in reply, but could only manage a ragged broadside. It did cause some damage though.

Both ships were rolling one damaged activation dice now, and with the action hotting up were looking to roll all three. This risked rolls on the dreaded All At Sea table. Constant Reformation got the first failure, but ended up making an enforced turn in the direction it wanted to go. Both ships were still heading for the exit point, but Constant Reformation was going to have to spend more actions turning in order to make a proper escape.

Assurance fired a full broadside and smashed Constant Reformation; it was now holed and crippled. It looked like defeat for the Royalists was on the card. One more decent shot would finish their ship.

But Assurance misjudged its move and edged ahead of the Royalist vessel (another All At Sea roll). Constant Reformation now just had to turn behind Assurance and leave the other ship in a futile pursuit.

But unable to turn as sharply it ended up running close alongside Assurance. Surprised by Prince Rupert's audacity Assurance struggled to get its broadside ready to fire. Constant Reformation was ready though, and scored a powerful hit. Assurance caught fire!

With a fire raging below decks the Commonwealth crew struggled to extinguish it. They gave up and abandoned ship.

And that left Constant Reformation to escape to safety.

Assurance was burned to the waterline, but the Royalist ship was badly damaged and would require extensive repairs, if such were even possible in Kinsale. So something of a bloody draw, all things considered.

This was a satisfying game, even with just two ships, and fortune swung from one side to the other. Constant Reformation struggled to get enough actions to do everything it wanted, whilst Assurance got unlucky with its two All At Sea rolls; the first saw it unable to take advantage of a battle-winning position, whilst the second saw it strike.

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