So we finally played a naval battle last night. In the event, only two of us were actually present which put a different emphasis on the game, but it was fun nonetheless. I played the British and my friend Oleg played the French. Technically I won, but since we kept going until each side had utterly depleted their fighting forces, winning was entirely academic. Especially since there was no winning critieria for the British beyond reaching the far end of the table with at least four supply ships (which I didn't since only three made it). The game started with the British coming in two columns from the north. Already here I made a critical error however because I convinced myself to combine the supply ships with the fighting ships, where as I probably should have had the supply ships in a seperate line. My mistake meant I spent much of the game trying to redress the supply ships, and largely failing.
The French tried to use the weather gage to range up along side the British fleet and come in behind and rake them from the rear. This plan failed however because the British fighting ships saw the French tactic and turned to keep them broadside on for most of the game. By the time the French had reached their advantageous position, they only had two ships left and the game was already done. The real high point of the battle came after an hour and a half when the French ship Braave, having been defeated by the British Admiral in HMS Africa, caught fire and exploded. The image below shows the 'drama' unfolding. Red lines denote the direction of the British, blue, the French. Braave is the damaged ship counter marked with a die at the top of the image the British supply ships (one also sinking) are the two lines fleeing southward to the rear. The red arrow shows the direction of the wind.
In hindsight I can see our rules need some more polishing. Our battle was way to 'clean' with no smoke markers (though we discovered popcorn works really well as smoke) and sinking ships disapearing very fast. We also had ships sinking due to rifle fire from the fighting tops, which was just plain ridiculous. Rifles could, and often did, kill a ships officers, but the ships didn't sink as a result. Often they would keep on firing from a stationary position, or flee.
I already have the next game planned. It will involve four players and multiple ships of the line!
Ships involved were:
HMS Africa. 64. Third rate Ship of the Line. 1781. (Adm)
HMS Hotspur. 38. Fith rate Frigate. 1792.
HMS Andromache. 32. Fifth rate Frigate. 1782.
HMS Beagle. 18. Sloop of War. 1804.
HMS Viper. 12. Brig. 1797.
HMS Turbulent. 12. Gun Brig. 1790.
HMS Eurydice. 24. Sixth rate Frigate. 1781.
HMS Jamiaca. 24. Sixth rate Frigate. 1800.
HMS Saracen. 18. Sloop of War. 1800.
HMS Minx. 14. Gun Brig. 1796.
HMS Rattle. 14. Gun Brig. 1781.
HMS Sheerness. 6. Brig. 1789.
Le Formidable. 74. Third rate Ship of the Line. (Adm)
La Cleopatre. 36. Fifth rate Frigate. 1799.
Zephyr. 32. Fifth rate Frigate. 1779.
Braave. 28. Sixth rate Frigate. 1794.
Sirene. 24. Sixth rate Frigate. 1785.
Comet. 18. Brig. 1790.
Belina. 4. Gun boat. 1789.
Antoinette. 2. Gun boat. 1803.