A random series of articles on war gaming in 40K, FOW and other systems. The headings are, WiP; Conversions and models in various states of assembly. PiP; Paint works on various models. Mission Critical; scenarios or missions to bring a bit of a twist to a normal game. MiA; rules for units and characters that could/should/might appear in a game. Dig In; How to guides on making various types of terrain for different game systems. Sit Rep; Battle reports and after action reports on games played

Monday, January 29, 2018

All at sea with the Post Captain

Post Captain
I have been itching to try an Age of Sail game for a couple of years now. Arguable it can one of the most complex games you can play since you are not only playing against an opponent actively out to ruin your day you also must consider the environment which is oblivious to your existence.  To make is slightly more complicated I was looking for a relatively low intensity game ie I did not want to re-fight Trafalgar nor did I not want to be in charge of the flagship of the fleet. I am more interested in the frigates and lower rating ships that are more likely to see action and possible link up to a Sharp Practice or Maurice game.

After much pondering I opted to get the Post Captain rules partly because they seemed to offer the level of detail I wanted and partly because the Edinburgh wagames club had mentioned them. Since Angus Konstam writes Age of Sail naval books for Osprey publishing he might know a thing or two about age of sail games and how they should work.  The rules are pretty intimidating a six (6!) pages of the rule summary is not much of summary but the rules sound right and there is a lot of content to them including an add on with another rules set for coastal raiding i.e. two rules sets for the price of one.

Sails of Glory

For the shipping I opted to go with Sails of Glory by Ares games mostly because I suspect my painting table is in imminent risk of collapse due to overloading and the game comes with pre-painted miniatures.   Sascha from the club also expressed an interest so he was pressed ganged into commanding a British ship of the line for a test run game

Forte in pursue of Indefatigable
Sascha took command of HMS Indefatigable a 5th rate ship of the line. While I took command of the French ship, Forte, also a 5th rate ship of the line.  We opted to encounter game with no weather (since things were complicated enough without an weather concerns).  The British were supposed to get encounter the French but it turned out the other way round with the French appearing astern of the Indefatigable on a closing heading (oh look, getting all nautical with a narrative).

With the scene set, the game got interesting. First of both ships are under easy sail they are not expecting trouble and so have not set battle sail nor are they trying to go very fast and have not set full sail also most of the crew are not at the ready stations. Both ships sounded action station with the crews racing to man the guns, the sails or whatever part of the ship the captain thought was important. At the guns the captains signalling their intent with the British manning the cannonades  (crew killing close range scatterguns) while the french loaded hot shot (close range shot to set the ship on fire). In a novice move both ships manned the guns at the expense of the sails.

The Forte got first blood with a volley from the larboard battery. Only one gun hit, incapacitating some of the British crew but more importantly starting a fire on the Indefatigable.  The British reciprocated putting a hole in the French hull.  After the initial broadsides both sides broke contact to reload their guns and trying, but failing, recover the damage.

Indefatigable moves full ahead buying time for the crew to loaded the guns
Reloaded the ships closed again this time the British fired first putting a hole in the french rigging, the damage increased by the ship not being under battle sail. The French replied by putting a hole in the British ship and killing a few marines.  The shot in the French sails alerted both sides to the risk of not using battle sails in a battle and with some satisfaction both sides took men of the guns so they could look after the sails. 

Opening broadsides sees a fire breakout on Indefatigable
Again the ships broke contact as crew scrambling up the rigging to make battle sail.  The British were beginning to get concerned about the effectiveness of their repair crews, The attempt to fix the hull damage was a disaster with another section of the ship flooding and somewhat more worrying was that the fire could not be put out and was spreading towards the gunpowder store. The French repair crew were equal ineffective but at least they were not making the situation any worse.

Indefatigable breaks conteact trying to get the fire under control
Reloaded, but not repaired, the ships closed again this time the French got off a strong volley knocking out two of the British guns while the British volley was ineffective. The Indefatigable began to rearrange her guns from the starboard to the larbroad when. BOOM!!!. The fire reached the gunpowder store and the Indefatigable went up like a match.  The first shot of the game had been the decisive shot but it took awhile for it to take effect.

All said that was a nice introduction to the rules. Some the hilights for me were the decisions the captain had to make…
...How do I allocate the crew.
...What type of sail should I use battle sail is slow but robust while full sail is fast but flimsy
...What guns should I man (there is never crew for them all and if I man the starboard battery and he comes at me from the larboard side it will not go well).
…How should I loaded the guns, special ammunition does special damages but it takes longer to load and has a shorter range. 
I also likes the nasty german word Sascha used when we released the British repair crew had put second hole in their ship attempting to fix the first one.
Reloaded Indefatigable opens fire on Forte

I disliked that there was a lot of rule referencing during the game which I am not keen on and will hopefully fade over time. Although that said it was little funny when I complained the British had shot my mizzen top followed by a three minute pause while we tried to figure out what exactly was a mizzen top and what did that mean to get shot in one.

The ships exchange broadsides
I am on the fence on the booking keeping. Reloading guns, changing sails takes time and you need to keep track of it to know when the tasks are completed. It can be a difficult to keep track on all of the actions and when they become effective. Although I suspect this may be part of the fun as captains try to plan in advance.

In general I think the game hit the spot and we are planning a follow-up in a couple of weeks.That is all for now thanks for stopping by.  


Frank O'Donnell said...

Also on the plus side you don't have to paint the ships which for me is always good :) seems like an interesting game mate, are there any rules for boarding the other players ship ?

Dakeryus said...

aye, you can broad 'em.

you get deck plans for ships and fight from bow to stern but maybe we will use sharp practice or musket and tomahawks for boarding actions. Too fat lardees last annual had some sharp practice games on ships

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