Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Memoir of Battle at Sea 1860s-70s: Two Actions

 One of the happiest finds of this year was my discovery of Bob Cordery's "Memoir of Battle at Sea 1860s-70s" on his "Wargaming Miscellany" blog. with only two pages of rules and charts, a few model ships a handful of six sided dice and a hex gridded board or cloth, you can re-fight the sea battles of the American Civil War, the Great Pacific War of Chile and Peru, the German and Italian Wars of Unification, and a host of "what if" conflicts involving Britain, Russia and France as they play "the Great Game".

On Sunday night, Spike and I played two actions involving the Peruvian Monitor Huascar. In the first, Huascar was trying to get back to port, and was intercepted by HMS Shah and Amethyst.  In the second the Peruvian ironclad, assisted by the gunboat Union, was ambushed by the Chilean casemate ironclads Almirante Cochrane and Blanco Encalada

The first game, played on a  grid of 8x11 hexes. Saw the Huascar plodding toward her safe haven(move of one hex per turn), while the English ships, Shah, a frigate(two hexes/turn) and Amethyst, a gunboat(three hexes/turn) used their speed to close the range.  On turn two, during the initial firing phase, the Huascar's guns could reach Amethyst, while the two English ships were unable to return fire. Huascar has  a gun factor of six. She can roll six dice to fire, minus one die for each hex of range beyond one.  At a range of four, Huascar rolls three dice, getting a 6(2 hits),5(1 hit), and 2(miss), for a total of three hits. Amethyst is down to one floatation factor, and must try to leave the fight.

The English on the move

Shah moves in, trying to get an effective broadside on the Peruvian monster, without success. The Huascar fires another very powerful salvo, doing three points of damage to the floatation of Shah .The English frigate pulls alongside and fires a broadside, dealing three hits, while receiving another two.

Shah, in desperation, stands by her guns and trades salvoes, doing four point of damage. Huascar sinks the gallant frigate with three more hits, then limps home to port.

The second battle saw five ships in action.  The Huascar and Union, trying to get home, were ambushed by the Chilean ironclad Blanco Encalada and the gunboat Corvadonga. The Union and Blanco traded broadsides early, sinking the Peruvian gunboat.   Union did land five hits on the casemate ironclad, setting her up for Huascar, which sank the Corvadonga with one devestating salvo at close range.

"action opens"
The Huascar continued with solid gunnery against the Blanco, which fired poorly. Cochrane was moving in to assist the damaged sister ship, but still out of range.

Both Chilean vessels fired on the Huascar, without damaging the monster. Huascar, meanwhile, sank the Blanco. The monitor continued to move toward her objective. Cochrane moved to cut off the escape. Huascar fired two salvos into Cochrane doing seven points of damage. Cochrane could only manage one point or the Peruvian.

  Huascar made her first mistake of the battle, moving into the past of the oncoming Cochrane. The Chilean rammed her, doing six points of damage. Both ships traded fire, sinking each other. A battle of heavyweights was over.

Both games were played in less than an hour, even with extra time spent taking pictures. This is a fast, fun set of rules that allows you to "fight your ship" rather than "fight a rulebook" .  Gunnery becomes intuitive in about three turns, and the variable initiative system can reward or doom a gambler.

"Engage the enemy more closely"

 NEXT SUNDAY: A Visit to my Model Shipyard

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