Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Shallow Waters

At the club last night I decided to get all serious and play a scenario out of the book.  Steve B took the French for his first game against the more experience Stephen N.  I was the umpire with a slight French bias.

An albatross' eye view.  The British are on the left of the picture and the bottom of the picture is the "end of the world".  The British frigate is heading for the reef.  Didn't I explain that reefs were not compatible with fine sailing?

The British frigate runs aground, but not before it got a bow rake on the French frigate just as it started to engage the British 74. The French 74 also gets in to action as it inexplicably also sails for a reef.

A more horizontal view of the action.  The British 74 was double shotted and did terrible damage to the French Frigate which caught fire.

The burning French frigate collides with the British frigate becoming entangled.  With the wind behind it you would think there would be a risk of the fire spreading, but the rules are strangely silent on collisions.
The French 74 has also run aground, but is still able to get a shot on the British 74 as it lumbers into range.  The British have loaded double shot again and are holding their fire.

Getting close, but not yet in arc...

The British collide with the French but do not become ensnared.  What to do?  We let it proceed on it's next movement scrapping across the French stern and ploughing into a reef!

And so the stuck ships belted the living daylights out of each other until the French reloaded with grape and swept the British 74 clean of crew.

Interesting game, but I don't feel like playing with reefs and islands in the future.  Perhaps need a refloating rule?  Also must do some research about collisions.


  1. I tend to find that the trick with map terrain is to make sure that you don't over-crowd things, make sure that there are some open areas on the map to fight in, and warn all players that it is very dangerous to even consider going anywhere near an island or reef.

    For re-floating rules, I've considered this:

    * When you run aground, discard all planned manoeuvre cards and don't play any new ones until refloated.

    * A "refloating" repair action works as a delayed action (i.e. takes two turns to complete, and can't be repeated until the first action is complete). At the completion of the action, draw an E chit; keep it if it's crew damage, return to the bag if not.

    * The ship remains aground until the captain collects a number of crew damage chits equal to the burden of the ship. Once this is completed, the ship is refloated and the crew damage chits are returned to the E bag.

    * A refloated ship begins with struck sails and no planned manoeuvre cards. If desired, the captain can keep the sails struck and continue using refloating actions in order to tow the head of the ship to a facing away from the obstacle. This requires one refloating action per 45° (or less) change of facing, and succeeds automatically (but still takes two turns).


    I also like the idea of varying depths on shoals: when each shoal is placed, write a bunch of depth numbers (1-6 or similar) on bits of paper and draw one randomly for each shoal. When a ship crosses it, the captain of that ship looks at the number (without revealing to the others; end-game accounting should ensure honesty on this) and if it's higher than the burden of his ship then the shoal has no effect. This adds some tension and gives a needed advantage to the smaller frigates.

    1. Thanks - they are good ideas. The action to tow the head of a ship when it is refloated is a really good idea and something that could also be used when trying to untangle collided ships as well perhaps.

  2. PS: it helps that I use a 3' x 6' piece of sea-blue felt (less than $20) for a map instead of the lovely but tiny official mats. You need some room to sail in.

    1. The mat is handy, but I don't care for the lines. At the club were normally user a larger board and I have plans to make a modular set of mats. You certainly need room to sail :-)

  3. Something for Facebook, but there are some interesting pictures of rigged ships and ships not on plinths here:

  4. I don't think the 'iron men' of the period were too keen on reefs either Mark!
    Always good to challenge the player with sailing, avoiding collisions, worrying about reefs and islands AND the enemy shooting at you!