Saturday, July 20, 2013

Age of Sail Wargame

        I am a custodian at a local high school. One of the more unpleasant tasks for me this summer is discarding books that the school library no longer wants. I believe the purpose is to make room for more computers. If there is a silver lining to this it's that my boss, knowing how much I read, has put me in charge of this detail and I can go "dumpster diving", keeping what I want. At first it seemed they were only outdated books such as almanacs and encyclopedias. However soon it was clear that every part of the library was being purged.
   When I got back from vacation, I went to discard more of the books. The librarian had finished the job, and there before me were stacks of history books!  I went through and picked out quite a few volumes. Right now my stepson is using my truck while he has his car repaired. I have been using my scooter to get to work, meaning I have to store the books until I get my truck back. However, three books I did take home were "The Battle of Lake Erie" by F. Van Wyck Mason, "The Age of Fighting Sail" by C.S. Forester, and "The Odyssey of the Essex" by Frank Dovovan.  This got me thinking of naval battles again.
     Any solo war gamer should get a subscription to the Lone Warrior" magazine. It is filled with ideas and rules for solo wargaming. One of my favorite contributors is Mike Crane. He makes fairly simple rules that can be played in a half hour or so. One game I have played is "Introduction to Fighting Rules for Sailing Ships" in Issue142. It is played using a grid board. There is a little paperwork involved as he uses a roster system to keep track of the damage to ships. So I dug out my model ships, a piece of paper, and playing board and in a few minutes had a game all set up.
Red fleet at top of page: Sultan (Flagship), Surprise, and Rose. Blue fleet at bottom of page:Terror (Flagship),
Typhoon, and Tempest. The Red fleet is entering from the north, the Blue fleet from the south.  The wind is blowing to the northwest, giving the Blue fleet the weather gage.

Red fleet is beating against the wind.

The fleets draw  in parallel lines.

The Sultan starts the battle with a broadside to theTerror.

The Surprise, next in line, dismasts Terror's mizzen,
 but Terror's return broadside  causes much damage to the Surprise.

Both fleets start the general engagement.

Both fleets draw off.

Both fleets come about for the next pass.

The Tempest crosses Rose's "T", causing severe losses to the crew.

Sultan delivers a broadside to the Tempest, Tempest returns fire and demasts Sultan's mizzen mast.

Typhoon follows Tempest and delivers another devastating broadside to  Sultan.

Terror brings up the rear; Sultan then losses it's foremast.

The Sultan staggers off to the north as the Surprise and Rose both turn their guns on the Terror.

As the Blue fleet draws off, the Red Admiral takes stock of the situation. The Sultan only has it's main mast,   over half the crew is down, and the pumps can't stay ahead of the incoming water. What's more, Blue fleet is going to have the wind to their advantage. 

Before Red fleet can do anything, Blue fleet swings around and closes rapidly on the Sultan. The Terrors broadside is too much for the Sultan, which quickly sinks.

As the Sultan goes down, the Surprise and Rose turns south and makes good their escape.

 The Red fleet suffered 25 hits during the battle, the Blue 13.

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