Thursday, February 25, 2010

Play Test of Sides of Steel Rules

On Monday, February 15, several Jackson gamers were introduced to the pre-dreadnought naval rules, Sides of Steel.  They were developed by Ben King and are marketed by Cotton Jim's Flags (LINK).  I bought them at Historicon a number of years ago.

This game pitted a small squadron of four Japanese battleships against a slightly larger squadron of four Russian battleships and  three cruisers.  The cruisers were not a real factor as they tried a complicated end run to get behind the Japanese but were never able to catch up to them.  The action was confined to the four battleships on each side.

The Russian cruiser flotilla

One of the two Japanese battleship divisions

The Russian battleline, led by the four battleships and trailed by the three cruisers

The Russian cruisers start their turn to try and get behind the Japanese.  Their commander, Senior Captain Yakov Alexandrovitch Pavlov (AKA Jim Pitts) thought that this would give the Russians an advantage.  Unfortunately his cruisers just weren't fast enough to make up the distance and could never catch the Japanese battleships.

Clay James, one of the Japanese battleship division commanders, calculates the range to the Russian battleships.

One of Phil Young's Russian battleships is heavily damaged and limps out of line.  Ed Sansing's rear division has to maneuver around the crippled ship.  Sean Pitts' lead division of Japanese battleships is closing the range to Phil's leading battleship.

But it doesn't do Sean any good as his lead battleship is pounded by the Russians and, mortally wounded, begins to sink.  With this loss and other damage inflicted on them, the Japanese squadron turned into the rising darkness and escapes from its Russian tormenters.

The rules are fairly easy to understand as long as the gamers don't have to worry about too many ships under their command.  We decided that for beginners with these rules (which is what we are), two ships is enough.  So when I run a game sometime later in the year using these rules, all the players will control a division of two ships.

The models are from Panzerschiffe (LINK) and represent ships actually present at the famous Battle of Tsushima (May 27-28, 1905).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sides of Steel Pre-Dreadnought Game, Feb. 15, 2010

On President's Day, five of us gathered at my church so that I could introduce and playtest the pre-dreadnought naval rules, Sides of Steel.  We pitted 4 Japanese battleships against 4 Russian battleships and 3 cruisers.

The Russian squadron led by 4 battleships and trailed by 3 cruisers maneuvers against the smaller Japanese squadron.
More pictures and some commentary will be posted shortly.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow in Mississippi!

We had a SNOW DAY today in central Mississippi!!
More pictures on my blog:  Col Campbell'sBarracks


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Renaissance Naval Game Battle Report - Jan 30, 2010

As promised, here is a battle report with some more pictures of our latest Renaissance naval game.  We used my WizKids Pirates of the Barbary Coast plastic galleys and the Barbarossa gaming rules, available from  We've used these rules several times and the gamers seem to like them.

As game master, I had devised a scenario where a squadron of six Spanish and three Knights of Malta galleys were escorting three merchant ships packed with troops and war materiel to resupply the Knights at Malta.  A squadron of twelve galleys from one (or several) of the Barbary Coast emirates was trying to stop and destroy the merchant ships.  [As usual, please click on the pictures to see a larger version.]

Here are the Christian commanders (from left) Travis Melton and Phil Young (Spanish) and Sean Pitts (Maltese)

The Barbary Coast galleys enter in line abreast.  They were commanded by Bill Hamilton, Clay James, and Ed Sansing.

The Barbary commanders decided that Bill's flotilla of four galleys would procede to the far side of the island, while Clay's and Ed's flotillas would attack straight on with at least one of Ed's galleys going wide to the right to try to cut off the Christian resupply fleet.

The action in the center quickly became a "fur ball" as Muslim and Christian ships jockeyed for ramming position and then slammed home into their opponents.  One of the smaller Muslim galleys is on fire as a result of a well thrown fire pot by its Spanish target.  In the distance are Bill's galleys furiously stroking to get around the island and into action.

Here is an overhead view of the general action.  Bill's Muslim galleys are on the upper left while the Christian galleys and supply ships are strung out across the rear of the photo.  Muslim and Christian galleys are still mixing it up in left foreground.

One of Ed's flanking galleys has made it around the intervening island  and has rammed the lead merchant ship but was rammed in turn by Sean's Maltese flotilla leader.  Needless to say, the combination of the "A" class galley firing into and then ramming the much smaller "C" class galley and the arquibus fire from the soldiers aboard the merchant ship proved too much for Ed's small galley.  In the background, another Muslim galley has rammed the second merchant ship and is also being rammed by a larger Maltese galley.

As the action closes, two of the three Christian merchant ships are escaping while the third (in the background) will probably be lost to the Muslims.  The Christians won this action although battle losses were about equal.  The escape of two of the three merchant ships to reach Malta is what tipped the scales.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Renaissance Naval Game, 01/30/2010

On Saturday, January 30, 2010, the Jackson Gamers gathered at the Fellowship Hall of Fondren Presbyterian Church for a Renaissance naval battle that pitted a Spanish and Kings of Malta fleet trying to escort some desperately needed supply ships to Malta.  A squadron of galleys from the Barbary Coast was determined to stop them.

The Spanish and Maltese were led by Travis Melton and Phil Young (Spanish) and Sean Pitts (Malta), while the Barbary pirates were led by Bill Hamilton, Clay James, and Ed Sansing. Jim Pitts was the game master.

Stay tuned to find out who won and a lot more pictures.