Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Here there be pirates !

On March 19th we played a pirate wargame, using The Sword in the Caribbean rules. We had 6 players who played the following crews or units:

Capt. "Red" Sonya's crew - played by Jim
Capt. "Smilin' Jack" Hawkins - played by Jay

Capt. Don Diego de la Vega - played by Russ

Capt. Bartholomew "Black Bart" Bligh - played by Phil
Capt. Lord Pavel Young - played by John
Royal Marine garrison - played by Sean

Each company or crew was made up of 2 12-15 man "bands" or units. Each unit had secret instructions that defined their mission.

Here we are setting up the terrain. You see Jay (taking the picture), game master Ed, pirate captain Jim and captain Phil.

The picture were taken by Jim and John. Click on a picture to see a bigger version.

The village market.

Another view of the village, from the direction most of the pirates will approach.

The native village

That's all for now. I'm shutting down my computer because a thunder storm is approaching and dropping pea to marble sized hail at my house right now.

I'm back tonight to finish the battle report!

Here we see the British marines patrolling the island.

This unit was painted by Jim. Their mission
was to defend the village and water supply
and make sure the new governor survived.

This is the other part of the British marine company.

Some of Phil "Black Bart" Bligh's sailors
gather at the edge of the village to defend
it from marauders. The 2 crews in town
both had the mission to defend the food
and supplies in the market.

Russ' Spanish militia advance on the village.

The scenario said that the Spanish had just
handed over the island to the British but the
Spanish garrison commander didn't like this.

Before he set sail to return to Spain he had
made it his mission to kill the new British governor.

The pirate crew of 'Red' Sonya enters the board.
Their mission was to get to the chapel, and find
the treasure. They were required to capture one
of the priests and 'question' him to find the valuable

The rules have a special section on how torture prisoners to get information. Quite a few of the results have the prisoner dying.
'Smilin' Jack' Hawkins' crew attacks the Royal marines.

The pirates' mission was to find water and supplies
but after being fired on by the British they did
what pirates do .

After the first part of the melee one British unit
has retreated. The other unit has gotten behind
the pirates and will continue the fight.

In the end the pirates had to pull back. One unit
failed morale and headed for their ship without supplies.

Spanish commander Russ

Pirate Jay

Game master Ed

Russ' Spanish push toward the village, avoiding
the fresh water pond guarded by the alligator.

We decided that if anyone got to close the alligator would attack and we would use the TSATF Darkest Africa rules to figure out the results.

Everyone avoided the alligator. Isn't she a beauty!!!

The Spanish make it to the village and are met
by Phil's and John's crews.

Both units in John's crew are in the foreground.
The Spanish are advancing in open order line against Phil.

Part of pirate 'Red Sonya's' (Jim) crew sneaks toward the mission. They try and keep a hill between them and the British marines and avoid the alligator.

The fight at the village takes on a new dimension
as both sides use their 'granadoes' (early hand grenades).

The granadoes were used just prior to melee and
could produce surprising results.

At the end of the game 'Red' Sonya's crew captured
a priest and found "The Cross of Coronado" a gold relic
of great value. They hadn't gotten it off the board but
had done much better than 'Smilin' Jack' or the Spanish.

The English had held the village even though 1/2 of John's crew routed off the board (into the jungle) and Phil's crew and taken a lot of casualties from the fighting with the Spanish.

Thanks to Jim for supplying some of the figures (pirates, Spanish and Marines) and to Jim and John for the pictures.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Battle in the Korean Straits

On Saturday, February 19, we met to pit the might of the Russian Baltic Fleet against the Japanese Navy in the Straits of Korea (near the island of Tsu-Shima).  After sailing half-way around the world, would the Russians be able to best their opponents who were fighting in their own backyard?  Here's the tale.  It has been a long time in preparation but I think you will consider it worth the wait.  As usual, please click on the pictures for a larger image.

Photo by Jim
The Russian 2nd and 3rd Pacific Squadrons (as the Baltic reinforcements were called) steam in columns abreast with the Cruiser Division in the lead, followed by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battle Divisions (right to left), and then two smaller cruisers.

1st Cruiser Division:  Oleg (division flag), Aurora, Dmitri Donskoi, and Vladimir Monomakh
Russian 1st Battle Division:  Knyaz Suvorov (fleet and division flag), Imperator Alexandr III, Borodino, and Oryol
Russian 2nd Battle Division: Oslybya (division flag), Sisoi Veliki, Navarin, Admiral Nakhimov
Russian 3rd Battle Division:  Imperator Nikolai I (flag), General-Admiral Graf Apraxin, Admiral Senyavin, and Admiral Ushakov
Attached Cruisers:  Izumrud and Jemchug

This was the same formation in which the Russians began the Battle of Tsu-Shima.

Photo by Jim
The Japanese Battle Squadron also assumed the same formation that it used to begin the Battle of Tsu-Shima, with three columns of cruisers leading the two heavier columns (battleships and armored cruisers on left and armored cruisers on right).

Japanese 1st Battle Division:  Mikasa (fleet and division flag), Shikashima, Fuji, Asahi, Nisshin, and Kasuga
Japanese 2nd Battle Division:  Izumo (division flag), Azuma, Tokiwa, Yakumo, Asama, Iwate
Japanese 3rd Battle Division:  Kasagi (division flag), Chitose, Otowa, Niitaka
Japanese 5th Battle Division:  Itsukushima (division flag), Chinyen, Matsushima, and Hashidate
Japanese 6th Battle Division:  Suma (division flag), Chiyoda, Akitsushima, and Izumi

The Russians had 5 modern battleships, 2 older battleships, 1 obsolete battleship, 3 coastal defense ships, 1 modern and 2 obsolete armored cruisers, and 4 protected cruisers.

The Japanese had 4 modern battlships, 1 obsolete battleship (ex-Chinese), 8 modern armored cruisers, and 11 protected cruisers (about half modern and half obsolete).

Photo by Ed
The opening moves saw the Russians steam straight ahead, probably to burst through the Japanese ships, inflict as much damage as they could, and sail to Vladivostok.  The Japanese began to maneuver to open their broadsides, with their three cruiser divisions turning to starboard and the heavier ships behind them to port.

Photo by Ed
 As the Japanese cruisers continue on their sweep around the Russians, the lead Russian cruiser division gets into close range.  Volleys are being exchanged and damages begin to mount.

Photo by Ed
The three Russian battle divisions continued their steady advance, with the 1st and 2nd divisions steaming straight ahead, while the 3rd Division and its attached cruisers slowly swing to port to meet the advancing Japanese cruisers.

Photo by Jim
Those ships that had targets open fire, some concentrating their fires and others firing at their opposite numbers.  In the background, the Russian cruiser Oleg is on fire.

Photo by Jim
 The several Japanese cruiser divisions find a lucrative target, the Russian 3rd Battle Division, composed of one obsolete battleship (Imperator Nikolai I), which is turning out of the line due to severely reduced speed, and the three coastal defense ships - General-Admiral Graf Aprazin, Admiral Senyavin, and Admiral Ushakov.  The Apraxin and Ushakov have been set afire by the Japanese shells.

Photo by Ed
But the Japanese aren't immune to fires as the ex-Chinese battleship Chinyen begins to burn.  However, the efficient crew quickly puts out the fire.

Photo by Ed
 The Russian 1st Cruiser Division (foreground) is hit hard by Japanese shells.  The cruiser Oleg (division flag) takes a number of hits that start two fires.  The Japanese cruisers in the middle ground are also hit but the Russians only start one fire.

Photo by Ed
The Japanese 1st Battle Division (background) and 2nd Battle Division (foreground) maneuver against the Russian battleships (out of picture to left).  The Japanese armored cruisers are taking some hits but the range is still too long.

Photo by Jim
Meanwhile over on the far left of the battle area, Japanese protected cruiser Akitshushima can't take any more hits and sinks in a cloud of steam.  Two of her consorts are badly damaged and are turning away from the heavier Russian ships.

Photo by Ed
In the center, the Russian cruiser Oleg succumbs to Japanese shells and sinks in a cloud of fire and steam, taking the division commander to a watery grave.  Fires still burn on a Japanese cruiser in the background.

Photo by Jim
The Japanese cruiser Otowa, newly launched and having just joined the fleet, can't stand the heavy Russian shellfire and also sinks.

Photo by Ed
Jim (left, Russian 3rd Division commander) and Jay (right, Japanese protected cruiser divisions commander) adjudicate shellfire on each other's ships.  The battle between Jim's older battleship and coast defense ships and Jay's older protected cruisers was fast and furious all game long.  The two friends have been gaming against each other since college days in the early 1970s!

Photo by Jim
All of a sudden, world history on this timeline is changed!  After the Oleg was sunk last turn, the cruiser Aurora takes the lead in the Russian 1st Cruiser Division column.  But even this never-to-be historic ship can't withstand the concentrated Japanese gunfire and he sinks in flame and steam.  Will the Russian Revolution ever start without the brave sailors from the Aurora leading the way?  Of course it will!

Photo by Ed
In the foreground, the Japanese armored cruiser Azuma has her rudder jammed by a lucky Russian shell hit and turns out of the battleline.  In the middle ground, the 1st and 2nd Russian Battle Divisions and the remnants of the 1st Cruiser Division attempt to maneuver around the Japanese 1st Battle Division (back ground).

Photo by Jim
 With the ex-Chinese battleship Chinyen taking fire in the foreground, the old Japanese cruiser Hashidate falls prey to the guns of the Russian 2nd Battle Division (off picture to right, see below).

Photo by Jim
While the battleships of the Russian 2nd Battle Division target Japanese cruisers to their left, the next Russian cruiser in line, the obsolete Dmitri Donskoi, is hit too many times.  Burning and belching steam, he plunges to Davey Jones' locker.  In the background, two of the new Russian battleships are being hit by fire from the Japanese battleships.

Photo by Ed
 In the foreground, the Japanese 1st Battle Division maneuvers to stay between the Russian battleships and their far away refuge in Vladivostok.

Photo by Jim
One of those new Russian battleships, the Borodino, is targeted by several Japanese battleships whose shells start a raging fire.  With the bridge hit and funnels badly damaged, he still limps towards the Japanese battleships.

Photo by Jim
Suddenly, the Japanese armored cruisers of the 2nd Battle Division become targets with fires started on three cruisers by Russian shells.  But their well-trained crews quickly extinguish the blazes and they continue to maintain a heavy fire against the Russian ships.

Photo by Jim
The Russian flagship, the battleship Knyaz Suvurov, is hit and begins to burn fiercely.  Fortunately the crew responds heroically to the threats and manages to extinguish the fires in short order.

Photo by Jim
Two Japanese battleships (Mikasa in lead and Fuji), although hit hard and ablaze, close on the beleagured Russian 2nd Battle Division.  Even things look bleak for these four Russian sinks, none of them were sunk.

So who won this recreation of the Battle of Tsu-Shima?

The Japanese started with 4 modern battleships, 1 obsolete ex-Chinese battleship, 8 modern armored cruisers, and 11 protected cruisers (a mix of modern and obsolete).  They lost all 11 protected cruisers either sunk or rendered combat ineffective and the ex-Chinese battleship and 1 armored cruiser were forced to withdraw because of damage.  The Russians scored 65 points from this.

The Russians started with 5 modern battleships, 2 older battleships, 1 obsolete battleship and 3 obsolete coast defense ships, 1 modern and 2 obsolete armored cruisers, and 4 modern protected cruisers.  They lost 1 modern battleship and all 3 coast defense ships, 2 obsolete armored cruisers, and 2 modern protected cruisers.  The game master decided that two battleships (1 modern and 1 obsolete) wouldn't last the night against the Japanese destroyers.  The Japanese scored 80 points from this.

While the Japanese won a tactical victory, strategically the action was a draw.  The Russians were able to get 3 modern battleships, 2 older battleships, 1 modern armored cruiser, and 2 modern protected cruisers (half their ships) through the Japanese lines and to dubious safety in Vladivostok.  The big question is whether the Russians will stick their noses out of Vladivostok to engage the successful Japanese.  Only time (and another game) will tell!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dreyfus Affaire

This past Saturday we played two games of my Liftwood and Steam rules, a fast-play VSF ruleset (based on A Sky Full of Ships) I've put together to use with my Aeronef miniatures. The game was based on Steve Blease's Dreyfus Affaire Aeronef scenario, and proved quite fun. In short, the French had to escort the prison transport Triumphant off the table, while the British had to rescue a prisoner from the transport and destroy all witnesses, including the French warships. We had enough time for four players to play two games, at about an hour and a half per game; like I said, it's intended to be a fast-play ruleset.

As always, click on the images to see larger copies of them.

The British battleship Agincourt and the gunships Vulcan, Avenger and Sidon wait for the French transport and her two escorts.

Unknown to the British, several 'nef destined for French Guiana were accompanying the Triumphant as a training exercise. In the distance, the Agincourt comes into view.

To the southwest, more British vessels (the cruisers Exeter and Lahore, and gunships Tiger, Dauntless and Amphion) move in as well.

The Sidon spirals to the water below.

To the west, the Dauntless goes down as several French destroyers move to attack.

The Agincourt turns to the east to intercept the Triumphant as the British and French escorts pass each other in line.

The French destroyers Aquilon and Vaubon are devastated by the Agincourt's concentrated fire, while the cruisers Linois and Jeanne la Pucelle destroy the Avenger.

The Exeter and Lahore move into line as they approach the island, with the French destroyers harassing their flank. A torpedo destroyer soon will get a line on the Exeter, inflicting severe damage before later being destroyed.

The Exeter suffered rudder damage in the rocket attack, forcing her into a turn to starboard. Fortunately her captain wanted to turn that way regardless, and the crew was able to repair the damaged rudder quickly. Here, she moves in on the fleeing Triumphant as French cruisers do for the Vulcan and move to take on the Agincourt.

The Agincourt sends the Jeanne la Pucelle in pieces to the waters below.

The Linois finally breaks the Exeter. The Triumphant flees past her toward safety.

The Linois comes apart under the withering fire of the Agincourt and Lahore. With no ships to defend her, the Triumphant's captain quiets her engines and strikes her colors, not knowing what awaits.

After a quick lunch we replayed the scenario, mixing up the players a bit. This time, things were a little more... explosive.

The Exeter, Lahore, Dauntless, Tiger and Amphion come in on the east side, while...

The Agincourt, Vulcan, Avenger and Sidon move in from the west.

The French divide their forces: the Jeanne la Pucelle moves against the Agincourt while the Linois escorts the Triumphant away from the battleship (but toward the enemy cruisers).

Torpedoes (unreliable but devastating one-shot weapons in these rules) from the French destroyers obliterate the gunboat Dauntless and heavily damage the Exeter.

The Exeter comes apart under more fire, but she and the Lahore do in a French destroyer in exchange.

A barrage of torpedoes from the last of the torpedo destroyers does for the gunboat Sidon.

More ships of both sides are knocked from the sky. The Triumphant takes fire from the gunships as well, damaging her to the point that she strikes her colors. Now the French must destroy or run off all the British ships to prevent her capture.

In the end, the French fail again. The British recover the spy and then destroy the transport, leaving no witnesses of the rescue.