Showing posts with label galleys & galleons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label galleys & galleons. Show all posts

Friday, 2 February 2018

Pirate Attack - Again

I taught Geoff and Ralph the basics of Galleys and Galleons last night, with Ralph running a couple of pirate ships against Geoff's convoy of three merchant vessels.

I had Geoff roll for three terrain pieces - on a 1-2 it would be an island, 3-4 a sandbank and 5-6 shallows. He rolled three islands, which he used to create a cunning diagonal channel allowing his ships to cross the table with their flank covered from the pirates.

Ralph had to steer around the islands, leaving him intercepting the merchant vessels in the final third of their run to safety.

One of Geoff's ships broke formation, and Ralph pursued. Geoff's plan seemed to be to use the lead ship to draw off the pirates, whilst the other two slipped past upwind of them.

Ralph ran aboard the merchant and sent in the swashbucklers.

I managed not to take any photos after that point. Ralph's boarding action almost took the merchant vessel, but at the last minute Geoff managed a storing activation roll which allowed him to cut grapples and escape. Unfortunately the panicked crew then steered the ship off the table outside of the exit point, but doing so conceded fewer points then the ship being sunk or captured.

The other two merchants were harassed by the smaller pirate vessel. One of them was grappled, but escaped before being captured (more great rolling by Geoff), and managed a cheeky final broadside which badly damaged the pirate before escaping. When the pirate tried to board the other merchant vessel things went well initially, but the merchant crew rallied and counter-boarded, capturing the pirate.

With two ships escaped and one of the pirates captured, Geoff won a convincing victory, although the game was closer than it sounds.

We had a good turnout so there were other games on the go as well. as well as a game of Team Yankee (unpictured) there was this big battle DBA game ...

With loads of elephants.

Update: Here are the ship stats we used.

Pirate Galleon (66) - Q3 C3 - Galleon Rig, Swashbucklers, Charismatic, Chasers
Aspiring Pirate (30) - Q4 C2 - Square Rig, Swashbucklers, Derring-Do, Yare, Chasers
Merchant (30) - Q4 C3 - Galleon Rig, Merchant, High Castles, Pilot

Monday, 22 January 2018

Pirate Attack!

A dramatic title for what was a rather quick game of Galleys & Galleons. I'd like to say I was trying out more rules I hadn't explored before, but I wasn't; I just set up the Pirate Galleon from the rules chasing two Merchant Galleons, (also lifted straight from the rules).

It all started in a promising fashion. The merchants used their Pilot ability to cut close to an island rather than run into the middle of the board and close proximity to the pirate.

As the pirate approached they each fired a broadside. Both merchants scored criticals, and both criticals were fires.

The pirate blew up.

As I said; a quick game.

I ran it again, with a more cautious approach from the pirate this time. The pirate fired a broadside at the lead merchant who (you've guessed it) promptly caught fire and blew up. The other merchant fired a broadside which damaged the pirate's rudder. The time the pirate lost turning into the chase meant that the merchant managed to build up a decent lead. A pirate with the Razee ability could have closed the gap, but this was a simple chase downwind involving two ships of equal speed. The pirate kept up a steady fire from its chasers, but couldn't score the crippling critical it needed to bring the merchant to a halt. So one merchant was destroyed and the other escaped; probably not a win for the pirates, nor for the stockholders.

I have, however, been thinking about how criticals affect movement. There are six means of locomotion in Galleys & Galleons: Sail, Oars, Steam, Unorthodox, Ornithopter and Gyrocopter. A 'Rigging' critical affects each one differently, but not at the same rate. Some methods suffer an effect from the first critical, then suffer a total loss of propulsion from the second. Others can take two hits, with the third causing a loss of propulsion. My view is that the first four listed (Sail, Oars, Steam and Unorthodox) should all be able to take a two step loss, with the third hit immobilising the vessel. (Ornithopters and Gyrocopters are supposed to be fragile, so I am happy with their one step loss; a second 'Rigging' critical actually destroys them.) Sail and Unorthodox both take two criticals with the third immobilising, so all is good there. Really all I need to do is house-rule Steam and Oars, both of which are totally lost after two hits. But I haven't decided how I'll do this yet.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ghost Ships

Having got my Galleys & Galleons head back on I played another game this afternoon. One thing I've not tried yet are the magic rules, so I decided to see how they work out. I put together a force consisting of a galleon escorting three merchant ships. The galleon carried a priest (theurgist) because in these waters lurked ...

Ghost-ships! A ghostly galleon and two boatloads of spectral warriors.

All three of these vessels were Spectral, and I also gave them all the Unorthodox trait, which makes their movement unpredictable, but unaffected by the wind. I thought it would nicely reflect some kind of magical propulsion.

The convoy deftly negotiated some shallows.

Unfortunately it then failed to turn to avoid the shallows around an island, and one of the ships scraped its bottom.

It all got a bit messy. The final ship in the convoy was obviously not going to safely clear the island by following the others, so broke off to go around the other way.

Meanwhile the ghost ships were blundering around trying to move into position. The Unorthodox trait makes life very difficult indeed; more than I thought.

The two galleons approached. The priest tried his exorcism ritual against the spectral foe, but to no effect.

A boat full of intimidating spectral warriors slipped past the galleon and menaced one of the merchant ships ...

... who slipped away after firing an ineffective broadside.

The galleons passed each other. Both fired broadsides and the escort was damaged, but the priest's ritual also bore fruit, damaging the ghost-ship.

The spectral ships continued to blunder about, unable to turn fast enough to catch the convoy.

The lone merchantman that had gone the other way found a ghostly boat in its path, but was able to evade it.

The escort turned up into the wind and fired more broadsides. The priest blessed the cannon as they fired, and the now holy weapons caused severe damage to the ghostly galleon.

The lone merchantman escaped, although not via the designated exit point.

Still, the other two did.

Then, finally, the escort.

The escort galleon took one hit from firing, and one merchant vessel had damage from the shallows. Otherwise the convoy escaped unscathed.

Basically a group of ships with Unorthodox propulsion are very difficult to control or coordinate, relying as they do on activations for even the most basic moves and even then having no idea how far that move will be. It's very much a trait for a one-off ship in a force I suspect. I might retry this scenario with more points loaded onto the Ghostly Galleon (and a higher Q value) and maybe drop the boats.

Here are the ship stats:

Escort Galleon - Q3 C3 - Galleon Rig, Drilled Soldiers, Chasers, Magic User: Theurgist, Razee, Trained Gun Crews

Merchantmen x 3 - Q4 C2 - Galleon Rigged, Merchantman, Veteran NCOs

Boats of Spectral Warriors - Q2 C2 - Intimidating, Iron Grapples, Spectral, Unorthodox, Unarmed

Ghostly Galleon - Q3 C4 - Spectral, Unorthodox

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Return to the Azores

I've been meaning to get Galleys & Galleons out for a while, but with finishing off my Six by Six Challenge last year, and getting delightfully caught up in the Portable Wargame after Christmas I hadn't got around to it. This afternoon, though, I managed a quick game, replaying the Ambush in the Azores game I played almost exactly one year ago today. In this game, a Portuguese treasure-ship heading home from the Indies is ambushed by two English galleons.

The treasure-ship Nossa Senhora da Guia, accompanied by two escort brigs, Flor de la Mar and Cinco Chagas.

In the distance are the two English galleons, Auk of Onan and Popinjay. They are faster than the Portuguese galleon, but much lighter. Whilst the Nossa Senhora da Guia worked downwind to avoid the sandbank in the middle of the board, the two brigs moved across the wind in order to attack the English from the rear.

First fire! the Portuguese galleon fired a mighty broadside at the lead English ship, the Auk of Onan, damaging it.

The English returned fire, but failed to make an impression on the Portuguese leviathan.

Faster and more agile, the English raked the Nossa Senhora da Guia, but still couldn't damage it.

There followed several turns of terrible activation rolls for both sides. All three ships basically spent their efforts in turning to avoid islands and each other; despite being at close range, no-one was able to use their activation rolls to fire.

Popinjay collided with Nossa Senhora da Guia, but neither ship was damaged.

The Nossa Senhora da Guia was heading for the exit point, whilst the escort brigs were finally coming up in support. Fire from one brig damaged the Auk of Onan, and a shot from the Portuguese galleon's chasers crippled it.

The Cinco Chagas collided with the Auk of Onan, and both ships were so badly damaged that they sunk.

This left the Nossa Senhora da Guia free to escape, giving the Portuguese a decisive win.

It took me a few turns to get back into the swing of the rules, but they soon came back to me. As ever tracking the ship's relative positioning with regard to the wind was the biggest drain on my frazzled brain, and I may need to make myself a gadget to assist with that.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Battle of Balnibarbi

When Swift edited and published Lemuel Gulliver's account of his various travels in 1726, the British government read them with interest. Here were a whole range of new nations with who trade links could be opened up. Of special interest to them was the island of Balnibarbi, which offered a combination of innovative thinkers, exportable agriculture and a tyrant king who could be overthrown and replaced with a British-friendly ruler.

So in 1727 a naval expedition was dispatched to Balnibarbi, consisting of a man o'war, a frigate and a troop transport.

Since Gulliver's visit, the people of Balnibarbi had upped their game when it came to resisting their king. Famous for their scientific thinkers, the 'projectors', they decided to put their mighty brains to work looking at ways of fighting back. Vessels were built, powered by innovation and Science!, and each equipped with an ivory tower. The projecters were left to innovate and create whatever weaponry they could devise. What could go wrong?

When the British naval expedition arrived, they were met by a flotilla of Balnibarbian vessels. The Balnibarbians had even mastered flight, and had an ornithopter accompanying their force.

Their king was not happy with this new alliance, and moved to attack the Balnibarbians with Laputa, his flying island. The Laputans had not been idle since Gulliver's visit; the island was accompanied by a war-balloon and an armoured galleon.

Others were unhappy at British interference in the area. The Coast Brotherhood, the world's most dangerous coalition of Pyrates, dispatched two of their members, Sheba the She-Wolf and Firebeard, to sort the issue out. They quickly allied with the Laputans, and also found favour with the magician of Glubbdubdrib, who summoned a crew of spectral pirates to accompany them.

And so battle was joined for another Thursday evening game of Galleys & Galleons. On one side, Dave and I played the British/Balnibarbian Alliance. The British force were conventional sailing vessels, whereas the Balnibarbians had a mix of exotic weaponry and ships powered by unorthodox means. Against the were Casar, running the Laputans and their massive flying island, and Daniel, who took the Pyrates (with a 'y').

The battle opened with the Balnibarbians moving to engage the Pyrates. However the exotic propulsion caused them some issues actually getting their ships into position. And, in this case, bringing a mighty bronze ramming spike into play on Sheba's ship.

The ornithopter had more success, with its little gun damaging Sheba's rigging. One of the other Balnibarbians vessels used its scientifically-aimed guns to shoot at Sheba's ship, damaging it and putting a rip in her leopard-print catsuit. Sulking she retired below decks and refused to command any further.

Meanwhile the Laputans were moving up on the British, who were stuck upwind of their Balnibarbian allies and, indeed, the rest of the action. The Balnibarbian ornithoper took a minor hit, but its pilot was a craven coward, and ditched his aircraft in the sea in response.

The massive island began firing on the naval vessels, who struggled to get into a good position to fight back. A lucky hit from the man o'war did damage the island's propulsion, however, locking it into its current speed. However Caesar rolled like a demon, causing a mass of critical hits on the Navy, killing all of their captains, damaging rigging and smashing rudders.

The Navy's frigate collided with Sheba's ship. Sheba survived unscathed. The frigate sank.

Chaos! To the left the Balnibarbians were still having trouble bringing their vessels into action. Laputa was flying slowly off the board, unable to change course fast enough to stop it. The Pyrates were spread out, with Sheba firing long-range shots from one side, and Firebeard moving along the bottom of the picture. The spectral pyrates took little part in the action. The British were now utterly battered by the island of Laputa, and were being finished off by the war-balloon's bombs and the armoured galleon. In the centre one of the Banibarbian vessels was burning. It burned to the waterline, and sank.

Firebeard madly led his crew into a boarding action against the Navy's man o'war and, in a brisk fight, captured it. Aaaaarrrr!

In a nice bookend, the Balnibarbian ram once again failed to get close enough to Sheba to ram her. At that point we called an end to the game, with the Laputan/Pyyrate Alliance having secured a decisive victory. The Royal Navy lost a three ships, struck, boarded or sunk. The Balnibarbians lost their ornithopter and one of their ships. The Laputans and Pyrates, whilst damaged, lost nothing.

This was great fun to research, devise and set up, with tons of weird and wonderful traits and rules in play and a mix of different tactical options for the ships. Laputa is a very powerful piece, but is unwieldy and can be vulnerable to criticals.

I guess that what you really want to see are the stats for the ships. Each force was roughly 175pts


Q5 C6 - 72pts - Pilot, Airship, Steam Engine, Flagship, Bombs, Heavy Bow Chasers, Heavy Stern Chasers, Reinforced Hull, High Castles, Sluggish

Bomb Balloon
Q3 C2 - 34pts - Airship, Square Rigged, Unarmed, Bombs, Bombardier

Armoured Galleon
Q3 C4 - 68pts - Square Rig, Ironclad, Master Gunner


Small Experimental Vessel 1
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Ramming, High Castles, Unarmed

Small Experimental Vessel 2
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Fiery Blast, High Castles, Unarmed

Large Experimental Vessel
Q3 C4 - 58pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, High Castles, Unarmed, Heavy Bow Chasers, Master Gunner

Q4 C0 - 17pts - Ornithopter, Bow Chasers, Yare, Aerobatics

Royal Navy

Man O’War
Q4 C4 - 78pts - Galleon Rig, Drilled Soldiers, Master Gunner, Trained Gun Crews, High Castles, Veteran NCOs, Fiddler, Chasers

Q3 C3 - 74pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Drilled Soldiers, Trained Gun Crews, Veteran NCOs, Chasers

Armed Transport
Q4 C3 - 20pts - Square Rig, Merchantman, Drilled Soldiers

Sheba The She-Wolf
Q3 C4 - 70pts - Galleon Rig, Charismatic, Swashbucklers

Q3 C2 - 50pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Swashbucklers, Derring Do
Glubbdubdribbian Spectral Pirates
Q3 C3 - 54pts - Square Rig, Spectral, Intimidating

Thanks to Dave, Caesar and Daniel for a hugely entertaining game.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Arkansas On The Yazoo

On 15th July 1862 the ironclad ram CSS Arkansas was proceeding down the Yazoo River, when it ran into a squadron of Union vessels; the armoured gunboat Carondolet, the timberclad gunboar Tyler and the ram Queen of the West. In the action that followed, the Carondolet was run aground, and the other two ships ran back to the safety of their own fleet back on the Mississippi. The Arkansas followed them, running the gauntlet of the whole Union fleet before finding safety under the guns of Vicksburg.

I thought that the action deserved a scenario, and reasoned that it would be an interesting exercise to try and run it with Galleys and Galleons. I laid out a river terrain, with a couple of offshore islands for extra navigational difficulty, and came up with the following ship stats:

CSS Arkansas - Q3 C4 - 110pts - Steam Engine, Ironclad, Ramming, Heavy Bow Chasers, Heavy Stern Chasers, Fiddler

Carondolet - Q2 C4 - 82pts - Steam Engine, Ironclad, Heavy Bow Chasers, Stern Chasers, Shallow Draft

Queen of the West - Q4 C2 - 29pts - Steam Engine, Unarmed, Ramming, Chasers, Shallow Draft

Tyler - Q3 C3 - 48pts - Steam Engine, Reinforced Hull, Chasers

The Union have a distinct points advantage in the scenario so I added in a bonus for the Confederates. At the start of each of the Arkansas's turns it rolls a D6. On a '6' it may deploy a group of Confederate troop on any river-bank or island, not within M of a Union ship. They are then considered part of the Confederate force for the rest of the game. 

Confederate Troops - Q4 C1 - 23pts - Bastion
Special Rule - Treat ‘Heated Shot’ as 'Sharpshooters'. Any critical has a 50% chance of being Captain Killed and a 50% chance of Rudder Hit. Criticals from normal shooting are determined normally; it's assumed the troops have a gun or two with them.

In addition I applied the Edge of the World rule from the basic rules. The Union ships were set up 2xL from the Edge of the World. The Arkansas was set up 1 x L from the other end of the river. I didn't set any victory conditions; destroying or damaging ships seemed to be the obvious objective for both sides.

A blurry shot of the Arkansas.

The Union flotilla: from foreground to background, Tyler, Carondolet and Queen of the West.

The Confederates got lucky some soldiers deployed on the first turn. However they were the only ones to appear all game and, although they kept up a steady fire on the Tyler, it was at too long range to have any effect on the game.

The ships approach each other, and build up speed.

The Queen of the West turned to try and swing around and ram the Arkansas which, meanwhile, was turning in on the Carondolet and Tyler.

The Carondolet turned out of danger, and the ships exchanged broadsides. The Arkansas' gunnery was abysmal, but the Union gunners were shooting better and damaged the Confederate vessel's engines.

The Arkansas rammed the Tyler, but it was a glancing blow and inflicted only minor damage.

The Arkansas now came under a steady and accurate fire from both the Tyler and Carondolet. An early shot hit its engines again, disabling it and leaving it a sitting target. The Confederate gunners seemed to be asleep, inflicting no damage in return.

Eventually the Tyler forced the Confederate ironclad to strike.

I decided to run the game again, but with some adjustments. There's a real feeling in this action that the Union were floundering a little, so I downgraded all of their ships to Q4. This would reduce their ability to react, and to fire full broadsides. In addition I added in the reload rules, forcing the Union to spend precious actions to bring their broadsides into action. Finally I added Carronades to the Arkansas, to reflect the fact tat in this, and the subsequent fight against the Union fleet, the Arkansas could fire wild, knowing that all ships in the area were enemies.

No troops appeared in this game. It wasn't long enough.

The ships closed again.

The Queen of the West turned towards the Arkansas. The Confederates decided to risk the ram, and fired at the approaching Union ship, once again inflicting no damage at all. The Union vessel fired its bow gun. A fire started on the Arkansas ...

... which started a second fire in the powder magazine. The Arkansas exploded.

Despite the Arkansas losing badly in both games, I still think that this scenario has some potential. Galleys and Galleons does a great job of reflecting unpredictability and misfortune in naval actions, and when you only have one ship unfortunate events can end the game quickly. But they can also apply equally to the opposing vessels as well, and with Q4 enemies there's plenty of opportunity for these to run aground or collide. I shall give this action another go at some stage.

The ships are 1/1200th, mostly from Navwar, except the Tyler which is from a long-dead company called Zodiac Miniatures. The 6mm Confederate troops are from Heroics & Ros.

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