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

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.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

I tried a variant of the 'Release The Kraken' scenario for 'Galleys and Galleons' the other day, with the attackers having to deal with a moving target before the creature appears.

So, a steam-warship heads across the ocean, bound for home.

But danger lurks in the form of the notorious Captain Nemo in the Nautilus.

The ship cruises on unaware, until a lookout spots something below the surface off the starboard bow.

The Nautilus surfaces and fires, and its first shot rips a massive hole below the warship's waterline, crippling it.

The ship is finished off with a ram. It sinks in minutes, with all hands lost.

The action has disturbed a creature from the deep, however - a giant octopus. It immediatle grapples the Nautilus in its powerful tentacles.

Nemo charges his ship's hull with electricity, and injures the massive mollusc, but not before it damages his submersible. He pulls away and attempts to escape.

But the octopus swiftly pursues, and grabs the ship again.

This time there is no escape - Nemo and his ship are dragged to the depths of the ocean, never to be seen again.

The stats for the vessels are as follows:

Nautilus - Q3 C3 - 94pts - Steam Engine, Ramming, Submersible, Reinforced Hull, Chasers, Razee, Marksmen, Unarmed

Warship - Q4 C2 - 23pts - Steam Engine, Bow Chaser

Octopus - Q4 C4 - 72pts - Submersible, Creature, Swashbucklers, Intimidating

The Warship is the equivalent of the Bastion in the original scenario. It starts in one corner heading directly for the opposite corner with its initial speed set at S. May not roll for activations until Nautilus fires on, rams or grapples it, or ends its turn on the surface within L or submerged within M. Until then, the Warship gets one free activation per turn, which can be used to make the minimum course or speed changes necessary to avoid terrain.

The Octopus appears as per rules for damaging the fort in the ‘Release The Kraken’ scenario.

Victory conditions are the same as the original scenario.

The models are from a mix of sources. The Warship is the USS Harriet Lane from my Navwar ACW collection. The Nautilus is a Thales class corvette from Dystopian Wars - I picked up a pack of these for $5 at Cancon. And the Octopus is a 3D print from this collection.

Here's some pictures and details of a similar scenario which I played ten years ago, using a different set of rules. And a Lego Nautilus.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Weekend Galleys & Galleons

I headed down to Cancon this Saturday, and a brief report will follow, including the obligatory bloggers meet-up photo. However I also found time to play more Galleys and Galleons this weekend, choosing to play rather than photograph and blog reports. But I took a couple of photos of two of the three games. In the first a pair of pirate ships attacked a small fort, but were themselves attacked by a ghostly galleon. Both pirate ships escaped, although one didn't manage to leave by the designated exit area, so didn't count for points. The other lost a chunk of rigging, but evaded the galleon by virtue of being able to apply a speed boost from the razee ability.

I actually ran the ghostly galleon with the Unorthodox movement ability, which meant that it needed actions to move and its speed was unpredictable, but that it wasn't worried about the wind direction. It made for an interesting matchup.

Yesterday evening I tried out some more lacepulp stuff, as the Laputan navy took on a force of Chinese pirates. The Laputans had a dirigible bomber, an ironclad galleon and, of course, their flying island. The Chinese had a couple of war-junks, and three man-carrying kites, rated as square-rigged airships with very, very low C values. Two of the kites were equipped with derring-do swashbucklers, which would give them a single decent boarding action apiece, whilst the third was equipped with rockets (rated as a fiery attack). The junks were pretty much straight from the book. You can see everything in action here.

The wind shifted badly against the Chinese, which meant that they couldn't bring their kites into the attack. The assault kites were fully capable of capturing the Island of Laputa, if they could get close enough, but they couldn't. They were shot out of the sky one after the other by the island's massive gun-batteries. However the junks worked upwind and were able to attack and capture the ironclad galleon. One of the junks was lost in the fight, but the other then proceeded to hit the dirigible bomber with a lucky shot which saw it explode. With just a junk on one side and the flying island on the other, I reasoned that the Chinese would run for home, but the junk had to slip past the island first. The two models traded broadsides, and two lucky hits saw the Island of Laputa crippled and on fire. As the junk sailed for safety, the island crashed into the sea and was lost.

I didn't get any pictures of the other game I played, but it was a rerun of the fight between Henry Avery and the Mughal Fleet. I upgraded the pirate ships to have chasers, whilst the Mughals were dropped to lateen-rigged, but added in two extra ships. The fight started well for the pirates, with Avery diving boldly into the midst of the Mughal fleet, causing it to break up in confusion. However as he turned to exploit his advantage, a lucky shot from one of the smallest merchant ships started a fire, and his ship exploded. The other two pirates did the best they could, and caused damage throughout the fleet, but the Mughals made their escape mostly intact, having sunk one pirate and forcing the other to flee the action in confusion.

Since I know people will ask, here's the Island of Laputa in all its glory. It's a 3D printed castle hex-tile, with a rocky underside made from pieces of cork tile, and the whole thing mounted on a flying stand made from a clear plastic pot. I have used the lid of the pot as the basic stand, for when it is a sea-level, and can then put the lid on the pot itself for high-altitude action.

And the game stats:

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

With a low Q value, the Flagship ability at least means that the island gets to do something each turn. The Heavy Bow and Stern Chasers means that it has a decent all-round firing capability, assuming it gets the actions to do it. It's not fast, nor is it maneuverable, but it can just aim for a point on the table and then sit there taking on all-comers.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Legend of the Shachihoko

Off the coast of ancient Japan, raiders move in from the sea.

A fortified fishing village remains unaware ...

... until sails are sighted on the horizon.

The first raiders rush ashore, but the villagers see them off with spear and bow.

But more raiders attack. The village put up a desperate defence. Many raiders fall. More villager fall.

The village burns.

But the island shakes. The sea boils ...

... and a mighty Shachihoko appears to avenge the fishermen.

It lunges forward, crushing one of the ships beneath its massive body.

It's fearsome jaws destroy a second.

The third ship attempts to escape, but soon the monster is on them as well. They fight back, and wound it with arrows, but its jaws snap left and right and soon the crew of that ship are devoured.

The village is avenged, and the Sachihoko returns beneath the waves.

This is the 'Release the Kraken' scenario from the main Galleys and Galleons rules, and was a chance to try out the rules for both Bastions and Creatures. The attackers must destroy a fort in the centre of the table, which will trigger the appearance of a creature. They must then get as many ships off the board as they can. In this game they got the fort, but none of them escaped.

In fact my Bastion was a little non-standard, in that it had no ranged weapons beyond small-arms. But then neither did the attackers. I allowed ships to grapple the island, and launch boarding actions against the village, and that seemed to work OK, representing landing parties in an effective, playable but abstract way.

Village- Q4 C2 - Bastion, Unarmed, Veteran NCOs, Marksmen - 27pts
(The Veteran NCOs and Marksmen represent them defending their village from the walls. Marksmen was horribly effective, and I may give the Reinforced Hull if I did this again, so they have defence against small arms)

Raiders - Q3 C3 - Square Rig, Sweeps, Unarmed, Shallow Draft, Intimidating - 36pts
(Shallow Draft was a given, seeing as the ships had to run right up to the land. And, yes, they are Viking ships. I was going to add an extra bit to the story about them being lost Vikings, but they can just as easily be local pirates/raiders))

The Shachihoko - Q4 C4 - Creature, Submersible, Intimidating, Reinforced Hull, Ramming - 83pts
(The Shachihoko is a real creature from Japanese folklore, although I'm not sure they are as monstrous as the one in this scenario. It is a creature with the body of a carp and the head of a tiger, and figures of them are often used as decorations on the eaves of buildings as they are said to have magical powers to control water and defend against fire. If you made this a magical creature, it would probably be a hydromancer.)

And the most important feature of this game? It is the first I've played where all of the figures were 3D printed.

Here is a link to the Shachihoko

Here is a link to the set containing the ships - I rescaled them; the original is about 40mm long; I went for 25mm.

The village/fort can be found in this set.
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