Showing posts with label trafalgar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trafalgar. Show all posts

Friday, 24 October 2014


It's not often you fight an action where the name of the rules and the name of the battle are the same, but that's what we did tonight, two days after the 209th anniversary of Trafalgar. And we used the 'Trafalgar' rules.

To be fair, we didn't fight the whole battle. Ralph devised a scenario which pitted the lead ships of Collingwood's column against the Allied ships they were matched against in the actual battle. It can be assumed that other ships were around; we just focused on a subset of the ones present.

Both sides had six ships. Peter and mark took the British, whilst I took the Allies. Ralph umpired and Dave watched. Caesar wasn't there, as he's spent the last three weeks building the chicken-coop to end all chicken-coops.

Here's the Allied ships. Their objective was to get more ships off the end of the table (where Dave is sat) than they lost to the Royal Navy.

Here comes the Royal Navy.

The Royal Sovereign engages two Allied vessels. Being ahead of the rest of the British line, the Royal Sovereign took a fair amount of fire and was rapidly dismasted by surprisingly accurate French and Spanish gunnery.

A long-view of the game. With the objective to get ships to safety I didn't hang around and fight the British; I piled on sail and ran for the edge, reasoning that the bulk of my ships could escape unengaged, thus fulfilling the victory conditions.

The Royal Navy gave chase, but with no speed advantage were never going to be able to do much.

Two ships didn't make it. The French Algeciras lost a couple of masts, and was given a right pounding ...

... but not as much as the Spanish Bahamas, which was a shattered wreck by the end of the game.

The Royal Sovereign was knocked out of the fight early on, but otherwise most of the British ships took relatively little damage. However the action was about the Allied ships escaping to Cadiz, not destroying the Royal Navy so for me this wasn't an issue.

I'm still not sure about 'Trafalgar' as a game, but I can't quite put my finger on what the issue is. Possibly it's that the rules I've mostly played ('Hearts of Oak' and 'Form Line of Battle' tend to keep they gunnery rules fairly simple, and concentrate their efforts on the sailing and management of the vessels, whereas 'Trafalgar' is the other way around with simple sailing rules and a more involved firing process. I'm also not really sure that the firing mechanisms emphasise differences between ships of different sizes or, it has to be said, crew quality. Perhaps I need to organise a game of 'Form Line of Battle' fairly soon, so we can do a comparison whilst this game is still fresh in or minds.

Friday, 17 May 2013

England Expects ...

Ralph hosted last night's game, and we tried the 'Trafalgar' Napoleonic naval rules. It started out with Geoff and I playing, and Ralph umpiring, but Peter turned up later and took a couple of ships.

Geoff had some rascally Dons - three 74s and a 110 first rate. I was the Royal Navy and ran three 74s plus a 100 gunner. Here's my ships heading towards Geoff:

The two lines approach each other, or so it seems. In fact the wind was against me and really I was just trying to keep station whilst Geoff moved towards me.

The Spanish home in on the rear of the British line.

The opening shots - The British 100 (Queen Charlotte) was engaged by the entire Spanish line.

It didn't end well. She caught fire.

Indeed everyone caught fire.

I didn't get any more pictures after that. the Queen Charlotte sank, as did the Spanish Santa Ana. Another Spanish 74 burned to the waterline, or sank. I can't remember which. Indeed all losses were either ships sinking, or burning away/exploding.

I did take one more shot, comparing an old-style Navwar 1/1200th 74 gun ship with a Langton one. There's quite a difference in size.

So, how did the rules work? First, a caveat. My comments are based on just playing one game, and not having actually read the rules. I understand there were a couple of house-rules in play. Bear that in mind when reading anything further.

I have to say that I wasn't thrilled. Perhaps I'm missing the point of the rules in some way, but I felt that there were areas missing or just not handled well. For example, weather changes were frequent and extreme - the wind shifted direction by a high degree turn by turn, and fog seemed to come and go with great regularity. Saying that, the wind didn't seem to make a lot of difference to the game. Unless you were caught aback by one of the frequent swings in direction, your attitude to it had very little effect on your speed - indeed whether you moved last turn had more of an influence than moving into a more favourable attitude. Crew quality and training had an influence on movement, but virtually no effect on firing, except at the longest ranges. I may be wrong, but in a straight fight between two ships of a roughly equal strength the clincher would generally be how quickly crews could fire and reload guns, with better training and experience giving the edge. 'Trafalgar' didn't reflect that; the poorest crews fight their guns as well as the elite ones.

So would I play 'Trafalgar' again? Yes, certainly. You can't judge a set of rules by one game, especially one where most people are learning the ropes. But I've played a few Napoleonic naval sets over the years, and I didn't find that 'Trafalgar' had anything in it that wasn't done better elsewhere. It was said that a lot of stuff could be tweaked with house-rules, though, so it might be worth looking at that.

To end on a positive note, those Spanish ships are Ralph's, and don't they look great? The sea-mat is one he bought, and looks pretty spectacular as well; it really added to the game.

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