Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Last DANG post for the year

I always like to read about how others saw the DANG game. I always seem to hear something I missed or some general thoughts that people have now that they have had a chance to reflect on the game.

So, here are the links to a couple blog posts and photos from the game.

Kevin's DANG blog post - with pictures and video from his new camera.

David's DANG blog post - with some really nice pictures (David has the best camera in the group).

Dale's Photos - Dale took a bunch of photos this year and provided a link to his photos from DANG 2009.

Now on to planning project for 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DANG 2010: The Lepanto Campaign

With the fleets done, the rules printed, and everything in place; I was ready for DANG day to arrive.

Everyone began arriving at my place around 9:30 AM and we spent the next hour saying hi, catching up on things, talking about the projects we are all working on and planning, along with various movie and book reviews (which also continued throughout the day).

After a short review of all the rules (we used David Manley's Christian Fire and Turkish Fury rules for the tactical game and my own home brew operational rules), we split up sides for the game, with Scott, Dale, Mark and George playing the Holy League and Paul, David S., Kevin, and Dave C. playing the Ottomans. Each side then took some time to review the positions of their squadrons and select the Fleet Leaders for their side. I had provided each side with a list of leaders from which they had to select 3 Fleet Leaders. The overall commander for each side was already set with the historical figure, Don Juan de Austria for the Holy League and Ali Pasha for the Ottomans. Each leader had a Leadership Rating, used to determine what the leadership would be for the tactical battle, and a short description meant to give the players an idea if there would be any special rules associated with the leader (some leaders had restrictions on what squadrons they could attach to, or special combat bonuses).
Campaign Game Operational Map with Fleet Markers
We were now ready to start the operational moves. I created a short set of rules for operational movement to provide some variety before getting to the main fleet battle and to provide each side with a chance to earn some extra victory points for raiding the enemy coast. Each side's squadrons were a bit spread out at the start and no one knew exactly where the opposing squadrons were.

The Holy League making an operational move.
My expectation was that both sides would try to consolidate their forces as quickly as possible and then run a few raids before attacking the main enemy fleet, and that was pretty much what happened. 
The Ottoman Fleet moving into place.
The Holy League pulled all but one squadron of their fleet together and conducted a successful raid near Lepanto. Buoyed by their success, they decided to try another raid in the same area, while the Ottomans attempted the same thing on the Venetian colonies on Crete. This time Holy League raid was beaten back, with minimal loses, while the Ottoman raid was repulsed and the boarding ratings for their ships were reduced. Not wanting to fight with reduced boarding, the Ottomans retired back toward Greece to embark fresh troops. The results of these raids caused each side to be a little more wary about conducting raids and instead they decided to move their fleets into a naval action.

In our version, rather than meeting at Lepanto, the fleets ended up finding each other off the southern end of Greece, in what I will call the Battle of Cape Matapan (I know that is the WWII battle, but based on the location on the operational map, it seems like a good name for this action). I laid out some islands to set the battlefield (I created a bit of a choke point, which sort of channeled the battle and may not have been the best choice) and each side set up. The Holy League lost the initiative roll and had to deploy first.

The Holy League decides how to deploy their forces.
A random roll at the start of the battle forced one Holy League wing to be set up in Line Astern formation, but this didn't really hurt them in the end. Rather than dividing up their Galleasses, the League put them all with the center, essentially forming a waterborne grand battery. 
Holy League initial deployment with the Left Wing (bottom), Center (with the Galleasses), and Right Wing (top)
The Ottomans put their biggest squadrons in the center, with the Galliots and a galley squadron on the left (they chose to set up in Line Astern formation). The Fustas were placed with the Barbary squadron (the Ottomans only Elite squadron) in the rearguard. 
Ottoman initial deployment, Left Wing in line astern, Center, Rearguard, and Right Wing
The initial positions viewed from the Holy League side. Note the islands on the left that restricted maneuvering.
With both sides set up, we were ready to begin moving.
The Ottoman Fleet on the move (we made Dave C. point at the ships for the photo).
Initial movement on both sides was hampered by some poor leadership rolls, so there was slow progress to get to contact.  
The Fleets close with each other.
The Holy League on the move.
But the Ottoman left, commanded by Hassan, son of Barbarossa pressed ahead of the other Ottomans (the special rule associated with Hassan said that he had to always move at maximum speed toward the nearest Christian squadron). 
The Ottoman Left Wing closes with the Christians.
This led to the first exchange of cannon fire.
Initial long-range cannon volley against the charging Ottomans.
Followed by the first melee combat.
Working out the first melee combat rolls.
With the melee raging on his right, the Holy League Center moved up to support the Right wing. 
Holy League Center moves up.
While the Ottoman Center also moved to attack.
Ottoman Center moves into position.
The initial fire from the Galleasses sank several Ottoman ships and disordered the 2 squadrons, bringing them to a stop. One squadron was able to reform and attack the Christian line while the Rearguard moved to bypass the stalled squadron and get into action. 
Ottoman Rearguard moves to join the fray.
The Ottomans had engaged in melee on their Left and Center, while the right still lagged behind. One of the Center squadrons remained stalled and continued to be whittled down by long-range cannon fire from the Galleasses.
The Battle Joined
However, the dice turned against the Ottomans as the Left wing collapsed with the loss of all ships and the engaged Center squadron was also wiped out. On the bright side for the Ottomans, the Barbary squadron in the Rearguard destroyed a Holy League squadron and the Right wing was doing well against the Holy League Left wing.
The Holy League Right Wing advances destroying the Ottoman Left Wing.
The Rearguard continued to press forward, destroying another Holy League squadron and a disordered Galleasses. The Right Wing seemed to slowly be winning the battle of attrition, but the outcome was still in question. 
Ottoman Rearguard and Right Wing push ahead.
As the Holy League Right wing and remaining squadrons from the Center turned to engage the Ottoman Rearguard, the Ottoman Right wing finished off the Holy league Left wing in what can only be described as a Pyrrhic Victory.

At this point, with essentially half the players knocked out of the battle, we decided to call the game. Each side had lost one wing (Ottoman Left and Holy League Right). The Holy League Right wing was basically intact, while the Center still had one good squadron and two Galleasses. On the Ottoman side, the Rearguard was intact, there was one severely depleted (and disordered) squadron from the Center and a severely depleted squadron from the Right wing.
Final positions of the battle: On the left the Holy League Right Wing and Center are turning toward the remaining Ottomans. On the right, the remaining Ottomans plan their escape.
We decided to call it a victory for the Holy League, but not as decisive as the historical battle. We expected that events in the Mediterranean would continue along their historical course, while the Barbary squadron from the Rearguard would return home and continue to plague Western shipping for the next couple hundred years.

Overall, I think everyone had a good time and enjoyed the game. We all thought that the Christian Fire and Turkish Fury rules did a good job of portraying squadron level action for the era (the only minor quibble being that people thought the melee combat table would work better rolling 2D6 instead of a D10). We all agreed that we should try to find a copy of the “Greek Fire and Roman Fury” rules that these rules were based on to be able to try out some pre-gunfire galley warfare.

I was pretty pleased with how things turned out for DANG 2010. It is always a lot of work to put together and I often end up with extra food and beer (although that really isn't a problem) after the event, but the games usually turn out to be a whole lot of fun, making it worth all the work.

There were a lot of other photos taken during the game and I'll post links to the other blogs and photo sites when the other participants get them up.

Thanks to everyone for showing up for the game.
2010 DANG participants: Mark, Dave C., David S. Kevin, Scott, Dale, George, me, and Paul.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Old Turks

The Ottoman Fleet is completed and mounted. As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to use a darker brown for the Ottoman hulls. But because of the size of the ships and the limitations of my camera, the Ottoman ships look a lot like the Holy League ships.

As with the Holy League ships, the main place for adding color is the awning at the aft end of the ships and the flags. Most of the pictures I saw during my research showed the Ottoman ships with green and red awnings and flags, with crescent moons and stars on them. I tried to do this with my ships, but at 1/2400 scale, most of the moons and stars turned out to be blobs or lines. That said, I think it gives the right impression for the scale.
Ottoman Galleys and flagships
After getting everything painted, I mounted all the ships on 3mm thick wooden bases from Litko. The bases are 20mm by 40mm and I gave them a blue coat of paint so they wouldn't stand out too much on the playing surface. Overall, I think they turned out looking nice and will provide a good place to grab to ships.
Ottoman Flagship, Fusta, Galliot, and Galley
One issue I have with some of the ships was how to distinguish between the Ottoman galleys and galliots. The galliot bases are only slightly smaller than the standard galley bases and the ship models basically look the same. I finally decided to just add a marker to the galliot bases, even though that sort of ruins the overall look of the bases. 
Size Comparison - Galliot, Galley, and Fusta
Now that both sides are completed, all that is left is to start the battle.
The Ottoman Fleet, ready to meet the infidels.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Renaissance Man

I've been working on getting the fleets ready for the DANG Lepanto project. I had ordered the 1/2400 scale Figurehead ships back at the end of October, but it took until the beginning of December for all the ships to actually arrive. I don't really blame the place I ordered the ships from, since I asked for five fleet packs plus some other packs to round out the mix(it works out to 81 ships) and I didn't really expect them to have all those ships on hand.

While I was waiting for the ships, I did some research to figure out how I wanted to paint the ships. I came up with some ideas, but I ended up throwing most of those out since the 1/2400 scale galleys are pretty small.
Figurehead Galleass (left) and Galley Flagship (right) with standard Galleys and pennies in the back
As you can see from the picture, even the larger Galleasses and Flagships are pretty small. So the size really limited what I could do with my limited painting skills. In general the ship bases are about 1/2 inch by 1 inch (approx 1.5 cm by 2.5 cm).

Note: I've included several photos of the 1/2400 galleys in this post, but I think focusing in on the smaller ships with the lighting I have is beyond the capability of my camera. Hopefully they are clear enough to give you an idea of what I've done.

Assembly: Putting the ships together was pretty easy. Like most of the Figurehead miniatures ships liken, most of the Renaissance line I got ships came with separate bases and masts. Only the smaller Fustas (FR13) were molded with the base. Most of the ships only had one mast (the Galleasses had three) and they were easy to add to the ships, although some of the Galleys (FR2) seemed to have a second hole for a mast at the aft end of the ship. I just ended up filling in the holes as best I could. Overall the ships and bases were flash-free (there were a couple here and there that had some extra flash, but it was easily remove) and fit together without any problems.

Painting the ships just took a lot of time (right now I've finished the Holy League fleet, while the Ottoman fleet is still in progress), but I am a relatively slow painter.

Holy League Squadron in Profile

Holy League Squadron from a different angle
I used a light brown for the hulls and masts of the Holy League (the Ottomans get a slightly darker color), but a few Holy League ships got red masts to fit with the historical colors. The only real color for the ships is the awning at the aft end of the ships and the flags. I added some color to the sides of the ships to represent the protective mantlets the Holy League mounted on their galleys.

The toughest part to paint turned out to be the oars. I was using the same blue for the water bases that I use with my other Figurehead ships, but it is just a little too dark to make the oars stand out well. I was planning on dry-brushing the oars with the same light brown and red I used for the hull/mast, but you just couldn't see it against the blue. So, I ended up using a light tan to get the oars to stand out (I also used a yellow color for some ships). On the base, I really tried to highlight the point where the oars meet the base to get them to stand out a bit more, but I'm not really happy with how they turned out.

Holy League Galleasses (left with 3 masts) and Galley Flagships (right)
Holy League Galleys

The Galleys from the oblique
I was originally going to just use the bases that came with the ships, but I wanted to give a better grip for players. So I decided to order some wooden 20mm by 40mm bases from Litko. I was thinking about going for the 40mm by 40mm bases (which is what the rules call for), but those are awfully big for the ships. I'm hoping that everyone will be happy with that choice. I will post more when the Ottoman Fleet is done.

The Fleet is ready to face the Turk!