Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Enfilade 2012 Recap: Part 2 - My Games

I ran two games at Enfilade 2012, one on Friday night and the other on Saturday morning. Friday night, Kevin and I ran the "Tripwire" Strait of Hormuz game using David Manley's "Bulldogs Away!" rules. Saturday morning I ran "Action on Lake Ontario" using a slightly modified Sail & Steam Navies rules.

The Friday night game was full with six players, 2 US/Allies and 4 Iranian. The basic premise of the scenario was that western sanctions against Iran has caused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy (IRGN) to declare that they are closing the Strait of Hormuz and only ships they escort are allowed through. Additionally, the IRGN had secretly mined the strait and a British merchant hit a mine, which caused a stoppage in traffic through the strait. The US Navy has decided to clear the mines and capture the ships that are laying the mines.

The IRGN was tasked with maintaining Iranian sovereignty in the strait and escorting ships that request an escort through the strait. The IRGN players selected two small boat groups (each with four Boghammer patrol boats armed with machine guns, RPGs, and recoilles rifles and a Zafar rocket boat with a salvo rocket launcher) to escort ships through the strait, one torpedo boat group (with four Tir class stealth torpedo boats), and one missile boat group (with three C-14 "China Cat" missile boats). Additionally, the IRGN players had to decide which mine markers on the board were real and which were dummies. The center of the board had mine markers placed about every 12 inches that stretched across the board. The IRGN could basically set up anywhere on the board, but there were some restrictions for the escort groups. The small boat groups were assigned to escort two ships through the strait; a fishing vessel that had requested escort and a merchant that was really an IRGN auxiliary that had been laying mines.
One Boghammer group escorting the fishing vessel
The other Boghammer group escorting the merchant auxiliary
IRGN C-14 "China Cat" missile boats set up near the minefields
The US Navy/Allied side was tasked with clearing a path through the mines and/or capturing one of the ships laying mines. They didn't have to take both missions, but decided to try it. The US Navy/Allied players selected an anti-mine group (an LCS-1 class ship with an anti-mine mission package a Sea Cobra and anti-mine MH-53 helicopter) to clear the mines and a boarding group (with two US Cyclone class patrol boats, two Mk V SEAL boats, and two United Arab Emirates missile boats). The anti-mine group entered from the eastern board edge, while the boarding group was allowed circumvent the mines and enter on the southwest board edge. (An interesting side note, the US Navy/Allied players really wanted to avoid the LCS-2 class ships, even though we had two of them available. I was really hoping to get one of them into the game).

When the LCS-1 moved into radar range, the IRGN players sent several Boghammers to investigate (and harass) the ship.
LCS-1 with the MH-53 anti-mine helicopter and approaching Boghammers in the background
Over on the other side of the board, the boarding group split up with the Cyclone and Mk V boats moving to intercept the merchant, while the UAE missile boats moved north to intercept the fishing vessel (the US players did not know if either of the ships was involved in the mining, but they were supposed to board them to find out). Additionally, there was a small boat, with a big CNN flag, that was filming the whole thing.
US Cyclone and Mk V boats with the CNN news boat nearby
As the IRGN boats closed with the US and UAE ships, they started hearing messages over their radios about maintaining a safe distance from the US/UAE ships. The IRGN players basically pretended they couldn't understand or didn't hear the messages. the US/UAE ships decided a stronger warning was needed and began firing shots across the bows of the IRGN boats. This caused some of the boats to turn away and almost caused an inadvertent collision between an UAE missile boat and IRGN C-14 missile boat.
Near collision in the strait
With CNN on hand, it seemed like both sides were a little reluctant to be the first side to open fire. But this changed as one of the Cyclone boats wandered into the mine zone and found a mine.
Oops! A Cyclone class boat runs into a mine
At this point the commander of the boarding group declared that he was under attack and opened fire on the nearest IRGN boats. This allowed everyone to start shooting. An IRGN Zafar class rocket boat fired off its rockets to finish off the Cyclone that had hit the mine and the C-14 missile boats fired missiles at the other Cyclone class and UAE missile boats. The remaining Cyclone and Mk V boats returned fire with the Hellfire missiles, while the UAE missile boats fired their Exocets. On the other side of the board, the LCS-1 class didn't have any missile and had to rely on her guns and the missiles on the Sea Cobra to attack the IRGN boats. Additionally, the IRGN Tir class torpedo boats made a torpedo run against the UAE ships and began moving toward the LCS-1.
Missiles Away!
When the smoke cleared, both US Cyclones were sinking and one of the Mk V boats was damaged. The IRGN had lost their missile boats and most of their Boghammers. As the game ended, we decided the US/UAE players had lost the propaganda war for firing first (the CNN footage couldn't confirm American claims that they were attacked first), but they controlled the battlefield and still had the capability to sweep the minefields.

Everybody seemed to have a good time and I distributed prize packs from Fight's On to the players (thanks to Rob at Fight's On for sending me the prizes).

The Saturday morning Action on Lake Ontario game didn't provide any order of battle options for the players, but the players did have several options in how the set up (which I hope made up for the lack of OOB options). There were 2 British and 4 American players for this game. In this scenario, the American Lake Ontario squadron has been pursuing the largest British ship on the lake, Royal George, for the past two days and is finally catching up with the ship as it is approaching the British harbor at Kingston.

The British players had 3 ships (Royal George - 20 guns, Prince Regent - 12 guns, and Earl of Moria - 14 guns) and 2 small shore batteries. The American squadron had 7 ships: Oneida - 18 guns, Hamilton - 11 guns, Gov Tompkins - 6 guns, Julia - 3 guns, Pert - 3 guns, Growler - 1 gun, and Conquest - 1 gun.

The British had the advantage of bigger ships, while the Americans had more ships and more long guns. Additionally, with only two players, the British had a little easier command and control challenge than the Americans. The American movement was a bit haphazard and there were a couple times I thought they were going to collide with each other.
Royal George watches the American squadron approach
The Americans took some long range shots, but no major damage was done. The British reinforcements (Prince Regent and Earl of Moria) moved out of Kingston harbor and interposed themselves between Royal George and the Americans.
The American squadron faces the British reinforcements
By this time both sides were starting to take damage and several smaller American ships were forced out of line. 

As the British reinforcements passed by (and before they could turn), the Americans made one last drive to catch Royal George. However, at a key moment the Americans lost movement initiative, which caused a minor collision between Oneida and Royal George. No damage was done in the collision, but the ships did foul each other. Initially, both sides were trying to clear the fouled lines, but then the British decided that this was a good opportunity to take out the largest American ship by grappling and boarding it.
Oneida and Royal George grappled together
Before the boarding action, both sides had one last chance to fire their close range carronades into the enemy, adding damage and crew suppression to both ships. During the boarding action, the Americans failed their morale check (the American captain had been wounded by earlier cannon fire) and surrendered.

With their largest ship captured, another sinking, and a third withdrawing due to a failed morale check, the Americans decided to break off the action giving the British control of the lake.

It seemed like everyone had a good time with the rules and we didn't run into any major issues. While the Sail & Steam Navies rules are really for later ships, I think the modifications made them work well for the smaller Age of Sail actions. I had to add rules for carronades, chain shot, make changes to the critical hits, and a few other items, but the movement rules were straight from the rulebook. You wouldn't want to play Trafalgar with these rules (in fact you probably wouldn't want to play games with ships that have more than 30-40 guns), but seem to work pretty well for the smaller action on the Great Lakes and Chesapeake during the War of 1812.

Overall, I had a good time with the Enfilade games and I hope that all the players enjoyed them too.

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