Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back to Lake Ontario

Saturday was my turn to run a game for the Truants Group, although anyone could show up and join in the game. I ended up with six players, which was prefect the for scenario I had created since it had 12 ships and each player could take a couple ships. I used the modified Sail and Steam Navies rules for this game.
USS Madison sailing on Lake Ontario
The game was an 1813 battle on Lake Ontario and I decided to go with a hypothetical scenario instead of a historical battle. In the scenario, an American supply convoy, carrying guns and naval stores, is on its way from Fort Oswego to Sackett's Harbor. These supplies are needed to complete the sloop of war General Pike. The British have decided to try to intercept the convoy to capture or destroy the supplies. During the night, the American escorts became separated from the rest of the convoy and are making their way back to the convoy when the British strike.

The British had four ships: Royal George (20-gun corvette), Earl of Moira (18-gun brig), Beresford (12-gun schooner), and Sir Sidney Smith (12-gun schooner). Almost all of the British guns were carronades.
The Royal Navy forces move to intercept the American convoy

The American escort was two ships: Madison (24-gun corvette) and Oneida (18-gun brig). The American escorts carried some small long guns, but were primarily armed with carronades.
Madison and Oneida trying to get back to the convoy
The convoy was made up of six smaller schooners: Hamilton (9-guns), Scourge (10-guns), Conquest (3-guns), Ontario (2-guns), Fair American (2-guns), and Asp (2-guns). The guns on the smaller 2 and 3 gun schooners were heavy ling guns (32 or 24 pounders), while the ships with more guns carried a mix of smaller (18 pound and less) long guns and carronades.
The American schooner convoy
The British could enter anywhere on the north map edge, while the convoy started on the west edge and the escort on the east. The Americans were trying to get the convoy off the east map edge.

At the start of the game, the British players decided to charge directly at the convoy and load double-shot in their guns. While this seemed to be a good idea at the time, the combination of these choices would prove to be too limiting in the game.

The American convoy initially decided to try to hug the shore on the south edge of the playing area to stay as far away as possible from the British, while the escort just hoped to interfere with British plans. In the early part of the game the British followed their plans moving directly toward the convoy, but they couldn't fire because they were out of range for their double-shot guns. The American convoy tried to move as fast as they could to avoid the British and the trailing ships decided to turn north to get on the other side of the British instead of just pushing ahead.
Trailing schooners turn northeast to avoid the British
Early on, some lucky shooting by the American escorts holed Beresford and the schooner began to slowly sink. Beresford would eventually fail morale and beach itself. Additionally, the American long guns on the schooners were doing damage to the other British ships. This was a potent of how things would go for the British all day.

The British finally got into range to use some of their double-shotted guns against some of the convoy ships. The blasts damaged two schooners, but the ships were still out of range. Meanwhile, American gunnery heavily damaged Sir Sidney Smith, forcing the schooner to break off action (it also ended up beaching itself). This left the British with only two effective fighting ships.
The British ships (center) close for the attack as two American schooners (right) turn to cut through the British line
After having its rudder damaged, one damaged schooner collided with and fouled the Royal George, forcing the British ship to slow to cut-away the schooner. The American schooner would eventually be sunk, but slowing down the British corvette made it so the corvette could get back into the battle and could not escape.
Ontario fouls Royal George

With Royal George out of action for a few turns, Earl of Moira found itself  alone and surrounded by American ships. Madison was behind the Earl in a prefect position to rake the brig at close range, while other American ships blasted the brig from the front.
Madison rakes Earl of Moira from the stern, while other American ships blast it from the bow
The American's heavy carronades decimated the smaller brig, destroying the brig's remaining hull and starting it on a trip to the bottom of the lake.With Royal George being the only remaining British ship, we deiced to call the game.

It was a fun game (well, maybe the British didn't has as much fun) and a decisive American win. The British players felt their decision to double-shot their guns at the start of the game was a big factor in the loss. The players were more familiar with playing with larger ships (74 gun SoLs) and didn't realize that it wouldn't take a lot of hull hits to take out the smaller American ships. I expect the next game we play will go a little differently.

Overall, the rule modifications to Sail and Steam Navies seem to work really well for this scale (this game was better than the one I ran last year with a different set of rules). I think I will make a few more changes to the critical hit rules to give them a little more period flavor, but I'm pretty happy with the general flow of the game. After the game we talked about using these rules to fight other 1812 actions, such as the naval Battle of Plattsburgh and action by Barney's gunboat flotilla in the Chesapeake.

I still need to formally write up the rule modifications for the Sail and Steam Navies Yahoo group. But no one has been asking me for the changes, so I will probably take my time putting them together.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Catching Up

I've been keeping pretty busy since my last blog post. Unfortunately, it was mostly with non-hobby stuff. But I did sneak away for a few hours on July 1 to see the Super Guppy at the Museum of Flight. The plane was in Seattle to deliver the crew cabin portion of the space shuttle trainer (the museum missed out on the opportunity to get a real shuttle, but the full-sized flight trainer isn't a bad consolation prize). The Super Guppy is a very unusual aircraft; it was built to transport over-size objects (like parts for the international space station) and the one we saw is the last one still flying.
Here I am with the Super Guppy in the background
It was pretty cool to see and we arrived early enough to watch them crack open the plane and rotate the forward part of the fuselage, which was doubly-cool.
Super Guppy open for a closer look. We we able to go up the stairs to the platform for a better view.
We got a short close-up view of the Super Guppy and the opportunity to speak with some of the flight crew. Most people asked the crew questions about what it was like flying the plane, while my wife and I were asking about the process for reattaching the forward fuselage, how they make sure the cargo doesn't shift, and what they were going to do with the specially made cargo rack for shuttle trainer (we were told they are looking to buy a portion of it for use with other cargo). After that, we made our way over to the museum's space gallery where the crew cabin had been placed.
The space shuttle trainer crew cabin at the Museum of Flight
The museum had some floor plans up showing the final layout of the space gallery and it looks like it will be another good place to visit. There are still four more sections of the trainer to come. So, the display won't be done for a while and the Super Guppy will be bringing some more of the sections and we might get another chance to see the plane. Overall, it was fun to see this plane up-close.

On the gaming front, I'll be running an War of 1812 naval game for the truants group on Saturday. I'm trying to come up with a good, fun scenario for the group. I was thinking about doing a bigger battle from 1813, but now I'm considering making up a scenario.

I'm planning on using the Sail and Steam Navies rules, with my modifications for 1812. I really like how the modifications have come together and how they played during my Enfilade game. I'm still tweaking them a little (I haven't decided the bonus for and how to measure rakes, and I'd like to add some more critical hit types), but overall I think they stand up pretty well and will be easy for newbies and land-lubbers to pick up on.

I'll be sure to get (and post) some photos from the game.