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.


  1. Would love to see the Battle of Plattsburgh played out...

  2. Dave, it was a great game and I really think your adaptation of these rules to sail only fills an important hole in the age of sail genre. Great game.

  3. It sounds like a great game. I wish I'd known you were playing it; I would have come down. The ships look good. Do I detect a DANG choice?

    1. Sorry, I thought you knew we were running the game. I expect that there will be a Lake Ontario game as a DANG choice.

  4. Another great naval game, Dave. Sorry I missed out, but had to support the loyal WAB-types. Best, Dean

  5. Nice report and very nice pictures!



  6. Great looking game - I would be interested in learning more about the adaption of Sail and Steam to the sailing era. I've played sail and steam with ironclads and like to rule set a lot.


    1. Once I get the rule modifications all written down in a presentable format, I'll post them to the Sail and Steam Navies Yahoo group. If you aren't part of the group, I can make them available elsewhere too.

  7. I too would be interested in your adaptation :)