Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Upcoming Rules

I'm looking for something in Victorian Science Fiction; must be able to deal with Colonial actions as well as steam-powered landships, mechs, aeronefs, et cetera.

I'm also looking at the Perfect Captain's Spanish Fury rules for Actions and Battles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Close Action AAR: British vs Americans

Went to Springfield Virginia (just outside DC) for a Close Action game put on by Mark Campbell. This was a hypothetical scenario, with the Americans trying to punch through a channel blockaded by the British. The Americans start in the south; they get extra points for getting their 44s off the north end, if they can do so without losing rigging sections. Wind is from the southwest. All forces start in line ahead by squadron; the Brits are close hauled heading south, the Americans are broad reaching north.

I didn't get a scenario page so I don't know exactly what the forces were, although they totaled about 850 points. I believe both sides had three frigates to the west and two on the east; the American main line had four Super 74s and as I recall the Brits had five ships of the line, including two 110s. My ship was USS Franklin, the lead American 74.

The American strategy was to have our western frigates block the Brit western frigates from blocking our main line from blocking the Brit main line from getting at our western frigates. I've paraphrased it a bit, but that was the essence. Meanwhile, one of the eastern frigates would keep the two Brit frigates on that side busy while the other one slipped past.

As the lead American ship of the line, I immediately went to plain sail and turned port to try to get upwind of the Brit heavies. By turn 3 it was clear that I would beat the leading Brit ship to the intercept point by a couple of hexes; I should have started lowering sail again, but didn't do that until turn 4 (and it's a two-turn process). On turn 4 I crossed the enemy line, getting a half broadside range 2 bow rake. I debated getting one hex row west of the Brit line, moving a bit north and turning, which could (and in hindsight, would) have had the second Brit collide with me, causing major rigging damage to that ship and sowing confusion among the Brits; however, the lead Brit could have done something (although he didn't) to cause me to collide with him, which would have caused me severe rigging damage and been unhealthy for me. I elected to play it safe and made a little wider turn. The lead Brit scooted past me and the second Brit and I exchanged half-broadsides, which nearly took my first mast down before I could finish getting from Plain Sail to Medium Sail.

I then had to decide whether to keep sailing along the British line, rendering passing honors, or to beat upwind and help our frigates. The next Brit was San Josef, a captured Spanish 110, which was in the midst of tacking at the time. As it happened, she failed to tack and I could have gotten a bow rake in, but I'd decided to go west to succor our frigates, so I only got a medium range half broadside in on her.

Meanwhile our other heavies were southwest of me, getting ready to engage two of the Brit frigates. (The third western Brit, Horatio 38, had headed north to be a backstop, which I expect was in accordance with his admiral's intent. If it'd been my ship, I'd have stayed up in the action and tried to lure one of the American 44s into colliding with me, but what Horatio did worked well enough).

By turn 8 I was trading shots with frigate Severn, which was carronade-heavy and turned out to be less of a pushover than I expected; her fire, plus some medium long shots from San Josef and Vengeur (another Brit SOL) finished off my first mast and nearly got my second mast. Turn 9 saw my second mast fall, and turn 10 cost my third mast and first hull section (the Brits were mostly firing high). Our other heavies were dancing around on the western edge of the channel, getting in each other's firing arcs so they couldn't bring full effective fire on the enemy frigates. Despite this, even a tough frigate can't survive much attention from SOL, and Leander struck, followed shortly by Severn.

Two of our western frigates ran north; one of them kept Horatio busy while the other one slipped off the map for a Victory Point bonus. On the eastern edge, our two frigates tried the same plan, but a lucky British shot took down a mast on the one that was trying to get off the board, which eventually led to two frigate duels.

Meanwhile, back in the main turn 10 my masts were shot up enough that my options were limited. I crept along, hoping to lunge in front of one of the Brit heavies and cause a collision; when my third mast fell, my aspirations fell to "don't die yet" and "get a few more good shots in before I go." A benevolent Fate led to some confusion on San Josef's quarterdeck and twice I narrowly escaped taking a close range bow rake from a 110.

Remember the two leading British ships which had gone past me around turn 5? They had overshot the action and had to tack and go to plain sail to get back to the fray. They came charging back in to the SOL fight around turn 13 and started taking down sails, a little later than they should have. I got in a shot on Canopus which wasn't impressive as far as overall weight of metal (gunnery factor 23 before dice), but was beautiful as far as accuracy; it took down her first mast, the critical hit took down her second mast, and the "rigging check" result from that did three boxes damage to the third mast as well, for a total of 13 rigging hits on that one shot. It was one of the few times I've ever ordered "aim for the rigging", and it worked out well.

By turn 15 the action was moving away from me toward the northwest; I traded shots with Valiant as she went past me. I lost my last original rigging box, but my marines had been busy with a couple of blankets, a petticoat and some string, so I wasn't quite dismasted--the only time I've had "repair rigging" orders have any significant effect. I was able to get in one more starboard turn to bring guns to bear before my last mast was swept away.

That brought us to the end of Turn 16 and 4:30pm. Mark decided to call it due to time. Two Brit frigates had struck, and one American 44 had made it off the map; on the other hand, my Franklin would have been doomed as soon as an enemy had some free time to come back and rake me, and most of the other ships on both sides were looking battered. It was adjudicated as a hard-fought draw. The American admiral felt (and I agree) that the Brits had done a better job at keeping their lines and not blocking each others's fire, so I'd call it a British moral victory.

It was a lot of fun having big ships with grade A and B crews on both sides. Most of my outbound shots were half broadsides rather than full, and I was still getting gunnery factor 30 before dice. And despite getting plenty of attention from the enemy, it was turn 10 before I lost a hull section, turn 14 before I lost a crew section.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conflict of Heroes: Clear and Secure

I had my first look at Conflict of Heroes a couple of months ago, and finally got a chance to play it. Some games you put off playing because the set up is a nuisance, but Firefight 1 is easy. One small board, a summary sheet, a bookkeeping sheet, two control markers, three German counters, five Soviet counters. This is a solitaire scenario. Set up time, ten minutes or less; playing time, about an hour and a half for my first game.
It's Russia in May of 1943. The player-controlled German panzergrenadier platoon (three squads) has crept up from the south through a cornfield, and are now within striking distance of a village occupied by a Soviet unit. The Russians have a Maxim gun at the west end of town, a rifle squad and SMG squad in the big building on the north side of the village, a rifle squad just south of the main building and a final rifle squad in the woods at the southeast corner of the built up area. The German mission is to destroy the enemy and occupy the large stone building on the north side of the village within five turns.
Turn 1: Two Germans fire on the Russians in the woods, doing no damage; the return fire suppresses one of the squads. The third German squad charges the Russian unit, and destroys it in close combat.
Turn 2: The victorious German squad fires on the closest Russian squad, and destroys it with a lucky hit. The suppressed squad rallies and advances. The westernmost squad charges the Maxim crew, enduring machinegun fire on the way; they make it to point blank range unscathed but fail to knock out the Maxim.
Turn 3: The Russians win initiative and blaze away at the western squad, which is in the open at one hex range. They draw a Kill result and the German squad is destroyed. The remaining two German squads fire at both Russian units in the stone building; one is Pinned (can't move) and the other is Stunned (can't take any action except Rally).
Turn 4: Both Russians in the stone building fail to rally. Ranged fire puts a second hit on one, destroying it; a Panzergren moves into the stone building and attacks the other from point blank range, destroying it as well. The Maxim crew feels very lonely but moves to a position with line of sight to the stone building. They get a good hit, and the German squad is Suppressed (reduced firepower).
Turn 5: The heroic Maxim crew moves in close, but the Panzergrenadiers rally before the Russians can put a second hit on them and finish them off. The Maxim crew does Pin the Germans, but the Germans can still shoot, and do; the Russians take one hit. The second German squad fires across the street and manages a second hit; the Maxim is destroyed.

End result: the Soviets gathered 1 victory point for the western German squad; the Germans got 1 for each kill and 2 more for controlling both objective hexes, for a total of 7. Note however that in accordance with the Solitaire rules, most of the Russian never moved, just stayed in place and shot; the Germans would have had to work a lot harder in a two player game.

Friction in War

It doesn't just apply within games; it also applies to setting up games in the first place. Postings going forward should be more frequent.