Sunday, October 21, 2012

Battle of Havana, 1748

Albert Parker hosted a Close Action game portraying the the Battle of Havana, which took place in 1748. This was a hypothetical scenario, with the 36 gun Galga replaced by the formidable Fenix, 80, to make a more balanced game. Each side has seven ships; the Spanish vessels are larger and tougher, the British have better crews. Players included (Spanish) Dave Cross (admiral), Richard, Al Cook, Andrew, Pete and Ashlee; British player were me (admiral), Josh, Will, Albert, Heather, and Shawn.

The wind is from the southeast. Both fleets start in line ahead, with the wind on the port bow; the British start to the northeast of the Spanish line, with a weather gauge advantage over the last few Spanish ships. As the British, we expected the Spanish van to wear and come back towards us while the Spanish rear kept running away; our plan was to cut off the closest two Spanish ships and defeat them. This is pretty much exactly what happened.

 It was a bit more difficult than I expected--partly because the gamemaster rolled a lot more 6's for the Spanish than he did for us, even though he was playing on our side....Another factor was that the two Spaniards we cut off were the two biggest and toughest ones; as we approached, these two ran into each other and fouled, which made them easy for us to catch, but not easier to pound into submission. The other reason it was tough was because the starting situation meant that the British were strung out and had to arrive piecemeal, one ship every turn or two rather than en masse; with the Spanish continually moving away from us, our rearmost two ships never got into the action at all.

Fortunately the Spanish divided their own forces as well, and and rather than ganging up on us as we trickled into the action, most of the Spanish fleet milled around in circles away from the action. Our lead two ships, Stafford and Tilbury, took a lot of hits as they sailed into the midst of the enemy, but then the rest of our fleet started arriving and most of the Spanish started leaving, and it quickly became five of us against three of them; shortly Fenix withdrew and it was five to two. A lucky hit set Africa on fire, demoralizing her crew; a few turns (and a few volleys of chainshot) later, she surrendered. That left Invencible isolated; all we had to do was knock off one of her masts so she couldn't escape. In fact, the rest of the Spanish had the wind gauge and could have succored her if they'd tried, but Invencible's player was told "we British are the wolves, the Spanish are the elk, and you are the baby elk at the back of the herd", and that was pretty much the way it went.

Afterwards most of us adjourned to Five Guys for the "debriefing, recriminations and courts martial" phase before the drive home.

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