Sunday, January 5, 2014

Plans for 2014

In addition to the regular wargaming I do--mostly Ironclads, Close Action, Command and Colors--I'm planning to put some new games on the table this year. Some are recent additions, some have been around for a while and I just haven't gotten them out.

  • Navajo Wars--I've got this set up for the tutorial now
  • 1805 Sea of Victory
  • Impetus (Medieval/Renaissance miniatures)
  • Great Campaigns of the American Civil War
  • With God and Victorious Arms (30YW)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ironclads off Ferrol

Dan, Ryan and I got in three games of Ironclads, playing a scenario which took place off Ferrol, Spain in 1865. Two Union vessels, Niagara and the smaller Sacramento, are trying to keep CSS Stonewall from getting past them; to win, Stonewall has to do at least 50% damage to one of them and get out to sea. Historically, the Union commander decided that Stonewall was too tough to tackle, and got a court martial. We played this in February 2013 with a Dan bringing in a convincing Confederate win.

There are three sandbars which means there is a channel at the far west, the far right, and two in the center. The Stonewall is slightly faster than the Union vessels but is going against the current. She enters from a fairly narrow river mouth but once she comes onto the board, she can maneuver freely and choose any of the four channels. The Union has to cover all four exits with two ships.

Game 1: Ryan brings Stonewall in aiming at the east-center channel. My Niagara gets a starboard broadside off, then turns. Turn 2, Stonewall abruptly heads west, crossing my bow, and I get to fire my port broadside. This is quite useful, since my starboard heavy guns are spending the turn reloading, and getting successive broadside shots usually takes some smart maneuvering to pull off; however, in this case, it was about 80% due to Ryan crossing my bow, and not something I had expected. And it was pretty much immaterial, since Ryan's three guns got two hits on me, resulting in a magazine explosion and a boiler explosion, completely disabling my ship. Sacramento can't go toe-to-toe with the Stonewall, so we called it. Game 1 winner: Confederates.

Game 2: I bring in Stonewall for the east-center channel again. Ryan's Sacramento moves to intercept but takes two boiler explosion criticals on turn 1 and fails the resulting morale check. She limps off, disabled although not sufficiently to meet the Confederate victory conditions. Dan's Niagara swoops down to protect the smaller Union ship but Stonewall wheels, cuts behind Niagara and drives a ram home on Sacramento. The little ship breaks in half and goes down instantly; the Confederate plows right through and turns for the open sea.  Niagara intercepts and there's one turn of point-blank fire, but neither ship does much more than dent the other's armor. With her broadside-only armament, Niagara can't both keep up the chase and bring her guns to bear, and so Stonewall makes it off the map on turn 10. Game 2 winner: Confederates.

Game 3: We joke that as I took two devastating crits on turn 2 of the first game, and Ryan took two on turn 1 of the next, that Dan should expect to explode as soon as he comes on the map. (Our first five crit rolls were all 2s or 12s, the worst possible results; the chance of that is on the order of 1 in 10 million). However, this was our longest game of the three.
Dan brought Stonewall in heading west as if he were going for the far western channel; then he swerved south, toward the west-central opening; then back west again. I scurried after him with Sacramento, trying to block whichever route he seemed to be aiming for and firing ineffectually with my little 30 pounder popgun; I had other guns but I usually couldn't get him both within range and within my firing arcs. Meanwhile Ryan kept Niagara back to play safety, taking long range shots whenever he could. Usually he couldn't, because Niagara's gun ports don't allow good visibility, and she has to target the closest ship; Dan cleverly maneuvered to ensure that "the closest ship" was usually Sacramento. (I suspect that after about ten turns of this, Ryan was considering shooting at my ship anyway, despite the fact that we were both Union, just to get across the idea that I should get out of his field of fire).
Dan cutback east and headed for the central-west channel again, but I was able to get there ahead of him, and crossed his bow as he turned to head out to sea. I'd intended to pass him close on his port side, away from Niagara; however, he went a little farther than I'd hoped and we ended up in a bow-to-bow collision. Since Sacramento was a lightly armored sloop and Stonewall had a heavily armored ram, this contingency was firmly in my "Things To Do Only In Dire Circumstances" list.  Stonewall stove in half my hull, and between the flooding and the jolt to the engines, my ship could barely make headway; Stonewall took a little damage herself, but nothing serious. However, the collision brought her to a dead stop, and she had to back away from Sacramento before she could get moving again. The slow speed made her an easy target for Niagara, and also meant that Dan couldn't accelerate Stonewall back to full speed fast enough to make it to the edge of the map within the scenario time limit. He did, however, take one last shot which passed through Sacramento's engine room, leaving her dead in the water; next turn, she drifted onto the shoals and tore her bottom out. C'est la guerre.
On turn 16 we called it a Union victory.

All in all, three exciting games in 5.5 hours including a break for lunch.