Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ironclads, Charleston Harbor

The Charleston Harbor (31 January 1863) scenario pits six Union wooden vessels and three decoys  against two Confederate ironclads, a blockade runner and three decoys. It's a night scenario, so ships can't identify or shoot targets more than four hexes away; we allowed shooting at gun flashes if the target was five or six hexes away, but with a penalty. We also said that critical hits and specials would be kept secret unless they had obviously visible effects.
Union objectives were to reduce the two ironclads to less than 50% Flotation and prevent the blockade runner from crossing the map. The two Rebel ships were Palmetto State and Chicora; I didn't get the names of the Union ships.
The map has two fairly wide channels north and south, with an extremely narrow one in the middle. I elected to bring both ironclads into the southern channel and see if we could destroy the blockaders in detail; they couldn't bring ships over from the northern channel because, not knowing when the Stag was due to enter the map, they daren't leave a channel unguarded. The leading Union ships quickly established that our two leading ships were the real thing; one of them found that out by ending up nose to nose with Chicora. I lowered the spar torpedo and gleefully rammed, at a combined speed of 12. USS Keystone had started the game with 12 Flotation points; my shooting had reduced her to 4 due to a critical hit (although I didn't know that); the spar torpedo took off 10 Flotation and the ram did another 10. Unfortunately using a bomb-on-a-stick isn't the safest ploy in the world, and neither is a bow-to-bow ram, so I took 50% of my own Flotation in that attack.  It also brought my speed down to zero; and Palmetto State gaily sailed on without me, into the midst of the Union squadron, eliciting the comment "When I said I wanted concentration of fire, I meant ours, not theirs." But Palmetto State's armor justified his confidence, and he dd a pretty good job of handling the Union ships. By turn 11 the ironclad was below 50% flotation and had some engine and stack damage, but two Union ships were dead in the water and another one was well ventilated by shot. And, mor importantly, we'd pulled them over to the center of the map by a sufficient amount that our blockade runner was able to zip in along the south edge of channel, past the fight and away, never getting within the four-hex sighting range. Our ships had to withdraw due to the flotation damage but since the Stag accomplished her objective, we called it a tie.

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