Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ironclads: Breaking Through to Vickburg

Yazoo River, Mississippi, 15 JULY 1862
The is a daylight action set on a river which is mostly 3-5 hexes wide. The ironclad CSS Arkansas starts at the north end of the map; she must break through a Union squadron and exit the south edge. Opposing her are the Union ironclad Carondelet, the ram Queen of the West, and wooden vessel Tyler, which enter from the south edge. Queen has an armored ram bow, but only a 32 pounder gun; Tyler has 8-inch guns and good speed, but no armor. The scenario calls for a speed 2 current but with all the curves of the river, it would have been complicated, so we didn't use that.

Historically, Carondelet ran aground due to a steering hit, and Arkansas chased the other two ships down the river, then sailed through the Federal flotilla to arrive safely at Vicksburg.

In our first game, Tyler pressed ahead of the other Yankee ships. She tried to slip past the Confederate, but her hopes were dashed as Arkansas turned unexpectedly. Tyler ended up delivering the gentlest ram on record, doing no damage at all to either ship; the only effect was to drop both ships' speeds to zero. Arkansas chugged forward and delivered a counter-ram; Tyler, constrained by the riverbank and the requirement to back away after delivering her own ram, couldn't evade it. Arkansas broke her in half and sailed on through the wreckage; however, she didn't have time to build up her speed before Carondelet and Queen of the West came sailing around the river bend. She rammed Carondelet, but this Union ship was much tougher than Tyler, and survived. The Queen slammed into the Confederate, then backed frantically out of the way with Rebel shot bouncing off her armored bows. As Queen maneuvered to get upriver and try for a second ram, Arkansas and Carondelet slugged it out. The Southern vessel finally went under due to a hit from Carondelet, who herself only had 1 flotation remaining.

In the second game, the Northerners stuck together instead of getting separated. Arkansas cut in close to a river bend and got past Carondelet and Queen, in a bid to break through and get downriver.  The faster Tyler brought that to a halt, with a ram that did little damage but brought the Confederate to a standstill. The Rebel guns quickly chewed through Tyler's hull and sank her, but her sacrifice had bought time for the other two ships to maneuver into position. Carondelet blocked Arkansas' advance, and Queen of the West's prow stove in the Confederate's hull. Left with only speed 2 and a single flotation point, the Confederate player conceded.