Saturday, June 20, 2015


Ryan, Dan K, Bob S and I got in two Ironclads scenarios.

First was Wassaw Sound, Georgia, 1863. CSS Atlanta and Savannah, casemate ironclads, are trying to fight their way past Union monitors Nahant and Weehawken. Atlanta hugged the left bank of the river and sound, while my Savannah started out on the right. We quickly realized that the casemate's guns have limited fields of fire, and have to fire on "nearest ship"; furthermore, the Confederate crews are inexperienced and the Union monitors are small targets. In short, our guns missed a lot. Dan solved that problem by getting in close; I solved it by rigging my spar torpedo and charging full speed ahead, which didn't cause any damage to the Union ships but did motivate them to get out of the way. I passed them and had an opening to run for open water, which was part of our victory conditions. I should have done that...except...just as I was considering it, Atlanta managed to ram Nahant. That damaged the Union ship and more importantly brought her to a dead stop. As Nahant backed away from the collision, I swooped in for a stern rake at point blank range, then turned and rammed her stern.
Nahant had already lost 8 of her 11 floatation points before this; the spar torpedo and ram did another 17. That rather thoroughly achieved the "cripple one Union vessel" part of our victory conditions; however, on our side, Atlanta was crippled and nearly dead in the water, so we couldn't manage the "get both ironclads upriver or out to sea" part of things. Consequently, it's marked as a tie; however, from my point of view, though, "successful spar torpedo ram" is made of Win.

Second scenario was a night battle in a river, the Battle of Plymouth (NC) in 1864. The ironclad CSS Albemarle came downriver, intending to get into position to bombard Plymouth. USS Southfield and Miami, wooden sidewheel gunboats, moved to intercept. Ryan acted as gamemaster, and ruled that the limit of vision was three hexes. Beyond that, you might see gun flashes but you wouldn't be sure exactly where your target was--or who! We each gave him our plots and went into another room, and then he would call us in, one at a time, to show us what limited amount we could see. And for damage resolution, we knew when we scored a critical on the enemy, but we weren't told what the effects were.
Dan and I drew the Union gunboats, and Dan's Miami moved upriver quickly while my Southfield struggled against the current. Albemarle hove into sight and I could see a fire blazing behind her, which had to be Miami. I managed to dent Albemarle's pilothouse, while his return fire jammed my rudder and knocked out my engine. As I started drifting away, Miami limped back into view and engaged. Unbeknownst to us, Albemarle had also taken an engine hit, and couldn't maneuver well enough to isolate and finish either of us. At the end, I was nearly dead in the water, Miami was battered and burning, and we'd chewed through all Albemarle's Hull points. Usually an ironclad sinks because she loses Flotation points; Bob said this was the first time he could recall having an ironclad lose its entire Hull. Ryan was the only one who saw all the maneuvers; he said that we all played less boldly that we would have if we could see farther. I think all three players felt like they were losing, and the end was not so much a rousing "glorious victory!" as a bemused "well, look at that, he died first; I wasn't expecting that." A very interesting game and kudos to Ryan for running it.

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