Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Brief Interlude 3: A New(ish) Portrait of Nelson

According to, a portrait of Lord Nelson has recently been rediscovered.  What's significant is that this 1799 portrait by an Italian artist shows Nelson's wound from the Nile, instead of ignoring it.  Apparently this painting had the 19th Century equivalent of airbrushing done to the wound at one point, but during restoration that paint was removed.  While you can't tell that his arm has been amputated, the picture is a far cry from the usual Nelson portraits.  The article is here:

The auction house selling the portrait has a better view of it here, along with a full description including other modifications to the original painting:

This picture is of a man who is tired, and hurt.  I strongly recommend looking at it while it's available online. It's certainly an antidote to the usual view. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Post Captain at Millenniumcon in Austin

On November 10 and 11, I took the ships and Post Captain rules to MillenniumCon in Austin.  While there, I ran two games using the rules, one with only a single ship per side, and a scenario with 10 ships and 8 players in total.  Although I took more photos of the second game, both games were quite interesting albeit for different reasons.

In the first game, I simply pitted a British 74 Large (HMS Northumberland) against a French 74 (Cassard, of the Cassard/Temeraire class).  The two players very quickly understood the rules, and both played their ships as one might expect.  The French player had the wind gauge, and at first stayed outside the 400-yard range so he could move first.  He would duck inside 400 yards to fire during one impulse of the turn, and then move out again in the next impulse.  He kept firing high and getting rigging hits, but the British player was lucky, and kept repairing them.  The British player fired low, and kept chewing away at the Cassard’s guns and hull.  He did get a critical that destroyed the pumps, but the French player wasn’t yet concerned about that damage.   Finally though, the Frenchman managed to get a critical that broke the Northumberland’s fore topyard and that gave Cassard a slight speed advantage.  Now, the Cassard started closing the range to utilize her advantage.  As she approached the Englishman at an angle, it was clear that she was going to use her speed advantage to pull ahead.  Then, once she had the initiative she would turn and deliver a bow rake on Northumberland.   Instead, the British player got a critical hit with his starboard boardside and shot away Cassard’s wheel.  With the Frenchman forced to go straight, Northumberland could turn and deliver a devastating (6 hits, 12 damage rolls) stern rake at about 50 yards with the previously unengaged larboard broadside.  When the smoke cleared, Cassard had the following damage, including what was inflicted in previous turns:
  1. Captain dead,
  2. 4 Crew hits and 3 Marine hits,
  3. 5 Rigging hits,
  4. Mizzen topgallant mast fallen,
  5. Main topgallant mast sprung,
  6. 7 Gun box hits (out of 26 total),
  7. 5 Hull hits,
  8.  Pumps out,
  9. Wheel smashed and
  10. One boat smashed.
At this point, the French player agreed to strike his colors.  By contrast, Northumberland had taken only:
  1. 2 crew hits and 1 Marine hit,
  2. 1 Gun box hit,
  3.  2 boats smashed and
  4.  Fore topsail yard broken
There were also 3 Rigging hits, but they were repaired during the battle.  Both players said that they enjoyed the game.  More importantly, I overheard the losing player describing the game to his friends afterwards and he was both enthusiastic about it and very complimentary.

On Saturday, I ran a scenario entitled “Imperial Issues” that dealt with a ‘what-if’ scenario off the island of Tortola in 1806.  In the scenario, a French squadron of 6 ships attacks a British squadron of 4 ships, attempting to drive them away so that the French can attack the Jamaica Convoy that is set to arrive soon, albeit after the game itself.  While the French squadron has more ships, they are hobbled by the fact that they have been at sea for 6 months and are low on supplies to repair their ships.  So, if any of them lose a mast (defined here as at least a topmast) they must withdraw.  Also, the captain of one of the ships is Jerome Bonaparte and if he is captured or killed the French cannot win.   Unfortunately for the French Admiral, Jerome has a different set of victory conditions and does not have to obey any orders from his superior.  For the British, Antigua is only a couple of days away so they are not worried about ship damage.  However, this squadron is also the convoy escort and there are no other ships available.  Consequently, if any of their ships are heavily damaged or disabled, they must withdraw and thereby lose the scenario.

The picture below shows the beginning of the scenario.  The wind is from the South (left side of the photo), so the French have the wind gauge and the British are pointing.

The North edge of the map are rocky areas off the island, and anyone exiting that edge will run aground.  The other edges are sea room.

The French ships came on in a mad rush, and as soon as the leading ship was within 400 yards, turned to bring her guns to bear.  

The shooting started right after this picture was taken, and for some reason both sides decided to shoot high throughout the game.  There wasn’t much damage being done at the longer ranges though, and so the French fleet closed in again while the British continued in their line ahead.  

The French didn’t have everything their own way though, as the British fired broadsides right into the teeth of their oncoming enemies.

This didn’t stop the French from getting so close that Veteran sideswiped and fouled Northumberland, locking both ships together and breaking Northumberland’s bowsprit.  Because everyone kept firing high, now the rigging damage was starting to pile up.

Since the French attacked without first forming a line, this left all their captains free to pick their targets as they saw fit.  One of the French ships had even hoisted more sail and was working his way to the far side of the British squadron to double it.  Seeing that the British rear was in danger of being overwhelmed, the two leading British ships (Canada and Elephant) decided to tack and come back down to assist their comrades.  Unfortunately, Canada went into irons while Elephant was successful and started to come back towards the battle.

Canada drifted onto the other tack and started back toward the battle, but by then time was almost up.  We decided to play through the blue phase of the turn we were in, and then roll for rigging checks and everything else.  After that, I would determine the winner.  Now this is where things got interesting! 
Northumberland was the most heavily damaged British ship, as she had NO rigging boxes left.  That sent the mizzen topgallant mast over the side.  She also had a broken bowsprit, and almost every yard was shattered thanks to a combination of critical hits and the sideswipe with Veteran.  She was, however, still capable of fighting as she had only 2 gun and 2 hull hits along with some other insignificant damage.  Agamemnon lost her upper top and topgallant sails, 2 hull and 6 rigging boxes but still had all her guns.  Elephant lost 3 light and one medium gun boxes and 4 rigging boxes but was otherwise intact.  Canada lost her fore topgallant sail, 4 rigging and 1 medium gun boxes, but were otherwise undamaged.

While the above sounds pretty bad for the British, the French were truly not much better off.  While Eole was completely undamaged and Foudroyant had lost her mizzen topgallant, the other ships were pretty beat up.  Cassard had a sprung mizzen topmast and was missing 8 rigging boxes, Veteran had only 5 rigging boxes damaged, but also had a sprung foremast along with some other damage.  Impetueux also had 5 rigging boxes damaged, along with a heavy gun.  Patriote, however, was in serious trouble.  She had 8 rigging boxes missing and that sprung her mizzen topgallant.  Unfortunately for her, the wheel had been smashed and she was heading towards the edge of the board that would cause her to run aground on the rocks if the wheel was not repaired.  So, while I called the scenario a draw at that point, had it gone on for another turn or two, Patriote would have hit the rocks (unless she repaired her wheel, of course, which I don’t think she would have had time to do).  That would have required the French to withdraw, and thereby give the victory to the British.

As an aside, how eager were the French captains to engage their British counterpoints?  Well, this eager:
Patriote fires on both the British flagship Northumberland (right side),
AND her comrade Veteran