I have been running convention games for quite a few years now. The one thing that's guaranteed, is the rule which says players will come up with things that you didn't expect. With that in mind, let me tell you about the 2021 convention game I ran last weekend.
The scenario was entitled, "Another Boston Massacre?", and was a "what-if" scenario that included the USS Independence (the USN's first ship of the line), USS Constitution, and the members of a British blockading squadron. The number of British ships were variable, but could be up to four. On the day, there was one US player and one British player, so there were only 2 ships available to the Royal Navy. One of the two ships was HMS Saturn, a 58 gun razée frigate (cut down from a 74 gun ship of the line) specifically converted to fight the American 44 gunners, and HMS Bulwark (74 guns). All in all, I was looking forward to a pair of right smart fights between the pairs of opponents.
The Post Captain rules that I use for small battles have a three-minute turn that is broken down into three one-minute segments known as Red, White and Blue. You will sometimes see the markers that show this in the photos. The US squadron consists of Independence in the lead and Constitution following. Constitution's orders are to break out into the Atlantic (i.e., exit the far map edge). Independence is there to provide support and, if possible, combat test this brand new ship. Obviously, Independence should avoid being captured! The British squadron consists of HMS Bulwark (74 gun Large class) in the lead and HMS Saturn following.
As the battle started, all ships started to maneuver seemingly independently, as you'll see below.
|Beginning of the White segment of Turn 1
|End of the White segment.
The end of the first turn saw the British go from line astern to a quarter line, while the US ships continued to separate from each other.
|End of Turn 1
As turn 2 progressed, it was clear that the British player had picked out his targets and was closing on them.
|Bulwark fires the first broadside.
|Beginning of Turn 2, Blue phase.
|End of Turn 2
When opposing ships are within 400 yards of each other, both sides roll for initiative in each phase. The winner can either move first, or have the other side move first. The British won, and chose to have the USN move first. I think the British plan was to get behind Independence and stern rake her. Good plan, but the RN player apparently misjudged the speeds, and the inevitable collision occurred.
|Oops. Beginning of 3 Red.
|Constitution adds her opinion to the discussion. 3 Red.
With Constitution running with the wind, and Saturn unable to change course, those two ships rapidly drew away from each other, while Bulwark and Independence remained locked together. At the end of the turn, Bulwark's captain decided not to try a boarding action, and cut his ship loose from the American vessel. All this time though, the British and US Marines have been firing at anything and everything on the upper decks of their opponents. The carnage is terrible; the Bulwark's captain is hit, the Independence's 1st Lieutenant goes down, British marines and American crewmen are dropping like flies.
In the beginning of Turn 4, the Independence starts to move away and Bulwark turns to follow. As she does so, Constitution slides by and puts a broadside into her and Bulwark returns the favor. The US frigate then starts to raise sail so she can escape the area.
|It's rude to leave without saying goodbye.
Saturn has sailed off the board, unable to repair her wheel, and Constitution is running for the open ocean. Only Bulwark and Independence are left. The two ships of the line take up parallel courses about 50 yards from each other, and proceed to pound away.
|Last photo, as the view hereafter is unchanged.
During these exchanges, Bulwark had her wheel shot away, which disrupted the British players plans considerably. Since the lower gunports of Independence are so close to the water, she cannot fire her lower guns on the leeward side, effectively cutting her firepower in half on that side. The British player did tell me afterwards that his plan was to get to leeward of the American, but it never did pan out.
With time running out, we ended the game. I adjudicated it as a minor US victory, since Constitution was able to get past the blockade with relatively little damage. Much like real life, I can't tell you which broadside caused what damage. What I can do is show you some before and after shots of the opposing forces:
|Royal Navy ships before
|US Navy ships before
|US Navy ships after
|The hat was borrowed, but I
will definitely be getting my own.