About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The rime of the not-so-ancient mariners

Welcome to my first ever blog! I hope to record some of the more interesting games and some of the painting that I undertake here and maybe it will prove some sort of inspiration to anyone contemplating the wonderful, colourful world of wargaming.

Last night, my brother, Carl, and our friend James engaged in our first seaborne adventure using the Warhammer Historical Trafalgar rules. I have been painting up some Langton British and Spanish ships since last November and finally managed to get enough ships finished to at last lay on a game. I also recently acquired a blue game mat so we were in a position to go for it. Carl had the desire and the time last week to make some scenery, too, which included a fine little lighthouse so the table was going to look even nicer!

So the scene was set...! The scenario was that a British squadron of three 3rd rates - HMS Caesar (80), HMS Captain (74) and HMS Agammemnon (64) - was blockading a Spanish port. However, a kings ransom of gold was bring brought to Spain in a convoy of treasure ships and this port was the appointed destination. Holed up in the port were two of Spain's finest ships, Santa Ana (112) and San Justo (74). These ships, under Admiral James, were to sally out of the port and break the blockade, allowing the treasure to makeit's way into the Spanish king's coffers.
The Spanish ships needed to have some upgrades applied to bring the points level, so I added some bow and stern chasers, as well as a ships physician for the Santa Ana. The British lined up bow to stern in one corner and the Spanish in a less ordered fashion in the opposite corner. The Spanish coast leading into the port appears at the far end and the lighthouse was in the middle of the battle area, a fact that was going to cause us amateur naval tacticians some headaches!

Both squadrons seemed to make a beeline for the lighthouse, essentially going headlong for each other. As the British Commodore, Carl had command of Caesar and Captain, whilst I had Agammemnon (I was the only one to have read the rules, so we felt it better for me to have the minor command, as I'd be dipping in and out of the book). I was ordered to engage and occupy San Justo while Carl sandwiched Santa Ana. The wind was initially to our disadvantage and we were beating towards the menacing broadsides of the Spanish ships who held the initiative. The British went around the near side of the lighthouse whilst James split his ships up sending San Justo towards us while Santa Ana went around the windward side. This led to the first shots being sent by San Justo's bow chasers, to little effect.

As the British line passed by the lighthouse it meant they passed San Justo and she exchanged fire with both Caesar and Captain, the second of which lead to panic on the Spanish ship, meaning she was temporarily unable to fire her great guns to any effect. Agammemnon, which was coming up last and had just escaped taking the full weight of Santa Ana's broadside due to the lighthouse island, was able to position for a bow rake.

The British were now having to turn into the wind or wear and Caesar managed to mess this up and ended up 'in irons' and took a couple of turns to get under way again. In the meantime, Agamemmnon and San Justo exchanged fire a couple of times and seriously damaged each other. As they disengaged Caesar managed to form back up with Agammemnon while Captain forged ahead to engage Santa Ana, which had curiously managed to remain aloof from the combat so far. This was all to change, though.

Upon passing each other, Santa Ana and Captain exchanged broadsides, but the sheer number of heavy cannon carried by the Spanish 1st rate was telling and Captain suffered too many critical hits. As she veered away her stern was presented to Santa Ana who couldn't refuse the opportunity and Captain was raked. The catastrophic damage caused meant that she was abandoned to fall into the hands of the Spanish. At this point, the remaining British ships were in position to reengage which they did with gusto, but it was too late. Captain had been lost without doing nearly enough damage and Agammemnon was already hurt. In the following turns Agammemnon and San Justo neutralised each other while Caesar engaged Santa Ana to largely the same fate as Captain despite managing to rake the Spanish monster from stem to stern!

In the end, the power of the British Navy ships were their numbers and their drilled crews, but they were never brought to bear in any concentrated way. Against San Justo things went well enough, but as soon as Santa Ana came into play against lone 3rd rates, there was no contest. This was a very fun game and all of us came away wanting to play more, simply as we felt we needed to learn more about this type of warfare. There is so much to think about with the wind direction, sale settings, inertia and all the rest. So fear not...the Royal Navy will be back!

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