Sunday, June 7, 2020

Age of Sail - The Treasure Galleon

I have been working on a modified set of hex based naval rules (called KAOS) for fighting medium sized Age of Sail battles on hexes based on the old Avalon Hill Wooden Ships & Iron Men rules and using ships from the Sails of Glory range.

Because of the Corona situation, the battle was fought via a Skype link. I plan to use a playing area with 40 mm hexes but for this test, under Corona-isolation, I used the grass green 35 mm hex playing are that I had readily available and hastily made ship bases. 

British briefing:
The Admiralty has received intelligence that the Spanish are sending a Treasure Galleon named Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (74-gun Ship of the Line) under the command of Juan Esteban de Ubilla from La Habana in the Americas back to Cadiz in Spain. You have set up a chain of three 38-gun frigates – HMS PHEOBE (9), HMS DRYAD(10) and HMS CAROLINE(4) - across the Treasure Galleon’s probable course.

Spanish briefing:
You have been ordered to transport a large sum of gold and silver from the mines in the Americas safely back to Spain. You have a 74-gun Ship of the Line, Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, in which to make the voyage. You have loaded the treasure in San Cristóbal de La Habana and are now bound for Cadiz. A keen-eyed lookout spots a chain off frigates across your path, and they are soon identified as Royal Navy. Unwilling to capitulate, and resigned to the fact that you cannot reach Cadiz without first sinking or disabling the faster and more nimble enemy vessels, you order the decks cleared for battle.

 Nuestra Señora de las Nieves leaving port and heading out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Actually a French 74 with a Spanish ensign added by Photoshop.

The British frigates HMS PHEOBE, HMS DRYAD and HMS CAROLINE were spread out in a chain, close hauled, heading towards the probable position of the treasure galleon. Nuestra Señora de las Nieves was running before the wind, heading for Spain.

They started 20 hexes apart, well out of cannon range. The wind marker shows the wind blowing from the bottom of the picture.

DRYAD and CAROLINE continued forward while PHEOBE fell off in order to wear.
Nuestra Señora de las Nieves set her sights on the rightmost frigate of the chain.

DRYAD and CAROLINE continued forward and PHEOBE continued wearing.
The Spaniard continued to head for CAROLINE.

DRYAD and CAROLINE continued forward and PHEOBE completed wearing.
The Spaniard continued to head for CAROLINE.

All ships moved forward.

DRYAD fell off in order to wear. All other ships moved forward.

DRYAD continued wearing. PHEOBE moved forward. CAROLINE turned away from the Spaniard which turned early having misjudged CAROLINE's manoeuvre.

DRYAD completed wearing. CAROLINE decided to keep her distance from the Spaniard. PHEOBE turned away.  Nuestra Señora de las Nieves headed for CAROLINE.

The British ships formed up together as the Spaniard attempted to close.

The British ships manoeuvre in a rather confusing fashion as the Spaniard continued to close.

Now within carronade range, Nuestra Señora de las Nieves fired her initial starboard broadside into DRYAD.

Nuestra Señora de las Nieves turned and fired her initial larboard broadside into CAROLINE.

Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and DRYAD exchanged fire at close range while CAROLINE opened fire in support. PHEOBE was behind both ships and cannot open fire.

Nuestra Señora de las Nieves raked DRYAD at point blank range, but the Spaniard's gunnery was poor.

The Spaniard exchanged fire with PHEOBE.

CAROLINE raked, at point blank range, the stern of the Nuestra Señora de las Nieves which in turn raked PHEOBE.

Nuestra Señora de las Nieves fired a raking braodside into PHEOBE just as both ships collided. PHEOBE's crew gallantly boarded the much larger Spaniard and started a melee with her more numerous, although poorly trained, crew.

DRYAD and CAROLINE collided.

PHEOBE's crew were sacrificing themselves to stop the Spaniard from escaping. They were gradually being overwhelmed by the Spaniard's larger crew, but luck was on their side and they were gaining time as DRYAD and CAROLINE charged to the aid of PHEOBE. 

As the melee continued, DRYAD and CAROLINE grappled the Spaniard and boarded to aid the struggling PHEOBE.

PHEOBE's self-sacrifice had gained time and the crews of DRYAD and CAROLINE tipped the balance of the melee back in favour of the British. With the captain of CAROLINE leading the boarders from the front, and after a prolonged fight, the Spaniard's ensign was hauled down and replaced with the White Ensign.

PHEOBE's brave but decimated crew returned to the their ship with their wounded. DRYAD and CAROLINE put a prize crew onboard the Nuestra Señora de las Nieves.

Damage was quickly and efficiently repaired although the damage done to the Spaniards hull required that the prisoners pump to keep her afloat. 

The ships set course for England with every man jack aboard thinking about the prize money. Even the smallest share should be enough to buy a small pub while the captain's share would be enough for a fine manor house.

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