Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sails Of Glory: A first test with autopilot

This was basically a simple scenario on the open ocean with two British 74's (HMS Vanguard and HMS Bellona) meeting two French 74's (Generaux and Commerce de Bordeaux). They start at opposite ends of the game mat, both sides in line astern and beating into the wind.

We use the Sails Of Glory rules.

The scenario was made interesting, when we chose to sail one British 74 each and let the French sail on the "autopilot" rules written by Herkybird. These rules are simple to use and surprisingly effective although we amended them somewhat during this test.

Once the ships near each other, you determine what the "autopilot" ship does, by using a combination of...

  • the direction of the nearest threat - using a simple "clock" system
  • the distance to the nearest threat
  • if the "autopilot" ship is on fire
  • a D6 die roll
The two forces approach each other and battle commences.
The leading French ship (Commerce de Bordeaux) could rake the leading British ship (HMS Bellona) using it's forward starboard guns. Although the rules say "autopilot" ship will not fire with only their forward guns, we quickly amended them to allow this when it is a short range rake.

The ships closed and HMS Bellona fired a first broadside into Commerce de Bordeaux.
Commerce de Bordeaux replied using continuous fire (another rules amendment we made).

Now HMS Vanguard and Generaux join the fight.
While Commerce de Bordeaux misses her chance to turn downwind and rake the British.

HMS Bellona turns into the wind to tack, while managing a stern rake on the Generaux.
HMS Vanguard and Generaux exchange shots from their rear cannons.

The ships are now no longer within cannon shot, but HMS Bellona successfully completes her tack and goes in chase of the French. 
HMS Bellona pursues the French. HMS Vanguard decides to gibe rather than risk tacking.

The French turn back towards the British in an attempt to get back into cannon shot. They probably should have done it the previous turn but we missed that sentence in the "autopilot" rules.

Commerce de Bordeaux opens fire on HMS Bellona, but luckily she wasn't in a position to rake, and her previous damage made the fire less effective.

The ships are now at close quarters, the musket fire from the Royal Marines was especially effective. At this moment, the battle still hung in the balance, all four ships were damaged. Was it the skill of the British captains, or perhaps luck, that at this critical moment caused both French ships to catch fire? We suspect it was the extreme close range that allowed burning wadding from the British cannons to catch the French ships alight.

HMS Bellona raked the stern of the Commerce de Bordeaux while HMS Vanguard poured a broadside into her port side. On fire and with a serious leak the Commerce de Bordeaux settled slowing into the Ocean. On fire and with many crew killed and wounded, the Generaux was having trouble fighting the fire.
We stopped the game there, with a convincing British victory. The Generaux will be chased down by the British ship, while she is fighting the fire, she will be boarded and taken back to Portsmouth as a prize. The victory was without a doubt won more by luck than the skill of the British Captains. That however won't be mentioned in the letter sent to the Admiralty, and when printed in the Gazette both British Captains will be national heroes.