Over the weekend a few of Posties Rejects gathered in the Shed-o-War for something a little different from our usual fare. Postie dusted off his Napoleonic ships and hex tiles for a game called Man-o-War. I think these are another one of Posties own 'customised' rule sets that are simple to play and quick to learn. They certainly gave all of us pause for thought and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the game (although some enjoyed it more than others for reasons that will soon come clear). One of the best aspects of these rules was that there was minimal dice rolling and most of that was just to determine the location of, rather than how much, damage was inflicted.
Setting the Scene
28th August 1793 - Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea a French Fleet is on patrol trying to stop any British ships from coming to the aid of Toulon which is being surrounded by French forces. The game begins with both forces blindly heading towards each other...who will spot who first?
Order of Battle
British (Richard & John)
Ville de Paris - 110 Gun Ship of the Line (Flagship)
Thunderer - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Tanais - 38 Gun Frigate
Africa - 64 Gun Ship of the Line
Canopus - 80 Gun Ship of the Line (Commodore)
Implacable - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Glatton - 54 Gun Ship of the Line
Empervier - 16 Gun Brig
French (Surjit & BigLee)
Commerci de Marseilles - 120 Gun Ship of the Line (Flagship)
Le Pompee - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Le Rivoli - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
La Pomone - 40 Gun Frigate
Le Hoche - 76 Gun Ship of the Line (Chef d'escadne)
Le Superbe - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Mars - 20 Gun Corvette
Duguay-Troven - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
The models used are 1:2000th scale and I am told most (possibly all) are from the NavWar range of white metal models. All were painted by Postie.
The game was played out on an 8'x10' table using plastic hex terrain.
|The French fleet (foreground) and British fleet converge while Postie explains the basics of the rules to the two British commanders.|
|The French Fleet in two neat lines...it wouldn't stay in formation for long.|
|The French Admiral diverges from his own plan to attack a British Frigate with three Ships of the Line.|
|The french sub commander (me) however stays in line. I know this is the best formation to be in, and at this stage of the game we had the Weather Gage (the wind was in our favour).|
|Despite loosing the wind the British move into the attack anyway because they know they are effectively only fighting half the French fleet. Its will still be tough fight but the battle is now theirs to loose.|
|Now the British ships turn their guns on the Le Pomone and pound her mercilessly (ooer missus!). She is soon on fire, with many of her guns destroyed and missing a mast. There is still plenty of fight left in her yet though.|
|British commodore Richard directs his ships. Richard is normally what I would|
describe as the Gentleman Wargamer (especially when compared to the other
Rejects) but I saw a whole other side to him in this game!
|The La Pomone has multiple holes below the waterline and is both sinking and on fire. In last desperate move she tries to ram the Thunderer but British seamanship beats french desperation any day of the week. The Pomone sinks shortly afterwards.|
|My squadron arrives just in time to take some damage but is still struggling into the wind and at that point the Umpire calls it as a British Victory.|
|Two deserving winners. Richard and John handled their ships well, had a good strategy and most importantly use the wind to their advantage. Well done lads.|
What can I say that won't offend my commanding officer? Next time I think a little mutiny might help our cause! For a change I can't blame defeat on the dice rolls because this rule system uses relatively few. I can't even pass it off as a case of our plan not surviving contact with the enemy, because for the most part I don't think we had a plan. All I can say is that we (meaning me and Surj) learnt a lot in this game, especially the need to think several moves ahead and to take the wind direction into account of everything you do or plan to do. Fighting into the wind is exceptionally hard and, as we found out, it is all too easy for the enemy to divide your forces and destroy you piecemeal.
Despite the defeat I would relish the opportunity to give these rules another go and I hope to earn my sea legs in a future game. At the very least I would like to have a chance to go down fighting instead of spending the game tacking into the wind like it was the Americas bleedin' Cup.