Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wargames Weekend 08 Part 3: Saturday Afternoon

Saturday afternoon I broke out my wee ships for a bit of high seas action in the age of sail. We used a modified version of the ship combat rules from Savage Worlds: Pirates of the Spanish Main . Some of my house rules can be found on another post (Tim’s Age of Sail House Rules for Savage Worlds). I ran a little play-test of this game two weeks before the event and found some more problems with the rules so I tweaked them further. Because I was sick most of the intervening two weeks I didn’t get to test them again with said tweaks before the big event – but they turned out just fine and, I think, made the game much better. I will finish typing them up and post them here shortly. I’ve also changed some of the ship designations.

I think for most this was the highlight of the weekend! In attendance were: Cory, John Burt, John Bertolini, Jay, Darrin, Christian, Gary and, of course, myself.

Action off the Coast of Luteland!


“Bonnie” Prince Timmy, who has a tenuous (at best!) claim to the throne of Luteland, has lived his entire life in exile. As did his father. And his father’s father. And maybe even his father’s, father’s father… Really, I’m not sure when any member of his family sat on the throne of Luteland, but he claims it’s rightfully his so there it is.

Whatever the case “Bonnie” Prince Timmy will not let another generation go by with those savage foreigners sitting on the thrown with their new religions and fancy pants! With the aide of the Duke of Lapindy he sails for the highlands and islands of Northern Luteland - where the staunchly conservative folk have never thought much of these “new” kings – to raise his standard for all supporters of the rightful king to rally to!

With him sails five transports carrying five battalions of troops – a couple raised from other Luteland exiles and a couple of Lapindy regulars.

Though much was done to keep the expedition secret on the morning before their they were to arrive at their destination, as they crossed into Luteland waters a squadron of the Royal Luteland Navy was there waiting for them. Were they informed of the prince’s immanent arrival or was it pure chance they happen to be sailing these waters? It matters not – they were there and there was nothing for it but to try and run for the islands!


The convoy of “Bonnie” Prince Timmy must sail off the Northern edge of the table for his side to win.

To determine the extent of each sides victory or failure I came up with a set of victory points for each side:

Lapindy/”Bonnie” Prince Timmy Victory Points
+5 for each Transport ship sailed off the opposite end of the table
-10 for each Transport ship SUNK
-5 for each Transport ship captured
-5 for each Escort ship sunk
-2 for each ship crippled (dead in water)
-1 for each ship damaged but not sunk or captured

+5 for each Transport ship prevented from landing in Luteland (sunk, captured, or turned back)
-5 for each Lute ship sunk (other than sloops)
-2 for each ship crippled (dead in water) – or sloops sunk
-1 for each ship damaged – or sloops crippled.

Both sides then consult the following chart
25+ Decisive/Stunning victory – the Admirals name will go down in history as one of the greatest naval Commanders! Titles will be bestowed!
16 to 24 Major Victory
6 to 15 Minor Victory
-5 to +5 draw
-5 to -10 Defeat
-11 to -19 Major Defeat
-20 or less DISASTER!! Your commander will be making a quick trip to the gallows and his family exiled, shamed for the rest of time. The action will in later years become synonymous with blundering idiocy!

Looking back I should have given bonus points for ships captured to discourage bloodthirstiness so prevalent in gamers that have no real stake in the survival of the wee forces they command…



Johann Karl – Man-O-War (5-mast)
Nordlo – 2nd Rate Ship of the Line (4-mast)
Ostholm – 3rd Rate Ship of the Line (3-mast)
North Star – 3rd Rate Ship of the Line (3-mast)
Red Snapper – Privateering Frigate (2-mast)
Wolf – Sloop (1-mast)
Snow – Sloop (1mast)

“Bonnie” Prince Timmy/Lapindy

Vengeur - 2nd Rate Ship of the Line (4-mast)
Vauban - 2nd Rate Ship of the Line (4-mast)
Bonhomme - Frigate (2-mast)
Rapier - Frigate (2-mast)

Marseille – Troop Transport (4-mast)
Toulon – Troop Transport (4-mast)
Bayonne – Troop Transport (4-mast)
Harfleur – Troop Transport (4-mast)
Duchess of Lorraine – Troop Transport (4-mast)


John Burt and Cory captained the escorts for “Bonnie” Prince Timmy’s convoy. I moved the transports. John Bertonlini played the admiral commanding the Luteland squadron and captained the Johann Karl. Jay, Gary, Christian, and Darrin all captained ships of the squadron.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Initial dispositions of “Bonnie” Prince Timmy’s convoy and escorts. Not sure why the escorts were so damn far away. Both sides tried to be upwind of each other and so mostly deployed all along the western edge of the table (where the wind was coming from). This had disastrous consequences for us in very short order!

The squadron of the Royal Luteland Navy again all deployed along the western edge of the table among the clutter of dice and ship cards… I should have said “No sailing within 6” of the table edge – and not dice, cards or clutter beyond 6” of the table edge!”

On the left is the lead ships of the convoy. The smaller faster ships of the Luteland squadron can be seen swooping towards the convoy to menace them!

Bonnie Prince Timmy’s convoy again and their escorts too damn far away… Luckily around the time this picture was taken Captain Corticus pulled the first of six (count ‘em SIX) jokers he’s draw throughout the game (with all that “luck” who’d have thought he should whine so….). So we got to try out my fancy new Naval Fortune and Calamity and Naval Freak events tables… a roll on the freak event table brought us a rain storm! -2 to all shooting for the rest of the game or another freak event changes the weather… It was the only thing that kept us from being sunk in the next two turns….

Unfortunately others were getting jokers as well – one of the Lutelanders rolled “out of ammo” – this is in the original fortune and calamity table and on the spot I decided to change it – as having one of our ships of the line being completely out of ammo for the rest of the game seemed unusually harsh! Instead I called it “low ammo/wet powder” and thus the Vauban, commanded by Captain Corticus would only ever be able to fire half the guns he would normally be able to fire under any given circumstances….

The Vauban takes the first shot – a long range pot shot at the North Star with one of it’s bow-chasers.

The North Star crossed in front of the convoy and raked the Duchess of Lorraine causing one “wound”.

Here the North Star, commanded by Captain Knudsen – a wily and cunning sailor (perhaps he missed his calling joining the Militia and would have done better in the Naval Reserve….) – has swung around the convoy and, shielded from the escorts by the convoy itself!

The North Star then proceeded to unleash broadsides along the whole line of transports. The first broadside into the Duchess of Lorraine (aided by a “teamwork” result on Darrin’s Joker allowing Christian to act on the card and receive the +2 bonus to all rolls for the turn) caused three more “wounds” leaving it crippled and on fire!

On it’s action card The Duchess of Lorraine (seen here burning) was consumed by the fire and sank! Perhaps an additional effect of a rain storm should be a -1 to rolls on the Fire Table, as The Duchess would not be the last of the transports to burn and sink in the middle of a rainstorm…!?

Lest the rest of the ships of the Luteland squadron get around the convoy (not to mention to avoid the sinking ruin of the Duchess of Lorraine) the nest ship in line turned the convoy south to block others from following the North Star!

At this point the Red Snapper, a privateering vessel in the service of Luteland, was close enough to invoke their special rule…. Any time an enemy ship with bennies (we all started with a few) sailed within 12” of the Snapper they could try and buy their services. To do this one gave the Snapper a benny and then diced of with them – high roll from the Snapper’s captain meant they remained loyal to the side they were currently fighting for, high roll for the potential buyers captain meant the Snapper switched sides!

The snapper switched sides at least four times this turn, ending up on our side which had dire results for the Luteland squadron within whom the Red Snapper was conveniently positioned!

Broadsides to the Ostholm and Nordlo on either side resulted in two wounds to the Ostholm damaging cannon, fouling their rudder and starting a fire! The Nordlo escaped without any serious damage.

The burning ship in the bottom right is the Ostholm, commanded by Captain Chappell.

What a MESS! All these ships at incredibly close range, all firing broadsides at each other… if it hadn’t been for the rainstorm there would have been much more carnage. MUCH more. As it was ships of the line would fire entire broadsides and cause no hits… it was madness.

The Ostholm burned and sank. As Captain Knudsen had to leave to attend some family gathering Captain Chappell swam over to the North Star to take over just as it was coming about.

I think this is where the Johann Karl unleashed a broadside on the Vauban (the two ships of the line at the top of the picutre) – which should have been devastating – but the Vauban sailed on unscathed!?

I think it was the Nordlo, commanded by Captain Mudie, which fired on the treacherous Red Snapper and set it afire!

The North Star coming about, preparing to give chase!

The fire went out on the Red Snapper, then it changed sides again… a couple mre times. I can’t remember whose side it was on in the end…. But some one fired on it crippling the frigate and it sat in this position for the rest of the game. It took a couple more shots from other ships that happen to be passing by as they came about – which was rather unsporting – but managed to survive the day.

The Snow has fired on the Harfleur – the last transport in the line and set her ablaze.

The Vauban rakes the Nordlo from behind and “tore [it’s] stern up navy-style” as Captain Mudie put it… This caused three “wounds” and damaged cargo, guns and started a fire. The fire went out on the Nordlos action card but on the following turn The Vauban Broadsided the Nordlo again, crippling it and leaving it dead in the water. Jay then took over the Wolf from Darrin. Christian had returned, having skipped out early on his family function, and took command of the Snow (Darrin had been playing the two Lute Sloops AND the Red Snapper from the beginning of the game)

The North Star has caught up with the line of transports and was lazily sailing along side them broadsiding at will… I should have given the transport a couple of 4-pounders each…

A number of crippled ships have been left behind to be salvaged by the victors after the game.

Fire rages on aboard the Harfleur.

At some point here we took a break and went for supper at Amigos. I think Darrin took over the Johann Karl as John didn’t return with us after supper.

The Vengeur, commanded by Captain Burt “crossed the T” on the North Star here… but I don’t recall it doing any damage in the rain…

At some point – just to get the game moving – I declared that the rain storm had ended and winds had picked up – increasing everyone’s top speed by one and drying out the powder aboard the Vauban and Vengeur (as the Vengeur had also gotten it’s powder wet by one of the Lutelanders rolls on the Naval Fortune table…)

Here the Harfleur has been further damaged by the fire and is dead in the water and continues to burn. I suggested that the strong winds should also blow out the fires on the Harfleur… nobody seemed willing to go for that though… I can’t see why…?!

Ah I think this is where the North Star did a pile of damage to the Vengeur – 1 wound but a PILE of criticals including rudder, weapons, and crew it also caused the ship to turn away – which was a big problem since it’s rudder was damaged it wouldn’t be able to turn back! The North Star also did considerable damage to the Toulon an started a fire

Here the Harfleur has burned and sank, the Toulon continues to burn – flames being fanned by the strong winds. The Vengeur has turned away – so I turned the convoy to sail along with it hoping it may be able to continue to offer at least SOME protection.

I think the Toulon is about to burn and sink here. The Vengeur has hit the Northstar Damaging it’s rudder and causing it to turn away. The Johann Karl did some more damage to the Bayonne leaving it crippled and dead in the water (it had taken some damage early in the game from the North Star’s first pass at the convoy). As a parting shot the North Star fired an unsporting broadside on the crippled Bayonne, sinking it…. that Captain Chappell is a ruthless commander…

Here the Marseille is about to sail off the table – still being harassed by one of the Lute’s sloops.


As I said everyone had a great time playing this one. Even the whining from Captain Corticus was at a minimum (perhaps even he was sick of listening himself at this point, or perhaps getting to “tear up [Jay’s] stern, navy-style” so filled him with glee he just plain forgot to… or perhaps it was all drowned out by the rain and the roar of the cannons).

The action would have been much quicker had it not been for the rain. Nobody seemed to mind, though. We started at 2pm and (after taking a break for supper) finished around 8:30-9PM(!?), but everyone was having a great time right up to the very end! In total we played out about 28 turns. I think the long drawn out battle actually helped give everyone time to really learn the rules (as there were many playing the system for the very first time).

I felt the changes to the rules all worked exceptionally well – as I mentioned I will post these soon.

John Bertolini’s actually gone and started making some new wee ships of his own since Saturday. Both Christian and Gary have said they’d like to play again. So we shall probably see this showing up at regular game nights in the near future.

Here is the butcher’s bill for the encounter:


Johann Karl – damaged
Nordlo – crippled
Ostholm – sank
North Star – damaged
Red Snapper – crippled
Wolf – Sloop (1-mast)
Snow – crippled

“Bonnie” Prince Timmy/Lapindy

Vengeur - damaged
Vauban - damaged
Bonhomme - damaged
Rapier - sunk

Marseille – damaged
Toulon – sunk
Bayonne – sunk
Harfleur – sunk
Duchess of Lorraine – sunk

The Lutelanders scored a total of +7 victory points, a minor victory, having successfully prevented four of the five transports from getting through, but suffered much damage themselves.

The Lapins and “Bonnie” Prince Timmy suffered a disastrous defeat! -43 victory points!? He would have to land in Luteland with only one battalion of troops. Hopefully many disaffected Lutelanders will rally to his cause and fill the ranks of his army!

Realistically I probably should have turned the convoy around after the North Star made it’s first sail past damaging the transports (and sinking one!) but that would have made for such an intensely short game. We then made it over half the table befor the transports were again damaged and at that point it would have been too long to get them back across the table so I pressed on. I guess I could have surrendered them or turned them about and if the Lutelanders said they wouldn’t

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Wargames Weekend 08 Part 4: Saturday Evening


  1. Very, very great report: thanks for sharing!
    Now, may I offer a suggestion? Since Luteland (& Neukirch) are lacking a blog of their own, what about 'labelling' (it can be done a posteriori) 'Luteland' the posts devoted to this pair of Imagi-Nations? Thus Old School aficionados of the Grant - Young tradition would be sure to miss none.

    Best regards,
    aka Louys de Monte-Cristo

  2. Thanks Jean-Louis!

    I was actually thinking of doing just that - adding a label for our campaign in Luteland!

  3. To be honest, I assumed we could not win that scenario when I saw the scoring, 2 sunk ships would sink us. We knew our opponents were a bunch of bloodthirsty bastards so of course they will try to sink eeverything.

    That my dice were stone cold all game didn't help either...

    I was thinking, maybe you should change the storm rules to state that storms only last for a certain amount of time (15 turns?) and then they go away. This would prevent the firing from being as ineffective. Of course, if the weather would have cleared we would not have lasted nearly as long.

  4. I was thinking the exact same thing - limiting the duration of storms but make it random say 3d6 turns.

    Another possibly could be to have "weather change" as one of the entries on the Naval Fortune and Calamity table - maybe instead of the "Out of Ammo" result...?

    The "Weather Change" result could lead to a "Weather sub-table" (2d6) with the most often results (6-8 ) being a change in the wind direction.

    Others could include a change in intensity of wind - light winds (slows everybody down) strong winds (speeds everybody up - at least those traveling WITH or across the wind). Storms would be on the 2 or the 12 but would be ended by ANY change in weather result?

    It was the sinking of transports that did us in - the other ships weren't worth as much - if I had included bonus points for them CAPTURING ships - they may not have been so anxious to sink them - especially if they didn't know how many point we lost for sinking them...

  5. I love your "wee ships" and the game looks like it was a lot of fun.

    -- Jeff

  6. This was really a fun game! The ships seemed to move close enough to "reality" to be believable, The Savage Worlds combat system worked to. Everyone else was very familiar with it and helped me out. It would be interesting to try this with some grappling and boarding rules too! I liked the ideas presented on the blog for limiting storm length and having wind direction changes. Thanks for making this scenario and all the pretty ships too. - Gary

  7. You didn't emphasize the North Star enough - what a ship! What a day! Definitely the Flannels* for that man


    * For those not familiar with Lutelandish orders and decorations, the Order of the Flannels is the kingdom's highest order, bestowable only by the Sovereign. It is the equivalent of the English Order of the Garter, except that the men of Luteland clearly favour warmth over other less mentionable assets when it comes to their womenfolk. The Order's motto translates into English as "More wood for the fire, and another Bearskin, woman!"

  8. THAT is too damn funny!

    Flannels to you indeed!

    I must say that definitely was a sharp bit of sailoring nipping in front of the convoy and getting them in between yourself and their escorts where you could just paste them undetered! Bravo sir!

  9. I love your little ships, can you tell how they were built?

  10. Thanks, I actually did a how-to back in July of 2007:

    Tim's Shipyard