Monday, 25 March 2013

Trial Games at Club

 AT the club yesterday I found 2 chaps (Graham and Tim, Patrick as well for the third game) willing to try out the Blood Bilge and Iron Balls rules, (BBIB). So we settled down to make sure as a club that we liked this set. I talked them through the set up and how the rules worked and we played the first game with me as a reff. They each had a 64 gun third rate ship of he line, with no fancy optional rules or different ships. Just the basics to get us going. So the first battle went like this. Two or three turns of moving ships and very little shooting, which you expect until they get pretty close. Even using the 2400th scale ships the guns have a 12" range so "close" is a comparative score. Now one of the things I like about BBIB is the turn sequence. It's random! By that I mean that each player has a sailing phase in which they move, a firing phase in which they let loose with the guns and a repair phase in which they get to re order the ship, mend sails patch the hull reinstate the chain of command and those sort of things. At the beginning of the game the Repair phase is  Meh. Once you ship starts taking damage though it's vital if you want to keep afloat. Anyway cutting a long story very short Tim Manoeuvred, then Graham sailed into position for a stern rake and the last phase (as already mentioned was randomly drawn ) turned out to be Grahams Firing phase. One Stern Rake on Tim's 3rd rate but Grahams gunners mostly rolled low and only 2 cannon factors hit. Still devastating, but Tim ship "EL Titanica" (Made up name for the day) survived. Next turn and the first action drawn was Grahams Firing phase. So before Tim could move or repair anything Graham gave him another stern rake. Ouch. This time his gunners were on target and 5 of his 6 gun factors hit causing 15 damage cards to be drawn. This is Bad! What makes it worse was that the second damage card Graham drew was the red joker (A critical hit) and 5 additional cards were to be drawn. It could not get any worse for Tim until the black Joker was also drawn, and another critical was achieved and Tim's ship was pretty much turned to ash by the damage and raging fire.

So for the second game they took two 64 gun 3rd rates each. This Time it was Grahams turn to suffer. After some initial turns of manoeuvring and getting into range Tim was able to bring the broadsides of his two ships onto one of Grahams. While Graham was out of ark to return fire. he made them count and although it was not an instant ship death like the previous game had done enough damage to cripple Grahams ship "Grey Lady" and to stop it from being able to steer until he could get the steerage repaired. Which he failed to do for a couple of turns so the ship had to just carry on in a straight line which meant that Tim could pound it some more with one ship, the other going in the wrong direction and therefore literally two ships that passed in the night (ok it was daylight but you know what I mean). This second ship of Tim's "El Lusitania"  moved into ark of Grahams other ship and it too suffered steerage damage and was stuck facing into the wind, unable to change course until it finally managed to repair the damaged rudder controls. All the while Graham was dropping shot all over it.

So as Patrick had now been observing the game and both Tim and Graham had one relatively undamaged ship each and one ship sinking each (Graham from a severely breached hull and Tim's ship on fire but without sufficient crew to put all the fires out in the repair phase) Both Myself and Patrick bought another 3rd rate each to control. Both the picture pertain to that encounter. It was a chaotic cat fight with each captain reacting to the other sides positions and trying to out-manoeuvre them. The last few turns though saw me dispatch Patricks ship, The ship was relatively intact and would make a good prise, as I had mostly (by fluke) managed to kill crew and not damage the ship. even his command structure, was in good shape. At the cost of one of my masts (which reduced speed and manoeuvrability my ships master gunner, carpenter and with a chain of command so full of holes it was more sieve like than chain like. Grahams ship had likewise lost a mast and most of his crew and was trying to "limp" of the table. The final two turns saw Tim shine. He completely outmanoeuvred me  managed to Stern Rake me (he must have learnt how to do that in the first game), which again surprisingly resulted in both Joker criticals being drawn. And then he boarded me. My crew now so reduced as to be rolling just 2 d6 put up a good fight against Tim's intact Marines but as Tim managed to score 3 "kills" to my two, I literally had no crew left so he carried the day and I struck my colours!

Conclusion: Firstly It was a lot of fun. The rules work well, but we all thought that controlling more that 3 ships was beyond us (at least at this stage). The rules are simple and straight forward even intuitive but give a sufficient level of challenge. This make the games playable as games arher than exact detail simulations. To me this is the right approach.
Given the size of the ships (40mmx 20mm bases) My ship starting the game late still managed to travel 4 and a half feet down the table with the wind and about 9 inches tacking back into the wind. Which tells me that the ship size is about right for a game on the boards I have started to make. (Big smile on my face). There are a number of tweaks I need to make to take the game from club level to show level. Things to indicate full or half sail settings, measuring sticks and better Phase activation cards spring to mind as well as a couple of stands for sinking of sunken ships would also be nice.

So what next? As I need to get a couple of bits and bobs to do the next stage of the boards I will give them a break for a week or two, knowing that the game will work in a show setting. As I still have plenty of time, Broadside is on 9th June, there is now no need to rush and I will look to get everything finished mid May so we can get a practice game in with the full set up and everything looking groovy!

Thanks for reading, I hope you found something of interest, and I will do my next blog post on Wednesday. All the best Clint


12 comments:

  1. There's a lot of work that goes into what you are doing. Sorry to hear that you lost, but it looks like you're onto something here, so it's all good.

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    1. I have the attitude that the winner is the one who had fun. I lost the game but had fun so as far as I am concerned I won! It went well for a first time out, I learnt a lot made a couple of mistakes (I usually do) and know where I am going, so it's all good!

      And thanks Anne

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  2. Hi Clint,

    Sounds as if everyone had a good time and the rules worked out well....I too know the author and not only is he a great guy but he writes a mean set of rules too :) Looking forward to seeing the game in action at Broadside!

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    1. Thanks Alan(rules writer) Abbey. Yes the rules work fine, and a fun game has resulted.

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  3. Great AAR, the ships will stand out well on your completed boards.

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    1. Thanks Jo. Really appreciated.

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  4. Great report and game there Clint which looks like so much fun.

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    1. Thanks PK it was fun. And once on the proper boards and with the right accessories it should look a whole lot better.

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  5. The gameplay sounds grand! I like rules that have random events for tactical challanges, I dislike the ones that give special character/ models tactical advantages beyond the commanding officer. Like "My Sgt York auto captures your platoon of Germans because their morale is lower than their starting value." or " My ship the Crimson Wraith gets free turns and a bonus stern shot."
    Scenario driven rules are great, but having a whole fresh army arrive behind my artillery because of a "special" character... well the rearguard and scouts better be dead already! ;)

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    1. I completely agree. I think that any rules which rely on special characters are a weak set of rules reliant on gimmicks.

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  6. Looks like a pretty good system. The random turn element really seems to give the game some unpredicatability and a little more excitement.

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    1. It can be so frustrating. You move to get the perfect shot in one turn, and then either the opponent moves, or you have to in the next turn before you can get the shot off!! But It's the same for everyone!

      We shall be playing it at Broadside so if you want to sit in for a couple of turns I'm sure we can arrange it!

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