STARTINGRight that has got the cringy bit out the way. But I do mean it. It started when in casual conversation with Ray (HMS Badger). When he said he had only played a few games last year. Right I thought let's play a game via the blogs. I had previously played a game on Ian (Shelldrake)'s blog but that was more roleplaying still huge fun but I instinctively knew that Ray was not a roleplayer. So I had a quick think and wondered what type of game I could do. As I knew Alan Abbey and had played my fair share of games of his "Blood Bilge and Iron Balls" and had found the rules instinctive and yet challenging. Most importantly I was familure with them and had a few ships as well as some sea and coast boards I quickly settled on that as the way to go. So I emailed a few bloggers I had dealings with in the past and offered them the chance to play in order to establish a core group. I then advertised it on my blog and invited others to join in. I will admit I got a few more than I was first expecting and as the format of playing a game via a blog had not been tested by me I approached it with no small apprehension. I did think I could make a complete fool of myself. Oh well never mind it has happened before and I have little doubt it will happen again, and probably again after that a few dozen more times! Yeah it's called life.
By using a commercial set of rules I did have the advantage that I was not going to think on my feet. I may well be good at tripping over them but less good at thinking on them. Anyway a couple more people I did not know asked to join and well in for a penny in for a pound. That could be even more people to see me fail. So they were given Frigates because I had run out of painted ships of the line by that stage. I wrote a scenario based on the British keeping the Spanish fleet in port while the Spanish would have to break out and escape of the board.
So It begins.Having not run a Play by blog game before I was determined to stick to the rules and told the players what the rules were and how to order their ships to move and the priority of their fire. One of the mistakes I did make was starting them all too far apart. The result was the first five weeks or so just straight moving and not a single shot being fired. I consoled myself by knowing that once it did start then it would end quickly. I thought the first few moves might also allow players to try a few manoeuvres out and get the hand of their ships. Only Captain Lucky Lee did so (HMS Pachyderm) as I had positioned him rather proactively close to land and the Spanish fleet and rather than go in thinking he was superman decided to use his discretion and set a course parallel to the Spanish.
Juggling CatsFor those five or six starting turns all the players were obeying orders and forming battle lines and behaving sensibly. And then the first shots were fired. From then on it was every man for themselves as each captain did their own thing. That is when the game really did become like "heading cats!" At least for me. Great fun. several players did not understand "port and Starboard" and a few mistakes were made mostly leaving them facing into the wind with them wanting to move straight ahead directly into the wind. But let's not dwell on that. I made a couple of errors as well. If you do this yourself and set up a game needless to say try not to do that, but if it happens and sometimes it will so be prepared to say you are sorry and it was your fault. The two players I know it happened to (one on each side) were very understanding about it and the game went on.
Some players gave orders that you knew were the wrong thing to do both in the rules and in history. But that is the joy of the game. As every player has free choice to command their ship as they see fit. Many times players would do something surprising. Things you would know would lead to problems a couple of turns down the line, but that is probably my knowledge of the rules and not their mistake as much. A couple of players were down right suicidal wanting to ram and board enemy ships before they were sufficiently damaged to ensure success.
ConclusionAfter 24-25 weeks the battle was finished. Few ships were still intact. Several had struck their colours one had actually sank and two had been captured. Two were not captured in the battle but would have surrounded after the battle due to lack of crew and the close presence of the enemy. It really was close at the end. At about turn 20 I thought it would be a clear Spanish victory. but the British were able to swing the pendulum the other way and the game ended with a minor British Win.
I am not going to sort out Victory points. Mostly because I don't actually like them but also I find them an artificial construct. That said these players dis capture prizes.
Lee Hadley HMS Pachyderm Captured a 64 gun ship of the line and sunk another.
Miles Reidy in a frigate did board and capture HMS Inconsistent for the Spanish
Dave Docherty and Peter Douglas Combined managed to capture a 74 gun ship of the line.(The Spanish Flag ship)
Curt Campbell in HMS Challenge did board SS Pina colada but was beaten off as he just lost too many crew in the assault. As the game ended in a British victory Pina Colada would surrender to Captain Campbell after the game. If It had been a Spanish Victory HMS Challenge would have struck their colours and surrendered to them. It really could have gone either way on these two ships.
What's next?Well indeed what is next? I have been asked to write it all up for WBQ and I will attempt to do so. Should I succeed the author and the publishing editor both want to see it. I know them and have wargamed with them both and count them as friends so not a big deal really just a couple of mates being nosey! And no doubt extracting the urine! Oh yes they will.
Will there be another game? Well the short answer is Yes. Well not exactly the same as I do not want to do another ship battle that lasts quite so long this year. So I am thinking of another game setting and maybe come back to sailing ships in the following year. The criteria I am working to is a single vehicle, be it air, land or sea based per player. For me this is important as it allows independence among players. So far I have considered Aeronef, aquanef (both Victorian Sci fi) WW2 Tank battles, Modern tanks. giant robots, Modern, WW1 and WW2 Aircraft, as well as ACW, ww1 and WW2 fleet battles, I have even considered GZG Full thrust! So there really is a lot of choices but luckily I do not have to decide just yet. They really do all have both advantages and disadvantages. One thing I know for sure is that the more choices I offer the more varied the answers I will receive as we all like different things. It also needs to be based on a simple set of rules that I am familure with. I would even consider squad level infantry actions but that will need to be tackled in a very different way. So feel free to suggest any period/setting you like as you never know it just might spark my interest.
When you ask? Well I was thinking beginning of July. As that would give me long enough to recover and push the "RESET" button! Both of which I really do need to do.
I realise todays post has been incredibly self indulgent and I thank you for struggling to the end. Even if you just skipped to the end as far as I am concerned thank you and well done.
On to the next game. Cheers Clint. Paint monkey is getting bored and I really do need to get some more figures finished for the challenge. 2 entries ready so far this week but very small ones no bombs that is for sure.