Monday, 17 September 2018

Affixing sails to Ancient Galleys

My gamble payed off. Using small 1x2mm circular rare-earth magnets I been able to secure sails to my ancient galleys. Using superglue (of which mine isn't!) I was able (eventually!) to secure the magnets to both the galley and sail.

This now permits me to affix the sails when I want to but leave them off most of the time, as would occur prior to most battles. Below you can see the arrangement of the magnets on both the galley and sail. A 1x2mm round magnet is powerful enough to secure a large Xyston miniatures sail, though it is a bit flimsy. The smaller sail secures more firmly and will be the main type of sail I apply this method too. I'm also only using one sail on a galley.

Below are a few close-ups showing the magnets affixed and the removable larger sail.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Xyston Greek Triremes

I'm slowly working my way through the mountain of ancient galleys I have had for some years now. The latest edition to the slowly growing fleet are three Xyston Greek Triremes. These are some very nice streamline beauties! They just look like hot-rods of the ancient seas, as indeed they were. These were the mainstay of the ancient fleets around 400BC and later.

I'm tempted to get a whole bunch of these to build up a Greek fleet. I studied Ancient History back in my High School years and loved it. An interest that hasn't left me since. The wars and the struggle for freedom. We forget in the modern Western world today just how much of the Grecko notion of freedom from tyranny still influences us today.

Anyway these beauties are such a streamline model I just had to share them.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Ancient Roman Galleys

Years ago at MOAB I was fortunate enough to be able to by off a retailer a stack of 1/600 scale ancient galleys for a very reasonable price. He was keen to offload them and I was more than happy to take them off his hands. An amicable arrangement was struck and I was duly supplier with a bunch of ancient galleys.

Then they just sat around for a few years forlornly longing for the day when they would be painted and make it to the war gaming table. Well my friends, that day is finally upon us! And what a glorious day it is for the Roman Empire!

Having been bitten by the war gaming naval bug recently I have set upon the unenviable task of getting these lads to the gaming table. So far I have nine Roman galleys painted and others of a non-Roman persuasion are still on the painting table. So more posts to follow on this.

Given these are Roman ships I have given them a consistent paint scheme to differentiate them from non-Roman galleys. The obvious choice was to go with a red colour scheme. Sadly the highlighting in a different red hasn't really stood out and so the paint job doesn't quite pop the way I was hoping it would.

I posted about some of these ages ago when I first started to paint them. But I then put them on the 'to-do' shelf unfinished. Finally I have kicked myself into gear and gotten back on to these lads.

Above is a Skytrex Roman Quinquireme. This will be a command ship for an admiral or sub-admiral and so I have mounted it on a base and had the sail permanently affixed to the model. This is to make it stand out on the table when the inevitable carnage of ramming occurs and knowing just where the command ships are will become important in the game.

Above is a Xyston Roman Trireme. Given that most ancient galley battles would have occurred with the sails and masts left on the nearest shore in order to save weight and increase rowing mobility, I felt it better not to add them. I am experimenting with rare earth magnets as an idea of being able to attach a sail when the scenario calls for it, such as chasing pirates. If it works I'll post about how I was able to do it.

And lastly, we have a Xyston Roman Quinquireme with a Corvus. Still at a scale of 1/600 this lad is smaller than the Skytrex model. But given there were something like fourteen different versions of a Quinquireme apparently, that doesn't matter. In fact this will also double as a Quadrieme.

Once I get through the current lot of galleys, I hope to add to the individual fleets and amass of small (very small) naval power. My plan is to use the Uncharted Seas rules for this as it lends itself to large naval engagements and I couldn't be bothered learning a dozen different rule sets to play at various fleet scales.

I'll have to come up with some house rules for galley rowing and fatigue, use of the Corvus and some specific Critical Tables for Oar Ranks, Broadsides and Rudder Strikes. So more on that someday in to the future.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Bay of Belfalas - An Uncharted Seas Battle Report, Part 2

In the last post, two squadrons of Corsair frigates were spotted moving up the Belfalas coast and were engaged by two squadrons of Gondorian Cog's (also frigates). This post follows on from what happened next.

The disposition at the end of the last turn saw the Gondorian's almost eradicating one squadron of Corsair ships. However the Gondorian's still had to contend with a second squadron of Corsairs and also fight out the ongoing boarding action from the previous turn. The next few turns would be interesting as they get into the thick of it.

One boarding action remained from last turn. Neither side inflicting any casualties as they slug it out of the decks of their respective ships.

The second Corsair squadron rounds the island and heads north.

Current wind direction from last turn.

Wind direction in context to the action. Wind check sees no change in the wind direction.

Gondor wins the Initiative.

And elects to move their southern squadron around to face the Corsairs. This means sailing in to the wind and slowing the ships down.

The boarding action continues (the Gondorian Cog is still in Command Range of its squadron).

The Gondorians manage to score 2 Crew Hits on the Corsairs, for nil in return. The "Exploding Dice" mechanic means that any roll of a six is equal to 2 hits and an additional dice is rolled. But the additional dice yields no extra hits as the Corsair crew are whipped out anyway.

Another prize for the Gondorians! And this time the Prize marker was placed on the correct ship. The Corsairs have now lost three ships (all from the same squadron) for no loss to Gondor.

The second Corsair squadron is closing in however and prepares to fire their broadsides at the Gondorians.

The closest target is one of the Gondorian ships that carries a Prize marker from having won a Boarding Action and capturing a Corsair frigate in the previous turn.

The first Corsair frigate checks for a broadside attack using a full attack rather than a half attack.

The second Corsair also checks for a full broadside attack.

Finally the last Corsair ship also checks to see if the Gondor Cog is fully within a full broadside attack. All three Corsair ships have the Gondorian within a full broadside attack.

Checking for range, the first Corsair ship has the Gondorian within Range 1.

The second Corsair has the Gondorian Cog within Range 2.

Finally the last Corsair within the squadron checks for range and finds the Gondorian is also in Range 2.

The Corsair squadron uses Linked Fire in order to provide the best chance to score enough hits to either damage or sink the Gondorian Cog. The combined hits on a Small Target (i.e. needing a 5 or 6 to cause a hit) results in a total of 9 hits, due to the Exploding Dice mechanic.

A total of 9 hits exceeds the Critical Rating (CR) of the Gondorian Cog. Being a Small Ship with only 2 Hull Points if the ship suffers enough, or more, damage to score a Critical Hit then the ship is immediately sunk rather than suffer the effects of any Critical Damage. The Gondorian gets blasted by 9 hits and sinks immediately.

Now the second Gondorian squadron circles upwind to the North and comes around in a circle from the north to face the Corsair squadron.

The Gondorians eye off the Corsairs and close for the attack.

The Gondorians then check the distance to the closest Corsair Frigate in their squadron. They find that the enemy is at Range 2.

The Gondorian's open fire and score a total of 4 hits due to the Exploding Dice mechanic. This is enough to score a point of Hull Damage but just not enough for a Critical Hit to sink the ship.

The lead Corsair ship suffers a single point of Hull Damage. With that, the current turn comes to an end.

The new turn opens with a check on the wind direction. The dice roll comes up with a double, indicating that the wind direction changes. The double is an even number, and so the wind shifts anti-clockwise a single point on the wind compass.

The wind is now a Southeasterly blowing to the north west.

The Initiative roll again comes up trumps for the Gondorians and they gain the first move of the new turn.

The Gondorians elect to move in closer to Range 1 and open fire again on the closest Corsair ship.

They close to within only a few inches of their target, ready to unload with Linked Fire.

They take aim on their closest enemy with their forecastle mangonels.

And open up with a barrage of fire that scores a total of 9 hits on the Corsair.

This total damage overcomes both the Damage Rating and the Critical Rating. In either case, this sinks the lead Corsair ship and she goes down with all hands.

Next, its time for the Corsairs to seek vengeance. They move up close to the Gondorians in order to unload their broadside weapons.

The furthest Corsair ship checks and finds that the targeted Gondorian ship is within its Full broadside attack.

Likewise, the other Corsair finds the same.

Both check their range and find that the Gondorian is within Range 1.

They open fire and MISS!!!

The Gondorian's cheer to see the Corsair shots fall short. Now the other Gondorian Cogs move up to make their attack.

They check their range and find the closest Corsair ship is within Range 1.

They open fire. The Corsair is a Small Target and therefor the Gondorians must roll a 5 or greater to score a hit. But they also miss too!

The turn comes to an end.

A new turn and a new check to see if the wind changes direction. It doesn't.

The state of play on the board now shows that the Gondorians still have five ships in play compared to the two Corsairs. In any general game, to win a side must sink or capture a total of 75% of the enemy's fleet. This means that the Gondorians only need to sink or capture another Corsair ship to win the encounter and see the Corsair Raiders off with their tails between their legs. Its going to come down now to who wins the Initiative and can either fire first or put as much distance between themselves and their enemy.

The Initiative roll comes up again for Gondor!

The Gondorians check their range to their desired Corsair target...

...and open fire. The score, with the Exploding dice mechanic results in a final total of 4 hits on the Corsair.

It's enough to cause a point of damage but not enough to sink her.

The Corsairs decide on a desperate tactic. Instead of running for it they move closer to the Gondorians in an attempt, using Linked Fire, to try to sink an enemy ship. Given that the Gondorian Cogs only have a forward 90 degree fire arc, this could give the Corsairs a decent hit and in a later turn keep to the stern of the Gondorians. It might just work!

The first Corsair identifies its best Gondorian target.

The second Corsair also checks and the best visible target is chosen for their attack.

They open fire and score just a single hit. Given this isn't enough to penetrate the Damage Rating of the Gondorian Cog, the hit bounces harmlessly off the Gondorian Cog's hull, much to the sighs of relief from its Captain and crew.

Next, the second Gondorian squadron closes in on the damaged Corsair.

They open fire and score a total of 3 hits through the Exploding Dice mechanic.

Three hits is enough to equal the Damage Rating for the Corsair Frigate and she goes down. With that the Gondorians give out a loud cheer and the remaining Corsair sets full sail and makes a break for it well out into the Bay of Belfalas.

The Gondorians have staved off another raider attack on their coastal villages by winning a decisive victory against the Corsairs at sea.

The total number of ships sunk is Gondor = 1, Corsairs = 3.

Moreover two additional Corsair ships are taken under sail by skeleton crews from the Gondorian Cogs and sailed back to port. These will be useful for infiltration and spying on the Corsairs in future encounters.

Thoughts: A fun game that plays well and is learnt fairly easily. I can see myself adapting (i.e. using house rules) for use with ancient galley war gaming using the Uncharted Seas rule set. Something I would be keen to give a shot at once I have enough painted galleys.

Its a shame that Spartan Games went belly up. They had ended the Uncharted Seas line about a year or so before the company folded. But I found the rules to have enough diversification and randomness to permit some interesting situations to occur in the game. Can't wait to give the bigger galleys a go as well as some ancient Greek or Roman war galley battles. Something for a future blog post.