Friday, 27 July 2018

Trying out some new naval rules

This week we tried out "Broadside and Ram" by David Manley.  They are a fast play set of rules specifically for the Battle of Lissa, 1866.  Not having any models for this conflict we turned to  the internet and downloaded some paper cut-out ships.

Our scenario was based on an attempted break out by the Austrian navy to in the face of an Italian blockade.  The picture below shows the Austrian fleet leaving the estuary with the small blockading Italian squadron of wooden warships observing them.  The Austrians have a two squadrons of 3 ships each (wooden on right of picture, iron on left).  Just out of shot the Italians have a squadron of ironclads.

Steve took command of the Austrian fleet, his flagship, Kaiser Max leading the ironclads with Don Juan de Austria and Drache following.  The wooden ships were led by Schwarzenberg followed by Radetzky and Novarra.  I had Duca de Genova observing the estuary, with Gaeta and Maria Adelaide in support.  The ironclad squadron steaming to their assistance comprised Formidabile, Re d' Italia and Re de Portogallo.

The Austrian fleet prepares to leave the estuary

Detail of the "Junior General" ships
Outnumbered 6:1 the Duca de Genova wisely made for the support of the remainder of the squadron.  Having formed line of battle they made for the Austrian wooden ship squadron.  The first salvo from Duca de Genova fell short, but the second struck home, causing moderate damage.  Pressing forward the Italian ship fired another salvo which devastated the Schwarzenberg's gun deck silencing her guns and wrecking the engines, leaving her a drifting hulk.

The Radetzky and Novarra sail past the wrecked Scwarzenberg and head for their ironclads
The two opposing ironclad squadrons were still out of range of each other, but with his squadron of wooden ships coming under such pressure (one ship sunk and the others sustaining damage), Steve directed the fire of Kaiser Max towards Gaete at the rear of the Italian line.  A first salvo missed, but successive ones soon silenced the Gaete's guns.  When  Don Juan de Austria joined in the writing was on the wall and soon the Gaete was reduced to a wreck, later slipping beneath the waves.

Novarra and Radetzky altered course to escape the attentions of Duca de Genova and Maria Adelaide and also bring them closer their ironclad squadron.  The Italian ironclads had been too far away to intercept the Austrian break out and they only arrived in time to try and prevent the Austrian wooden ships escaping.  The Formidabile, at the head of the line received significant damage when Novarra and Radetzky concentrated their fire on her.  This deterred the Italian ships from pursuit and the Austrian fleet sailed away to their home port.

Following lunch we tried the rules again with three squadrons a side and had an indecisive game, with only minor damage inflicted as the two fleets threaded through each other.

In review, the rules are quick and thus suited for fleet action, though the balancing factor is that the fine detail of gun calibre and armour thickness is lost.  The sequence is side A moves, side B fires; side B moves, side A fires which calls for some thoughtful manoeuvring.  As we used the paper ships rather than the 1/2400 models the rules were designed for all the distances were doubled, though tripling may have needed to maintain the proportions.  One thing that appealed to us is that the rules come complete with a section enabling you to carry out a campaign.  Perhaps this will encourage us to make the financial commitment necessary to build the two fleets?

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