Exactly one week ago, Koen came over to my place for a game of Trafalgar. This time, we played the ‘Harbour Raid’ scenario, a followup to the last game that saw the Spanish treasure fleet escaping a French ambush to safety. Or so they thought.
As it turns out, superior intelligence work by the French enabled them to find the location of the treasure fleet while still at anchor in its port of call. They quickly despatched a squadron with the mission of raiding the Spanish fleet in port.
In this game, I played the French with 9 3rd rate ships, while Koen took the Spanish with the Santissima Trinidad, the Santa Ana (both 1st rate ships) and 4 3rd raters. As last time, the rest of this report is my view of the battle.
My victory condition was to get half of my ships (5 of them, rounded up as half a ship does not float :) ) between the two islands at the other end of the table. The wind blew from the south (right in this and following images). My plan was fairly simple - I wanted to sail SE, close to the wind, in line abreast with the intent of forming line towards the NE once past the central island and sailing in between the two Spanish squadrons (one of 2 third raters on the left, the two 1st and another 2 third raters on the right).
However, no plan survives contact with the enemy, or in this case even just the first turn, as I immediately changed the plan at the start of the game. For some reason, once movement was underway, I did not like my chances going in between the two Spanish squadrons and decided to make a dash for it and try and contest the wind gage (i.e. race to the south to make the southernmost ship a French one, giving me some advantages). This would enable me to concentrate all of my ships (in two lines, one to windward and one to leeward of the Spanish) on the big Spanish squadron, hoping to finish it off before the other two Spanis ships arrived. Of course, that would also mean my deployment was wrong, as that was meant to swing into line off of the leftmost ship, while now that would be the last of the line…
The red lines are what I thought Koen would do, but he quickly got wind of my plan and raced his ships towards the south as well, so the first part of the game was a race to the edge of the world by our respective windward squadrons:
Meanwhile, I decided to see if I could cause the other two Spanish ships to stay away from the main fight by sending my second column through the island chain in the middle of the table (still intending to swing that column south towards the main fight). It took me a while to maneuver the ships into something resembling a battle line (finely maneuvring these things is harder than it looks in this game), but I got there after a turn or two:
However, all this work quickly turned to nought when the wind turned to the NE at exactly that point (when the two pictures above were taken). This meant that the leeward column now could no longer get through the islands (the wind being now ahead of them for such a maneuver) and that my windward line was suddenly sailing into the wind and was thus taken aback. Some fancy maneuvring (read: good dice) was called for…
And then the instant de gloire came for the French fleet. What initially looked like a disaster quickly turned into a game winner. The wind turning made my decision for me on where to deploy the windward column (left or right of the Spanish). Right was no longer an option as I would then tack right of the table, so left it was. This meant that five of my ships (not to mention the leeward column having a bit of a scrape with the islands) would need to tack in succession to the left, or five command rolls would need to succeed. The result:
Perfect maneuver! Suddenly, I had five ships crossing the T of the Spanish fleet, or 5 close to medium range broadsides bow raking the Spanish fleet. Vive la France (et les dés)! This pretty much decided the game:
My concentrated broadsides decrewed the Santissima Trinidad (not that there was very much left to crew after two raging fires) and knocked out the rudder of another ship (the one sailing blithely on on the right). The remaining two Spanish ships did manage to set fire to one of my ships on their turn to cross our T (with even more devastating stern rakes) however.
After this turn, we declared the game for the French, as my windward column was now past the Spanish main line and would, with the help of the leeward column that was now past the islands (though on the other side as intended - damn wind :) ), easily be able to deal with the two remaining Spanish ships between us and the port. Revenge!
Good game again — I really like these rules.