Thursday, July 09, 2009

The lake war of 1812

Somewhere on Lake Erie the two forces made headway towards one another...

Actually it was at the Leeds Nightowls; My original game fell through, but as I'd brought a backup plan, we gave the Trafalgar rules an airing.

I quickly knocked up a couple of small fleets, though this is not a speedy task of course when you have to copy out the profile sheets by hand. A small American fleet of 250 points would face a similarly sized British fleet. Broadly speaking the forces were:

America: a 5th Rate Frigate, a Ship-Sloop and an overgunned Brig

Britain: two 6th Rate Frigates and a Cutter

Ross, my opponent, took command of the British; whilst, the day after Independance day I led the American fleet. I sent out my light ships ahead, knowing they had pound for pound more firepower than any one of his frigates. I hoped to lure at least on ship into a trap. As with any game based on warfare of this type though, the wind had the biggest influence on our manouevres.

My brig was able to move behind and savagely rake the enemy cutter with fire, ending it's involvement in the battle. My Sloop however was unable to slow the Frigate on its' own and instead found itself boarded. The short boarding action saw the Royal Navy capture the ship; but choose to leave it uncrewed so they could focus both their vessels on my larger frigate. My Brig came under fire from the trailing frigate and was soon also out of action. I had to commit my flagship therefore, and in a brutal exchange it left one Frigate burning.

Commander Ross decided to concentrate on fighting me rather than the fire and paid the price, when his frigate's powder room (rolled a one on the blaze table and) exploded. The ruins of the ship were no longer a fighting force; had he fought the fire the ship would have been saved.

His other vessel now found that wind and inertia took it away from the fight, and so the battle ended. On the grounds that I could at least retrieve my sloop, I was considered the victor, though it was a bloody victory for sure.

As to the rules, well, they are simplistic, but they are also fast and pretty clearly written, sailing is realistic enough, though shooting seems too generous and brutal at times. This game was followed up by a second one featuring the Americans against Barbary pirates (though not featuring any photos); so we managed two games, with beginner players in four hours. What's more the rules seemed to turn several members of the club onto the period. No bad thing.

Incidentally, as nice as real models would be, I think the 'Pirates' card models look absolutely fine for this sort of game. As their a cheap way of playing too - especially as the club had a box of twenty or so ships in the bottom of a store cupboard!


  1. I'm guessing these are from the card game "Pirates of the Spanish Main"? If so where did you source your ships from - did you just buy the packets and take pot luck on which one you got???

  2. They are indeed from the Pirates game; and they were pot luck purchases at the games height. To be fair though, I bought around 60 or more packs so I've quite a choice.

    You can pick them up on eBay for a pittance at times.