‘BROADSIDE’ – NAPOLEONIC NAVAL WAREFARE

by Barry The Hedgehog

Hi, my name’s Barry and I’m a toy hedgehog. Yeah, I know – I’ve heard all the gags – ‘why can’t I share the hedge’. This article is to tell you about one of the real fun things we’re doing at the mo with Napoleonic naval warfare, led by Pete L. and Hobbit who’ve written our evolving Broadside rules.

A test game involved an alliance of French, Spanish and Americans trying to run a convoy into the harbour of a British island in the Caribbean, around about 1798. Would the RN intercept them in time? Each of the players – Pete, Hobz, Gary M., Dave T., Kev and Andy B. received individual squadron briefings. Pete, Kev and Hobz provided the excellently painted 1/1200th scale ships, and Pete made the great scale terrain using a hot knife, foamboard and expert dry-brushwork.

It's the fort that counts

To paraphrase Jane Austen, ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged that naval games should not be a maths exam’, so Broadside uses pre-prepared sheets for recording ship details. I mention Miss Austen because one of Gary’s vessels, HMS Owen Glendower, was commanded by her brother, Francis. The club has other Napoleonic links – Pete’s Spanish girlfriend Julia’s, great great great grandfather was captain of the San Juan Nepomuceno at Trafalgar.

ACCOUNT OF BATTLE

around the rocks

At the start the British had to race to intercept the allies – but luckily had the wind gauge. Broadside uses an initiative system, the winner deciding who goes first – that’s moving and firing. Dice play a large part in keeping the game fun – and if sometimes the result can seem extreme it often turns around on the next turn and keeps everyone guessing.

Americans under fire

Gary’s frigates forced two of the American ships to strike. The Americans were, however, not so much ‘impressed’ as disappointed.

three nations fight

In the end we ran out of time and a draw was declared – the allies had the advantage but weren’t actually in the harbour with their transports. There was a plenary session where we discussed tweaking the rules, but the problem (as always) is one of balance between playability, complexity, chance, and a fast realistic game.

So, if you’d like to have a go come and play. We meet on the first and third Sundays of every month and are getting a great new clubhouse soon. We’re a friendly bunch and we supply not only tea, but sometimes also biscuits.

Barry

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