Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Trafalgar - my Holy Grail

Victory and Bucentaure - the flagships.

Napoleonic naval wargaming has been an unfulfilled passion of mine for over 20 years. I have probably bought and sold enough ship collections (in various scales) to kit out every navy twice over. This love hate relationship has been down to rule systems not offering what I want. For some the Holy Grail is a set of WW2 rules that work - for me it's a set of Napoleonic naval rules. The ones I've tried are either too simple and written by land lubbers, or too complicated for fleet actions, or simply over burdened with paperwork. So yet again, for the umpteenth time, I'll try and write my own set and hope they'll work and I'll be happy with them.

Two things I have settled on. Firstly, the scale: 1:2400 for me. The models are big enough to spot differences and small enough to cram lots on the table. Secondly, no ship damage rosters. In small games these are fine, but having to look down lists to find out how many guns you still have is tedious beyond belief. I'll have every ship carrying its own information.

Santissma Trinidad, Neptuno, the frigate Euryalus, and Alava's flagship the Santa Ana.

Each of my ships is on a sabot base (they slot in). The base has the ships name, two recesses for small dice (blue record hull damage, white record rigging damage), and three pins for beads. The big central one is for 'white bead' sail setting: 1 reduced sail, 2 every stitch available. ). The others are for morale state and other information (the very small beads are for quick 'rate' ID: Red = 1st rate, white = 2nd rate, blue = 3rd rate 80, yellow = 3rd rate 64).

Trafalgar at 11.20am

These shots show Trafalgar (my ultimate game aim) set up on my table. Ground scale is half that of the ships: 1:4800.

The British, Nelson's leading ships, Collingwood's squadron, and the daunting view of
HMS Africa's approach.

Santissma Trinidad and Bucentaure and Redoutable, the centre and rearmost ships of Dumanoir's squadron, and the Squadron of Observation bring up the rear.
BTW. Before I'm jumped on for red ensigns - poetic license. I tried white ensigns but they were not very identifiable at any distance - they disappeared into the rigging, and blue ensigns (for Collingwood[?]) would disappear into the sea.


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Interesting system. I'd be tempted to have the sabbot system off table so as to not obscure the lovely models. Each ship could have a 'dash board' with the beads, dice, etc. maybe with an outline of the ship in the middle?

I'd be interested in trying this, both for Napoleonic and for American War of Independence and War of 1812.


Hi Allen,

My object is to not look at any damage sheets at all. This way you can see what's what as you 'play'.

It does detract from the aesthetic, for sure, but in the heat of battle I rarely stop to admire the figures / models I am playing with. As an old bloke once told me "Make a good job of hats and highlight the bayonets - it's all you see anyway!"

Perry said...

Nicely done! I especially like the bases. I would like to see more details of the base construction.

Also, I would be interested in reading your assessment, both pro and con, of the various rulesets that you have tried.

A fellow age of sail gamer,


Donogh said...

Very nice indeed
I do like the mechanism for keeping track of sail - though I'd be inclined to have no beads=less sail


Hi Donagh,

0 beads does exist as something else. Namely, hove to. This is where a ship 'sailing large' can back some sail to remain stationary.

Square riggers could perform all manner of things. I cover most (well, some) in my rules.

I'm trying to get to the grist of square riggers, and some rule mechanisms will fudge.

Square rigged battleships have been equated (technologiacally) to the Space Shuttle. If you were writing rules to wargame 'Space Shuttle Wars' you would have to fudge here also, I suspect.

Snickering Corpses said...

I've not tried Napoleonic naval myself, but wondered if you'd ever tried the Kiss Me Hardy rules from TooFatLardies, and if so what you thought of them?

Francesc said...

Hy James, do you have your rulebook written? could you pass it?

Francesc said...

Have you got the rules written? could you pass them?


I have not written a rule set for this period.