|The action at the end of turn three.|
Last night saw the fleets engage at Actium. We played at a fairly steady rate so that we didn't miss anything using rules with which we are still fairly unfamiliar. After a short briefing we played three full turns.
Agrippa was the first to engage.
His squadron went for Antony's squadron head on whilst Drusus' squadron sailed further north into a position from which it could launch a periplus (flank attack).
The first ship goes down, rammed after being raked. The raking ship, having come under heavy missilery, is on fire sailing east.
To the south, Lurius and Sosius engage.
Lurius was successful at first sinking two quinquiremes with comparitive ease but, as can be seen in the photograph, the weight of enemy missilery caused fires on several of his ships.
Fires caused by incendiary missiles were a feature of the evenings play (more anon).
Sosius' hepteremes grapple the enemy and board.
The yellow bead indicates that the ship is captured. It's black fleet / squadron indicator bead has been replaced with the white bead (squadron 3) of it's captors.
Following the boarding action, Octavian's liburnians attempt to sink the heptereme and it's prize, but without success.
Meanwhile, back in the northern sector, honours were running about even for Agrippa and Antony with neither side gaining much of an edge as ships bumped and bashed into each other to little effect.
The action after turn three.
Both flanks are heavily engaged; the centres are being held back;the wind has not yet picked up; Octavian has 27 VP; Antony has 33 VP.
Note that all of the fires are out. Two were put out by their crews. The others were put out by waves that washed over charred decks as the vessels went under.
At first glance the action looks like complete chaos. This is where the hexes come into their own.
The two aerial shots below show that out of confusion comes clarity. With each ship occupying two hexes, the hexes are big enough to place the counters associated with each ship.
This is an aerial shot of the action between Sosius and Lurius and Octavian as it stands at the end of turn 3.
The counters in this shot are of two types. The circular arrows show that the vessel has been in a collision and will move at half speed next turn. The crossed grappling hooks show vessels grappled together; the hooks point in the direction of the last boarding attack. It is the same counter with one symbol on the reverse of the other.
The action in the northern sector at the end of turn three. Antony is heavily engaged with Agrippa and Drusus' lighter ships (top left) are moving around Antony's flank.
There are two different counters in this shot. The 'white speckled' marker indicates that the vessel is moving fast. The semi-circular arrow with the 'F' underneath indicates that the vessel has a fatigued crew and will move at half speed until it recovers. It's the same counter, it has one symbol on the reverse of the other.
The counters with bead spike (with black beads) show manpower depletion.
Two counters are not shown. One is brown pins (oars) to show a vessel is crippled; the other is a furled sail on a yard used to indicate ships are fouled (though this might be replaced by something else at some point - this counter might be better used as sail up).
This (staged) shot shows the self explanatory 'on fire' marker.
Last night everything seemed to catch fire. This was due to the vast quantity of heavy missilery being thrown about. With ships being able to shoot up to twice a turn and with the manpower factors being so large, this was almost inevitable.
I'm not sure it rang true and I'm thinking of allowing ships to only fire once per turn, but at any time. I think if I don't do something shooting, rather than ramming, boarding and raking will become the order of the day: I don't want my galley battles to become gunnery contests. We'll stick with the rule for now as it might be a statistical blip in dice results - next week should tell.
The new squadron activation mechanic worked a treat. Everyone found it easy to follow and its random element added just enough tension to proceedings (see last blog post).
I think next week will see this battle drawing to a close. I'm not sure how the victory conditions (scaled from the GMT scenario book) will give a clear winner though: 90+ or 100+ VP and double the opponents VP seems unachievable to my mind - but you never know until the end, I suppose.