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View Full Version : How many frigates equal a SOL?



fredmiracle
11-16-2013, 17:33
In thinking about scenarios and campaigns, it seems useful to know how to weight frigates vis-a-vis SOLs. Obviously there have been AARs indicating that one SOL will easily demolish one frigate, which is the right historical outcome. But presumably some number of frigates will be able to use their combined gunfire, superior rate of fire, increased maneuverability, and tactical flexibility to have a fair chance to win.

Is it possible yet to come up with a good guess on what that "frigate-SOL exchange rate" may look like?

- Historically, were there doctrines or battle results that indicate how many frigates it would take to have even odds to beat one SOL?

- Game-wise, does anyone with playtest or early release experience have insight on how multiple frigates vs. one SOL plays out in practice?

Beowulf03809
11-16-2013, 19:20
From what I can pick up from the available rules and stats and my gut instinct from a number of game systems I would say about 2.5 Frigates would roughly equal an SOL. It seems a well played SOL could probably take two Frigates, but three Frigates would give enough spread of targets where they could overwhelm a single SOL more often than not. No experience yet on the table so take this from the 'instinct' perspective only please.
:rum:

crashx
11-17-2013, 07:12
I agree with Lawrence, 2.5 to 3 was the feel I got when we played the pre-released demo game at Rock-Con. And even then, the frigates are going to get mauled!!! :minis::erk:

Cool Breeze
11-17-2013, 10:01
In my experience at iCon, I'd say at least 3. It's a lot like the Sherman vs Tiger in WWII. Sherman's died 7 to 1 in direct conflict with Tigers (Frigates died about 2.5-1 in our demo games), but US Army doctrine determined your best odds of taking out a Tiger were to take 11-1 odds before engaging. You were still likely to lose 7 Shermans, but if you take less than 11, odds are you won't take out the Tiger.

The above answers, 2.5/3-1 are accurate if you want an equal value. However, reading between the lines of your query, if you want a decent chance of making a SoL strike her colors (:surrender:), and still be able to sail home, bring 4 Frigates or prepare to... :takecover: :pray: & :cry:

RichardPF
11-17-2013, 11:35
I wonder if this is an area where the range disadvantage of carronade armament of many frigates does not get an accurate accounting in the rules?

David Manley
11-17-2013, 16:05
I wonder if this is an area where the range disadvantage of carronade armament of many frigates does not get an accurate accounting in the rules?

Carronades in general do not get that accurate an accounting in the rules. There is essentially no difference between ships with and ships without when at close range.

Union Jack
11-19-2013, 16:03
Pity you can't emulate Cochrane bringing down a 74 with a frigate then.

kippryon
11-19-2013, 17:23
Is there yet a point system assigned (or formula) for any of the ships?

If so, forgive my overlooking same posted elsewhere.

Comte de Brueys
11-19-2013, 18:27
As far as I know the RN made an experiment with carronade frigates. (Wasn't that succesful)

To bring down a 3rd rate with carronades seem very unrealistic (exceptions confirm the rule).

The SoLs have higher & thicker ship's side and the frigate has close distance shots only...

Coog
11-19-2013, 18:49
Carronades in general do not get that accurate an accounting in the rules. There is essentially no difference between ships with and ships without when at close range.

Given the game seems to favor small actions, that is somewhat of a drawback when trying to recreate actions. I believe carronades were actually a huge advantage for the British when the French had yet to adopt them. In frigate actions where ships tend to close on one another, an 18-pounder British frigate with 32-pounder carronades on her forecastle and quarterdeck packed quite a punch compared to a French frigate with something like 9-pounder long guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck. Same with the sloop actions. Having small long guns were not much of an advantage over larger caliber carronade armed sloops.

The Royal Hajj
11-20-2013, 07:13
We might see some carronade type cards in the Crew decks. It would also be quite easy to House Rule. When a close range, a carronade armed ship deals 1 or 2 more damage counters. I would say that you would want at least 3 frigates per SOL. Even then you are going to lose a frigate or two.

Beowulf03809
11-20-2013, 10:41
Pity you can't emulate Cochrane bringing down a 74 with a frigate then.

A poor player on the SoL side could allow a cunning and skilled (and somewhat lucky) Frigate player to win. Amazing situations like this in history did not happen because all things were equal on each side I would imagine.

fredmiracle
11-20-2013, 11:27
A poor player on the SoL side could allow a cunning and skilled (and somewhat lucky) Frigate player to win. Amazing situations like this in history did not happen because all things were equal on each side I would imagine.

Just from the rules, I'm not really clear on how amenable this game is to the possibility of shocking David vs. Goliath victories. The few AARs I've looked at seem to suggest that the game does not favor this kind of outcome (?) This would, presumably, be a function of how many individual randomized events have to stack up to get a win/kill, and the range of possible outcomes for those randomized events

The other factor that I'm still working to get my head around is the effect of using chits instead of dice. On the one hand, your good luck is basically, by definition, the opponent's bad luck (any large damage chit you place on the enemy can't be placed on you). On the other hand, there's a limit to how far the luck can run (at some point the SOL will run out of blank chits to draw). And it's not clear to me what percentage of the chits will end up getting drawn in a match--if the number of unused chits is far larger than the number being drawn, then in effect it will be more random like dice. So, whether chits make underdog victories more or less likely than dice also remains an open question to me.

Beowulf03809
11-20-2013, 11:56
Most random factors level out in the long run. I can see if a skilled player is giving a major advantage to a new player with the ship size differences, and the new player just really borks movement selection for example. The skilled player may be able to get a couple close range rear raking shots with devastating chit draws while the SoL can't bring enough guns to bear and gets really poor draws when he does shot.

None of this is likely to happen enough to allow the win but at the same time I'm sure when Cochrane (?) got back to port and was telling his story all the other Captains were thinking "lucky SOB...like to see him do that twice!" :rum:

BSG_Fan
11-20-2013, 12:46
We might see some carronade type cards in the Crew decks. It would also be quite easy to House Rule. When a close range, a carronade armed ship deals 1 or 2 more damage counters. I would say that you would want at least 3 frigates per SOL. Even then you are going to lose a frigate or two.

I had imagined that it would be easy for Ares to do ships armed only with carronades by giving them very high gunnery numbers, but not allowing them to draw from the A damage tokens (so no long range).

DeRuyter
11-20-2013, 13:15
Pity you can't emulate Cochrane bringing down a 74 with a frigate then.

Not sure if I recall that one. He brought down a Spanish Frigate with a 14 gun sloop. Maybe that is the same thing just scaled down!

You can certainly introduce special scenario rules for frigates v. an SOL. For example the SOL could be restricted from using her lower gunports due to severe weather. Which brings to mind the most famous defeat of a French SOL by British frigates, well a razee'd 44 and a 38 (that was Pellew not Cochrane though):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_of_13_January_1797

So there's an answer to the OP question. 2 vs. 1 in a gale off a lee shore!

Eric

csadn
11-20-2013, 17:10
Given the game seems to favor small actions, that is somewhat of a drawback when trying to recreate actions. I believe carronades were actually a huge advantage for the British when the French had yet to adopt them. In frigate actions where ships tend to close on one another, an 18-pounder British frigate with 32-pounder carronades on her forecastle and quarterdeck packed quite a punch compared to a French frigate with something like 9-pounder long guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck. Same with the sloop actions. Having small long guns were not much of an advantage over larger caliber carronade armed sloops.

It wasn't just how hard the shot hit -- it was *where* it hit. Carronades did their best (worst?) work in stern rakes at pistol-shot range; the further apart the ships were, the less effective the carronade was.

I suppose one could invoke for caronade-heavy ships a similar rule as I use for cannons in _WoG_: Full-damage plus bonuses at short range; *severe* drop-off at long range.

Berthier
11-20-2013, 17:36
I think for the frigate to bring down a SOL you would have to use "critical hit" rules. The most likely victory for the frigate is going to come from a lucky shot, destroying the rudder, shot penetrating powder magazine, fire that cant be controlled, bringing down a mast at just the wrong time in a ships movement etc. The frigate is going to loose 99 out of 100 times but the possibility should be there it will win on that 1/100, but to have that possibilty you will probably need a dice randomising system rather than chits (so the chance of a highly skewed result is more likely- with dice you could throw ten 1's in a row however unlikely, with chits there are a finite number of chits with a limited spread of results so to get that highly unlikely result is harder...I think...:question:- I'm sure Bruce will put me straight on this!)

Anyway, critical hits add that level of uncertainity that is endemic to warfare, it cant be predicted and it cant be counted on but s**t does happen.

Diamondback
11-20-2013, 21:43
*imagines the prize payout for taking an SOL*

CHA-CHING!

Avi
11-21-2013, 03:49
I think the answer should be looked at from two separate view points -

GAME-IST - In the current SoG rules how many Frigates does it take out a SOL (the thread consensus is 3)

Simulation-IST - in RL how many does it take... When we get an historical answer to that we can judge how well SoG rules are as a simulation.
If I understand correctly there is not enough historical evidence to test the theory...

csadn
11-21-2013, 15:41
Speaking as "the guy who in Sid Meier's _Pirates_ took out a 124-gun Galleon with a 2-gun Pinnace"*: I suspect Avi is correct -- there's not enough Real-World Data to determine what a frigate could to do to a SoL.

[*: This was a triumph of Strategy -- the winds were about as light as they could be in the game, so the Galleon could hardly move at all, and definitely couldn't sail upwind; so I shortened sail, parked in his aft arc, and slowly pecked him to death. It took over six hours, but I did it. I suspect for a frigate to take on an SoL, similar strategy will be required -- use full advantage of the wind conditions, stay out of the broadsides, and slowly bludgeon it to death.]

Diamondback
11-21-2013, 15:56
I did similar but not on the same scale... used my "starter" ship to take Henry Morgan's heavy frigate (the game takes some liberties with history) out from under him, then used the same tactics with the taken and renamed Ace of Spades against not one but three Galleons (successive, not all at once). Too bad no SOL's would ever come out of port and face me... they all skedaddled back to the pier as soon as they saw me coming. Cowards...

That's the big cheat in that game: if you take Morgan out early and transfer your flag to his ship and keep upgrading it, the going becomes MUCH easier. And raking broadsides into the other guy's stern galleries go a long way to help ruin his day...

csadn
11-22-2013, 17:00
And raking broadsides into the other guy's stern galleries go a long way to help ruin his day...

Historically speaking: That's been the way to do in a SoL. I recall seeing a stat where something like half the captures at the Saintes were the result of stern-rakes with carronades, and a similar percentage at Trafalgar. And if the carronade was double-shotted (usually a 68-lb. ball backed by a canister of ~500 musket balls)....

Comte de Brueys
11-23-2013, 02:26
[*: This was a triumph of Strategy -- the winds were about as light as they could be in the game, so the Galleon could hardly move at all, and definitely couldn't sail upwind; so I shortened sail, parked in his aft arc, and slowly pecked him to death. It took over six hours, but I did it. I suspect for a frigate to take on an SoL, similar strategy will be required -- use full advantage of the wind conditions, stay out of the broadsides, and slowly bludgeon it to death.]

Not really Chris... :surrender:

I know the game.

I think my brother played it on the AMIGA 500.

Diamondback
11-23-2013, 02:28
My other trick: Chainshot the sails into uselessness, then grapeshot the crew into hamburger until they strike colors.

csadn
11-25-2013, 00:25
My other trick: Chainshot the sails into uselessness, then grapeshot the crew into hamburger until they strike colors.

[nod] Pity that wasn't an option in the game. For that matter: I spent a lot of time having to *avoid* running into the galleon, because that would have started a horrifyingly-unequal boarding round.... :P

Diamondback
11-25-2013, 00:29
Chris, the PC edition, at least the one I played, did offer grape and chain, and while it wouldn't see ships strike colors if you grape away until all that's left of the crew is bloodstains on the deck it DOES make the boarding action MUCH easier. :D

AlyssaFaden
01-15-2014, 16:26
Bit of an old thread, but I have a related question to the original post: what is a coastal battery worth? If 3 frigates = 1 SoL ... where does a coastal battery fall in that equation?

Naharaht
01-15-2014, 21:38
Speaking as "the guy who in Sid Meier's _Pirates_ took out a 124-gun Galleon with a 2-gun Pinnace"*: I suspect Avi is correct -- there's not enough Real-World Data to determine what a frigate could to do to a SoL.

[*: This was a triumph of Strategy -- the winds were about as light as they could be in the game, so the Galleon could hardly move at all, and definitely couldn't sail upwind; so I shortened sail, parked in his aft arc, and slowly pecked him to death. It took over six hours, but I did it. I suspect for a frigate to take on an SoL, similar strategy will be required -- use full advantage of the wind conditions, stay out of the broadsides, and slowly bludgeon it to death.]

Why didn't the galleon set up some stern guns to engage the pinnace? They would see you coming.

David Manley
01-16-2014, 00:04
Why didn't the galleon set up some stern guns to engage the pinnace? They would see you coming.

'cos its a historical option that the game designer wasn't aware of, or ignoed.

Cool Breeze
01-16-2014, 12:50
'cos its a historical option that the game designer wasn't aware of, or ignoed.

And would have robbed us of a fun tale! :happy:

csadn
01-16-2014, 17:53
Why didn't the galleon set up some stern guns to engage the pinnace? They would see you coming.

As noted: It wasn't an option in the game -- one had broadsides only. Watching the galleon helplessly flailing about in an effort to bring guns to bear.... >;)