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Pseudotheist
11-19-2014, 20:13
I was pondering the practical differences of ships reversing course by turning into vs. away from the wind. So I figured I'd maneuver through a set for comparison and share the pictures...

The initial setup here is two first rates in the middle (F maneuver deck) bracketed by a pair of sloops on the outside (G maneuver deck); I figure that should represent the most and least nimble ships. The wind is blowing from left to right, straight across the mat.
http://www.sailsofglory.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=12178&d=1416446698

It doesn't make much of a difference for the comparison, but I'm surprised to discover that it appears the first rates can actually achieve a reach perpendicular to the wind.
http://www.sailsofglory.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=12177&d=1416446698

Unsurprisingly, the sloop can clear being taken aback in a single turn. Also of interest, the turning rate into the wind is almost identical to the turning rate while beating. The sloop could probably turn faster downwind at backing sail, and there's some indication that a less aggressive initial turn could avoid running directly down wind to make for a faster overall turn, but this wasn't intended to be an exhaustive analysis of the most efficient turning techniques.
http://www.sailsofglory.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=12176&d=1416446698

Through one turn into the wind, the First Rate also keeps pace with its downwind counterpart. Intriguingly, initial measurements seemed to indicate that she could also clear the taken aback zone in a single maneuver, but that seemed unlikely, so I fiddled with my wind gauge, and with the previous maneuver, so when all was said and done she didn't quite. Still not sure if it's actually possible, but it's definitely closer than I thought.
http://www.sailsofglory.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=12175&d=1416446698

And here we see being taken aback again costs about a ship's length of distance made good, but with an additional 20-30 degrees of turn, as well as being good half-dozen ship lengths upwind.
http://www.sailsofglory.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=12174&d=1416446698

Hopefully some of you find this demonstration somewhat interesting in it's own right, but what got me on the subject was the thought that there's really not much penalty to turning through the wind. Even on the off chance that a ship has to fall off to complete the turn, on the next maneuver she can be back a full speed and full sails with advantageous wind position. It seems to me that a ship taken aback should not resume full speed immediately upon exit. I think it would be reasonable to say that a ship taken aback on the previous turn must resolve her maneuver card as if at backing sail, and on the second turn thereafter if at full sail must resolve her maneuver as if at battle sails. Any other thoughts on the subject? Anyone think that's reasonable, or a completely inaccurate understanding of how ships would have behaved, or any other observations about the nature of turning in general?

fredmiracle
11-19-2014, 21:17
Interesting exercise-thanks!

I agree in general about tacking. There was a post some time back that i thought made sense, discussing the lack of any big risks to tacking (like missing stays), and proposing a mild penalty that if you stayed in the red too long you would have to go back to the original tack instead of finishing the maneuver.

Overall SGN movement seems a lot like the (few) other sailing games I've seen. But nevertheless it does appear that maybe the sailing is just too easy all around. When I was playing a big SOL scenario a few weeks ago, I recalled historians writing about how slow and ponderous it was to wear the battle line, but I didn't find it ponderous at all to wear my (admittedly 3 ship) line.

Fine for beer & pretzel gaming, but it has inspired an interest for me in some kind of "expert maneuver system." However I lack the knowledge and free time to do anything about it...

Union Jack
11-20-2014, 01:00
I have used the Langton rules system extensively.

To tack across the wind is a 3 turn maneuver.

Turn 1 into wind (if successful) is at 1/2 speed.
Turn 2 (if successful, and it's here SoG has no penalty or system for a failed tack) you turn across the wind with no forward movement.
Turn 3 (if again successful) you move at 1/2 speed again.

Perhaps a simple chit draw would suffice. Say draw an A damage chit if a zero is drawn then the tack is unsuccessful, a number would indicate how many points the ship turns through (this last one does not use a movement card so the end position is random and not one with intricate placing.)

Gunner
11-20-2014, 01:44
Members could write additions to the rules making Langton's rules look like a five minute study. But that would destroy what SOG was meant to be, a unpack and play fun game.
What's good about this site is all the great input by its members to enhance the game to individual taste. Speaking of taste, it's :beer: time.

Union Jack
11-20-2014, 03:31
Although the Langton rules have some good bits they can be overly realistic. I was just putting forward the notion, as with WGS, by retaining the chit system it would be simple to decide whether a tack was successful or not. then it would be successive red cards (taken aback) until a successful turn was made. I don't know the % of zero's to number damage but whichever is the least should be the failure. Of course all special damage would be ignored.

Kentop
11-20-2014, 07:21
Here's a quote from a PDF you can find here: http://www.cnrs-scrn.org/northern_mariner/vol13/tnm_13_4_29-39.pdf

"In a seaway, a ship had no option but to tack repeatedly, always a considerable struggle with no guarantee of success. In 1789 the Captain of the Southampton strove for three weeks in the teeth of strong south-westerly winds to get from the Downs to his sweetheart in Portsmouth, and in 1780, Captain Wallace of the Nonsuch tried to work to windward towards a French squadron, but was obliged to bear up, having tacked "eleven or
twelve times." As late as 1891, H M S Téméraire, the last fully rigged battleship in the Mediterranean and hence the culmination of centuries of development of seamanship, rig and ship design, was sailed against a headwind into her anchorage at Suda Bay, Crete by Gerard Noel out of principle. He managed it, but had to tack thirteen times.
Not only must the difficulty of making ground to windward be emphasized, but also the variety in that capability. A fine ship, a fine crew, a fine breeze of wind, no swell, no current (or a current with a windward set) were the ideal, but rare conditions for reliable windward performance. So heavily dependent on such a variety of circumstances the windward performance of sailing warships in any given situation varied a great deal between ships of the same class as much as been between ships of different classes. Generalisations regarding windward performance are, therefore, an unhelpful way ofunderstanding this key aspect of sailing warship capability."

Another thing to consider is that tacking a square rigger into the wind took the entire crew. Every hand was needed in order to be successful. In a close action, that's not where you want your crew. That's also why ships to leeward could not engage windward ships. Windward performance was that tricky. A good house rule for windward performance would be to put any square rigger in irons that attempts it, and they have to draw a chit in order to continue maneuvering. In a strong breeze, there was also the possibility of damaging the masts when taken aback. You could draw a chit to see if that happens while you tack, too.

DeRuyter
11-20-2014, 14:24
Ken:

First of all great quote. It highlights the difficulty sailing to windward in a square rigged ship, which of course is why shipping routes developed the way they did, ie; following the trade winds and so forth.

However there is a distinction between maneuvering a warship in battle and having to sail to a windward destination (port). While you would need more crew at their sail (maneuvering) stations, I can tell you from having tacked in square rigged ships that it would not take your whole crew. Which goes more to firing guns or doing other actions whilst tacking. As your quote does note what makes windward performance tricky is a combination of the state of the wind, water and rig, and crew experience. The disadvantages of being in the leeward position was not necessarily a function of the inability of a ship to perform the maneuver; rather you won't be able to return fire whilst working to close the distance. I think there are examples of ships having to beat to windward, especially in single ship actions.

What strikes me most about the OP experiment comes down to the sailing angles IMO. The ships in SGN are able to sail too close to the wind (I know this topic has come up here before). My solution would be to increase the "red" zone on the ship cards, which would make it harder to come across the wind in one or even 2 turns. I would also agree that a ship should have to build up speed after a tack. I use the backing sails line for ships that have collided the prior turn for similar effect.

The bottom line for SGN as Ed noted is the nature of the game. Too many additions and it is no longer a beer and pretzels style game.

csadn
11-20-2014, 14:57
The second "backing" move should force the ship back onto its original heading. Can't make the corner in one move -- too bad, so sad; looks as tho' you're taking the long way around.

Nightmoss
11-20-2014, 16:45
Members could write additions to the rules making Langton's rules look like a five minute study. But that would destroy what SOG was meant to be, a unpack and play fun game.
What's good about this site is all the great input by its members to enhance the game to individual taste. Speaking of taste, it's :beer: time.

^ +1

Kentop
11-20-2014, 16:55
Ken:

I can tell you from having tacked in square rigged ships that it would not take your whole crew.

Moving all sails on all masts nearly simultaneously doesn't take the whole crew? I can't even imagine how you could do it without letting one entire side of running rigging let fly while hauling the entire other side in any kind of wind at all! I would think that you would need everyone available to accomplish that. Fighting ships didn't have people laying around whose only job was to man the guns. Everyone had double and triple duties to perform. For moving all the masts, you would need an officer for each mast and someone in charge of each gang hauling on the ropes and/or letting the opposite side ropes go. There were no winches for sails in those days. You had pulleys and/or belaying pins, and there were a hundred belaying pins, almost all of which had to be adjusted when swinging a yard with an open sail through 40 degrees. On the HMS Victory at Trafalgar, even the Marines were required to man the sails, and it had three decks of guns!

fredmiracle
11-20-2014, 17:01
But fighting ships did have many more crew than a similar merchant ship, no?

I seem to recall a Hornblower in which he "had a plan" which involved firing a broadside while tacking, but it was very tight and required careful allocation of the manpower...

Broadsword56
11-20-2014, 17:53
This is a terrific thread and some excellent points made.
But it's really increasing my disppointment with SGN.
If they had just made the ship maneuver cards with a bit more care and historical insight, they could have had a far more realistic-playing game at no cost whatever in playablity.
I really do hope the community makes a realistic SGN 2.0 mod someday that preserves the good things about this system but makes it a real wargame.

Kentop
11-20-2014, 18:50
This is a terrific thread and some excellent points made.
But it's really increasing my disppointment with SGN.
If they had just made the ship maneuver cards with a bit more care and historical insight, they could have had a far more realistic-playing game at no cost whatever in playablity.
I really do hope the community makes a realistic SGN 2.0 mod someday that preserves the good things about this system but makes it a real wargame.

Been there did that. SGN is FUN. When I want to play a REAL naval war-game, I play "Heart of Oak" for the age of sail and Seekrieg 4, for anything afterward. Those are real "simulations". SGN has a lot of faults, but being bogged down in details is not one of them. It's fast, easy napoleonic miniatures. You should take it at face value. If you want realism, use the ships with the rules from Heart of Oak. You can download the rules for 5 bucks.

Gunner
11-20-2014, 21:06
If you want realism, use the ships with the rules from Heart of Oak.

And that's it in a nutshell.
What really drew me to SOG & WOG was the ready to sail and fly ships and planes. It gave me more time to reload and practice fastdraw (not that it did me any good). Not to mention, more time to relax with a :beer:.

Pseudotheist
11-20-2014, 21:35
A lot of great discussion here!


I have used the Langton rules system extensively.

To tack across the wind is a 3 turn maneuver.

Turn 1 into wind (if successful) is at 1/2 speed.
Turn 2 (if successful, and it's here SoG has no penalty or system for a failed tack) you turn across the wind with no forward movement.
Turn 3 (if again successful) you move at 1/2 speed again.

Perhaps a simple chit draw would suffice. Say draw an A damage chit if a zero is drawn then the tack is unsuccessful, a number would indicate how many points the ship turns through (this last one does not use a movement card so the end position is random and not one with intricate placing.)
I suppose my suggested tweak is somewhat comparable to the Langton half move on turn 3. I'm personally not a fan of the idea of turning a tack into a game of chance (I've seen enough people screw it up without that), but could see making maneuver 3 into the wind playing the red card that corresponds to your wind position instead of planned maneuver. I can definitely see a logical argument for bumping that to the second turn, but without having studied how common that would be I feel 2nd turn should be for seasoned captains only right now.


Another thing to consider is that tacking a square rigger into the wind took the entire crew. Every hand was needed in order to be successful. In a close action, that's not where you want your crew. That's also why ships to leeward could not engage windward ships. Windward performance was that tricky. A good house rule for windward performance would be to put any square rigger in irons that attempts it, and they have to draw a chit in order to continue maneuvering. In a strong breeze, there was also the possibility of damaging the masts when taken aback. You could draw a chit to see if that happens while you tack, too.
Given the way in which crew is abstracted in this game I could see easily implementing a rule that a ship that is into the wind during the planning phase must plan a blank maneuver, effectively losing an action. I think even that much would be a pretty major deterrent to tacking, at least while in combat.


What strikes me most about the OP experiment comes down to the sailing angles IMO. The ships in SGN are able to sail too close to the wind (I know this topic has come up here before). My solution would be to increase the "red" zone on the ship cards, which would make it harder to come across the wind in one or even 2 turns. I would also agree that a ship should have to build up speed after a tack. I use the backing sails line for ships that have collided the prior turn for similar effect.
And here I thought (perhaps more from a game perspective) that the actual sail settings were already pretty restrictive. Tacking is no big deal, but actually making way up wind is still a fairly onerous task (as I'm sure it must've been on square-rigged vessels).

Broadsword56
11-20-2014, 23:36
Just DL'ed Heart of Oak. Thanks for the tip, Kentop!
And it even uses 1/1000 scale, too.
By the way:
My Shapeways site for 1/1000 scale ships, Swash & Buckle Naval Miniatures, is in the final stages of setup. As soon as I get my own test print back from them and judge it satisfactory, the shop will go live with the USS Niagara / USS Lawrence as the first kit.

Gunner
11-21-2014, 00:34
Just DL'ed Heart of Oak. Thanks for the tip, Kentop!
And it even uses 1/1000 scale, too.
By the way:
My Shapeways site for 1/1000 scale ships, Swash & Buckle Naval Miniatures, is in the final stages of setup. As soon as I get my own test print back from them and judge it satisfactory, the shop will go live with the USS Niagara / USS Lawrence as the first kit.

The USS Niagara / USS Lawrence would be a must have. Please put me on your list of customers for two.

David Manley
11-21-2014, 03:27
But nevertheless it does appear that maybe the sailing is just too easy all around.

There's a lot of things that one finds in other rules that don't appear in SGN mainly, I think, because of the very conscious and hard-defended position that this is a "no dice" game. It kind of makes sense with WGF/S, but in SGN there are so many aspects where the simple application of a d6 or a d10 to a situation would allow a more realistic set of options, or even the ability to have options in the first place. I can understand the strong desire to remain diceless, but the more experience I have with SGN the more it just annoys me as a gimmick and the more I think it has actually harmed the rules.

Union Jack
11-21-2014, 04:17
A simple chart might suffice and taking some ideas from the Langton chart (why recreate the wheel) might work. I'll try this next week and post the result.

Kentop
11-21-2014, 10:17
I think of SGN as a gateway drug. It gives you a taste of what Napoleonic miniature gaming is all about. I love it. It's quick and easy and fun. When you're ready for something with rules for just about anything you can think of, there are many, many rulesets to choose from. Picking the best rules from each game and ignoring the bad ones allows you to create a game that is perfect for you. For WWI and II naval actions, no game even compares to Seekrieg 4, which is a free download now because they want you to buy Seekrieg 5. I'm talking about a hundred pages and charts for every kind of warship from steam to nuclear powered. Once you play a game of that, you will have the equivalent of a bachelors degree in modern naval warfare. It's not for the faint hearted. It takes a ton of studying and during the game, you're not looking at the ships, your nose is buried in charts. But it really plays "authentically". At the other end of the spectrum, you have "strategic" games that treat ships like checkers. One roll of the die and part of your fleet completely disappears. In between, there's something for every kind of player.