Chauncey the Chump (Or, why you should always patrol your homeport)

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The British AI really kicked my spanker last night...
It was Test Game 2 of my Strategic Layer for A Glorious Chance.
As the U.S., I had Lake Control markers on all six lake zones (worth 1 VP per turn).
My effort to catch the British out on the lake and do battle came to naught last turn, so this time I tried a new tack:
I'm ahead, so no need to take unnecessary risks, I thought. Plus, with the super-corvette USS Pike still on the stocks, I'd better stay close to home and make sure the British don't land and burn her before launch.
I kept nearly the full squadron at anchor in my homeport (Sacket's Harbor), with an Intercept mission. There, they'd be under the safety of my shore batteries if the British tried to sail close and land troops.
I sent out only one Patrol force: The Lady of the Lake (a fast pilot boat) and the USS Raven (a converted laker schooner). These two I deployed in the North Lake Zone, to sit astride the British convoy route and scout in case the squadron came out.[Historically, these two ships didn't operate with the main squadron. So, in the game, they can patrol, escort convoys, or support land operations, but can't do Intercept missions.]
The AI British had 5 deployable ships that turn, so I drew 5 Target cards.
I looked at the zones marked on backs of the cards. [Each card back shows a targeted zone, but you don't know at first what mission the force is on, its size, its objective, or the identities of the ships. It could even turn out to be a false sighting.] Hmmmm.... one Possible Encounter, and it's in my homeport zone of Sacket's!
Now I regretted not assigning a patrol in my Sacket's zone.
[When you have a force on a Patrol mission and there's a Possible Encounter there, the Target card gets revealed. You learn the number of enemy ships and get insight into their likely intentions. You can Withdraw then, and end the Encounter. Or, you can risk engagement and have the patrol approach -- in which case the British ships actually deploy onto the map.]
As it happened, I had no "eyes" on this British force, so I didn't know anything about it. It could be one ship or the entire squadron. It could just be a probing patrol or a little raid aimed at the nearby coast. The only way to know would be to send my anchored squadron out to attempt Interception...
[Interception orders make a force eligible to react and move to the site of an Encounter. But it's a dieroll. Interception is more likely if your force is already in the same zone, but it's not guaranteed.]
But if I chose to sail out and Intercept, I'd lose the +2 dieroll modifier that I'd get from my shore batteries if I stayed at anchor and let the British come to me.
And, I reasoned, it might not even be a land attack anyway. Why risk a battle now? Why not wait until the Pike is finished in a few more turns?
So, I did nothing.
I flipped the Target card to reveal...
Not a land attack, but an attack on a U.S. convoy -- by the full British squadron!
The British captured the entire, defenseless convoy. That forced my Convoy Supply Track to regress 2 spaces, delaying the very supplies that would be needed to finish building the USS Pike.
And, because I'd not deployed any ships in 4 other Lake Zones, the Target cards ended up giving Default Points to the British for a land attack on Sodus that resulted in a British Success (worth 5 VP). The rampaging and unopposed British also could have gotten 1 to 3 VP for a cosatal raid in the Niagara zone, but the Land Combat there resulted in a US Success, so no British VP gains there.
[At first glance, Default Points might seem like an artificial cheat by the AI. But they simulate the British ability to advance their campaign goals if the U.S. doesn’t act to stop them. Communications were so poor in 1813 that if you didn’t have ships on patrol in an area, you wouldn’t learn of enemy naval actions there in time to do anything about them. Default points also prevent unrealistically passive play by the human side, because it’s the human player’s deployments that trigger where the British ships appear. Without the threat of Default Points, you could place two ships on every Lake Zone in the early turns to establish U.S. control, then keep the U.S. squadron safely in port for the rest of the game while accumulating control VPs. There would be no Encounters, and no zones flipping to British control, because nothing would trigger AI ships to deploy.]
And finally -- the greatest insult of all -- because the turn ended with 5 or more British ships in my homeport zone and no U.S. ships deployed in the zone, the U.S. squadron is now marked Blockaded, with dire effects next turn.
[If your homeport is blockaded, all your Lake Control markers get swept off the board. Your ships there can't be assigned missions next turn. Your convoy supplies can't arrive. The only thing you can do -- and must do -- is attack to break the blockade.]
The British are only slightly ahead in the campaign now, in the July II turn [Game is 8 turns, each 2 weeks long. The U.S. earns positive VPs, the British get negative VPs].
And it's been a wild ride: The VP track has gone from the starting British advantage of -5 to 0, to +1, and now to -2.
Next turn, we'll see how the Tactical Battle Resolution system works out.
After all, the entire game is designed to bring about that one, decisive battle that will decide control of the lake.
Now I've got one, although it's not necessarily on the terms I envisioned!
Like the real Commodore Chauncey, you'll find the enemy elusive, surprisingly hard to pin down, and ferociously aggressive when and where you least expected it.

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