(Developer Diary) A Glorious Chance: AAR of a critical turn, "Chauncey's Revenge"

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Turn 7 (8 turns in the game, each turn approx 2 weeks long, June-Sept 1813)

The AI British started the game with control of the lake and a -5 VP score to reflect that [British VP are negative, US VP are positive].
My U.S. squadron started to make progress with some amphibious operations, but in July the British captured a supply convoy and blockaded my homeport of Sacket's Harbor. It looked like I would have to fight a breakout battle despite British superiority, but a fortunate wind change blew the British off station and lifted the blockade for me.
August II was my comeback turn -- a 10 VP gain when nearly my full squadron made an unopposed raid on the British coast at Dundas, and took control of nearly all lake zones.
Now, on Sept I, I decide to go for the jugular: A full scale amphibious attack on the British homeport of Kingston.

The lake control situation at the start of the Sept I turn (ignore those counters in the Repair and Refit assignment boxes):

U.S. assignments:
I send the Lady of the Lake and Raven to the North Lake zone, to interfere with the British convoy route.
[Historically, these two ships never sailed with the full squadron. The Lady of the Lake, in particular, was an especially fast vessel and usually operated independently as a messenger boat.]

In my homeport zone of Sacket's, I put the schooners Conquest and Ontario on patrol. I keep two more schooners, the Pert and the Fair American, on Intercept where they can respond to contingencies.
[If an Encounter happens somewhere out on the lake, ships or stacks with an Intercept orders can try to rush there in time to join the battle. Otherwise they are considered to be in their homeport at anchor, ready to make sail when needed.]

That leaves my main force of seven ships for the land attack on Kingston. The squadron comprises my flagship Madison (corvette), Oneida (brig), and five schooners.

The board, now showing the U.S. ships, their assignments, and which zones they're assigned to:

British assignments:
A chit is drawn from the British Refit cup, and it's blank. No ships are to be kept in Kingston Harbor for refit this turn.
[Historically, the British tried to overcome their disadvantage in long guns by refitting the weaponry on certain ships. The game uses chit draws to assign eligible British ships for refitting. They spend a turn in the refit box, and emerge in a "B" version counter the following turn with new capabilities. Blank chits mean no ships get refitted that turn. There may also be some optional personnel rules, which will include a chit draw for British ships assigned to a training mission in the homeport zone. Training would improve crew quality in future turns, but makes the ship less likely to encounter the enemy or intercept them. You'd want to use it if your miniatures or boardgame system takes crew quality of individual ships into account.]

That leaves all five AI British ships deployable this turn. The ship counters go into the British Deployable Ships cup.

I draw five cards, face-down, from the Target Card deck.
[The number of cards drawn depends on the number of deployable British ships.]

The cards show zones where I could encounter the British this turn: Kingston, North Lake, York, Niagara, and Sacket's:

Next, I compare the zones on the cards to the zones where I made U.S. assignments. Each match gets a Potential Encounter marker. The Potential Encounters are in Kingston, North Lake, and Sacket's. Target Cards always get resolved in left-to-right order, so I make an Encounter Check dieroll first for the Potential Encounter in Kingston (the Target Card in Position #1).

Result: Encounter! And it's right where my assault squadron is heading.
[In the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes, intelligence was fairly good but communications were poor. Reports from spies and deserters would often indicate when the enemy had sailed, rough orders of battle, and general areas where they might be operating. But it was hard to act on the information in a timely manner. Conditions on the lakes were so variable that rival ships in the same area might pass without detecting each other. A Glorious Chance simulates this by telling you where the enemy might appear, but some Potential Encounters may turn out to be false alarms.]

I flip the Kingston card to reveal it...

It's a British force on a Patrol mission, at Effort Level 2.
[If this is starting to look familiar, it's because these mechanisms were inspired by John Butterfield's classic Battle of Britain solitaire game, RAF. Fans of that game really enjoy the suspense and fog of war as each new raid is detected. I realized that certain aspects of the AI in RAF could be adapted to work just as well for generating enemy ships and their missions on a lake as they did for German bombers and fighters over the English Channel.]

[A set of Turn Cards, which get drawn at the start of each turn, set certain events and conditions that will govern that turn. One of them is the setting and resetting of British target priorities. Those get marked on the British Force Size Table. The AI's response to a particular Encounter will vary with the AI's goals and how intensely it's trying to achieve them.]

On my d6 roll of 2, the British force size on the Effort 2 column when Patrol is medium priority is 2. So my lookouts see sails of two enemy on the horizon, but I still don't know which ships they be.

At this point in an Encounter, my options are to have my force Approach or Withdraw. Approach, and I'd risk an engagement to learn the identity of the enemy ships. Other British ships could show up to Intercept, or they could even take advantage of my squadron's deployment to attack my homeport. Withdraw, and I'd get away clean but have to abort the land mission. And I wouldn't know the ID of those British ships.

I order the American squadron to approach. Two British ship counters are drawn at random from the British Deployable Ships tray...

It's the Sir Sidney Smith (schooner,12) and the Earl of Moira (brig, 18).

Both sides' ships in this Encounter now go to the Battle Board:

Next, a dieroll for a wind check, to see if the British patrol will attack me.
[There are three preconditions for a British force to attack: Having the Wind Gauge is one. The British force must have a superior Carronade strength. And the Target Card that triggered this encounter must have an Effort Level of 3.]

The Wind Gauge goes to my American force. I have the option to Attack, or Pass. If I Pass, the Encounter with the patrol ends. But I sense a chance to take 2/5 of the British squadron here on favorable terms, so I attack.

[Battles at this level in A Glorious Chance are abstracted. You can have all the detail you want if you choose to use miniatures or a tactical naval boardgame. Combat using the LCRT occurs in rounds, with the ships moving from their respective ends toward the middle of the Battle Board:

*Long Gun Round (only the ships’ long gun values are used).
*Carronade Round (only the ships’ carronade values are used).
*Close Action Round (this round, when it occurs, simulates continued gunner at point-blank range along with some possible boarding).]

The battles follow any of three distinct sequences of play, depending on which side has the Wind Gauge. Here it's Sequence C, when the U.S. attacks with the Wind Gauge.

But one disadvantage of a U.S. Wind Gauge here is that my valuable long-gun-armed converted laker schooners can't join the Madison and Oneida in the attack, unless they're towed into battle. By towing ships, I sacrifice the +1 DRM I would normally get for attacking with the Wind Gauge. And only the Madison is tow-capable. So I can take only one schooner.

I select the USS Governor Thompkins. It has a 10 Long Gun rating, 1 carronade rating, and a 4 close action rating (although its CA rating gets doubled to 8 if it comes to pistols and cutlasses, because on a land mission the decks are packed with infantry.) Also, the Thompkins is the only converted laker large enough and with enough crew to have two steps, so it's the most survivable of the five here.

So my force in Round 1 (Long Guns) will be:
USS Madison, flagship corvette, 4-13-10
USS Gov Thompkins(under tow), 10-1-4
USS Oneida, brig, 1-8-6

Opposing me are:
HMS Sir Sidney Smith, schooner, 2-7-7
Earl of Moira, 0-7-8

US Long Gun Strength 15 - British Long Gun Strength 2 = +13
So I'd be on the maximum (+10) column. Any dieroll 3 or more would be favorable.

The Brits will get a -2 DRM for Land Defense, representing the Kingston Harbor shore batteries. That -2 overcomes my +1 DRM for having my Leader present (USS Madision, the squadron flagship). So the combat will have a net -1 DRM favoring the British.


1d6 DICE ROLL: 6
6 modifies to 5.
D2 result -- the defender takes 2 hits.

[Every "hit" on the LCRT is a critical hit -- all the hits presumably leading up to that are abstracted out at this level.]

The ships suffering the hits are determined at random by a shuffle of the counters each time...
First hit is to Sir Sidney Smith.
Second hit is to Earl of Moira.

Both British ships get a hit marker, which reduces their strengths.
The Sir Sidney Smith is now 1-3-3
The Earl of Moira is now 0-3-4

Here's how the Battle Board looks after this first (Long Gun) round:

Next in Sequence C is a re-check of the Wind Gauge.

[Each of the thee possible Combat Sequences offers distinct tactical constraints and opportunities. Notice that if this were Sequence B, for example (neither side having Wind Gauge) all my schooners could have sailed into battle on their own, and, if that wind condition continued, I'd have gotten to fire a second Long Gun sequence in a row. If I were facing a larger and more powerful British force, a wind shift now could even turn the tables on me -- the action could move to Sequence A, with the British now attacking if the conditions were right.]

1d6 DICE ROLL: 5
The British have the wind gauge but they do not meet the other two conditions for the AI to attack (superior carronade strength, and the target card in play must have an effort level of 3.)
So the US again can either attack or pass.

I've got a good portion of the British squadron on the ropes now. So it's time to press home my advantage. I attack again, and Round 2 under Sequence C will be a Carronade Round.

US carronade strength is 13+1+8 = 22
Brit carronade strength is 3+3 = 6
It's on the +10 column again (see why I need to make more columns?).
DRMs: +1 US leader, -2 Port Defense, -1 British wind gauge
Net DRM is -2


1d6 DICE ROLL: 2
2 modifies to 0
Result: END
The LCRT ends the battle after this round with no effect on either side.

That could be good news, if those are the only British ships I have to face on the run in to Kingston harbor.

Once the Patrol Encounter Segment, there's an Interception Segment.
I can try to have other eligible US ships nearby join the action at Kingston. The remaining three British ships in the enemy squadron could show up, too -- or possibly take advantage of my squadron's absence from Sacket's Harbor to attack my homeport.

Looking back to the Strategic Map now: Which US forces can intercept and support the attack on Kingston?

Ships on Patrol orders in adjacent zones: North Lake zone has a patrol force, but they're the USS Lady of the Lake and the USS Raven so they're not eligible to intercept (historically, these two ships operated independently of the squadron).

Ships with Intercept orders: The converted laker schooners Fair American and Pert, which I left in readiness at Sacket's for just this purpose.

The only risk is that the bulk of the British squadron is still unaccounted for. If my standby ships all hasten to Kingston now, only the little schooners Ontario and Conquest would remain on patrol at Sacket's to deter the British if they show up at my doorstep.
Let's look at the chances of that happening...

With the Victory Track so far in US favor at +14, there's no chance the British would put the rest of their squadron at risk now in a move to intercept.
But you can see that if the score were even, at 0 VP, my force of only 2 ships left at Sacket's would trigger an AI British Interception on a d10 roll or 7 or more. They would intercept the Encounter at their homeport of Kingston, now under attack.
And if the British were enjoying a greater margin of confidence with, say, -6 to -10 VP, then the AI would Intercept on a d10 roll of 6 or 7, or -- bolder still -- attack my own homeport on a roll of 8 or more.

With that reassurance, I order the Pert and Growler to make sail for Kingston. Let's see if they get there:
d10 roll of 7-10 is needed, and there's a -1 DRM for the distance of one zone.

d10 DICE ROLL: 4
4 modifies to 3, interception attempt fails. (I guess the dispatch didn't reach them in time.)

I would have liked the British squadron to join the battle at Kingston, because I'm in good position and might well have won the decisive engagement.

But now that my Encounter in Kingston is complete, the map shows Potential Encounters in North Lake and Sacket's zones still to be resolved. Since the L->R order of Target Cards governs the order they're resolved in, the Possible Encounter North Lake comes next.
I roll an Encounter check for my two patrol ships in that zone:

1d10 DICE ROLL: 2
Result: No encounter. (My ships' lookouts must have seen clouds on the horizon, or perhaps a real contact vanished in the summer haze.)

Now the Potential Encounter that has me worried: the one in the Sacket's zone. (Sacket's Harbor is abuzz with tension as officers scan the northern horizon from the ramparts. The approaching sails could be Chauncey returning victorious, or Yeo bringing a red tide of vengeance upon them...)

My two ships on an Escort mission outside the harbor roll for their Encounter Check:

1d10 DICE ROLL: 6

Patrol Segment:
I flip over the Target Card -- It's the special "Attack US Convoy" card.
[Attacks on convoys have a special sequence of their own. It's even simpler and faster than the Battle Board.]

I place a convoy marker in the Sackets zone.
I deploy all the remaining British ships: Wolfe, Royal George, and Beresford (total 54 guns).
The US stack making the Encounter Check (schooners Ontario and Conquest) had an Escort mission, so the convoy is escorted. That means the British force must fight the escort first, before it can get to the convoy.

Check for Wind Gauge:
1d6 DICE ROLL: 2
The US gets the Wind Gauge and I choose to pass (It would be crazy to take them on with these two little schooners).
The Patrol Encounter Segment ends, and the convoy automatically scatters.

Interception Segment:
My two schooners with Intercept orders (the Pert and the Fair American) failed to respond to the Kingston affair, but I can try again to have them sail out to meet the British at Sacket's if I want to. But I won't -- even four schooners vs. the heart of the British squadron isn't a good matchup. And, if a battle left the British with the only combat-capable ships in the zone, I'd be blockaded again at the end of this turn.
The Encounter in Sacket's ends.

Land Battle Phase:
Now, with all naval Encounters resolved on the lake, my amphibious assault reaches Kingston.
[Land Battle is simply a matter of a dimple die roll, which yields a Draw, or a Success or Major Success for either side.]
Total DRM will be +5, which is based on the number and size of my ships supporting the assault.

1d10 DICE ROLL: = 1
1 modifies to +6
A draw!

I gain no VPs for this amphibious attack on the British homeport.
But I can take consolation in having damaged 2/5 of the British squadron and put them out of action next turn (they will have to spend the turn in Repair status).

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