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Thread: Smoke as an Obstruction

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    Default Smoke as an Obstruction

    I picked up some smoke chits from the Anchorage, and using them this weekend, one of my players asked if they blocked line of sight. That seemed like a good question. We thought they should stick around for 2 turns before being removed, and to ponder the LOS issue for future games. One thing I was thinking was to reduce a ship's broadside strength by 1 if the LOS passes through a broadside cloud.

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    Fair point Dobbs.

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    There is a lot of evidence that smoke in battle did influence the outcome of gunnery, and that it was one of the factors which helped downwind ships as they were not impeded from seeing by their own gun-smoke. Depending on the wind direction and speed, smoke could be a real handicap to rapid and accurate firing. I think an optional well considered rule could not only add an extra dimension to the game but also induce Captain's to plot their approach to battle with care.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Currently the rules for shooting are for full or partial broadsides snd takes a full turn to reload.
    Will not any smoke thrown out by a broadside be sufficiently gone after a movement card and a full turn reloading ?
    If using the optional continuous fire rule I would agree to the smoke being an issue but waiting for a full turn, cant remember ehat the time scale is at moment, would it really affect things ?
    Ships travelling astern of a firing ship could be affected by smoke I suppose but then again will they not either have fired or already loaded before entering the smoke.
    A stationary target yes I can see but the ships are moving continuously so will smake be that distracting ?

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    If both ships are moving slowly and the wind is light then gunsmoke could accumulate from broadside to broadside. In a stiff breeze its likely to disperse to a greater degree.

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    Chris.
    I can only go on what has been said in volumes about sea battles by the commentators of the time.
    Admittedly many were large fights, and ships may have been moving slowly under fighting sails, very close together, with the smoke hanging in the trough between ships, but enough was made of the problem of smoke and the approach of contesting fleets to mention it in the fighting instructions of those who wrote the tactics.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Manley View Post
    If both ships are moving slowly and the wind is light then gunsmoke could accumulate from broadside to broadside. In a stiff breeze its likely to disperse to a greater degree.
    Cheers Dave.
    Only just caught this. We must have been writing at the same time as each other.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Here is a modern image of an old ship in action. Note the drift and size of the cloud. I'm guessing that a full broadside wasn't used but for reference a couple of guns can produce quite a bit of blinding smoke. Some members may have even attended this event.

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    Fair enough, I have only experienced black powder shot from an infantry line and column there it did hang as no movement from the line but the column was soon through , but I am happy to defer to more the knowledgable . Means I learn more also.

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    In all fairness to you Chris I must admit that the fog of war is very dependent upon the air conditions. Just like real Fog it may hang around for hours or disperse in minutes depending on all manner of things such as the humidity, wind speed, direction ships stealing the wind etc, so a hard and fast rule would only work in a simplified general way unless you wanted to write a set of rules for it. (Heaven forbid)
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    There is a lot of evidence that smoke in battle did influence the outcome of gunnery, and that it was one of the factors which helped downwind ships as they were not impeded from seeing by their own gun-smoke. Depending on the wind direction and speed, smoke could be a real handicap to rapid and accurate firing. I think an optional well considered rule could not only add an extra dimension to the game but also induce Captain's to plot their approach to battle with care.
    Rob.
    Remember, the smoke stays were the ship was when it fired and where the wind pushes it, not were the ship is after moving the next turn.

    We could move the smoke directly downwind which would allow ships to cut through their gun smoke surprising the enemy.

    Hold it, this is getting complicated.
    Bob

    Rules are rough approximations of what you think I might do!

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    When we played, the smoke was placed on the turn the ship fired and remained through the next turn. It didn't move.

    My thought was to reduce the broadside by 1 of any ship firing through a cloud. This could be very important when determining whether or not to fire on a turn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    When we played, the smoke was placed on the turn the ship fired and remained through the next turn. It didn't move.

    My thought was to reduce the broadside by 1 of any ship firing through a cloud. This could be very important when determining whether or not to fire on a turn.
    This is similar to how I've played smoke, only I reduce a ship's broadside by 1 PER CLOUD fired through. The reason for this is I use small clouds, placing one cloud for forward/aft fire and small ships (regardless of batteries fired), and two "grouped" clouds for full broadsides from SoLs and larger frigates. One cloud per "group" is removed at the beginning of each turn in high and normal wind; one cloud every other turn in light breeze. Additional clouds are added to existing clouds as ships fire through those they close up to. This creates a lot of flux in visibility and can effect some serious lulls in combat for trailing ships in a line.

    I only count those clouds that are close to the firing ship as obstructive to its gunners; spotting an enemy's ship from afar isn't impaired by smoke since that ship's masts tend to stand above its own clouds and provides a fairly good marker.

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    I take it you are playing with house rules here.
    As far as I am aware, you fire every other turn, so game wise the smoke has dissipated before you are ready to fire again, more so if firing double shot.
    If you are using the optional of continuous fire, this is at half strength so for me this simulates the firing through smoke quickly.
    But of course the beauty of any game isyou can tweak the rules to suit as required.
    Have fun Michael

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    It occurred to me re-reading this post that the smoke would be moving directly downwind at a speed comparable to the ship's speeds, since the ships are propelled by the wind. Just food for thought.

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    That is certainly going to complicate the game even more Dobbs.
    I remember one we played in Wings where the clouds moved as the wind blew them.
    I would need to use a very different system as my plastic smoke markers move along with the base to denote a reloading ship until the procedure is completed. I will need to rethink this and maybe have some portable toy filling to roll away down wind from each ship.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    I didn't mean to complicate things! I meant that smoke would go away pretty fast from the obscuring point of view, at least in game terms.

    I also use the smoke markers to keep track of reloading. Sometimes they stay where fired and sometimes they stay on the ship. I haven't decided which I like better yet.

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    I must admit that for me as the ship is moving, generally with the wind the smoke would have moved or dissipated after the turn of loading, but I was only saying that is the beauty of a game system, we can add whatever we wish to enhance how we see things, provided the opponent agrees we can do almost anything with the rules, so fill your boots if you want to add any extra rules

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    Oh, I prefer to keep the smoke for loading on the base.
    I am also looking at getting some half length smoke markers for the front and rear half broadsides, my source is on holiday at the moment so difficult to track him down

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capn Duff View Post
    I take it you are playing with house rules here.
    As far as I am aware, you fire every other turn, so game wise the smoke has dissipated before you are ready to fire again, more so if firing double shot.
    If you are using the optional of continuous fire, this is at half strength so for me this simulates the firing through smoke quickly.
    But of course the beauty of any game isyou can tweak the rules to suit as required.
    Have fun Michael
    You are correct in pointing out that normally a ship fires every other turn, and yes, I DO use optional Continuous Fire rule when it's merited. I also do use House Rules dealing with Carronades and Fire as they Bear. All of these can (and often do) leave a close-knit trail of smoke. Regardless, a ship which has not yet fired following one that has may run into the remnants of the firing ship's cloud and suffers the consequences of so doing. The new firing ship adds to the existing cloud and so on, exacerbating the problem for any further following ships. Sort of like the troops at the end of a marching column "eating the dust" of the leading troops.

    I've toyed with moving the clouds with the wind with the firing ships, keeping it localized, which almost works hand-in-hand with your argument for the alternating move/firing sequence, but some ships move faster than others ... and ALL ships can turn. Annnnnd I'm way too lazy to figure out how far the wind would move under varying wind conditions (did that with WoG to replicate what I continually read about how winds affected the progress of fragile, slow flying aircraft and created a monster ... though it worked).

    Thanks for your comment and keeping me "on course".

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    I keep mine on the ship Dobbs, and have grey clouds of smoke on the back. Once fired they are turned over to show the ship is reloading in the fog of war. I also have cut a few down so that I can use them for forward or rear fire only shooting, or bow or stern chasers which I use in some games.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    The problem with smoke in battles I've read about have been for ships downwind of other ships firing. As the smoke drifts along lines of ships firing broadside after broadside.

    If a ship is running before the wind it would be slower than the wind and the smoke would drift away before the guns would be reloaded. If the ship was on a beam reach it could (at least theoretically, I'm not sure how good sailers big ships of the line really was) sail faster than the wind but that makes the smoke both be blown away and sailed away from.

    If I would have to make some rule about this I would say that downwind from heavy fighting with several broadsides those ships would get a small modifier of -1.

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    Yet another viewpoint to consider Jonas.
    All I can say is that having experienced only massed musket fire and cannon fire on land, unless it is a very still day, the smoke dissipates before a reload is complete, say 20 seconds to half a minute. However, many sources describe how one ship could steal the wind from another, when in close proximity to it. I suspect that the canyon formed between two ships running in the same direction may cause the smoke to hang in the void for longer. So I think I will err on the safe side and give minus one to any ships at ultra close range if they fire more than one broadside in those conditions, and minus one to any ships downwind within close range in the next turn, unless the wind is strong.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    It's not a void. It's more like vortices or turbulence disturbing the flow of the air and therefore not letting the sails draw as well. That would rather serve to disperse smoke I would guess. My experience of smoke from a square sails ship is limited. The salutes fired from Götheborg or when we fired the guns on La Grace had pitifully little smoke. Those have been modern pyrotechnics for sound, not to visually produce black powder smoke, sadly.


    For aircraft the wingtip vortices from a big aircraft can make a smaller one crash just from flying through the air minutes later.

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    A general tactical rule in sail racing is that if you pass three boat lengths downwind of an opponent you will be clear of his wind shadow.

    I do find it fascinating when following someone while kayaking how long the vortices linger in the water from their paddle strokes.

    If intending to use smoke as an obstruction, I would suggest that smoke move directly downwind 1/2 a card on the turn after firing, then dissipate the following turn.

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    That sounds pretty much what I was thinking Dobbs.
    We seem to be in the ball park, as near as damn it, unless someone can do some actual experimentation with a few ships!

    Just to blow even more smoke in your eyes, I just watched a demonstration of Tudor fireworks using the old type mixture of BP. Even more smoke than our re-enactments with modern produced refined and corned powder.
    With that post I just noticed that I hit 14,000 posts before the New Year.
    Drinks in the Wardroom are on me tonight shipmates.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Congratulations Rob. I just passed 3000. I'll drink with you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexaS View Post
    Congratulations Rob. I just passed 3000. I'll drink with you!
    Here's to your very good health Captain and the next three thousand.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Let me just add to the point about reenactments whether on ship or land. The modern powder I think generates much less smoke, in particular for artillery because you are firing a very small charge. For muskets I think you get a better idea with a large reenactment. At the Waterloo200 reenactment with 6000+ reenactors on the field, which was a small portion of an already small battlefield, I did notice the amount of smoke hanging around during the firing. Towards evening in a valley with the spectators on the ridge the smoke remained quite awhile and I recall a British converged unit the size of an actual battalion hidden behind smoke from all the volleys. All you could see were the muzzle flashes!

    Even at sea with light air and little maneuvering you may well have a build up of obscuring smoke. Now would that matter when the guns are muzzle to muzzle as in the latter stages of Trafalgar, not really but ships that are coming in to the melee late did have trouble identifying friend and foe.

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    So we may say that with very light winds as appertained at Trafalgar the smoke effect would be much more pronounced. I avoided mentioning battles in amphitheaters as that al;ways has an effect on the smoke. Standing at the side of a battery of six field pieces in those circumstances, even using modern more refined powder, can be very obscuring for a few minutes if the smoke is blowing directly across your field of vision even on a slightly breezy day.
    Rob
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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