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Thread: Sour mistake(s) - beginners' lessons in solo play

  1. #1
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    Default Sour mistake(s) - beginners' lessons in solo play

    As a newcomer to the game, I’m still learning about it, especially manoeuvring. I’ve tried a few battles with friends, family and solo.
    I wanted to learn more about solo play, so using the advanced game rules, I played the historical scenario “A Sour Mistake” using the following three solo rulesets:

    1. Sails of glory solo software by DGH (Android)
    2. Sails of Glory solo rules by Herkybird (Movement charts)
    3. Sails of Glory Generator by G-Two (Fred Miracle’s rules, Android)

    I’m not sure if I’m using the solo rules correctly. Thus, for these AARs, I’m going to try to clearly show the AI ship’s manoeuvre in the photos from each turn. Any tips from the community on how to play the solo rules correctly would be appreciated! Hopefully, this thread might then be of help to other beginners who also want to try solo play.

    The main questions I have are: how to play the solo rules given the “Time to React” rule (i.e. planning manoeuvre cards one turn in advance); what to do when the AI ship is taken aback; and, when and how to replace random cards with pre-determined ones under certain circumstances.

    In the historical scenario “A Sour Mistake”, I played the frigate HMS Minerva and the solo apps/chart would take care of the French frigate Concorde. The set-up gives Concorde a chance to fire a broadside on HMS Minerva, which has unloaded guns. In reality, HMS Minerva suffered an explosion and heavy damage before surrendering. Captain Stott of HMS Minerva died of wounds incurred during the action.

    I used the Ares Courageuse model to represent Concorde and HMS Concorde model to represent HMS Minerva (confusing, I know!). I played with the advanced rules and all the optional rules, except for variable wind strength (though I did use it in the first AAR). The captains and crew of the ships have no abilities or penalties. I also played with the “Field of Fire” rule from the Historical Scenario booklet, limiting the extent of the forward and rear fire arcs by stipulating that the main mast has to be within the arc for the ship to be able to fire.

    I played through each solo ruleset 3 times. For now, I’m going to post one AAR for each ruleset. Maybe later I’ll add summaries of the other games. This thread is not intended to be about which set of solo rules is the best. In fact, I recommend all three as they play differently, and I’m of the impression that a bit of variation will only improve your game.
    Each action opened in the same way – with me turning HMS Minerva as hard as possible to starboard. I found that carrying out this evasive manoeuvre was the only certain way for HMS Minerva to avoid a short range broadside, which is more likely to result in HMS Minerva receiving serious damage on the first turn.

    Through his telescope, Captain Stott of the Minerva watches in horror as he realises the merchantman he was peacefully approaching has more gun ports than normal - it’s a frigate preparing to fire! Stott instantly realises the HMS Minerva’s perilous position and immediately starts barking orders. The crew responds by loading the empty cannons, switching to backing sails, steering hard to starboard and bracing for the impact of the Concorde’s long range broadside.
    Last edited by Fabbe; 04-25-2018 at 12:53. Reason: Added colour to the links

  2. #2
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    "The main questions I have are: how to play the solo rules given the “Time to React” rule (i.e. planning manoeuvre cards one turn in advance); what to do when the AI ship is taken aback; and, when and how to replace random cards with pre-determined ones under certain circumstances."

    In order to answer these Fabbe. I personally do the following. You can't make the AI react to a move that the other ship has yet to make, so you can either pick a second card with your best guess after the AI move is selected, or just move the AI one move at a time which is what I do.

    If AI is taken aback the next card must conform to the rules and be one chosen according to the veer number on the card just played.
    The third is really where the I comes into play. Just do what you think is most realistic in the circumstances for that particular Captain. eg. does he run up the rocks or turn into the next ship in his line.

    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.

  3. #3
    Ordinary Seaman
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    Thanks Bligh for your answers. So, I think applying the "Time to React" rule depends on which solo rules are being used. I know Herkybird's rules can be used with "Time to React", as he shows it on his blog. I'm a little unsure if it can be applied for DGHs app, but saw at least one previous AAR where it seemed to be applied. G-Two's app, using Fred Miracle's solo rules, should not use "Time to react", basically doing as you suggest and drawing one card on each turn. I only discovered this after I played through the action a few times, though. I'm going to post the AARs in this thread and explain these questions in more detail in my comments after each AAR.

  4. #4
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    AAR 1 – Sails of glory solo software by DGH
    To plan the Concorde’s manoeuvres, I used the app as follows:
    1. Entered the data for the ships positions
    2. Entered the data for the crew actions and computed them
    3. Computed the manoeuvre

    For the first card of the game, I computed the manoeuvre before computing the crew actions. Using the “Time to React” rule, I never selected the 1st or 2nd “taken aback” options in the app for the wind direction, but always “beating” and I replaced the computed card with the appropriate red one.
    And now to the AAR…


    Turn 1: Concorde’s opening salvo is both ineffective and effective at the same time – fires are nasty! HMS Minerva is going to be at a disadvantage for the rest of the game…
    HMS Minerva: 1/8 damage boxes full


    Turn 2: HMS Minerva gets revenge with a rear-arc broadside. Not as nasty as a fire, but something for the French to deal with while Minerva’s crew set about putting out the fire and repairing the damage to the hull.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, Concorde: 1/8 damage


    Turn 3: The wind changes from an easterly to a north-easterly and the Concorde avoids being taken aback. HMS Minerva uses continuous fire on the Concorde and ruffles the crew. On HMS Minerva, the fire is put out and the hull damage is repaired.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage; Concorde: 1/8 damage, 1/9 crew


    Turn 4: The wind strength increases (for this game I used the variable wind strength rule). Stott’s gamble, ordering double-shot to be loaded on the port side, pays off. Despite only a front-arc broadside, the damage to the Concorde is heavy and starts a fire, although Concorde succeeds in repairing the earlier hull damage. HMS Minerva suffers minor damage in return.
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 3/8 damage, 2/9 crew



    Turn 5: HMS Minerva causes some minor damage at short range using continuous fire.
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 4/8 damage, 2/9 crew



    Turn 6: Manoeuvring. The ships are just out of range. (Concorde’s partial exit is ignored…) The crews of both ships get a chance to raise their spirits.
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 0/9 crew; Concorde: 5/8 damage, 1/9 crew



    Turn 7: Manoeuvring.


    Turn 8: HMS Minerva has loaded the portside with double-shot again. Stott gives the order to fire, despite it being only a partial front broadside. Nevertheless, the damage adds to the Concordes woes. The Concorde cannot return fire (due to optional rule: Field of Fire).
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 0/9 crew; Concorde: 6/8 damage, 1/9 crew



    Turn 9: The well-planned manoeuvre by the Concorde’s captain nearly results in a rear rake. Marines of each ship take their first shots.
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 6/8 damage, 3/9 crew


    Turn 10: Both ships are taken aback giving the Minerva an opportunity to rake the Concorde with double-shot. The marines also exchange fire and the Concorde surrenders!


    And the results! Given this outcome, the Admiralty might overlook Captain Stott’s recklessness in directly approaching an unknown ship…

    Comments/Questions

    On Turn 10, the Concorde (Courageuse) was taken aback. I’m not sure how to use DGH’s Android app here. In the app, there’s an option to choose the ship being taken aback (1st or 2nd). However, with the “Time to React” rule, only blue-sided manoeuvre cards should planned and, if the ship is taken aback, they are replaced with the appropriate red one. If the solo ship was taken aback, I chose "beating" as the wind direction in the app and replaced the planned manoeuvre with the appropriate red card if taken aback later.

    I think I applied the raking rule incorrectly on turn 10. It’s not clear from the blurred photo, but the Minerva (HMS Concorde, to the right) has the Concorde (Courageuse) in its central firing arc through the short base side. For it to be a rake, page 25 of the rulebook says:
    “The attacking player must trace a line of sight from the dot of its central firing arc to the main mast of the target ship.
    If the line passes through one of the short sides of the target base, the ship may fire a raking shot from its central firing arc… [etc]”
    I interpreted this as meaning that the line of sight from the dot to the central mast does not need to lie within the central firing arc… though now I realise this is probably not the intention of the rule.

    Another matter is if the solo ships handle the variable wind strength rule well. I stopped using them after this game.

    Any comments welcome!
    Last edited by Fabbe; 04-23-2018 at 14:59. Reason: Put AARs in correct order...

  5. #5
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    AAR 2 – Sails of Glory solo rules by Herkybird
    To plan the Concorde’s manoeuvres, I used the movement charts as follows:
    1. Rolled a 6-sided die
    2. Determined if the solo ship’s target was up or downwind
    3. Selected the manoeuver card for the following turn (according to the ‘Time to react’ rule in the rulebook)

    Sometimes diced manoeuver cards got replaced according to Herybird’s additional movement rule, which states that a diced card should be replaced with the sharpest turn possible towards its target not going into the wind if the solo ship is going downwind. I think I did this correctly…
    And now to the AAR…
    AAR2

    Turn 1
    HMS Minerva conducts its evasive manoeuver to avoid getting a short-range broadside. There is, nevertheless, the obligatory 1st-turn fire on board. At least Concorde only got a rear-arc broadside. Notice the difference in how Concorde moves compared with AAR1. In AAR1, the 1st turn was to port, whereas in this AAR, Herkybird’s charts can only lead to a starboard or straight manoeuver. See my comments after this AAR for more on this.
    HMS Minerva: 1/8 damage




    Turn 2, 3, 4 and 5
    Concorde continues its manoeuver downwind, with the diced manoeuvre cards replaced by the sharpest turns possible until the target ship is in the correct zone. HMS Minerva continues its evasive tacking manoeuvre and has a chance to repair the hull damage.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage

    Turn 6
    This doesn’t look good…


    Turn 7
    Smash! At least the marines were prepared.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 0/8 damage, 1/9 crew


    Turn 8
    Entangled! In addition to the marines sustaining their fire, a boarding is forced by the Minerva and the Concorde gets the upper hand.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 3/9 crew; Concorde: 0/8 damage, 4/9 crew


    Turn 9
    The ships remain entangled, but the boarding ends. Concorde loses again in the exchange between the marines.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 0/8 damage, 6/9 crew


    Turn 10
    The ships break free and the pre-planned manoeuvres can be executed! HMS Minerva succeeds in getting a rear-arc double-shot broadside at Concorde. Concorde could not fire a broadside, since Concorde has only a couple of crew actions, and I ruled that the most sensible course of action was to prepare for a boarding and to have the marines fire. (This was perhaps a little unfair to the poor solo ship - see comment after this AAR!). The marines’ musketry from the Concorde is ineffectual.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 2/8 damage, 8/9 crew


    Turn 11
    HMS Minerva keeps up continuous cannon fire, while Concorde has decided to attempt to disengage and escape. The Concorde’s crew start work on the leak, but don’t have the manpower to pump.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 4/8 damage, 8/9 crew


    Turn 12
    HMS Minerva misjudges its’ turn ever so slightly and gets taken aback, while Concorde continues its’ escape windward. The Concorde’s leak is repaired.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 5/8 damage, 8/9 crew


    Turn 13
    Minerva fires a parting shot in a vain attempt to stop Concorde in its tracks by demoralising its crew. The Concorde pumps the water onboard from the leak.
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 5/8 damage, 8/9 crew

    Turn 14
    Concorde makes its’ escape in the nick of time, with just one crew slot remaining.


    The damage…
    Captain Stott breathes a sigh of relief. That’ll teach the treacherous French to open fire without warning! Now let’s prepare for the chase to exact revenge!
    Concorde’s crew were very close to surrendering. The match was mostly a matter of dumb luck, with HMS Minerva getting the upper hand in the exchanges between marines and boarding teams.
    Comments/Questions
    Herkybird’s ruleset meant that the Concorde carried out a manoeuver to starboard on the first turn. In a way, this is probably not the best manoeuvre in this situation. However, Herkybird’s rules are meant to have a different set-up at the game start, with the solo-run ships set up in line beating as close as possible to the wind on the opposite side of the table from the enemy ships. After this match, I decided that in the following matches using Herkybird’s rules that the solo ship would make its' first turn to port instead and thereafter follow the rules.
    Another question that arose is the sequence of crew actions. One way to play it is to follow the solo play actions as listed in the original game rules. Herkybird also has a similar list. However, I decided to play it as if it was a player choosing. This is perhaps a bit unfair to the solo ship which could do with the advantage of just following the list. That is, if it can fire a broadside instead of having marines fire, then it may choose to do so.

  6. #6
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    AAR 3 – G-twos app using Fred miracles solo movement rules.
    To plan the Concorde’s manoeuvres, I used the app as follows:
    1. Entered the data for the ships positions
    2. Computed the manoeuvre

    Using the “Time to React” rule, I never selected the 1st or 2nd “taken aback” options in the app for the wind direction, but always “beating” and I replaced the computed card with the appropriate red one.
    I learnt later that when using Fred Miracle’s solo rules, one shouldn’t use the “Time to React” rule (see comment after the AAR).


    Turn 1
    Minerva makes its obligatory, evasive manoeuvre. The broadside from Concorde is not too devastating.
    HMS Minerva: 1/8 damage, 1 crew


    Turn 2
    Minerva succeeds in firing off a rear arc broadside (Concorde’s main mast was just within the arc). The men’s spirits are raised!
    HMS Minerva: 1/8 damage; Concorde: 2/8 damage


    Turn 3
    Both ships are taken-aback. Minerva keeps up its attack with continuous fire, getting a frontal raking shot, but the resulting damage is minor. Minerva repairs damage.
    HMS Minerva: 0/8 damage; Concorde: 2/8 damage


    Turn 4
    Concorde swerves around and unleashes a devastating short-range broadside while HMS Minerva reloads. Concorde repairs damage
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage; Concorde: 1/8 damage


    Turn 5
    Manoeuvring. Since HMS Minerva can only fire a long-range, front-arc shot, the broadside is reserved for the next turn.


    Turn 6
    Concorde swerves around again, which HMS Minerva was prepared for. Minerva wins the long-range exchange.
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage, 1/8 crew; Concorde: 1/8 damage, 1/8 crew


    Turn 7
    Uh-oh! This position looks familiar (compare with AAR2 using Herkybird’s solo rules)! The marines cause equal amounts of harm to the men of each ship.
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage, 2/8 crew; Concorde: 1/8 damage, 2/8 crew


    Turn 8
    Phew! Collision avoided!




    Turn 9, 10 and 11
    Manoeuvring. The Concorde’s men get a chance to raise their spirits!
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage, 2/8 crew; Concorde: 1/8 damage, 1/8 crew


    Turn 12
    Concorde’s broadside starts a fire on Minerva, which at this stage in the action, is debilitating.
    HMS Minerva: 5/8 damage, 2/8 crew; Concorde: 1/8 damage, 1/8 crew


    Turn 13
    Minerva manages a double-shot broadside, but the damage is not too extensive.
    HMS Minerva: 6/8 damage, 2/8 crew; Concorde: 3/8 damage, 1/8 crew


    Turn 14
    HMS Minerva decides to skedaddle – no point in continuing the fight after the fire! Luckily, HMS Minerva is just out of range of the Concorde’s guns.
    HMS Minerva: 7/8 damage, 2/8 crew; Concorde: 3/8 damage, 1/8 crew


    The damage…

    Comments/Questions
    I discovered much later that I was using Fred Miracle’s solo rules incorrectly. When dicing a solo ship’s manoeuvre, one is not supposed to use the “Time to react” rule, that is, one should roll for the manoeuvre card each turn. I applied the “Time to react” rule, that is I rolled for manoeuvre cards for the following turn. Judging from the fact that Concorde won, it actually worked! Perhaps, though, the Concorde manoeuvred in a way that might have been exploited by a more experienced player...

  7. #7
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    Superb effort on your part Andrew and as I said it will be most useful to new members.
    Keep up the good work.
    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.

  8. #8
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    Well done Andrew on three excellent AAR, looks like you enjoyed the playing as well as trying out three different sets of solo rules

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    Thanks for posting the 3 AAR's. Keep sailing!
    "It's not the towering sails, but the unseen wind that moves a ship."
    –English Proverb

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    Thank you for this nice comparison exercise.
    Where did you get the G-twos app?

    Regards

    Pedro

  11. #11
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    I got G-twos app from Google Play on my Android phone, here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....sog_generator
    I've now added colour to the links in my first post so they're easier to see.

    Thanks for the praise (and rep!).

    Each play-through was thoroughly enjoyable - the game is good at creating tense situations where decisions matter. Quite a few matches were very close. In only 2 of the 10 matches was HMS Minerva completely destroyed while the Concorde was barely scratched.
    Last edited by Fabbe; 04-25-2018 at 13:12.

  12. #12
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    Summary of the 10 AARs - Sour Mistake(s)

    DGHs app
    AAR1: HMS Minerva wins, Concorde surrenders (hull damage)
    HMS Minerva: 4/8 damage, 2/9 crew; Concorde: 8/8 damage, 5/9 crew

    AAR4: HMS Minerva wins, Concorde surrenders (hull damage)
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 2/9 crew; Concorde: 8/8 damage, 1/9 crew

    AAR8: HMS Minerva wins, Concorde flees
    HMS Minerva: 3/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 6/8 damage, 6/9 crew

    Herkybird

    AAR2: HMS Minerva wins, Concorde flees
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 4/9 crew; Concorde: 5/8 damage, 8/9 crew

    AAR5: Concorde wins, HMS Minerva surrenders (crew morale)
    HMS Minerva: 2/8 damage, 9/9 crew; Concorde: 3/8 damage, 3/9 crew

    AAR9: Concorde wins, HMS Minerva surrenders (hull damage)
    HMS Minerva: 8/8 damage, 0/9 crew; Concorde: 0/8 damage, 0/9 crew

    G-two’s app

    AAR3: Concorde wins, HMS Minerva flees
    HMS Minerva: 7/8 damage, 2/9 crew; Concorde: 3/8 damage, 1/9 crew

    AAR6: Concorde wins, HMS Minerva sinks
    HMS Minerva: 8/8 damage, 1/9 crew; Concorde: 0/8 damage, 0/9 crew

    AAR7: HMS Minerva wins, Concorde surrenders (hull damage)
    HMS Minerva: 5/8 damage, 8/9 crew; Concorde: 8/8 damage, 4/9 crew

    AAR10: Concorde wins, HMS Minerva surrenders (hull damage)
    HMS Minerva: 8/8 damage, 3/9 crew; Concorde: 2/8 damage, 2/9 crew

    Tally
    HMS Minerva: 5/10
    Concorde: 5/10

  13. #13
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    Interesting way to evaluate the solo-engines. Good job!

  14. #14
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    First I would like to welcome Pedro who has made landfall after being a shipmate for nigh on a year now.
    On behalf of all your shipmates based here at the Anchorage welcome.
    Second thanks to Andrew for yet more dedicated work not only on behalf of the new sailors, but also in throwing up some interesting statistics for we old hands.
    Incidentally, not only do his findings reflect well on the Solo Games mechanisms, but also on the author of the scenario who obviously has a well balanced encounter with the objective achievable by both sides. No mean feat in itself.
    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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