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Thread: AAR: 1794 - Encounter near Brest

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    Able Seaman

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    Default AAR: 1794 - Encounter near Brest

    Scenario and Terrain Elements: Uwe aka JackAubrey1805 - Photos and Report: Achim aka Argo, translation with help of deepl ( (free version))
    Around May 05, 1794, the English Admiral Howe cruised with his fleet off Ushant and sent the two frigates Latona and Phaeton as well as the SoL Orion into the waters off Brest to find out if the French fleet had already set sail.
    At that time, the three ships were able to find out that the French fleet was still in port and retreated without attracting attention.
    In this scenario, let's assume the ships were spotted and chased by a French patrol.
    The objective of the British is clearly to avoid combat and return to their own fleet to deliver the results of their reconnaissance mission to the Admiral.
    The French, on the other hand, want to cripple the British as much as possible and wait for the arrival of stronger, already alerted units from Brest, which will then finish off the British. So they primarily want to prevent the British from leaving the sea area in a defined time.

    House rules
    Reduced collision damage
    In a collision, each ship draws two C damage markers. If the difference in burden of the two ships is more than two, the weaker ship draws as many C damage markers as the difference between the two burden values (the stronger however draws two C damage markers).
    If one of the ships involved has placed a "boarding" marker as an action, it may return a damage marker of its choice to the bag.
    "Entanglement" is checked at the beginning of the following turn as usual.

    Modified "First Broadside" Rule

    As many damage markers are drawn as in a normal broadside, but for each "0" damage marker another marker may be drawn. However, if this marker is also a "0", no third marker may be drawn.

    Game Setup
    Gamimg area
    4' x 4', interspersed with numerous reefs and small islands.

    Medium wind from southwest to northeast. Wind strength and direction may change during the game.

    Number of players

    British Squadron
    • HMS Sybille (SGN105C 38 gun frigate) 85 points
    • HMS Dryade (SGN105C 38 gun frigate) 88 points
    • HMS Orion (SGN 104B, 74 gun SoL) 135 points
    Total 308 points

    French Squadron
    • Hébé (SGN105A 40 gun frigate) 85 points
    • Eveillé (SGN109B 64 gun SoL) 102 points
    • Petit Hanibal (SGN 110C 50 cannon ship) 98 points
    • Charmante (SGN101A, 32 cannon frigate) 74 points
    • Le Fortune (SGN107B 14 cannon sloop) 32 points
    Total 391 points

    Initial Situation
    The three British ships are in the southeast of the board when the French patrol appears in the southwest. The British must leave the board somewhere via the west side. The central passage on the board, between two islands heading to the northwest, is blocked by the French sloop.
    After 15 turns, strong French units appear in the east, bringing up any ship then still on the board that cannot leave it with at least medium sails.

    Gaming area seen from south to north. British squadron on the right, French squadron on the left, French sloop in the middle of the channel. Thick red lines at the edge: British escape routes.

    British strategy
    Viewed purely in terms of point values, the French squadron was clearly superior. But in terms of combat power, of course, no ship could hold a candle to HMS Orion. Accordingly, the British (in this case, my) strategy was brute: “With the Orion we will just break straightly through to the northwest, and if this little sloop gets in my way, I'll just run her over. If possible we board her, then we have one more ship which we can send to the admiral with the dispatch.”
    So the plan was to send HMS Orion full sail northwest through the channel with no regard for the presence of the French sloop.
    HMS Sybille was to secure the northern of the two lower passages, to prevent a Frenchman from breaking through there and setting up for a rake on HMS Orion.
    The second frigate, HMS Dryade, on the other hand, should immediately make a strong sweep to the west and attempt to leave the field behind the French squadron via the southern escape area.

    French Strategy
    The French plan was to send two ships at full sails as quickly as possible to the north and try to intercept the British as they left the channel leading northwest.
    In addition, one ship was to attempt to block one of the southern passages or attack the British from there. The sloop's mission was simply to slow down the British advance "within its means."
    Depending on the British advances, the last French ship was to either sail north with them or attack the British in the south if necessary.

    The battle
    Round 1

    For the French, the Eveillé and the Charmante set course north, the Hébé heads for a passage between the islands, while the Petit Hanibal takes a wait-and-see approach.

    For the British, the two frigates spread out according to the strategy on the two southern passages in front of the large island in the center of the gaming area, while HMS Orion sets full sail to head for the passage blocked by the Sloop.

    Round 2

    At the beginning of round 2, a possible wind shift to the west is drawn.
    The French keep their courses, the British as well.

    Round 3

    In fact, directly in round 3 we see a wind shift to west. Good for the French, bad for the British.

    While the French can continue their set courses undeterred, the westerly wind causes both British frigates to suddenly find themselves in the red attitude. While HMS Dryade only slows down her straight ahead course, it leads to a hard course change to starboard for HMS Sybille.

    The attempt of the brave little French sloop "Le Fortune" to push through to port before the bow of the mighty HMS Orion fails (also because the British deliberately set out to do so ). The collision and the subsequent musket fire cause the first losses on "Le Fortune". And yet the Sloop fires the first "real" shots in this engagement and causes losses on HMS Sybille.

    Round 4
    Round 4 threatens the next wind shift, from west to northwest.

    The "Le Fortune" gets free of HMS Orion so that the boarding attempt does not occur. HMS Sybille fires a broadside at the approaching Hébé, but is unable to do much damage.

    The French have realized that the British HMS Dryade is trying to break through to the west behind the squadron and order the Petit Hanibal to radically change course back to the south to prevent this.
    And the sailors on the Charmante have the sweat of fear on their foreheads as their ship sails so ominously close to the island that they can already pick the kelp off the rocks with their hands and the reefs scrape the shell growth off their hull.

    Round 5

    In round 5, the wind actually shifts to the northwest. The weather god is not carrying a British flag that day.
    This makes the British plan to leave the field via the northwest corner de facto unfeasible.

    It gets even worse for the British. Due to the wind shift, HMS Orion finds itself now also in the red attitude, and this causes HMS Sybille and HMS Orion to collide with each other in the narrow waters.
    However, HMS Dryade manages to fire a well-aimed broadside against the Hébé, which results in two leaks on the French frigate.

    Round 6

    The course cards of HMS Orion and HMS Sybille, already laid before the wind shift, result in both ships being unable to move. The Hébé is now in position for a perfect rake on the Sybille, which causes devastating losses among the crew on the British frigate (4 x crew damage). Apparently the entire crew was just on deck to clear the mess caused by the collision with the Orion.

    Round 7

    Round 7 is the round of rarely used special damage tokens: entanglement is now drawn for HMS Orion and HMS Sybille. The "Hébé", which had taken two leaks in round 5, now has to draw the third water damage token. And as little as the weather god has been on the side of the British in this battle so far, the goddess of luck probably is: The Hébé draws the "Sinking ship" marker!

    In the north, the Eveillé and the Charmante swing to an easterly course to round the island to meet the British. In doing so, they can only narrowly avoid a collision.

    Round 8

    HMS Sybille and HMS Orion are still entangled.

    In the north, the captain of the Eveillé has not been able to decide whether to sail around the rock ahead to the north or to the south. With horror, the sailors face the catastrophe that cannot be avoided any more....

    Round 9

    Round 9, Overview.
    With the British, HMS Sybille and HMS Orion are stuck knotted together motionless for the third round now.

    On the Eveillé, the foremast breaks as the ship hits the rocks ahead with a loud crash. Since this was foreseeable in the last round, the crew was able to save themselves and there is no damage among the crew. For the rest of the game, however, they will be stuck on the rocks far away from the action and unable to intervene.

    But round 9 is another round of brave sailing maneuvers.

    Le Fortune, in a daring maneuver, narrowly avoids sharing the Eveillé's fate.

    And the Petit Hanibal stays just millimeters away from the edge of the gaming area with its ship base.

    Round 10

    Round 10, Overview.
    Finally, the British ships start moving again. HMS Orion and HMS Sybille finally manage to break away from each other. Just in time, as the Charmante comes rushing in with full sails.

    And the HMS Dryade is finally back on a westerly course after several rounds. But for this she has to pass the Petit Hanibal. The artillery duel causes great damage to both ships.

    Round 11

    Round 11, Overview
    HMS Orion is finally on a westerly course, as is HMS Dryade, on which, however, an emergency mast must be placed in great haste. And things are getting tight for HMS Sybille, though, as she faces a skirmish with Petit Hanibal and Le Fortune.

    Round 12

    Round 12, Overview
    For the British, it is now just a matter of escaping to the west as quickly as possible, even if it means taking damage. HMS Dryade and HMS Orion are both raked by the French, fortunately only in “A” range, and there is no further mast damage and only minor sail damage.

    Round 13

    Round 13, Overview
    There is now no stopping of the escape of HMS Orion and HMS Dryade.

    HMS Sybille is engaged in fierce firefights, dealing out fierce, but also taking heavy damage with one fire and one leak damage at the same time. She will not survive this, and sinks burning at the beginning of turn 14.

    Round 14

    Round 14, Overview.
    The last round played: The escape of two British ships across the western edge of the board can no longer be prevented.

    The Butcher's bill

    Both sides have lost one heavy frigate each and the Eveillé has to be salvaged from the reef, but has otherwise sustained only minor damage, as have the Petit Hanibal and the brave Le Fortune.
    HMS Orion is also largely undamaged, but HMS Dryade faces an extended shipyard stay.

    After the game, we discussed why we never use the "Aiming High" special rule. The rule has been part of our portfolio for a long time, and just before this game we were discussing whether it would not be worthwhile for the French.
    Nevertheless, so far none of our captains has ever given the order of "aiming high".
    But more about that rule in another AAR !
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