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Thread: AAR: The blockade of Saint Domingue in four rounds: How can France win this scenario?

  1. #1
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    Default AAR: The blockade of Saint Domingue in four rounds: How can France win this scenario?

    Introduction

    At our last meeting before the summer break, three of us played the scenario "The Blockade of Saint Domingue" from the official scenario document (https://www.aresgames.eu/download/21069/).

    When reading the conditions we already agreed that it would be extremely difficult or impossible for France to win the scenario. The outcome predicted by everyone was that the French frigate would get through while both SoL would be either boarded or destroyed.
    What did surprise us was how quickly this happened: After four turns the game was over, with the outcome predicted by everyone.




    Starting setup: On the left edge of the picture the two French 74s Jupiter and Fougueux and the frigate Gloire, on the right in the first row from bottom to top the British 74s HMS Orion and HMS Illustrious, in the second row from bottom to top HMS Kent, HMS Goliath, HMS Ajax.



    The battle




    Round 1




    Round 2 sees the first fierce firefights: Jupiter is raked by HMS Orion and taken under fire by HMS Illustrious, HMS Illustrious in turn gets broadsides from Jupiter and Fougueux.






    By round 3, almost all the SoL are involved in some way:
    Jupiter fires on both sides, doing heavy damage to HMS Orion, but is simultaneously fired upon by HMS Orion and HMS Kent.
    HMS Ajax has rammed the Fougueux to be able to board it in the next turn, and the Fougueux is raked by HMS Illustrious.





    In turn 4 the game is over:
    The Jupiter is forced to drop the flag after a broadside from HMS Goliath, which has not yet taken an active part in the battle, and the Fougueux loses its last crewmen in the boarding battle.
    The frigate Gloire, on the other hand, has already sailed out of the picture and can now leave the field with full sails, uncatchable by any British ship.

    The Butcher's bill











    Conclusion

    Even though the game ended as expected by everyone and none of us had any idea how the French could have won it, we were surprised by the partly heavy damage on the British SoL. HMS Orion had to retreat from the battle burning and leaking, also HMS Illustrious had already suffered heavy damage. And HMS Ajax, although little involved in the battle, had already lost 4 crews.
    The most difficult thing for us as the British players, because of the very tight starting setup positions of the ships, was to coordinate the first moves so that the ships would get clear and not collide with each other. Collisions within the British squadron would of course open up victory opportunities for the French. But if the British don't make any mistakes, we don't think the French have a chance in this scenario.

    Translated with help of www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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  2. #2
    Admiral of the Fleet.
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    An interesting game Achim.
    Were the Brits under an overall commander, and given instructions, or just sailed as individuals without any pre battle 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.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the reputation, Rob

    The British had two commanders of equal rank (JackAubrey1805 commanding HMS Orion, HMS Kent and HMS Goliath, and me commanding HMS Illustrious and HMS Ajax). We were allowed to coordinate our movements. Actually we made use of it only for the initial movements (maneuver cards 1 and 2 layed out at start of the game). Of course this makes it a lot easier for the British side, but we decided that with ships being that close to each other it is at least at start of the game not too unrealistic

  4. #4

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    Nice AAR, Achim.

    MY choice would have been to form a kind of French line and use the better wind conditions to get throug the blockade.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the rep, Sven, and also for the idea with the line.

    I think "in reality" the line would have been be a probable option, but actually we use lines quite seldom in situations like this in our games. If the leading vessel is forced to interrupt it's course through a collision this can easily lead to a chain-reaction with the following ships also colliding (especially if the gaps are small).

    I found a photo of a test game four years ago where we had a situation like this: The collision of the leading ship from a line of five caused the two followers also to collide, causing very harsh damage, especially due to the "collision of friendly ships"-rule.

    Actually this test game was the reason for us to develop some house rules around the collision-aspect.

    Maybe the rules somehow do reflect not the real situations perfectly in that aspect, because of course the battle line was common in historic situations.
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    I well remember a similar incident under Commodore Manley at Doncaster Achim. I was the last ship in a line of four led by the good Commodore. When the French crossed our T rather too close, Dave ran into the leading Frenchman and boarded her, starting one of your chain reactions. Despite being the last in line, and putting my helm hard over I still managed to graze the ship in front and having lost points for that got entangled. By the time I got free, the other ships were sorting themselves out, but because I had put my helm down I was able to slip past the rest to attack the French rear. As I approached Dave got the Flagship off the Frenchman he had boarded and then taken, and was now turning straight in front of my next move. Another collision and more damage to my ship. Whilst thus occupied, one of the French 74s managed to rake my bow with her first double shotted broadside. Thus ended my battle without getting off so much as a single shot.

    I am like yourself, now very wary of the form line of battle signal, an try to sail two card lengths behind the ship in front.

    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.

  7. #7
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    "Maybe the rules somehow do reflect not the real situations perfectly in that aspect, because of course the battle line was common in historic situations"

    Plotting a card ahead makes linear tactics annoyingly difficult to use. I much prefer selecting a card and then playing immediately. I think it gives a more realistic feel to the game, and avoids those odd situations

  8. #8
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    I agree Dave.
    I always play one card at a time when doing solo games, and get a much better game without loseing hours of play whilst ships go walk about and fail to meet each other in any meaningful combat situation. I feel that most captains in line of battle would have time to avoid the ship in front unless their own steering ability was damaged by loss of sails or steering problems.
    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.

  9. #9

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    But I find this part of the game particularly appealing. Planning the maneuver in advance makes it really exciting. Our house rule, "last-minute maneuvers," gives at least a realistic chance of dodging -- albeit at a cost.
    Otherwise only distance helps...

  10. #10
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    Whatever floats your own particular boat is fine Uwe, as long as it suits you and your playing partners. We are always tweaking the rules in our games. Your last minute manoeuvre sounds interesting. Is it akin to one of the special ability cards?

    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.

  11. #11
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    I find the two card rule, not only annoying but also not based in reality. If I turn the wheel on a (admittedly small brig) square sailed ship she reacts in a second as long as there's at least a few knots of speed. A agree that if turning a lot some sails have to be adjusted and that may take a few minutes, but avoiding a collision is easy even without use of boarding pikes.

    It is though an interesting gaming mechanic. Perhaps it could be better fitting to a game with higher speeds och more cumbersome ships like supertankers.

  12. #12
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    In my latest variation of Sails of Glory, which is really a stand alone game now, using the SoG ships and chits, I've made a rule where you choose your sail plan and speed for the next turn, but only plot your course for the current turn.

  13. #13
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    Just read this Dobbs.
    I will pencil that in for my next game.
    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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