The Age of Fighting Sail, Far Distant Ships, 1/1200 scale
This game was set during Nelson’s chase of Villeneuve to the West Indies in May and June 1805 – a few months before Trafalgar. This was largely because Sean 1’s sea mat was Caribbean blue… Anyway, in this game the two Seans played the French, with Sean 2 in charge as Rear Admiral Dumanoir, while I stood in for Vice Admiral Collingwood.The British had six ships of the line, including one 1st Rate (the flagship Royal Sovereign), while the French had eight 3rd rates, some of 80 guns, led by the flagship Formidable. We played the game out on a 6×4 foot table, setting the fight a little to the west of Guadeloupe. I was in two divisions, and as the fleets closed I struggled to form a single line of battle. I managed it in the nick of time, even though it was a little raggedy. I closed with Sean 2’s division, which had become separated from Sean 1’s division. So, I had a chance to divide and conquer.With the wind in my favour I closed the range, and the heads of the two columns led the engagement, with the others following in succession. the Royal Soverign took a fair bit of damage, but she lived to tell the tale, while the French flagship Formidable was badly shot up.Formidable soon found herself cut off from the rest of the French squadron, and as the leading ships in the British line swept by within pistol shot they all opened fire on her. After two turns her crew had enough, and the isolated French flagship hauled down her colours. First blood to the British. My next target, just astern of the flagship, was the Redoutable, of 80 guns. She’d also been hit hard at close range, with Royal Sovereign in particular giving her a hard pounding. What sealed her fate was a change of course by the four aftermost British ships. they broke formation and headed around the stern of the Frenchman. Pretty soon the Frnech ship found herself isolated too, with British ships passing her ahead and astern.Royal Sovereign tried and failed to board Redoutable, thanks to some pretty rubbish die rolls, but the pounding continued, with shot hitting the French ship from bow and stern. Eventually she too bowed to the invitable and hauled down her colours. That left just two ships in the leeward French column. Sean 1 had no luck in closing with the British, and so had to be content with long-range fire. With that, the remaining two ships of Sean 1’s squadrton, Neptune and Scipion turned and headed towards the safety of Guadaloupe. That left Sean 1, Commodore Cosmao-Kerjulien in Pluton (74), and three other ships-of-the-line. Clearly they were now outnumbered. So, he sensibly decided to break off the fight and escape to nearby Martinique. It was a short, sharp and bloody little action, but the relatively low losses (two ships) reflected the French willingness to break off when the odds went against them.That though, was the result of a test, rather than a campaign decision.We’ve now played these rules several times now, and the jury is still out on them. Some of us prefer other sets, like Kiss Me Hardy, while these have the advantage of being faster. Next time, we might try the Too Fat Lardy rules again, just to compare. Whatever rules we use though, this is always a spectacular period, and very photogenic. Sean 2 by the way, took all of the pictures, as my camera battery decided to give up the ghost.