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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Battle in the Ithica Chanel, 1538

Renaissance Galleys,  Galleys, Guns and Glory, 1/300 scale

Usually between Christmas and New Year we play something fairly fun and frivolous at the Edinburgh club. Past years have seen us piloting helicopters around Vietnam in Low Level Hell, or using Japanese anime schoolgirls to shoot at monsters in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. This time round, we took to the water for a Renaissance Galleys game. The charm of this is that it’s really designed as a multi-player game, so everybody has something to do, commanding a squadron of Christian or Turkish galleys. The superb wooden models were all from Skull & Crown, as were the great little set of rules for them, written by Thomas Foss.Jack Glanville painted the ships, and organised the game. That of course was nice of him. Being cunning though, he also helped his Muslim side a little by concocting a scenario where the key Christian ship – a lumbering Venetian galleass – started the game stuck out in the middle of the table, far from support and open to attack. The galleass was a real “death star”, with a round turret in the forecastle bristling with guns, with yet more guns capable of firing out on either beam, or else astern. The question was, could it survive long enough for the rest of the Christian fleet to turn up and support it? Not surprisingly we didn’t have a lot of players on hand, as a lot of wargamers were away for the festive season. However, by roping in hangers on, role players and passers by we managed to field six players, although not all of them could stay for the whole game. Our overall commander was Rod, commanding the Holy League and Maltese, while I was on his left with the Venetians, and Bart on his right with the Spanish. Facing us was a motley collection of Muslim squadrons, including the main Ottoman fleet, and Barbary pirates. Jack’s pirates were on their left, Alan commanded the centre, and Campbell (replaced halfway through the game by Michael) took charge of the Ottoman right, facing my Venetians. The game began with a race towards the galleass. In fact in both games it’s appeared it seems to have been something of a Muslim-magnet. Facing it were two galleys, a lanterna and two small galiots, and when they got within range they all blazed away. the Venetians returned fire of course, and caused quite extensive damage, but the real problem here was weight of numbers.My Venetians eventually came up in support, but by that time the galleass’ crew had been cut down by close-range bow fire from the Muslim ships. Also, someone set it on fire – the result of a “critical hit”. So, things weren’t looking good for La Serenissima. Over on the far side of the table the Spanish and Barbary pirates were maneuvering, firing and generally getting agressive with each other. Here the Spanish seemed to be getting the worst of the exchange, losing a galley and a galiot to Muslim fire, for the loss of a galiot in return. In the centre the Maltese and Holy League were also having a tough time of it – at first.Eventually only the Maltese flagship – their lanterna – remained, although they took a couple of Ottoman ships with them. At that point Rod had to go, and Bart and I divided up what remained. In fact Rod had pummeled the Ottomans quite badly, and their ships only had a few hull points left. So, the largely intact Holy League squadron advanced, fired a rippling salvo of guns, and sank two galleys. Over on the Venetian side of the table the battle around the crewless galeass was heading up. By now the Venetian lanterna had joined the fight, and after sinking one galley it turned on the first of two Turkish galiots. The plan was to use the lanterna’s large crew to reclaim the galleass, while its guns shredded the small turkish ships. By then though, we’d run out of time. So, the game was either a bruising draw, or a slight Muslim victory – I’m not sure which. Above all though, the game was great fun, and it looked terrific. I’m certainly looking forward to the next renaissance galleys game some time early in 2017. This time though, my galleass is getting the support it needs to survive!


2 Responses “Battle in the Ithica Chanel, 1538”

  1. MikeH
    10th February 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Sounds and looks like fun. May I ask what the blue dice in some of the small ships signify?

    • 10th February 2017 at 10:19 pm

      They represent the galley’s hull points. Thomas Foss who designed the ships and wrote the rules provided the little fustas (baby galiots) too, which come with each larger gaslley model when you but it. Their purpose is purely to carry the dice markers for the hull points. So, the lower the number is, the closer you are to sinking…

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