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Clash on the Corfu Channel, 1570


Renaissance Galleys, Galleys, Guns & Glory!, 1/300 scale

This week we had another foray in the Mediterranean – another Renaissance galley clash using the delightful models produced by Skull & Crown. We’ve got around a dozen models a side now, but reinforcements are on the way. The club is helping to playtest Thomas Foss’ rules, which are really good fun. These games are always popular, as everyone seems to enjoy them – even “Grumpy Derek”! Both sides had a similar number of ships, divided into four squadrons – each run by a different player. The Muslim fleet was mainly a Turkish force, but the Barbary Corsairs were there to support them. For the Christians, the contingents were supplied by Venice, the Knights of Malta, Spain and the Papacy. We had five more ships than last time – two Christian and three Muslim. My contingent were Venetians – a Lanterna (a big command galley), a galley and a galiot (a baby galley).The thing about the Venetians is that they get a better chance of reloading after they’ve fired their guns – they do it on a 4-6, rather than a 5-6. So, my plan was to hang back and shoot as long as I could before Grumpy Derek’s Turkish squadron managed to close with me. Over on my right the Maltese also hung back a little, waiting to see which way the central Muslim squadrons would go. As it happened both Muslim lanternas headed in our direction, so we knew we were in for a bit of a fight. The third Christian squadron – a mixed bag led by a Papal galley – faced off the Barbary Corsairs, while on the far end of the table the Spanish and the last Turkish (Ottoman) squadron squared off against each other.Essentially the Christians bunched together into two groups, on the left and the right, while the Muslims surged forward all along the line. The Spaniards and Ottomans clashed first, with the Turks losing a galley, which the Spanish commander duly set on fire. He couldn’t spare a prize crew to take it away. A Spanish galiot was adamaged by gunfire, but the two squadron commanders seemed hell-bent on closing to fight a boarding action. In the centre the Corsairs ripped into the Papal squadron, capturing a galley and a galiot, while losing the same in return. Once again all the prizes were set on fire.Over on my side of the table I kept firing at Derek’s Anatolian Turkish squadron. I even backed water to keep my distance. The tactic sort of worked, as his ships got quite a pounding as they advanced. When it came to blows the Turks lost a galley and a galiot, but then I lost one after all its crew were wiped out, and it was set on fire. My lanterna then swooped in and fired a salvo, which sank the Turkish lanterna. That was the end of Grumpy Derek’s little squadron. Further up the table the Papal and Maltese contingents were also having a tough time,  but were giving as much as they got. Further to the right the remains of the Spanish fleet were involved in a large multi-ship melee, with several ships linked together, and their crews fighting back and fore across the mass of ships. Eventually though, it was a case of last man standing – and he was a Spaniard.The Maltese flagship succumbed to close range bowfire from the remaining Muslim lanterna, while the rival galiots traded off, effectively sinking each other or wiping out their crews. That left the one big Turkish lanterna, which turned towards my Venetian flagship. It rammed and boarded, after I failed miserably to reload my guns in time. In the melee that followed my guys fought valiantly, but eventually succumbed to the superior fighting prowess of the Janissaries.However, the Turks had taken a lot of casualties – when the melee ended they had one crew marker (they’re the little circular markers in the photos), and a captain (a smaller round marker). That’s when I threw caution to the wind and rammed and boarded the lanterna with my last little ship – a tiny galiot. We both lost one casualty apiece through small-arms fire, but in the boarding action that followed – thanks to some damned lucky dice the Turks were slaughtered, leaving me with one captain marker, and a huge Turkish prize.The final tally apparently was the Muslims didn’t have any ships left, while a handful of Christian ships remained, all manned by skeleton crews. For my part the survivors of my very battered Venetian squadron consisted of one captain’s marker – and he had to take home our own recaptured lanterna, a captured Turkish one, a captured galley and our own victorious galiot – the last Venetian ship with any crew on it. No doubt that plucky galiot commander will be promoted to squadron commander in time for our next foray into the world of the Renaissance Mediterranean. By then though, we’ll have another 17 ships – including the Venetian “secret weapon” – the galleass!

 

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