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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Scarpanto Point, 1570

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

This is almost unheard of – two games of the same type in the same month – and naval games at that! The thing is, we’d so enjoyed our Renaissance galleys bash two weeks ago that we wanted to try the game out again. In theory we knew more about what we were doing, but that didn’t seem to have much of an impact on play – the three guys who hadn’t tried the rules before proved every bit adept as the rest of us! Like last time, we had two evenly-matched fleets, each with a lanterna (that’s a big galley), three galleys and seven baby galleys, which are rather cutely called called galiots.Actually one galley on each side wasn’t a proper model at all – just a hardboard flat – but it meant we had enough ships to put on a half-decent game. Jack Glanville who is our plywood shipwright has just got two more models from Thomas at Skull & Crown, and the flats will be replaced by real ships for our next game. They’ll certainly be a next game, as this stuff is really good fun!Well, the two fleets were divided into three squadrons apiece – two Venetian, two Turkish, with the Knights of Malta and the Barbary Corsairs all leading their own squadron on the right of the opposing battle lines. I took charge of the Knights, while Jack commanded the Corsairs. For once we couldn’t get to grips this game, as we were on the wrong ends of the table from each other. The battle began with both sides advancing. Actually i didn’t – my ships just edged forward slowly, as I was trying to soften my opponent up with artillery before we clashed. This seemed to work, and unlike the previous week my galleys actually managed to reload their guns during the battle. Eventually the crunch came, and so began a mad swirl of attack and counter-attack, boarding and counter-boarding, as both squadrons clashed, rammed, shot and stabbed until we reached a conclusion! The melee spread mover several ships, as you can see from the picture above. The little counters represent boarding partiers – clusters of 50 men apiece.In the end my Knights of St. John prevailed, but it was a real scrap. The cost had been high – I was down my original crews, and my main galley – The Order of St. Peter – was badly shot up. Still, the haul was impressive – one captured galley, and two galiots while another Turkish galiot had been set on fire. By then the main battle was well under way between the Venetians and the Turks, supported by Jack’s Barbary Corsairs. I couldn’t really help, so I creed my prizes and led them off the table to safety. The best I could offer – belatedly – was to send two fully crewed galiots off to harass the Turkish centre. By then though, the Venetians were in a bad way.In the centre the two lanternas had clashed, and just like the previous week the venetian flagship Lanterna of Venice had its crew all but wiped out by a combination of Turkish gunnery and deadly close-range bow fire. The Turkish janissaries then boarded her, making short work of the defenders. the loss of Bart’s flagship caused a spate of Venetian morale tests. Most passed, but a few backed oars and drew away from the enemy.On the Christian right the Barbary Corsairs stormed and captured a galiot after weakening her through gunnery, but in the following turn a Venetian galley  captured both ships back. The craze this week was to set a ship on fire after capturing it, to preserve the strength of your boarding parties. Soon the sea was dotted with what looked like the funeral pyres of several ships!By now we’d reached the end game. On the Christian left the Knights of St. John rules the seas, and managed to escort their prizes to safety. In the centre there were galleys and galiots all over the place, but with the Venetain lanterna gone it was clear the Turks were winning. Several ships were unmanned as their crews had been wiped out in the fighting, but there wasn’t a respite to send men from one ship to another – the fight was still raging. Finally though, the last Venetian galiot of Bart’s command was captured, as its crew were wiped out to a man. The Turkish lanterna still reined supreme, albeit with a greatly diminished crew, and a lot of holes in its side from roundshot.It was only on the right that the Venetians were still in the game. The Barbary Corsairs had suffered badly –  most of their ships were either unmanned or on fire.  So, with both sides battered but still in the fight, we decided to call it a day, and let the plywood protagonists row off to lick their wounds. The Christians had lost a lanterna and a galley, plus three galiots, while the Muslims lost two galleys and six galiots – another of their galleys was left unmanned and drifting. Quite rightly we decided to call the game a hard-fought draw.  However, they’ll be celebrating in Malta tonight , as thanks to this battle the Knights of St. John double the size of their fleet. I’m already looking forward to the rematch!


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