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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Battle of Paxos, 1538

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

The period between Christmas and the New Year is always a strange one in the wargames club. Attendance is low, and so we often put on a multi-player game, to suck people into the action. this year Jack staged a Renaissance galleys game, using the superb collection Jack and I share – models designed by the gifted Thomas Foss, and sold by his own Skull & Crown games. The rules are his too, and they’re exactly what we need for this period, and this type of multi-player game. Win or lose, they’re always great fun to play.In our game we had six players. Bart, Peter and Jack played the Ottomans, while Alisdair, Campbell and I were the Christians. Everyone had a squadron of five or six ships, a mixture of galleys, bigger lanternas and smaller galiots. My own Venetian squadron had the one galeass in the game – a floating death star. That said, it rarely survives a game, as it tends to be ganged up on.I was facing Bart’s Anatolian squadron, while in the centre Campbell’s Knights of St. John and Papal contingent  faced Peter’s Egyptian squadron, while on the Christian left Alisdair’s Spanish took on Jack’s Constantinople ships. We played on a 10×4 foot table. In fact, we had enough ships and another 4×4 foot of table space for another squadron a side, but we didn’t need them, as there weren’t any other players that evening. The game was set off the island of Paxos, in the Adriatic, south of Corfu.There wasn’t any finesse to this one – it was a simple case of lining up and going for it.  In G, G& G each faction has certain characteristics. For instance, the Venetians are better at reloading than everyone else, while the Spanish can’t ram (they cut their spurs off), but their well-equipped sea soldiers are geared up for hand-to-hand combat. The Turks have deadly close-range bowfire.In the pictures you’ll notice the little disks – these represent crew – 25 men a disk, with a smaller one for the captain. In Thomas’ ships you also get fired markers, the billowing smoke above which sits over the guns. These come off once you’ve reloaded. Each galley has a hull value, noted by the small dice behind the ships. Tthe larger ones are carried around in small fustas – oared tenders to the galleys – which can also be used to transfer men from one ship to another. Its actually a well thought out system, and each of the marine ply models comes with the tokens and fusta associated with each ship. You just have to stick them together and paint them.So, when the battle began Bart raced forward, while I kept my distance and relied on firepower to disrupt him. I was counting on my better reloading ability – succeeding on a 4-6 rather than a 5-6 on a D6. This paid off on Turn 2 when I sank an Anatolian galley. My galeass was great – it sank the galley with a single round of firing. Things were looking good for me, but over on my right things were starting to go wrong very quickly. Campbell and Peter had got into close range within two turns, and the Turkish bowmen were having a field day. They actually managed to wipe out the crew of one of Campbell’s Maltese galleys, leaving it drifting. That prompted a morale test for his squadron, and the whole force scattered – two galiots ran away for two turns, while the crew of Campbell’s flagship – the Papal lanterna – just surrendered. That of course left a huge hole in our line. A delighted Peter made the most of it, and turned two of his galleys against me, while the rest captured the Papal flagship, and dealt with those Maltese galiots. Over on the Christian right Alisdair was holding his own against Jack, but both sides were taking losses – a Turkish galiot went on fire, while a Spanish one was sunk. In fact the two of them sparred with each other for most of the evening, without one side getting much of an advantage. They both had great fun though, and Jack’s close-range bowfire and Alisdair’s skilled boarding parties proved their mettle. I think the Spanish got the worst of it overall, as their inability to ram proved something that Jack exploited to the max.Back in the centre the Turks took possession of the Papal lanterna – a major prize, and our force flagship. The Maltese galiots were joined by one of mine, and they did their best to hold Peter at bay, but inevitably he came up against my right flank – guarded by my galeass. I’d been having trouble reloading, and was actually backing oars to keep Bart’s Anatolians at bay. By now though, I was hard up on the table edge, and couldn’t go back any further. So much for buying time and relying on firepower. The galeass though, kept firing, leaving two of Bart’s galleys with almost no hull points left. one was finished off by one of my Venetian galleys, but close-range bowfire managed to wipe out the crew of my Venetian lanterna – my squadron flagship. I could probably have re crewed it, but first I had to deal with Bart’s lanterna. The only bright spot for me was my galeass and galiot, which pretty much had successfully picked away at Peter’s two galleys, until one was left with just one hull point. That’s pretty much where the game ended. We’d lost, thanks to the complete collapse of Campbell’s squadron – he lost all five ships in the end – a lanterna, two galleys and two galiots. I’d lost a lanterna, and Alisdair a galley, as opposed to three Turkish galleys lost, and two galiots. So, while a fairly close-run thing in the end, it was a clear Turkish victory. By then though, nobody really cared. the game was such good fun that it didn’t really matter a jot. Best of all, it looked terrific – one of the prettiest naval games you can imagine. I’m already looking forward to their next outing, and the chance to recapture my Venetian lanterna from the darned Anatolians! 





2 Responses “The Battle of Paxos, 1538”

  1. Peter Mearns
    1st January 2019 at 2:26 am

    Yes what an amazing highly enjoyable game. Imagine that with a table twice as long, double the ships and eight people a side! (And its Angus’ round….)

    • 1st January 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Oh yes…tempting!

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