Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Black Seas: Run the Blockade!

 

Black Seas Scenario #7 Run the Blockade appeals because I enjoyed Quintin Barry's book on the blockade off Brest so much. The excitement and awe on those rare occasions when the French fleet appeared, to the daring scouting frigates hazarding through the Goulet de Brest, to be preparing  to make a run for it! And the odium heaped upon any British Admiral who failed to bottle them up with his rotten, mutinous, creaking ships!

Although, with a blockading fleet made up principally of Spanish ships, with a token RN frigate, this game was not necessarily set off Ushant...



Modifying the scenario slightly, I had the anchored French fleet, swinging at anchor, facing into the wind...The blockading Anglo Spanish fleet were in their boxes, also at anchor.


The French fleet had to exit off the far end of the table within 12 turns. They took several precious turns just to warp round across the wind and head for the open sea.


The wind veered from the east by one point to the north east - this advantaged the escaping French fleet and gave the allied fleet a headache...


Either run with the wind and hope to intercept just before the French exited the far end of the table, or tack through the wind and beat up to intercept earlier...


Seemingly without conscious decision it just fell out that roughly half the allied fleet wore around and headed straight for the French, while the remainder set up to tack around and hopefully parallel the French line before they exited the table...


In any event, given the delays in leaving harbour, the French fleet naturally extended into a long line halfway across the table, so the tail ships would have to make a fight of it come what may. 


But if the lead 2/3rds made it off the table edge, game over and the French fleet are out in the wild blue yonder free to unfold their knavish plans off  Ireland or the Caribbean or other trouble spots...First blood was drawn by the Spanish frigate St Elena with her bow chaser causing slight damage to Indomptable. 74s normally give weaker frigates a free pass, but the gallant little St Elena has now served notice she happy to mix it with the big 74s!


The action soon became more general as the mighty Santissima Trinidad, Principe d'Asturias and San Justo opened fire on the Scipion. The vanguard of the French fleet ignored this strife back aft and continued on into the blue!


Several broadsides from the big Spanish ships soon had Scipion battered and ablaze - but she responded in kind!


Confidence was high on the French Admiral's quarterdeck as at least half his fleet seemed away scot free...


The Scipion's captain refused to release the crew from their guns so the blaze continued unchecked - this bold call seemed to pay off as, in conjunction with fire from the 80 gun Formidable, their fire shot away two masts from the Santissima Trinidad, set her ablaze, and then sank her - the Allied flagship! (It really was amazing die rolling - 2 6D6 and a 5D6 on the Critical Table - High!


To add to the allies's woes, the French tail exacted their revenge on the presumptuous little St Elena, setting her ablaze...


It was not all going the French way however. Inevitably, with fire running unchecked, the Scipion's magazines blew her out of the water. But with only two turns left, and only the Monarca having tacked around sufficiently to contest the French line of exit, the game ended with a clear French victory, as the Marine Nationale gains the freedom of the high seas...

4 comments:

  1. Such a turn of events, well done AAR on the battle. Great looking ships.

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  2. Thanks, this has sent me off scurrying to check out the rules and availability - appreciate that it fits onto an ordinary sized table.

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