It's a funny old game (to paraphrase Greavsie). Having experienced two wins from two for the single 'blinged up' privateer Sea Wolf I thought I'd give the European power trio's third leg a chance to prevail over the pirates. It turned out to be the best game of all with so many little twists that I played on for 15 turns to get the final result. It took about 90 minutes altogether but of course I was stopping frequently to take notes and shoot pictures.
|Wait till you reach this part of the tale.|
A French squadron covering a small harbour on Martinique sails out to chase off a predatory privateer (our old friend Captain Lupus in the Sea Wolf).
The French colonial force is identical in points terms to the previous two forces however, I have used Jean Baert's privateer Maure to deputize as the 40 gun Apollon mastered by Captain Henri, a Crown sponsored pirate himself. His other vessels are the 20 gun Aurore and the 12 gun Suffisante.
As usual, wind was diced for and it was yet again, a gentle breeze. The privateers once more won the overall initiative advantage.
Sea Wolf headed inshore on T1 and no shooting occurred. On T2 Aurore emerged straight across the bows of the pirate ship and at musket range, raked her. This lightly gunned vessel could potentially have caused a critical hit by scoring with three dice but only managed two hits.
Winning initiative again on Turn 3, Sea Wolf badly bungled a boarding attempt on Aurore which was a golden chance missed. This allowed Aurore to slip out to sea only to be replaced by Sufficante whose Veteran crew repeated the process by loosing their first shots into the privateer at musket range. This rash act was met with lethal force. Lupus returned the favour shooting his powerful first broadside into the small craft and scoring 5 hits.
The critical damage outcome was to almost sink Suffisante and so wrecked her steering gear that her helm was jammed hard to port. With speed reduced to a crawl, she was effectively out of the battle after her first shot.
Lupus used T4 to grapple and board Aurore which was quickly taken by the enormously powerful privateer crew and multitudinous characters. French officers were thrown overboard at the harbour mouth (lucky for them) and a few French volunteers remained with the prize crew, changing sides and allowing Aurore to play an active part in the rest of the battle. This change in sides came with a downgrade of crew quality to Raw for obvious reasons. The voodoo shaman Papa Edvard was put in command of Aurore by Lupus.
These were spent manoeuvring to gain advantage of position and saw the Veteran Sea Wolf replete with master mariner, finding itself stuck in irons for two turns - quite embarrassing. Suffisante's circular course was to see her crash into the harbour wall so, her captain dropped anchor to avoid sinking and effectively abdicated from the action.
Turn 8 closed with Apollon's guns speaking for the first time. Her broadside tore holes in the already weakened and newly re flagged Aurore causing Papa Edvard numerous problems as his ship faltered from the extensive damage.
With both privateers to windward, Henri aboard Apollon attempted to put distance between his ship and the enemy allowing his heavy guns time to reload. During Turn 11 an opportunity arose for Henri to attempt to grapple and board the now isolated and wounded Aurore but, this was botched leaving the two ships sailing parallel at less than 30 yards apart.
Apollon's guns were by then reloaded and her heavy broadside almost sunk the lighter ship. With almost all guns out of action, her hull riven and many crew (many of them previously loyal Frenchmen) dead, she tried to make sail and escape whilst slowly sinking.
Turn 12 -13
All the while moving further out to sea, Henri kept distance between his ship and Sea Wolf allowing his crew to reload again. Aurore was slowly leaving the battle and was now beyond capture even in her straitened circumstances. It was going to be a fight to the finish between Lupus's damaged yet heavily armed and dangerously manned, 48 gun Sea Wolf and Henri's 40 gun and more intact, Apollon.
My view was an even money contest but I was secretly betting on the Frenchman.
Turn 14 - Drama
By broad reaching, Sea Wolf positioned herself to broadside her opponent and didn't she just. Four hits caused a critical damage check and fire broke out aboard Apollon which her crew was not able to get under control. The French ship started to blaze from amidships but continued sailing and reloading. Damage was about even for both vessels now.
Henri brought his ship round knowing that he was about to be boarded. Apollon delivered a 5 dice bow rake at musket range on the privateer which took her down to a single strength point as she checked to board the enemy. Passing her morale check the privateer grappled and boarded the French ship which was on fire and herself reaching critical damage. In the ensuing melee the fierce privateer crew prevailed although Lupus, the master mariner and the master gunner characters were all wounded during the combat.
The final combat is worth explaining:
Sea Wolf threw 2 x d10 with +2 modifiers for characters, +2 for Lupus, +3 for privateer crew = +7
Apollon threw 2 x d10 +2 for less damage than opponent, +2 for Henri +2 for marines = +6
Net +1 to Sea Wolf. She had a single remaining strength point whilst Apollon had 6. Although the privateer won the combat decisively, she sustained a single damage point and thus was completely disabled. The surrender of the French crew allowed the privateers to transfer to the captured vessel.
The gallant captain Henri was taken prisoner and the pirates transferred from their now partly submerged ship to the damaged but still floating Apollon. The black flag was raised, the fire brought under control and two badly damaged captured French ships sailed to safety whilst the gallant French squadron lost the battle on the last throw of the dice. The hard fighting Sea Wolf drifted and sank over time.