Spoiling myself

Thick of the action at Foulness.

Work has been pretty all consuming of late and I have been promising myself a gaming treat for a while merely as a little carrot to keeping me wading through the grind. The naval rules have been growing in detail and feel and during my travels. A point system and some of the random elements which I like to incorporate in rule mechanics to remove player control have been added and I wanted to road test both. The collection of ships is now over sixty of all sizes and nationalities so, on Friday night I planned the battle that I wanted to fight on the following day when everyone was out and I could throw dice, take pictures and notes to my heart's content.

Having completed a couple of French ships I decided on 1672 as the year of the imaginary battle and this allowed me to ally the English and French against the Dutch. I chose one of the familiar stamping grounds - the Lower Thames Estuary as the location and set about drawing up the forces.


By creating a base level points value for each type of ship with an untrained crew (Raw), I added values to upgrade the crew to Drilled and Veteran. I suspect users of my land based rule sets will already be getting familiar with the terminology. To add further levels of customization, the addition of a Master Gunner to the crew, detachments of soldiers or marines, a flag officer, improved sea worthiness, a reinforced hull, heavier guns and the like increases the cost of the vessel.

With one eye on the campaign dimension, the cost of buying sea ports, dockyards, foreign colonies producing tradable goods has also been sketched out but let's return to the fleets.

Here is an example:

A 2nd rate with a Raw crew costs: 90 points
With a Drilled crew it costs:135 points
With a Veteran crew it costs: 180 points
With a Master gunner it costs: 234 points

You get the idea.


Using this system and its simple arithmetical conventions the following two fleets were assembled for the Battle of Foulness May 1st 1672

English 1st Division (Red)

London: 1st rate :  Drilled crew: Admiral Oliver Philips
Royal Katherine: 2nd rate: Drilled crew: Master gunner
Monmouth: 3rd rate: Drilled crew
Rose: Fireship: Drilled crew

London -1st rate

English 2nd Division (Red)

St Andrew: 1st rate :  Drilled crew (Flagship - Admiral Spragge)
Ruby: 4th rate: Drilled crew
Dartmouth: 5th rate: Drilled crew
Phoenix: 5th rate: Drilled crew
Peace: Fireship: Drilled crew
Providence: Fireship: Raw crew

Ruby - 4th rate

French Division(White)

Royal Therese: 1st rate: Drilled crew: Master gunner: Flagship - Admiral Etienne Lambert.
Foudroyant: 3rd rate: Raw crew

Royal Therese - 1st rate
Total points 1236

Dutch 1st Division 

De Zeven Provincien: 2nd rate : Veteran crew: Master gunner (Flagship - Admiral de Ruyter)
Agatha: 3rd rate: Drilled crew
Edam: 5th rate: Drilled crew
Haas: 5th rate/merchantman: Veteran crew: Master gunner
Rotterdam: Fireship: Veteran crew
Drak: Fireship: Drilled crew
Wapen van Londen: Fireship: Drilled crew

Fireship Rotterdam

Dutch 2nd Division 

Provincie van Utrecht: 3rd rate: Veteran crew (Flagship - Admiral van Nes)
Vrede: 4th rate: Veteran crew: Master gunner
Harderwijck: 4th rate: Veteran crew
Beschermer: 4th rate: Drilled crew
Gouden Appel: Fireship: Drilled crew
Pro Patria: Fireship: Raw crew

Provincie van Utrecht - 3rd rate and flagship of van Nes

Total points 1235

Having done the adding up, here comes the sauce. Using a card deck of positive and negative random events each vessel of 5th rate or above was dealt a card which impacted on its performance on the day of the battle.

Here are the random effects generated for this action:

London: Poltroon - the ships master is an invertebrate
Royal Katherine: Heart of Oak - extra points on hull strength
Monmouth: Long at sea - penalty on reloading - short on crew
St Andrew: Sea Dogs - crew upgraded to Veteran
Ruby: Extra flag officer aboard
Dartmouth: Low on powder - limited number of broadsides
Phoenix: Lighter ordnance - re throw some hits
Royal Therese: Heart of Oak - extra points on hull strength
Foudroyant: Master gunner

De Zeven Provincien: Un-seaworthy
Agatha: Shallow draught
Edam: Lighter ordnance - re throw some hits
Haas: Long at sea - reload score increased
Provincie van Utrecht:  Extra Flag Officer
Vrede: Heart of Oak - extra points on hull strength
Harderwijck: Seaworthy
Beschermer: Heavy ordnance - re throw some misses

Of course, in a multiplayer game the nature of these cards would be unknown to the enemy as would the quality of any ship's crew which will make moves, behaviour and tactics a much more carefully considered process than simply lining 'em up and shooting .Parts 2 and 3 are the battle report.

The Battle of Foulness May 1st 1672