Had a playtest of a new set of rules ( work in progress ) at the club on Monday, five of us sat down to run through a new set of ACW Ironclad river combat rules I am in the middle of writing.
A historical set of rules is a new venture for me and a bit of a challenge, I knew very little about the period or the battles between these ships, so things were not looking great right from the start… but there was help on hand from a friend ( who’s idea it was for me to write these rules in the first place!! ) who knows a lot more about the period and has helped with most of the research into the ships of the time, and has given lots of input into what things should be in the rules to make them feel right for the time.
Well on to the playtest, we set up the two fleets, the Union on the left-hand side towing three barges which they had to get off the table through a gap on the top edge.
And the Confederates set up on the right-hand end of the table, and had to destroy the barges to win.
We had ten ships on the table, so we split the forces into two ships each, so the three Union players had one barge each to tow behind one of their two ships.
Turn one saw both forces steam towards each other, with the Union ships heading towards the top edge of the table, the Confederate ships split into two smaller forces, with a very scary CSS Louisiana heading straight for my two ships, both of my ships were wooden, so I wanted to turn around and go home!!
Turn two saw my two ships head closer to the far river bank, I was hoping to use the speed of my ships to get past the Louisiana hopefully without taking too much damage… not sure if that was such a good plan in hindsight.
The slowest ship on the Union side was the USS Dictator, not the best ship to tow a barge but that’s all we had, this ship just kept plodding towards the opening on the far side of the river, it was just going to take a while to get there! ( I hadn’t finished painting my ships in time for this game )
Turn three and my plan was starting to go very wrong, wooden ships of the time could not really stand up to an Ironclad with loads of guns, my poor ships were about to get pounded from very close range, both of my ships took massive damage, and both had fires on-board ( one of which I managed to put out ) but at least they were still afloat, but only just.
Luckily for the rest of the Union ships the Confederates were not having much luck with their shooting, although having said that we did have two ships on our side that I think went to the same gunnery school… damn they were rubbish!
Turn four saw the first ( and only ) ram of the battle, luckily the Union ship only took a small amount of damage, and the ram was smashed so could be used again.
The ship towing my barge limped its way ever closer to the gap on the far side of the river, it was in sight now, I just had to survive a couple of turns and I would make it out.
The slow USS Dictator edged its way up river towards the centre of the table taking shots at the Confederate Ironclad in front of it, while three other Union ships closed in on it as well pounding it and managing to do some damage and start fires on-board, the crew of this ship were now shaken and not in a good way.
Turn five and two of the Union barges sank to the bottom of the river, one of my wooden paddle steamers was destroyed, so there was just one barge left to try and defend, but things just didn’t go the Unions way, we did manage to sink two of the Confederate ships, so a little bit a glory for us there.
Well in turn six the remaining two Ironclads managed to take out the last barge and the Confederates gained a victory over the Union force.
The game had gone well, everything had worked except for a couple of small issues that we found during the game, both of these are already adjusted and should be right for the next game.
I enjoyed the game a great deal, all the other players seemed to as well, which is a good sign.
The basic rules are just about done, just a few simple adjustments here and there and then I can finish off the rest of the stuff needed like cards for all the ships ( I am working on about 80!! ) then things like scenarios and advanced rules for things like forts, mortar barges etc.
All in all, a good start.