A French Naval Victory

After a small test game to learn the rules, we decided to have a proper scenario to give my 1/2400 napoleonic ships some action. The story went like this: A small French squadron of three ships was ferrying troops to support one of Napoleons campaigns. When the British admiralty got word, they despatched the only two ships in reach, namely the 74s HMS Indefatigable and HMS Fortitude, to intercept the convoy.

The French, played by myself, secretly declared two of their ships as carrying troops and deployed on the western side of the board. I chose the 80s MNF Auguste and MNF Triomphant for this task and put the 74 MNF Audacieux in front of the line. The British chose to enter at the northern edge on an intercept course which would lead them directly across the French line. The aim of the French was to get at least their troop carriers across the eastern table edge.

British on an intercept course.
British on an intercept course.

Both squadrons had the wind on quarter and where making good speed. The French line was veering lightly to starboard to keep distance to the British cruisers, which were bearing down at them at full speed. The French admiral, however, had a cunning plan: He split up his line, ordering the Audacieux to intercept the British ships and hold them as long as possible, while the rest of the squadron sneaked past behind.

French splitting the line.
French splitting the line.

True to its name, the Audacieux opened fire on the Fortitude while the other French ships shot in passing. The French get a bonus for long range shots in Kiss Me Hardy, so I could make the shots count and did some damage to the rigging of the British ships. Angrily, the British ships fired back and soon both poured cannon balls into the stout Audacieux.

The Audacieux engaging the British.
The Audacieux engaging the British.

However, the British commander soon realised that she was wasting valuable time and tried to turn her ships around to take up the chase of the troop carriers (By now, it was pretty obvious who they were). Alas, as she was to learn the hard way, tacking is a manoeuvre that takes some time! Also, the constant firing of the Audacieux and the fleeing 80s wore down the rigging, slowing the British and giving the Auguste and Triomphant a chance to get away. By the time the Brits had turned around and were on a direct pursuit course, the two French ships had reached the table edge.

The chase is on... but too late.
The chase is on… but too late.

Theoretically, we could have continued with a stern chase, but as the Auguste and Triomphant had a head start and were not yet damaged, while the speed of the Indefatigable and Fortitude was already severely reduced, it is very probable that the French would have gotten away. Maybe they could have stopped the Audacieux, which doubtless would have put up a good fight to cover the escape of the convoy.

This was a fun and exciting game. Kiss Me Hardy are great rules, easy to learn and quick to play. We still have to learn how to properly sail though – K. said that, had she known how time-consuming tacking was, she wouldn’t have done it. I was happy with my tactics as well as with the performance of my crews. Especially the gun crews did great work: The French long range bonus combined with a lot of 6s caused enough damage to the enemy rigging that my ships could get away.

We are already looking forward to having another game as K. demanded a replay of this scenario. This time, we are going to dice for crew quality, which should even the odds a bit, as the British have a greater chance of getting better seamen.

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