One of the new pieces of terrain I made was a small rocky island for our naval games. To inaugurate it, we broke out the ships and decided to play a small engagement. This was going to be a head on confrontation between a French and a British squadron, the French having two 80s (Auguste and Triomphant) and one 74 (Audacieux) while the British sailed two 74s (Irresistible and Fortitude).
We diced for crew qualities, the Brits getting elite crews all around while the Frenchies had one ship with elite sailors (Triomphant) and the two other with poor quality lubbers. We also diced for wind direction, which slightly favoured the French.
The French were entering from the Southern edge of the board and headed straight towards the British squadron. As the British sailed a Southeastern course, the French squadron veered to starboard, trying to circumnavigate the rocky island while still keeping distance from the enemy so as to bring their long-range gunnery to bear. Soon, however, the poor quality of the French seamen took effect and the line dissolved. I was lucky that I didn’t block my own line of sight when every ship started to move independently!
Shooting now started and at first, my gun crews were doing well – in Kiss Me Hardy, the French get a bonus on long range shooting. I aimed for the hull instead of the rigging, like I had done the previous games, because I wanted to decimate their crews (I knew they would try to board) and force them to make a strike test. However, the British ships paid back in kind and caused a fire to break out on Triomphant. Before the frantic crew could extinguish it, it reached the powder storage and the whole ship blew up in a spectacular explosion!
Zut alors! This had been my only ship with an elite crew. Now the odds started to mount against the French.
K. seized the moment and, under heavy fire from my remaining ships, steered Irresistible directly towards Audacieux. While the British ship took quite a beating, she managed to grapple with Audacieux and boarded her.
This was the first boarding action we fought with those rules and we were both surprised at how much of an advantage a British elite crew is, especially against a poor quality crew. I might have had some chance during the first turn of fighting, but after that it was more or less a walk in the park for Irresistible’s crew. After the first deck was captured, the Frenchies threw away their weapons and surrendered.
While Irresistible was occupied with the boarding action, I hoped to subdue Fortitude with Auguste, who had a slight advantage in guns. Persistently, the British ship tried to grapple with the French to board, but I was lucky and always managed to repel her. When Irresistible had finally finished her boarding action and made ready to rejoin the fight, the captain of the Auguste decided that he had seen enough and made sail to get away. K., however, had none of it. Soon, Fortitude and Irresistible were hot on her heals. Unfortunately, Auguste already was quite battered and a few shots from the Brits’ stern chasers broke the last resolve of the French and the captain hauled down the colours.
Kiss me Hardy again delivered an exciting game with some Hollywood-style moments. The explosion of the Triomphant, while a staggering blow for me, was very cinematic. We both had the opportunity to try out some new tactics, especially boarding. I think next time I will again shoot at the rigging to make the British less manoeuvrable and thus prevent them from closing in. It seems really hard for the French to succeed in a head-to-head battle. On the other hand, if Triomphant hadn’t blown up, she would have made a big difference. So lets see what the next game will bring.