Wednesday, 9 September 2020

15mm Napoleonic Naval Skirmish

Yes you read that correctly.  Local nautical enthusiast Andrew suggested we play a 15mm Naval game, and not quite believing what I was reading, I readily agreed. 

Andrew arrived with two spectacular fully rigged ships as follows!


Andrew couldn't remember the company that made these, but said they are out of production resin models he has had for ages. 


Andrew also brought along some more commonly used gaming pieces - super cheap and easy paper ships!

These actually look quite good I think, with 3D models behind.

Bit more obvious from this angle of course!

These ships are a scale more commonly used for naval gaming, 1/1200th Skytrex models I believe.

Size comparison!

With the Skytrex models Andrew also made them so the different masts can be removed to represent battle damage. Impressive but wait until you see what can be done with the big models!



So onwards with some testing of some rules. What Andrew wanted to try was using the large ship models to represent attitude of the ships to each other and damage, while two smaller ship models were used to represent the actual positions of them and movement.

Here's the two smaller ship models moving about on a 5x5 grid (marked out quickly with some dice). Alternatively we could have just used a bigger table for the big ship models (e.g. 8x6 foot rather than 3x5 foot area could be ok).

Rules were less than four pages, this one gives an idea of the gunnery and results:

I'll add this brief guide to some of the rigging here too...


First casualty, an unlucky gunner on Andrew's ship. Each crew figure lost represents maybe 15-20 lost, suppressed, concussed, attending to wounded, psychological casualties etc. Each gun model lost represents about 5 guns out of action.  We took each ship to be a 74 gun Ship of the Line.

Now the incredible thing about these 15mm ship models is that Andrew made them so that all the sails and rigging and masts are also moveable and removeable, as you either increase/decrease sail, have pieces of it shot away etc! A bit of effort in some instances to achieve this but looks great! Here we have furled lower sails to form battle sail (to reduce risk of self-inflicted fires from cannon and musket fire).

Crew manning their stations!

Some fires started on my ship by enemy cannon fire,  though the crew manages to put them out quickly!

Coming around, you'll note my ship has now also furled the top sails, and reefed sails on main mast and foremast to reduce speed. 

Casualites on Andrew's ship, four guns, the captain, a marine, a midshipman and two gunners, the anchor shot away. The top mainmast is also toppled and falls onto the deck, though Andrew hadn't written rules for  further effects of this yet - I helpfully suggested it should squash D6 of his crew but Andrew was more hesitant :D

My casualties, two midshipmen, a gunner and marine, lots of cannons, and the capstan smashed.

We ended this playtest without either ship striking its colours, as I shoot away the jib on Andrew's ship.


Fascinating stuff and we ended with discussion of potential rules modifications to improve the game aspect.  

Thanks for reading, and to Andrew, and hope you all enjoyed the pictures of these amazing models!

20 comments:

  1. In battle, ships would have their courses furled, against the possibility of fires. In the pic following the lone sailorman, one of the vessels seems to be under tops'ls only, which seems about right - just enough control to manoeuvre, whilst minimising risk to the sailing gear.

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  2. They look superb Mark. Quite inspiring as I am about to start on some 28mm vessels For mid 19th century South America.

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    1. I look forward to seeing them, thanks Mark!

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  3. Wow these really are beautiful models - I would much rather play a single ship to ship "skirmish" like this, using a model where you can actually see individual crew members etc, then the more usual 1/600 or smaller...

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  4. That is really quite mad, I can't even start to conceive how you could make masts etc removable while still having standing and running rigging. They look superb.

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  5. They look great and four pages of rules sounds like enough to give a game with the right amount of flavour and without getting bogged down in minutiae.

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    1. Yes my favourtie sort of rules are the short kind! Cheers Lawrence :)

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  6. Splendid...
    I think that’s what you call playability...

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thanks Aly, yes adds a lot of character to have all these things modelled!

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  7. These 15mm ships are HUGE and look great. This is how to play one-on-one ship actions.

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, it certainly adds some aesthetic effect!

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  8. Ships and nautical themes are always very interesting!

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  9. Splendid looking ships of all scales but the 15mm ones are fantastic!
    Best Iain

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