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Monday, February 17, 2014

Sails of Glory AAR: Sail Ho!

by Rich

Ship just got real.

Jared and Rich at the demo game.  Lieutenant Boo makes his presence felt.

Jared and I got together for some Sails of Glory the other night, to open the box and learn the rules.  After a short demo game, we strapped on our cutlasses, mounted the poop deck, and took command of our own fleets for our first real battle.

The forces:
Captain Horatio A. H. Cheeseblower, VC, DFC, etc., Commanding
HMS Goliath (74-gun Ship of the Line)
HMS Meleager (36-gun frigate)

Monsieur le capitaine Pepe le Piu
Aquilon (74-gun Ship of the Line)
Courageuse (36-gun frigate)
The board.  Brits on the left/North, Frenchies are right/South.  The wind is blowing from East to West, so neither side has a disadvantage.
"Sail Ho!  We shall beat to quarters!"
One of the interesting, and probably historically accurate, parts of the Standard rules for the game, involves movement.  When you plan your movement (which is done simultaneously with your opponent), you have to plan two turns in advance.  I suppose the point is to reflect the cumbersome nature of the ships.  What it means in terms of gameplay is that crazy encounters are bound to happen!

Since we're both new to the game, and apparently students of Admiral Horatio Nelson, we decide to damn the maneuvers and go straight at 'em.  The fleets spend one turn closing the distance, basically sailing straight at each other.  In retrospect, one of us should have thought to position our fleet with the wind at our backs, but oh well.  Charge!


The fleets blast away in turn 2.  The Goliath is off on her own to the left, whilst the Meleager is caught between the French ships.

Our first round of shooting sees the poor HMS Meleager pummeled between the Aquilon's forward batteries and the full broadside of the Courageuse.  Meleager is reduced to two remaining hull damage points, meaning that one more round of shooting from the French frigate should be able to finish her off.

Captain Cheeseblower can only look away in horror as his frigate takes a beating.
This is what one awesome round of shooting from a capital ship and a frigate will do to a lowly frigate.  If I fill up that last box with damage counters, he sinks.


Her Majesty's Ship ain't done yet!  Meleager closes in and puts one damage counter on the Aquilon, which is reloading her right broadside this turn.  Meanwhile, Aquilon wings the Goliath with her left forward batteries. The crews furiously reload their guns as they pass by.

Brit frigate goes toe-to-toe with the French ship of the line!

As the ships separate and prepare to come about for more close-in action, HMS Goliath just barely finds the range and unleashes a devastating volley into the side of the Aquilon!

"Three Cheers for Lucky Jack!"

"Steady, boys!  England expects that every man shall do his duty!"
The fleets turn for better positions. No shooting this turn.  Jared is about to be facing the wind and be rendered relatively immobile, but Rich is too far away to capitalize.


While the agile frigates continue to position themselves, the capital ships trade broadsides.  Goliath lives up to her fearsome name and just hammers Aquilon all game long.  Aquilon's gunners are not so well-trained.

"Pour it into 'em, boys!"
Aquilon is halfway done. 

The two capital ships are bearing down at extremely close range.  
Remember what I said about movement in the beginning?  Well it started to matter right now, because Jared and I were setting our courses, not knowing if we were going to collide or what.  Nothing much else happened this turn except setting up the epic game of chicken by the cap ships.  Meleager, once again showing her resilience, wings Courageuse.


Wrong turn.
So, movement.  I had anticipated Jared's capital ship turning with the wind and avoiding that little island thingy, so I was going for positioning for a nice broadside.  Jared, being the clever guy that he is, planned no crazy maneuvers, choosing instead to sneak right alongside the island.  Not only did he deny me the wind advantage this way, but he placed himself perfectly to take advantage of my blunder.  Aquilon is now pointing right into a withering close-range broadside, with no opportunity to get a shot of her own off.  And I will pay for this by losing Aquilon in one round of shooting.

"Le crap."
Kaboom.  Aquilon's hull is two hits away from surrendering, and her firepower is about as much as a frigate, but Jared has done enough crew damage to force her surrender.
Also on this turn, Courageuse lets go with both sides, doing nothing.

The end is nigh for the French fleet.
The Captain of Courageuse reloads her guns, hoping to take out Meleager at least, before running for her life.

TURN 11 
Turn 10 saw more circling, and Courageuse tried in vain to sink Meleager.  Courageuse's fate is sealed at this point, having not managed to score the kill.  

Death blow.
This is what happened to the Courageuse in Turn 11.  Gratuitous!  Unsportsmanlike!
Meanwhile, the British frigate survives the match with one remaining gun and leaks aplenty.  Well done, sir!
Total game time: 1.5 hours

Rich's thoughts:  I really messed up sending Aquilon on a hard turn like that, leading to her death.  I should have just run her straight ahead, like Jared did with Goliath.  It was pretty cool seeing her take a helluva broadside from Goliath though.  And that damn Meleager!  Curse that leaky old ship!  The British live a charmed life at sea for sure.  This would be fun with a couple more people playing, too.

Jared's thoughts:   I can't say there was a lot of tactical or overall strategic prowess on my part. A few things did play out as I predicted them, but I probably had the upper leg as I've had a limited amount of experience playing Wings of Glory, and to a lesser extent, X-Wing. Overall I found the game to be a nice touch of challenging. I felt as though two ships was taxing me mentally enough that without some additional experience and just "knowing" what move I needed each time the game could possibly go on forever. The 1.5 hours seemed to (mentally) take almost longer despite the fact I was enjoying myself. More often than not I was just as busy making sure I wasn't embarrassing myself by ramming my ship into bits of terrain. The game was fun, and I definitely wouldn't hesitate to play it again. Lucky for us, as the game has hit the public most of the podcasts and blogs I've read have a similar opinion. 

Ever since watching "Top Gun" as a 10 year-old, Rich (sylvansealy on the forums) has dreamt of flying the not-so-friendly skies.  Poor eyesight may have kept him from being Maverick's wingman, but it did not keep him off the highway to the digital danger zone.  Rich's fondest early video game memories revolve around the classic "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter", flight sims, and real-time-strategy games. When he's not gaming or juggling his 4 kids, Rich can be found co-hosting the Outpost 309 podcast with Jared every few weeks.

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