Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Broadside and Ram: Breakout from Cherbourg (Part 1)

As promised, here's the first instalment of the INWarD 2018 game, focussed on an Anglo-French war c1870 in which a French squadron is attempting a break out into the English Channel from the blockaded port of Cherbourg. The game was played with my as yet unpainted 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ironclad models from the excellent Victorian range. To make up for the monotone effect, I used my new sea cloth which has a nice English Channel slightly choppy blue grey 'look'.

The scouting roll was won by the British, so the French started first but deployed second in the initial move. The British deployed first in line astern with HMS Aurora leading, followed by HMS Warrior and HMS Northumberland, with the Warrior as flagship for the squadron commander. The French deployed second in their 18'' zone at the opposite short edge of the table, with the ram Taureau in the lead, followed by the flagship Gloire, the Provence and the Flandre.

Turn 1

In turn 1 the French rolled a 2, -1 for their poor commander, so only had 1 Action Point (AP) to spend. The ironclad ram Taureau used that to accelerate to maximum speed (4), with the other warships following at their cruise speed of 4. There was no gunnery as both sides were out of range. 

Turn 2

In the following British turn, the Royal Navy had 5 APs to spend, so HMS Warrior turned 45 degrees to starboard and accelerated to maximum speed, with HMS Northumberland and HMS Aurora also turning so that they moved from line to echelon formation. They were still out of range so there was no gunnery once again.

 Turn 3

The French rolled 4-1 for a total AP score of 3. The Taureau now moved away from the rest of the French line to intercept the advancing British ironclads. As an independent ship the Taureau now did not need to expend AP's but had a -1 penalty to her Defence Factor (DF). Meanwhile, Gloire turned 45 degrees to port and accelerated to maximum speed with Flandre and Provence following in formation. There was still no gunnery as the range was too great.

Turn 4

The British rolled 6 + 1 for a total of 7 AP's. Two of these were used by HMS Warrior to close the range and to continue moving at maximum speed with HMS Northumberland following in echelon. HMS Aurora was released and now moved independently in a straight line for no AP cost. The gunnery range was now less than 8'' so the French, being the non phasing player, decided to fire a shot from Taureau's single barbette mounted 24cm bow chaser at HMS Northumberland.

The Taureau rolled a 6 and HMS Northumberland rolled a 1, which meant that a critical hit had automatically been inflicted. The subsequent modifiers to Attack Factor (AF) and Defence Factor (DF) resulted in a score of 8 for the French and 5 for the British, giving a Damaged result and reducing the ironclad's AF and DF by 1 point. The 2D6 roll for the Critical Hit also resulted in Engine Damage, reducing overall speed by 1 point. 

Good shooting!

Not to be outdone, HMS Northumberland now fired a broadside back. In the rules, damage is inflicted straight away but I decided to make firing simultaneous, as this seemed more realistic. Anyway, the British rolled a 5 and added the AF of 4 for a total of 9, with no other modifiers applicable, while the French rolled another 6 (!) and added the DF of 6 to give a total of 12 - 1 for being an independent command. 

This was a clearly a miss by the British gunners, which isn't surprising given the shock impact of the French gunfire and the small size of the rapidly approaching ironclad ram (funnily enough, HMS Northumberland had a notoriously useless main battery armament before 1875 too, so the end result actually made a lot of sense)

Turn 5

The French now rolled 2-1 for a total of 1 AP (what happened to all those 6's?). As Taureau was acting independently, she turned 45 degrees to starboard and moved forward 4'' at maximum ramming speed, heading for a side on impact with HMS Northumberland. The other French ironclads continued on their flanking manoeuvre, with Gloire in the lead spending the single AP to maintain maximum speed. It looked like the French escape plan was working!

As the British were the non-moving side this turn, they had a chance to fire first in the gunnery phase. This time HMS Warrior, supported by HMS Northumblerand, opened up with a full broadside on the Taureau at 5 1/2'' range. The D6 gunnery roll for the British was a 5 + 5 for the AF and +1 for supporting fire, giving a total score of 11. The Taureau's defensive roll was 5 + a DF of 6 but with a - 1 for having the T crossed, giving a total of 10. A Hit! The Taureau was now Damaged and had a -1 penalty for both AF and DF.

The Taureau's gunners now replied, targeting HMS Warrior. Once again the French gunners rolled a 6 and the Warrior a 1, giving another automatic Critical Hit. There was definitely something wrong with the bloody ships today! The gunnery calculations resulted in a narrow margin of 8 to 7, giving an overall plus to the French attack and causing HMS Warrior to be Damaged (-1AF/DF). The Critical Hit roll of 2D6 also caused Gun Deck damage of an additional -1 AF.

This was turning out to be a very good day for the crew of the Taureau. 

Zut Alors!

...to be continued.


  1. Gripping stuff! Good/poor dice rolling can offset any amount of skill. :/

  2. The French definitely had luck on their side!

  3. A thrilling story - itching to see the conclusion!

  4. I fear it may not go well for the Royal Navy?



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