Thursday, December 30, 2010

DANG: Lepanto

Each year Dave Schueler sends out his missive in October or so, prompting those of us who make the pilgrimage to his house on the Monday after to Christmas to play in his annual naval game.  The October e-mail always offers us the opportunity to choose from his suggested naval topics, ranging from the ancient period to the near future.  For the last several years Lepanto, the climactic 16th century naval battle between Ottoman and Holy League forces has appeared, but never garnered enough votes to be the big winner.  But this year was the year and today was the day.

 Daveshoe went with this interesting period, and ordered the Lepanto fleets by Noble Miniatures.  Through some fits and starts of receiving the minis, Dave managed to get them all painted, and they look quite nice.  Rules were an interesting choice. Christian Fire and Turkish Fury is a Fire and Fury one off. Ships scale is 1:7 and the units are squadrons.  There is a maneuver table, fire tables, and close combat table that would seem very familiar to any veteran of Rich Hasenauer's most wonderful ACW game. The adaptation is by David Manley who has written many games, most notably Action Stations.
Dave Schueler's 15mm Barbary Wars project.  The two vessels on the left are Thoroughbed minis, while the unfinished vessel on the right is scratch-built.

 Eight of us trekked to chez Schueler in West Seattle and nicely divided the forces into four Holy League and four Ottoman commanders.  As always, Dave had some operational commanding to do.  The rules for the operational moves were easy and quick, giving each side the opportunity to pick up some stray victory points by raiding.  As an Ottoman player, I commanded the elite Barbary squadron, and followed the orders of David Sullivan, aka, Ali Pasha the overall Turkish commander.  My mates were Paul Hannah and Dave Creager, both veterans of DANG wars past. Our squadrons were a bit dispersed, so our challenge was to try to gather our fleet together while using some of our dummy counters to disperse the Christian fleet into chasing our phantoms.  They, of course, were trying to do the same to us.
Dave's super cool operational level map.  You can see the starting positions of the fleets.

 We agreed to try a raid, as the Christians were doing the same.  We combined our fleet and moved to Crete to take on the Holy League base there, as the Christians were doing the same to our base on the Dalmatian coast.  We cheered as the Christians were forced to give up their move for the next turn.  We were horrified when our raid failed utterly and our entire fleet lost boarding factors.  We were forced to refit, taking two operational movement turns.  It also convinced us our best shot was to confront the Christian fleet as soon as possible.  Two turns later it was so.
David Sullivan and Scott Murphy commanded the Ottomans and Holy League respectively. 
video

As dummy counters are encountered they're removed.  Eyeball to eyeball the fleets get ready for action

 We had already assigned squadrons to the various commanders.  Each commander had certain specific characteristics.  I commanded the Barbary squadron, which was the best of the Turkish ships.  We agreed Paul, who drew the aggressive commander, would advance along the right wing Holy League, while David Sullivan would advance in the middle.  Dave Creager had two squadrons that advanced on the right.  My ships formed the reserve, intended to mop up the broken bits of center left when David got done with them.
Two views of the fleets coming into action.  The Holy League to the left and the Ottomans on the right. The nasty galleasses lie between two Christian squadrons.


Our plan was constrained a bit when Daveshoe laid out the map.  Islets on the right and left constrained the board, our fleet would struggle just to stay off the shoals.  It would also maximize the Christians' firepower advantage.  Well, always trust to the bayonet..  We followed through with our plan as best as possible.

Paul's wing was first into action.  In order to stay off the rocks, he advanced in line astern formation and tried to deploy beyond them.  Because his orders required that he move full speed he couldn't wait for the Holy League to come get him. Unfortunately he didn't realize quite what he was facing.  One squadron of galleys and another of galliots left Paul quite unprepared for Mark Waddington's two squadrons of elite Venetian galleys and some shaky die rolling.  Though they fought on for three or four turns, the left wing of the Ottoman fleet was quickly dispatched.
Death ride of Son of Barbarossa.  Constrained by the shoals Paul had to advance in an unfavorable formation.

 David commanded the Ottoman center, and they advanced on the Holy League defenders.  Each side had two squadrons of galleys, but the Christian center was pinned on three stands of galleases, oared round ships.  Though slow, they were armed with a passel of guns, and about a 270 degree field of fire.  We believed that these were dangerous, but should be through the fire in a turn to engage in close combat.  Wrong.  In the first turn of fire, David lost four ships in one squadron and one in another.  By the end of the second turn his command was wrecked and just trying to hang on, which he did, gamely, for another couple of turns.

Dave Creager commanded the two right hand squadrons.  He was faced with the difficulty of maneuvering into position while skirting the shoals, and aligned his ships into two rank lines. He engaged George Kettler's squadrons.  Both sided gave pretty much as good as they got for several turns.  Dave eventually emerged the victor on the right, but his fleet was in very ragged condition and unable to continue the fight.
The Barbary Squadron moves to the attack.  The remains of David's Turkish squadron to the left, Dave Creager's squadrons attack on the right.

 As my reserve squadron pressed past David's survivors in the center, we were met by an attack from Dale Mickel's Christian squadron.  The Barbary galleys were untouched and I began a pretty solid string of die rolls.  My flagship joined the squadron to make it six models and the action wasn't in doubt.  They came under ineffective fire from one of the galleass models and pressed on to attack the next of Dale's squadrons.  The result was the same, except that I was in range of one of the galleasses after the action, and could attack with a breakthrough move.  Galleasses were the uber-vessels in the action, and suffered no ill effects from the fact that I out numbered him 6:1.  However, David had disordered it in the last round of fire, and that combined with my elite status was enough to destroy it.
Final positions in the middle of the board.  The Venetian squadron is fully intact beyond top of picture.

 This left both fleets pretty ragged.  The Holy League had their right flank largely unscathed and their middle half intact with two galleasses ready to blow my ass off.  Their right was gone and ours was tattered to say the least.  Though my squadron was unhurt, it was just a matter of time until the superior Christian numbers and firepower began to take its effect and we called the game a Holy League victory.

 I really enjoyed the game.  We needed a few things to break our way to win.  They did, but too late, and we had nothing to pin the Christian left wing.  The rules were very fun and Dave and Lynn Schueler did a brilliant job of hosting as always.

3 comments:

DeanM said...

Kevin:

That is an amazingly fun looking game. I'm surprised that scale of ships look so good on the table. The operation table is also very unique and interesting too. Happy New Year! Dean

Kevin said...

Same to you Dean. It really was a great game. The ops table really made it a bit more interesting, but didn't slow up getting to the battle.

Dave S. said...

The new camera pictures turned out really nice. Incorporating the video into the blog looks like it will add an interesting twist to your posts. Although I think you might need to work on your scene selection a bit.