Friday, June 03, 2011

Wilmington: Open for Business

My Sunday morning game was Closing Wilmington, an Ironclads scenario I've written about before.  The Union has eight ships and a division of infantry with which to capture or destroy the forts protecting Wilmington, N.C. on the Cape Fear River.  I have some additional missions for them and the naval landing party that goes with them. The Confederates have it a bit easier.  They just shoot and shoot and shoot.

Things got off to a bad start, however.  I have some sleep issues that are aggravated by the fact that I never go to bed much before 2:00 at the convention.  I bolted awake on Sunday morning at 6:15.  Knowing I had a membership meeting to run at 8:00, and realizing the ballroom would open at 7:00, I got up early and dutifully schlepped my stuff down to the game area and began setting up. At 7:45 Bill Nitsche, a fellow gamer came by and asked if I had set up on the wrong table.  In fact I'd read the table diagram incorrectly and set up on not only the wrong table, but one that was five feet wide instead of six feet. Gah!!  I didn't move, and decided to just make it work. 

A fun group played the game.  Dave Schueler, Joe Waddington, Daniel Moon, and Tom Bieker played the Confederates.  Lloyd Bowler, Mike Smith, Scott Abbott, Ed from Bellingham, and Andy Doty ran the Yankees.

Lloyd advanced with his division of Union infantry and quickly captured the nearest Confederate fort.  That would be the high point of the game.  The Union ships quickly passed upriver, tiptoeing around the minefields, but took only minor damage from the Confederate shore batteries.  As the flagship Malvern charged upriver, it was taken under fire by the only 7" Brooke rifle on the board, located in the Martello tower.  One fire broke out, and then a second.  Aiming for the island with the tower, Malvern ran aground. 

By turn five, both Confederate vessels were on the table and making their way downstream.  The ironclad Wilmington began to fire on the advancing Union ships, finally targeting the monitor Montauk. Successive hits from Montauk's 11-inch and 15-inch smoothbores did considerable damage, but did not deter Wilmington from ramming and then detonating it's spar torpedo.  Though the ram was fouled by the sinking monitor, it was able to escape before being pulled under.

The Malvern discharged its secret weapon, a naval landing party, and attempted to capture fort A.P. Hill, the Martello tower.  Dazed and weakened by their smoky journey upriver, the defenders of the tower held on and repulsed the Federal attackers.  With the loss of the Malvern and Montauk, and the remaining Union forces unable to make way against the forts, I declared the game a Confederate victory.

The game went much more smoothly than I anticipated.  Running an Ironclads game at a convention is always a bit risky.  It's not an easy set of rules to learn, but there were enough veterans that the turns seemed to move along.  Maybe it was the scenario, maybe it was the players, but everyone seemed to be engaged and interested.  Unfortunately, at the end of the game Wilmington remained open for business.

Sadly I took no pictures of this game, though Dave Schueler has photos on his blog.

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