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"Battle of Trafalgar 1/1200 ships AAR" Topic

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1,935 hits since 21 Oct 2012
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hongihika21 Oct 2012 6:48 p.m. PST

It so happened that the October League of Ancients meeting fell on the same day as the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (21st Oct). Some of us had been playing small actions over the years, using the Warhammer Historical Trafalgar rules. We thought we could combine all of our ships to provide representative fleets for both Nelson's and Collingwood's line, as well as the Franco-Spanish alliance.

We fielded the 1st and 2nd rate ships for both sides, and had about half of all of the 3rd rates at the battle. We didn't field any frigates. This gave us about 36 ships all up – 16 british and 20 franco-spanish.

The game was a spectacle to behold, all of those ships on the tabletop looked awesome. We had 4 commanders on each side, taking command of about 4-6 ships each, which helped keep the game ticking along. The outcome was still inconclusive, as the Franco-spanish fleet chose to run from Collingwood's line, thereby avoiding conflict but resulting in themselves crashing into each other in the corner towards the end of the game.

Highlight of the battle was watching Villeneuve and Alava arguing over whose fault it was that two of their ships of the line had crashed (perhaps one of the british captains got Alava drunk by buying him beers during the course of the battle? evil grin).

Of course the Spanish French hold the moral victory for the day, as they managed to sink the Victory and Temeraire – with the loss of Neptuno and Indomptable – thus leaving Horatio to kiss the ocean-floor, rather than anyone named Hardy.

McKinstry Fezian21 Oct 2012 7:33 p.m. PST

Great looking game.

whitejamest22 Oct 2012 7:49 p.m. PST

That looks like an awesome game! I'm going to have to remember the beer-buying tactic….. – James

Ben Walton Inactive Member22 Oct 2012 10:11 p.m. PST

Amazing stuff! Thats a impressive looking game

bluewillow24 Oct 2012 8:10 p.m. PST

nice one guys,

lots of nice work on those ships, we haven't had a chance yet to have a Trafalgar bash, but we must get around to it!

who makes the matt/drop sheet?


hongihika26 Oct 2012 2:26 p.m. PST

Thanks guys for the positive feedback. It was good fun. Not so sure about WH Trafalgar as the ruleset for this battle, as the sheer number of ships and related moving/shooting made things quite complicated in the context of recordkeeping etc.

Matt – asked the guys who supplied the mats for our game. They got them from a UK company called Terrain Mats. Sea mats are here:

postage was… expensive… apparently.

straylightOz28 Oct 2012 10:09 p.m. PST

that looks fantastic, what a great layout and some fine ships. Where abouts are you ?

Do you find the sailing arcs for trafalgar a bit optimistic and the somewhat problematic dice roll to execute a tack ? most ships' crews and captains were able to tack routinely without risking damage to their foremast !

Great shots of rakes and broadsides, awesome work.


hongihika29 Oct 2012 5:08 p.m. PST

Hi Stu,

sorry I keep forgetting to say where we're at in my posts. League of Ancients is in Melbourne, meet at a German club near South Yarra, on third Sundays every month.

Yes, the bow and stern rakes were pretty satisfying for those captains making the shooting/crit rolls. ;)

Re: Trafalgar, yes the sailing arcs were a bit strange… particularly the shift in the ship's trajectory at the end of the turning arc. Other problem with movement, I thought, was the ease with which ships could crash into each other within 1cm of each other for crashing, within 2cm for borading and then the resolution of movement afterwards if they weren't entangled (i.e shifting the ships to either side of each other so they could keep moving). Had us all scratching our heads a bit.

I didn't mind the tacking so much, I thought it reflected sailing into the wind and maneuvering pretty well. My problem was the subsequent dice rolls of command checks, and then checks to see if the foremast broke or not, and then what sort of damage there was to the foremast, and then the book-keeping to mark down changes to the ship's movement etc. This was our problem with the rules, way too many modifiers and mini-rules, and boxes to check and having to remember whether or not you had boarding nets/bow chasers/streamlined hulls etc etc. The WH Trafalgar rules work alright with maybe 2-3 ships for each side in a squadron-level action. When it came to 36 ships, including all of those first and second raters, it was really hard to keep track of everything. Hence my attempt to confuzzle the Spanish Admiral with beer resulting in him crashing into Villeneuve's ships.

But it was all good fun, and it looked spectacular on the day very glad I got to be a part of it.

Some more pics from the day:



straylightOz29 Oct 2012 7:27 p.m. PST


I've long been interested in this area and looked for quite a while for a decent ruleset. I played many games of trafalgar and the simple mechanics of damage and firepower really appealed. I did modify the tacking rules and made up a simple template for maneouvering which made the whole process much easier. Knowing a bit about sailing helped !

The boarding actions and collisions are a nightmare, you are right.

Trafalgar should be ideally suited to playing its namesake action you would expect. Problem would be that once in side to side or boarding, that is where the ship ends up for the rest of the game. Once the first rates started swapping iron there wasn't that much opportunity to break off and find another target, particularly if you had sustained rigging damage.

good fun though. I'm in South Australia, great to see Napoleonic sail getting an airing. Coincidentally, I observed a game of close action on the weekend at the Group North (Adelaide) Open day, lots of book keeping and table cross referencing. Still a good spectacle though with 1:2400 ships on the hex grid and no closer than 60 degrees to the wind.


hongihika31 Oct 2012 1:55 a.m. PST

Ah, the Open Day in Adelaide. Nic from Eureka was there, presumably? I was going to pressgang him into the Trafalgar battle, but he said he'd be at a convention in Adelaide the following week (or something like that).

The Trafalgar rules aren't bad, in themselves. A friend and I had a trial run of the rules a few days before we played the big game. We had one third rate ship of the line each. We had hours of fun of maneuvering and shooting at each other before, as the French captain, I broke off and made a run for the edge of the table. ;) Anyways, we enjoyed it immensely. The point I'd make with doing a game like the Battle of Trafalgar is make sure you have plenty of captains/commanders and – as one of the participants argued – have a maximum of 3 ships per commander. Otherwise it just gets too much in terms of trying to remember and organise everything.

A friend of mine devised a set of rules based on Battle Fleet Gothic, called it Weather Gauge. They were good fun. While I haven't tried them at the scale of a Trafalgar game, I think that – given the scale of a game like Battle Fleet Gothic, with many ships – they could work okay…

Khusrau01 Nov 2012 1:46 a.m. PST

Langtons 'Signal Close Action' Quickplay is ideal for the larger scaler games. There were too many minor quirks in Trafalgar for my taste (like sending a single sloop to the edge of the table to gain the 'Weather Gauge' for the entire fleet), and the dice rolls were too radical for ship on ship action, (seemed like every second shot caused some 'special' damage), and the chance element much too high for my taste.

Bosco05 Inactive Member09 Nov 2012 6:34 a.m. PST

Great looking game!

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