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"Little Wars 2019 - Two Ironclad Battles" Topic

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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Sturmdivision03 May 2019 10:34 a.m. PST

Last weekend I attended the annual Little Wars gaming convention in Lombard, IL. Two ACW ironclad games were on the docket for Friday and I signed up for both.

The first was a river scenario put on by Neil Stokes using his self-published rules, Steam and Black Powder. The object was for two Confederate ironclads (Palmetto State and Albemarle) accompanied by a wooden rebel paddle-wheeler (Governor Moore) to run past a fleet of five Union wooden boats and one double-turreted monitor (USS Milwaukee). The river was dotted with small islands that blocked LOF and gave both sides a varied choice of routes to navigate.

Governor Moore suffered a smashed paddlewheel and a burst steam drum, soon coasting to a dead stop (and certain destruction) while while one Union double-ender ran aground when it veered too close to the shallows surrounding one of the islands. Both rebel rams were poised to exit the opposite end of the river and secure a victory when the game concluded.

The second game was titled "Charleston Harbor, 1863". This was sponsored by Thoroughbred Figures which owns the rights to the old Yaquinto boardgame "The Ironclads". I guess the intent is to eventually try and streamline those rules to make larger scenarios more palatable as the boardgame would inevitably bog down with interminable die-rolling and chart checking.

The scenario we played out featured two Confederate ironclads (Palmetto State and Chicora) assisting an incoming blockade runner (CSS Stag) by crossing the bar to engage and distract five wooden Union vessels patrolling the harbor entrance while the blockade runner sped past them to safely deliver its vital cargo of French brandy and women's corsets.

The highlight of the game was when one Union captain impulsively rammed Chicora bow-to-bow, setting off Chicora's spar torpedo and blowing most of the Union ship's bow "clean off" (as Clint Eastwood might say…). The Union player later insisted that, "I did more damage to that ironclad ramming it than I could have done with the guns I had…" For his gallant self-sacrifice, he was awarded a replica Medal of Valor at game's end. One player randomly selected from each side also received a free Thoroughbred ship.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

Nice looking games!

ChrisBrantley03 May 2019 1:22 p.m. PST

Can you tell us anything about the rules?

21eRegt03 May 2019 7:08 p.m. PST

Very fond of Steam and Black Powder from my days living in the Twin Cities. You get a result in a reasonable time. I've brought them to WI with me. Can't help you with getting them though. Neil did a reprint I understand, but sold them all off right away. Or so I heard.

Sturmdivision04 May 2019 7:36 a.m. PST

Neil had a booth in the vendor area with several copies of his rules for sale, so I picked one up for $15. USD Haven't delved into them yet, but, based on the game we played at the convention, it moved along at a faster clip than the second game I was in (using the modified Yaquinto board game rules).

We had data cards for each ship type and rolled a d20 to determine hits and misses. There was a list of modifiers based on crew morale, ship damage, etc. and certain die rolls resulted in critical hits.

Movement was measured from the center of each ship (marked with a small white line on the ship's base) so when using a turning arc (small, medium or large, depending on the ship's size and speed), you would use that mark and align it with the increment lines on the arc.

Everything we needed to reference was printed on two charts, though the font size got pretty small in some places!

Ships could run ground if they got too close to those river islands. Shallow draft ships had to be within 1", deeper-draft vessels within 2". You rolled a die to see if grounding occurred. I don't recall what the odds were but we did see one Union ship beach itself unintentionally.

He could have tried backing off (again, success determined by a die roll) but by then the scenario was nearing its end and he realized he'd never catch up in time, even if he managed to refloat his ship.

KSmyth04 May 2019 9:19 p.m. PST

Leave Ironclads alone. Been playing them for forty years, and they play just fine, thanks. Just tool them for miniatures instead of hexes and all will be right with the world.

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