|HMS Scourge capturing the Sans Coulotte, 13th March 1793 - Thomas Yates|
|The basic components as supplied in Gina Willis' download, printed to paper and glued to thick card|
That was until I saw a very interesting video presentation from Gina Willis who is the designer of a board game 'A Glorious Chance', hopefully soon to be published, covering the naval warfare on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812 for which she has designed a tactical simulation for those who would want to set up the engagements generated by the game on the table top.
In the video she demonstrates the use of her Grand Tactical AI Wheel which, by setting up the course of the AI ship in relation to the wind and the player's ship randomly generates some plausible course directions for the AI vessel, and I thought it might be fun to try on the table top to bring ships into close action or indeed have them run simply by taking an opposite course to that generated by the AI Wheel.
|All the components cut and made ready for assembly|
Well that's the idea and so to test it I sat down at the weekend and put her design together, falling back on my old 'Blue Peter' skills (for non UK residents, a BBC TV kids show that taught you how to make models of Windsor Castle out of Cornflakes boxes and old washing up liquid bottles, back in the day when BBC made programs that people wanted to watch!) and with card, modelling knife and a Pritt stick made myself an AI Tactical Wheel that will generate my three numbers and help my AI vessel select a course to close with or run from the enemy.
|Voila, one Grand Tactical AI Wheel for the use of!|
The idea is, that the three numbers it generates is read off against a chart with six course options next to each set of three numbers, selected by rolling a D6. The ship will generally head towards the threat and my intention is that if the commander decides that he will run instead then that course option is simply reversed - 'simples!' as the Meer Cat said (Sorry another British TV thing).
|To Covet Glory- Wargames Vault|
The next idea was to choose a set of rules to marry with this idea and to further develop the thoughts around scenario set ups and small ship rules and that lead me to think about 'To Covet Glory' by Chris Stoesen, a small ship rules adaptation of Kiss Me Hardy together with a selection of some very interesting single small ship actions, with ideas around flying false colours and other such goodies.
|Plenty of open sea for my little brigs to operate over|
The other idea was to take some of the scenario design ideas from another publication available through Wargames Vault, 'Narrow Seas' by Wargame Vault Curs'd-Captain Products, and their frigate war set of rules 'Enterprize' which sets up these smaller engagements within a framework around the ideas of chases and duels, designed to allow enough scope to tailor them to the rules you want to use.
|Narrow Seas for Any Age of Sail-Game - Wargames Vault|
|The red markers indicate 'gates' that facilitate set up arrival points and possible escape routes should a chase develop|
The scenario I chose to bring these ideas together was a simple action involving two brig-sloops that met 'a few leagues west of the Isles of Scilly on the 13th of March 1793' at the very start of the naval war of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic War or 'Great War' as it was known before the titanic struggles of the twentieth century eclipsed it.
The reason for selecting To Covet Glory is that it is tailor made for these small ship engagements using Kiss Me Hardy as its foundation, a rule set I am very familiar with and of course using the chit activation system that makes them very solo play friendly. That said, I'm halfway through Rich Clarke's video recording on best ways to run games via Zoom, so I might see if we can get some live opposition in future games.
|Everything set up and ready to go, with the wind direction established and the AI course director set up|
So to get things going I have set up the encounter between His Majesty's Brig-Sloop Scourge, nominally of sixteen guns but reported on the day of this encounter to have only mounted eight six-pounder long guns and with seventy men aboard, twenty men under strength, and under the able command of Captain George Brisac.
|Commander George Brisac of His Majesty's Brig-Sloop Scourge|
artwork courtesy of the old rule set Heart of Oak and Privateers & Gentlemen by Jon Williams and J.Andrew Keith, also available through Wargames Vault.
|The very able Lieutenant Visage de Vache commanding the French privateer brig Le Sans Culottes|
|Attention ennemi en vue! Le Sans Culottes is still beating to quarters as Scourge turns towards her|
Being a privateer merits the Sans Culottes as having a better than normal French crew, recognising their desire for prize money and volunteer status as 'Poor, Jolly Jack Tars', so this should make for a very interesting little fight.