Wednesday 21 September 2022

All at Sea - Sercey off Sumatra, Clotted Lard 2022

Last weekend I was taking part in Clotted Lard and was running Sercey off Sumatra, one of the fifty historical scenarios that I have pulled together specifically for use with Kiss Me Hardy, with the two games run at the meeting adding to the two previous play tests run as warm-ups in preparation and featured here on the blog.

With players familiar with Kiss Me Hardy but less so with the material I have pulled together, this was a great opportunity to see what other KMH fans thought of the scenario and the materials I have created around it as well as seeing how two different groups of players would respond to the situation it creates based on the historical one faced by Rear Admiral Sercey and Commodore Lucas.

I have pulled together a detailed AAR of the game I ran with the second game in the afternoon overseen by my co-host and fellow gamemeister, Charley Walker, who kindly stepped in while I did my usual coverage of the other games at the show. If you would like to see more of the show as a whole then you can follow the link below for a post on the Devon Wargames Group Blog detailing Clotted Lard 2022.

Devon Wargames Group - Clotted Lard 2022

The table all set up ready to go in the Meeting Room at our new venue for Clotted Lard, Lympstone Village Hall

With the table all set up and ready to go, I briefed the first three players for the game, and we rolled dice to sort out the commands, with two players running the French, Chris, who ran Sercey and the first three frigates in the sailing order and Simon who brought up the rearward three, leaving Neil to to assume the role of Commodore Lucas aboard the Arrogant.
I now have a standard kit for running my KMH games that includes my gunnery templates, turning circles, wind compass, laser pen, range sticks, dice towers, activation chits, game specific markers and red and blue dice (d6s and a d10). Here all set up ready to go.

As detailed to the players, the scenario sees Sercey's frigate line off the Sumatran coast protecting a captured British Indiaman prize, (off table), and with the line slightly staggered to allow the second group of three rearward frigates to potentially double the approaching British third rates.

As in the previous play throughs the French detached into their two groups of three and also similarly, the two British third rates looked to sail close to the wind and bear down on the French rear, hoping to deal with them before the French van could come around in support, requiring them to tack back to do so if they did.

Sercey leads the first three frigates into the attack with the second group in close support, as the British attempt to close on the rear most group of Frenchman.

I guess you could call this a ranging shot as both sides were keen to check the likely closing distance prior to opening fire

The action commenced on turn four as the Arrogant 74-guns opens fire on the Régénérée 40-guns leading the nearest group of frigates

The French commander has to be wary of his force being attacked and beaten in detail and it looked as if they might be as the Arrogant opened fire first on the the French rear, causing hits on the more fragile French hulls, soon joined by Victorious adding to the hurt.

The Victorious 74-guns lends her fire in support of the flagship as the Cybèle 40-guns lends her support to the Régénérée ahead of her.

Battle well and truly on as the lead frigate in the French van, Vertu (nearest camera) unleashes a devastatingly accurate extreme range broadside aimed at Victorious' rigging (extreme right), bringing down the third rate's main-mast and causing the first strike test of the game, easily passed by the British ship as, with a cheer, the fallen mast and rigging was cleared.

As if sensing a potential problem about to start, Sercey had his van come across the rear of the Victorious at extreme range to start to deliver fire at the British rigging, an historic tactic that KMH encourages the French to do, giving them extra dice with their firing, even though they have to hit on a '6'.

Rather surprisingly the lead frigate, Vertu managed to cause several hits on the British third rate and also managed to include a low score on the D10 that signified a potential critical hit on the rigging of Victorious.

The subsequent die roll revealed a damaging strike on the British ship's mainmast, bringing it down, immediately knocking off several speed boxes and requiring the the third-rate to take a strike test, made slightly more problematic, with the inclusion of 'High Officer Casualties', thus increasing the chances of failure.

The Arrogant starts to pull away from her consort as she looks to close on the French rearmost group before Sercey can come up in support

The strike test on Victorious was duly taken and passed with a rousing cheer from the British crew, but seeing the gap between the two British ships widen as with her damaged rigging Victorious was unable to keep up with the now sleek Arrogant knifing through the water like a predatory shark; intent on dealing a death blow to the weakest French frigate in the rear most group, the 32-gun Prudente, now badly damaged by successive broadsides from the advancing third-rate.

The range is now down to long and both sides are focussing their fire, with the French aiming at British rigging

HMS Arrogant bears down on the 32-gun Prudente, and with the range decreasing, starts to work over the small French frigate as the trailing Victorious bears the brunt of support fire from the French. 

The Arrogant was irresistible as she got the drop on the French rear, being able to move and fire simultaneously, whilst passing in close to the stern galleries of the Prudente to enable a grapple as a punishing stern rake finished off the target, not requiring the Royal Marines to storm onto the French deck, but rather to help lower boats to pick up survivors from the sinking frigate.

The moment of decision as the Arrogant passes close on the Prudente's stern galleries and grapples whilst pouring in a point-blank stern rake.

With the Victorious now badly damaged aloft and under heavy fire from Sercey's remaining frigates, the Arrogant dispatches Prudente to the bottom with a second point-blank stern rake, to allow her to break contact and come to the support of her consort.

Victorious top left is under heavy fire as Sercey brings up his van to support his rear. Meanwhile Arrogant has dispatched the Prudente and is picking up survivors as she prepares to come up in support

Meanwhile the Victorious bravely battled away against the fire of four Frenchman, as the Arrogant sought to come to her aide and reduce the number of enemies, by turning in towards the next frigate in line, the  Cybèle, who now found herself with the third-rate bearing down on her starboard bow, with likely aggressive intent.

The action is now a general fight as formation struggles to be maintained and the firing is close 

Again the British flagship was able to conjure up a combination of move, fire and grapple, with a bow rake being the preferred modus-operandi on this occasion, and with the grapples in place seeing a strike test marker laid ready to test at the appropriate time.

As if on cue, the Strike Test chit appeared almost immediately after, and was failed, seeing the Frenchman haul down his colours, before any British boarders had climbed over their own bulwarks.

The Arrogant has closed in on a second French frigate, the Cybèle, second from left and crossed her bows whilst delivering a point-blank rake and successfully grappling her. A strike test marker is against a starboard stern gallery to remind us to test when the chit is drawn. Meanwhile the Victorious continues her heroic struggle with three other Frenchman as she comes up in support, but taking heavy damage aloft as she does.

With our morning session fast approaching lunch time, having played through about sixteen turns of play, and now with 33% of the French squadron out of action and plenty of fight still left in the British force, we called the game in favour of Commodore Lucas.

The following ship records tell their own story, with the Arrogant barely having a scratch on her paintwork, but with the Victorious having borne the brunt of French aggression badly damaged in her rigging, but only lightly damaged on her hull, leaving her still in a formidable state as a fighting gun platform.

Commodore (Captain) Richard Lucas - Arrogant (flagship)

As far as Sercey's command, the cards reveal the frustrating morning endured by the French (Simon, we all felt your pain!), only relieved by the administering of the extreme range dismasting of the Victorious but leaving all the surviving French frigates except the Vertu carrying light damage, likely to cause the French commander to seek repairs rather than persist with his campaign into the Indian Ocean.

Rear-Admiral de Sercey -  Forte (flagship)

Thank you to all the players and to our several guests who joined us to watch what proved to be a highly entertaining fight and underlined what an interesting and challenging little action this is for both sides.

Friday 16 September 2022

All at Sea - Jack's French Squadron & JJ's Spanish Brigs

It was back in July that I showcased Jack's British Squadron, after completing work on two previous squadron builds for Bob.

JJ's Wargames - All at Sea, Jack's British Squadron

As with all my project builds, I move straight on to preparing the next bit of work as I conclude the previous one, and in normal times I would have expected to have had these French builds completed using the Warlord Games, French Navy Fleet box, done and finished in August, and indeed the painting was done and finished by mid August.

However this year has seen an added number of dates in the diary for events held over from the pandemic lockdowns, that coupled with the extraordinarily good summer weather we had this year, meant that I was away and doing a lot of stuff that kept me away from the modelling desk.

In addition, Jack had asked me to base his models similar to my own and to build a storage box and trays also like the ones I use to move my collection around and so I also took what time there was to get those done as well.

The picture below shows the fruits of my labours once I managed to sit down at the end of the week before last and the week previous to get the rigging done, plus I also managed to get two Spanish brigs finished off for my own collection and another French first rate finished for Bob, not pictured here, to make up for the one I commandeered for the Battle of Madras game run at Legionary earlier in the year.

Jack's French Squadron, one first rate, three third rates, two frigates and a brig, ready for sea trials

As per Jack's instructions, I only built two of the French frigates and one of the brigs from this box set leaving the remaining frigate and five brigs for him as he is keen to have a go at doing these himself.

If you would like to know more about the ships featured here then a quick scan back through the earlier All at Sea posts, see the label at the top of the blog, will reveal my own models where I took the time to detail the history of these famous French ships that are detailed here.

The First Rate
I think Warlord have done a great job capturing the look of these big French first rates of between 110 and 120-guns, and a few of these dotted among a French line of third rates make for an imposing sight.

The Third Rates
These three French third rates all featured at the Battle of Trafalgar and make really nice character models to include in a collection of generic third rates just built straight from the box of three such plastic kits.

All the specifically named ships come with metal named stern galleries and unique figureheads that help them stand out in the line.



As the 80-gun Bucentaure was Vice-Admiral Villeneuve's flagship at Trafalgar she flies her command pennant tricolour from the foremast.

Frigates & Brig



The brig models are in plentiful supply in the box sets that include them with each frigate sprue, allowing two such models to be built and they are a nice representation of this workhorse little ship, useful to represent men-o-war, privateers and small merchantmen.

I like to find different ways to stow their boats, sometimes amidships, or as here, by using one of the left over davit boats from other models.

As mentioned I also built Jack's storage box, which will be joined later with two extra trays to cater for the third rates of renown and the Spanish Squadron to follow.

JJ's Spanish Brigs

With work progressing well on my collection of small ship scenarios that have featured through much of this year on the blog, I was aware that I needed to build two Spanish brigs that will feature in some of them and so I tagged them into the work for Jack and Bob.

My recent visit to Colours this year allowed me to pick up the balance of the models I needed to build my Dutch Camperdown fleet, which due to other activities planned for later this year will most likely be started on in 2023, together with the remaining models for Jack and Bob's collections.

In addition I also have those character models, perfect for my small ship scenarios that now will see a purpose built razeed Indefatigable, the brig Speedy, frigate Surprise and some Xebecs joining the collection in 2023 and their appearance in future games.

Next up:
I'm off to Clotted Lard this weekend, running Sercey off Sumatra, so will be doing the usual post covering the show here with a more full report of the DWG club blog. 

More Anon