This year the Southern Strategists decided to have a Napoleonic naval battle using the superbly detailed 1/700 ships from the Skytrex range. The bulk of the fleets had been painted by Dave Houston who had introduced the group to naval wargaming last year. As a sign of 'solidarity' (a socialist term frowned upon by Dave who is our resident law firm partner and card-carrying member of the ultra-conservative 'Act' Party here in NZ), we all decided to buy and paint up at least one ship each to provide a sizable game. Several months out from the event another member of the group pushed for the demo game to be a 28mm Victoriana Dark Africa skirmish game. 'Great' I thought as that meant I didn't have to supply any newly painted troops. However, the gaming gods were against me as three weeks out from the convention our Victoriana specialist panicked at the thought of transporting all the required terrain to the show and suggested we revert back to the naval game. 'Bugger' I cried as I that meant I now had to rush to paint up two 3rd Rate ships that were languishing in my lead pile. So, yet again I was still finishing off the ships in the wee hours of the morning before the game, cursing at fingers glued together while try to add rat-lines and rigging. As it turned out my ships entered the fray without any 'colours' and banners due to frustration and tiredness getting the better of me.
Fortunately the effort was worth it as our game received plenty of public attention throughout the day and was a novelty for those use to gaming tables covered with armies instead of model ships. Although not based on any specific battle, the game played using Warhammer Trafalgar rules proved somewhat historical in that both fleets (Franco-Spanish alliance against the Royal Navy) fought until they were near exhaustion, with wind direction determining manoeuvring.
Sadly, my two ships, the 'Berwick ( a French 74-gunner) and the HMS Defiance (another 74-gunner that was seconded to the Franco-Spanish fleet for the game) came to a sticky end on their first outing; the 'Berwick' blew up after leading the vanguard of the Allied fleet, with the 'Defiance' having to strike it's colours after losing all it's cannons and crew. Still, a very enjoyable wargaming genre that provided some variety to the convention and hours of satisfying gaming and convivial banter.
|The Southern Strategists table at Conquest...only a few paces from the bar as usual!|
|The valiant but hapless "Berwick" - blown to pieces in it's first engagement|
|The Berwick before sinking|
|The fleets collide...the Berwick about to take on three British ships (top centre)|
|Is that the rule book or a Womens Weekly that she's reading?|
|HMS Defiance firing a broadside|
|The Defiance in action before losing her cannon and crew|
Now that these ships are done I can get back to my French & Indian War/ Seven Years War project that I have struggled to finish.....