Category Archives: Sails of Glory

Ifigenia & Spanish Steel

It’s been a while since we have had a Sails of Glory game here but last Friday evening three of us gathered for a small frigate action. I took the opportunity to use the Spanish Ifigenia, a model I’ve had for a while but untested in battle.

I won’t try and describe the battle in detail, but in general terms there was, as usual, some jostling for the advantage of wind before the two squadrons were fully engaged. Of note both the French Embuscade and Spanish Ifigenia were outgunned by HMS Unite and HMS Sybille, yet the allies approached the British fighting to gain a better position. Wind has an important part to play it would seem in the age of sail.

The French Embuscade was first to fire and unleashed a broadside on HMS Sybille, who returned fire with equal determination. At the same time the Spanish Ifigenia exchanged broadsides with HMS Unite. However, at this point HMS Unite critically lost a mast. Her captain now struggled to manoeuvre her while undertaking temporary repairs. Critically,  HMS Unite was effectively out of the action for a short period.

Yet not all was going well for the Dons. Miscalculating the enemies speed Ifigenia moved too close to the larger HMS Sybille and the two ships became entangled. The British seemed prepared to take advantage of the Spanish error.

The Spanish marines however fought with great determination. Accurate musket fire caused increasing casualties on HMS Sybille, soon they would become critical. The French Embuscade, who manoeuvred close to the wind, now also came about. Together Embuscade and Ifigenia delivered further broadsides the former with solid shot while the later with grape.

The casualties again fell mostly among the crew of the King’s ship. Now the Spanish crew, emboldened by imminent success, poured aboard HMS Sybille. Unable to withstand Spanish steel the crew capitulated, providing Spain with a wonderful prize. It was a most glorious day for Spain, and perhaps our French ally!


Stand by Larboard Battery!

“We’ll take him first! Stand by Larboard battery!” Captain Herrick noted Soames hurrying down his lines of guns as the gun captains crouched like athletes behind each breech, trigger lines taught as they peered through the open ports for a first sight of the Spanish Argonauta.

After a very busy week it was pleasing to finally be able to deploy some models on the table and last night it was a multiplayer Sails of Glory encounter. We opted for four ships per side with each player commanding two vessels. The French fleet comprised comprised the 1st Rater Commerce de Marseille and was supported by two French 3rd Raters the Aquilion and Le Berwick and reinforced by the Spanish Argonauta. On a converging course was the British fleet which comprised HMS Victory and supported by three 3rd Raters, HMS Imperteaux, HMS Spariate, HMS Bellona. Two of the British ships, Bellona and Imperteaux were classed as having “Well Trained Gunners” special rule.

Each squadron sailed in line astern the British due south while the French south west on a course which potentially had the led ships intercepting if each squadron held their bearing and speed. Further, both admirals determined retain their 1st Raters at the rear of the line. Soon the British squadron broke formation with HMS Spariate and HMS Bellona attempting to manoeuvre to a position that would cross the French line while HMS Imperteaux and HMS Victory would travel behind the stern of the French ships. However, the French ships had a faster turn of speed, due to their attitude. As a result who would cross the T first was in doubt for some time!

Above, the French squadron in line astern led by Aquilion.

However, we will look at the engagement against the rear of the French squadron first. As the British ships turned from their southerly bearing to an easterly bearing HMS Victory was masked by HMS Imperteaux. As a result Le Berwick and HMS Imperteaux alone exchanged broadsides, which was soon followed by another exchange by HMS Imperteaux and Commerce de Marseille. It was here that the well trained gunners of HMS Imperteaux delivering two broadsides in quick succession. At this point the ships of the rear section were travelling on divergent bearings and would therefore soon be out of range. However, HMS Victory was able to deliver one broadside, her only one, at long range. As a result Commerce de Marseille suffered a leak and broken mast, a result which kept her damage parties busy for some time and prevented her engaging the other British ships.

Below, HMS Imperteaux is engaged by Le Berwick and Commerce de Marseille. HMS Victory is on the left rear.

Above, HMS Imperteaux is engaged by Le Berwick and Commerce de Marseille. HMS Victory is on the left rear. Below, another view now including Argonauta.

Meanwhile the action at elsewhere had been dramatic. Aquilion and the Spanish Argonauta were set on a converged course with HMS Bellona and HMS Spariate. As you will recall who would cross the T of the other was in doubt for some time and the ships exchanged broadsides as they approached. Below, HMS Bellona moves to cut the T of the French squadron.

However, at the last moment and under full sail, HMS Bellona crossed in front of Aquilion and Argonauta. It was at this point both British ships unleashed devastating broadsides on Argonauta who suffered a series of leaks and lost three masts in a single turn. Crippled she was forced to strike her colours almost immediately.

The action now became a confusing melee between Aquilion and the two British ships HMS Bellona and HMS Spariate to which Le Berwick soon joined. Broadside and musket fire enveloped the vessels for some time. In due course casualties aMong the crew of HMS Spariate became crippling. Indeed, HMS Spariate struggled to manoeuvre the crew losses were so great. However the French Aquilion to was in trouble. With fires and leaks soon out of control another proud French ship was lost.

Now having lost two ships the French Admiral decided to disengage. The British it was true had had some considerable success, the French however were determined to bring the enemy to battle again soon…

Envious of Glory

It’s been a while since I have posted here as I’ve been somewhat distracted getting a Macedonian and Punic Wars underway. You can find more on the Empire Campaign here if you are interested. In between playing rather a lot of Ancients games I’ve managed a few Renaissance encounters as well as a couple of Napoleonic battles using Volley & Bayonet. Clearly too much time playing games to post here, a real problem I’m sure. Tonight however, we managed a short Napoleonic naval game using Sails of Glory, it was long overdue.

I won’t try and write a detailed report but instead provide a couple of photos. Our game involved the British 1st Raters HMS Britannia and HMS Royal George engaged against the French Orient and Montagne, also 1st Raters.

Above, HMS Britannia follows the Royal George around. Both ships carry around 100 guns and have a respectable speed. In the distance the French Orient and Montagne can be seen. Below, another view now of the French squadron with the Orient in the foreground. Both French ships are from the Ocean class and carry around 120 guns. These vessels are difficult to manoeuvre, even compared to 3rd Raters.

The French vessels managed to secure an early concentrated firing position enabling a couple of solid broadsides where they gained a slight advantage before both squadrons passed each other. Now each squadron manoeuvred for the advantageous position.

The French ships managed to secure a position slightly upwind of the British squadron. Which found the French ships concentrating their fire again. At the end of this second determined exchange the British squadron broke off with the Royal George heavily damaged.

A very enjoyable evening illustrating the playability and challenges of Sails of Glory.

Run Out The Guns

The order ‘Load and run out if you please’ filled the quarter deck of the Royal Sovereign, flagship of the squadron. The planks vibrated under the Vice Admiral’s shoes, and as the starboard lids opened the Royal Sovereign’s guns squeaked and rumbled towards the sunlight, the bare-backed seamen slipping on sanded decks as they tried to keep time to the shouted commands from their gun captains. The moment of truth approached. Would the English ships reap victory against the French and Spanish squadron? Every second seemed like eternity as the ships closed, committed to their course…

Last night a group of five players gathered for another Sails of Glory game, this time involving eight ships of the line. It was also our largest game to date. Three of players commanded two ships while two players, one who had not played Sails of Gory before, commanded one ship each. Again we opted to use the advanced rules and a selected number of optional rules, though not all. The wind blew from the east and provided some advantage to the Franco-Spanish but during the game it change to blow from the southeast.

The English squadron deployed in line astern held a northerly course and was led by HMS Vanguard a 74 gun 3rd Rate ship of the line. Astern was HMS Defence of similar capability. Next was the squadron’s flag ship HMS Royal Sovereign commanded by Vice-Admiral William Cornwallis. HMS Royal Sovereign was 1st Rater with three gun decks and 100 guns. Though slow, she was well able to deliver a devastating broadside. Finally, HMS Superb completed the squadron. Like the other third Raters she carried 74 guns. Below, the English squadron in line astern, led by HMS Vanguard.

The Franco-Spanish squadron, also of four ships, had the advantage of the wind and held a southwesterly course. Unlike the English they deployed in two divisions. The advanced division was led by the Montagne. This powerful vessel, and flagship of the squadron under Admiral Villaret de Joyeuse, carried some 1000 crew and 118 guns. She was followed by the Generaux, a 74gun 3rd Rater. To the southwest the second division also comprised two ships. In front Le Berwick, captured from the English in 1795, she formed a critical part of the French squadron and also carried 74 guns. To her stern was the Spanish Argonauta, commanded by Capitán José Antonio de Pareja y Mariscal. Her much maligned crew, suspected by some as being raw by both French and English officers, were actually well motivated and amply crewed her 74 guns.

The English plan was relatively simple. Holding a line astern formation they would travel north until finally moving to a slight northeasterly course. The intent was the English ships would in turn progressively pound the Franco-Spanish division of Le Berwick and Argonauta while hopefully bypassing the remaining Franco division. Once their broadside was delivered the English ships would swing to larboard and return on a southerly course. To avoid collisions, in the heat and confusion of battle, much effort was spent coordinating signals so that the turns would be executed in approximately the same location. 

As the two squadrons closed the split between the French & Spanish Squadron increased. The Franco-Spanish division moved to cut the front of the English line while the remaining division swung first due west before turning on a southerly course. 

Above, the squadrons close for action. The Franco-Spanish division is in the top right, with the Spanish Argonauta in the extreme top right. From top to bottom the ships are Argonauta and Le Berwick of the Franco-Spanish division. Then Generaux, and finally Montagne the 1st Rate flagship. Montagne would soon swing to the south parallel to the English ships. Below, another view of the Montagne.

The Franco-Spanish Division was first to open fire on the HMS Vanguard and HMS Defence. Argonauta and Le Berwick both fired the forward portion of their broadsides. While HMS Defence returned fire HMS Vanguard held her fire aiming to improve her position. She can be seen moving on a north by northeast tack. The French flagship Montagne, bottom right, is well out of range.

Below, as the ships proceed and now viewed from the English rear, the squadrons near. Of note Montagne unleashes her broadside on HMS Royal Sovereign. HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Superb reply with full broadsides resulting in fires and leaks on the Montagne. By the time Montagne had reloaded her guns, and delt to the fires, she would be well south of the English squadron and would fire only one further broadside for some time. Indeed, soon she would spend much valuable time clawing her way north. The Genereux is still unable to fire. 

In the upper left HMS Vanguard, who held her fire previously unleashes a devastating raking broadside on Le Berwick. Top left the Spanish Argonauta has crossed in front of HMS Vanguard but her crews are busy reloading.

Finally, illustrated below, Le Genereux is able to fire and engages, at long range, HMS Royal Sovereign – second from left. While HMS Royal Sovereign can not return, her broadside being reloaded, HMS Defence delivers a broadside. In the various confusing exchanges Genereux was to suffer the loss of two masts, though one was partially repaired.

The situation had now become extremely interesting. 

The Franco-Spanish division had by now crossed in front of, or though, the English line. As such they were east and heading south. The French division was southwest. This of course meant that several English ships were able to fire both broadsides, as can be seen above and below. Le Berwick (on left), with Argonauta astern, hold a southly heading while the English ships fire broadsides from both larboard and starboard batteries. 


Above, bottom right, Montagne adds her broadside to the melee, engaging HMS Superb at extreme range. The English ships can still be seen in line astern, with HMS Vanguard just coming around to larboard as originally planned. HMS Royal Sovereign is still holding a north by northwest course to avoid a collision with HMS Defence.

Despite the concentrated fire on Le Berwick she was not yet finished. She swings to larboard and onto a southwest tack. As the wind had previously swung to be coming from the southwest this would takes Le Berwick into the wind and a heading towards the Genereux. However, as can be seen below, Le Berwick and Genereux are about to deliver broadsides in the stern of HMS Superb. 

The damage on HMS Superb was horrific. Her hull was punctured in several places and fires overtook the ship. Overwhelmed the damage parties could not prevent her loss. Indeed she was the last ship to be engaged and the first to be lost. Then to add to the list, HMS Defence to was claimed, a casualty to cumulative damage.

At this point the fleets began to disengage. HMS Vanguard, barely operational, set a course to the west leaving only HMS Royal Sovereign to the north. She was able to fire a passing broadside at the Spanish Argonauta who, like HMS Vanguard, was a shambles struggling to remain afloat. Genereux was little better. With one mast down and another operating only as a result of temporary repairs she struggled to hold course. Further, another broadside would likely sink her. There effectively remained only the flagships operational. As such both admirals determined to cover the retirement of their remaining wounded squadron. It had been a bloody exchange.

Clear for Action

He closed his telescope with a snap. “Very well Mr Oaks, beat to quarters and clear for action.” Within ten minutes of the drum’s urgent tattoo HMS Zealous was cleared for action. Sand had been spread across the decks and water stood ready by every gun. She was ready…

Friday evening Jon and I caught up for an overdue game using Sails of Glory. After some discussion we decided to use the advanced rules. These mainly focus on the use of crew actions and special damage. In my view they add some additional challenge to the game where crew casualties create limitations on ship options. However the additional complexity slows the game and with even two ships per side, which we used, combined with a late start there was a real risk of running out of time. Indeed, that is exactly what happened.

All four ships were new or had not previously been used, in due course they were unwrapped from their packets and deployed. Jon provided the French fleet which comprised the Imperial, a 118 gun 1st Rate and Genereux a 74 gun 3rd Rate. I provided the English fleet which comprised HMS Victory, a 100 gun 1st Rate, as well as HMS Zealous, a 74 gun 3rd Rate. In Sails of Glory a ships broadside is divided into a front, central and rear, each comprising all or most of the guns of the broadside. Interestingly the full broadside of the Genereux, is not that much different from that of the Victory. I was surprised by this and as a result a little nervous from the start. The English fleet was outgunned.

The two fleets converged with the wind blowing from the west. The French held a southwesterly course with Imperial leading followed by the Genereux, as shown above. The English meanwhile, held northwesterly course with HMS Zealous leading followed by HMS Victory. It soon became apparent that the French were gaining a slight advantage by holding a more westerly position. With the French potentially crossing our bow the English ships started to swing to a northerly course. The aim was for HMS Zealous to pass around behind the stern of the French ships while Victory held off and drew the French ships on a more southerly course. 

Unfortunately as HMS Zealous hauled around she came into extreme range of both French ships. As such she was forced to exchange fire. Below HMS Zealous in the centre engage the French. HMS Victory is in the front left. Imperial is in the distance followed by Genereux.

HMS Zealous poured broadside into Imperial causing fires and leaks. With no crew allocated to counter fires initially these raged causing considerable damage to Imperial. Alas, in this initial exchange HMS Zealous lost two masts and a leak. With little option her captain ordered her on a northeasterly course placing distance between her the French while her crew worked on emergency repairs. Eventually leaks were repaired and one mast repaired providing a degree of control.

HMS Victory remained well out of range and while the crew of Imperial were distracted with their repairs Victory moved to a northwesterly course and a position to put her behind the French vessels. However as the ships manoeuvred the wind shifted. While originally blowing from the west it moved to coming first from the northwest and later from the north. By the time the crew of the Imperial had extinguished the raging fires and repaired leaks she and Genereux held a generally eastern course. In contrast HMS Victory was holding a southerly course and soon would press the aft quarter of Genereux. Eventually, as the ships manouvred and the range closed they excanged fire. 

Above, HMS Victory in the distance holds a position upwind of the French vessels in the foreground, from here she would pursue the French. Below, HMS Victory at full sail closing on the French.

Meanwhile HMS Zealous, having completed basic repairs, held a generally westerly course and was closing on the French with the advantage of wind.

As light faded the ships engaged for one final exchange, with French struggling against the wind. Imperial managed to fire a number of her guns at HMS Zealous though with little impact. She was now taken aback and fell out. As she did HMS Zealous emptied a full broadside bow raking Genereux causing terrible damage. This should have been supported by a stern rack by HMS Victory. Unfortunately she had come around too much and Genereux escaped a second broadside.

Above, HMS Victory on the left, Genereux in the centre heading into the wind with HMS Zealous in the distance as she delivers a broadside. On the right is the Imperial, with the bow visible, she has been taken aback.

This was an excellent little encounter and my second in two weeks. In this engagement the shifting wind provided some real challenges while the special damages, especially fires and the loss of masts caused some anxiety to both commanders. Fortunately both Imperial and HMS Zealous were not engaged while the crews returned the ships to a reasonable fighting state. Without this time the vessels would likely have taken crippling damage.