Wednesday 13 January 2021

Feeding the Anaconda, one piece at a time....Late Summer, 1864...Game number 60, Part 2

Battle is joined!

Sketch Map of the opening positions of the two sides - the cartography department is very much a work in progress!

The ship data cards - again, this is also very much a work in progress. The various numbers will be explained as the game develops.

Entering the Sawless Channel the Union squadron, in tight formation with the U.S.S. New Glory leading, turn to engage the waiting Confederate ironclad.

Meanwhile, the Rebels wait patiently although unknown to the Union the C.S.S. Secessionist is quietly manoeuvring into the channel in readiness.

Turn 1. No fires or floods to roll for (phase 1) nor any firing as the range is too great. Initiative (phase 3) rolls were 4 for the Union and 5 for the Confederates meaning the Union move their ships first. After all the movement has been completed the effect of the current is taken in to consideration so all ships (except for the anchored Southern Belle) move one hex towards the Confederate baseline.

The action opens with the Confederates concentrating their fire on the lead Union ship - the U.S.S. New Glory

Turn 2. No floods or fires to roll for so it is straight onto the firing which is treated as simultaneous. Only the Confederate ships were able to fire with each ship rolling 3d6 to hit (GF3 for the broadside of the Southern Belle and the same the forward guns of the Secessionist). Both ships opened fire on the U.S.S. New Glory at range 6 (needing 6s to hit) for the Secessionist and 5 (needing 5s or 6s to hit) for the Southern Belle. Initiative was 5 for the Union and 1 for the Confederates so they moved first.

The strident crack of naval artillery rolled across the channel as not one but two Confedrate ironclads opened fire - both at the U.S.S. New Glory. Admiral Dursley was aghast, what had appeared to be a straightforward mission had now become much more complicated. He needed to get his full broadside into action and so ordered the helm swung hard over to the starboard. This would achieve two things - one good and one definitely not so good. The U.S.S. New Glory would be able to fully engage the rapidly closing rebel ship but in doing so would in turn be under fire from both ironclads. As the great ship ponderously answered the helm Dursley could not help but notice that the second Rebel ironclad, the one nearest the headland, did not appear to moving.

The C.S.S. Secessionist, in her haste to cross the front of the Southern Belle, forgot to allow for the current and so instead of having her on her port beam was now heading directly for her. Fortunately there was plenty of sea room although this meant the Secessionist, in order to avoid a collision, would be steaming into the heart of the Union fleet!

Probably against conventional wisdom the U.S.S. New Glory swings around to engage the Confederates - manoeuvring dangerously close to both ships

Turn 3. Again, no floods or fires so straight to the shooting. Once again the Southern Belle blazed away at the U.S.S. New Glory but to no effect. The Union ship’s luck did not last though as she was battered by the Secessionist. Two of her three firing dice scored potential hits (she rolled a 6, a 4 and a 1 needing at range two 4 or above) and for damage she rolled a 6 and a 4. The 4 scored a single damage point whilst the 6 meant two points of damage - one off the flotation point and one of the forward gun factor.

Only the U.S.S. New Glory and the U.S.S. Senator would be able to fire. Starting with the flagship she rolled 4d6 scoring a 6, a 4 and a pair of 3s meaning two potential hits on the Secessionist. There were no modifiers for penetration versus armour (both were 3) so the two dice rolled came up with a 5 and a 3 meaning one point of damage was scored against the rebel ship.The U.S.S. Senator opened fire on the Southern Belle at range 4 and scored two hits from four. Again, no modifiers for penetration versus armour (4 in both cases) and the damage roll came up with a 5 and 4 meaning two points of damage scored. 

For initiative the Union rolled a 5 whilst the Confederates rolled a 2 meaning they moved first.

Admiral Dursley surveyed the battered flank of his flagship and offered up a silent prayer that it was not a whole lot worse. Both rebel ironclads had fired at him and he was now caught executing a turn against the current with both enemy ships within conversational distance. His ship was not out of danger yet but help had arrived in the shape of the U.S.S. Coeur D’Alene (again he silently offered up a prayer of thanks for her speed) and between the two of them they should be able to best the more mobile of the two enemy ships.

The C.S.S. Secessionist had troubles of her own as the not one but two Yankee warships were hanging off her stern and about to administer a royal battering. All her captain could do was to take it and hope he could swing his ship around to engage the enemy from a far better position.

More by luck than judgement the C.S.S. Secessionist is suddenly receiving the attention of two Union ships at point blank range!

Turn 4. Still no floods or fires to deal with so on with the shooting. The Southern Belle, ignoring the looming bulk of the U.S.S. New Glory off her bow, engaged the U.S.S. Senator at a range of 3 scoring a 6, a 5 and a1 so two potential hits. Penetration and armour are equal so no modifier and dice came up with a 6 and 2 meaning two points of damage.

The Secessionist continues to engage the New Glory, this time at point blank range. Her shooting was off as she scored but a single potential hit - a 5 and two 2s when she needed 3s or above. There were no modifiers for penetration and armour as both were the same value. The score was a 3 so no damage was scored. The U.S.S. New Glory was certainly riding her luck!

The U.S.S. Senator fired at the Southern Belle at a range of 3 scoring two potential hits  - she rolled a 2, a 3, a 4 and a 5 whilst needing 4 or above. Straight damage rolls gave up a pair of 5s meaning two points of damage. U.S.S. New Glory now gave her undivided attention to the Secessionist. Despite only needing 3 or above for a potential hit she only managed to roll a 3, a pair of 2s and a 1. The damage roll was a 6 meaning that two points of damage had been inflicted (these were taken off the flotation points). Next was the U.S.S. Coeur D’Alene, again at the Secessionist. She rolled 2d6 to hit and scored a 6 and a 1. The damage roll was a 6 and as her penetration factor was equal to that of the rebel ship no modifiers were applied meaning a further 2 points of damage. These were applied to the forward and aft gun factors meaning that the ship now had but a single gunnery factor to use in these arcs.

For initiative the Union rolled 6 whilst the Confederates rolled a 2 meaning once again they moved first.

“Now it’s my turn!” Rear Admiral Dursley muttered under his breath as his ship wallowed and juddered to a halt as a result of applying full reverse to the engines. He reasoned that by doing so the current would take him further downstream so that he could get some sea room to get back into the fight. His captain had tried to reason with him - sitting stationary next to an enemy ironclad was not something one should readily entertain - but Dursley was in no mood to argue “Damn it sir, my order will be obeyed!” Meanwhile the Coeur D’ Alene continued to dog the rebel ironclad that both her and the New Glory had just scored telling hits against. “Come on D’Alene!” He said to no one in particular, so caught up in the moment was he.

Aboard the U.S.S. Senator the dull metallic clang was heard as a hit was felt from the rebel ironclad. 

The Secessionist had opened the range from the Union flagship although was still be harried by second ship in the line. She had taken a pounding and was taking on water but so far was still full of fight and was readying to return to the fray. 

As the action spreads out the U.S.S. Coeur D’ Alene bears down at full speed on the C.S.S. Secessionist - both ships braced for impact! Meanwhile the U.S.S. New Glory stares threateningly at the C.S.S. Southern Belle whilst waiting on the current to help her out.

Turn 5. Still no floods or fires so back to the guns. The Coeur D’Alene, in her eagerness to engage the rebel ironclad she had been chasing was now in the unenviable position of being too close so that her broadside could not be brought to bear. Without hesitation she then opened fire at the Southern Belle and promptly scored a single hit. The roll for effect was a miserable 1. The New Glory resumed it fire against the retreating Secessionist and scored a single hit with again a miserable 1 for effect. Next up was the Senator firing at the Southern Belle scoring with a couple of 5s. For damage yet more bad luck in that rolls of a 1 and 2 were made. 

The Southern Belle returned fire at the Senator and scored 2 6s and a 5! Even scores for modifiers and for damage rolled a further 2 6s and a 1! Four more damage points scored against the hapless monitor!

The Secessionist engaged the Coeur D’Alene at point blank range and rolled 3 6s to hit! The damage rolls were 3 2s and to each was added a 2 for the penetration/armour modifier - the firing ship was +3 whilst the  defenders armour value was 1. The adjusted score was 3 4s meaning that 3 points of damage were scored - a damaging blow.

Initiative was a 1 for the Union and 6 for the Confederates so the Union moved first.

The Coeur D’Alene was moving too quickly to be able to take avoiding action and so ran into the Confederate ironclad. Despite the horrible grating and screeching of metal on metal no damage was inflicted as the Union ship effectively slid off her enemy. As the Union ship was not ram equipped only 2d6 were rolled and both scored 2s meaning no damage.

Rear Admiral Dursley’s gamble appeared to be working. As the current dragged his ponderous vessel away from the stubbornly static enemy ironclad he gave the order to his captain to be ready to move off. The U.S.S Senator was circling round to engage the static enemy whilst he was going after the other enemy ship in concert with the Coeur D’Alene. She had just attempted to ram the enemy ironclad albeit with little discernible effect. He was well aware that all of his ships had taken damage but there was still plenty of fight left in them.

Aboard the C.S.S. Secessionist was a frenzy of activity as repair crews hustled and bustled whilst the ship pulled away from her antagonists. Considering the battering she had received everything was still functioning and although her forward and aft facing guns had been reduced in effect, as much by crew casualties as anything else, her captain was confident they could still fight hard - especially given the salvo they had just poured into the pursuing Union ship. Her first order if business though was to get back to the Southern Belle to render what support she could.

After having rammed the C.S.S. Secessionist and inflicted no damage the U.S.S. Coeur D’ Alene suffers a mortal blow from the retiring enemy ship.

Turn 6. No floods or fires so back to the guns once more. The Coeur D’ Alene raked the stern of the Secessionist and scored a single hit. This was converted into a damage point that the rebel took from his flotation points. The Senator fired once again at the Southern Belle scoring two hits which converted into two points of damage. The New Glory was able to fire at the Secessionist but missed.

The Secessionist fired her single aft gun at the Coeur D’ Alene and rolled a magnificent 6. This was then followed by a further 6 for damage to which was added +2 due to the penetration/armour modifier. This came to 8 meaning that a special hit was scored. The subsequent special effect roll was a three which equalled engine damage reducing her speed by 2! This was a deadly blow as her speed had already been reduced from 4 to 3 and so now it was 1 - which would not be sufficient for her to be able to negotiate the current upstream!

The Southern Belle, with its single forward facing gun fired at the Senator and missed.

Initiative was rolled with 4 for the Union and 6 for the Confederates meaning that the Union moved first.

Disaster had struck the Union squadron! The gallant Coeur D’ Alene had taken a damaging hit to her engines and her speed had been reduced to a crawl - barely sufficient to hold station in the current let alone work her way back upstream. Her options were limited in that she could attempt to work around the Kingsville Point to pick up the current from the Yawdew which should take her out to sea. She would be hugely vulnerable to Confederate interference though unless escorted. Dursley was frustrated by this turn of events - not because he was gaining the upper hand against his enemy - as the landings would have to be postponed until such a time as the channel had been cleared. The squadron was downstream of the Confederate anchored ironclad with one of their number in sore need of assistance. 

His decision was made. Reluctantly they would break off the action, form up on the injured Coeur D’Alene and escort her to home and safety. They would pass around Shepherd’s Island standing well out to sea and, weather permitting, would take her under tow. Dursley did not expect any enemy interference.

The captain of the C.S.S. Secessionist noted the great gouts of steam enveloping the Union ship with grim satisfaction. Naturally he could not know the full extent of her damage but he was experienced enough to understand that whatever it was it was enough to take her out of the fight. His own ship was damaged and he reasoned that the Union would want to ensure that their crippled charge would get back safely - they certainly would not want it falling into enemy hands. He would take the Secessionist back to the Southern Belle to see how she had fared.

The engine room of the Coeur D’ Alene was a wreck. Steam was gushing out from various places and the cries of the wounded added to the infernal din. Her captain had already signalled of their plight to the flagship and whilst they had some motive power for the present he could only allow the current to take his ship away from the action.

The commander of the Southern Belle stood on the top deck of his command to see the Union squadron heading away. He heard a ragged cheer coming from the gun deck. His ship may not be able to move but she could still pack a punch. They had won the first round against the Union but he knew that they would be back and in greater numbers. For now though, he would join his men and celebrate as best as they could.

End Game. The U.S.S. Coeur D’Alene (second from right) limps slowly away from the action - the current in the Sawless Channel providing most of her motive power - whilst the remaining Union ships move to support her. The C.S.S. Secessionist (top right) circles warily in the distance.

This was the first action fought using my ‘ACW naval rules mash up’ and I have to say that I think it went rather well! The action felt like it had the right level of ‘pace’ to it and the all important period ‘feel’. There are a few tweaks I need to make and also tidying up a few things but nothing major. The models looked (IMHO) really good and once I have improved the terrain aspect it will look even better.

Once I have a chance to think about the nuts and bolts of the rules I will detail my observations in the next post but for now all I can say is that I could think of worse ways to spend a wet Tuesday afternoon!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


It was great fun to read your battle report ... and I’m sure that it even greater fun to fight!

The models have the right balance between accuracy and robustness, and look even better on your hexed terrain cloth than they do on display.

It looks as if you have adapted and improved my rules. They still have the right speed of play, but with more realistic results and better differentiation between the different types and classes of ship involved in the ACW.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Bob,

It was tremendous fun!

The sequence of play, damage results and much of the terminology is yours for sure! All I did was to use much of the data kindly made available from David Manley and shoehorned it it after applying liberal dashes of me to the mix.

It seems to work out rather well!

I was really pleased with the models and am looking forward to getting the remainder built.

All the best and thanks for both your encouragement and support with this project,


Archduke Piccolo said...

A fine debut action, David - just the sort of brisk encounter to stiffen the sinews and summon the blood (actually, that sounds kinda 'wrong', doesn't it, but you know what I mean). If we're looking at the beginnings of a local campaign here, this is a very promising start!

David Crook said...

Hello there Archduke,

Thank you old chap! I was pleased with how it played - for sure there is a few bits and pieces to tidy up with the rules but nothing major. Now I need to seriously think about organising the campaign and building the rest of the ships.

And get some more games in of course!

It is a good start indeed.

All the best and many thanks,


Ray Rousell said...

Looked and sounded a lot of fun Dave. A great bat rep!

Aly Morrison said...

An excellent first game David...

I really liked the look of the thing as well...

All the best. Aly

Simon said...

I look forward to reading the current rules (ie flow of water).


David Crook said...

Hello there Ray,

It was just the thing I needed to galvanise the second phase of the project! The rules worked well and it is shaping up very nicely.

The AAR had rather more rules content in it than I would usually write but this was intentional as I wanted to get the flow of them in my head.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Aly,

Thank you old chap! I am looking forward to getting the rest of te models built as well as some suitable terrain. For now though I need to tidy up the rules draft.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Simon,

The current current rules are waiting for me to finish the draft! What I used though are as follows:

The current rules are very simple - pick a direction, assign a speed and then move the models after they have carried out their normal movement. Initially I thought that a hex a turn was a little harsh but bear in mind many ACW ships (especially Confederate vessels) were woefully underpowered and struggled to sail against any kind of tide or current.

It all added to the fun although both sides (i.e. me!) were guilty of not allowing for it.

All the best,


Steve J. said...

A great AAR David and the models looked superb! The "Come on D'Alene" reference made me chortle:). The rules seemed to give an good game and your description of the action and the effect of the rules was nice and clear. I thought that a small gaming area wouldn't give much movement but I'm glad I have been proved wrong, as there was enough for a novice naval gamer like myself. Looking forward to your post game thought.

Jim Walkley said...

Good fun and good looking. The big advantages of ACW naval campaignsit seems to me, are that they are easily set up, neatly contained and don't need loads of admin. Looking forward to the next instalment. Best wishes. Jim

Bob The Old Painter said...

Gripping stuff! A great looking game and all your hard work preparing for it has paid off. I really liked the idea of ships battling with the flow of the river, which certainly makes operating in such narrow confines a challenge.

David Crook said...

Hello there Steve J,

Many thanks old chap and I am glad you picked up on the Dexy’s Midnight Runners reference!

The game went well and I reckon that around half a dozen ships a side would be about the maximum I would want to use on the mat comfortably. As is was I had to shuffle the models along as at one point they were in danger of sailing off the edge of the world once the current kicked in.

The after after action report is now up on the blog and after mindful reflection I am quite satisfied with where I am at in the project.

All the best,


PS I had not forgotten I owe you an email!

David Crook said...

Hi Jim,

It was a lot of fun to do and I am thinking that I have hit the sweet spot in terms of the admin of the thing. Naval games are usually easier to set up although once you start getting riverbanks or coastlines involved there is rather more work to contend with!

I am thinking about the next instalment - perhaps an attempt by the rebels to intercept the badly damaged U.S.S. Coeur D’Alene and her escorts may be on the cards....

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Bob,

Thank you old chap! It is funny I always intended to factor in the current but what I did not do was to take it into consideration in the game - for either side! It certainly added to the fun and for period is certainly historically accurate.

It looked good (hex size notwithstanding) and I want to develop the whole set up further. As a matter urgency though, I will need to organise a better cloth.

Glad you liked it!

All the best,


Maudlin Jack Tar said...

The vessels look fantastic in action David! Great report sir.

David Crook said...

Hello there Maudlin Jack Tar,

Many thanks old chap! I am rather pleased with how they came out and although simple looking they capture the overall look quite well.

The game was great fun and I am looking to repeat the exercise (at least the game part, not the same scenario) hopefully sooner rather than later.

All the best,